Roses are red?
Hermione sighed as she walked into an elevator in the Ministry of Magic. Pressing the button for Level 5 she sighed again as she caught another sympathetic look. Smiling to the contributor she sank back into the crowd of workers that had bustled into the elevator after her. Holding her breath till the doors shut, she finally allowed herself to relax a little before she let out a quiet puff of air.
Thank Merlin she was getting a break.
She knew it would be…difficult once everyone found out what had happened but this was completely ridiculous. People she'd never talked to or even seen in her life were sending her supporting smiles.
There were two reasons why this annoyed her so much.
Firstly, she didn't want anybody's pity.
Secondly, she felt horribly guilty. She knew she should have been more sad or angry at the situation she was in but all she really felt was…relief. It definitely wasn't the right feeling to be feeling and seeing everybody's compassionate looks just reminded her of the fact.
Before she wanted it, the lifts were opening again. Level 5. Breathe in and hold. Check. Smile. Check. Sassy walk that she'd spent the morning perfecting. Check. With her head held high she walked out of the lift.
As she walked past the various stations of the Auror office she kept her eyes fixed on her desk, ignoring the unusual hush that had befallen her colleagues as she'd stepped out of the elevator.
Twelve steps and a sharp turn to avoid Harry (she would face him later- she couldn't face him just yet) she finally reached her desk. Her eyes immediately fell to the rose lying innocently on top of her files.
Dropping her bag into the bottom drawer of her desk, gaze still suspiciously eyeing up the rose, she fingered it tentatively with her wand.
Eleven seconds later and when she was satisfied that the flower didn't hold any evil curses that would harm her; she gingerly picked up the de-thorned stem and twisted it between her fingers.
A rose. A light pink rose. Its sweet fragrance wafted towards Hermione's nose and she breathed it in deeply. A second later she realised that she still didn't know who it was from. Looking back on top of the files for a note of some sort she was disappointed when she found nothing.
With puzzled eyebrows she lifted her head and looked around the office. The light din that was representative of the department she'd worked in for years had returned and people were bustling around, carrying out their usual activities. There was no-one waiting around or looking at her.
It was probably Harry. He'd probably been bullied into it from Pansy. It was the kind of thing that Pansy would do. Shaking her head at her friend's antics but secretly pleased that they'd cared so much, she took another sniff.
She was pulled out of her reverie when a report was dropped down in front of her. Looking up she met the steel coloured gaze of her blonde haired colleague.
"If you've finished day-dreaming I suggest you get to work before Kingsley catches you."
At his words Hermione smiled. It was just like Draco Malfoy to ignore office gossip and plough on. Nodding her head in acknowledgment at his words she dropped her gaze to the report he'd dropped in front of her.
"Nice flower." Hermione heard him say. When she looked back up he was already walking away.
Hermione watched him make his way to his own station, the Field Operatives, before she took the book she was currently reading and replaced the bookmark with the rose.
Smiling she closed the book and got to work.
A light pink rose represents "sympathy"
"Our F.O's have all been briefed on the updates. The primary suspects have made some unusual activity lately. The Profile Operatives have determined that they'll make their move in a few months. This means we need to get busy coming up with a suitable plan so they'll show their cards and we can arrest them. I trust you and your team will be able to think up something appropriate?" Kingsley asked.
Hermione looked up from the notebook she was scribbling in. She met Kingsley's gaze and nodded once.
Kingsley smiled a small smile before the Head of the Auror Department mask fell over his features again.
"I don't want to stop monitoring the other suspect groups yet. There could be a chance they might be involved. Auror Malfoy, I'm reassigning your team to Group B. Apart from Group A they're the ones who've got the most to gain from an attack. So far we've unearthed that three of their members have direct relatives in Azkaban. Auror Rookwood, since you're the newest member of the team with a relative in Azkaban, you'll be going undercover. See Auror Granger for a suitable back story."
Hermione flicked her gaze over to William Rookwood who gave her a small smile which she returned before she looked over to Malfoy. She saw him looking at William with an indiscernible look on his face before his eyes met hers. Hermione looked at him for a further second before looking back down.
"Well I think that it's for now." Kingsley finished.
