DISCLAIMER: I own only the plot. Everything else is owned by JKRowling.

***

Oh my God, I thought, Pansy looks like a lampshade. She was wearing frilly pale pink dress robes and she honestly looked like one of Mother's lampshades.

"What do you think, Draco?" she simpered, "Do I look nice? You look wonderful." She then turned a rather interesting shade of purple.

You liar, I look like a vicar, "You look very… nice. And, erm, thanks. Shall we go over to the Hall then?"

Pansy giggled in response and linked my arm. All the way up from the dungeons she twittered on about how glad she was that I'd invited her to the Yule Ball and how much she liked me. I was tempted to tell her that I'd only invited her because there was no one else to ask. Then again, maybe it would be best to tell her that after the ball. That way I could still upset her and yet not have to go to the ball alone.

When we arrived in the Entrance Hall, everyone was already there, waiting to go in. McGonagall called the champions and their partners up to the front so they could open the ball. I decided not to look at Potty Potter. I had a nasty suspicion my sheer jealousy would show on my face. But I glanced at Krum and gave him a smile which was not returned. I then turned my glance on Krum's partner.

Krum's partner.

Who was she? She was stunning. I couldn't take my eyes off her. She was either a student from Durmstrang or Beauxbatons who I had not yet seen or a Hogwarts student from another house.

"What is Viktor Krum doing with the chipmunk?" Pansy hissed at me.

"The what?"

"The chipmunk. You know. Hermione Granger." Pansy looked at me as if I was thick.

"He's not with Granger. He's with…" Then it hit me. The stunningly beautiful girl was Granger. Bushy-haired-know-it-all Hermione Granger. A Mudblood.

She's not that pretty really, I tried to tell myself. But as she walked past with Krum I realised that she was. Her hair wasn't bushy. It was sleek and smooth done in some really elegant style. And Pansy was wrong in calling her the chipmunk. Her front teeth that I had made fun of so often before were now normal sized. She had a beautiful smile, I noticed.

Throughout the meal I stared at her. I was hating Krum more and more. I didn't listen to anything Pansy was saying to me. I just nodded and said yes and no in what I hoped were the right places.

When the meal was over, I was forced into dancing with Pansy. Halfway through the dance I purposefully stood on her foot so hard that she couldn't dance for the rest of the night. That got her out of the way. Now I needed to get Hermione alone.

Fate appeared to be on my side. Krum was cornered by Karkaroff and Potty and the Weasel had disappeared somewhere. Hermione stood alone to one side of the room. I got a Butterbeer and wandered over to her.

"What do you want?" she asked, glaring at me.

"Well… erm…" Damn the Malfoy good looks. What good do they do you when speech fails? "Erm, I was thinking… you… you look very different tonight."

"Different?"

"I mean good different." I said hurriedly. This was not going well. "I mean, I've never seen you look this pretty before and I was wondering if we couldn't put everything behind us and will you dance with me?" I didn't pause for breath throughout this entire speech. I felt my face flame.

"If you expect me to fall for that, ferret boy, you must think I'm really thick. What are you going to do? Put a curse on me while we're dancing?" Hermione's eyes pierced me. I suddenly regretted every nasty thing I'd ever said or done to her.

"Nothing like that, Hermione. I really mean it. I -"

"Oh go away Malfoy." She snapped at me, "Viktor's coming back now and I'm going to dance with him. And if you ever try to trick me again, I'll ask Professor Moody to turn you into another ferret." With that, she swept off to dance with Krum.

I gaped at her. The ungrateful little Mudblood! It's an honour for someone like her to be notice by me! But I couldn't convince myself that I was right. I'd been horrible to her and her friends. I'd been vindictive and cruel and… It didn't bear thinking about.

I wanted to change. To show her that I did like her. That I wasn't really full of my father's beliefs. That I was just as good as Potter and Weasley. But I couldn't. If I changed the way I acted towards her now then everyone would guess how I felt. And that would never do. I was the most popular pupil in Slytherin. If they knew I was developing feelings for a Mudbl- for a half-half witch then everything would change for me. And I couldn't face that. Things would have to carry on as normal.

On the outside at least.