Come Fly With Me
A/N: "A quoi ça sert l'amour?" (What's the point of love?) by Edith Piaf with Theo Sarapo is an amazing French song. I love it so much that I'm giving you the link with a cute video and subtitles:
Go to youtube and attach this to the end of your address: watch?v=94ZaQkTCM40
A Quoi ça sert L'amour?
The sites of Arles took Hermione's breath away. From simple attractions like Langlois Bridge, made famous by the paintings of Van Gogh, to the Romanesque architecture of historical churches like St. Trophime, her pores soaked in the culture. When not taking in the views of Arles, she was consulting her travel guide, looking for what to do next. The city was alive with history; the food was divine. Hermione was a lost soul for the macaroon shops, and it was difficult to pass a bakery without being drawn in by the aromas.
The dying days of June were hot as well, bathing her in a heat that the gentle breeze could not chase away.
The hotel she stayed out was a busy tourist location, and thankfully a modern one equipped with air condition.
After travelling through Provence and arriving at her final destination in Nimes, the quaint inn she arrived at was not so obliging. Warmth oozed from the walls.
The tiny old madam who ran the inn met Hermione at the door, giving her a kiss on the cheek and insisting on taking Hermione's roll-on trunk, ushering the younger witch into the white two-story building.
"Ma cherie, ce qui vous intéresse, c'est les attractions moldus, c'est correcte?"
"Oui madame. Le Pont du Gard et le Maison Carrée m'intéressent et tous autres choses que vous recommandez."
"C'est bon." 1
And the elder witch began to list off places for Hermione to see, and she began to wonder if two days would be enough!
The day was young and Hermione was ready to tackle it all. She set off wishing the elder witch goodbye, and promising to return before ten; the lady was making a honey dough treat she wanted to feed Hermione for dessert.
Hermione started with Maison Carrée, a beautiful roman temple supported by twenty white columns. She took the muggle tour first, and then entered a dingy flower shop across the street to join the other wizard tourists in a second tour.
Afterwards she took a long walk in the heat to a market place recommended by her guide, where she dined on cold soup and salmon to cool down.
After lunch she moved on to the Arena of Nimes.
Hermione took a deep breath and just looked and looked. The Arena of Nimes was an amphitheatre built after the roman fashion, located in the heart of the city. The very size of it made her feel small, yet at the same time wonderful that she belonged to a race that could create such magnificent structures. She was drinking in the detail, viewing the two-tiered arches as they linked around to encase the inner grounds.
"You know, there's a myth about staring at this for too long..."
Hermione nearly jumped out of her skin. She turned her head, disbelieving her ears. Her ears were not wrong.
Draco was standing just behind her, staring at the building too.
"What?" She said, wincing at the sharpness in her voice.
"Oh, don't you know? They say if you stare at it for too long, you'll be cursed with a bullish lover."
She almost rolled her eyes. "You just made that up, didn't you?"
He smiled, turning his gaze from the structure to her. "Maybe. I thought it was a good pun."
"Draco, why are you here?"
He shrugged. "Did you forget that I've got a villa in the south of France? I'm on vacation...what are you doing here?"
She was not fooled for a moment. "And your villa is in Nimes?"
He put his hands in his pockets, turning away from the arena. "It's north of Toulon actually."
"Toulon." A coastal city east of Nimes; they were nowhere near Toulon.
"Thought I'd take in the sights of Nimes today...maybe catch a bull fight."
It was an obvious lie. The bullfights at the arena took place only twice a year. Her heart was beating so fast, and under the midday sun she knew she was not hallucinating. Yet to run into Draco Malfoy here, of all places, was unfathomable.
"So," he tried again. "I suppose you're here on vacation as well. What is next on your itinerary?"
She took a deep breath to calm her heart. Can we really just talk like this, pretending nothing happened to us?
Aloud she said, "I'm...going to Nimes Cathedral next."
"Oh, what a coincidence, I'm going there next myself. Shall we then?" He motioned for her to walk.
She did not know how to act. So, she started walking. Her mind was going a mile a minute, wondering how she had gotten there, with Draco strolling beside her, as they walked in one direction away from the arena. She didn't even consult her guide to see if they were going the right way. That was not the most addressing issue at present. Why was he here? Who told him she was coming here? She was surprised by his decision to meet her though. The last time she had seen him, he was embracing her and missing his mother. The time before that she had walked off on him. They had no closure, yet here he was, talking to her like an old friend.
