Chapter 5 – A Dance of Desires
In the drawing room, Hermione sat in a corner by herself to wait for their company to arrive. She chose a simple ivory gown to wear and put her mass of curls on top of her head. Remus sat in another corner, book in hand, and amusement on his face. He looked over at Hermione and said, “Why are you nervous my dear?”
“I beg your pardon, Sir?”
“You seem easily distracted and I wondered if it was nerves?” he repeated.
“No Sir, I am not nervous,” she said. She lied. She was nervous, as she was anxiously awaiting Lord Malfoy’s arrival. She wanted to see him again. She wanted to talk with him again. She must not let that show, however, so she opened her book and pretended to read. Harry walked in with Mr. Weasley and Miss Weasley.
Harry said, “Look who has arrived!” Hermione and Remus stood and exchanged greetings with the new arrivals.
Ron walked over to where Hermione sat and said, “What are you reading, Miss Granger?”
She was not really reading. She merely held a book as a means to have something to do with her hands. She placed the book on the floor by her chair and said, “Nothing of importance. How are you this evening, Sir?”
“Fine, thank you,” he said. He looked over at Harry and Ginny, who shared a small loveseat and he said, “We are all hoping for a happy event by the end of the summer.”
Hermione looked at the pair. The way Harry laughed at everything Ginny said. They way she put her hand on his arm, to touch it lightly, only to draw it away, and the smile on their faces. They were in love. There was no denying that fact.
The butler came in and announced that the rest of their party had arrived. Severus Snape and Draco Malfoy walked in the room. Hermione stood again and was immediately struck by the differences in the two men. “Mr. Snape, may I present my cousin, Hermione Granger, your future pupil.”
“Miss Granger,” he said, drawing out her name. He merely bowed. Hermione was not sure she liked this man, but she would keep an open mind. Severus turned to speak to Remus, as Draco walked over to Hermione.
“Miss Granger, how do you find yourself this evening,” he asked.
“I am well, Sir,” she said.
“You look very nice tonight,” he said. Actually, he thought she looked absolutely lovely. She looked every bit a proper lady. She gave him a small smile, and the blush returned to her cheek. He smirked and said, “Why is it when I pay you a compliment, your cheeks turn scarlet? Could it be that you are not used to compliments, or could it be that you are not aware of your own beauty?”
His boldness shocked her. She looked toward the rest of their party, and no one seemed to have heard his statement. She said, “Sir, please do not toy with me. I know I am no great beauty.” She said it with such sincerity. Draco wondered if she really thought that. It was rare to find a woman who was not full of conceit and pride.
He leaned closer to her and said, “I assure you, I never lie.”
“Never?” she asked with a smile.
“Well, perhaps that in itself is a small lie. I know we all tell falsehoods from time to time, but at the moment I am completely sincere,” he said, returning her smile.
At the dinner table, a while later, Hermione was conversing freely with Severus Snape. She was right in her first assumption, she really did not like the man, but his intellect rivaled her own, and she found him easy to converse with, for which she was grateful.
He had just spent the better part of fifteen minutes telling the party that women made terrible potion makers.
“But, Sir,” Hermione said, “you cannot truly tell me that you think potion making is an art best left to men. Weren’t many of the earliest potion makers women?”
“Women do not have the attention to detail that is needed for potion making. It is best to leave them to charm work and transfiguration. I will teach you basic potions, but it is in my history that women usually cannot handle the delicacy of more intricate potions.” Snape turned back to his soup.
Hermione sat beside him and pouted. She looked across the table and Draco Malfoy had a smile on his face. She cocked her head toward him, as if to ask him what was so funny. He said, “Godfather, perhaps Miss Granger will prove to be the exception to your rule. Perhaps she will be a competent potion maker.”
“I have no doubt of her intellect, just from talking with her now, but she is still a woman,” he said.
Draco’s brows rose and he said, “Yes, on that, you are correct.” Hermione looked down toward her plate, and he was sure her cheeks were red again. He said, “Miss Granger, how would you feel to having your first lesson with me tomorrow?”
Harry answered for her, “Tomorrow is not good, Malfoy. We are having a country picnic tomorrow, to take advantage of the nice weather. We will be a large party, and a few people from your acquaintance will be in attendance. You may join us if you would like, and tutor her out in the wilderness.” Ginny laughed at Harry’s joke.
