After a brief meeting with a certain raven-haired wizard, Kingsley decided he should pay a visit to Miss Hermione Granger. After the last presentation, he'd been almost positive his werewolf friend would make a move on the lovely witch, but he'd underestimated Remus's stubbornness. The man was almost unmovable when he made up his mind. Almost.
Fortunately for Remus, he was confident his subsequent plan would finally remove the last shreds of hesitancy for him. His plan was, of course, not the nicest or most compassionate, but he'd grown weary of taking the gentlemanly route with Remus. He'd already tried that, and it was an amazing failure. Kingsley was forced to be the picture of diplomacy in his professional life, but he enjoyed quite a bit more leniency with his personal life.
With that in mind, he headed to the German minister's conference room, knowing Hermione and Remus would be there discussing how the latest presentation went. He'd seen, once again, how incredibly persuasive Remus and Hermione could be, and the presentation was a smashing success. He took it as a sign that his plan would also be a success, and he confidently strode into the room, not able, or willing, to hide the smirk on his face.
"Kingsley!" Hermione greeted him, standing up from her seat. She and Remus had been seated together on a couch, huddled together in what was surely a private conversation. Remus smiled as he greeted him as well, his face still flushed, probably more from his proximity to Hermione than the success of the presentation.
"It seems you've had yet another successful presentation," he commented, inclining his head slightly towards Remus in acknowledgement.
"Thank you," Remus replied, rising to stand beside Hermione. Kingsley inwardly laughed at the almost protective stance Remus took, hovering over Hermione as he inconspicuously placed himself between her and Kingsley.
"I wanted to congratulate both of you on your excellent work thus far," he continued, keeping his eyes trained on Hermione. "Whoever selected you for the job must be an extremely intelligent wizard," he added lightly.
Hermione and Remus exchanged smiles as Kingsley kept his focus on the lovely young witch in front of him. "Now, I'm not usually one for celebrating, but I was curious if you'd like to join me for dinner tonight, Hermione."
He almost laughed out loud at the look on Hermione and Remus's face. Hermione's smile was hesitantly replaced by a look of confusion while Remus's face immediately darkened. "W-wh…I'm sorry, did you say dinner?" Hermione finally choked out, her eyes wide with shock.
"Of course, my dear," he replied, stepping forward smoothly to grasp her hand. As he placed a gentle kiss on it, he couldn't resist adding, "I thought it would be a good opportunity for us to…get to know each other a little better."
He kept his tone purposefully suggestive, and he had to bite his tongue to keep from adding more when he saw the evil glint in Remus's eyes. Ah, so it's true about werewolves being territorial. He enjoyed ribbing his friends as much as anyone, but he knew there was a line he couldn't cross with Remus. He was normally a rational man with a rational response to everything, but Kingsley realized that Remus' rationality didn't extend to situations involving Hermione.
Hermione, still looking rather flustered, finally managed to reply with an affirmative. It didn't escape his attention that her gaze quickly switched to Remus, almost as if she feared his reaction to her response. Remus had schooled his expression during the meantime, and he blankly stared at Hermione before turning back to Kingsley. "Don't forget that we're supposed to have breakfast with the German Minister tomorrow morning," Remus said coolly.
Kingsley gave him a winning smile in return. "Oh, no need to worry Remus," he began slowly. "I'll have Miss Granger back in time for the breakfast."
He had carefully chosen his words, anticipating it would get a rise out of Remus…he wasn't disappointed. The werewolf's eyes went a little wider, as did Hermione's, and he opened his mouth to speak. Kingsley, however, wasn't about to wait for Remus to object. "Miss Granger, I will pick you up from your room at precisely seven o'clock. Enjoy the rest of your day."
He gave a rather curt bow to Remus, and after a much longer bow towards Hermione, he strode towards the door, thankful he could hide his smile as he exited the room. Taking the piss out of Remus was actually quite a bit more fun than he'd thought, and he was already looking forward to tonight. With any luck, Remus might just find the courage he'd been lacking to finally get his witch.
She was a bit confused by Kingsley's 'invitation' to dinner, especially since it came across as more of a command. Kingsley had never expressed any sort of romantic interest in her before, so she was reasonably certain it was merely a professional outing. It did, however, seem a little odd that Remus wasn't invited, too. Why didn't Kingsley want Remus to come with them?
She was quietly pondering her questions when Remus suddenly spoke up, "I didn't realize you and Kingsley had become such good…friends."
The sharpness in his tone surprised her, and she immediately whipped her head around to catch his gaze. "We aren't such good friends, which must be why he wanted to go to dinner. Since he knows you better, I guess he wanted-"
Remus interrupted her with a derisive snort. "I know exactly why Kingsley wanted you to go to dinner with him." His stance was almost rigid, as if he was barely able to restrain himself. His eyes, instead of emitting their usual amber warmth, were hard and cold, and she was starting to wonder if she'd upset him by accepting Kingsley's invitation.
