Disclaimer: The characters and canon situations in the following story belong solely to JK Rowling. I am not making any money from the publishing or writing of this story.
Of a Ruination
Summary: He baffled her, and she wasn't sure whether he was a mystery she even wanted to understand.
Author's Note: this is a one-shot in reply to svelterose's request on my Challenge/Prompt request post at livejournal. Adrian/Hermione is very new to me and outside of my comfort zone (which is why I loved trying to write them) so I'm excited and a bit flustered by this one. Still not wholly sure what to think…
He was a flirt, a dissolute flirt, and she loathed him.
Adrian Pucey was the bane of her existence. The charming, disarmingly handsome Slytherine was the devil incarnate and wholly devoted towards her ruination. She was absolutely convinced; there was no deterring her.
For the past month he had been actively pursuing her with an unprecedented fervor. It had all begun with a meeting she had had with the Unspeakables regarding her department, the Department Towards the Preservation of All Creatures. Pucey had been one of the five Unspeakables charged with meeting her in regards to her unorthodox tactics in gaining clout and support in the ministry. In Hermione's opinion, it all boiled down to the fact that the Minister was a pansy who had sent his lackeys to discuss how she'd chosen to forgo kissing any arses to climb up the political ladder. Instead, she'd decided to speak to the public, and directly. Hermione targeted the wizarding community about rights issues via books, journals, and even the occasional speeches and interviews to publicize her causes. The route was an unprecedented one that the Minister didn't appreciate upon realizing just how highly Hermione's popularity was growing and in facets outside of her heroics. The berk thought she was out for his job and he didn't even have the balls to personally confront her about it.
Still, all of the Unspeakables made their displeasure in regards to her open and, arguably, aggressive tactics known. Each was more than clear about his disgust, save for Pucey. Pucey's reaction was befuddling. Naturally, he'd provided the prerequisite diatribe, but it had lacked any and all passion or conviction. He spoke so dully and opposite to his nature that even his colleagues had met his words with a wrinkled brow and perplexed expression.
Ultimately, he even ended the meeting by kissing her cheek rather than shaking her hand as the others had done. And then, later that day, she received a bouquet of sunflowers, her favorite, with a note informing her that he found her "moxy" terribly "sexy" and hopes to have dinner with her sometime.
Hermione promptly informed him that that was wholly inappropriate and that she wasn't the slightest bit interested. She'd expected that to be the end of it all.
It all baffled her. She couldn't comprehend why he'd ever be so interested in her. His intellect was close to unparalleled from what she'd hear din her Hogwarts years and from the grape vine around the ministry. He'd never instigated any fights in Hogwarts, even when playing as chaser of Slytherine he'd been one of the few clean players in the school so he was clearly levelheaded. He was dashingly handsome and right fit, had an easy charm and great manners. Back in school he'd even been labeled the Golden Boy, and Hermione couldn't refute why. He was wholly just in retaining that title.
They were two worlds apart in every facet that mattered, and she genuinely wasn't interested in him. While she cared so passionately about everything that she chose to commit herself to, he treated the world so apathetically and carelessly. Adrian Pucey joked and charmed his way through life without the slightest regard for what was going on around him.
She didn't understand him and she wasn't sure whether she wanted to, not with that attitude. Clearly it all had to be a joke or some passing fancy, as everything was for Adrian, and she refused to allow herself to succumb to it all. She wouldn't be his patsy, nor would she get her heart broken. She wasn't going to be the butt of some joke for someone. She was better than that.
She was an emotional being, but not an imbecile. She could reign herself in and ignore her physical attraction to him. He was a hell of a pretty face, but so long as she reminded herself of his attitude, she was sure she could ignore his broad shoulders.
"I don't understand you, Granger," a deep and roguish voice interrupted her thoughts.
Hermione raised her head to see Adrian leaning on her office's doorframe. He eyed her with a small smile, as effortlessly perfect as always. Still though, she couldn't help, but be pestered by all of it. He just… he really didn't seem to care about anything. How was that possible?
He simply wasn't the sort of man she'd normally associate herself with, much less so in a romantic sense of the word. Yet, regardless, he refused to leave.
With a suffering sigh, Hermione finally managed to collect herself and reply. "Same could be said for you, Pucey."
"True," he conceded. "But you also mean it in a much more derogatory manner than I do," he noted as he moved forward, unconcerned with the fact that he'd never bothered with permission to enter her office in the first place. Instead, Adrian seated himself with a pleasant smile sent Hermione's way.
"I didn't invite you in" Hermione tightly informed him.
