A/N: I originally wrote this for a fic exchange on LJ called hp_fivethings. That fest is what gave me the idea for the format of 'Watching Love'! With some tweaking and beta assistance I posted it elsewhere and now am sharing it here! Thanks to my dear friend who helped immensely (in fact 'Watching Love' is her reward for getting me through this and some other messy scrapes)! As always, I hope you enjoy and PLEASE REVIEW!!!!!!!!!!
FIVE DRESSES IN HERMIONE GRANGER'S CLOSET
DRESS #1 - A Magical Encounter
Hermione Granger never was, and never would be, described as 'girlie.' Yet even at the tender age of eight she appreciated the allure of dressing up on occasion. She and her parents were invited to a party at the home of one of their patients, and her mother insisted on taking her shopping for a new dress.
Despite Hermione's distaste for shopping anywhere but a book shop, she surprised herself by having a lovely time spending the day with her mother. There was only one problem: the dress her mother selected.
It was a shade of pink, which though complimentary to her skin tone, was nonetheless, still pink. And there was lace. Lots and lots of lace. Hermione Granger did not wear pink and she most certainly did not wear lace. But her mother was happy and the shop girl kept squealing about how lovely she was, so against her better judgment she agreed.
When the day of the party arrived, Hermione was a little nervous, but put on a brave face. Her parents had assured her there would be children her age to 'play' with. This was the fact that had Hermione worried. She never really got along with her schoolmates or other children. They all seemed so ... childish.
Hermione spotted a group of girls giggling by the punch bowl. She threw her shoulders back, set her jaw and firmed her resolve.
"Hello," she said to a tall girl with straight strawberry blonde hair, who appeared to be the ringleader. "My name is Hermione." She held out her hand in greeting.
The girl looked at Hermione's hand and wrinkled her nose. "Herminny, what kind of name is that?"
Hermione withdrew her hand and said curtly, "It's my name." She took a deep breath and tried again. "I like your purple dress."
Apparently this was the wrong thing to say, as the group of girls broke out into giggles.
Little Miss Ringleader laughed in her face. "Obviously you don't know much about clothes." She paused to look at Hermione over the rim of her glass with a critical eye. "This isn't purple, it's lavender."
"Oh, my mistake. If you'll excuse me..." Hermione turned to leave, trying her best not to let herself tear up. Once her back was to the group, she heard the nasty girl laugh to her friends.
Hermione stopped in her tracks and seethed.
Suddenly there was a loud squeal behind her. Hermione spun around to see the strawberry blonde brat covered in grape juice, a broken glass in her hand.
Hermione couldn't help but laugh. Well, it's definitely purple now.
It was strange how things like this kept happening to Hermione. Sometimes, when she was extremely emotional, she could make things happen, just by wishing for them. It's almost like magic, she thought.
Which was ridiculous, because as everyone knows, especially the ever-so-practical Hermione Granger, there is no such thing as magic.
DRESS #2 - Feeling Pretty
Hermione could not believe that somebody actually invited her to the Yule Ball. As a matter of fact, two somebodies (three, if you count Ron's ridiculous attempt — which she didn't). When the ball was announced, she figured that she would either not go or end up with Harry or Ron as an escort. She was ashamed to admit she had spent quite a bit of time imagining herself dancing with Ron ... or Harry, of course (though in her daydreams Ron held her much closer, his hand rested much lower, and he smelled much better while Daydream Harry just stepped on her feet and looked awkward).
Instead she was going to the Yule Ball on the arm of Viktor Krum. Viktor Krum! She had exchanged pleasantries with the seemingly surly young man in the library early in the year. He sought her company more and more as the term went on. He gave her the impression that he enjoyed her company because she didn't trail after him like a Hippogriff in heat (or like Ron after a Veela).
She was curious what Harry and Ron would think of her companion, certainly they would all be spending time together this evening. She imagined Ron would be thrilled, as he was obviously a huge fan of the Quidditch player. She hoped Harry wouldn't worry she'd choose to support Viktor in the tournament over him.
There was a part of her that worried about what someone like Viktor Krum wanted with someone like her. He really was much older and more experienced, after all. He could have the affection of any girl in the school, yet he was lavishing his attention on her. Was it really because she didn't follow after him like the other girls, or was there another motive? There was a tiny fear that her status as Harry Potter's best friend was the cause of Viktor's unexpected, and in her mind unwarranted, overtures.
