Magic for Dummies had quickly become a best-seller.
To Hermione's utter astonishment, the small project she had begun almost as a joke during her last year at Hogwarts had turned into a household name. Nowadays, a few weeks after graduating, Hermione found herself swept by her new crazy schedule, courtesy of Flourish and Blotts Publishing Group.
Her wrist was aching and it was no wonder, after all, she had been signing copies of her book almost non-stop for a solid hour. The frenzy over the paperback had only increased as time progressed and the new school year loomed. Hermione smiled as she handed the book she was holding to a middle-aged man. She noticed that he and the small boy standing on his side were both wearing Muggle clothing.
The man stalled before moving out of the line. "Miss Granger, I wanted to let you know that your book has been truly helpful for our family and we cannot thank you enough," he said.
Feeling almost boneless with joy, Hermione thanked the man and grabbed a new copy from the next person in line. She signed her name with practiced ease, closed the book, and handed it back. The queue never seemed to get shorter, but Hermione didn't mind. How in the world could she care about something so trivial as wrist pain when situations like these kept happening? When something she'd done made the magical transition easier for families like her own?
Soon enough, Flourish and Blotts' public relations officer, Marina Clearwater, announced that the bookstore would be closing for the night and invited everyone to return in a couple of days to attend the Author Reading event and get their books signed. Hermione grinned and thanked everyone for coming.
"Hermione, it's always a pleasure," said Marina once the crowd began slowly drifting away. "I'll be seeing you next week!"
"Thank you, Marina," said Hermione with a smile. She was happy to finally have a few days to recover from her hectic agenda.
The older woman hugged her and Hermione was left to gather her things and contemplate the emptying room. As she mindlessly looked around the store, her unsuspecting gaze landed on the last person she expected to see attending her book event: Draco Malfoy. Hermione narrowed her eyes.
Almost as if he had felt her stare, Draco Malfoy turned in her direction. Life after the war had truly changed him. He was no longer the gaunt and angry teenager he had been during his sixth and seventh years at Hogwarts. He was no longer the stressed and forlorn boy she'd last seen at the Great Hall with his family after the final battle. Draco Malfoy looked healthier now, broader and taller than how she last remembered him. He gave Hermione a nod of acknowledgment, lacking the usual malice she was used to seeing on him.
She nodded back and turned around, grabbing her purse and the small stack of papers detailing her upcoming events. Why in the world would Draco Malfoy of all people be attending a book signing intended for Muggle-born witches and wizards? Sure, not everyone who bought the book was a Muggle. Hermione had seen several pure bloods at the Flourish and Blotts events and she knew the book was also useful for wizarding families to explain magic to their children. Nevertheless, it did seem very out of character for the Malfoy she knew.
There he was again.
Even though he'd chosen to sit in the back row, his flaxen hair and tall frame gave him away immediately. Hermione continued reading the first chapters of her book, refusing to face the back of the room and let her mind wander. She didn't know why she was surprised by this point, it had been two weeks since Draco Malfoy began lurking at the back of her events.
Hermione had thought about confronting him about it, surely the reason behind this sudden interest could not be a good one, she had initially thought. However, the few times she allowed herself to glance in his direction, Hermione had noticed that he mostly kept to himself, always attending alone and not engaging in conversation with the other attendees. It intrigued her to no end.
She finished reading the second chapter of her book and thanked everyone for coming. There would be no book signing tonight, Hermione thought with contentment as Marina Clearwater gave a few more parting words. After so many events, Hermione could not remember the last time she had been able to sit down and write without any pressure. The crowd clapped with enthusiasm.
After posing for The Daily Prophet , Hermione made her way to the door thinking that maybe tonight she'd find some time to finish writing the book about Transfiguration that she'd been working on. So intent on making a mental schedule for her upcoming projects, Hermione didn't realise she had somehow come face to face with Draco Malfoy. How bloody perfect .
"Granger," he said as a way of greeting. Hermione noticed he had a copy of her book in his hand.
"Why are you here Malfoy?"
He lifted an eyebrow. "To attend an Author Reading event?"
"Why in the world would you be interested in an introductory book to the magic world? You've been raised knowing all about it."
Malfoy's slight smirk faded completely and he glanced away from her.
"Why are you here?" she insisted.
"I was invited by Flourish and Blotts' public relations officer."
"Marina invited you?" Hermione asked, scandalised. "Why would she do that?"
Malfoy readjusted the book he was holding. "I just signed a book deal and they wanted me to begin learning the ropes."
Hermione admitted it made sense. Still, something nagged at her.
"A book deal? I thought the Malfoy inheritance guaranteed you wouldn't have to work a day in your life."
"Do you write for money Granger?"
She snorted at the ridiculous thought. "Of course not!"
"Why do you assume I do?" he asked.
