A/N: This was written for celticsass over at LJ for the "Divine the Future with Draco and Hermione" exchange. For more entries, check out the community dmhgficexchange at the LJ site!

Unnaturally Natural

Birds and bees and songs like these
Cause we want what we want
and it's natural, baby.

"Birds and Bees" Ben Lee

Hermione Granger always went au naturale. Well, maybe a little bit of concealer, blush, and lip gloss, but never anything more than that. It's not that she thought she was the most beautiful woman ever and that makeup couldn't make her look any better. It's not that she refused to wear it based on feminist principles.

She simply felt that the best thing she could do was to be up front about who she was. She wanted people to know that she wasn't hiding anything about herself, not even through something as trivial as makeup. Hermione Granger was Hermione Granger and that was that.

The list of things that were unnatural that she disliked had grown and grown over the years: juice that was not 100 juice, sugar quills, polyester anything, dyed hair color...the list went on and on.

So when things that were beyond unnatural started happening to Hermione, she didn't quite know how to react.

---


Okay. Maybe it had been eight months since her last date. Maybe it had been an entire year since she had been properly kissed. Maybe it had been a year and a half since she had had sex. Maybe it had been two years since she had had great sex.

That did not make her old, dry, or washed up - no matter what Ginny Weasley said.

"You know what they say, Granger." Ginny states knowingly, washing up after her two-year-old son, James.

Hermione sips her tea and replies with a clipped voice. "Actually, I have no idea what they say."

Ginny groans and stops scrubbing the table to turn and glare at her. "If you don't use it, you'll lose it!" Hermione, stunned at those eight words, begins laughing uncontrollably. "You think it's funny now, but when your parts stop working and no man wants to go near them with a ten foot pole - no pun intended and God, I wish that was possible - don't say I didn't warn you."

"Gin, no. I mean, thank you. But 'If you don't use it, you'll lose it?' Come on." The laughter gurgles up again and she doubles over in her chair. "That has to be the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. That's something boys would have said at my grammar school."

Ginny harrumphs in Hermione's general direction but refuses to look at her. "That's fine, Hermione. I'm just letting you know; your bits are just like any other mechanism. You've got to keep it well-oiled if you want it to work nicely. You let it go too long and you'll never get any use out of it again."

Tea comes spurting from Hermione's mouth as Ginny concludes her...educational speech.

"Oh God!" Hermione cries, shaking so hard she's unable to perform a quick cleansing spell. "I need to get home before my brain rots from your information. Thanks for the chat and tea, Gin."

She apparates home, laughing all of the way.

---

"Andthen she told me that if I didn't use my lady parts they would just...quit working. Like they'd, I don't know, come to a crashing halt or something!" Hermione's palm connects with the small table in amusement.

"You mean...you mean that's not true?" Ron Weasley's mouth drops open in shock and his spoon falls from his hand.

"Where are you Weasleys getting your information? The Big Book of Lies Children Believe?"

"Fred and George told...ah, bugger!" Hermione laughs to herself. Figures. Fred and George would tell their younger siblings that sort of thing. How typical of them to even subtly promote sexual intercourse!

She rolls her eyes and takes another bite of her ice cream. "You really ought to check your sources before you just believe a ludicrous claim like that."

"All bad advice aside," he starts, shoving a mound of ice cream into his mouth, "yo reeeeally shu' ge' ou' there an' date. Yo sor-uh attracti'."

Hermione glares at him. "I'm going to pretend I didn't understand a word of that." Sort-of attractive. She could have sworn he'd read up on all kinds of stuff to impress girls. Well, Ron never was much of a reader. He probably just checked out the pictures.

"I'm serious, Hermione! You need to get back out there. After all, your biographical clock is ticking!" He points his spoon at her and looks into his bowl to have another scoop, only to find he's already eaten all of his ice cream.

"Biological clock, Ron."

"Bio-whatever! Tick, tock!" She's irritated now. She doesn't like Ginny butting into her sexual or dating life and now Ron is!

"You're just as bad as me, Ronald." He looks at her incredulously, forcing her to change her words. "Well, just as bad as me in the opposite way."

That was Ron. New girl every other day. The longest relationship he'd been in had lasted two and a half weeks - quite a feat.

She'd met Sandy, Mindy, Lacey, Katy, Maddie, Bambi, Valerie, Polly, Tally, Carly, and Dolly.

It hadn't taken anyone long to notice the pattern.

