Draco raises an eyebrow when he sees Granger and Potter emerge from her bedroom with two boxes floating between them. "How much of the library did you pilfer into those boxes, Granger? Don't think we all don't know about your little beaded bag trick."
She blushes but swats at him as she passes. "I didn't take anything. This is recycling."
"I… what?" He doesn't even know how to respond. What the bloody hell is recycling?
"What the bloody hell is recycling?"
She stops to answer in her usual thorough way. He learned to appreciate that about her; that she never waves off a question without giving it its due. Come to think of it, he's learned to appreciate a lot about her…
"Well, in the muggle world, it's a way to reuse things so you don't have so much rubbish. Paper, for instance, can be bleached, molded, and pressed into new clean paper. They can't just transfigure matter. But for my purposes today, I'm taking some of my old magazines to line the owlery. Much easier for Mr. Filch to clean."
"Mister Filch now is it?"
She shrugs and continues out the door. "He's very misunderstood. The wizarding community is dreadfully disrespectful to squibs. Something should really be done…" She trails off as she crosses the threshold.
Draco only hesitates a moment before he jumps up to follow. "Hey, Granger, hold up. I'll come with you."
Both she and Potter turn to look at him and Potter voices with suspicion, "why?"
"I need to send a letter," he lies. "I can help with the levitation. I'm sure you have your own packing to do, eh, Boy-wonder?"
A set to his jaw and subsequent, "fine", and the box drops to the floor.
"What? Big strong ferret-boy is going to help." Draco isn't sure but he thinks maybe Potter sees through his attempts to spend time with her before the year ends. He's been increasingly trying to worm into her life, trying to assure that post-graduation they might be able to hold on to this odd friendship they've formed the past months. As he does so, Potter seems to have grown more agitated in his presence.
With a flourish, Draco lifts the box from the floor. Surprising to all of them, he does it the muggle way. If Potter has already caught on to what he thought were subtle attempts to ingratiate himself, might as well posture to the fullest right?
Granger rolls her eyes and starts off again. "Yes, yes, very impressive. If you two are quite finished…"
Draco winks at Harry and follows her with a spring in his step.
Halfway to the tower, he gives up his folly of physically showing off and levitates the box. It's only after does he realize what might possibly be within the parcel he's carrying. Sure enough, underneath a copy of Witch Weekly, he sees the creamy skin of a half-naked woman peeking out. Under what looks like a muggle music magazine (if the bloke holding some strange string instrument is any indication), a long leg teases into view.
Draco feels his breath quicken and thinks a thousand thoughts. Did Potter help her pack this? Does he know what types of things she gets up to? Has he… joined her? That thought makes him see red. And what of the goal of this little errand. She's going to spread blatant pornography all over the owlery?! Sure the students will be leaving tomorrow but it's completely shameless! Is it a gift for Filch? A jab at Filch? Thinking of the caretaker in this capacity makes his mind almost go a terrible place with Granger involved and Draco has to stop his brain by opening his mouth.
"So Potter help you pack up, did he?"
"Oh Merlin no. Harry's the most disorganized man I've ever met. He just came to help me with magazines. There were so many by the end of the year. My mother signed me up for some of them. Wanted me to stay in touch with the muggle world or something. I think the war really scared her. Then Lavender ordered me a subscription to Witch Weekly. It was a sweet gesture but really not something I needed. And of course I ordered a couple for myself. It just ended up being way too much."
"Hmm," comes his noncommittal reply to her lengthy explanation.
They continue on in silence and have nearly reached the tower when he says as subtle as he can, "You know, I've never really been exposed to muggles. I mean, not in a positive way. Maybe you could let me flip through some of these?"
She makes a noise that's sort of a gasp and a shriek and turns on him with bright eyes. "That's brilliant! Why didn't I think of that?!"
He's pleased with himself, about to pat himself on the proverbial back when she goes on, "I should donate these to Muggle Studies! I mean it would be nice for the owlery but not necessary. I just didn't know what else to do with them. Oh, Draco, thank you! Let's head there instead!"
She bounces forward, leaving him with his mouth hanging open. She called him 'Draco'. Even after this many months he's always been relegated to "Malfoy". Always at arm's length. She called him 'Draco' and said 'thank you' and smiled and…
She wants to donate these to Muggle Studies?
He tears off after her to try to talk some sense into this obviously very liberal witch.
"That's a nice thought, Granger, but I don't think these are all appropriate."
She slows her pace to look back at him. "Why not? The Muggle Studies curriculum is laughably out of date. I know these are mostly a bit more popular culture than history but it's important to study all aspects of muggles."
"Are you sure the Wizarding world is ready though? I mean… for this much muggle culture."
