"Malfoy!" Hermione gushed, surprising herself at her sudden good mood.
"Granger," he replied wryly, raising his eyebrows.
"I thought you hated me. Were going to hate me…" She stumbled over her words.
"Well, I will if you don't go back to being the witty girl I know and love." He cringed as he said the last word.
"I won't read too much into that, Drakey Dear," she assured, rolling her eyes ever so slightly, and he grinned at her.
"A dance, then?"
"I've still got my milk," she said, raising the glass.
"Ah yes…" He began. "Your milk…" He gave her a perplexed look.
"I have no idea," she replied but drank it anyways. Just then, Blaise joined them.
"Hullo," he said jovially. "I see you've found my girlfriend."
"Date," Hermione corrected icily as Malfoy shot daggers at Blaise. "A date who you ditched, if I remember correctly."
"It wasn't ditching, per say…" Blaise said, smirking that infuriating, infamous Slytherin smirk. Malfoy smirked as he watched Hermione try to control her anger at that damn smirk! "Shall we dance?"
"Let's shall!" Hermione exclaimed with an obviously false perkiness and enthusiasm. Blaise smirked once more, and Hermione caught Malfoy's smirk at her reaction to Blaise's smirk. She glared at him. It's an endless chain of smirks. Next time I'm attracted to someone, I'll make sure he doesn't smirk. EVER! Hermione thought to herself as she and Blaise danced.
"Lovely dancing skills," Blaise remarked thoughtfully as they twirled around.
Hermione rolled her eyes. "You do know the only reason I'm here with you is because you blackmailed me?"
"Is that it? Really?" He asked, raising his eyebrows and letting the smirk begin to slip back on to his face.
Hermione scowled. "Well, you are an awfully good kisser."
"Can I have that on paper?"
"But it's only for the kissing!" She replied hurriedly.
It was his turn to roll his eyes. Hermione gave it about a six on her scale… "You're only in it for the kissing as much as I'm only in it for the lip gloss."
"I refuse to reply to that." They finished dancing and Hermione returned angrily to her milk.
"Blasted blackmail," she muttered. Malfoy popped up behind her once again. "You've got to stop doing that."
"Sorry," he replied, trying not to smirk too much.
"We could just ignore it. And let him tell everyone."
"We could…" He looked doubtful. "But can you think of the rumours?"
"Are you even hearing yourself? After all the rumours that have been going on, and now it matters?"
He grinned. "I remember you mentioning something about you being a monkey who loved boys' bananas in our last discussion about rumours."
"I was trying not to remember, thank you very much."
He gave a short laugh. "So, a dance?"
"If my date will allow it," Hermione said, and then marched over to Blaise. "Blaise, darling?"
She had to hand it to him. He had wit….Not as much as Malfoy, of course. "May I have a dance with Malfoy?"
Blaise's face darkened. "I suppose. But remember the blackmail…"
"Yes darling," she replied, then walked back over to Malfoy, grabbed his arm and walked on to the dance floor. He grinned down at her. "A big improvement on the smirk," she commented when she met his gaze.
"You know, sometimes you're too nice for your own good..."
"Well then, you'll have to teach me to be less nice, won't you Oh Evil One?"
"Are you sure?" He asked, looking solemn. "Once you turn evil there's no going back."
"I'm ready when you are."
"Well, to have an evil heart, you must be filled with anger to make you strong."
"Whatever you say, oh One Who Stalked Away From Me In The Astronomy Tower."
"You have to empty your heart of love and fill it with hate for the world."
"No offense, but maybe you should practice what you preach. Your heart doesn't exactly seem full of hate. And you're taking this way too seriously."
"Just listen. Hate is like meditation for the darker side of your soul."
"Darker side of my soul? What if I don't have a light one? Or a dark one? What if I'm having a lack-of-multiple-personalities-crisis? What do I do then?"
"Just try," he replied, rolling his eyes at her. (Definitely an 8.5 on her eye-roll scale.)
"I guess I can try," Hermione said, then pretended to concentrate.
"I know you can, you're smart."
"But what will my shrink say?"
"I didn't know you needed a shrink," a cold voice interrupted them. Blaise. "But I know what your boyfriend is saying."