Hermione put her quill away before standing up and gathering her papers. She carried out the task slowly having no desire to be part of the crowd that was stuck trying to get out of the door.
"Hey have you got a minute?" Harry asked.
Hermione looked up and met his emerald gaze. She'd managed to avoid him for the last few days but it looked like her luck had finally run out. Damn, she would have been better off taking her place in the crowd.
Realizing she had no way out she nodded weakly.
"Look Mione. I'm really sorry. I never meant to hurt you." He pleaded.
"I know. I'm not angry at you it's just-. Why didn't you tell me when you found out? Why keep lying to me?"
"I'm sorry. I know it was the wrong thing to do it's just- I can't believe it was actually happening. I mean everyone thought you and Ron were perfect for each other. I couldn't believe it when I saw him and Lavender together. He told me that he would tell you and I believed him."
Hermione didn't know what to say so instead she said nothing. She heard Harry take in another deep breath.
"Are you coming tonight?" he asked.
Hermione looked at him. "Are you crazy? I might not be overly upset at the situation but even I have to draw a line at having dinner with my ex boyfriend and the girl he was cheating on me with. It's only been a few days since I found out about them!"
"Molly wants you there."
"It'll be too strange."
"It'll be strange if you're not there. The Weasley's are your family too. They miss you."
Hermione sighed. "I know. I miss them too."
"Then you'll come. Please. Show Ron and Lavender that you don't care."
Hermione knew Harry wasn't going to give in. He could be surprisingly stubborn when he wanted to.
"Okay I'll come. But if it's too weird then I'm leaving early. And you have to promise to back up my story that I'm not feeling well."
"Done." Harry smiled. "I'll see you later." He said before he walked out.
Hermione nodded before she hastily gathered up the remainder of her papers. She stepped out of the meeting room and turned left without looking where she was going.
She only just managed to stop herself from bumping into someone.
"Oh Malfoy. I didn't see you there." Hermione gasped. How long had he been standing there?
"I wanted to see when you would be free so we can establish William's back story." He said.
"Oh. Well I just need to check something with the P.O's and then I'll be free now if you like."
Draco nodded. "I'll get William and come and find you. Give us ten minutes."
Hermione nodded her head before making her way to the P.O station.
After double checking her facts on whether the suspects in Group B would be likely to believe her back story for William, Hermione made her way to her desk.
Another rose was there to greet her. What? Looking around she once again saw no one hovering in the vicinity. Quickly performing her checks she picked up the rose. The fragrance was just as sweet as the first rose she'd received five days ago. The only difference was the colour.
Maybe the roses weren't meant for her. After all she'd broken up with Ron and even he was never the sort to give thoughtful gifts. Harry was also out of the question too. One rose to say sorry was believable but another one?
"Hey Jasmine. Did you see who left this on my desk?" she asked her fellow Intelligence Officer.
She watched Jasmine eye the flower and then shake her head. "No, but it's so romantic. You've got a secret admirer. Oh it's so sweet."
Hermione was shocked. She'd just watched the second in command of her team, a woman who was usually a no-nonsense get straight to the point kind of girl; melt romantically into a droopy eyed puddle.
It took another second before her words registered and Hermione immediately dismissed them. A secret admirer? Her? Yeah right.
"Granger. If you're quite ready." Came Malfoy's drawling voice.
Hermione half turned her head to see him and William come to a stop behind her. She followed both sets of eyes as they moved from her to the rose and then back to her again. Embarrassed she opened the top drawer of her desk and dropped the flower inside.
"I'm ready. I think the best back story is to stick as close to the truth as possible. Sam Yaxley is incredibly intelligent. Intelligent enough to spot a lie. We'll tell him the truth. That you're an Auror looking to get your Uncle out of Azkaban. It was only when you started working here that you realised underground groups such as his existed. Accompany that with the fact that getting your Uncle acquitted the legal way is taking too long, is too costly and pretty much no-one cares. Tell them you want to act as a double agent. You'll be an invaluable source for them. Even if they're wary of you, which they will be, they'll still let you in. Got it?"
"If you have any questions feel free to ask."
"Thanks I will." William smiled before walking off.