"I know," he quipped. "But you see, Hermione, I've been pursuing you for a good month now. You know, I've even done everything I could think of," he confided. "I've stopped flirting with other girls, sent you flowers daily… the best chocolates I could find, and even made sure they were your favorites… books… studies I thought might intrigue you," he listed, heaving a heavy breath when finished. "But you just won't bite. Regardless, you refuse to give me just one date. So, Granger, I've come to ask you why. I want to know what the hell it is that you can't see that the rest of England can," he proclaimed.
"Maybe it's the charm in your conceit… just can't find it," she dryly imparted.
"Har, har," Adrian slowly mocked, rolling his eyes. "You're a riot; you know that, Granger?"
"I do try."
That reply afforded her with a genuine smile from Adrian. "I know… and I find it sexy as fuck."
Hermione sent him a doubtful look, furrowing her brow and shaking her head as she muttered, "preposterous."
"Can't say that I agree with you on that count, Granger. Seriously though, and I must admit that you'll rarely ever even hear me utter those godforsaken words so you really should consider yourself special," he noted going off on a tangent. "I think I deserve a shot at least. I mean you gave that idiot Weasley a snog for making you cry back in school. I'd say I've been at least a bit more chivalrous then he," Adrian winked, grinning.
"Don't waste your money on me, Adrian," Hermione begged. "I'm just… I'm not interested. I've told you so tons of ties and ii don't get why you can't just let it go."
"Because I can't understand why, Granger. Why won't you give me a chance? How the hell are you so sure that there's absolutely no point in it… no hope?" he persisted, his ire rising with his body as he rose from his seat. He planted two sturdy fists onto her desk, supporting his body, which hovered over her desk so he could eye her properly and at a closer distance. His face wasn't red with fury, but there was a vein in his neck unattractively throbbing and his eyes went from a deep chocolate brown to black as his pupils widened, dramatically.
Hermione couldn't help, but be intimidated by the sight.
"Well?" he asked, his tone was snappish, but he took care not to let his anger really seep into his words. "Aren't you going to say something? Come on, Hermione; I deserve an answer," he goaded.
"You… you're right, you do," Hermione stuttered, bowing her head as she made the admission. "I just… I don't want to hurt your feelings. I do think you're a great bloke, Adrian, and you don't deserve that," she confessed.
"And constant rejections won't hurt me?" he retorted, his reply immediate. "Just say it, Hermione. It can't get any worse than it already is."
"Okay," she whispered, nodding, but reluctant to follow through.
"Okay," he pushed when she made no move to start.
"I… I don't think it makes any sense, honestly. I'm logical, probably even pragmatic to a fault, and I just can't seem to find any way in which we'd be well suited for one another.
"That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard," Adrian bluntly informed her, totally unabashed.
Hermione was taken aback and her brows shot up in surprise. "Just because you don't—"
"Shut up, Granger," he stopped her, but while his words were callous, his tone was still so soft that she couldn't even bring herself to feel affronted. "I don't understand why you're so scared."
"But I'm not scared… honestly."
"Then why are you so reluctant? It's just one date, Granger, that's all. You know, many would even say I'm a catch," he exclaimed, fully rising as he threw his hands up in the air in exasperation. "I may not be as brilliant as you, but I sure as hell know I'm smarter than those bumbling fools Weasley and Potter—"
"Oh please," he rolled his eyes. "Those two would never have made it through classes if it wasn't for you… much less the bloody war. Still, though," he backtracked, unrelenting. "I'm right sexy, you know? I'm rich… philanthropic, and you love that in a bloke, I checked… I never even called anyone a mudblood or abided by that shite, and you know it. I… I just… you baffle me," he admitted, shaking his head as he let his shoulders sag in defeat.
It wasn't a sight Hermione had ever expected or prepared her. She was caught entirely off guard.
"It's not that."
"Then just tell me what it is because, honestly, my head hurts from racking my brain for a decent answer."
Hermione heaved a heavy breath before reluctantly replying. "You don't care about anything."
Adrian was shocked by her reply, totally taken off guard by the words he'd heard slip from her mouth. They were the last ones he'd ever expected; he'd never heard a person say that to him… nor something so callous in general. Adrian found himself altogether incapable of replying. Instead, he stood there, staring at her with a flummoxed gaze.
Hermione squirmed in her seat. "Don't look at me like that… please."
"I… I don't know how I'm supposed to look at you anymore," he admitted as he let his body fall into the chair, his posture slouched as his body splayed itself across the chair. "You… you're not fucking with me?"
"No," she grudgingly divulged.
"Cor," he sighed. "You're fucked up, you know that?"
"It's true," he told her, enthusiastically nodding his head. "I mean who the hell are you to say something like that? Who the fuck are you to deicide that for me without ever even actually having a proper conversation with me?"
"I… I told you I didn't want to hurt you," she meekly said. "But it's just how I feel, can you really fault me for that?"