"D-A-T-E," Hermione said. "And, frankly, I don't care what you say."
"Screw you," Malfoy cut in, clearly having lost his temper. "Go tell everyone; we couldn't care less." Blaise looked at him in shock, then grinned and strode away.
"What ever happened to 'Think of the rumours'?" Hermione asked as they began dancing once again.
He gave a nonchalant shrug. "Like they haven't devised more interesting stories than the one he's spreading."
"Well put," Hermione said. She looked at him thoughtfully. "Then why are you so fidgety?"
"Of course he would have to come in to this," Hermione said, pursing her lips in annoyance.
"How can you be just annoyed?" He asked in shock.
"Because he's simply an annoyance, if you don't mind me saying."
"It's not that I mind you saying, but he's not like a tiny bug buzzing in your ear, Granger. He's like a rather large dragon that you somehow fail to notice as he creeps up on you."
"Wonderful analogy, Malfoy."
"But my father Granger, that's-"
"Oh, please don't make me turn this into a Romeo and Juliet type story," Hermione said, exasperated.
"That whole 'Deny thy father' sort of thing. I refuse to do it."
"Too mushy for you?" He asked, smirking down at her.
She glared up at him. "Damn smirk…"
"Anyways, do you see? Before what ever got back to him would have just been rumours. Now it's truth."
"But how does he know that?" Hermione asked, shaking her head slightly. "Does he trust Blaise more than his own son?"
"Probably," Malfoy responded bitterly.
"It's just another wild rumour in a sea of many," Hermione assured him.
"Thank you Obi-Wan," he replied, rolling his eyes. (A 9.3 on Hermione's scale.)
She looked at him in shock. "Obi-Wan?"
He looked sheepish. Maybe even blushed a little. "Um…."
"A Star Wars fan in a pure-blooded wizard who gave me hell about being muggle-born?" She raised her eyebrows and smirked at him.
"Now look who's smirking!" He exclaimed, and then continued. "And besides, I don't know what you're talking about."
"Yes," he replied firmly.
"How was the third movie?"
"Even better than the first two, the fight sce-" He broke off and glowered at her.
"You're too easy," she said, shaking her head and grinning.
He smirked once again. "Do you know how sexual that sounded?"
"Does everything relate to sex with you?"
"Haven't we been over this?"
"If it did, we'd probably have a) slept together by now, or b) we wouldn't be dancing together, we'd be making out underneath the punch table."
His face turned from serious back to smirking. "But it was pretty sexual…"
"Malfoy, please focus."
"Well," Hermione began, looking around the Great Hall, "For starters, the fact that everyone is staring at us."
"Oh," he said thoughtfully, following her gaze. "I see."
"Must be my ravishing beauty."
"I was going to say that."
"Uh-huh…" She said, shooting him a doubtful yet amused look.
"Well, fine. I was actually going to say that it was my good looks."
"That's what I thought."
"That's what I thought you thought."
"Don't even start," Hermione exclaimed, but she was smiling all the same.
"Let's dance over this way," he said, pulling a face and tugging her to the other side of the dance floor.
Hermione looked around at the people they were moving away from. "Why?"
"They're all-" He began, and then looked at her.
"They're all what?" She asked, tone icy. She looked back at the couples behind them. Realization dawned on her."Muggle-born, right?"
He looked at her, seeming upset at himself. Then he nodded slowly.
"You know, after all this, you're still an arrogant pureblood prick. I should have listened to everyone who told me it wouldn't ever work, that you weren't worth it and whatever it was we had was a figment of my over-active imagination. Comes from reading too many fairy tales," Hermione said, voice low and quiet, not even as dangerous and fearsome as she'd always been when she was angry. Then she began to walk away, back to Blaise, much to his disgust. He watched her back walk away, and then he walked carefully off the dance floor.
Twenty minutes later Hermione was standing by the food table, drinking some more milk. Blaise had spoken with her for a little while, gotten angry at her impudence and grabbed a veela-like girl to dance with for the rest of the evening. Despite this fact, Hermione still caught his eyes wandering back to her all too often. She smirked into her milk at the thought.
