Hermione Granger wasn't one for normally counting down the hours until she finished work, but this particular Friday she couldn't help herself. She had a big date that evening and she couldn't wait to go home to prepare. The wizard she was going out with was one of the most eligible bachelors in the Wizarding World and Hermione didn't want to show herself up. She wanted to be at her very best and prove that she wasn't out of her league dating one of the hottest wizards in the country.
By mid-afternoon, Hermione was more than ready to leave her office behind, where she worked in the Ministry of Magic as a lawyer. In fact she even hurried through the paperwork she did have to complete and a little over an hour before she was due to leave, her work for the week was done. Just when she was contemplating leaving early, something she never did, there was a knock on her office door and her best friend, Harry Potter, poked his head around the door.
"Perfect, you're not busy," Harry declared with a grin. "We need you up in the Auror department. We've got some charges we want to lay against that group of pickpockets Ron and I arrested last night."
"Now?" Hermione asked in despair. Officially charging someone with a crime required the presence of a Ministry lawyer, and Hermione knew from experience that it could be a time consuming task.
"What's the problem, got a hot date tonight?" Harry laughed.
"I do actually," Hermione replied, rather offended that Harry had laughed at the thought of her going out on a date. She may have been single for several months, but it wasn't as though she hadn't had offers in that time. She was just choosy, and if she was being honest, she was waiting for the wizard she was seeing tonight to ask her out.
"Don't tell me he's finally done it," Harry said with a grin. "In that case I owe Ron a galleon, I thought he would pussyfoot about until at least next month."
"Who are you talking about?" Hermione asked with a frown.
"Malfoy," Harry clarified. "Every time he's at the Ministry on business he finds an excuse to bump into you. Just last week Ron and I watched him hanging about in the atrium waiting to get in the same lift as you. It was obvious he wanted to ask you out, I just thought it would take longer."
"What makes you think I'm going out with Draco?" Hermione questioned.
"You're not?" Harry frowned. He and Ron had noticed the former Slytherins crush on their best friend, but they'd also noticed that it was reciprocated and Hermione definitely fancied the blond wizard.
"Actually, I am," Hermione admitted. "So I need to be leaving work on time to get ready for tonight."
"Don't worry, this won't take half an hour," Harry promised. "We'll soon have you out of here and on your way home to make yourself look beautiful for Malfoy."
"You better be right, Harry," Hermione muttered as she grabbed what she would need and followed her friend out of her office and up to the Auror department.
Sadly for Harry, and Hermione, his prediction of a quick trip to the Auror department was wrong. With a group of five young wizards to charge and the fuss they made, Hermione was stuck in the Auror department for nearly two hours. By the time she finally left the Ministry and rushed home to get ready, she was already running an hour behind schedule.
"Damn work," she muttered to herself as she hurriedly stripped off her clothes, and almost tripping over Crookshanks, hurried into the bathroom for a quick shower.
Even with just an hour's delay, Hermione's whole schedule was thrown off track. The first problem she encountered was her hair. Her hair had always been wild and took time to tame, but with an hour already lost to work, she didn't have time to let it dry naturally. However, drying her hair with magic always left it frizzier than normal and it took Hermione nearly half an hour to magically dry her hair and then tame it into something that didn't resemble an overgrown bush on her head.
"I guess it'll have to do," she sighed, looking in the mirror after she'd tied her hair up in a sleek, high ponytail rather than leaving it down as she'd planned.
Checking the time and finding she didn't have that long left to get ready, she pulled out the lacy red underwear she'd bought especially for the evening. Although since it was a first date she had no intention of letting Draco see her underwear, but it always made her feel more confident if she was wearing sexy underwear.
Next came the make-up, which thinks to magic wasn't too much of a hassle for Hermione to achieve a natural look. Pleased that things were finally starting to go right, Hermione pulled the black and red dress from her wardrobe that she was planning to wear. Stepping into the dress, she zipped it up and then checked out her reflection in the floor length mirror in the corner of the room. Nodding happily, she turned away from the mirror, only to stand on Crookshanks tail. Crookshanks squealed and shot under the bed while Hermione almost went flying to the floor. As she tried to stop herself from falling, Hermione heard an ominous tearing sound.