She and Malfoy watched him go and she knew what he was thinking.
"He'll be alright Malfoy."
There was silence for the briefest moment. "Of course he'll be alright Granger. He's on my team." And with that he walked away.
Hermione would have rolled her eyes at the arrogance if she knew he didn't have any reason to act so.
Malfoy's team was the best in the department. It rankled Harry a ridiculous amount. It rankled Hermione a ridiculous amount when a rankled Harry would use her as "his shoulder to take his annoyance at Draco out on". He couldn't use Pansy after all. She would have hit him and then he'd probably have to arrest her. It wouldn't be good for their relationship.
A coral rose represents "good luck"
"So how's William getting on? Did Yaxley buy the lie?" Hermione asked Malfoy.
Malfoy took a sip of water and nodded. "Just like you said he would."
"Just like the P.O's said he would." Hermione corrected.
Malfoy took another sip of water.
"Have you come up with Kingsley's plan yet?" he asked.
"I'm still working on it. It needs perfecting."
There was a moment's silence as the two of them carried on working. It was broken by a loud gurgle from Hermione's stomach. She closed her eyes and prayed that Malfoy hadn't heard it.
Deciding the best way would be to play this cool, Hermione looked up and stared straight into his amused eyes.
"It's late. And I missed lunch." All this was accompanied by a breezy wave.
Hermione waited to see if he would accept the breeziness.
His eyes crinkled even more deeply in the corners.
"Well, it looks like we're the only ones left." Draco said as he looked around. "Let's go and grab something to eat."
Hermione sat up straighter in her chair. "Oh no Malfoy. It's fine. I'll be heading home soon anyway."
"And you'll still have to make dinner when you get home."
"I've got left overs from yesterday. Cannelloni. Mmmm."
What possessed her to make that noise Hermione would never know.
"Why do you still call me Malfoy?" Malfoy asked.
Hermione stared at him. She didn't quite know how to respond. He actually seemed serious.
"I-I don't know. You call me Granger." She replied defensively.
Malfoy nodded his head. "Because you call me Malfoy."
"I didn't think we had that relationship." Hermione admitted.
"We work together. We're polite acquaintances."
"Just like you are with everyone else in the department. You call everyone else by their first name."
He sounded genuinely puzzled. Hermione was surprised. She had never given the fact she called him Malfoy any thought whereas he obviously had.
"I didn't think you wanted me to call you by your first name. After everything in Hogwarts-" Hermione let her voice trail away and for the next few seconds she just stared at him as he stared at her.
"I'm going to get something to eat. Would you like to join me Hermione?"
Hermione breathed in as she battled a moment's hesitation. "Yes Draco. I think I'd like that." She breathed out.
They went to a local café in Diagon Alley. A place that she never thought Malfoy- Draco would ever have stepped into. All in all it was a nice hour. They stuck to the safe topics, which meant that her break up with Ron was avoided at all costs but she had a feeling that even if it wasn't, Draco wouldn't have asked her about it.
It felt nice.
The next morning there were fewer stares as she made her way from the Apparation Point to the elevator to the Auror Department to her station.
When she got there she saw a rose in the pot Teddy had made her to hold her quills.
Smiling, she forwent the wand movements she knew she should carry out and picked the flower out of the pot.
It was then that she remembered the last rose she had been given. Opening her top desk drawer she took out the coral coloured rose and fingered its petals. They were withered and curled. It had been six days after all. Putting it together with the latest rose she smiled before moving to get her book out of her bag. The light pink rose was joined by two other blooms.
A yellow rose represents "new relationships" and "friendship"
"Hey thanks for coming!" Harry greeted Hermione as she stepped through the Floo.
She immediately waved his words away. "Don't be silly. I'm happy to be here. I can't wait to see Pansy's face. You know she doesn't like surprises. She's going to kill you."
"Oh please. She won't touch me. She loves me too much."
Hermione smiled. "You hope."
Harry smiled a knowing smile and Hermione felt happy that her friend had found such happiness. "I know."
"Where do you want me to put her present and the flowers?" she asked Harry.
"Oh here. I'll take them." Harry said as he moved to relieve her of the load. "You look great." Harry said as he saw her dress from behind the large bundle of flowers.
