A/N: This is for Season 5, Round 1 of The Quidditch League Fanfiction Competition. It's a BIG OL' HISTORICAL AU, so LOOK OUT! =P
I'm Chaser 1 for the Caerphilly Catapults. The prompt for this round was to write a fic for Chaser 2's NOTP. I got Dramione. These were my optional prompts:
5. (dialogue) "I'm happier than I've ever been before."
7. (object) Broken wine glass
9. (song) "Dollhouse" – Melanie Martinez
Hermione Granger felt unbelievably out of place as she stepped into the Malfoys' ballroom. She was the author of The Sacred Twenty-Eight, a directory of the truly pureblood families in the wizarding world. That is why she was there. But she was muggle-born, and sometimes she found herself quite unable to empathize with the pureblood wizards and witches she wrote about, especially when they were derogating muggles. It was for this reason that she usually avoided social gatherings such as this one. On this occasion, however, her publisher had told her bluntly that if she didn't go, she'd lose the Malfoys' trust and probably the opportunity to ever conduct another interview with them.
When Hermione became desperate and protested that she didn't have the proper attire, he said, "Ahh… Yes, well…" and then shoved a pink monstrosity into her arms. She had seen the dress before, on his wife. She had stared at it blankly for a while, trying to find some way to refuse it, but ultimately conceded with a sigh.
It was very, very pink, and had quite a large skirt, with all sorts of ruffles on it. Her publisher's wife had looked quite stunning in it, but Hermione didn't feel stunning at all. She knew she looked the part of a noblewoman at the newly crowned Queen Elizabeth II's court, but it all made her quite uncomfortable.
Staying close to the wall, she moved around the dancers, trying to find Lucius, Narcissa, or even their son, Draco, so she could tell them how grateful she was that she'd been invited and that it pained her that she had to leave very soon but, well, that was the life of a writer.
She had made it halfway around the room. She was already tired. No one seemed to want to let her by. Then she heard the crashing sound of a broken wine glass and nearly jumped out of her skin. She took a breath and realized it was only one of the elder members of the Abbott family, and not the beginning of a brawl as she had feared. He was quite drunk, but Hermione took out her wand and repaired the glass for him. He was surprisingly grateful. He thanked her, as though she were an equal who did him a favor, and not an inferior who had simply done her duty. He even offered to escort her to the Malfoys, and while being on his arm was wobbly, it made the going much easier.
"Draco! Come to auntie Bella!"
Ah, there they were. The entire Malfoy family was in one corner with a photographer.
"Picture! Picture! Smile for the picture!" Bellatrix Lestrange had one arm wrapped tightly around her sister's shoulders and the other around Draco's neck.
Hermione couldn't help but think of the irony of an invention of the despised muggle race featuring prominently in the wizarding world's most exclusive party.
Draco caught her eye as she looked on from a polite distance, and she breathed a sigh of relief as he began walking towards her after the picture was taken. She could go home to Crookshanks and her books very soon.
While she hadn't spent much time with the youngest member of the Malfoy family, Hermione felt safer with him than any other Malfoy. He was the least vicious of his relatives, and while he seemed to agree with the rest of his family about the blight muggles were to the world, he only ever seconded such an opinion. She thought she might be able to convince him differently, if that was her job.
"Miss Granger," Draco said, bowing slightly.
"Mr. Malfoy," Hermione returned with a curtsey.
"Draco!" Narcissa approached them quickly, "Oh! How nice to see you, Miss Granger. Now, come on, darling. Your father wants to introduce you to—"
"Actually, mother, I've just asked Miss Granger to dance."
Hermione was so surprised at this turn of events that she didn't contradict him, or even politely decline when Narcissa looked at her expectantly. All too soon, she was being escorted onto the floor by the Malfoy heir, his mother nowhere to be found.
"What are you doing?" she asked, as Draco gently tugged her into a waltz position and the music began to play.
"I thought that was obvious," he said with a smirk, "Avoiding my social commitments."
Despite her best intentions, a small smile worked its way onto Hermione's face.
"And why are you doing that?" she asked.
"To avoid lying through my teeth, saying 'I'm happier than I've ever been before to have met you,' to yet another one of my father's friend's daughters."
"And you'd rather dance with me?"
He shrugged, "At least I know you," he said, "And I know you're not making a power play."
Her mouth dropped. "Well," she said, "That was… honest."
Draco laughed, loudly. Hermione cringed.
"Oh! Sorry, Granger! I think I've been around auntie Bella too much," he said, making a grimace-smile that was quite a good impersonation of his aunt, "Merlin, I thought she was gonna strangle me over there when we took that picture."
Despite herself, Hermione laughed. Not loudly, but she laughed.
"I think that's the first time I've ever heard you laugh."
She blushed. And then she decided that honesty merited honesty. "One must laugh at Bellatrix. The alternative is recognizing that she's totally mad."
Draco laughed again. "Wow. You really do see things that nobody else sees," he said, voice softer, no longer mocking.
"What do you mean?" she asked, not sure if she was being threatened.
"Everyone thinks that we're perfect. You're the only one who notices that there's something…off… about my aunt."
"Well," she said a bit defensively, "It's my job, isn't it? What would I have to write about if I didn't?"
"True," Draco agreed, "But you also don't publish everything you know. Unless you're doing a Malfoy exposé that no one knows about yet. Is that it? Are you using me, Granger?"
All seriousness was gone from his voice. He was joking. He made Hermione laugh again.
"If you are," he said, before the laughter died, "You're doing an excellent job."
Hermione jerked away, startled.
"Sorry! Sorry," he said, squeezing her hand and pulling her back towards him to avoid a collision with another couple, "I didn't mean to scare you. I meant it as a compliment. Don't go away."
Hermione was just trying to puzzle out Draco's last statement when the music ended with a flourish, and she found herself back at the side of the dancefloor, watching Draco walk away from her. She recalled that she had planned to leave as soon as possible, but as Draco glanced back at her and smiled, she remembered what he'd said, and decided to stay. She had seen through the curtains, and she was quite charmed by the youngest Malfoy.
Places, places, get in your places.
Throw on your dress and put on your doll faces.
Everyone thinks that we're perfect.
Please don't let them look through the curtains.