Why does Granger only like Draco when she's drinking?
Sitting at a table with both their drinks in his hand, Draco watched Hermione as she crossed the large pub. It was as if he was seeing her – truly seeing her – for the first time. She was slender, but well built. She had grace, but didn't seem overly delicate. She was rather small, but not waif-like. He took a long swallow of his beer, lowered his eyes, but then looked back up as she sat down opposite him.
Her cheeks were rosy, her eyes glowing. He wondered if that was what she would look like while making love. Instantly, he grew hard with want.
"What do you want Draco?" she asked, sitting across from him in the booth. "Tell me why you followed me here and what you want now."
"Why do you assume I want anything, Gran – Hermione?" He remembered to say her first name, but only at the end. Raising one eyebrow in the air as a defensive strategy, he said, "I merely came in here to satisfy my curiosity of all things German and to celebrate with the Muggles during this little festival of October. Then, I spied you sitting on a stool, at the bar, between two questionable Muggles, and I thought you might want to join me."
Even he thought it sounded like a load of shite.
She shook her head, reached over for her beer, and said, "Whatever."
"Fine, here's the truth of it, Granger," he said, his ire suddenly back. "I wanted to ask you about your outburst earlier – you know the one – the one where you called me out, said cruel things, claimed I hated you, and then ran off like a wounded pup with her tail between her legs."
She glared at him. With the colour on her cheeks ripening to a healthy crimson, she said, "There was a point to our conversation earlier, you know."
He threw his hands up in the air. "No, I don't know! All I know is that you accused me of a few things, unfoundedly, and I want to know why! Why do you hate me so much? I'm not the same bigoted boy I was in school. I can see why you would hate him, but why hate me?"
She sat back in shock, but the shock quickly gave way, and she pointed her chin out, piercing him with a harsh glare. "I rather think you have that backwards, Malfoy. I don't hate you, I never have, but you can't seem to let go of old prejudices. You still see me as inferior… beneath you or something, and I won't have it any longer, especially not tonight." In her head, she thought 'especially not on my birthday'. She stood to leave. "Goodnight. Enjoy Oktoberfest."
Draco almost froze on the spot, but then acting quickly, he moved from his seat, pushed her back into her side of the booth, keeping her from leaving. Sitting beside her, he felt torn. He wanted to grab her into his arms and kiss her senseless and he wanted to throttle her. What a paradox.
"Listen, Hermione, if I've said or done anything in the last few years to offend you, then I'm sorry, but you've got everything backwards. I find you attractive! There, I've said it. Albeit, I had to say it over the roar of questionable music and loud people celebrating Oktoberfest, but I finally said it."
Panic rose to his throat, making it difficult to speak. He hated feeling this way, but he didn't hate her. Why would she think such a thing?
"It's always been apparent how you feel for me," she said a bit softer.
"Apparently not and apparent to whom?" he harped. "You know, for a smart woman, you are considerably dense at times."
"What?" she screeched. "How dare you call me dense?" She poked him in the chest. "I'm the one who finds you attractive, not the other way around!"
"I think you're beautiful!" he argued in return, turning in the booth to face her. "You can't stand the sight of me!"
She waved her hands in front of her face and said, "Oh, you know I find you attractive, Draco! A woman WOULD be dense if she didn't, and I'm not dense." She sighed. "But the differences between us are too immense, disparaging so, and for some reason, that's greater than the obvious attraction I feel for you, or that you claim to feel for me."
Draco felt another flash of emotion, this one laced with confusion. He struggled for the right thing to say at that moment, because he knew it was critical that he say the right thing… or die trying.
Due to his momentary pause, she continued, "It doesn't matter at any rate, because mutual attraction aside, if that's even true, you go out of your way to avoid me, at all cost, and I find it weary."
"I didn't go out of my way tonight!" he huffed, anger returning to his voice.
She asked, "What does that mean?"
"I took great pains to find out where you would be tonight. I came here because I wanted to let you know, finally, how I felt for you. I also didn't want you to celebrate your birthday alone. I know you think I'm an arse, and full of myself, but the reason I go to such great lengths to avoid you at times is because I feel like I'm caught in a vise when I'm near you. I feel torn in two. My feelings of attraction and want for you become jumbled with what I assumed were your feelings of hatred of me."
He turned away for just a moment, and then looked back at her. "The truth is… well, the truth is, I think you're perfect, Granger. Yes, Granger. I call you Granger, because I know I'm not good enough to have the right to call you by your name. Gads, Granger, you're perfect in every way, don't you know that? The very sight of you causes my heart to become constricted, and my breathing almost to stop in my chest. That's why I avoid you… I don't want to expire at your feet."
