"Take a good look, boys." Draco drawled. "It's a dirty, slutty Mudblood in her rightful place." He propped his feet onto the slightly grimy counter of the Three-Broomsticks and leaned back in his wooden chair, balancing on the two back legs.
She wished more than anything that he'd fall backwards and dent his overly-large ego.
The trademark smirk on his chiseled face and the snickering from his fellow Slytherins just dared her to say something. Hermione continued to scrub the inside of one of the heavy metal tankards which lay in a large pile in the sink. She turned around to face her arch-rival. A smile ghosted across her lips.
"Oh, look, a rich, asshole of a ferret in his natural habitat." she said sweetly, batting her long eyelashes. Draco began to clap.
"Congratulations, bookworm. You just came up with the worst comeback ever."
"Oh sod off, Malfoy."
"Could you have picked a sluttier job, Granger? That's a new low, even for you." he asked. Hermione dried her hands on the soggy rag from under the counter and scowled. "I mean, this can't pay too well, can it? Or do you make a little extra money on the side working upstairs?"
She was currently working at the Three-Broomsticks to make a little extra money before school. Not the best job ever, but it did put a few extra knuts in her pocket. The war was over and Voldemort was dead and all of the old Hogwarts students were invited back to attend their final year of classes in the newly refurbished castle. Even with the loss of their headmaster, the school seemed to be recovering nicely. They had managed to scrounge up a new Potions master and a new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. The castle had been restored back into the safe-haven that she had known and loved. And the lovely Minerva McGonagall had been awarded the privilege of Headmistress. Hermione was quite excited to return and to see her remaining friends all safe and sound.
Yes, all was right with the world.
Until everyone's favorite ferret showed up and popped her little bubble of paradise.
She had made sure that he didn't find out about her new job. She knew about the endless torment that would surely entail. She was happily working the whole barmaid act quite well, and was pleased that he hadn't discovered.
Plus, she could make a mean margarita.
And she knew exactly eighty three ways to successfully cure a hangover.
Then, one day, out of the blue, he had come into the place with his Slytherin boys for a drink, and had stopped short when he saw her working the counter, eyes wide, an evil smirk appearing on his face. Since then, he had made it a point to stop by the pub whenever he could, just to piss her off and to battle her in the ever growing War of Innuendo.
The sexual tension was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
He was really beginning to wear on her already thin string of nerves, and she was running out of patience. She wished he would just leave her alone. On the other hand, he was back to his normal prejudiced, loud-mouthed self, instead of being Voldemort's silent, stony puppet. There was at least some normality, and she was thankful for that at least.
The others tagged along, because this continuous duel obviously amused them, and it gave them yet another reason to laugh at her expense.
"I'll take a firewhiskey, Granger." he said with a grin. She huffed and grabbed a bottle of the liquor thrusting it at him. He uncorked the stopper and took a long drink. Slamming the bottle back down on the counter, he looked up at her cockily.
"Do you want me to hand you the money for the drink or stick it in your knickers to save us the time?" he asked. Hermione's cheeks flushed, and she spun around.
"Keep it. You can use it to bail your no good father out of Askaban." Hermione said.
"Nah, you could use it more. Maybe to buy yourself something a little more revealing. More suitable for your new-found profession, see?"
"Shut up, ferret." she growled.
"Come over here and make me, Mudblood." Draco said, wiggling his eyebrows with a wicked smile. Hermione glowered at him and his companions, who were cooing and whistling rudely. The only one not laughing was a Mr. Blaise Zabini, who sat glaring at his best friend. He had been watching this witch for quite awhile now, and was beginning to be quite taken with her. She was smart and brave, everyone knew that. She was nice, most people knew that. She was also not a bushy-haired, buck-toothed bookworm any more. She had grown up to be an attractive witch with a good head on her shoulders, a combination Blaise knew was difficult to come across. He knew lots of boys who fancied her back at school: Weasel, Finnegan, Ernie Macmillan, Longbottom. Even Draco seemed to have a thing for the girl, even though he loved to put her through hell. And now, Blaise could add himself to the list of men who were infatuated with Hermione Granger.
