Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Ugh. I've hit a wall with Unfortunate. I just don't know what order I want certain events to occur in. Meanwhile, I've been working on this other D/Hr fic. I thought it would be a one-shot, but it will have at least another chapter. But no more than three.
Curiouser and Curiouser
Setting down her mug of hot chocolate, Hermione sank into the overplump cushion of her chair, drawing her bare feet underneath her. Grabbing the book from the table beside her, she found her last dog-eared page and began reading one of her favorite literary classics. The rest of the shop bustled about her, just loud enough for her to know she wasn't alone, but not enough to distract her. It was the perfect little place for a perfect, overcast Saturday, and it was not even a five minute walk from her new apartment.
A few minutes later, the chime above the door went off, signaling that a new costumer had entered. Naturally, Hermione was oblivious to it all. She was too busy rereading Mr. Darcy's second proposal to Elizabeth for quite possibly the hundredth time.
"Didn't expect to run into you here. Or anywhere else for that matter."
The voice was familiar, though she could not place it. Momentarily debating whether satisfying her curiosity was really worth it, Hermione eventually looked up from her book, slightly irked by the interruption. To her surprise, not one foot away from her and steadily decreasing that distance was Draco Malfoy, dripping wet.
Dripping all over her book!
Shielding the precious pages with her body, she scowled up at the boy, correction man, she had not seen in nearly two years. "Geez, Malfoy. Why don't you cast a drying spell?"
"Unfortunately, I can't." Hermione was just about to ask why, but then Draco held up his wand, one piece in each hand.
"It wasn't enough for Astoria to break off our engagement. She had to break my wand as well."
"Oh." Suddenly, and very much against her will, her face and heart softened. She knew what it was like to have her heart broken. Reaching for her bag, she pulled out her wand and with a flick of her wrist and a quiet utterance, he was dry once more.
"Thanks, Granger," he said, plopping down in the seat next to her.
"I'm sorry about the…disillusionment of your engagement," she said, knowing that the words were hardly adequate. Her eyes began to sting as she remembered others trying to comfort her and falling short.
While she didn't expect him to cry on her shoulder over his loss, she certainly thought he'd do more than respond with, "Don't be. I'm certainly not."
"I don't understand. You said Astoria broke off your engagement. Aren't you upset?"
"Ecstatic, more like. I've been trying to get her to break up with me for ages."
Now this was the Draco Malfoy she remembered. Whatever sympathy she felt for him quickly evaporated. "If you despised her so much, why didn't you break up with her?"
"It had to be this way. Otherwise, I'd default on the contract and owe her a few thousand galleons."
Picking up her book, Hermione tried to find the place where she had left off. "Naturally. Who cares about a poor girl's heart when money's involved?"
Draco laughed, and Hermione found her attention drawn once more from her book. "You're sadly mistaken if you think Astoria has a heart. I wouldn't be surprised if she soon finds herself engaged to someone else."
"While I'm sure the social lives of you purebloods are enthralling, you'll excuse me if I continue reading." Turning her back towards him, she snuggled into the side of her chair and tried once more to read.
"Don't mind me," Draco said, pulling up an ottoman and throwing his feet on it. Of course, it would have been too much to expect him to sit there quietly. Within two minutes, a shadow fell across the page as Draco leaned over to read the cover of her book. "Pride and Prejudice? Granger, you never cease to amaze me. Here we are, fortuitously thrown together in the middle of nowhere, and you'd rather reread your ratty old book than spend five minutes in conversation with a person you haven't seen in two years. Aren't you the least bit curious about what I've been up to?"
Not really. "You haven't changed one bit, Malfoy. I can easily imagine the conversation we'd have. And though that's only slightly less odious than going through the trouble of actually speaking with you, I'd prefer to keep our conversation within the confines of my head." Thank you very much.
Her smirk of satisfaction was extremely short-lived, wiped clear off her face when Draco snatched her book from her fingers. Hermione rolled her eyes. It was all so typical of him. Why spend the time of crafting an intelligent response when violence would suffice? Neanderthal.