When he opens his mouth to object, Hermione cuts in. "How isZooey anyway?"

"Shu' up." Ron grumbles and looks away.

"Well, there we have it. You hate talking about your love life and I hate talking about mine. So, can we just agree that I'll stay out of yours if you stay out of mine?" He doesn't hesitate to agree with such an arrangement and flings out his hand to meet hers.

"Excellent. Now that that's settled, you'll be wanting another ice cream, won't you?" He nods his head vigorously and the two friends set off to choose a new flavor.

---


Harry was atrocious at setting people up. There had never been anything more obvious in the entire world.

"Edward! What are you doing here?" Harry interrupts Hermione mid-sentence to say hello to what she assumes is a friend.

She gazes up at him. Auburn hair, warm brown eyes, about Harry's height, well dressed.

"Harry...you telephoned to-" Edward begings, a confused look crossing his face.

Harry practically jumps from his chair and speaks to Edward like he's hard of hearing. "Yes! You should definitelysit down!" He grabs his own chair and holds it out for Edward to sit in it.

"Where are you going to sit?" Edward inquires quizzically.

Thinking quickly, Harry glances at his watch and feigns surprise. "Is it really seven already? Oh, I'm so sorry you, two. I have to get going. Ginny told me that if I wasn't home by 7:15 she would...withhold for a month!"

Hermione suspects that this is actually a true statement.

Harry and Ginny probably devised this little scheme to set Hermione and their poor, innocent friend Edward up on a date.

Harry begins backing away from the two, flashing a quick thumbs up to Hermione while Edward's head is turned.

"Oh!" He leaps back to the table and squats slightly, looking between the pair. "Hermione, Edward. Edward, Hermione. You two have fun!"

And with that, he's gone.

"I'd just like you to know that I did not know about this." Hermione smiles apologetically, not wanting to come across as a desperate woman.

"Are you saying you don't want the company?" Edward acts offended but it's clear he's kidding. From the little he's spoken, he seems like a stand-up guy. Just the kind of guyshe'dwant to be set up with if she wanted to be set up in the first place.

"You know what? Let's go crazy and order a ton of food. I happen to know Harry has a running tab here and well, he didbail on both of us. I'm sure he'd want to pay for us, don't you think?" She smirks at him and he smiles back.

Maybe the date won't be so bad after all.

And it isn't. The date isn't so bad. In fact it turns out to be very nice. The food is free, the company is enjoyable, and for Hermione, it's nice to be out.

But there isn't the spark she knows she needs. She doesn't feel it when they were talking. She doesn't feel it when his hand brushes hers as they both reach for the salt. She doesn't feel it when his hand brushes her thigh on the car ride home. And she doesn't even feel it when he kisses her goodnight at her door.

"This was fun," he says, grabbing her hand after their kiss, "even if we were both clueless to the plots going on around us."

She laughs and lets him hold her hand. "Yeah. It was fun."

"Maybe we could do it again sometime?" Edward smiles at her hopefully.

Hermione wasn't really one to put on airs, not even for the sake of others. She isn't about to lead such a nice guy on. "Yeah, maybe...as friends." She replies gently, trying not to be too rude.

He backs away only slightly and stares at her angrily.

Oh no. He's totally going to freak out. I should probably find my wand now.

But before she's forced to unleash a series of hexes on him, he smiles at her.

"Going to play that card, huh? Well, I was only asking you because I'm such a gentleman." That was definitely Edward's best quality. He was a genuinely nice person.

"Uh-huh." She laughs and breathes out heavily with relief. "You were praying I'd invite you in for drinks."

"You are a pretty fine piece of arse." He grins at her before shaking his head. "Really, I did have a nice time tonight and I would like to do this again...as friends."

"That would be great, Edward. Thanks for a lovely evening. I needed it." He leans in to kiss her on the cheek before jogging down the steps of her flat.

Just as Hermione steps into her flat, Edward calls out to her.

"I hope you're not too tired in the morning!"

She stares at him. "Why would I be tired in the morning. It's not even 10:30!"

"You'll be up all night regretting turning me down!" He chuckles loudly before sliding into the car and driving off.

Hermione makes a mental note to thank Ginny for setting her up with Edward.

She also makes a mental note to curse Harry for meddling.

---

"Why is that guy looking over here like he knows me, Ronald?" Ron's face crumples up in an unattractive way as he realizes that he's in trouble with Hermione.