Hermione faced the mirror, admiring her dress robes once more. For the first time, she felt pretty. Her hair was actually tamed and styled nicely, her recently reduced front teeth gave her a lovely smile. She laughed quietly, thinking she barely recognized herself and wondered if others might have the same reaction.
She turned from side to side, enjoying the swishing of the floaty material. She loved the way the light caught the blue fabric. This shade of blue is so lovely, she thought. It almost reminds me of the colour of Ron's — she stopped mid-thought.
Don't go there, she admonished herself. He barely even knows you're a girl ... unlike Viktor. She blushed slightly as she pondered what the evening with Viktor might hold. Will he try to kiss me? Do I want him to?
She adjusted her skirts one more time before heading down to meet Viktor. Her last involuntary thought, as she glanced back at the mirror was I wonder if Ron will notice me now?
DRESS # 3 - The Merits of the Little Black Dress
"Hermione, you're being ridiculous."
"Honestly, Mum I don't see the point."
"There doesn't have to be a 'point.' It's just a dress."
"Just try it on. You may surprise yourself."
Hermione looked dubiously at the garment her mother was shaking over the closed dressing room door. With an exasperated sigh, Hermione snatched the dress.
"Fine. I'll try it." She looked the dress over critically, "There's not much to it; it seems rather slinky."
"You know Hermione, the 'little black dress' is considered essential to every woman's wardrobe. Every woman should own a simple, elegant black dress that can be dressed up or down depending on the occasion."
"Yes, Mum. It's just where would I—?"
"Isn't Ronald taking you out this weekend? Your first real date deserves a special dress."
"Ron and I have been seeing each other for months; it's hardly our first date."
"He had your father help him make dinner reservations, so it's hardly tea at the Burrow or watching the telly and waiting for your father and I to go to bed so you can snog in the lounge."
"Please, Hermione. I was eighteen myself once. Frankly I'm surprised we haven't found you two in a compromising position by now."
"Still..." Hermione chose to ignore her mother's comments. "I don't know that I need such a ... a ... sexy dress." She said the word 'sexy' in a whisper.
Her mother opened the dressing room door to reveal Hermione standing in front of the mirror in her simple cotton bra and knickers, clutching the dainty black dress to her chest.
"Hermione," her mother began, "you are a beautiful young woman who needs to learn to embrace that side of yourself. Everyone knows Ron thinks you're beautiful, no matter what you wear. But try, just for yourself, try on the dress and maybe you'll see yourself as he sees you."
Hermione nodded her assent and her mother left the dressing room, not before calling out, "And for heavens sake, let's not forget new underwear!"
With a chuckle Hermione removed her bra and slipped the scrap of fabric over her head. She turned to look in the mirror, amazed at what she saw.
The bushy-haired bookworm with the large front teeth and shoulders stooped from heavy books was gone. There was no trace of the insecure girl from the Yule Ball who needed three hours to prepare. In her place was a beautiful, sexy young woman. The dress clung to her petite frame in all the right places, accentuating assets and camouflaging her perceived flaws.
"I'll take it!" she announced.
Hermione certainly did not regret her decision that Saturday night. The look on Ron's face when he came to the door to pick her up was all the confirmation she needed. As the evening wore on, Hermione realized it wasn't the dress that made her feel so womanly and sexy but rather the man at her side.
The dress, as well as it fit her, looked even better balled up on the floor beside Ron's bed — right next to her new lace knickers.
DRESS #4 - A Promise Made
Hermione stood in front of the bathroom mirror, adjusting her deep purple wrap dress around her four-month pregnant stomach. Suddenly two large freckled hands wrapped themselves around her waist.
"You look stunning," Ron whispered into her ear from behind. His hands slowly circled her burgeoning baby bump. "I've always loved you in this dress."
"Mm-mmm?" Hermione hummed as Ron bit her neck lightly and then licked the tender spot. "It's getting a little tight. I won't be able to wear it for much longer."
"That's okay. The only thing I like better than you in this dress —" He turned her to face him. "— is you out of it." He bent his head and kissed her slowly, infusing her with his passion, reassuring her of his desire for her, despite her rapidly expanding figure.
Once they parted for air, Ron reached up to stroke her face. "Promise me you won't take this off before I get home — that you'll let me do it."
"I promise." Hermione's voice was a little shaky as she stared into his eyes.
