Hermione could not imagine a more awkward situation.
She, Ron, and Draco Malfoy were seated around a small round table at the Leaky Cauldron, waiting in silence for their meals. Ron was studying Malfoy’s pale, slicked back hair with a good amount of fascination. Malfoy did not notice this. He was slouching in his chair with his arms crossed and a slightly bored look on his face as he avoided looking at his dinner partners. Hermione had a feeling it was more lack of what to say than displeasure at the company he was in that drew forth that haughty look on Malfoy’s face. After all, according to what Ron had told her, Malfoy had been the one to suggest dinner.
“As much as I hate to break the silence,” Hermione said, clearing her throat. “I need to ask you something, Malfoy.”
He turned his head to look at her with the same cool expression on his face.
Hermione leaned forward a bit over the table.
“Did you really shag Blaise Zabini’s mother while you were at Blaise’s for Christmas?”
Ron and Malfoy both stared at Hermione with shocked looks on their faces.
“Did I... if I... are you serious?” asked Malfoy.
Hermione shrugged and nodded.
“It was just something I heard around the office,” she said.
“Who I shag,” Malfoy said importantly, “and when I do it, is none of your business, Granger.”
Ron opened his mouth furiously at the tone of Malfoy’s voice but Hermione smoothly intervened.
“It certainly is my business, if you’re going to charm my sister-in-law.”
She had a smile fixed upon her face but Draco could sense she meant business.
“Can we please just change the subject?” he asked. “I’m here to talk about Ginny, not my past shags.”
“So you DID shag her!” Hermione said triumphantly.
“I did no such thing!”
“Hermione,” Ron interrupted, “I’m going to go with Malfoy on this one. Let’s change the subject.”
They both turned to stare at him.
“What?” he said. “I don’t want to know where his...” he paused delicately and glared at Draco’s crotch, “... hands... have been.”
Hermione shook her head.
“Okay. Fine. Let’s change the subject.”
“Cheers,” said Ron, raising his Firewhisky in the air above him briefly before downing half of it in one swig.
“So. Malfoy.” Hermione turned to look at him.
“No, I’m Hermione.”
“No, I mean, you can call me Draco.”
“Oh.” Hermione looked startled by this. “Well, all right, then. Draco. Tell me what happened, and start at the very beginning.”
Draco sighed and described his woeful date to Ron and Hermione, starting from when he rang her doorbell to having to finish his dinner by himself, humiliated. (Ron interrupted him at this point to ask why he hadn’t just left the restaurant and spared himself the embarrassment of eating alone. “Have YOU ever walked out on fish worth a week’s salary?” Draco replied snarkily.) At first he felt self-conscious and uncomfortable, but he relaxed after a while. Ron and Hermione were very good listeners – well, Hermione was. Ron kept interrupting and snorting in what he apparently thought was an admirably condescending sort of way, but which, in reality, sounded like he had something large and wet stuck up his nose.
Hermione had waited patiently as Draco had been telling them his story, but as soon as he finished, she shut her eyes, smiled, and uttered a small, “Oh, Malfoy.”
“What?” asked Draco.
“You really do need my help,” Hermione replied, opening her eyes again.
“Our help,” Ron corrected her with his mouth full of bread.
“What did I do?!”
“What you need to remember, erm, Draco...” Hermione did not seem accustomed to calling him by his first name. “Is that when you take a girl out, she expects you to make her feel special. If you take her out on the same date as you have for dozens of other women, she’ll feel like just another one of your shags. Is she just another one of your shags?”
“Well... well, no. I mean... I’ve never... she’s the first girl that I’ve... er...” Draco wanted to say ‘obsessed about’, as this was the truth, but he felt Ron might not take it very well, so he finished with, “thought about... a lot... after a date.”
“Because she didn’t go home with you,” Hermione finished for him, nodding slightly. “You’re used to taking any woman you like out and then doing whatever you please with her afterward. Then you send her home, promising you’ll take her out the following night, while in reality never bothering to speak to her again.”
Draco was very surprised that she knew all this about him. She didn’t seem to register his slight shock as she steamrolled on.
“So, you take an attractive woman out, and you expect the same from her as every woman. She refuses you. It’s very understandable that you would obsess over this. It must be a huge blow to your ego.”
Draco gaped at her.
“How do you...”
“Oh, it’s common knowledge.” Hermione dismissed it with a wave of her hand. “You, my friend, fit exactly into a certain stereotype.”
“A stereotype of what, if I may ask?”
“A... what should I call it...” Hermione seemed to think for a few moments. “I’ll just call it a Casanova for now, for lack of a better word.”
Ron spit out his bread.
“A Casanova?” he asked in alarm. “But that’s a flesh-eating plant, isn’t it?”
“No... no, last time I checked it wasn’t,” Hermione answered, raising an eyebrow at him.
“Oh.” Ron went back to eating.
“If it’s not a flesh-eating plant, then what is it?” asked Draco.
“Let’s just say you... you, erm, get around a lot.”
“You’re a flirt. But worse than a flirt, because you use women sexually and leave them crushed.”
“I wouldn’t say crushed,” Malfoy interrupted. “Half of the women I’ve shagged don’t have enough brain capacity to comprehend that they’ve been used.”
Hermione rolled her eyes.
“Well, Ginny certainly is not that kind of girl.”
“I know that!” Draco replied hotly.
Hermione smirked at the defensive tone in his voice.
“Of course you do. Which is why you probably understand that Ginny will not be willing to have anything to do with you, romantically, without some real time and effort on your part. Are you willing to commit to it?”
Draco considered this. He had never gone out of his way to take a woman out before. Usually they were the ones pleading for his time of the day. Why should he put effort into taking this woman, who was not really special in any kind of obvious way, out again, when he could easily take a more beautiful woman out without any form of effort on his part?
Then her large, sparkling brown eyes seemed to appear before them, framed by delicate, dark lashes. He imagined her seated across from him at a dinner table, laughing at something funny he had just said; her sitting on his lap in front of a cozy fireplace, resting her head on his chest; her holding his hand in public with a proud, brazen look on her face; her standing in his bedroom, wrapped in his bed sheets with her hair a mess; her standing beside him in a white dress, promising to be his forever...
His head snapped up.
“I am willing,” he said. “I will do whatever it takes to get her back. You just tell me what to do, and I’ll do that.” Deciding it wouldn’t hurt, he added, “Please.”
“Exactly the kind of attitude we’re going to need,” she said. “Now, here’s what you need to do....”
Author notes: I hope you liked it... I wasn't quite sure if I liked this chapter enough to put it up, but then I decided to do it anyway. I'm in the middle of Chapter Five right now, check back for that soon! =D
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