“I can’t imagine someone wanting to read a book or study, over a day spent with friends and fun,” Ron said.
“I am sure you cannot, Weasley,” Draco said drolly.
Hermione said, “Sir, I would appreciate having my first lesson tomorrow, even if it is outside. Please, join us.”
“I would be honored,” he replied.
After dinner, the men went to the lounge to enjoy cigars and brandy. Hermione and Ginny walked into the library. “You know Harry means for you to make a match with my brother, do you not?”
Hermione turned, shocked by the other woman’s bluntness. “I am aware, but please, do not suppose I have asked him to push for this match.”
“I have to admit, I knew you had no inclination toward my brother from the way you spoke of Lord Malfoy. My brother is in love with another, anyway. Her name is Luna Lovegood, and she will be joining our picnic tomorrow. I hope to reveal this to Harry at that time,” Ginny admitted. “I want my brother happy, but please, do not take offense.”
Hermione was far from being offended. She was relieved. “I am happy to find an ally in this.”
“Then I shall speak with Harry tomorrow. I think I will find a book to read,” Ginny said.
“I think I will walk the gardens,” Hermione remarked, taking her leave. She walked outside, where the moon was high and bright in the sky. The night air was cold, and she forgot to bring a wrap, so she put her arms tightly around her body.
She was afraid that Harry had wanted an attachment between her and Mr. Weasley. She hoped that Miss Weasley had enough influence over her cousin to persuade him that Hermione did not need a man. She bent down to smell one of the pink roses, marveling at its beauty by the light of the moon.
“It is beautiful,” Lord Malfoy said from behind her. She turned around. He wanted to say, ‘it pales next to you’, but he knew he should show restraint. “My godfather was quite vexed with you, Miss Granger.”
“He is an infuriating man,” Hermione said with a slight frown.
Malfoy laughed and said, “At times, but he is a genius. He has a point, about potion making. I have never seen an accomplished potion maker who was a woman.”
“Perhaps you haven’t seen one, because none in your company were given a chance to develop their skills,” Hermione pointed out. She turned and walked down the path. He followed and was soon walking by her side.
“Mr. Weasley doesn’t seem overtly affectionate toward you,” Draco said.
“Oh, one can tell that Lord Potter is pushing for a match between you two, although I think it would be horrendous,” Draco said.
“Because I am Muggle-born and he pureblood?” she asked.
“Quite the opposite, I am afraid,” he said.
“Miss Weasley tells me her brother’s affections lean toward another, a Miss Luna Lovegood,” Hermione said.
Draco laughed loudly. “Goodness, now that is an interesting match!” Hermione gave him a scowl, and he said, “You are not disappointed in the news are you?”
“Of course not,” she said. “But you have to admit, if my cousin marries Miss Weasley, I shall be force to find another situation, and that would leave me with finding a position somewhere, perhaps teaching, which is why I must learn all I can in a short amount of time, or worse, I must marry.” Draco stopped walking. She did not notice that he had stopped until she was several steps ahead. She turned to face him and he was smiling. “Did I say something humorous, Sir?”
“Or worse, marry?” he reminded.
She laughed as well. “I mean, or worse, marry without affection.”
“So if you held affection for a gentleman, it would not be a dreadful solution?” he asked.
“I would hope not,” she said.
“You suppose your cousin would toss you to the curb if he married?” he asked.
She was the one to stop walking this time. She said, “It might happen. It is what happened to me before I came here. My mother died and my stepfather’s new wife couldn’t abide me, so I was left homeless.”
Draco saw the worry on her face. He approached her and said, “As much as I dislike your cousin, I know nothing of his character that would suggest he would abandon you, and leave you homeless.”
“I hope you are right, Sir,” she said, although he could tell that she still seemed worried. She looked up at the sky and she remarked, “Your name is the name of a constellation, is it not?”
“You are very bright, and yes it is,” he said. He looked at her face as she looked up at the night sky.
She pointed upward and said, “The stars are so bright tonight, I wonder if we can see any constellations.”
He stepped closer to her. She suddenly let her hand drop, and he was so close that she brushed her hand against his chest as she brought it back down. She quickly withdrew it to her side.