Hermione blushed and smiled a smile of female satisfaction. "Thank you. You look good too."
She'd bought the dress when she'd been dating Ron. To be honest she had bought it because she knew Ron would like it. Once they'd broken up she'd forgotten she'd even had it. After all, her dinners had moved from glitzy restaurants to keep up with Ron's image of a young Quidditch player to meals for one on her sofa with Crookshanks cuddled up next to her. Tonight she'd looked into the designated dress area of her closet and this is what had been hanging first on the railing.
She'd debated long and hard over whether to wear it tonight. In the end she'd decided to go for it for two reasons.
Firstly she'd bought the dress to wear and if she didn't wear it here when the situation called for it then only Merlin knew when she would get the chance again.
Secondly a small, very small part of her wanted to rub Ron's face in it. She wanted to turn up looking beautiful. She wanted to show him that supermodel Lavender wasn't the only one who could look good.
Now that she was here she wanted to hex herself for thinking so foolishly and then rapidly Floo back home so she could change into a dress she'd worn before. Something comfortable and safe.
Taking in a deep breath she realised it was too late to be having second thoughts and she walked forward towards the low mumbles of conversation she could hear in the adjacent room.
Harry called her back. "I thought I should warn you. Ron and Lavender are here."
"I expected them to be."
Harry walked over to her before his arm reached out to rub her arm soothingly. Oh Merlin. Harry's sympathetic face was never followed by anything good and she prepared herself.
"They're engaged Mione. He proposed yesterday night so the story hasn't broken in the Prophet yet. I wanted to tell you before you walked in there."
Merlin's balls. Hermione was struck still. Just over a month ago they'd broken up and he was proposing to her already. She and Ron had been together for three years.
As she walked into the room she felt like she was in a dream. The voices and people were all warbled together and she couldn't distinguish anyone's face.
That ended when her gaze landed on Ron and Lavender. They were standing in the middle of the room, glasses of champagne in their hands looking like the perfect golden couple.
Oh Merlin, she wanted to sway up to them and offer her congratulations as if they meant nothing to her. She wanted to say something witty yet cutting but her mind had gone blank. Why hadn't she thought up something before coming here?
And then her vision was blocked by black. No she didn't faint. She looked up to see a rather dapper looking Draco gazing down at her in concern.
In a loud voice that she knew he had done on purpose he spoke. "Hermione. You look beautiful." He extended out an arm for her to take.
She smiled at him widely to show her gratitude before she latched on. He stood where he was for a moment longer so she could take in a deep breath before he shifted to her side. The image he portrayed was perfectly clear to see. Even though it wasn't true it was what she desperately needed to get through the evening.
She and Draco were united. They were together. And did that piss off a few people.
Hermione knew she shouldn't have felt such satisfaction but she did. Thanks to Draco it didn't matter if she didn't have a witty sarcastic comment ready on the tip of her tongue. He'd allowed her to do that very thing whilst coming off as the classy mature one. Which is what she was.
"So I had fun yesterday evening." Draco said as he paused next to her desk.
Hermione looked up and smiled at him. "Me too." She replied. "And thank you again for what you did. I know you didn't have to but if you hadn't have been there- I actually don't know what I would have done."
"I live to serve." He drawled but Hermione caught the twinkling glint in his eyes and she laughed.
"That you do." She replied.
This time it was his turn to laugh. "As much as I love to seek out your company I was sent here for a reason. Kingsley wants to see you."
"He's in his office?" Hermione asked.
Hermione stood up and with one last smile she walked over to his office.
When she returned there was a rose on her seat. She picked it up and sighed. She had no clue who might be leaving the flowers. It had been over a month now and they still hadn't revealed themselves.
She knew who she wanted it to be but the likelihood of that was absolutely zero. And anyway, the flowers had started appearing well before they'd become friends. Sighing again, she placed it with the others.
An orange rose represents "the desire to move a relationship beyond friendship"
Hermione had been so engrossed in her work that she was slightly scared when Draco tapped her shoulder. It was with surprise that she realised the department was deserted save the two of them.
"What time is it?" she asked him.
