Bus Stop—Parts 1 and 2

By Marmalade Fever

Disclaimer: I do not own nor claim the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling.

Author's Note: This is based on a song called Bus Stop. I highly recommend you all listen to it if you ever get a chance.

Part 1

It was raining, and Hermione was running through the light summer storm, her clunky heels scraping on the wet sidewalk. Out of breath, she came to a stop, shivering with cold. The man beside her did not turn to look at her but calmly asked her to share his umbrella. She thanked him briefly before he turned, his black umbrella sheltering her at once. The slight smile she had been about to greet him with disappeared as she got a good look at him.

"Malfoy?" she asked, dazzled at the appearance of a man she hadn't seen in nearly ten years.

"Granger?" he asked indignantly. He looked down at his hand that was holding his umbrella, but he didn't move it away. "Fancy seeing you here," he said shortly.

"Yes, I would say the same thing," she replied. "Are you waiting for the bus?"

"Oh no," he said sarcastically, "I just enjoy standing on sidewalks in the middle of nowhere while it's raining. It's refreshing, you know?" He was wearing an olive trench coat and a brimmed hat, looking strangely as if he had just stepped out of a fifty's detective story. "And you, Granger, are you taking the bus?"

"No more than you are," she replied snippily. She looked at him, puzzled. "What I don't get is why. Why on earth would you of all people be taking the bus?"

He smirked at her. "My P.O." he said simply.

"P.O.?" Hermione asked, confused.

He nodded then rolled up his pant leg slightly to reveal a metal band around his ankle. "Parole Officer," he explained. "Not allowed to do magic," he added, surreptitiously.

"Oh," Hermione said, flushing scarlet. "I didn't know."

He examined her. "So what's your story? Why are you taking the bus?"

She sighed. "My great-aunt lives down the block. She doesn't know about my…" she lowered her voice, "abilities. I know she's watching me through her window, so I can't just flit away." She paused. "She's very ill," she explained.

"I see," he replied. They stood in silence for a while, Hermione rolling up her sleeve to check her watch.

"It's a very nice umbrella," she said at last.

He looked for a moment as if he was going to laugh at her. "It had better be. It cost fifty galleons from Burgleman's."

"For an umbrella?" she asked, her mouth dropping open.

He nodded. "Only the best for yours truly," he said, smirking at her. "I never leave home without it."

Hermione frowned. "You don't have a wand stashed in it?" she asked. A couple standing nearby stared at them as if they were both quite insane.

He rolled his eyes. "Oh, please. If I did, do you think I'd be telling you?"

"From your tone, I suppose not." Hermione crossed her arms and stared resolutely down the soggy street.

"Cold?" he asked.

"Just a bit," she admitted. "Why, going to offer me your coat?"

He laughed. "No. Although, I am sure that would make an excellent story to tell around the Weasley dinner table." He paused. "Tell me, Granger, did the two of you end up together?"

Hermione didn't turn to face him. "Not that it's any of your business, but no."

"No?" he asked. "Now that is surprising. You know this means Goyle owes me ten galleons?"

She turned to give him a look of disbelief. "You've been betting on my relationship with Ron?"

He shrugged. "It was an easy win."

Her mouth opened wide. "Easy win? What is that supposed to mean?"

He smirked. "For once, Granger, I'm going to pay you a compliment. Don't let it go to your head. You're too good for him. Simple as that."

She was astounded. "You think so? He is a pureblood, you know," she reminded.

"And too dumb to know that if you stick your finger in an electric socket, you're going to get zapped," he said lazily.

"How would you know…"

"And anyway, Granger, you're much better looking than he is, any day."

"Oho, compliment number two," she said, amused. "What's next? Going to tell me I'm too good for you, now, eh?"

He didn't answer. "That's my bus," he said, pointing down the street. "Lucky number fifty-two."

She raised an eyebrow. "Not lucky number seven?"

He turned and shook his head. "Not all numbers are lucky for everyone," he said.

"And why exactly is fifty-two lucky for you?" she asked, moving some of her damp hair aside.

He looked at her for a moment. "Because that bus hasn't exploded on me yet," he answered.

Hermione frowned. "Well, I can tell you now that fifty-two isn't lucky for me at all."

"Oh," he said, "and why's that?" The bus had just come to a rolling stop.

"Because that's my bus, too, meaning that I have to share it with you." She tried to look upset about it, but it was hard when Malfoy was chuckling.

"I don't think you really mind that much, Granger," he commented, as other passengers boarded and got off. They joined the queue and got on, each of them showing the driver their bus pass.

"Oh, no," she mumbled, looking around.

"What?" he asked.

"The only empty seat," she said, pointing. "Now I have to sit next to you, too."

He smirked, though she could only see half of his face. He took the window seat while she sat beside the aisle. "Isn't this cozy?" he asked, enjoying himself.

"Only if you've forgotten out mutual enmity," she said, not meeting his gaze.

"Oh, don't worry, Granger. I haven't," he assured her.

The bus rumbled forward, and the two sat stiffly next to one another. Hermione reached into her purse and pulled out a pack of gum. "Want a piece?" she asked.