"No, please no," she begged, slowly turning back towards the mirror and almost screaming at the sight of a large split down the left hand side of her dress. "Damn it, this is not my day," she moaned as she pulled the dress off and threw it onto the floor in a mood.
Of course magic would have fixed the tear, but Hermione had found that fixing clothes with magic never quite worked unless you had hours to spend on complex spells, which she didn't at the moment. Most of the time quick fix repairs were obvious to see, but they tended to make the material more fragile and more prone to ripping again in the future. When she had more time, Hermione would fix the dress and it would be as good as new, but for today, she was better off finding something new to wear.
Knowing that time was running out and Draco would be arriving shortly, Hermione rummaged through her wardrobe for something to wear. The dress she'd had picked out was her favourite dress, and by far the classiest item in her wardrobe, so nothing else was appealing to her. However, unless she was planning on going to dinner in her underwear she knew she had to find something.
Eventually she settled on a white and peach dress that she'd only worn once before, but when she checked out her reflection she found her underwear was visible through the light material. Pulling off the dress, she discarded it with her first choice and searched for yet another option. Her next choice was a deep burgundy dress with silver detailing, and once she was sure her underwear wasn't showing through, Hermione turned her attention to her shoes.
Hermione had already picked out a pair of deep red heels, and luckily they matched the new dress she was now wearing. Thankful that the shoes matched her new outfit, she slipped them on and scurried over to her dressing table to sort her jewellery. With her jewellery sorted, Hermione took a few calming breaths before heading back over to the wardrobe to grab an evening bag. No sooner had Hermione taken a couple of steps away from her dressing table then she heard a cracking sound and she fell onto the bed as her heel gave way beneath her.
"I don't believe this," she cried, looking down at the broken shoe in dismay. "Can anything else possibly go wrong?"
As if in reply, the doorbell of her flat rang and Hermione let out a squeal of frustration when she checked the time and found Draco was nearly ten minutes early. Kicking off her broken shoes, Hermione straightened her clothes before hurrying to the front door to greet her date, feeling more than a bit flustered.
In comparison when she opened her front door, Draco Malfoy, looked the epitome of a calm and composed man. He was immaculately dressed in a pair of smart black trousers and a light blue shirt. These days his hair was worn in a more causal, tousled look, although Hermione suspected he spent a fair bit of time getting it to look as though he'd hadn't given it a second thought. He was also carrying a small, but stunning, bouquet of expensive magical roses which changed colour depending on people's moods.
"You look great," Draco greeted, handing over the flowers.
"Thanks," Hermione replied with a slight blush, amazed that she could look anything but flustered given the evening she was having. "Sorry, I'm running a bit late. Take a seat and I'll be with you in two minutes."
"Take your time, there's no rush," Draco said with a smile as he followed Hermione's direction and headed into the living room.
Hurrying into the kitchen with the roses, Hermione summoned her best vase and magically arranged the bouquet. Settling the flowers on her kitchen windowsill, she turned around to rush back off to the bedroom to fishing getting ready only to put her bare food directly into Crookshanks half-eaten bowl of cat food.
"Great, just great," Hermione muttered with a shake of her head as hopping around on one foot she used magic to clean her foot and remove the smell of cat food from her sole.
Darting out of the kitchen before anything else could go wrong, Hermione ran back to the bedroom to find some new shoes. Settling on a pair of low heeled silver sandals, she slipped them on, quickly found a small silver bag and hurriedly packed everything she might need for the evening. She then applied a fresh coat of clear lip gloss and spritzed herself with her favourite perfume, before returning to the living room, where Draco was standing having a look at her bookshelf.
"There's not as many books here as I would have thought," he said with a chuckle.
"They're just my favourite books," Hermione replied. "I turned the spare room into a mini library, so the rest are in there. Every wall is covered in shelves that run from floor to ceiling."
"Ah, now that sound more like the little bookworm I remember from school," Draco said with a fond smile.
"I admit it, I love books," Hermione returned, laughing lightly as she held up her hands as though she was guilty of something. "There's nothing better than curling up beside the fire on a miserable day and losing yourself in a book."
