Le Café de Trois Colombes
Translation into English: belana & merry1978
Summary: 10 years later. It's a small world.
A/N: the story was written before the books 6 and 7, so it is an AU.
Disclaimer: HARRY POTTER, characters, names, and all related indicia are trademarks of Warner Bros. © 2007 and J.K. Rowling.
Archiving: please do not post this story anywhere on the net without getting the explicit permission from the author first.
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Hermione was spending the evening of St. Valentine's Day in a small café (just five minutes walk from Place Pigalle, wonderful Provencal cuisine and very pleasant company – if you are a Wizard, not a Muggle, that is). She was proof-reading a copy of her last article and drinking mulled wine. She came here almost an hour prior to an appointed meeting in order to sit alone and work a little.
Many visitors noticed the curly-headed mademoiselle dressed in a severe business robe, who was scribbling something intently. She was not a striking beauty, but she obviously knew how to accentuate the strong points of her looks and had pleasant manners. In short, Hermione at the age of twenty-seven was a charming young lady. If she raised her eyes just once, several young men in the café would have tried to speak to her, for sure, but Hermione divided her attention solely between the article and the mulled wine, so none of the possible admirers had a chance. Except, maybe…
"Such a beautiful lady shouldn't be spending the evening all alo…" Hermione heard the strangely familiar voice and raised her eyes. The man choked. "All alone." Absolutely stunned, Draco Malfoy finished the sentence absent-mindedly.
"Malfoy?" Hermione greeted him. "Well, have a sit, since you are here."
"Weasley," he drawled archly with familiar manner.
"It's Granger again," she corrected him absent-mindedly, carefully putting the papers into the leather folder.
"Since when?" Draco was curious.
"From now on."
"What could the Captain of the National Quiddich Team do to become so insufferable? What is your problem with him, apart from the fact that he is as ugly as life itself?"
"My problem is that I don't want to spend my life at home, grow fat and give birth to a whole Quiddich team," Hermione grumbled angrily.
The waiter came up to their table; Hermione asked for more mulled wine, and after some hesitation Draco ordered the same for himself.
"What about you? Raising a bunch of little Malfoy heirs? How's Pansy?"
"I don't have a single idea," Draco replied, "as we have divorced. There was a tremendous scandal. You mean to say that you've never heard of it?"
"Malfoy, I don't have a subscription for the Daily Prophet, neither spend I my evenings gossiping with my schoolmates. Well, I haven't before today," Hermione smirked.
"Ah, yes, you are the bluestocking of Hogwarts. How could I possibly forget that little bit?" Malfoy retorted. "In this case, I am obliged to enlighten you. The problem was that while I, like any other guillible cuckold, was working tirelessly for the sake of the homeland, that sotte had an affair with Goyle."
Hermione choked and coughed. Draco stood up a little and patted her on the back, gentlemanly and graciously.
"Good God!" she replied after having caught her breath. "I thought she had some sense."
"I thought so too," Malfoy nodded. "Until she began snogging him silly right in the middle of the Diagon-Alley in front of the dazed public. The rest was simple enough. The court and the divorce... My son has stayed with me, her dowry was returned to her. I don't need her miserable few sickles, of course."
"Your son?" Hermione caught the essence of this flood of mockery and complaints. "Poor child. How did he…"
"Oh, stop this Gryffindorish sentimentality!" Draco grimaced. "The poor child has seen "mama Pansy" mainly on the family photographs. Mama Narcy takes care of him most of the time."
"How old is he?"
"He will be six soon."
Both of them sat quietly for a while.
"So, what does such a lovely lady do here all alone?" Malfoy asked again lightly.
"The hell has just frozen over! Malfoy deliberately pays a compliment to a Mudblood!" Hermione said sarcastically. "The first time doesn't count, as you didn't know who I was. Are you sure you aren't ill?"
Draco snorted contemptuously, showing no intention of explaining his whims or follies.
"I insist on an answer."
"The young lady in question is waiting for a gentleman," Hermione answered archly. "I have a date in…" she looked at her watch, "… in twenty minutes."
Now it was Draco's turn to choke. Hermione laughed and patted him on the back in return.
"I probably should be going…" he remarked carelessly, but there was a trace of disappointment in his voice.
"It's purely business." Hermione took pity on him. "Well, maybe a dinner with a friend, but nothing more. So no one is going to kick your aristocratic arse in a fit of jealousy."
Seeing his astonishment, she just arched her eyebrow and smirked.
"Merlin, you remind me of Snape…" Draco chuckled.