"Oh, I don't know, Hermione." He turns to look at the man striding toward them while attempting to look innocent. "He looks nice though, maybe you should...um, be nice to him?"

"Oh dear God. You've set me up again, haven't you! First Harry and Ginny and now you. I thought I told you -"

"I'm sorry, Hermione! They made me do it. Look," he turns back to make sure her date hasn't arrived yet, "if Iwas a girl I would definitely date him. He's pretty cute and he's really funny! Give him a chance."

Ron stands from his chair and faces the new guy. "Hey, man." They greet one another and Ron ducks out quickly before Hermione has the chance yell at him.

Maybe he'll be just as great as Edward!

"Ron told me you were cute but youare..." Hermione blushes at the man's first choice of words. Quite the complimenter, "well, let's just say I'll do anything to have my way with you tonight."

Hermione's eyes widen and she instinctively curls her body inward in an attempt to cover up anything and everything.

"I, um..."

"I'm Chester Edmund Phillipe Lancaster the Sixth! Enchanté." Hermione moves to pull her hand away from the table, but before she can, he snatches it up and thrusts his lips against it.

"Hermione." She introduces herself, careful not to include her last name.

Within five minutes, Hermione feels as though she's known Chester (he included his name in every sentence possible and carried out the first elike most people do when faking an English accent) for a hundred years. She finds out that he is a Quidditch player on Ron's team (Seeker, of course), a member of multiple committees for the Ministry of Magic, has nearly swept the Witches Weekly End-of-the-Year awards (Best Smile, Best Dressed, Most Gorgeous, Best Hair, and Most Eligible Bachelor), and his favorite past times include hunting (Hermione nearly left at the mention of such a hobby), modeling, and telling jokes.

"How many trolls does it take to light a wind?" He asks her, leaning forward with a smile playing at his lips.

"Um, I'm not sure. How many?" Hermione snatches her wine glass and drinks the entire thing without taking a breath.

A small laugh escapes his lips as though he can hardly believe the punchline. "Only one...but he's got to dig it out of his nose first."

Hermione forces a smile and shakes her finger at him. "Oh, that's a good one. I'll have to remember that."

"I've got more. Let's see...how 'bout a knock-knock?"

She sits in disbelief. This man is attempting to impress her with children's jokes that aren't even remotely funny.

"All right, I suppose."

"Okay. Knock knock."

Sigh. "Who's there?"

"You know." Oh, there it is. That stupid smile begging to be free.

"You know who?"

"Yes." A grin flashes on his face before he lurches forward menacingly. "Avada Kedavra!"

At his wild gesture, Hermione leans back with her hands out. "Oh. Wow...how about that?"

"Good, right?" He flashes a set of pearly whites at her and winks at a woman nearby.

"Wonderful. Look," she glances at her watch and begins clearing up her area, "I wasn't aware that I was going out on a date tonight so I made plans for...well, now. So, I really have to get going."

Chester leans back, shocked and clearly offended.

"You're leaving?" He moves closer to her, lowering his lashes. "But we haven't even gotten to the best course."

When it comes to sexual innuendo, Hermione has always been totally oblivious. "We already had dessert."

She feels his hand brush her knee underneath the table. "I'm not talking about dessert, Hermione."

With that, Hermione stands and brushes off her dress. "Thank you for the offer but I really must be going. We'll be in touch?" She does her best to look pleased by the date but inside, she feels like she's going to be sick at any moment.

"You bet we will."

---

"It was the worst date of my entire life, Ginny. I'm not even exaggerating." Hermione sips at her wine and complains to her friend. She really had been mortified that night (along with completely irate.)

"Really? I thought he was rather hunky." The red-head smirks at her and checks out the waiter who walks by their table. "Now that is one fine arse."

"Ginny! You're married!" Hermione scolds. She had no idea that someone - especially a woman - could be so horny all of the time, but Ginny has continued to prove otherwise.

"So what! Who says I can't look. It's a free world and if I happen to notice a nice arse from time to time then so be it! Now, tell me more about this horrific date."

"First of all, don't try acting like you didn't have a hand in it. I know how frightened Ron gets when you yell at him and I'm sure that's all it took to get him to go along with your scheme. Second, he told me aHow many blank does it take to light a wand jokes and then he told me a knock-knock!"

This piques Ginny's interest. "What was the knock-knock? I love knock-knocks!"

"Well," Hermione starts, setting down her glass, "you will not love this one. Knock-knock."