Examining her book as though he had never seen one before, he replied, "You are probably not aware of this, as you grew up with such mediocre playmates as Potter and Weasley, but it is impossible to improve on perfection. Change assumes some kind of deficiency; it would only make me a lesser man. And you're one to talk. You're still as cold and prickly as ever."
Hermione bit her tongue, resigned to act like an adult even though her fingers positively itched to slap him silly. "Alright, Malfoy. You have my attention. What do you want?"
"Only a civil conversation with a childhood acquaintance about what has been going on in both our lives since we saw each other last."
Hermione snorted, shaking her head. "I can't believe it. Draco Malfoy actually concerning himself with the affairs of this lowly muggleborn?"
"Occasionally. Not more than you deserve, mind you, but every now and again I take a break from my busy and important life to ponder what the great Hermione Granger is up to. Last I heard, Weasley had dumped you for Lavender Brown."
It was old news. But old news or not, it still hurt to hear. Irritated at the sudden onset of another bout of emotional vulnerability, Hermione glanced down at her chair, picking at the fraying material of its arm as she tried to come up with some suitable reply to show that Ron did not matter. Unfortunately, she wasn't quick enough.
"Ah, I see I've hit a nerve. But don't worry, I'm sure you'll meet another guy some day."
That went without saying. Obviously there were other guys out there besides Ron Weasley. And it wasn't like she was still in love with him. She was over Ron. Honestly! Out of the eight months that had passed since he had dumped her, she had only spent the first two weeks of their separation hoping for his return. Whatever tender feelings she had felt toward Ron evaporated the instant she had seen him making out with Lavender in the Gossip section of the Daily Prophet. Unfortunately, while her heart had recovered, her ego and self-worth had not. So, yes, while there were plenty of fish in the sea, she didn't believe that any of them would want to be with her. And if they did, they'd probably leave for a "shinier" fish, just like Ron had.
Trapped in her thought bubbles, Hermione had almost forgotten that Draco was beside her. Almost. "Please tell me you aren't waiting for him to come to his senses?"
"Of course not. He doesn't deserve me." Hermione blinked, surprised at the brutal honesty of her response. She never acknowledged these kinds of feelings to anyone but herself. And now that Draco Malfoy knew of her less than saintly inner dialogues, she began counting down the seconds before he delivered one of his tirades on Gryffindor hypocrisy or her inflated sense of self.
Interestingly enough, there was no such tirade. "No, he doesn't deserve you, but then he never deserved anyone. I could have told you that a long time ago, Granger. Spared you the heartache."
Hermione laughed. "As if I'd take romantic advice from a guy who intentionally tries to break up his own engagement. You're probably worse than Ron."
"Unlike your Weasel, fidelity was never an issue. I was bound by contract to that harpy. For two long years, she was the only person I could date, unless I wanted to incur financial punishment. I kept my word." Draco smiled. "And my galleons."
Hermione did a double take. "You got engaged right after you graduated?! Merlin, she was only sixteen."
Draco examined his nails, unimpressed by Hermione's shock. "Well, it was a long engagement. We weren't even supposed to be married for another five years."
"Well, ridiculous pureblood engagements aside, Ron was as faithful as you were. He didn't start dating Lavender until after he had broken up with me." Wow. To think Draco Malfoy was no worse than Ron Weasley. What was the world coming to?
Draco eyed her over his perfectly manicured hands. "No point in crying over spilt milk."
"Who said I was?"
"I know you, Granger. You aren't one of those girls to enter a relationship lightly. And for it to go bad over Lavender Brown…It must eat you up inside. After all, you're smarter than her. More accomplished. Prettier."
That's exactly what she thought too! But rather than saying that, she answered, "It wasn't as if we were married or engaged. Really, what does it even matter?"
"It doesn't. But just because you keep telling yourself that doesn't mean you understand why he broke up with you."