Somehow they made it to Nimes Cathedral, mercifully only a ten-minute walk away, talking of France and the weather and the people, such mundane things considering what they could be speaking of. Hermione felt more and more perplexed by his behaviour.
"I'm surprised you had time for vacation Draco," She said as they viewed the gothic towers. Though it was marvellous, she could hardly appreciate it in a state like this. "I've read some news about you—about Malfoy Manor and your success, that is."
"Yes. Now the Daily Prophet suddenly loves me and wants to be friends." He replied dryly. "It keeps me busy but I was able to get a few days off to…to visit my villa. How about you?"
"Same. I mean, not the villa part, but I've been busy and the hospital decided it was time I took a few days off."
They kept their eyes on the cathedral and away from each other. Another moment, Draco said. "The angel carvings are impressive, aren't they? Shall we go inside and get a better look?"
Hermione nodded, and they went in. From the cathedral Draco continued to accompany Hermione on her sightseeing. After a day of taking in the sites of the city, Draco suggested dinner.
"Not that I come to Nimes often, but I know a good place to eat or two."
If Hermione weren't so nervous she would have groaned. Trust him to have connections in all the major French towns.
He brought her to an intimate cobbled restaurant down one of the quaint streets of the city. She was relieved that the patrons did not welcome Draco by name; at least there were places he went where he wasn't known.
The lights were dim and there were only eight tables, each seating two. It looked as though there was only one server, a middle-aged plump woman, and a man with a bushy grey moustache speaking to her, whom she assumed to be the chef judging by his attire.
"Bonsoir monsieur, bonsoir mademoiselle." The woman said when they entered, breaking her conversation with the man. She seated them at an empty table in the back, and promised to be back soon for their orders.
Hermione looked around. There were five other couples there, already eating. Couples. Not like her and Draco.
Draco handed her a little black menu that was tucked to the side of the table, and began leafing through a smaller red booklet: the wine menu.
Hermione stared at the menu but could not process it. She was sitting in a romantic restaurant with Draco, six months after they had broken up, or to be more specific, after she had left him and refused to return his calls; now they were acting is if they were only friends. They had spent the day looking at tourist attractions on her list and chatting frivolously. This was surreal and she needed to think.
"If you're unsure I would recommend the Coq au Vin: it's a chicken stew made with wine. I had that last time I was here, though it was over ten years ago."
"Thanks," she said, blushing and forcing herself to focus on the menu. She needed to end this day with him so she could be alone to review the situation.
She took Draco's suggestion because it sounded tempting, and switching menus with him, she settled on a light wine as the dish already had Burgundy in it. After the server had come to take their orders, Draco struck up a conversation, again friendly and unassuming. Hermione was baffled. He was an intense guy, not a friendly one.
"So I suppose you'll be going back to Toulon tonight then?" She asked, sampling her wine.
"No, I thought I would stay another day. Unless of course, you'd like to see my villa."
She closed her eyes and told herself to ignore the memories of a happier time. She would not react to his words, words once said as a blatant sexual innuendo. Instead, she answered seriously. "I'm afraid I've only got one day left in France and I plan on finishing up Nimes. Of course, there is so much I won't have the time to see, but I'll try and pack in as much as I can tomorrow."
He nodded. "Well, another time then. If you don't mind, I'd like to join you tomorrow too."
She frowned, wondering what game he was playing. Since when did Draco say 'If you don't mind'? His politeness was unnerving her.
"I suppose that would be alright," she consented eventually.
"Grand. I'll meet you in the morning then."
When they finished their meal he insisted on walking her back to her inn. It was past ten but the elderly witch was waiting for her, opening the door right on time to welcome Hermione and Draco in for dessert. Draco excused himself, claiming it was late and he had better go back to his hotel, but the innkeeper insisted that he at least take some honey dough puffs with him. He did and bid them goodnight.
"'Ermione, quel bel homme! Est-il ton petit ami?"
"Non, non" Hermione blushed. "Simplement, un ami."
"Amis," the eldery witch said with a twinkle in her eye. "Oh être jeune et connaître les maux qu'amour inflige!" 2
Hermione rolled her eyes but was thankful for the dessert at least.
"'Moine? Why are you calling me so early in the morning? Aren't you in France?"
"….all right, all right. I told him."
"I'm sorry, but it had to be done. Vacationing alone? Really? It was the perfect opportunity for him to meet you. You know, so you guys can resolve…it."
"I cannot believe you told him where I would be."
"But you're happy he came, aren't you?"