"Late. Time to leave."
Hermione rubbed her suddenly gritty eyes and suppressed a yawn. "I didn't realise it was so late. I'm tired." She stated.
"You need to take better care of yourself Granger." Draco stated sternly.
"Yes Mum." Hermione laughed.
Draco merely ignored her. Hermione briefly considered telling him that he she was a big girl and she didn't need him to wait for her whilst she packed her work up but she kept her mouth shut. If he wanted to wait for her then she would let him. She liked it.
She charmed her papers into her bag before putting on her coat. Bending down she made to reach her bag when she saw Draco had already picked it up and was holding it out for her. She smiled at him as she took it and the two of them walked towards the elevator.
When the doors pinged shut they fell into a comfortable silence. At least it was a comfortable silence for Hermione. Draco seemed to be fidgeting unusually next to her, shuffling from one foot to another. She glanced at him in amusement but she didn't say anything in case she embarrassed him. Maybe he needed to go to the loo?
When the doors opened to reveal the Ministry's Atrium she thought she heard Draco sigh from beside her.
"Are you okay?" she asked him.
"I'm fine." He answered in a stronger tone than she thought he meant to. His apologetic smile confirmed her suspicions.
"Well I'll see you tomorrow okay." She told him and she began walking towards the Apparation points expecting him to walk in the opposite direction towards the Floo fireplaces like usual.
"Hermione." Draco called out. "Would you like to go out?"
Hermione was puzzled. "Today? It's really late. I just want to fall into bed."
"I'm free for lunch tomorrow." Hermione thought as she mentally went through her day. There was her meeting with Kingsley, the follow up on how William was getting on-
"Not lunch. Dinner. A date dinner."
Hermione was snapped out of her thoughts. Damn it. Was she imaging it or had she really heard him ask her out on a date? She wanted to say yes but what if he hadn't actually asked her and she said yes like an idiot.
Oh Merlin. What to do? What to do?
She saw a look on uncertainty pass over Draco's face and she immediately blurted out a word.
"Yes?" she asked before holding her breath to see what his response would be.
Two seconds later Draco smiled and Hermione felt herself slump in relief. Oh thank Merlin. And then she started smiling so widely her cheeks started tingling in pain. She was getting giddy and she wanted to be really girly and jump up and down.
"Great well I'll see you tomorrow."
"Tomorrow." Hermione whispered breathlessly.
The two shared another smile and look before they were whisked home.
Hermione landed in her apartment and immediately dropped her bag to the floor. Allowing herself a moment to carry out her suppressed actions she didn't see Crookshanks waddle up to her bag and paw the hidden rose in between her purse, book and receipts.
Hermione would only find her latest rose the next morning.
A lavender rose represents "romance" and "appreciation"
Hermione finished her last bite of cheesecake before relaxing in her chair. Her eyes once again ran around the restaurant Draco had picked for their date. It was so elegant. She'd never been here before and she never would have dared step in to get dinner by herself.
"Enjoy it?" Draco asked amusingly from the other end of their small table for two. It was so small that with his long legs, Hermione had to sit in a stiff position so her legs wouldn't brush against his. The two times it had happened she'd blushed a ridiculous amount at the inviting look that entered Draco's eyes.
A blush which she was now repeating. They'd ordered a slice of dessert to share between them only apart from Draco's initial bite; she'd probably eaten the rest of it herself. She would have been even more embarrassed if Draco hadn't clearly shifted the plate closer to her when he'd seen how much she was enjoying it.
"It was lovely." Hermione replied.
Draco chuckled. "Good. I'm glad."
The two fell into silence and Hermione purposefully shifted her eyes away from his. She didn't know why she felt so self conscious, after all it wasn't the first time she and Draco had eaten dinner together but the fact that they were on a date seemed to have changed the dynamic of their relationship. Hermione didn't the mind the change but Draco was so hard to read that she couldn't determine if he was happy about it. Yes he was the one who had asked her out yesterday evening but there were a million reasons why he could have changed his mind.
1. Kingsley disapproved of departmental relationships. Whilst Draco was a Field Operative and she was an Intelligence Operative who very rarely went directly into the path of danger, subconsciously she could come up with plans or ideas that would keep him safe rather than get the job done.