"Why do you think he asked me to dinner?" She inquired quietly, knowing the louder she spoke, the more agitated Remus would become.
"I think it would be fairly obvious to an intelligent witch such as yourself," he replied crisply, darting his eyes away from her.
She wasn't entirely positive, but she was starting to get the impression that Remus thought Kingsley fancied her. She admitted the thought briefly crossed her mind, but it was utterly absurd. Kingsley was the Minister of Magic, and he'd never even flirted with her before. It didn't make sense that he would suddenly decide to chat her up, especially in front of Remus. Deciding any response would only fan the flames, she switched tactics. "Are you angry at me for accepting his invitation?"
He immediately turned towards her, a rueful expression on his face. "I could never be angry at you, Hermione," he answered softly, the tension suddenly leaving his body. "I am, however, a little upset with Kingsley."
"Why?" She hadn't meant to blurt out the question, but it was almost an automatic reflex. Her curious nature just didn't know when to be quiet.
He sighed as he rubbed his hands over his face. "He told me before that he found you attractive, but he assured me he wasn't going to pursue you."
"Remus, he's not pursuing me," she countered, shaking her head. "It's just dinner. We're not picking out rings."
"Not yet," he muttered under his breath, his expression darkening again. "I just don't understand why he would lie to me. He actually encouraged me to-" He abruptly stopped himself, turning his lean frame away from her.
Just a few moments ago, they'd been having a wonderful conversation, and she had started to feel like perhaps they had made some progress towards being more than friends. Now, a few short minutes later, Remus acted as if he wanted nothing to do with her. She tried to ask if he was okay, but he simply waved her off as he headed towards the door, leaving a bewildered witch in his wake.
When he went to Hermione's room that evening, there'd been no sign of Remus. In fact, when he'd questioned Hermione about the events of her afternoon, Remus's name didn't come up once. If he knew Remus, and he was certain he did, he imagined his dear werewolf friend was highly agitated with him. More than likely, he'd said something to upset Hermione and then retreated to his room to lick his wounds.
What Kingsley didn't expect was to have such an enjoyable evening. He'd viewed the dinner date as a sort of price he had to pay for his plan to work; instead, he found himself absolutely charmed by Hermione Granger. He'd known she was intelligent, and he'd seen her wit surface from time to time, but she was even more impressive than he'd thought.
After nearly three hours of wining and dining the lovely witch, he decided it was best to end the date. In truth, he was a little afraid he would be tempted to carry on the charade if he didn't stop himself soon. He rarely spent any time around females…well, for the purposes of wooing them. Looking at the attractive figure of Hermione, he knew he'd be tempted to do something foolish if he continued staring at her.
She seemed to take no offense when he suggested they end the evening, and they walked amiably back to her room. Although he couldn't prove it, he was willing to bet a large sum of money that Remus was somewhere close, possibly attempting to eavesdrop.
"I had a lovely time this evening, Hermione," he murmured as he brought her hand up to kiss it lightly.
"I did as well," she replied as she ducked her head slightly. It amazed him how confident she was in matters of intelligence but shy in matters of the heart.
He tugged on her hand a little, hoping she would tilt her head up to look at him. When he achieved the desired action, he continued, "Looking at you almost makes me wish I wasn't Minister."
She gave him a quizzical look, but surprisingly kept silent. "I…do not have time for both a professional and a personal life." Pausing a moment, he clarified, "And you would make a most welcome addition to my personal life."
The widening of her eyes and the darkening of her cheeks made it obvious that his comment embarrassed, and if he wasn't mistaken, pleased her. After a moment, she gave him a wry smile, "I'm very flattered, but I'm guessing you're choosing your professional life, correct?"
He gave her a rueful smile, nodding in response. "I'll envy the man you choose, Miss Granger." With a final kiss upon her cheek, he turned back towards his room, oddly surprised at how much he meant the words he'd spoken to her.
He'd never quite admitted to himself just how much he cared for Hermione. It had been there, buried underneath his wall of self-doubt and loathing. He'd kept his feelings concealed for months, and yet somehow one dinner date with Kingsley had unleashed a torrent of emotions.
Seeing Kingsley practically leer at Hermione set his blood boiling. He was the Minister of Magic, yet he'd had the audacity to ogle Hermione right in front of him! He felt like screaming at Kingsley, but he knew he couldn't with Hermione in the room. It would undoubtedly clue her in to his feelings, and the last thing he wanted was Kingsley to be present if she rejected him.