True to his word Draco was waiting for her downstairs that morning. He was chatting away with the elderly witch, and again Hermione became perturbed.
"Morning Granger," he drawled when he saw her.
After again promising the innkeeper to be back by ten that night, she left with Draco for another day of sightseeing.
"I wanted to see the Pont du Gard first, since it's a little far." She suggested.
He seemed content to follow. Off they went to see the scenic aqueduct bridge north of Nimes. Surrounded by the fresh greenery of trees and the deep blue of the Gardon River below it, the aqueduct offered a romantic landscape Hermione had not anticipated. Luckily, Malfoy was all ease and friendliness, with no hint of ardour. She told herself this was a good thing.
By lunchtime they were back in the city and Hermione began to relax. If Draco wanted to play at being friends she could handle it. Of course, her heart still ached when she looked at him, especially when she focused on his hands, remembering the feelings they once gave her, or his eyes, and the depths she could lose herself in. But she mustn't think like that. Draco had not brought up the topic of their falling out, and he was trying very hard to be cordial and platonic with her. He must have moved on. The question was, could she?
"What are you thinking of?" He asked her.
They were sitting at an outdoor café, under an umbrella that blocked out the harsh sunrays. She wished in vain for a breeze.
"Just…things." She sighed.
He quirked an eyebrow. "What kind of things?"
"Life." She offered lamely. "You know, we haven't talk about our lives. How have you been since…for the past six months? I've read all about your success, but why don't you tell me about your daily routine."
"My daily routine?" He smirked. "I wouldn't want to put you to sleep. Let's just say I'm a busy wizard these days."
"Too busy to be sociable? It was your birthday a few weeks ago, right?"
"It was, but I didn't do anything for it." He admitted.
"That's sad. Shall I buy you a slice of cake to make up for it?" She smiled.
"Sure, but let's save the dessert for after dinner tonight." He countered.
So he planned on having dinner with her again. She sighed.
"What about you Granger? I don't have the leisure of the Daily Prophet writing stories on your life. Tell me something."
She shrugged. "I told you all of it yesterday. Work is busy, and that's my life right now."
"No boyfriend?" He asked calmly, because he knew the answer. He had hired someone to keep tabs on her, after all.
She reddened, looking down at her iced café. "Not right now, no."
"Oh," He replied.
"What about you?" She said in a voice so low he barely heard her.
"Right now? I'm seeing nobody."
Hermione caught the meaning behind his words immediately. "Not right now. You were seeing someone before then?"
"I wouldn't exactly say I was seeing anyone exclusively, no."
So he was just sleeping around, she deduced. It shouldn't bother her, and yet, the unexpected pain she felt blossom in her stomach made it difficult to look uninterested. Suddenly she didn't care if it was pathetic to ask, she had to know.
"How many women have you been involved with since me?" She asked bluntly.
He leaned back in his chair. "None. Honest."
"Come on Draco, I wasn't born yesterday…"
"Okay, so maybe half a dozen give or take…"
"I'm kidding Granger. Look, I really did bury myself in my work. Did my old mate Blaize Zambini owl me after years of silence, and try and set me up on a double date? Yes. Did I enjoy myself? No."
"So you did go on a date."
"A couple of them. And no, none of them I was interested in. Blaize thought I was turning fairy. I didn't have the…heart to try anyone new out."
"You don't need a heart to try anyone out." She replied dryly.
"I do after having you sweetheart."
She felt her heart skip a beat, but she schooled her features to remain composed. She sipped her cold café and could not make eye contact with him.
He saw that she wasn't ready to go down that road yet. He took out his wallet, placed some banknotes on the table, and said, "Shall we continue on our explorations?"
Her drink was not done, but Hermione was grateful for an excuse to walk and not have to face him anymore.
"Let's" She replied.
A/N: Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays! Happy New Year! I've been pretty lousy lately with updating because of school. But I'm on break until January 6th so I finally had a chance to do some writing and editing. I have one chapter left to write (this story has two more chapters coming) and then it's done! wowza...
Translations for this chapter (please forgive me any french speakers; my french is Canadian school french):
"Well dear, you will be interested in seeing the muggle attractions also, am I right?"
"That's right, madam. I am interested in Pont du Gard and Maison Carrée, and anything else you may recommend."
"Hermione, what a handsome man! Is he your boyfriend?"
"No, no!" Hermione blushed, "just a friend…"
"Friends," the elderly witch said with a twinkle in her eye. "Oh to be young and in love!"