Malfoy headed towards the door of the bookshop and opened it. "Good evening Granger."
Hermione quickly closed her slightly parted lips. The last thing she noticed before he disappeared down Diagon Alley was the familiar cover of her book peeking from under his arm.
"I find your choice of title fascinating," Malfoy commented.
Hermione couldn't help the blush from colouring her cheeks. "I, um, was inspired by a very popular Muggle trend."
"I see," he said. "Do all Muggles enjoy mocking their intelligence? Is it some kind of inside joke?"
She rolled her eyes. "I won't even bother explaining it to you."
It was the seventh week since he'd begun attending her book events. By now, Hermione was used to it, even if for the life of her she couldn't understand why he kept coming. Wouldn't a couple of times be enough for him to get used to the dynamics? Hermione had learned it all on her own, after all.
They reached the entrance of the bookshop and Malfoy opened the door for her. At times, it was still hard for her to reconcile this well-behaved and almost cordial man to the young prat she remembered from school. But, after a war, you could not expect things to be the same, Hermione reasoned. After Voldemort's defeat, the topic of blood purity had become almost taboo and Muggle-related activism had increased in popularity. They stepped out into the windy street and walked to the apparition point.
"When I read your book, I feel like I'm seeing everything familiar to me through other eyes," Malfoy said. "It's like discovering the mundane can be fascinating."
Hermione looked at him in confusion. "What?"
"A few weeks ago you asked me why I found an introductory book to the magic world interesting," he said. "I've been thinking about it and that's why."
She didn't know what to say. They reached the end of the street and Hermione felt relieved.
Hermione turned to him. "Thanks for letting me know," she said with a smile. "Have a good night Malfoy."
She apparated away before he could respond.
Once in her flat, Hermione noticed a familiar black owl perched on her windowsill. She hadn't been expecting an answer from Flourish and Blotts so soon.
There were two letters attached to its leg. The first one was a very brief note from Marina Clearwater excitedly informing Hermione that her new project had been given green light and would be ready to be published as soon as the editor finished polishing the last chapters. Hermione reread it a couple of times in disbelief; it had only been a few weeks since she'd sent the final draft of her Transfiguration book to her publisher.
With a huge satisfied smile, Hermione grabbed the second letter. The thick, formal envelope was from Flourish and Blotts and contained a tentative schedule for her next few months. Hermione noticed that a pre-launch event was scheduled for next week and the official launch party for the week after that.
She couldn't hide her excitement as she scribbled a quick response.
The table with her name on it was at the front of the room. Hermione sat down and glanced around at the magnificent decorations. Several round tables filled the space and a big stage dominated the front of the room, judging by the number of chairs Hermione guessed at least a hundred people would be in attendance. Flourish and Blotts had truly outdone themselves this time.
The room was beginning to fill up with people. Of course, she had been thirty minutes early to the event. Hermione found that, when attending these sorts of social events, it was better to be early and bored than late and stressed. Her eyes roamed over the room, trying to spot any familiar faces. She knew Harry and Ron would be attending.
Things had been somewhat strained for the three of them after Ron and Hermione's short-lived romance crashed and burned. Harry would never expressly choose a side but, seeing how close he was to the Weasleys and considering his relationship with Ginny, it was no surprise that he did spend a lot more time with Ron. Hermione, on the other hand, had thrown herself wholeheartedly into her work. She was used to being busy and always found new projects to occupy herself with. Maybe tonight they could talk and step towards rebuilding their friendship together. She did miss them.
"Evening Granger," a familiar voice said, interrupting her wistful thoughts.
Draco Malfoy was taking a seat directly across from her.
Hermione stared in confusion. "Malfoy? What are you doing here?"
"I'm attending my pre-launch event."
Her jaw dropped. "Your what?"
"The event where my new book will be announced," he said slowly, looking somewhat amused.
"This must be a confusion," she tried to reason. "This is my pre-launch event."
Malfoy seemed baffled by her words. "No, you must be confused, Granger," he said. "I funded this whole event."
Just as Hermione opened her mouth to retort to Malfoy, two more people approached their table. Hermione and Draco stood up to greet Edward Flourish and Jeannine Blotts, Flourish and Blotts' owners. As everyone sat down on their assigned seats, it dawned on Hermione that Malfoy's presence might not be a mistake.
"It's such a pleasure for us to be in the company of two of our youngest authors," said Jeannine Blotts with a smile. "Everyone is looking forward to your respective speeches."
" Our speeches?" Hermione blurted.
"The speeches meant to present your upcoming books, of course," Edward Flourish said.
Malfoy's face was unreadable. "Are Granger and I launching our books together?"
Edward and Jeannine looked at each other and laughed merrily.
"Well, of course you are, dear!" exclaimed Jeannine as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. "Transfigurations and Charms are the two most compatible magical subjects, of course we're handling them together!"
