"You could still back out, you know," he told her, his eyes glinting maliciously and his mouth twisting malevolently.
She squinted her eyes and twitched her mouth. More than anything else, it was when someone goaded her into quitting an activity that spurred her into doing it even more. "What's the matter, Malfoy? Afraid to be seen with me?" she asked, her voice dropping lower. Hermione arched her brow at him. "I'd have you know that reverse psychology never really did work well on me. If you want to quit, then all you have to do is say it."
Malfoy glared at her and took her arm. She flinched, and as she did she saw his lips quirk. "I never quit," he said, his hand traveling from her arm down to her hand. His skin was incredibly warm, she noticed. "You of all people should know that."
Hermione raised her chin, and when she felt his fingers over her palm she slid her hand down to entwine it with his. "You of all people should know that I never quit either."
He looked down on their hands, met her eyes, and smirked. "This should be interesting." Malfoy's eyes were then drawn to something behind her, and when she glanced at where he was concentrated at he said, "What are you looking at, Weasel? And quit manhandling my girl, you bloody idiot!"
Ron's face flushed, and he opened his mouth to say something but changed his mind at the last minute. The girl in his arms squirmed, and said in a low but hearable voice, "If your hand dip one inch lower—"
Hermione turned away, and was unfortunately met with Malfoy's pale and pointed face. "He was not manhandling Pansy," she said. She could literally feel her blood boil at his accusation, and her hands poised to ball into fists. However, since one of her hands was curled intimately around his, it seemed as though she squeezed his fingers intentionally.
"And now you're manhandling me," he said, snatching his hand away. Malfoy sneered at her. "Bloody idiots, you Gryffindors."
"Oh!" she exclaimed, crossing her arms over her chest. "I'll have you know, you foul—"
"Ahem, ahem! Attention everyone!"
Sending one last glare at Malfoy's direction, Hermione spun her heel and focused her attention on Professor Flitwick. The miniscule Professor was standing on a stool and was clapping his little hands to gain the interest of everyone. "Thank you all for being here. Now, most of you are probably surprised to see me as your dance instructor, for only students of my house know how much a dance aficionado I am." He grinned. "But enough of that. Before we officially begin I would like to know if all of you have found your partners..." He looked around, and Hermione did as well. Most of the seventh year students were standing beside their partners and only a handful were standing alone. "Ah, Miss Bulstrode, Mr. Longbottom would be joining us in a little while, do not fret. Miss Bones, I'm sure Mr. Finnegan is around here—oh, there he is! Yes, yes, join your partner." Professor Flitwick made shooing gestures with his hands. "Now—Mr. Potter! Oh, yes, Miss Zabini was just looking for you—"
Hermione looked at Harry, and kept herself from laughing when she saw his mouth curl in what was known as a poor imitation of Snape's expression. Everyone knew that Blaise had been the one who requested for Harry to be her partner. Everyone also knew that Harry detested Blaise as much as the girl adored him, and so it came as a death sentence to him when he received the news that Professor Flitwick agreed to Ms. Zabini's request.
"Come now, Mr. Potter, take Ms. Zabini's hand… that's it, that's it, very good!" Professor Flitwick clapped again and bared his teeth in a wide smile. "Excellent, just excellent. Now, I'm sure everyone has his or her own dancing partner—yes, Mr. Malfoy?"
She looked at her side to see Malfoy lowering his hand. He cocked his head to one side, and said, "I would like to know how come everyone else seemed to have been partnered with the person they wanted, whereas I… well…"
There were very pregnant and silent moments that passed since Malfoy spoke. Hermione felt herself blushing to the roots of her hair, and suddenly it felt suffocating and hot. Her pride screamed to be salvaged. She raised her hand. "Yes, Professor Flitwick. I want to know the reason as well, because personally I would rather face a ferret than… well…"
This time, a couple of people laughed, Ron's and Harry's noticeably the loudest of them.
"All right, that's enough!" Professor Flitwick warned, sending glances at everyone's way. He focused his attention at them again, and his face was screwed up in a reprimanding expression. "Mr. Malfoy, Miss Granger, I am disappointed that you had to ask this question in front of everyone might I add." He shook his head. "You two have been partnered for the very simple and basic reason of being the Head Boy and Head Girl this year, and personally I expected a more mature attitude from both of you."