"That is a good thing to do, but I wouldn't say there was nothing better," Draco replied.
"And what would you say was better?" Hermione asked.
"Maybe you'll find out in the future, if tonight goes well," Draco answered with a mischievous wink.
"I'll look forward to it," Hermione said, more than happy with Draco's flirtations. "So shall we go? Or do you want to spend the night discussing my book collection?"
"I think we can find better things to talk about than books," Draco replied as they headed for Hermione's front door.
From the flat, Draco apparated them to a small wizarding village on the south coast. Hermione had never visited the village before, but she'd heard of it and she knew the most expensive, highly regarded wizarding restaurant in the country was located in the village. And sure enough, the restaurant was where they ended up, sitting in prime seats on the balcony which offered stunning views of the coastline.
"This place is amazing," Hermione declared while they looked over their menus.
"It is nice," Draco agreed.
"Do you come here a lot?" Hermione asked.
"Not a lot, no," Draco answered. "It's a pretty romantic place, so I only come here if I'm out to impress."
"So far, you're doing a pretty good job," Hermione returned with a smile as the waiter returned to take their orders.
With their orders placed the couple chatted like old friends who'd known each other forever. It was hard to believe that they'd once despised each other and it was only since leaving school that they'd developed a civil relationship. Luckily, they'd both moved on since school and left their childish behaviour behind them. These days, Draco even got along just fine with Hermione's best friends, and if possible he'd hated them more than he'd ever hated Hermione.
By the time their starters arrived, Hermione was having a whale of a time. She and Draco had far more in common than she'd originally realised, and when their opinions on things did differ, they could have some great debates. Hermione was never opposed to hearing different opinions than hers, and Draco was also open to hearing views other than his own and not dismissing them out of hand.
"Wine?" Draco asked, picking up the expensive bottle of red wine he'd ordered.
"Yes, please," Hermione replied with a nod as she eyed up the sweet and sour chicken balls on her plate. Spearing one with her fork, Hermione lifted it to her mouth just as Draco offered her a warning.
"Watch out they…" Draco stopped as a jet of sweet and sour sauce squirted out of Hermione's chicken ball and flew across the table, landing on the front of his shirt. "Squirt," he finished lamely.
"Oh my god," Hermione squealed, dropping her fork to the plate with the half eaten ball still attached. "Draco, I am so sorry."
"It's fine," Draco replied with a slight smile. Getting food on himself wasn't something he liked, but it had been an accident and he could see how mortified Hermione was at what had happened, so he didn't want to make it worse by causing a fuss about the mess she'd created on his shirt.
"Let me help," Hermione said, grabbing her napkin and reaching over the table to dab Draco's ruined shirt.
As she leaned over the table, Hermione's elbow knocked into Draco's wine glass and it crashed onto the table, sending the contents in his lap. Draco was so taken aback by the spillage that he jumped slightly, causing Hermione's other arm to knock her wine glass and send it tumbling to the floor.
"Draco, I am so sorry," Hermione cried in mortification as she pushed her chair back.
"Hermione, don't," Draco cried as Hermione shot to her feet.
Sadly Draco's warning came too late and Hermione collided straight into the waiter who was passing the chair behind her, carrying a tray of food. Both the waiter and the tray of food went flying and Hermione stood frozen in the middle of the mess, totally mortified and turning red with embarrassment.
"What have I done?" Hermione whispered, feeling faint and praying that she wasn't going to humiliate herself any further by throwing up.
"Relax Hermione, it was an accident," Draco said as he got to his feet, covered in sweet and sour sauce and red wine.
"An accident, it's more like a train wreck," Hermione whispered in horror as the poor waiter she'd knocked over scrambled to his feet and apologised to her for his clumsiness.
"Don't worry, it's all fixable," Draco said, reaching into his pocket and pulling out a large bag of galleons. "We're sorry for the chaos, this will cover the damage," he said to the waiter as he placed the bag into his hand. "If you need any more, the manager knows where to find me."
"Are you not staying for dinner, Mr Malfoy?" the waiter asked politely.