"Oh, so I begin even looking like him?" Hermione was surprised. "I haven't noticed…"
"What do you mean, you begin even looking like Snape?" Draco asked suspiciously. "Do you still associate with him?"
"You mean, you don't know?" Hermione asked in amazement. "I have had my apprenticeship with him, and we have published several articles together, and later a monograph."
"Granger," Draco answered archly, accurately copying her own manner of speaking, "I don't have a subscription for Alchemy Today, neither I spend my evenings gossiping with my school teachers."
"You haven't spent them gossiping," Hermione corrected him, looking at someone behind his shoulder. "Until this day."
Draco turned back and saw Snape standing behind his chair.
"Good evening, Hermione, Mr. Malfoy," he greeted them stiffly and sat down.
"Hallo, Severus." Hermione smiled. "What about Ferrier?"
"It is absolute nonsense. Just as I have said before." The Potion Master made a face. "And the little parts which do make sense lack the necessary information. I have copied the article, just in case. Here you are." He carelessly threw several parchments on the table. "Maybe you will find something useful in it."
"Thank you very much." Hermione smiled and put the parchments into her bag. "Let's have dinner?"
Professor nodded and turned to face Draco. "And what are you doing here, Mr. Malfoy?"
Draco was just going to reply, when Hermione broke in.
"Mr. Malfoy," she smirked, "is enjoying the advantages of bachelor life and making passes at female strangers. Without any luck, though." She winked at him.
"And he will have none until he learns to pay attention to the world. Mirrors, unfortunately, provide very little useful information."
"Hey!" Draco protested. "Two against one is not fair!"
"And this is a Slytherin speaking!" Snape sounded horrified. "Am I such a bad Head of the House?"
The waiter came again, and they made an order.
The next half of an hour passed in a leisurely talk – exchanging the news, gossips and jokes. Eventually the dinner was served.
"I have a toast." Hermione raised her glass. "To the maiden name!"
Snape grumbled approvingly something like "About time!" and took a sip of wine. Draco followed his example and looked questioningly at the professor, then at Granger.
"Severus was the only one who approved my decision," she confessed. "That is, he simply refused to address me by any name other than Ms. Granger for the first seven years. Then we switched to the first name basis."
"What about Potter?" Draco was curious.
"Harry is still terribly angry!" Hermione admitted. "He speaks to me on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, and to Ron – on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. And on Sundays he ignores both of us."
"Clever boy," Snape noted with an obvious approval. "He knows when it's better to stay clear of it."
"Well, yes," Hermione agreed. "Actually he is angry because he's afraid that one of us will make him choose. But no worries, it will be alright in due time."
And after that the conversation turned to the things much less private. When the check was paid, Severus Snape bid his good-byes.
"It was nice to see you, Mr. Malfoy." His tone was still a bit stiff, but much more accepting. "See you later, Hermione." This time he sounded at ease and downright cordial.
"See you on Friday, Severus."
Draco watched his former Head of the House leave. Hermione propped her chin on her hand, dreamily watching the flames of a small oil lamp, decorated with hearts and cupids.
"Why do you keep pretending that everything is alright?" Draco asked quietly. The girl sitting across the table wasn't a despised enemy and rival now. Somehow his school memories seemed sentimental now, Merlin knows why.
"Argh, stop it, Dray." Hermione sighed, tucking a stray of hair, that fell out of place, behind her ear. "There is no need to pity me. And I don't like to look back… unlike Orpheus."
"What was the name you've just called me?" Draco frowned.
"Ah, that's a Muggle thing, using the nicknames. I still can't get rid of that habit. Draco would make Dray... or would you prefer Malfoy?"
"I don't really care," he shrugged. "What does your name look like then? Hermy?"
"Mione, Mio," Hermione replied indifferently. "What about you? Why are you spending your evening here in such…" she snorted, "... an inappropriate company?"
"You know," he began earnestly, "what is the difference between an adult and a teenager, a wise man and a fool? The smart one never confuses a prejudice and a principle. Principles are worth dying for. Anything else is a prejudice that is not worth a Knut. I try to have as less principles as possible."
"A true Slytherin."
They sat in silence for a while.
"I'd better be going." Hermione neatly put the pencil and the folder with her papers into her bag, stood up and put her scarf around her neck.
"Me too." Draco also stood up and helped her to put the cloak on.
They left the café and stopped hesitantly in the street outside.
"What are you doing this Sunday night?" he suddenly asked, looking up at her. His blond hair glimmered oddly in the street lamp's light.
"I don't know yet," Hermione said, putting the hood on, as it was snowing slightly. "Why?"
"I will send an owl," Draco answered decidedly. "See you."
"See you," she echoed, and both Disapparated.