"Who's there?"

"You know."

"You know who?"

"Yes." Hermione groans before completing the joke, mirroring Chester's actions from the previous night. "Avada Kedavra!"

To her chagrin, Ginny bursts out laughing. "Oh my God! What do youmean I won't love that one? That's terribly funny!"

"No, Gin, it's just terrible. Not only is it dumb, is the Killing Curse even a laughing matter?"

"It is when in knock-knock form. Oh, Hermione, lighten up. The poor guy was obviously trying to impress you!" Ginny takes a bite of steak and chews thoughtfully.

"That prat was trying to get in my pants!" Hermione shouts, outraged. She had really been hoping that Ginny would come here and sympathize and apologize for picking out such a rotten guy.

"And you turned him down. I'm telling you Hermione, you're going to wake up one morning and you're going to say, 'Merlin! Where has my vagina gone?' And you'll look and you'll look but you'll never see it again."

Hermione shakes her head and motions toward the waiter with the 'fine piece of arse.' "Check please!"

---

Hermione stands facing a bookshelf, paging through the latest book on hexes. As much as she hates to admit it, learning (and using) new curses gave her a rush.

Her eyes slip from the book for a second and she notices a pair of large, leather shoes that clearly belong to a male. Hermione can't help but think they're the nicest pair of shoes she's ever seen.

"Come here often?" Mr. Nice Shoes' voice sends a small wave of pleasure coursing through her. Perfectly low, thickly accented, and just a bit gravelly.

Taking a deep breath, Hermione murmurs a response. "Actually..." Sheepishly, she lifts her head and opens her eyes all of the way to take a good look at the owner of such lovely shoes.

Draco Malfoy. She could have sworn that he had moved to Japan or something.

"Oh bloody hell. You cannot be serious." Hermione groans and stomps away from the blonde-haired Slytherin.

"Whoa! Granger!" He tears off after her into the History section of the bookstore. "Is that any way to greet an old schoolmate?"

Still moving as fast as her size eight feet can carry her, she refuses to look at him and simply yells over her shoulder. "It's the perfect to greet someone whom you loathe and abhor." She hears him chuckle and she can practically see the entertained smirk on his stupid face.

"Well you are just as unpleasant as I recall. I thought perhaps you'd grown up over the years but I see you're still the snobbish Gryffindor with a book always at arms length." Malfoy's footsteps stop before they begin moving in the opposite direction.

Hermione stops in her tracks and retaliates. "Oh, Ineed to grow up? What about you, you little brat? Think you're better than everyone and everything?"

To her astonishment and mortification, Malfoy stops and turns back to her. "You're such a hypocrite, Granger." She opens her mouth to interject but he cuts her off. "Fine then. Prove me wrong. Prove that you don't think you're better than me." Hermione smiles. Easy enough.

"Fine." She isn't entirely sure how she's supposed to prove such a thing but she's positive she can do it.

"Over tea."

"Fi-what? Over tea? You want to have tea with me?" Her mouth opens and closes multiple times before she can continue. "Do you think I'm completely nutters, Malfoy?"

"Why not? I'm the one who thinks I'm better than you and I'm inviting you out for tea. Surely you can lower yourself to tolerate arrogant me for an hour or two." He pauses dramatically before smiling at her menacingly. "Or wait! Are you too good to have tea with me?"

Dammit. She was trapped. "Oh, trouser it, Malfoy." Hermione huffs and looks around, wishing there was an escape. "Fine. I'll go with you for one cup of tea."

The grin that creeps on to his face is one that she hasn't seen in all of the years she's known him.

"Excellent." The word rolls off his tongue like a promise he fully intends to keep.

What in the world has she agreed to?

The pair sits awkwardly at a booth, both clutching at their cups and looking anywhere but at one another. Hermione shifts, clearing her throat and stealing a glance at Malfoy. To Hermione, it appears as though he's attempting to blow up his tea using only his eyes.

"You're going to give yourself a coronary if you stare any harder." The words are out of her mouth before she can stop herself. She was actually hoping they could finish their tea in silence before continuing on their merry separateways.

His face shoots up and he focused his intense stare on her. "It speaks!" He smiles bitterly before looking back into the cup.

"What do you want from me, Malfoy? You asked me here to prove that I'm...what? That I don't think I'm better than you? That I'm a hypocrite? What exactly am I doing here, Malfoy?"