2. He could have realized that they were better of sticking to friendship.
3. He could have asked her out in a moment of madness without really thinking about it
4. He would realize that-
"Are you ready to leave?"
Draco's question snapped her out of her mental ramblings and she nodded. Looking down she saw that he'd already paid for their dinner.
She stood up and the two of them walked over to get their coats and her bag. Once they'd stepped out into Diagon Alley the cold December air hit them hard and Hermione shivered slightly.
"Come on. Let's get out of the cold." Draco said as he took hold of Hermione's elbow and apparated them to the door outside of her flat.
"I had a good time tonight." Draco said and Hermione turned to face him in relief.
"I did too." She replied as she smiled up at him.
There was silence for a moment as Draco made a weird head bobbing movement before he spoke. "Well I suppose I'll see you bright and early tomorrow. Are you free for lunch?" he asked her.
Hermione nodded her head eagerly before she caught herself and said "Yes" somewhat less embarrassingly.
"Okay then." Hermione repeated.
There was another moment of heavy silence before Hermione broke it by opening the door and walking into her flat. She turned around one last time. "Good night." She said.
"Good night? Honestly Granger, didn't Weasel know anything. It's customary to kiss your date good-bye."
Hermione's eyebrows rose into her hair before she let out a burst of laughter. Draco's offended look only made her laugh harder.
"A lady never kisses on the first date." She told him.
"What kind of silly rule is that?" Draco demanded.
Hermione laughed again. "It's a Muggle thing Draco. I'll see you tomorrow." She said as she started to close the door.
Draco quickly spoke before she shut the door completely. "Lunch tomorrow is a date." He stated unnecessarily.
Hermione smiled. "Good night Draco." She said as she shut the door before she quickly pressed herself up against it to look through the peephole.
She had to suppress her laughter so Draco didn't know she was looking at him. He was starting dumbfounded at the door before he eventually shook his head and apparated away.
The next morning Hermione chose what to wear a little more carefully than usual. When she reached work and saw the rose on her desk she smiled in relief at knowing her suspicions had been correct. The rose was the same one that had been on their table the night before, she was sure of it.
She decided to keep it out instead of putting it in her book. She wanted to look at it until their next date in a few hours.
A white rose represents "innocence" and "purity"
Hermione knew that Draco was standing behind her but she pretended indifference and waited to see what he would do. When he swooped down and attached his lips to her neck she was so startled that she jolted her chair. Her chair moved backwards, crushing his toe and her hands pushed at the desk causing a few of her papers to fall off the other side.
"Draco, we're at work." She admonished lightly as she ignored his childish howling over his foot.
When he saw that she wasn't about to kiss his wounds better anytime soon, he dropped the act and started a new one.
"I know." He rumbled. "It's just you and me. All alone." He leaned in and lightly kissed her lips.
They'd been dating for nearly four months and Hermione had never been so thankful that Ron had cheated on her. If he hadn't then she would have probably still been with him and she would never have known how happy Draco made her.
She was falling in love and Hermione knew that she shouldn't be. It was only four months after all and she knew how dangerous her feelings were. She liked spending time with Draco and she knew he enjoyed spending time with her but it was still a little too early to be saying those three words. She didn't want to ruin what they had.
Draco leaned forward again and his tongue tickled the corner of her lips as he sought entrance. She tried to deny him but as always she ended up giving in. His tongue stroked hers and she let herself lean against his body.
Indulging herself for a minute she eventually pulled back.
"Right, dinner. My house." Draco commanded before he wrapped her up in his arms and apparated them away.
Hermione didn't have a chance to get her bearings before Draco's lips were back on hers again.
"Dinner." Hermione mumbled as Draco pulled his head back to let her breathe.
"Later." He growled before re-starting his ministrations.
Suffice to say, it was much much later that Hermione managed to get some food into her belly. It was also suffice to say that her cheeks would be permanently stained red every time she remembered just how Draco had fed her and off her.
The next morning Hermione woke up and immediately reached out an arm to see if Draco was still lying next to her. When her hand encountered an empty space, she dragged her arm upwards to his pillow so she could drag it towards her.