"What are you implying?" She looks suddenly suspicious and frowns, stopping again in her tracks. "I thought you were past this. All this 'wizarding pride' and muggle judgement. You ate fish and chips…"
It was true. On the last holiday before end of year, she had dragged him to a street vendor before they parted ways to their respective homes and introduced him to one aspect of muggle food. And now he's gone and botched up all their months of progress by giving her the wrong impression.
"I did. I mean I am… past this. Past all that. I didn't mean you shouldn't take some of them but maybe some of this will be too much of a shock, you know, right now. Until more change happens…" He's floundering and he knows it by the continued downturn of her lips. Finally he sighs and says, "You're choice, Granger. Maybe I just need to trust your judgement. You know your world better than anyone here. They should just let you teach the bloody class."
As always, a little stroke to her intellect and her sunny smile starts to return.
"That's a notion. Can you imagine, me teaching Muggle Studies?"
He grins and nods, moving to follow her again. "I can actually. I can visualize quite well." He mimics her voice in a slightly higher pitch than his own, "Class, that will be one hundred inches on muggle pornography due tomorrow."
She reaches over to slap him lightly on the arm and huffs. He grins even wider.
Draco notices they have reached a corridor of the castle, far from any dormitories, and close to very little, and realizes this is the best chance they might have for privacy from now until perhaps never. "Speaking of," he begins as nonchalantly as possible, "is that as prevalent in the muggle world as it seems? Pornography?"
He sees her blush and she, much to his surprise considering what's in the box under his nose, deflects, "What makes you ask?"
He gapes at her a little. "Well, I mean… you've not really gone to lengths to hide yours now have you?"
The falter in her steps and following look of horror have him backpedaling. He holds up his hands to mimic self-defense. "I'm not judging or anything. I mean I just figured it was cultural, you know? I'm trying to learn?" He finishes weakly and very much sounding like a question.
"Have you been going through my things?" He voice rises into definite anger when she asks, "Is that what you do when you're alone in the common room?! Dig around in my room and find something to embarrass me?"
She stomps away, box following her floating with ataxic movements in her agitation, and throws back over her shoulder, "I can't believe you! I actually thought… UGH!"
Draco drops the levitation charm on the box and lets it fall by his feet before taking off after her. He puts a hand on her shoulder to spin her around and her own box falls with her mind finally too distracted to keep the spell. "Granger, what the hell?! I haven't been through your things." He thinks back to the day he stole one of her magazines with a little guilt but the Slytherin in him allows a half-truth to set his mind at ease. "I mean, there was that time you said I could borrow something to read and I looked but you told me I could."
"Wait…" She stops for a second and he sees that familiar "wheels turning" expression on her face. Her lip bit between her teeth and her brows knitted together, she is coming up with something-
"What exactly is it you found?"
Draco sweeps his hand at first the box by her feet and then the one he dropped a few paces back. "This. All of this. How can you be surprised? You're about to turn it all in to Muggle Studies for Salazar's sake!"
"So…" She gestures to the same boxes and works out, "You thought this was pornography?" He nods once, not liking at all the Cheshire smile stretching her face when she explodes with laughter and doubles over, holding her stomach and wiping tears from her face.
"Oh my God, Malfoy, are you serious," she somehow sputters between gasps of breath.
The look on his face goes from surprised to annoyed to purely petulant as she loses all control. Finally, as her laughter tapers into gulping breaths and small huffs he crosses his arms and asks with not a little frustration, "Are you quite done?"
She nods and wipes her eyes one last time, shaking her head at him. "I'm sorry. I just… wow. Is this how prudish purebloods are? I knew wizarding society was a little backwards…"
Prudish? He's been accused of that before and didn't care for it but it carries a whole different weight from a witch he fancies.
"Well what do you call this garbage then? Education? Literature? There's not much writing in them."
She bends over and picks up one of the magazines. Draco is terrified they might be caught and looks both ways down the corridor, taking a half step away from her and her muggle contraband. She flips the item open and points at some of the words he hadn't bothered to read. "It's a catalog, Malfoy. This one happens to be a lingerie catalog. You can buy… you know… underthings." She is blushing again and it makes him feel a little better that she finds this intimate enough to be uncomfortable.
He scoffs, "A catalog? Who in their right mind would wear this? What's even the point of that one? There's nothing on the back side!"
Her jaw clinches. "Quite a lot of women would wear something like this. I suppose from your pureblood perspective it might make a witch's virtue questionable? Do you lot still have virginity tests before the dowry is handed over?"