For the second time his eyes bore into hers. "I want you to admit that youare a hypocrite. That you've always thought you were better than me. That you're just as guilty of prejudice as I am."

She nearly laughs at what he wants her to do. "Oh, that's rich. I'm prejudiced and yet I distinctly remember you constantly calling me 'Mudblood' and 'filth.' Isn't that right?"

"I won't say you're wrong - you're not. I am guilty of calling you terrible names and I apologize for that sincerely. But you can't honestly believe that you're completely innocent. I seem to recall being ridiculed as a Death Eater, as a slimy cockroach, as the 'Amazing Bouncing Ferret.' How can you say that you didn't have your own image of me etched into your mind the first time I met you."

Hermione has to look away. She hadn't expected this; for him to make her feel horribly guilty for the way that she had treated him all those years ago.

"I didn't think..."

"No. You didn't think, for once." Before she has the chance to say anything, he pushes his sleeve up to reveal a nude left arm. No Dark Mark. " You retaliated with words that were just as nasty to me as my words were to you. You never stopped to think that your words are what made me so angry and hateful toward you and your friends." She can tell he's seething. His eyes shift to look away from her and he takes a deep breath before continuing. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean to blow up at you. I just wanted you to know that I'm not the only one at fault when it comes to our past."

Hermione is not a girl who cries that often. In fact, she hasn't cried in months - maybe a whole year. At this moment, though, seeing Draco Malfoy distraught, remorseful, and hurt, she can feel tears welling up in her eyes and her nose burns.

"Malfoy...I'm so sorry." Her voice breaks with the word 'sorry' and she grabs a napkin to wipe at her eyes.

"Please don't start crying, Granger." She sniffs and whimpers softly. "Seriously. I didn't invite you here to make you cry."

She blinks up at him, attempting to compose herself. "Then why did you invite me here?"

"I don't know." He takes a long drink from his tea before speaking again. "I guess I thought it was time we put the past behind us. I just wanted you to recognize that you're just as guilty as I am."

She nods, running her fingers around the edge of her cup.

"So...can we? Just put the past behind us and call a truce? I'm tired of having an arch nemesis." He smiles at her apologetically.

Hermione thinks about it for a moment for a moment before grabbing his hand to shake it. "Truce." She sniffs once more before laughing. "God, look at me. I'm a Gryffindor and I'm blubbering like a fool."

"You're not a fool." He begins seriously before breaking into a smile. "But you are such a girl."

They laugh together for the first time ever, both realizing it isn't as strange as they thought it would be.

---


"I feel really terrible for making you cry, Granger. Let me take you out to dinner tonight; somewhere fancy that none of your other friends can afford." Two hours ago, Hermione would have launched into a stream of insults. Now that they'd agreed to quit being arch nemeses and put the past behind them, she laughs.

"Please. You loved seeing me cry. I'll bet you've been waiting for that for the last 9 years, haven't you?" They walk down the sidewalk together, like friends spending a nice afternoon together.

"Yes. And if I could just get you to cry again at dinner tonight, I'll be sure to have my camera. Your tears are something I want to remember forever."

"Ha ha. Very funny." Hermione rolls her eyes and turns the corner with him. "I didn't know you knew how to make a joke."

Malfoy's mouth falls open in mock-shock. "Oh! Look who's the funny one now!" They come to a stop and they turn to face one another. "Which way are you going?"

"Left. You?"

"Right." He looks around, thinking. "All right. Apparate right back here at seven sharp and we'll walk to my favorite restaurant together."

"I never said I'd eat dinner with you, Malfoy." For a moment, he thinks she's serious. She has that look in her eye that says 'I am my own woman. How dare you assume I want to have dinner with you.' Then he catches the small twitch of her lip threatening to turn into a smile.

"Please. You nearly jumped at the thought of having dinner with yours truly." He raises his chin and thrusts his hand against his chest.

"You're right. I did nearly jump...in horror." After their truce, they fell into easy conversation. It was a nice mixture of being perfectly pleasant and interesting and yet their banter felt natural. During moments of silence over tea, Hermione attempted to figure out why their conversation - particularly the banter - felt so normal. Finally, she came to the conclusion that at Hogwarts, their insults had been made in hatred. Now, they seemed to be made in good humor. "Since you're being so adamant about taking me out, I guess I'll agree to it. What kind of attire should I wear?"

"Had a feeling you'd come around." He steps back and surveys her. "Wear a dress, Granger." She nods and begins walking backward, raising her hand to wave. "Something a little sexy, yeah?"