Hermione sat watching the minutes tick by on her office clock; the day was finally coming to an end. She was anxious to return home and continue where she and Ron had left off that morning. I can't believe I'm so randy, she thought to herself with a blush. The books say it's perfectly normal at this stage in pregnancy, but still...
Her thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of an urgent owl. She unfolded the parchment with shaky hands and nearly fell out of her seat at what she read.
Incident ... husband ... St. Mungo's ... critical ... injury…
The words swirled before her eyes, their meanings lost to her. All she knew was that she needed to get to Ron.
She fumbled for her cloak and stumbled toward the Atrium. Later she would not remember traveling, but she emerged from the Floo and into the lobby of St. Mungo's without delay. A representative from the Auror department was there to escort her to Ron's ward.
Head injury ... dark magic ... coma ... twenty-four hours ... touch-and-go…
She knew the healers were talking to her; she heard their words, yet she could not comprehend them. All her books and cleverness failed her as she watched the comatose form of her husband, usually so bright and lively, now laying pale and still.
Home ... rest ... shower ... eat ... baby ... change of clothes…
She recognized the voices of their family. She understood they only wanted the best for her ... and the baby. But they didn't understand. She couldn't leave him, not even for a brief moment. She didn't need to go home and rest — she needed her husband. She would NOT change into the more comfortable clothes Ginny offered her. They did not understand.
He asked her not to take off her dress. By Merlin, the first thing her husband would see when he opened his eyes would be her at his side where she belonged. And she'd be wearing her deep purple wrap dress, just as she promised.
DRESS #5 - Full Circle
Hermione held fast to Rose's small hand as they made their way down the crowded London street. The two were off on a shopping exhibition in search of new dresses to wear to the party marking the retirement of the Drs. Granger.
Rose was excited beyond belief; Hermione much less so. Rose loved to play dress-up, constantly hosting tea parties for her stuffies while wearing feather boas and hats with flowers. Hermione swore to herself as soon as the Healer announced, "It's a girl!" that she would never make her daughter wear lace, or pink (or lavender for that matter).
As soon as they reached the shop, Rose let out a squeal of excitement. She ran around admiring each dress, pulling on the fabrics and exclaiming over the colours.
"Look at this one, Mummy — it sparkles!"
"Yes, Rose, it's very, uh ... shiny." Hermione bit back her scathing opinion of the rhinestone-covered electric pink frock Rose was admiring. "Sweetie, that one's a bit posh for Grandmum and Granddad Granger's party. Let's see what else they have."
Hermione was anxious to find a dress and leave; she felt uncomfortable, as if she were under assault by all the glitter and tulle and ... pink ... in the shop.
She was finally able to steer Rose toward the children's section where she attempted to locate a suitable dress for her daughter. She found a lovely navy blue dress with solid white trim — without a stitch of lace on it. It would do perfectly with white tights and black patent leather shoes; it was very ladylike and very proper.
Hermione turned to show Rose, who was standing in front of the mirror holding up a dress of her own choosing. It was everything Hermione would never pick, but everything Rose loved. She compared the dress in her hand to the pink lacy one in Rose's and promptly but the blue one back.
"That's lovely, Rose. Would you like to try it on?"
Once Rose was sorted out, Hermione began looking for something for herself. Everything seemed either much too juvenile (read sparkly) or was too similar to something she already owned. Her mother insisted she had to find something new and threatened to take her shopping herself if Hermione proved unsuccessful alone.
"I like this one!" a small voice called from the middle of a rack of dresses.
"Rose?" Hermione parted the dresses in an effort to find her daughter.
"This one's pretty — looks like Daddy! You should try this one."
Oh great, is it orange?
Rose came out of hiding wrapped in a beautiful blue material. "See? Like Daddy's eyes — very pretty! Please try it." Rose gave Hermione her very best pleading look, and Hermione noticed, not for the first time, how similar Rose was to her father, right down to the bright blue eyes.
"Sure, sweetie, I'll try it." It turned out to be a perfect fit — and best part, no sparkles!
"Oh Mummy, Daddy was right! You are beautiful!"
Why does that tone of surprise sound so familiar? Hermione spun around and admired herself in the mirror. Not too bad for having had two children, I must admit. She looked down at the low cut bodice, And Ron will certainly enjoy the… view. Hmmmm, I think it might be time for some new undergarments.
"You've convinced me Rosie, this is the perfect dress."