For three tortuous hours, he stayed in his room, thinking of one horrible scenario after another. Was she laughing at his jokes? Did he hold her hand during dinner? Was Kingsley trying to impress her with his status? Did he promise her something in return for her affection? He immediately discounted the last one, knowing it was highly unlikely that either Kingsley or Hermione would do such a thing. After three hours, however, he wasn't thinking rationally anymore.
When he started to consider how the date would end, he realized just how much trouble he was in. The thought of Kingsley staying in Hermione's room…it made him nauseated just thinking of them together. What would happen if she actually invited Kingsley in? Remus knew he would have to leave the hotel, if not the city itself. Otherwise, he was likely to embarrass himself and possibly harm Kingsley, or at least try to.
Some might have considered it stalking, but Remus waited up for Hermione anyway, positioning himself just a few paces from her door. His Disillusionment charm was strong enough to hold out, and he didn't want to miss a moment. He'd been standing outside her room for nearly an hour when she showed up with Kingsley.
Fighting back the urge to throttle his friend, Remus watched as Kingsley kissed Hermione's hand. He followed the conversation, nearly gasping when Kingsley said Hermione would be a welcome addition to his personal life. He silently sighed in relief when the former Auror left, realizing he had dodged a bullet. As he watched Hermione enter her room, he knew he had a decision to make.
One option was for him to continue life as usual. He could continue the presentations with Hermione and simply enjoy being her confidante and friend. It wasn't the most exciting prospective course of action, but it was the safe choice. He and Hermione worked well together, and it would definitely be easier to not to rock the boat.
The other option was for him to follow in Kingsley's footsteps and ask Hermione out on a date. While he knew the outcome of the other option, he had no idea how Hermione would react if he asked her out. He was certain she liked him well enough, but that didn't mean that she wanted to risk their professional relationship or that she viewed him as anything more than a friend. If she said yes, though…
He knocked on Hermione's door, praying she answered it quickly before he had time to change his mind. Thankfully, she answered it almost immediately, a beautiful smile on her face. "Remus! I thought perhaps you'd be in bed by now."
He smiled tentatively back, his hearting pounding in his ears. "I just wanted to see how your evening went."
"Oh, it went quite well," she replied, oblivious to his reaction. "I have to admit, though, I was rather looking forward to spending the evening with you."
This time, Remus grinned in response, ridiculously pleased with her answer. Feeling a bit bold from the confidence boost, he inquired, "Well, perhaps you would like to have dinner with me tomorrow tonight?"
Her mind knew that he wasn't asking her out on an official date, but her heart must have been convinced otherwise because it started racing worse than when she had attended the Yule Ball in fourth year. She fought to keep a casual, nonchalant look on her face as she replied with a simple 'Yes'.
"Excellent!" Remus replied, his amber eyes lighting up. "There's a little Italian café that I know you'll love." Pausing a moment, he added, "I know it's rather late, so I'll see you tomorrow morning. Have a good night."
With a gentlemanly bow, he headed toward the direction of his room. It might have been her imagination, but his confident gait seemed to have a bit more swagger to it. Shutting her door, she leaned against it as she allowed herself a moment to process what had happened. In the span of one evening, she'd had dinner with the Minister of Magic and been asked to dinner by the world's most famous werewolf. Gods, she felt a little like the scarlet woman Rita Skeeter had always accused her of being.
Her date with Kingsley had been so unexpected that she'd had little time to prepare herself mentally. He didn't show his personable side that often, and it left her a little unbalanced. Kingsley had always been placed firmly into the category she reserved for authority figures – professors, supervisors, etc. She'd never once considered him 'dating' material, and her attraction to him was somewhat puzzling.
Did her attraction to Kingsley mean she wasn't really attracted to Remus? She rejected the thought, realizing it was perfectly natural and acceptable to find two very different men attractive. More importantly, she realized that although she'd always regarded both men as authority figures, it didn't mean that her assessment of them couldn't change. Kingsley had never been a potential suitor until tonight, yet she had a wonderful evening alone with him. If that happened with Kingsley, then that meant it could happen with Remus, too…right?
She sighed as she sat down on her bed, wondering if she was worrying herself about nothing. Remus was such an honorable man, and she was fairly certain he wouldn't want to do anything that would appear improper. Dating her would obviously upset Tonks, and Remus would certainly still have a few leftover feelings about his ex-girlfriend. It made sense that Remus wouldn't ask Hermione out until enough time had passed that Tonks nor Remus were attached to each other.
After going through her normal bedtime routine, Hermione snuggled under the covers, replaying the night's events in her head. Despite telling herself that Remus didn't view her romantically, and he would always just be her friend, she couldn't stop that tiny seed of hope being planted in her heart at the thought of having dinner with Remus tomorrow night.