Title: On First Dances
Word Count: 2225
Notes: For desds, who requested dramione and a first awkward Christmas, preferably post-war. I know this isn't quite what you probably had in mind. I also knew, as soon as I wrote the first sentence, that this would be way more than a drabble. I sincerely hope you like it, and thanks for the awesome prompt!
On First Dances
The first Christmas after the war was both beautiful and awful. In the weeks leading up to the holiday, the general mood of the wizarding world alternated between joyous and somber. Joy erupted because never again would they have to worry about discovering a horrible green mark in the sky. Then thoughts turned to those who wouldn't be present at Christmas dinner, those who wouldn't have any package to open that Christmas morning—or any after it.
It was a difficult thing, trying to balance being happy and not feeling guilty for it.
The Ministry sponsored a party for everyone—no exceptions—a few days before Christmas. They'd procured a parcel of land in the middle of nowhere, warded it against Muggles, and threw an enormous bash, where all of the dead from both sides would be remembered. It was the Minister's hope that by welcoming all sides, healing could begin.
Hermione was skeptical, though she supported the idea. She desperately hoped that bridges could be mended that night, that previously endless chasms could be crossed—or at least that the two sides could inch closer to each other. Even inches were good.
It became glaringly obvious, however, that simply wishing it to be so wasn't enough. Once the formalities of the evening were complete, the music started, and everyone was encouraged to mingle.
The scene reminded Hermione of the final battle, but without the spells flying in all directions. Both sides stayed segregated, with the dance floor between them, talking and mingling amongst themselves.
She was with Harry, Ginny, and George, as Ron was still quite cross with her for saying she thought it best that they stay friends, but she kept glancing across the expanse at the others. Most of them seemed entirely content with socializing on their side, and she wondered if the whole world was content to take sides and never reach out, to leave gaping holes where there should be none.
Suddenly, however, while gazing aimlessly though the other crowd, her eyes met another's, and she froze, their gazes locked. Draco Malfoy's pale grey eyes held hers captive until he inclined his head once in acknowledgement. Then he turned back to his group of friends, and Hermione did the same.
Her heart was racing, however. Malfoy was the only person she had seen even glance in their direction. Had he been searching, just as she had? And Merlin, his stare had been electric, though she didn't feel it until she looked away and found her hands shaking.
Hermione forced herself to focus on the conversation, and after a few minutes, had almost forgotten the strange encounter. Then someone tapped Harry on the shoulder, and Hermione noticed the whole crowd had gone silent.
Harry spun around, and Pansy Parkinson came into view, resplendent in elegant crimson robes. Hermione sensed Ginny bristle beside her, but neither of them did or said anything as Pansy asked Harry to dance.
In that moment, Hermione adored the former Slytherin girl. She knew Pansy didn't like Harry, couldn't possibly want to be anywhere near him, but something had made her cross that great divide and ask the war's biggest hero to dance.
As the entire gathering watched in awed silence, Harry swallowed thickly and nodded, boldly extending his hand. If Pansy had expected him to refuse, she didn't show it, but smiled thinly and placed her dainty hand in Harry's.
Ginny was raging, but she said nothing as her boyfriend led the girl who had shouted that they should turn Harry over to Voldemort onto the dance floor.
Not a sound could be heard. Even the band had stopped playing when Pansy made her move.
Hermione knew that Harry was having a hard time. He'd hated dancing at the Yule Ball, hated having everyone's eyes on him, but she couldn't detect it on his features. He was poised, calm almost, as though the most natural place in the world for him was having his arms around Pansy Parkinson.
They got into position and stood silently, waiting. Someone in the band finally snapped out of his trance, soon a soft, elegant song was drifting across the field. Harry and Pansy started to move, and both sides were entranced with how smoothly, how fluidly, the pair moved together.
Movement caught Hermione's attention after a few moments, and she was stunned to see Hannah Abbott make her way across the void in the same way Pansy had, going directly to Theodore Nott.
Tears pricked her eyes as Theo nodded and took Hannah's hand. The song, the melody, seemed to increase in beauty and sorrow as the second couple joined Harry and Pansy. The strains were at times discordant and ugly, but they always resolved into sweet chords and harmonious verse.
This is what we fought for, she realized, as Blaise Zabini handed his glass to Gregory Goyle and headed directly for Hermione's group. His eyes were locked on Ginny, and he bowed slightly before asking her to dance.
Ginny was so surprised that she forgot about Harry and accepted, linking her arm with Blaise as he strode purposefully and proudly onto the dance floor.
New sounds joined the song in progress, woody flutes and distant drums. Hermione realized something amazing was happening. The musicians seemed enchanted as they played a song that she was certain none of them knew. And slowly, one by one, another member of her class at Hogwarts crossed the unfathomable divide, seeking someone they had once professed to despise.
When there were ten couples on the floor, Hermione let a tear fall. The scene was truly beautiful, and the music seemed to grow and change with no end in sight.
A flash of white caught her eye, and she saw Narcissa Malfoy nod solemnly to her son. Then Malfoy hesitated a moment before following in the path first taken by his best friend. He walked with his head held high, eyes forward. Hermione tried to guess who he would ask onto the floor, but his gaze betrayed nothing.
The murmuring of the crowd, which had picked up after Blaise and Ginny started dancing, died once more as everyone waited to see what Draco did. This was the young man who had let Death Eaters into the school. He was the embodiment of the start of the war. He was the one nobody believed could ever change.