Everything happens at once. The word 'sexy' seems to come screaming out of his mouth to tickle her stomach, effectively causing her to trip over her own feet and fall over.

"Whoa!" Malfoy rushes over to her as she attempts to right herself. "Maybe you should stick to walking forward, Granger." He reaches out his hand and helps her stand.

"Thanks for the advice." She grumbles, rubbing her ankle. "Damn shoes."

He isn't buying it though. "Shoes, uh huh."

"Um, thank you for..." she spreads her arms wide, indicating everything, "this. I really have to get going." She looks down, completely embarrassed. "See you tonight, Malfoy."

She turns to walk away (forward this time) when he calls out to her. "Oy, Granger!" Hermione turns to look back at him, a devilish smile on his face. "Maybe tonight we should try using first names."

And with that he's gone, leaving a stunned Hermione Granger on the sidewalk.

---


After the truce and the chatting and the sexy, Hermione rushes home in a frazzled state.

Slamming the door shut behind her, she leans against it, breathing heavily.

"What the hell made me agree to having dinner with him?" Hermione whispers out loud. She thinks about it and she knows why she said yes. Once she'd quit tearing up, they'd had a nice two hours of chatting over tea. She had been skeptical at first, trying to figure out his angle, but soon decided that maybe he didn't have an angle. Maybe he wasn't such a huge arse.

Stumbling forward, Hermione grabs a handful of Floo Powder, tosses it into her fireplace and shouts "POTTER RESIDENCE!" A moment later, she's standing in a familiar living room.

"Ginny! Ginny!" She yells to her friend, hoping she's at home. Not only is she hoping that Ginny is at home, she's also hoping that Ginny's at home and not having sex with her husband, Harry Potter.

A moment later, a tired 'Hermione?' is emitted from the hallway.

"Thank Merlin you're at home, Ginny. I need your help...now!"

Without missing a beat, Ginny smirks at her frazzled friend. "Vagina's gone, isn't it?"

Hermione does a double take at the statement. "What? No!" Throwing herself on the Potter's couch, she slaps her hand to her face and groans. "This is much worse than me losing my womanly parts."

"Not sure there could be anything worse than that, Hermione." Ginny plops down alongside her and looks at her, ready to listen.

"I'm having dinner with Draco Malfoy." She pauses for effect. "Tonight."

"What?!?" Ginny turns, stunned. She seems to be off in another world before Hermione shakes her.

"Hello? Problem! Help! Now!" She slumps forward and groans again. "This is maybe the -"

"Greatest thing ever?" The red-head is grinning like a wild woman now. "I'll bet he's an excellent shag, Hermione. Make sure you let me know all about it tonight."

"Ginny!" Hermione cries, exasperated. "I don't even want to think about that. I don't even know what to wear and..."

"And..." Ginny waits for Hermione to complete the thought.

"And...hetoldmetowearsomethingsexy." Hermione rushes the words, embarrassed already.

"He what now?"

"He...he told me to wear something..." she waits for a second, bracing herself to say the word, "sexy."

The screech that comes from her friend almost deafens her. Hermione hears Ginny saying something like 'Hermione's getting some' and 'Granger and Malfoy sitting in a tree F-U-C' before Hermione cuts her off.

"I am in major crisis mode and you are singing children's songs turned filthy! Now, HELP!"

"All right. So he told you to wear something sexy. Lucky for you, my entire wardrobe is sexy. Let's have a look, then."

Upon entering Harry and Ginny's room, Hermione notes a human shape under the covers.

"Please tell me that's Harry and that he's fully clothed."

"Yes and no." Ginny smiles at her husband who is currently snoring and opens the closet doors.

Two hours later, the clock reads 6:50 and Hermione is...well, according to Ginny "so sexy I'd totally consider being bi-curious tonight," which wakes Harry up (but just long enough for him to see that his wife and best friend are not being bi-curious so he goes back to sleep.)

"Okay. You've got 10 minutes until you're supposed to be there."

Hermione's face stretches into a frown and she feels like she's going to vomit. "Maybe I shouldn't go. Maybe he was asking me out of pity."

"Oh, shut up Hermione. If he asked you out out of pity, he wouldn't have demanded you wear something sexy."

"He was probably just being the typical sex addict he's always been." She fiddles with her earrings and keeps glancing at herself in the mirror.