"A brilliant marketing idea from our very own Marina Clearwater," Edward added with a wink.
Malfoy opened his mouth to say something else but was interrupted by a loud, animated voice welcoming everyone to the event.
If they were launching their books together, would that mean they'd be attending all the other events together as well? Hermione realised she wasn't bothered as much as she once would have. These past weeks she found Malfoy was at least tolerable. Hermione sighed and tried to focus her attention on the cheerful woman who was currently addressing everyone.
Jeannine and Edward were called onstage. Each of them talked about how honoured they were to be a platform for young people to explore their academic interests and how excited they were for the new books that would be announced that night. Hermione covertly glanced at Malfoy who seemed to be deep into thought, a faraway look in his eyes.
"I think it's safe to say you weren't aware of this arrangement either," Hermione commented as she sipped from her champagne flute.
Malfoy's grey eyes focused on her face. "I had no idea," he confirmed. "How do you feel about it?"
Hermione shrugged. "It's done already, it doesn't matter how I feel about it."
Malfoy ran a hand through his carefully arranged hair. "It's not done. I can step out of this right now," he said. "I'll tell them I changed my mind and want to wait a few more months to publish."
For the first time after the war, he looked angry.
Of course, this was an uncomfortable position to be in, Hermione thought. Sure, she was far from thrilled about it as well, but what was he so mad about? It wasn't so terrible to be attending the same events. Hell, they'd been doing just that for months now!
"Don't be ridiculous Malfoy," Hermione said, her tone flat and cold. "I know it might seem unbearable for you right now to launch your first book alongside a Mudblood but-"
His eyes darkened at her use of the word. "Don't say that word again."
"What? Mudblood?" Hermione challenged. "The insult you have been hurling at me since you were twelve?"
The fire in his grey eyes died down and he looked away from her. "I just... I never had the chance to say just how sorry I was, how sorry I am for how I behaved at school," he said. "I was a prat and I'm sorry."
Hermione blinked at him, her anger placated and replaced by utter confusion.
Before she could think of anything to say to him, Draco's name was being called and he was halfway up the stage. The minute he stood facing the crowd, his voice amplified by a Sonorus charm, he became a different person. The troubled expression he had just a few minutes ago was replaced by a charming smile as he addressed the attendees with ease.
The tense silence that had fallen over the room when his name had been called quickly vanished as his speech progressed. Hermione was in awe at his clever use of words and his control over the crowd. Despite not being shy, it had taken her a lot of practicing to feel at ease when addressing a big group of people. But this seemed natural to him.
"-and, finally, I want to thank Hermione Granger for sharing this moment with me," Malfoy said as he undid the Sonorus charm and turned to leave the stage.
Amongst a cloud of confusion, Hermione managed to hear someone calling her name. Somehow, she found herself onstage and facing everyone in the room. Miraculously, Hermione managed to remember every last word of the short speech she'd practiced. She had saved the longer speech for the actual launch event, after all.
Hermione found her table just as the applause died down. Edward and Jeannine were beaming at her.
"It was such a captivating speech!" Edward said as Hermione sat down.
"Well done, you two," agreed Jeannine as food materialised on the plates in front of them.
Hermione refused to look at Malfoy, still feeling very self-conscious about his words and the fact that, for once, she'd been rendered speechless. Hermione thanked Merlin for the arrival of the food and Edward and Jeannine's small talk.
When dinner was over, the same cheerful woman from earlier addressed everyone. Jeannine and Edward were called back onto the stage for some final words. They took turns thanking everyone for attending and encouraging them to pre-order the upcoming books.
Malfoy cleared his throat. "Granger," he began, "about before... when I said I could back down from the event, I meant to say that I would do it if that's what you wanted."
He was rambling by now, the carefully constructed persona from the stage was long gone.
"Because I don't have a problem with it, but I understand that it might be uncomfortable for you-"
"Stop right there," Hermione said.
Draco lifted his grey eyes from the napkin on his legs and stared at her.
"I'm shocked about this, for sure," she explained. "And, given the last eight years, I'm not thrilled about the idea of spending every single day with you."
Malfoy's face contorted in a humourless smile.
"But," she continued, "I trust my publisher and I trust Marina. And, for some reason, I don't find you as annoying as I did before."
Hermione gave him a sincere smile. "What I'm trying to say is that I'm fine with it as long as you are."
Malfoy let out the breath he had been holding. "Good to know we're on the same page Granger," he said looking very much relieved.
/ Hi! Thanks for reading! This is one of my first Dramione stories and I'm so glad to share it with you all. I also wanna thank my collaborator, alpha and friend MissyJAnne85 for all of her support and feedback. She has created some amazing lyrics to go with this story, which I will be adding in their own separate chapter at the end of the story.