"No," Hermione answered with a horrified shake of her head. She already knew she would never be setting foot in the restaurant again, not after the embarrassment she'd made of herself.
Apologising to the staff of the restaurant for the accident, Draco took hold of Hermione's hand and led her out of the building. They were both aware that they were the centre of attention, and no doubt they would be all anyone would talk about for the remainder of the evening.
"I have never been so embarrassed in my life," Hermione cried, once they were free and clear of the restaurant. "Today has been a total and utter disaster."
"It's not the smoothest first date I've ever been on," Draco admitted with a wry grin.
"I think this is the worst first date in the history of first dates," Hermione said.
"I don't know, Blaise and Daphne spent their first date in the emergency room at St Mungo's," Draco offered.
"They went dancing and got their steps mixed up. Daphne stood on Blaise's foot in stiletto heels, and it went right through his shoe and into his foot. He had her shoe in his foot for a couple of hours until the healers could remove it."
"And how did that work out?"
"They got married last year," Draco replied. "And during their first dance, Daphne somehow managed to hit Blaise in the balls. He went down like a sack of potatoes."
"I bet that made for a romantic wedding night," Hermione chuckled.
"Their marriage wasn't consummated until the swelling had gone down a couple of days later," Draco said with a laugh.
"So I guess, Blaise and Daphne no longer dance," Hermione said.
"Not since their wedding, Blaise says he needs danger money to dance with Daphne," Draco replied.
"At least dancing is a physical activity and accidents happen," Hermione said. "I'm not sure I've got an excuse for tonight. I should have cancelled the minute I was late leaving work. Everything's just gone wrong from there on out."
"It wasn't the prefect date, but it could have been worse," Draco said gently.
"How?" Hermione asked with a snort.
"You could have knocked a bowl of soup into my lap rather than wine, now that would have hurt," Draco replied with a laugh.
"Don't, I feel bad enough as it is," Hermione whined. "I swear, I will never live this down. I am so embarrassed."
"Does that mean the date's over?" Draco asked.
"You want it to carry on? After I've squirted you with sweet and sour sauce and knocked a glass of wine in your lap. Not to mention that poor waiter and all the food I sent crashing all over the place."
"Accidents happen," Draco replied with a shrug. "I'll understand if you want to go home, but you don't have to."
"I rather think I do," Hermione said with a sigh. "All I want to do is crawl into bed and forget tonight ever happened."
Like the gentleman he was, Draco escorted her home. When they reached her flat, Hermione fully expected him to rush off, despite earlier saying they could continue their date. After what had happened, she didn't expect to ever see him again. No doubt he would find himself a witch who didn't embarrass herself in public.
"Can we do this again?" Draco asked as they stood outside of Hermione's flat.
"What, have the night from hell?" Hermione asked.
"No, have a second date," Draco clarified.
"You want to see me again?" Hermione questioned in surprise. "After tonight, you want to risk going out with me again?"
"Maybe we'll go somewhere without food," Draco joked. "But seriously, yes, I want to see you again. I really like you Hermione, and while tonight was far from perfect, I still enjoyed it. I don't want this to be the end."
"I'd love to go out with you again," Hermione replied with a smile. "And I promise to be on my best behaviour next time."
"You shouldn't worry about it, I'm sure this will just be a fun anecdote we'll tell people years into the future," Draco laughed.
"I'd rather not tell anyone," Hermione admitted with a blush.
"My lips are sealed," Draco vowed. "So how about next weekend? Are you free?"
"I am," Hermione replied with a nod.
"Good," Draco said, giving Hermione a wide smile. "We can arrange something during the week. Thank you for tonight Hermione, it's been unique."
"Oh, that is such a polite way of saying I was total embarrassment," Hermione retorted, unable to help the small smile that her lips curved into. She was still totally embarrassed, but she was so grateful for Draco for not making a big deal of the mess she'd made.
"You weren't," Draco assured her. "Good night, Hermione."
"Good night, Draco."
Giving Hermione another smile, Draco leaned forwards and gently pressed his lips against hers. It just a brief kiss, but the few moments their lips were touching were enough to make Hermione forget all about the disaster their first date had been. It was the perfect way to end their perfectly imperfect first date.