"Just a perfect day,
Problems all left alone,
Weekenders on our own.
It's such fun.
Just a perfect day,
You made me forget myself.
I thought I was someone else,
Someone good."- Perfect Day, Lou Reed

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

Interlude: A Hermione Story: Part II

In which Hermione is still engaged to Ron but Draco doesn't seem to mind much…

August 1, 2001

The lights on the ground, seen from such great height, seemed nothing more than a reflection of the sky on a large, still body of water. The only difference was that the stars didn't spin around each other, rising and falling as small, pinwheel shaped rainbows. The stars didn't rotate at such great speeds that their lights created white trails on the sky.

"It's beautiful…" she breathed, forgetting for the moment how cold it was sitting there on top of the world. He's down there… somewhere.

Hermione urged her broom downwards, towards the lights. Her cloak whipped around her in the wind that made the broom shiver. She held it tighter and steadied out. The lights started to separate, moving apart and then joining into distinct groups. Shapes loomed out of the surrounding darkness. A ferris wheel. A concession stand.

She landed in a field behind the carnival, stepping lightly on the soft earth. She quietly dropped her cloak beside her broom and promised to come back for them.

It was a nice night, oddly warm for that part of the year in that part of the country. From her dark field the lights looked even more amazing, a glowing pantheon of electric money-waste standing out against the dark sky, which was partially blotted out by the fair's buzzing ambience. She headed toward it like a bug to a zapper.

At the front entrance she paid the gate-man eight pounds and tried not to stare at the hairy mole on his upper lip.

The carnival smelled like sugar, butter, and motor-oil. It was an odd, potent, and not entirely displeasing mix.

She scanned the crowds, trying to blend in but wishing at the same time that she could stand on one of the slick concession counters and search every face for his. That wouldn't be practical, though, and it wouldn't make her job any easier, no matter how tempting it was.

A young boy by the bumper cars inhaled sugar from a thin paper tube. Two teenagers, a boy and a girl not much younger than Hermione, shared a pretzel and waited in line for the Ferris wheel, the boy surreptitiously wrapping his arm around the girl's waist. A father and his two daughters threw darts at a too-small target in pursuit of the biggest, most ugly, plush poodle Hermione had ever seen.

Then, there he was, Draco Malfoy utterly failing at a game that seemed to involve bb guns and a lot of multi-colored plastic cups.

She grinned and sneaked up behind him, throwing her arms over his eyes just as he took his last shot.

He swore, but played along, anyway. Just like they'd talked about.

He grabbed her wrists, perhaps a bit too roughly, and turned around to face her. "Heather!" He beamed and kissed her chastely on both cheeks. "You're late."

"Maybe you're early, Dave," she teased. Just like they'd talked about.

Dave and Heather. Heather and Dave. The perfect muggle couple on the perfect muggle date at the perfect muggle carnival. It was the perfect cover.

"Come on," he said. "There's a car I want to hit you with."

She laughed in spite of herself, or maybe it was Heather who laughed and Dave who had made the joke. The glare of electricity on not-quite-clean metal was confusing things, maybe.

She took his hand and wondered how it could be so cold in the balmy summer night.

"Funny thing about muggles," he said when they were standing in line. "Their weapons are much more blunt, but their capacity for amusement-inducing pain is just as, if not more, great."

She paid the mustached woman running the bumper cars and stepped out onto the metal rink, taking the car closest to the wall, a purple one with a troubling dent in the front and not-nearly-enough seat belt for her taste.

He took the one directly behind her.

She swore under her breath.

"Don't worry, Heather," he called as an electric current surged through the cars. "I won't kill you."

She barely heard the last bit, though, because her foot was already on the gas and she'd sped across the rink, teens and children and old men with sunburn on their forehead giggling and shrieking around her as she tried to pull into a U-turn and smashed inevitably into the wall. She turned to see where he was and noticed that, not only was he not directly behind her, he'd found himself in almost the same predicament she had. She reversed and pushed towards him. "Having trouble, Dave?"

He glared.

"Pull the lever on your right."

He did, and instantly catapulted backwards and into her. She screamed as her violet-colored accident-waiting-to-happen skidded across the floor and into the opposite wall.

She glared.

He screamed as he couldn't figure out how to stop.

She laughed.

It was a war, and it was fun.

When they were done she bought him ice cream with chocolate and nuts on top and they sat on a bench and watched the Ferris wheel spinning. It was always odd, meeting like that, but it was the only way to go about it. He wasn't really a spy. He wasn't really anything; but the things he'd told her, the bits of information he'd given her in cafes, hidden in pastries, speaking in code at five-star restaurants, written on napkins and slipped into purses at the beach, were more valuable than time she could have spent at home with Ron, anyway. It was all worth it if it could end the war a little bit faster.

It was also possible that she liked spending time with him… but that might have been a stretch.

"When are you getting married?"

She looked up, chocolate ice cream still on her mouth. "As soon as possible." She swallowed. "When the war…when this is all over with."

"Oh?"

"We're hoping by October."

"Oh. So soon? You really think wonder boy can pull it off by then?"

"We can hope."

They didn't talk for a while, and then he played his bb gun game again until finally he gave up and slipped the man behind the counter a ten in a handshake so he would give him one of the hideous green monster-dolls hung from the ceiling. It's cock-eyed, red stare was the most heinous thing she'd ever seen.

"I think I'll name it Peaches," he declared proudly once the little monstrosity was safe under his arm. She was the only person close enough to notice him sliding a tiny roll of paper into the small, stitch-wanting rip beneath Peaches's fuzzy, green arm. "On the other hand…" He handed it to her with a sly grin. "She won't nearly match my sheets. Perhaps you can do better?"

She clutched it to her heart with a happy sigh. "I'm sure I can. Let's ride the Ferris wheel?"

It wasn't quite real; but it was enough.


A/N: Just another interlude. Next one will be similar to this as well. Next chapter coming A.S.A.P.