Suddenly, she felt a tug at the hem of her dress. Looking around, she bent down and lifted up the tablecloth. "Malfoy?"
"Granger." The blonde-haired boy looked up at her, smiling slightly.
"You know," she mused, "If I weren't hating you right now I'd think this was amusing."
"I was trying to steer clear of the usual 'Walking through the ground' cliché."
"A good idea, I'm sure."
Hermione sighed, looked behind her, then ducked under the table with him. "My dress will get dirty."
"Do you really care?"
"No," she replied, grinning at him. Then her face turned serious. "I'm not going to forgive you as easily this time Malfoy."
He looked upset. "I know. I'm sorry, I just….It's drilled into my head."
"So why do you like kissing me so much?"
"Pure male instinct, I guess."
Hermione peered out of the cloth, then put her finger to her lips. He nodded in understanding.
"That Zabini guy says they've been sleeping together." The first voice said.
"No shit?" Asked the second voice in disbelief.
"No shit. I wonder how he would know?"
"Didn't he come with her?"
"Merlin knows there's probably enough room in those private chambers of hers…." The voices trailed off as the click of shoes became fainter.
"Threesomes, huh?" Malfoy said, first to speak. He was smirking once again.
Hermione shot him a glare. "I believe you were apologizing, not thinking about sex."
"You know I'm always thinking about sex," he replied in mock disbelief. Then he leaned for ward, cupped her face, and kissed her long and hard. "That's the best apology I can give."
"You've never been one with words."
"I resent that."
"As you should."
"I suppose," Hermione replied as they slipped out from under the buffet table. They were incredibly inconspicuous about it, though how you can be inconspicuous while climbing out from under a buffet table is beyond me. "Threesomes, honestly….Like I'd ever sleep with you."
"But you'd sleep with Blaise?" He asked curiously as they began dancing once again.
"Maybe," she said nonchalantly, shrugging as best she could while twirling around.
"You are the funny one," he replied, shooting Blaise a death glare.
"I'd like to say he was the only thing standing between us…."
"But then there was the fact that you couldn't admit that you loved me."
"I don't love you," Hermione replied swiftly, instantly losing her joking manner. "I like you a lot, so much that I think it's not real at all, maybe just something for reality TV show-"
"Never mind. The point is, I don't love you. I like you enough to ignore the rumours, but I refuse to buy into the 'star-crossed lovers' cliché."
"I never understood that term." She began to reply, but she had that know-it-all look in her eyes, so he cut her off. "And thanks, Miss-Walking-Talking-Encyclopedia, but I don't need to know."
She glared at him, but smiled all the same. "Anyways, it was you who couldn't admit your love for me."
"Love you? No, you're far too annoying and moody for me to actually love you. Strong liking, yes."
"Well, it's good that I've taken a strong liking to you as well then."
"Would you fancy a walk in the grounds, Hermione Granger?"
"I thought you wanted to avoid clichés?" She replied, looking at the doors.
"I know a great make out spot near some rose bushes."
"Don't be silly," Hermione replied, but took his arm and began tosteer him off the dance floor.
"There's a lilac bush closer to the Quidditch field."
"That's more like it, Draco Malfoy."
Blaise Zabini watched the two of them go with an icy glare, and brought the veela-girl to his bedroom that night. Harry and Ginny, who spent most of the ball hiding from Ron, watched them go with grins on their faces and another shared look. Ron shook his head at their flirty banter as they passed by him and continued to search for Harry and Ginny.
Hermione ended up being flown up to her window later that night, much to her terror, but the two of them continued to meet up in various places. And I'd like to say that it ended happily ever after, but you know real life doesn't work that way.
Especially between a Gryffindor and a Slytherin.
A/N: Yes, it's finally over. That was the best ending I could come up with, and I'm sorry if you didn't like it. Many thanks to Monica7725, who's been around since the beginning. The same to kiss-of-cuteness, nightgodess, and a few others. (I just did a quick glance at my over-all reviews.) Thanks to everyone; could you, if you have time, tell me your favourite lines or scenes from this fic? Or just the past few chapters, if that's easier.
And thanks to MG, if she actually reads this, who had the privilege of nagging me in person. You could all thank her too, seeing as how she forced me to update faster…