Entering serious friend mode, Ginny forces Hermione to look at her. "Hermione. It's not a crime to be attracted to him or want to go out with him. From what you told me, it sounds like he's done a lot of growing up - hopefully in a few different ways, if you know what I mean - and that he might actually be a dateable guy. There's nothing wrong with you wanting him to want you."

Hermione smiles at Ginny thankfully. She may joke a lot, but when it came down to it, Ginny always had her back.

"Thanks, Gin."

"Anytime." Ginny glances at the clock and begins rushing Hermione to grab all of her stuff. "You look beautiful. Now go! Make all of us Gryffindors who fantasized about the Slytherin Prince proud!"

---


Promptly at seven o' clock, Hermione arrives at the street where she and Malfoy had parted just hours ago.

"I'm glad you agreed to this date." Hermione jumps as Malfoy steps out from a darker corner.

"Um...date?" The word sounds foreign on her tongue. Date. She hadn't been on one in so long she'd practically forgotten what the word meant.

"Yes, Hermione." He can see the effect that him saying her first name has on her. Her eyes widen and she chokes a little bit. "Date. It's usually what a man and a woman do when they're interested in one another and want to get to know each other better."

Quickly, Hermione denies such a statement. "I never said I was interested in you, Malfoy."

"It's Draco, now." He takes her hand and leads her down the sidewalk. "And you will be."

"Where are we going?" She asks, wishing he wasn't holding her hand because she knows it's clammy and gross.

"The best restaurant in all of London." A minute later and he pulls her into beautifully stained glass doors under a maroon awning. Upon entering, Hermione sees that the waiters are dressed in impeccable tuxedos, all platters are served on those fancy plates with dome-shaped covers, and the tablecloths look like they're made out of silk.

"Does this place have a name...Draco?" She tries out his name for the first time ever out loud. It's even more exotic sounding than the word 'date.'

Just as he had seen how her name affected her, she sees how his affects him. His eyes flick to look at her and the corners of his lips tug into a smile he tries to hide from her.

"It's called La Caverne - The Cave."

"The Cave? That's not the most...alluring name for a place like this." She eyes the place, trying to figure out why anyone would name a beautiful restaurant like this 'The Cave.'

Hermione fails to notice that no one asked if they needed a table or how many or for their names. Rather, a man simply swept in and steered them toward a beautiful table to the side of the restaurant.

A moment later, another waiter brings them a bottle of wine and two menus. Looking at the menu, Hermione begins to feel overwhelmed. The entire thing is in French.

"Draco." He turns toward her, leaning in close at hearing her say his name. "I don't mean to sound ungrateful but..."

"You have no desire to eat at this restaurant, do you?" She lets out the breath she was holding and looks up at him. "I got that feeling as soon as we walked in."

"I'm so sorry it's just..." she searches for the right words to explain that she's just not all that into upscale French cuisine that may or may not be goat brains.

"Hermione," she takes a sharp breath when he leans in and whispers her name, "you don't need to explain yourself to me." He snatches her hand and leads her out of the restaurant and back on to the sidewalk.

"Where would you like to go?" She notices he's still holding her hand on the sidewalk and debates whether or not to pull her hand away.

After a minute of thinking, she has an idea. "I know the perfect place."

---


Draco eyes the Golden Arches carefully. "Hermione. What is this place? It's very..."

"Wonderful?" She supplies for him, but he shakes his head.

"I was going to say bright but...I guess we'll find out if it's wonderful in a minute or two, won't we?" He smiles and for the third time that night grabs her hand and pushes open the glass door. "So what am I supposed to get at McDougal's?"

Hermione laughs. "It's McDonald's and I definitely recommend getting a quarter pounder with cheese, fries, and a strawberry shake."

"That's a lot of food though, Hermione. And since you made us leave Le Caverne, I'm hungry." Draco whines at his date.

"Draco. This is called fast food. That means that everything is made quickly, probably in under five minutes. You won't have to worry about it taking too long."

The pair order their meals (the same thing for both) and Draco insists on paying. "You didn't have to pay, you know."

"Sure I did. I'm a gentleman and I always pay on the first date." He smirks at her and grabs his tray of food.

"First date? You say that like there's going to be more than one."

"Of course there will be. And you're going to ask me." After carefully evaluating the restaurant, Draco finally chooses a booth that he decides is more private.

"Is that right? You seem quite sure of yourself, Mister Malfoy." She watches as he opens the cardboard box of his burger and picks it up, inspecting it.