"I can if you're wrong!" he decidedly announced, his nostrils flaring.
"Am I really?" she questioned. "I mean… look at you, Adrian. You don't care about your work… you just wave everything off as a joke. You ignore all of the troubles in the world with a smarmy grin and laugh. I… I can't respect that, Adrian."
"And I'm not all that sure I can respect your condescension," he stiffly retorted. "You don't know me, Hermione," he incredulously pointed out. "But, you know… you're right about one thing, I don't care about my work, and can you blame me? You know how the ministry is, so I'm sorry if I honestly don't believe in all of it. I'm sorry, but I think the ministry's useless. I do my work and I do it well... really well, but I don't give a fuck." He paused, taking a heaving breath as he tried to recollect himself. His anger was more potent than anything he'd previously experienced and he wasn't all too sure about how to react to it all.
With a heavy swallow, he continued. "Still, you're wrong if you honestly think I don't care about anything," he spat. "I'm not as troubled as you by every goddamn thing in the world that goes wrong because I just don't think I can do anything to fix bureaucratics. My concern is being happy. I don't want to ignore everything around me, and I don't, but my main concern is not having regrets. I don't want to look back at my life fifty years from now and wish I didn't something differently. I don't want to waste my life on things I can't change. I don't think I can afford to. I'm not going to just contentedly waffle through life. I want to look back and feel fulfilled. The same things that make you happy don't do it for me, Hermione, and I thought you could see that. I won't be someone else."
"I don't want you to," Hermione whispered.
Adrian shook his head as he rose from his chair. "I do have my passions, Granger, they just aren't about revolutionizing the world. Sorry, but I think on smaller scales. I don't need that to feel utterly happy, but you know what, Granger? I think, in the end, you were right… I was wrong. I don't think I need a judgmentalbitch like you in my life. So… bye, I guess," he muttered before stalking out of the office, leaving behind a dumbfounded Hermione.
It took Hermione two hours before she was able to stop staring at the open doorway that Adrian has walked out of. It took her another hour before she was able to get up out of her chair and start pacing the room, contemplating… planning…
It took Hermione another two hours before she finally got up the courage to act.
So, it was six hours after he left her that Adrian found Hermione knocking on his door. She was disheveled to say the least… in fact, she looked like a right mess.
"What are you doing here, Granger?" he asked her with a sigh.
Hermione bit her lip, gulping a terrible lump that had implanted itself in her throat just as she found the need to speak most pivotal. "You're right."
"About what?" he asked, his voice tired and exasperated. She'd never seen him so reluctant to be in her presence and she found hat she didn't like it. Maybe she was self-absorbed for thinking it, but she really missed hat look he'd been giving her, the one that made her feel like she was the only woman in the world worth looking at.
It hurt to no longer be that woman. It hurt to know that she'd wrought it all upon herself.
"I'm a judgmental bitch…" she whispered, ducking her head. "I didn't understand you… and I jumped to conclusions… and you didn't deserve that."
"You're right, I didn't," he informed her and she couldn't help the sob that escaped her when she heard his words. He combed a hand through his hair, lightly tugging at the ends. "But I guess you're not used to being wrong either, so… why don't you come on in, I just ordered some food and turned on ''Allo, 'Allo.'"
Hermione raised her head; a shy and hopeful smile crossed her face. "I love that show."
"I know," he nodded, opening the door wider to properly invite her in. "Interested then?"
Hermione paused before deciding on a response. "…No," she shook her head.
Adrian bit back his surprise and raked a hand through his hair. "Oh, well, I guess you must be busy and—"
"It's not that," Hermione shook her head again. "I just… I need to be clear."
Adrian's brow creased as he eyed her with confusion. "About what?" he slowly asked her.
"I don't understand how you… think or live or anything really…" she admitted. "But I like it, it sounds nice…really good, even if it totally baffles me. I like that you're an enigma to me and I respect you… and I think I'm really interested in you, Adrian. I know I'm a right bitch and an annoyingly prejudiced bint, but I don't want to go in there and be your mate. I think that if I did that, I'd be lying to you, in a way. I want… I want that date. I want that date really badly."
He sighed. "I'm not—"
"I know," she said, her hopeful smile slowly deflating into a sad one. "I know, and I can't blame you, but I needed you to know. I just… I don't want to have regrets either. You're right, they sound terrifying," she told him before turning, fully prepared to walk away.
Adrian surprised her, however, by grasping her arm.
Hermione cocked her head to the side as she followed his lead and turned around to face him.
He eyed her with confusion and a tinge of trepidation. Hesitantly, he brought a hand forward, lightly touching her face. "I don't understand you, Granger," he informed her for the second time that day as he traced a finger down her cheek.
"I don't understand you either, Pucey… but I'd like to."