“You bewitch me, Miss,” he said in hushed tones. “You are of lower birth and station, of impure blood, and yet I find myself thinking of you continually.”
Hermione said, “It is a wonder you waste your time on someone inferior to you.” She started to walk away. He ran to catch up to her.
“I apologize if my words offend, but they are the truth. In our world, Miss Granger, blood means everything. It is more important than money or connections. It is a fact that all the pretty girls in the world cannot change that one simple truth,” he explained.
“Then do not tarry here any longer. One would not wish you to waste your time speaking with a lowly, what was the word, Mudblood,” she said. She tried to hurry off but he grabbed her arm. Her skin was cold to the touch and she shivered under his hand.
“I did not say that word to you, so don’t presume to think that I applied that word to you. I do speak the truth, however. I am sorry if that hurts you. I didn’t mean to hurt you,” he said sincerely.
“If you are conflicted, then you must deal with it in your own heart,” she said.
He expelled a small laugh and let go of her arm. “Believe me, I am not conflicted. Just because I find you intelligent, pretty, and good company, does not mean that I have mixed feelings. I know the truth.” He wanted to convince himself as much as her.
“Perhaps you should not lower yourself to tutor me, then. I beg your leave, Sir,” she said. She tried to leave once more, but he blocked the path.
“Indeed, you are too proud and boastful. I shall tutor you, as I am a man of my word. Again, I apologize,” he began, but she halted his speech.
“Don’t make false apologies! How rich that you should say that I am proud and boastful. You are the most arrogant man I have ever met. I no longer wish to be tutored by you. I would rather be tutored by a swine, who I am sure has more manners! I shall linger no longer. Goodbye, Lord Malfoy.”
He laughed at her boldness. He followed her back into the house. Miss Weasley met them both at the door and she said, “Wonderful news, my brothers George and Fred have arrived, along with Miss Lovegood, Miss Patil, and Miss Brown. We have all decided to have a small dance to finish our evening. Come Miss Granger!” She pulled on Hermione’s hand.
As Remus Lupin played the pianoforte, the inhabitants of Potter’s Hall began to dance a country-dance. Draco sat out the first dance. He felt he was above such entertainment. However as the dance continued, and he saw Miss Granger laughing and enjoying herself, he decided to participate.
He walked over to Miss Granger and said, “May I have the next dance?”
She wanted to say no. She should say no. He insulted her earlier, but she wanted to dance with him. The music started, and she bowed to him, as an acceptance to his request.
A slower dance started. They stared in each other’s eyes as they approached each other. He touched her hand and turned her around. They walked apart again, as the next couple did the same. He took her hand again, and they paced through the dancers who flanked both sides. They stood opposite from each other, neither averting their gaze. He studied her face, her expression, her countenance. What was it about this slip of a girl that made him so conflicted?
They approached again, and he put his hand on the small of her back, as he strolled with her through the crowd once more. They turned with her hand in his. The touch of his hand upon hers made her weak in the knees. Her mouth felt dry and she knew she was flushed. As they walked side by side for a second time, he looked at her from the corner of his eyes.
He hated to admit this, but he could not deny his attraction to her. As they stood on the sidelines, watching as another couple strolled down the middle, he was struck once again with her beauty. They approached each other once more, neither having spoken the entire dance. Words would be inadequate. His hand once again went to her back as he steered her through the throng. Why did he anticipate her touch? Why did she long for his? They turned, one last turn, and he bowed to her and she curtseyed.
Everyone applauded, and said ‘what a fine dance’. Hermione Granger looked in her partner’s eyes and then looked at the floor. Lord, help her, because she was smitten.
Draco Malfoy had to excuse himself from the crowd. He could not stay in the same room with her one moment longer, and not admit his feelings. He would not, under any circumstance, ever admit his feelings toward her. “Excuse me; I shall bid you all goodnight. Thank you, Potter, for your hospitality.” He turned and left the room with gracing her with a goodbye.
He walked out of the room, unnoticed by most the company, save for her, and she mistook his leave. She assumed he left because he could not abide her company any longer. She too excused herself and ran from the room. She ran down the long hallway toward the stairs. She saw Lord Malfoy as he stood by the front door. They stared at each other once again, for what felt like time without end. He nodded his head toward her and walked out the door. She ran up the stairs, threw herself on her bed, and cried.