"Of course I'm sure of myself." He looks up to find her staring at him intently. "What? I can't possibly already have food on my face - I haven't eaten anything yet!"

"I'm waiting to see your reaction to that burger you're about to bite into. I want to see you realize what you've been missing for over 20 years." She grins and continues watching him.

"I don't think it's going to be all that good..." he trails off before taking a large bite of the sandwich. After he chews for a minute, his body relaxes completely and he lets out a small 'mmm.'

"That's what I thought." Hermione remarks triumphantly, biting into her own burger.

For twenty minutes Hermione and Draco sit eating their fast food without a word between them, just a few smiles and a couple thumbs up from Draco.

"So?" Hermione says once they finish eating.

"So...I think that may have been the best meal of my life. I'll have to figure out a way for the house elves to cook that."

Hermione turns on him and opens her mouth to start yelling, but before she can, he's grabbed her hands and held them in place. "Relax, Granger, I pay my house elves. They're well aware that they are paid, respected employees that are free to leave whenever they so wish."

Stunned, Hermione turns and continues walking. "That's...Draco, that's wonderful." She murmurs, sitting on a bench.

They sit in silence again, both surprisingly comfortable.

"Being here with you..." Hermione breaks the silence and turns to face Draco. "This should feel weird, shouldn't it? I know that today, not even eight hours ago, we made a truce to put the past behind us and, I don't know, be friends. And that's marvelous, I really think it is. But should it be that simple? Should I be completely content sitting here with you?"

She pauses but he remains silent.

"Should I be taking you to McDonald's for dinner and introducing you to horribly, fattening, but tasty foods?"

She pauses again and he stays silent, gazing at her.

"It feels too soon for this to feel natural. This should feel weird and it should be awkward and I should still hate you a little bit..." she's double guessing herself all over the place. "Shouldn't I?"

For the fourth time, he takes her hand in his. "I don't know, Hermione."

"Should I be sitting her wishing that I could -" she stops short, surprised at the slip she had almost made. She'd been thinking about it all night - that she could kiss him - but she hadn't meant to say a word about it.

She looks away but he won't let her. He takes her chin in his hand and turns her face toward his. "Wishing you could...what?"

"Nothing." She looks up at the clock on one of the buildings and turns back to Draco. "I should probably be -"

"Do you want to dance?" He asks her, giving her the most dazzling smile she's ever seen. A smile she never thought would grace Draco Malfoy's face.

"Right here? Right now?" She stares at him, incredulous.

"Right here. Right now." He stands and pulls her up with him, pulling her close to him before whispering. "With me."

They dance together on the sidewalk, across from McDonald's, next to the park. They're both breathing heavily, aware that all kinds of body parts are pressed together.

"This might feel fast - it feels fast to me too. But does that mean it's not right?" Her body tenses slightly but he presses on. "I know it was just this afternoon that we had our big apologies and sob fest - well at least on your part."

He feels her punch him lightly and growl hey!

Laughing, he continues. "But it's not like we just met. We've known each other for the better part of our lives, Hermione. And it's not like I've ever felt uncomfortable around you. If anything, you're one of the people I feel most comfortable around. You're constant, always there to nag at me, always there to take me down a notch or two. Why shouldn't I feel like..." The couple stop dancing and he pulls away to look her in the eye.

She's screaming to herself Yes? Like you...like you what, Malfoy? Let's have it already!

"Like I want to kiss you - onion breath and all." He smiles and she claps a hand over her mouth, horrified.

"Oh my God, really? Do I really have gross onion breath? You could have -" but he's not letting her yell at him. Not tonight. Instead, he kisses her - onion breath and all.

Only when he kisses her, he doesn't think about her onion breath or the fact that his is probably equally as gross. Instead, he thinks about both of her hands finding their way to the sides of his face and the way she sucked in all of the air she could as soon as their lips made contact. And he's thinking about the way that as crazy as this should be, as crazy as this could be, it feels natural, kissing her across from McDonald's.

He pulls away, both breathless and stares at her. "I don't think I told you this but...you look beautiful." He moves his face closer to hers and just before they kiss he whispers. "And sexy." And she closes the gap between them.

---

So maybe it was completely unnatural for Hermione Granger to be dancing and kissing Draco Malfoy across from a McDonald's on a Thursday night, but then again, Hermione Granger has never been the most normal girl.

Maybe something a little unnatural was just what she needed to make everything just right.