Also, she looked quite lovely when she was riled up, eyes wild, chest heaving, cheeks hot. Draco looked at him with a chuckle.
"What's got your knickers in a twist?" he asked, patting Blaise's shoulder. Blaise raised his eyebrow and folded his arms across his muscular chest.
"Can you not just leave her alone." he muttered as she walked away. Draco gave a bark laughter.
"She hasn't done anything to you. And plus, she's good looking."
"You're being an idiot, Blaise." Draco said, rolling his eyes. Blaise raised an eyebrow.
"Yeah? And you're being an ass." he said angrily. He took a deep breath. "Do you really deny that she's good looking?"
Draco thought for a moment. "I mean, I'll admit, she's not too shabby. Hell, I'd probably do her if she weren't such a know-it-all."
"You'd do any girl with a pulse." Blaise snorted. Draco frowned, but then a smile appeared on his face. As Hermione bent down to grab a bottle of butterbeer, Draco reached over the counter and swatted her bum. Hermione stood up, and promptly gave him a slap on the face in return. Draco grinned.
"Hey, don't mad at me, Blaise. She's all yours." he said, rubbing his now red cheek proudly. Blaise looked at his friend skeptically. "What? Oh, sweet Merlin. Alright, mate, you have my word, she's all yours! I won't even think of doing anything to her." Draco promised.
"Leave her alone, Draco. " Blaise repeated, sticking his hand up, getting Hermione's attention for a drink. She came over and put her hands on her hips.
"What do you want?" she snapped, her eyes flashing. Before Blaise could say anything, Draco did.
"That's not how a good little Mudblood speaks to her superiors." he chided. She rolled her eyes.
"I love how you think you're so clever, Malfoy." she said, shaking her head. "Because that stupid war is done. We're equals now." Draco smiled at her.
"Maybe, but we are your paying customers." he reminded her. "And remember, Granger, 'The customer is always right'."
"I don't need this job." she scoffed.
"Really? Can Weasel actually afford to give you money for your mediocre sexual favors now?" he said with mock surprise. Hermione looked at him smugly.
"You're just jealous because all you can get is Pansy Parkinson." she spat. She raised the pitch of her voice, resulting in a very accurate impression of the pug-faced Pansy. "Oh, Draco, I think you're so strong and wonderful, and you make such a lovely ferret. Even though you failed at being a Death Eater and you don't have a family anymore, I still love you, and oh, Draco, I know you love me, too, and-"
"Are you finished?" Draco asked, an obvious chip on his shoulder. Hermione stopped talking and smiled smugly. Blaise hid his own grin behind his hand. "You're a real bitch, you know that, Granger? A real bitch."
It happened so fast that Hermione didn't even register what was happening immediately. All she saw was a blur as Blaise lunged at Draco knocking him to the ground with a crash. They rolled around for a minute in a frenzy or flailing limbs before Blaise successfully pinned Draco to the ground.
"You're a fucking bastard!" he snarled. Draco panted, blood dripping from his nose.
"What the hell, Zabini?" the blonde asked. Blaise took a deep breath and stood up, dusting off his shirt. He held out a hand and helped Draco to his feet. "What the hell?"
"Shut up." Blaise said quietly, running a hand through his hair in an attempt to flatten it. Draco cleared his throat and picked up his chair from the ground, scooting it back towards the bar. "Why do you always have to be such an asshole?"
"I wasn't aware that I was being an asshole." Draco said raising an eyebrow. "You usually are a pretty big asshole yourself, mate."
"I told you to leave her alone, Draco." Blaise hissed. Hermione frowned and dove under the counter for a rag for Draco to wipe his bloody nose on. Her mind was reeling. Was Blaise Zabini trying to defend her?
"Merlin, it's Granger." she heard Draco say.
"Yeah, well you already know how I feel about her." Blaise snapped. Hermione stood up so fast that she nearly knocked her head against the underside of the counter. She looked at Blaise with wide eyes.
"How exactly do you feel about me, Mr. Zabini?" she asked, blushing slightly. Blaise spun around to look at her, his eyes wide.
"Shit." he breathed. Hermione reached behind her back and untied the strings of her apron, throwing it to the ground. She walked out from behind the bar and pushed past both Slytherins.