Her actions were halted when she felt smooth petals underneath her fingertips. Drowsily turning around, she cracked open her eyes to make sure she wasn't imagining things. Picking up the rose she smelt its heady fragrance and laid it back down next to her.
Smiling, she fingered the stem until she fell back into a blissful sleep.
A yellow rose with red tips represents "falling in love"
Hermione was woken up when her wand started wailing an alarm and emitting red sparks. Dazed she stared at the sparkles for a moment before she realized what they meant and she rushed out of bed and pulled on her robes.
Grabbing the wand which silenced at her touch, she immediately apparated to the Ministry.
When the doors to Level 5 opened she was met with chaos. Loud panicked conversations were taking place and people were rushing about. She hurried forward to her own desk and didn't even manage to get her words out before Kingsley's charmed voice boomed across the department.
"Meeting room. Now."
Hermione grabbed a quill and spare parchment before rushing to the room. As she went she kept an eye out for Draco but his blonde head was nowhere to be seen. Hermione reassured herself that he would be in the meeting but when Kingsley entered and shut the door, Hermione felt her heart drop to her stomach as she eyed Draco's empty chair.
Where was he?
"Azkaban was attacked half an hour ago. We just received word from the guards. Group A and Group B were working together like I'd suspected. So far Yaxley's cell has been infiltrated. He was seen disappearing with a Portkey. Our priority is stopping the escape of any further prisoners. Auror Granger?" Kinglsey turned towards her.
She immediately waved her wand and the plans she and her team had drawn up in case a situation like this occurred, appeared in front of her.
"Where's William?" she asked Kingsley. It was likely that he would still be disguised as Part of Group B until the Auror's arrived on the scene. She wanted to make sure he was kept safe.
"Auror Rookwood's body was found fifteen minutes ago. Sam Yaxley discovered he was double crossing him and ordered his men to attack him at home."
Oh Merlin. Hermione had to force herself to take in a deep breath. William had been the newest member of their team. He was the most enthusiastic, always wanting to show the rest of the Aurors that he could play in their league, despite not having their experience. This was his first mission.
"He'll be alright Malfoy."
"Of course he'll be alright Granger. He's on my team."
Hermione remembered the exchange with Draco and she closed her eyes. He would take this badly. He'd been William's mentor after all.
"Auror Granger?" she head Kingsley voice.
Snapping open her eyes she forced herself to swallow the lump in her throat and explain the strategies she'd come up with to counteract the attack.
It didn't take very long and she didn't need to repeat anything. It was with grim determination that the heads of the F.O stations listened to her and nodded once when she asked them if they'd understood.
No-one wasted a second before standing and making their way out of the room to get ready. Hermione grabbed Harry as he passed.
"Where's Draco?" she asked urgently. "Why isn't he here?"
Harry's face fell into a sympathetic look and Hermione's stomach flipped uncomfortably.
"He's already at Azkaban. When he saw William's body he apparated out."
Oh Merlin. "But he doesn't know the plan!" Hermione stated loudly.
"He'll be okay Hermione." Harry said soothingly. But they both knew he was lying. Draco was one Auror against a team of over 20 assailants. The stupid stupid man. Why couldn't he have waited a few more minutes?
"Hermione I have to go." Harry said tightly as he pulled her into a hug and kissed the top of her head.
"Be careful." She managed to choke out.
"I will. Pansy's staying with Daphne for the weekend. Tell her I love her." Harry said as he made his way to the door. When he reached it he turned around one last time. "Draco's good at his job Mione. He runs the best station remember? He'll be okay."
And then he disappeared.
Hermione nodded numbly before walking out of the room and taking her place in the chaos once more.
After the War she'd never wanted to see another battlefield again which was why she'd applied to run the Intelligence Station. Now she wished more than anything that she could apparate to Azkaban, find Draco and make sure he wasn't hurt. She wouldn't carry out her actions- she knew that her being there would cause needless distraction but damn it, she needed to do something.
But there was nothing. Like the rest of her team, her part in this was over for the time being. She sat down at her desk, opened the book in her drawer and fingered the pressed roses.