She tosses the magazine back on the pile and levitates the box once again. "Perhaps the owlery is more appropriate then, if this is the reaction I can expect." She flips her hair over her shoulder as she starts off and throws out a follow-up, "I'm sure it's nothing you'll need to worry about. Doubt any Slytherin princess bought and sold to be your bride will have anything like this to embarrass you."
He's been standing slack-jawed in the most unbecoming way when he realizes they are back to her stomping away and him needing to chase after her. What the fuck just happened?
Merlin's balls she's offended. Does that mean she owns… Holy dragons she thinks he's judging her because she might own some… Fuck!
"Granger, wait! I'm sorry! I didn't mean anything by it, really. I just… I've never seen anything like this. My mother would never… I didn't even know this existed. I'm sorry, alright?" His hand is back on her shoulder and he is mustering as much sincerity in his gaze as he can.
He thought he was interested in her before? Dear Gods she might be wearing something like that right now!
"It doesn't make me a tart," she says, still defensive.
He shakes his head in earnest. "Of course not. I never meant that."
"Sometimes a girl just wants to feel pretty. Even if it's just for herself."
For herself? Does that imply she's not dressing up for another wizard necessarily? He does a mental high-five with himself.
"I really am sorry, if you thought I was implying anything about you. I was just curious and… surprised."
She nods and looks at the box with a sigh. "I guess I know what you meant now, about the wizarding world not being ready."
He nods, going back to the early part of the conversation when something occurs to him. "Wait though, if these are just clothing catalogs…" a slow grin crawls across his lips, "what was it you thought I found?"
She looks away and mumbles, "Nothing. Nevermind that."
"Is there something… Merlin, is there something more than this?!"
Grangers tilts her head as if the Heavens might have an answer and pinches the bridge of her nose. She laments, "This is just what I needed: Something for you to torture me with again."
He frowns at her and his mild elation drops away. "Is that what you think I'm doing? Trying to find something to use against you?"
"Well, are you? I mean first it was the blood status, mixed in heavily with my study habits, and then my hair and my teeth and just everything about me. Just when I think you might be looking past all that, you find this little treasure to turn on me."
He shakes his head, "I wasn't. That wasn't at all what I was doing."
"What exactly was it you were doing then?" She eyes him warily and he rubs the back of his neck nervously.
"I just thought maybe, if I brought it up, we might move to another... I don't know... level. Together. Like our friendship or whatever this is."
"Whatever this is?" she parrots back.
"Well, what do you think it is?" He gestures between them.
"I'm not sure. I thought maybe we were friends. You... you invited me to your house. But then I think maybe I'm reading in too much. Maybe I'm just convenient and as soon as you find something that makes me an easy target it will be back to the way it was for so long."
She's looking down and away a little and fidgeting her foot and he realizes they are both nervous for the first time in weeks. Months. Maybe ever. Maybe this is what it is to be truly nervous with a girl because unlike Pansy or the Greengrass sisters or that Henrietta what's-her-name he met in France, this one might really matter.
Draco straightens his spine and meets her head on. "It will never go back to the way it was. I'm not the same and neither are you. You're intelligent, Granger; I assumed you knew that."
"Yes well I find my mind processes information in books more readily than that of the human condition."
She's all haughty and pouty like she gets sometimes and he chuckles, daring a step forward. "What are we even arguing about?"
Sighing she admits, "I'm not even sure. For my part, I would say this is a typical defensive response to feeling embarrassed. I think you just enjoy getting a rise out of me."
Well if there was ever a better cue…
"I would enjoy that, but not the way you meant." He steps forward again, right into her personal space, and runs one finger down her jaw to lift her chin. "The invitation still stands you know."
She's looking up, so very close and with trepidation mixed with something else entirely. "What invitation?"
"To my home," he mumbles as he lowers his head to land one achingly soft kiss to the corner of her lips.
"I-" She doesn't seem to have anything to add so he kisses her again, this time with a little more purpose, a little more everything. His hand moves to cup her neck, holding her in place and his other moves around her frame to pull her closer. There is no resistance and then her hands shoot up to either side of his face and he feels her fingers bury into his hair, clinging lightly at the nape of his neck. Her tongue is lapping at his lip lightly, before he could even think to take the kiss anywhere more, and he groans as he allows her as much control as she wants to take.
He's not sure how long they stand there, kissing madly in the corridor, but eventually they both slow their pace and pull carefully back, her hands still clinging to his jumper.
"I've wanted to do that for so long," she confesses and Draco's heart sings.
"So it wasn't just me then?" He grins at her and lets his hand trail her arm to grasp her fingers in his.
She smiles back, seeming shy which he finds terribly endearing. Isn't she the saucy nymph, so well-versed with muggle sex?