Hermione could scarcely believe the things Draco Malfoy was telling her. Perhaps she was dense, because she never thought he entertained any feelings, except hate, for her. She assumed his aloofness and supreme self-control when he was near her was a sign of distaste or disgust – a sign of hate. She felt her lips tremble. She almost wanted to cry. She had probably ruined everything that might have been between them, merely because she was such an idiot. A blind, yes and dense, idiot.
Suddenly, he reached out and hauled her against him, placing one hand on her face, cupping her cheek, and the other high on her back, under her hair. She said nothing, merely stared up at him, blinking her eyes in surprise.
His arms tightened around her and he said, "I could never hate you… no, that's not true. I could hate you, and I did at one time, but right now all I feel for you is unrequited love, and as much as that pains me for you to know it, I finally had to say it, after all, it is your birthday, so I might as well be truthful to you, as a present."
"You know it's my birthday?" she whispered, her mouth close to his.
"I know everything about you, except why you loathe me so much." He stopped talking abruptly, bent his head to hers, and kissed her, brushing his lips softly on top of hers, coaxing her to open her mouth, surrender herself to the utterly smooth pleasure of his mouth on hers.
The kiss grew. It went from something wicked to something primal in a space of ten seconds. It came from somewhere deep inside him, and she knew within minutes that what he had said was true… he didn't hate her. He couldn't possibly hate her and kiss her like this!
She returned the kiss, shifting a little in the booth to face him fully. His lips tasted like a rain shower in autumn, cool at first, but then warm, wet and welcomed. He groaned, and she twisted her head to capture the sound, as his hands began to roam her body.
Finally tearing his mouth from hers, he looked down into her dazed eyes and asked, "Does that seem like a man who hates you? I only wish you didn't hate me, Granger. I really do."
Breathing heavily, she placed a hand on his chest and pushed him away from her. "I have to think. I don't know what to say to any of this. It doesn't make sense." She regarded him wearily and asked, "Are you certain this isn't a prank? Are you lying for some reason?"
He sighed – long and loudly – and rose from the booth. Wiping his hands on his trouser legs, he mumbled, "Listen, no… never mind. I'm tired of it all. Have a nice birthday, alone. May all your birthday wishes come true. I know at least one will – your wish for me to leave you alone. Goodbye."
Then he picked up his beer and left her all alone, in a mass of confusion and sexual frustration.
Watching him closely, he moved to the seat she had left empty at the bar, and ordered another drink. She slid from the booth and went outside to think.
Draco turned from his place at the bar, and saw that she was leaving. It was just as well. He pushed the beer the barkeep had just placed in front of him away and said, "Scotch, straight up, and give me the whole bottle, please." He reached in his pocket and threw a wad of Muggle money on the counter, took his new bottle of Scotch (and now his best friend) and a glass and moved away from the bar to sit back down in the booth where he had just kissed her.
Taking a deep swig of his scotch, he slammed the glass on the table and said, "I really hope all your wishes come true, sweetheart. I really, really do. In fact…" He took his wand out of his trouser pocket under the table, and with a swish of his wand toward the front door, he said, "If only magic could bring us together, then my wish would come true, too." Feeling foolish, and knowing no amount of magic could ever bring them together, he tucked the wand back into his trousers and sagged against the back of the booth.
Unknown to him, she was still standing right on the other side of the door when he pointed his wand that way. Warmth filled her as a soft white light emitted out of the crack in the doorway. She suddenly wanted nothing more than to go back inside and find him. She walked back into the pub, looked toward the bar, but no longer saw him where she had left him. She slipped back outside, to Disapparate home.
Two Days later
Draco was sitting in an empty meeting room at St. Mungo's when Hermione Granger walked in, looking disheveled, but beautiful. They were supposed to have a meeting together today, but she had sent her assistant instead. He was still sitting there, trying to think of an excuse to seek her out, when she walked in the room.
A strand of hair fell from her clip, resting softly on her cheek, and he wanted to tuck it behind her ear. He imagined her hair looking disheveled and unkempt after making love… not that he would ever know what it was like to make love to a woman like her, but again, a man could dream.
His body temperature went almost to boiling when she sat down next to him. Desire and a sense of passion spurred him to ask, "Why are you here?"
"I need to speak with you," she said sternly.
He huffed, "I rather thought there was nothing left for us to say to each other. I told you that I found you attractive, that I no longer hated you, that what I felt was so far from hate it was shameful, and you left me in the pub all alone. What could you possibly have to say now? What's left to say that hasn't been said?"