Hermione looked down at her feet, feeling herself turn a darker shade of red. She heard shuffling sounds beside her, but didn't dare look at Malfoy.
"Now, I should warn you all that from this moment forth I would not entertain any more request for changing partners – yes, Mr. Potter, though I know I owe you my life this rule, unfortunately, includes you." He clapped his hand again, and a relatively loud music filled the room. "Face your partners, everyone!"
Hermione lifted her head and turned very, very slowly towards her partner. His mouth was poised to open, but before he did she beat him to it. "You should be ashamed of yourself," she seethed, her mouth thinning after she spoke. "Humiliating me in front of everyone—"
"Humiliate?" he demanded, glaring at her. "You were the one who brought that stupid issue—"
"Ha!" she said. "And doesn't it just flatter you that most of us still remember that incident as though it happened yesterday?"
"Someday," he said, grabbing her hand and squeezing it very hard. "Someday, I'll show you what it feels like to be—"
"—bounced around?" she asked innocently.
"No," he said, lips beginning to smile widely. "Humiliated."
Somehow the word, and the way he said it, made her feel a little nervous. Don't be ridiculous, she admonished herself. What could he possibly do to me? Especially since we're in front of every seventh year student I know and a professor as well!
"Step closer to each other, that's it…"
Professor Flitwick's voice boomed around them, but it sounded very subdued to Hermione as she noticed Malfoy stepping closer to her. Very, very close. "Do you think this is close enough for Professor Flitwick?" he asked, his breath fanning across her face. That just proved how close he was standing in front of her.
She swallowed, but of course she didn't show how uncomfortable she felt at his invasion of her personal space. "I suppose," she responded, turning her head away.
"All right, now girls, I want you to place your left hand on your partner's shoulder, like this…"
Hermione bit her lip, and was
terribly self-conscious of what she was doing. Her hand was trembling and she
hated herself for it.
"Come now Granger," Malfoy drawled. "The instruction was rather simple, really…"
She placed her hand on his shoulder so fast; the action produced a clapping sound.
"Manhandling me again?" he asked, chuckling.
Hermione could feel how his chest reverberated as he laughed. "Shh!" she hissed.
"Now extend your right arm with your hand intertwined with your partner's… oh, don't be so stiff, Mr. Potter! Relax, feel the music…"
She couldn't help it; a smile erupted from her lips, and she saw Malfoy's mouth widen as well. "I could just imagine Potter having the grandest time of his life," he said.
That comment elicited a chuckle from her. "I could imagine Blaise as well."
"Step to the right, one, two, three, then to the left, one, two, three…excellent, Miss Parkinson, Mr. Weasley!"
Hermione rolled her eyes as she snuck a glance at Ron and the pug-faced cow named Parkinson. "It's not like this is a hard dance," she whispered.
"You know this one?" Malfoy asked.
She blinked, and turned her attention to her partner. "What?"
He looked vaguely amused. "I said, do you know this dance?"
She concentrated on his eyes, and noticed that in their gray depths there were some scattered black lines and blue specks. Odd. "Yes," she answered, distracted. "But—"
Malfoy grinned. "Good. Let's show these idiots how this is done."
She was about to say that it had been years since she saw this dance performed in front of her, but before she could speak he had stepped away from her, and not letting go of her right hand he twirled her once, twice, thrice. Feeling the music pumping within her, Hermione allowed herself to follow his movements, and in the process remembered how the dance went.
Malfoy grabbed her around the waist and pulled her to him, and she arched her back backwards as he lowered her in a dip. The dance they were doing was quite bold, and as far as Hermione knew only adults performed it, so it came as a surprise to her that he knew how to do it. As she straightened, he pushed her away, and ran his hand from the side of her face down to her hips. The touch jolted her from dancing, as she knew that wasn't a part of the routine, and she stopped in the midst of the song. However, her ceasing didn't hinder him from continuing. He snaked his hand around her, stepped closer, and breathed on her ear. "I thought you know how this dance goes?" he asked.
"I do," she asserted, shivering as she felt his warm breath upon the sensitive skin in her ear. "But—"
"Then dance with me. Or are you afraid?"