He gestures around him, "So what do we do with all of this then?"
"Oh! I'd forgotten…" he chuckles as she trails off. "I suppose the owlery? Or maybe the music and fashion magazines to Muggle Studies?"
He kisses her once, "Whatever you want but just do it quick. I'd like to spend our last day at Hogwarts with you. I mean, err…unless you had other plans…" Smooth, Draco, he thinks to himself.
She giggles at his awkward invitation but nods. She tilts her head in thought then and comments, "Of course I've spent nearly every day with you for months so I guess I sort of just planned on that already."
"You know," Draco begins, a smile stretches his lips, "you could give some of these to Theo. I mean, they're women's magazines right? Maybe he'd like to pass them along to Luna."
She rolls her eyes at him. "You do realize he's just going to think I'm giving them to him to use together. As a couple, I mean."
"Oh , yes I know," he says, tasting the idea on his tongue and it's just delicious.
Hermione's smile is slower to come but then there it is and they are grinning at each other devilishly. He knew she had a wicked streak. What fun they'll have together.
"Isn't it too bad," she says, "that I have all of this great information about muggles just going to waste? Luna would probably find this fascinating, after all. She's had so little exposure to them..." She grows a bit stern then, "but I get to choose which ones we give them.
He shrugs. Of course she'd want to soften the blow and choose something tame...
"And I think Theo should get something too. My mum accidently sent over one of my father's magazines in one batch."
A single magazine zips out of the box into her hand and she presents it to him for approval, an eyebrow raised.
The cover is red with garish yellow print and some less obvious white letters. But all Draco sees is the giant yellow word "Naked!" and a woman with windswept hair cupping her breasts so delicately it barely obscures her nipples. "This is... this is your father's?!"
She shrugs but her grin is knowing. "It's a men's magazine. Likes to skirt around decency while maintaining that it's not actually pornographic. See?" She points to the upper left, "There's an article about proper diet. Very respectable."
He continues to glance at it a moment, a bit more transfixed than he should be on the swell of another woman's breasts, and catches Hermione smirking at him in bemusement. He clears his throat and hands it back, agreeing, "That's perfect. That for Theo and then what for Luna?"
"Accio Victoria's Secret holiday catalog." This one flies out of the box Draco had been carrying. "This for her. Though it's from Christmas so a little out of date." He eyes the five women across the cover, all with different hair colors and varying complexions, and all wearing nothing but perfectly coordinated small clothes.
His jaw is probably hanging open as he takes it in and then Hermione points to the leopard print set on a woman with lovely caramel skin. "I ordered that one as a little holiday treat for myself. It's just a shame I've not had anyone to share it with..."
When he looks up, she winks.
They never make it to the owlery or Muggle Studies that day but when Theo finds them cuddled on the couch together in the common room that night, they offer him a pile of magazines. They had tremendous fun choosing the group and barely manage to stifle giggles together when he stares at them wide eyed.
"Really, Theo, no reason to be such a prude," Draco taunts.
Hermione agrees with him, nodding as she snuggles closer to the man she has claimed as her own, "Precisely. It's not as if this is terribly explicit material. Just wait until I introduce you to muggle cinema."
Draco looks down at her in question and she looks back with a smile. "Remember when I thought I knew what you'd found in my room?"
He blushes and nods. "Oh, Draco, just you wait..."
He grins like a loon, feeling like the luckiest wizard on earth.
A/N Finished! That was terribly fun... did you have fun? I hope so because there's a lot of you! I'm stunned by how many followers this had for a little 3-part and I can't thank you enough! I would love reviews on the final installment and follows that turn into faves are also such a thrill. Thank you to all of you reading and reviewing and faving and following. It makes writing such a pleasure
The Maxim issue I used for visual reference, if you are curious, is February 1998 with Kelly Brook. For the Victoria secret, I googled Victoria secret Christmas and used the cover with 5 models (London edition). I think it's technically 1997 so please forgive the slight time anomoly
If you have not read anything else from me, I invite you to play around in my tiny little library. I still love receiving faves and reviews on finished pieces. Don't think for a moment that just because something is finished that I don't still feel that rush of adrenaline when I see a notification!
For fluffier fair, another muggle misinterpretation adventure, maybe take a look at the one-shot, The Pick-Up Artist, posted earlier this month.
For something more serious, a bit more length, I recently finished a multi-chapter, Dreams of Requirement, that has had an amazing response. It's creeping up on 300 reviews which would be a milestone for me. Cookies all around to anyone who will help make that happen!
Ok not literally cookies. I don't bake... and I don't know where you live... but cyber cookies i.e. me saying "thanks so much" and gushing at you in a PM.