"Luckily, I don't need to understand it. What's done is done. And I'm gladly moving on expect for some annoying prat keeps bringing up the past."
"So if I told you he was engaged, you wouldn't care?"
The response was automatic, and she was about to say yes, but then he was holding up the Daily Prophet. Sure enough, trumpeted across the headlines of the gossip section were the words: Cannons' Weasley Finds a Keeper. The accompanying photo showed a jubilant Lavender wiggling the fingers of her left hand at the reader, basking in the light that reflected off her engagement ring.
It was like a punch to the gut, and it was so sudden there was nothing Hermione could do. Trying to hide, she pushed back into her chair, turning her head away so she wouldn't have to see Malfoy's gloating. When she could speak again, she quietly said, "Please leave."
But he didn't. "If you'd just be honest with me, I wouldn't need to be so harsh," he said.
Deciding she had had enough, Hermione slipped on her shoes, grabbed her bag and fled from the shop. The rain was still pouring down, but she was too tired to conjure up an umbrella. It was better this way anyway. With the rain no one could see her tears.
By the time she arrived back at her flat, the legs of her jeans were soaked, as was the rest of her. Dropping her bag on the floor, she took off her soggy clothes and threw them across the way. Once inside her bedroom, she got out her most comfortable pair of sweats and her oldest t-shirt and put them on. Then she went to the kitchen to make some hot chocolate. Spiked with firewhiskey. A few cups, and then she'd take a nap.
She had just finished her first glass when there was a knock on the door. Hardly dressed to receive visitors, she remained seated, waiting for the visitor to go away.
"Open the door, Granger!"
Hermione almost fell out of her chair at the sound of Malfoy's voice. Merlin! How did he know where she lived?
She stood up from her seat, eyes wide. She didn't have a bra on, she looked and felt like crap, and Draco Malfoy wanted to enter her flat. Yes, she was definitely going to pretend she was not home.
"I know you're there. I saw you go in and have been waiting out here for the past fifteen minutes."
Fifteen minutes? Why wait that long before announcing himself?
Another ten seconds passed before he was banging on the door. "If you don't let me in, you'll never get your precious book back again."
Her book?! She had forgotten about Pride and Prejudice, left it in his hands when she had bolted from the shop. Even though she told herself she could just buy another copy, Hermione's heart twisted within her. It wasn't like this was just some book. She'd had that particular copy since the year she had entered Hogwarts. And like any book that was in her library, she loved it. Her priceless treasure was in the hands of an indiscriminate troglodyte. She shuddered, imagining Malfoy lighting fire to its pages as he danced around it like a savage.
"I've been reading all your little notes in the margins while I've been waiting. Very interesting stuff, Granger. Mr. Darcy is your ideal man, is he?" Draco said, the door of her flat not muffling the humor in his voice.
Hermione's cheeks burned. Some of those comments she had written when she was thirteen years old. Highly embarrassing stuff.
"Says here Darcy was smart, aristocratic, handsome, learned, rich. How does Weasley meet any of those qualifications? Seems to me, you were dating the wrong pureblood."
Hermione swung open the door, wand trained on Malfoy's throat. He lifted his arms, the book in his right hand. "I come in peace," he said. In spite of the danger he was in that insufferable smirk of his was firmly planted on his face. He was sopping wet, but oddly enough, her book was dry.
"Give me that," she said, yanking the book from his hand. Holding it to her chest, she closed her eyes and breathed in deeply, relieved to have liberated her precious tale. Unfortunately, while she was holding her reunion party, Draco had entered her flat and shut the door with a loud bang.
"Granger, you really should see about putting better wards up. Luckily for you, I am a gentleman with nothing but honorable and pure intentions towards you."
She opened her eyes to find him glancing about her living room, slightly embarrassed at the mess she had made. "While I'm grateful that you brought my book home, which you wouldn't have needed to do if you hadn't taken it from me in the first place, I thought it was obvious I wanted to be left alone," she said, irritated.