Hermione felt as if she were in a tidal wave, fighting for her life, fighting to remain above water, fighting to remain calm. She remembered everything… every little detail, of their passionate night together, to his angry, whispered callous words when he left her. She replayed those words repeatedly in her head for days. He had said, "I'm leaving because I always leave. I'm leaving because I'm a bastard. I'm leaving because this meant nothing to me. I'm leaving because you mean nothing to me. I'm leaving because I don't even remember last night, and the thought of it makes me sick. I've become a man I hate, who drowns every sorrow he has with firewhiskey and nameless women. I can't even say I'm sorry, because I'm not. Yeah, so that's the truth of it. Goodbye."
For days, she struggled with a deep sense of self-preservation, coupled with feelings of inadequacy. First, he told her he no longer hated her in the bar. Then, he showed up at her house an hour later and they made mad, passionate love. In the morning he left her without even a glance toward the bed, where he told her that what transpired between them meant NOTHING to him, and that she meant NOTHING to him.
She couldn't face herself if she didn't face him, so finally, self-preservation won out, and she decided to call him out for leaving her that way. That's why she sought him out today. That was why she waited until everyone else left the meeting so she could confront him. And how dare he have the gall to ask her 'why' she was there.
She still recalled the surprise she felt when he suddenly appeared at the door of her flat. She felt faint recalling the desire in his eyes, and the way he bent his head and kissed her for the second time that evening, even before he crossed over the threshold. After their parting words at the pub, she didn't expect even to see him again, yet there he was.
He held her tightly against him, rained kisses down her jaw to her neck, and told her she was beautiful. He told her he loved her. Desire burned between them, each craving the other, and they gave into that feeling, shared a passionate night together (the best birthday of her life) and then before dawn could break fully, he left her – without even looking back – and he told her that she meant nothing to him… nothing.
She assumed he did it for revenge of some sort. For the life of her, she couldn't imagine what she had done to him to cause him to hate her so much, especially as he denied that hate at the pub the night before, and the truly depressing part was that she still trembled when he was near, trembled with want and desire and yes, love.
She hungered for him. She craved him madly, but he didn't feel the same. Tears burned the back of her eyes and she could barely speak. She had enough respect for herself that she could never throw herself at a man who didn't esteem or like her. She would not allow this thing between them to fester any longer. He could hate her all he wanted… he could despise her very existence, but she would not let him humiliate her ever again.
He stood from the chair and waited for her to speak.
"Why did you leave the way you did?" She looked up at him, and he looked confused.
"What?" Now she thought he looked bewildered.
"Seriously, Draco," she expelled. "The night of Oktoberfest… afterwards. Why?"
He faced her squarely. "What are you rattling on about, Granger? You left the bar before I did! I stayed behind and got pissed out of my mind, but you left. I was so drunk when I left there I don't even know where I went, but I do remember that you couldn't face me any longer, and you left before I did."
She took a deep breath and said, "That's not what I mean, and you know it."
He continued to look befuddled. Rubbing his hand over his face and through his hair, he said, "For once, just say what you mean! Get it over with, because I'm so tired of these games with you."
She pushed on his chest, sending him sprawling back down in his chair. "Did you think that what happened between us the other night would mean nothing to me, even if it didn't mean anything to you? Are you that cold and callous? Did you think you could treat me that way and then make me avoid you?" she asked calmly.
A look of recognition finally dawned upon him. "Yeah, about that, I know I shouldn't have followed you to the pub. I shouldn't have sought you out, but seriously, I had no more resistance. I couldn't continue on feeling the way I felt, knowing how you felt, so yeah, I guess I did rather make an arse of myself," he said truly. He searched her eyes, and then her mouth, for confirmation of his assessment. "Is this about the kiss?"
"The kiss?" she all but screamed. Leaning forward, placing her hand on the table in front of her, she placed her face right in front of his and asked, "This is about the fact that you left a woman alone after having slept with her! I think that makes you more than an arsehole… more like the biggest prat who's ever lived!"
His mouth flew open. Feeling dazed, he was beyond words. May the stars above help him, what if the girl he slept with was a friend of Granger's? What if she told her all about what happened, and the terrible things he said afterwards. He felt embarrassment and guilt wash through his blood stream, choking him on his own guilt. He asked, "How did you know about that?"
Now she looked as confused as he did. She grabbed the collar of his shirt, pulled him closer, and said, "Because I was there, you stupid, bloody git! I was the girl! Why do you think I'm so angry? And to think – right after I got home I even made a birthday wish that you were there with me, and poof, you appeared, and then we made love, and it was beautiful! To me, it was poignant, it meant something to me, you meant something to me, and you told me it meant nothing to you… that I meant nothing to you! How could you?"
All the colour left his face. He closed his eyes, and then opened them quickly to ask, "WHAT? Please explain! You wished I was there and THEN what happened?"