She hadn't told him how much he had meant to her. She'd been scared...and stupid.
Merlin she hadn't even got him to admit that he had been the one to send her the roses.
She fingered a coloured rose and remembered.
"So are you going to tell me how long you've wanted to ask me out for then? The first rose appeared on my desk the day after I broke up with Ron." Hermione asked Draco.
She saw his lips curl into a smile before he masked his face into one of nonchalance.
"Roses? What roses? If someone's been sending you roses then I think they need to be shown that you aren't available. A few snogs at work should put them straight."
Hermione whacked him lightly on the stomach. "You really aren't going to admit it?" she asked as she laid her head on his shoulder.
He'd ignored her question and steered the topic to the Prophet's front page. It showed Ron and Lavender's engagement party.
The next day a beautiful rose had appeared in her book alongside the others she'd received.
A blue rose represents "mystery"
It was an agonizing three and a half hours later when the first trickle of Auror's apparated back to the department. A bloodied but alert Harry was one of them. Hermione instantly stood up from her chair and her cramped legs crumbled beneath her. She only remained upright because she'd leant on her desk.
Ignoring the pain in her thigh from the desk's corner she watched Harry make his way over to her.
"You're hurt. Are you okay?" she asked him as she ran her fingers over the gash on his forehead.
"Draco?" Hermione asked quietly.
"He's in St Mungo's Hermione. You should go there now."
"Oh Merlin." Hermione breathed out and she slumped as her head began to swim.
"Come on, I'll take you." Harry said.
Hermione took his outstretched hand numbly and when she next opened her eyes she was at the hospital.
"He's in there." Harry told her as he nodded to a door. "Will you be okay whilst I get my head taken care off?"
Hermione nodded and waved him off. She watched him walk away into the crowds before turning to face the door. She hesitated, preparing herself for what she might see.
In her head she began praying even though she wasn't religious. "Oh please Merlin, let him be okay. Please. Please. Please." She whispered under her breath.
Finding her Gryffindor courage she opened the door and stepped inside. Her eyes landed on Draco's battered and bruised body lying on the bed.
She stumbled up to him and reached out an arm but she was scared to touch him in case she hurt him.
"Draco?" she whispered.
There was no movement.
"Draco?" she whispered hoarsely and louder.
Hermione paused and held her breath. Had he shifted and moaned quietly or was she imagining it?
Hermione let out a relieved sob before sitting down in the chair next to his bed. She slipped her hand lightly into one of his taking care not to squeeze it.
When she didn't squeeze he lightly tightened his hold.
"Oh Merlin. I'm here." She said as she held his hand a little stronger.
"Mione." He croaked out.
"I'm here. You're going to be okay. You better be okay." She told him.
She watched his cheek twitch and she assumed he'd tried to smile. His head shifted towards her and Hermione ran her fingers through his hair.
"You scared me. What did you think you were doing? You could have been killed. Why didn't you wait?" she asked him.
"William." He croaked again.
"I know. I'm so sorry Draco."
He didn't say anything but she wiped away the lone tear that fell from the side of his eye.
"Does it hurt anywhere?" she asked him.
"Can you open your eyes?" she asked hesitantly. He'd yet to even crack them open a little. She needed to see him looking back at her. And only then could she believe that he would be okay.
"I have something for you." She whispered as she dug into her pocket.
Draco's right eye opened minutely and Hermione moved the rose in his eyesight. This time he did manage to smile and Hermione lifted his hand so she could kiss his palm.
She laid the rose on the table next to his bed and let its sweet smell waft over to the two of them.
She wasn't scared anymore and neither was she stupid. Never again would she hesitate to tell Draco what she felt about him.
A red rose represents "beauty", "desire", "courage" and "respect"
More importantly, a red rose represents "love"
Author's Note: I've had this idea in my head for ages and yet everytime I sat down to write it, nothing would come out. And then yesterday night I was doing something else and this just blurted forth from my mind. I very nearly turned it into a sad ending with Draco dying and Hermione standing at his grave with a black rose but I promised you guys some fluff so here it is! I hoped you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed FINALLY writing it! Please review and let me know what you thought. Until next time, Curiositykils