"I thought you lived in London." Draco walked around her living room, stepping over her clothes which were still strewn over the floor. She followed him helplessly into her kitchen, cringing at the way his eyebrows raised when he saw the bottle of firewhisky. "Don't you think you're overreacting? It's just the Weasel," he said.
"This isn't about Ron!"
"I see," he said, studying her. Hermione crossed her arms over her chest, mentally cursing that she hadn't thought to put on a bra. Of course, she hadn't expected Malfoy to follow her back to her apartment in the pouring rain. "It's that he's engaged before you are…Before you've even had a date with another man."
That was it exactly! And the sooner she agreed with him, she was certain the sooner he would leave.
"Yes, Malfoy. And now that you've psychoanalyzed me, feel free to leave." Not waiting for a reply, Hermione went to her bedroom, putting on that much needed item of clothing. When she came back, Draco was on her couch, as she had known he would be. What she hadn't expected, though, was to see her wet bra dangling from his fingers.
"Looking for this?" he asked.
Oh bloody hell. It was just going to be one of those days, wasn't it?
Not one to fight a losing battle, Hermione walked past him to the kitchen, returning with her bottle of firewhisky and wand. Casting yet another drying spell on Malfoy, she plopped down beside him on the couch, and took a sip of firewhisky. Then another. After a few more swallows, she finally turned to him and said, "Why are you here?"
"As I said earlier, I'm merely curious." He took the firewhisky from her and without even wiping the neck, he drank from the bottle.
"Careful, Malfoy. You just swapped spit with a muggleborn."
His tongue darted out over his bottom lip, followed by his teeth, which were now chewing contemplatively on the fleshy pout of his mouth. "Funny, I don't feel any less magical," he said. "Do you?"
Hermione shook her head, which was a little fuzzy from the firewhisky. "Alright. You're curious. What would you like to know?"
"What you ever saw in that idiot Weasley."
"Really? You have me here, willing to answer any question, and that's the one you ask?"
"For starters, yes."
"I don't know."
Malfoy raised a brow. "Hermione Granger dated a boy for a year without knowing why she liked him?"
Hermione grabbed the bottle and took another sip. "Maybe because he forced me to relax. Not take myself so seriously." It wasn't the worst answer, but she should have had something better than that. After all, they had dated for almost a year. It shouldn't have been that difficult.
"Well, it certainly wasn't for his brains," Malfoy said.
Hermione was in the middle of another drink and almost started choking from laughter. And then choking at the way Malfoy was gently rubbing her back. When she had stopped coughing, he took the bottle away from her. "Let me see if I got this straight. All you look for in the opposite sex is a guy who can get you to relax?" he said.
"So it would seem."
He offered the bottle to her again, a sly grin on his face. "In that case, care for some more firewhisky?"
Hermione tried to whip her head around, but only managed to roll it lazily to the side. "Malfoy, am I drunk, or are you…flirting with me?"
Draco grinned over the bottle of Ogden's. "A little of both, I'd say."
Draco Malfoy was hitting on her. Of course, it was probably part of some big ruse, but it still made Hermione feel all light and fluffy inside. She was glad for the ego boost. Especially when it came from a guy who was rather decent looking. Actually, quite handsome.
Hermione was not sure how she wanted to proceed. Another question seemed best. "Any reason why?"
"This is my first day of freedom in two years, and you're the first woman I ran into."
So much for that ego boost.
"Don't look so deflated, Hermione."
"I…I'm not." As far as rejoinders went, it was a pretty weak one. She blamed it on his use of her first name. And her firewhiskey soaked brain.
"Would it make you feel better if I confessed that I've been fascinated with you since third year?"
Yes, though she again blamed that on the firewhiskey too. "Fascinated? You have an odd way of showing it. I think you mean you've hated me since third year."
"No, I mean fascinated. I don't think you realize this, but you are the only person to have laid a violent hand on me."
"I would have thought your father—" Hermione slapped her hand over her mouth.
Draco's eyes narrowed, but he only said, "For someone who is known for using her brain, that show of violence was rather telling. Of course, I didn't figure out until I was older what it all meant."