He shook his head. "Nah, don't care for it much," he said.

She blinked. "You don't care for gum?"

He shook his head again. "Correction, I don't care for muggle gum. Too much artificial sugar."

She unwrapped a piece for herself. "It's better than rotting your teeth out," she said.

He shrugged. "I don't sacrifice quality, even if it is for the sake of my teeth." He took his hat off and twirled it on his finger.

"You know," she said slowly, "not all muggle gum has artificial sugar." She kept her voice low.

"And Honey Dukes is still better," he pointed out. "Besides, what's the big point about chewing on something if you don't get to swallow?"

"Flavor and texture," she answered.

He laughed. "And let me guess… a jaw workout?"

"Why's that funny?" she asked, unfolding her arms.

"Because eating does the same thing," he said, "and you get nutrients. How about that?"

"Well, with gum you won't gain any weight," she pointed out, "so long as it's…"

"Artificial sugar, I know," he said. "Granted, the amount of sugar in sugared gum wouldn't amount to very much." He stopped twirling his hat and put it back on his head. "So where're you headed, anyway?"

"Home," she said, shrugging.

"Still live with the parents?" he asked casually.

She stared at him. "Malfoy, I'm twenty-eight. I should say not."

"You never know," he replied, staring out the window. "Live alone?"

She frowned. "I'm not entirely sure I should tell you."

"Just curious. I'm not going to break-in or anything," he said, turning back to her. "I might be a criminal, but I'm not a petty criminal."

"Well, now there's a load off my mind," she muttered. The bus slowed. "This is my stop," she said.

"Have fun living either alone or not," he said, smirking at her.

"Good-bye, Malfoy," she said, and walked away.

Part 2

The following morning was cloudy, and Hermione wore a warm cardigan. Her aunt had made her play cards with her. She said that if they only had two more players, they could start their own bridge club. Her aunt thanked her kindly for visiting, gave her a wet, orangey kiss on the forehead, and sent her on her way.

After stopping to rub the remains of lipstick off of her brow, Hermione continued down the sidewalk to the bus stop. She had been waiting there for all of two minutes when she spotted someone coming down the sidewalk from the opposite direction.

"Hello, again," Hermione greeted unenthusiastically.

"Hello to you too, Granger," Malfoy said. He was swinging his umbrella in his hand. To her surprise, he opened it, and stood next to her so that they were each under it.

"You do know it's not raining, don't you?" she asked.

He shrugged, a small twinkle in his eye. "I thought it was our own little tradition," he explained in the most jovial voice she'd ever heard from him.

"You can't have a tradition after only one day," she objected, though she felt a small smile tugging at the corners of her mouth.

He tutted. "Why sure you can. Every tradition starts with a first time. It's just a matter of keeping it up," he explained, sending her a wink.

Hermione raised an eyebrow. "Who are you, and what have you done with Draco Malfoy?"

He laughed. "Granger, Granger, Granger… Give me a break."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "So what are you doing in this neck of London?"

He considered the question. "Not very much. I'm mostly just standing, holding an umbrella, and talking to you."

"That's not what I meant," she said, punching him lightly on the arm.

He sighed. "If you must know, I'm going to work."

"Work?" she asked.

He nodded. "This bus drops me off not too far from the Leaky Cauldron. From there I can walk."

Hermione scrunched up her nose. "But then, why are you here in the first place?" she asked.

He smirked. "I take it you've never been down that alley way next to the shoe store?" She shook her head. "The Manor is disillusioned to muggles between two knick-knack shops over there. It's amazing how they don't notice something that's half a kilometer wide."

Hermione sucked in a breath. "Your property is half a kilometer wide?"

"And fifteen deep," he added.

"Fif—in the middle of muggle London?" she asked in astonishment.

He nodded. "Granted, the Manor was built before that part of the city was industrialized," he added.

"So tell me," she asked, after a pause, "why would you need to work if you're as extremely rich as you like to suggest?"

He smirked and lifted his pant leg to reveal his metal ring. "P.O. makes me," he explained. "I have to have a job or else it's off to Azzy for me."

"Oh," she replied unsteadily.

"I know you're dying to know," he said.

"Know what?"

"You want to know what I did," he replied. "You want to know why I have a Parole Officer."

She shook her head. "Knowing you, I think I can guess."

"Do you know me? You probably think it's because of what happened sixth year, don't you?" he asked casually, switching his umbrella to his other hand.

"I would certainly think it had something to do with it," she responded.

"I served a five year term for that," he told her. "But I got the P.O. for a different reason."

"And what would that be?" she asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Embezzlement," he said.

"Embezzlement?" she asked, frowning.

"That's it," he said. "Nothing more, nothing less."

"What sort of embezzlement?" she asked.

He smirked. "Just a few minor changes to my dear old Dad's will," he said.

She raised an eyebrow. "What, did he only give you ninety-eight percent of his money instead of the whole shebang?" she asked.

He rolled his eyes. "He only gave me the Manor," he said. "I just arranged to give myself a bit of spending money as well."