Halfway through his walk, he changed direction, and Hermione saw him glance at her. It was very brief, their eyes met for only an instant, but she knew. He was coming for her!
The music rose in crescendo Draco neared, and its intensity peaked as he stopped before Hermione.
Draco opened his mouth, then closed it, frowning. Hermione felt George step a bit closer, ready just in case. That seemed to fortify the blond, and he spoke cordially, formally, as he asked Hermione to dance.
Her heart was thudding painfully in her chest, and her nerves were suddenly raw, but she accepted, hesitantly placing her hand in his. She had expected it to feel cold, hard, the way she had often characterized him, but instead it was warm. Even sweaty, as though he'd been nervous to approach her.
As they faced each other, as she put one hand on Draco's shoulder and he put one on her waist, the music became so breathtaking, so transcendent, that she gasped. Draco smirked and swept her into the dance, and they, too, became part of something incredible, their souls interlacing with the magical notes dancing on the air.
Hermione didn't know how long the song lasted. After a few minutes, Draco tried talking to her, speaking softly so that no one else could possibly hear. They exchanged small talk, growing slightly more at ease in each other's company, until they sensed the song nearing its end.
Draco slipped his arm further around her and pulled her close enough that he could whisper in her ear.
"You are beautiful tonight," he said haltingly, awkwardly.
Hermione was grateful that she wasn't looking at him, so he wouldn't see her blush. His movements were graceful, his stature confident, but his words belied them all.
"Thank you," she muttered, feeling her cheeks grow even hotter.
When the song finally ended, Hermione and Draco separated, joining with the others in clapping for the band, who looked slightly bewildered about what had happened. It was then that Hermione noticed that everyone in attendance had joined the dance, dancing with someone they wouldn't have given the time of day to before.
It was the start of something, she knew, as she rejoined her friends and accepted a dance with George. The Ministry had managed to achieve its aim that night in bringing together two sides that were formally irreconcilable. It was a beautiful thing.
As Hermione danced song after song, she laughed and spoke with whomever held her. But no matter whose arms encircled her, she didn't feel as natural, as relaxed, as she had in Draco's arms. They had fit together … perfectly, almost as though she was the complement for him, and he for her.
By the time the band announced the last song, however, she had managed to convince herself that what she had felt with Draco had been a product of the magical moment in time created by what Pansy had started. Nevertheless, she was surprised when he approached her for the last dance, sending glares at anyone who looked like they might ask her before he could reach her.
Once again his tone and manner were formal, and Hermione was more nervous than she had ever been in her life when he spun her to face him before the music began. The way he put his arm around her waist and took her hand in his was comfortable yet possessive, respectful yet intimate.
Draco tried talking with her this time, but the easy spell from their first dance had been lifted. His words were halting, unsure, and she found it charming the way he seemed to lose his composure as he tripped over words.
It wasn't long, however, before she relaxed and allowed him to lead her across the dance floor. Hermione didn't mind the silence; talking seemed the surest way to ruin everything.
The last movement of the song was slow, and Draco hesitated, looking at her uncertainly. Hermione glanced around the room and saw other couples dancing close, so she shrugged and let him pull her against him. Once again, she found that they fit together seamlessly, and she marveled at it. Even though his movements were stiff and awkward, his arms were wrapped tightly around her, securing her in place.
It was strange, she thought, to feel so relaxed and easy in the arms of the man who had tormented her and her friends at school, the last man she ever expected to voluntarily be within ten feet of her, much less so close that there wasn't any room for air.
Something magical had happened that night; there was no other explanation. That former enemies could put aside their differences and extend a hand of friendship, even for just one night, was magic of a different kind than spells and wands and potions. It was the magic of tentative forgiveness, of hope for a better future.
She sincerely hoped it would extend into the next day and the next, and the day after that. Who knew what bridges had been formed tonight, what relationships had been mended? If they worked together, instead of against, there was no limit to what they could accomplish.
The true test would come tomorrow, when she saw Malfoy in the hallway at the Ministry, or when Pansy and Harry bumped into each other in Diagon Alley. Pansy had made the first move—who would follow her lead?
When the song ended, Draco slowly released Hermione, smiling sheepishly, as though he was embarrassed. Hermione tried smiling confidently back, but her heart did funny things when their eyes met and all she managed was a weak, melted one.
"Thank you for the dance," he said politely.
There were so many things she wanted to say to this man she'd never met, to thank him for taking a risk that night. Her heart was full of good feelings toward him, and she realized that if he would let her, she wanted to get to know him.
Everyone else at the party was gathering their things, finding their companions and friends, but Hermione and Draco stood rooted where they'd stopped dancing. She wasn't sure what to say, how to guarantee his company at some point in the future, but she knew her friends would look for her soon.
"I-I'll see you on Monday," she ventured.
Draco nodded once and brushed the hair out of his eyes. "I'll be there," he said lightly.
Another few seconds passed, each one stretching longer than the one before it. Hermione finally decided she couldn't take the strange tension anymore.
"Well, goodnight, Malfoy," she said, turning hurriedly to go.
She'd taken three steps when he said, "Wait."
Smiling, she stopped and turned her head to look at him over her shoulder. "Yes?"
"Maybe …." He trailed off, kicking at something on the ground. "Maybe you'd be free for lunch?"
Her smile broadened. "I might be."
A/N: Thanks for reading!!