"And what was that?"
Draco leaned forward, placing his hand in the ever decreasing space between them. "That I get under your skin as much as you get under mine. And I've finally decided to…scratch that itch."
Hermione swallowed, eyes darting wildly. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Would you care to go to dinner with me? Say tomorrow, at six?"
"Are you insane?"
Draco pursed his lips, giving some consideration to her question. "Actually, I think I've never been saner in my life."
"You're not meant to answer the question. It was rhetorical!" Hermione said, flabbergasted. "You and I, we," Hermione's finger kept wagging back and forth between them. "That is insane. We'll just argue and I'll probably end up slapping you again."
Draco's lips quirked up at the corner, and she could see her common sense was not getting through to him. "I honestly don't see what is wrong with either of those possibilities. In fact, I look forward to both of them. With bated breath."
He was crowding her so much, she would have fallen off the couch had she moved back at all. But for some reason, she didn't. Maybe it was easier to argue with him when he was invading her space? "What is wrong with you, Malfoy? Do you not remember anything about our past? You hate me."
"That is not true."
"And I…dislike you. And even if we didn't, our friends would never like each other. And your parents--"
Her objections were lost somewhere in Draco's mouth. It was such an odd sensation, kissing a boy who was not Ron. Kissing a boy who was, for all intents and purposes, her childhood enemy. Rather pleasant actually. Like something out of a novel. Succumbing to the firewhisky and her girlish fantasies, Hermione decided to grant Draco this one boon. Only with how long the kiss lasted, it was more like several boons.
The warmth from his mouth spread through her like five shots of firewhisky, and wherever his fingers touched her, she could have sworn she felt sparks. When he pulled away, his eyes were practically twinkling. Having never seen them shine with anything but malice, she was surprised at how pretty they were. "I was right," he said, resting his forehead against hers.
"'Bout what?" she asked, breathless and confused.
"Kissing you is magical."
Startled but secretly pleased by the overt compliment, Hermione leaned back and groaned. It was terrible, but not in his usual insulting way. She couldn't keep from laughing. "Malfoy, that was so incredibly corny."
"But you like corny, don't you? Or, you like me being reduced to saying corny things around you."
She'd never really given it much thought before, but then she'd never had cause to think of Malfoy in that way. Now that the idea of she and Malfoy presented itself, there was much she needed to consider, among them why she did, in fact, like him saying these kinds of things to her. But it would have to wait until after her mind was clear of alcohol and Malfoy's kisses. "I suppose you're right. It's much nicer than the things you normally say to me."
Draco smirked. "And really, it wasn't corny so much as calculated."
"Calculated to do what? Make me roll my eyes?"
"I was thinking more along the lines of making you accept my invitation. Dinner tomorrow, yes?"
Hermione sat back into the couch, weighing her options. Well, really weighing her option. She wouldn't even consider saying no. There were so many questions running through her brain, and she couldn't answer any of them without seeing Malfoy again. Maybe he was onto something. There were certain...itches he produced in her that only he could scratch. And it was time for some satisfaction. "Alright. It's a date."
"Good. I'll stop by here at six. Wear something nice."
Draco stood up to leave. His hand was on the door, when she called out, "Wait!"
"Changed your mind already?"
"No, it's not that." Looking around the room, her eyes settled on the nearest item--her bra, which he had gently placed on the couch cushion beside her. Blushing slightly, she transfigured it into an umbrella then handed it to him. "See you tomorrow...Draco."
He leaned in and gave her another kiss on the cheek, then left her flat. Hermione stared after him, utterly confused but happy. Slowly gathering up her clothes, she carried them to her bedroom and deposited them in her hamper. Snuggling into her warm bed, she stared at the ceiling, thinking over what had just happened as the rain battered the windows and walls of her flat.
I'm going on a date with Draco Malfoy. And I'm actually looking forward to it. How very curious.
To Be Continued
A/N: Thanks for reading. Please review. :D