"I need some air." she mumbled, hurrying out of the tavern and into the street.
"Might I have a word?"
She looked to see Blaise standing at the end of the alley behind the Three-Broomsticks where she was sitting atop a wooden box, deep in thought. She looked him up and down before nodding slightly. To her surprise, he sat down beside her on the crate. She felt his shoulder brush up against hers, and a shiver passed through her body. He smelled like expensive cologne, something musky and woodsy. She liked it. He cleared his throat.
"What are you thinking about, Hermione?"
She was startled at the sound of her name coming from his lips. She met his gaze and bit her lip. He had lovely eyes.
"What was that in there?" she asked, plainly. Blaise exhaled and grinned sheepishly.
"It seems that I have a bit of a silly crush on you."
"Oh." Hermione replied eloquently. Blaise rubbed his hands together and adjusted his position on the crate. Suddenly, he reached over and brushed a piece of hair from her face, rubbing her cheek softly with the pad of his thumb.
"You're so beautiful." he breathed. Hermione took a sharp breath of her own, but for some reason, she didn't pull back or scoot away. He smiled slightly, and laughed slightly. "So beautiful." he repeated, leaning towards her. She could feel his warm breath on her lips, deliciously close.
"You're a Slytherin." she argued weakly. He grunted and shook his head.
"It doesn't matter." he replied. Hermione's head was spinning. The smell of his cologne was dulling her senses.
"I'm a Mudblood."
"Don't call yourself that." Blaise whispered. Hermione felt her eyes flutter closed. His lips were almost touching hers.
"We can't." she said softly. They both knew that that was a flat out lie. Since the end of the war, there weren't any social stigmas preventing them from doing anything they wanted together. Blood purity meant nothing anymore. Blaise's hand found a resting spot on her thigh, which caused her to jump a little, but she calmed down when he started rubbing soothing circles on her leg with his fingers.
"Just tell me to stop, Hermione, and I'll respect that." Blaise said seriously. "If you aren't interested in me, I understand. Just tell me, and I'll never bother you again. Just," he paused and looked deep into her eyes, searching. "Don't lead me on or tease me, Hermione. Be honest with me."
"I really like you, Hermione." he said earnestly. "I know I didn't really show it back at school, but it was awful to see Draco and the rest of them mistreat you every day."
"You could have stopped them." Hermione accused. Blaise sighed.
"It wouldn't have helped much, but I should have tried to stick up for you."
"I have thick skin. It wasn't so bad." Hermione said quickly, sensing that he was really bothered by the fact that he hadn't stuck up for her. Maybe he really did genuinely like her.
"You're beautiful." he stated again. Hermione felt her stomach do a somersault. Their lips were still so close. It she leaned in just a little bit, they'd be touching. "You're beautiful."
She leaned forward ever so slightly, initiating the kiss. It was soft and gentle and sweet. If he was surprised he didn't show it. He simply let out a moan from deep in his throat. She felt his lips begin to move against hers and she noticed that his lips tasted like brandy. When he pulled back, he was breathing hard and so was she. His eyes were wide and he began to laugh.
"Merlin, you're beautiful." he said, causing her to blush.
"What are we going to do?" Hermione asked, folding her hands together on her lap. "We both return to Hogwarts this fall. We're going to be busy. No one will approve of us. We barely know each-other."
"Hermione, do something spontaneous for once." Blaise teased, nudging her slightly. Hermione bit her lip worriedly. He laughed and shook his head. "Plus, if it doesn't work out, it doesn't work out. We'll never know until we try. But, I'd really like for it to work out."
"How will it work, Blaise?"
"I have no idea." he said, shrugging. "But at least we'll know we tried."
"I don't know anything about you."
"And I don't know anything about you either, but I know I could make you happy and you would make me happy."
"You're beautiful." he said slowly. Hermione rolled her eyes and took his hand in hers.
"It's completely crazy, and it will probably never work." she said. "But I'm willing to try.
Author's Note: I'm re-writing this story! People seemed to show interest in it, so I'm re-doing it. It was so poorly written, (it was written forever ago) and I hope people will read this and enjoy it! The second chapter is in the process of being re-edited.