The insulting tone, the insinuating words, did it. She turned sharply, until her back was facing his front, with no space at all between their bodies. She spoke, with her mouth very close to his neck, "I am not afraid."
"Let's just see about that."
Malfoy placed his hands on the sides of her waist, and she swayed left, right, feeling him do the same. Hermione stepped forward, and turned on her own, until she felt him stand near her. As she turned, she extended her hand, and he grabbed it, entwining his fingers with hers. She stopped twirling, and together they stepped to the right three times, and then to the left, three times again. They faced one another, and boldly, Hermione mimicked his action with a few modifications of her own. She ran her hand from his face down to his chest and stomach, and stopped just on the top of his belt buckle; never looking away from his eyes as she did. Take that, ferret.
He quirked his brow. "Interesting," he breathed.
She smiled. "I'm just getting started."
True to her word, Hermione was the one who stepped closer to him this time. She placed a hand on the back of his head, and the other on his waist, and drew her face to his neck, breathing on his skin. He answered by moving his hands to her hips, and they swung from left to right. Malfoy turned her around, grabbed her hand, and twirled her once, twice, thrice. He then dipped her very low, and pulled her to him. His face inched closer and closer to hers, and she concentrated on his eyes; and then, she noticed that his gaze was drawn lower to her mouth…
She blinked, remembered where they were, and jumped away from Malfoy as though he was death himself.
"Well," Professor Flitwick muttered, as the music died down. The obviously shocked professor was perspiring and shuffling his feet. "That was…um…"
Hermione swallowed, and the sound was amplified as no one inside the room was speaking… or moving… at all. The rest of their seventh year classmates were just gawking at them, their mouths opening wide and dripping with saliva. She dared to sneak a glance at Harry and Ron. Harry looked about ready to throw up, as he was very green on the face. Ron's, though, was very red.
"That was… an interesting demonstration," Professor Flitwick said, finally ending his hanging sentence. "Yes, yes, very… interesting."
"You mean we have to do that?" Pansy demanded in a very shrill voice.
"Oh, we should! We really, really should!" Blaise said in an equally shrill voice.
Murmurs began to spread around the room, the first sign of life from the other students. Some agreed, some didn't, and some simply made noise.
"No, of course not, absolutely not!" Professor Flitwick said in an attempt to calm everyone down. "Our graduation dance is relatively simpler than… that…"
Hermione felt as though she wanted to scream, throw up, and die, or possibly do all three at the same time. She spun her heels and left the Great Hall, pushing a number of students out of her way in the process.
She stopped running as she reached the door of the Gryffindor room. Hermione placed a hand on the wall, panting, catching her breath. She heard footsteps behind her, and she turned, then wished she didn't.
Malfoy was there, and he was smiling deviously. "I told you, didn't I?" he said.
His words returned to her, and she blinked, not believing how gullible she was. He knew her weakness, and exploited it. Now, here she was, humiliated, just like he promised she would be. "Very devious and cunning of you," she spoke, not letting him know how much shaken up and frazzled she was because of the whole dancing event. "I have to hand it to you, Malfoy."
He bowed dramatically. "Coming from your mouth, I shall cherish these words forever."
Hermione held up a hand. "I wasn't finished yet," she said. "You humiliated me. I admit, you played me very well. However, don't expect this to be the end."
"I know it isn't," he said, cocking his head.
She arched her brow at him. "Good."
Hermione was about to send him away when he spoke again.
"You dance… very well, I must admit."
She looked at him, surprised once again at the compliment. Not finding any hint of sarcasm or malice on his face, she smirked. "Only when I have an equally good partner."
Malfoy's smile widened. "Should I be looking forward… or looking out… for your retribution?"
Hermione grinned. "Bet your devious and cunning arse on it."
Author's Notes: I hope you liked this story… it's kinda weird, don't you think? The idea just struck me when I stared at a poster of Dirty Dancing 2. I'm still alive! Woohoo! The hell week is over, thank God ;) Anyways, yes, chapter 24 of Abyss is being conceptualized as we speak. So when is it going to be posted? The latest would be next Monday, but I'm hoping I'd be able to post it on Thursday or Friday.