"You're broke, then?" she asked, disbelief evident in the way her eyebrows arched.

He laughed. "No. I sold an antique vase for ten thousand galleons. I'm hardly 'broke.'"

She blinked at him, noticing that the clouds had finally decided to let some rain loose upon them. "That would explain the expensive umbrella," she remarked, unconsciously scooting closer to him to avoid the rain.

"So you really aren't with the Weasel, eh?" he asked.

She shook her head. "We broke it off years ago."

"How about Potter?"

She frowned. "Ew, no."

Malfoy laughed. "Not your type?"

She shook her head. "We're much too good of friends for that. I really couldn't imagine being anything more."

He kicked his foot at a puddle. "I was just thinking of him the other day. I came to this weird realization that his name rhymes with fairy water. I could have done something with that…"

"I think that's the bus," Hermione commented, staring blearily down the street.

"No," he said. "That's the number fifty. It takes a left over there," he said, pointing.

"You're just a fountain of useful information, aren't you?" she asked.

"Sort of the way you're a fountain of useless information?" he asked snidely.

"Hey!" she objected.

"What year did the Sumerian elves rise against their overlords by refusing to polish silver for a week?"

"1253," she answered. "And that's not useless. It's very interesting information that I can use to my advantage in my campaign for House Elf rights."

"I cannot believe you knew that," he said. "How can you possibly know that?"

She shrugged. "Some of us were paying attention to Professor Binns," she explained.

"And I'm sure the old goat would be happy—if he's indeed still capable of emotion, or even taking notice of anything—to know that a student was actually paying attention to him. Believe you me, you had to be the only one. The only reason I passed my OWL's was because I had read the textbook."

"You can read?" she asked, mocking disbelief.

He rolled his eyes at her. "Now that," he said, "is our bus." He pointed down the street to a jalopy omnibus coming to a halt before them.

"Oh, lucky number fifty-two, is it?" she asked, peering at the bus as its door opened. A queue of muggles formed in front of them, and they hurried to get in line.

"It hasn't exploded yet," Malfoy said with a smirk.

"That's all anyone could ask for in a bus, I suppose," she commented, stepping up and showing the driver her pass. Malfoy followed her to a seat near the rear and sat down beside her. "You do realize there are empty seats elsewhere, don't you?"

He shrugged, tucking his umbrella under the seat. "And what—sit with perfect strangers? Muggles, no less? I'll take my chances with you."

"You're much too kind to me," she said with a sniff.

He chuckled. "Think nothing of it," he said with a brandish of his hand. He sighed. "So, going to tell me if you live alone or not?"

She wrinkled her nose at him. "Why are you so obsessed? And why should I tell you, anyway? For all I know, you might want to…"

"Do something fiendish to you when you're all alone in your little flat?" he asked. "I told you, I may be a criminal…"

"But you're not a petty criminal. I've got that," she finished.

"At least tell me if you're married," he compromised.

She lifted her eyes to the heavens. "No," she answered.

"Interesting," he said, scratching his chin. "Fiancé?"

She laughed. "No."

"Boyfriend?" he tried.

She raised her eyebrow at him. "What do you think?"

He pretended to think a moment. "Girlfriend?"

She punched him in the arm. "No. You're awfully curious for someone who doesn't even like me," she observed.

"And you're awfully keen to drive away the first man to take any sort of interest in you in what's probably been a very long time," he pointed out.

She snorted. "Interest? Is that what this is?"

He fixed a dashing smile onto his face. "Just picture it Granger—you, me… an umbrella makes three?"

She stared at him for a moment. "Have you been drinking?"

He stuck his tongue out. "Obviously you have no sense of humor whatsoever."

"Oh," she said, slightly crestfallen. "Ha ha."

"Anyway, I'm certainly glad we aren't talking about gum, today. Your love life, if dull, is certainly more interesting than chewing gum," he remarked.

"Thank you, I suppose," she said.

"No problem," he replied gallantly.

"And what about you?" she asked. "Any romances in your life?"

He sighed. "I'm afraid I've spent much too much time in Azzy to make many connections at all, romantic or otherwise. Although, there was that very nice looking dementor…" He winked.

She laughed. "There's no fairness in making fun of my nonexistent love life if yours is the same way," she pointed out.

"Fairness-shmairness, it's still fun." He stretched his arms. "Why must these seats be so cramped? There's hardly enough space for two."

She nodded in agreement. "We're almost to my stop," she pointed out.

"In which case, Fräulein, I'll bid you auf Wiedersehen," he said.

"You know," she said, "I think you might have gone a little mad around all of those dementors."

"Perfectly possible," he said, relaxing into his seat. "See you around, Granger."

The bus pulled to a stop, and she marched down the aisle, pausing momentarily to look at him before leaving. She could have sworn he'd sent her a wink.

A.N.: Now hold on, now. This isn't going to be a very long fic. Only a few chapters. I don't want it interfering with The Witness and the Wife. If you're interested in the song this is based on, it's called Bus Stop and is by The Hollies.