Draco Malfoy Hermione Granger
Multiple Eras
Philosopher's Stone Chamber of Secrets Prizoner of Azkaban
Published: 07/25/2001
Updated: 06/01/2003
Words: 165,200
Chapters: 17
Hits: 239,674

We'll Always Have Paris

Melissa D

Story Summary:
Draco and Hermione go on an exchange program to Beauxbatons Academy. They enter a rocky partnership to help each other make it through all of their classes; neither of them thinks falling in love will be part of the deal.

Chapter 04

Author's Note:
From here on out, this story will be at both fanfiction.net and schnoogle.com as well as any other individual’s web sites who email me about it. Thanks to Plumeria for beta reading (as always). I had a really HUGE presentation due last week, so I will have some extra time for the next 2 months or so to try and wrap this puppy up. Thank you for your patience with me; it takes a lot to pull one of these fics together. Enjoy!

Midas' untimely arrival seemed to not only interrupt the unfolding scene on the couch, but also the growing friendship between Draco and Hermione. The owl was a messenger from the outside world, reminding them of their places in each other's lives. The moment Midas flew through their door, they sobered immediately. The effects of exhaustion and the Peppered Up Pumpkin Juice ceased to exist. As Hermione watched Draco free the rolled-up letter from the owl's leg, she glanced at the sofa where, moments before, her mouth had been inches from Draco's. What was I thinking? Draco Malfoy had almost kissed her. More importantly, part of her ached for him to do it.

Hermione busied herself with gathering up their papers and books, which had been strewn about the room in their frivolous state. Her eyes fell on her ripped Herbology text. Embarrassed by her very un-Hermione-like impulse, she gently tapped it with her wand and quietly whispered, "Reparo," and the pieces of the page reformed themselves so it looked brand new. There were no longer any visible traces of what might had occurred if Midas had not tapped on the terrace door. No physical evidence remained of their laughter and mirth, but Hermione's cheek still burned where Draco's fingers had tenderly touched her. Those feelings were too vivid to be swept away by a mere spell.

As Draco anxiously unrolled the sheets of paper, his thoughts inevitably roamed toward the activities on the sofa as well. He looked nervously at Hermione, then turned his attentions to the parchment in his twitchy hands. Draco read through his letter very quickly. His ashen face quickly colored as his eyes scanned over the several pieces of parchment, but as he flipped through the pages, a fire grew, turning them a glittering silver. There was fury burning in them. He glared at Hermione as if she had just slapped him hard across the face. She had not moved a muscle, but something about her irked him beyond her comprehension. As quickly as it had sparked, the fire was extinguished. As he brushed wordlessly past Hermione to go to his room, she could see the fire was gone, but the embers still glowed, waiting for to be ignited again.


Hermione awoke with an excruciating headache very late on Friday morning. She had hoped to get up early so she could meet Draco before heading down to breakfast. She figured he would have calmed down by now, and she wanted to know why his parents' owl provoked such a marked change in him. But instead of waking up to her Alarm Charm, she woke up to the sound of scratching on her window; a large barn owl was outside with a letter from Hagrid. She looked at her watch and realized her first class started in just five minutes. Hermione's day went downhill from there. The lace on her shoe broke, she spilled a bottle of ink on her robes, and her bookbag tore open as she was walking out the door.

To make matters worse, Draco would barely look at her, let alone speak to her. They usually sat near each other during class, where Hermione could give him a nudge if she didn't catch what their professors were saying. Under Draco's tutelage, Hermione's listening comprehension of French had improved dramatically. He had actually turned out to be a capable and patient tutor, offering her suggestions and tips to learn better. However, after Isabel and some of her girlfriends snickered at Hermione's accent in class one day, the hard-working Gryffindor had decided her speaking needed further development. In class, Draco would whisper the words quietly to her, if he sensed she was grasping for the correct word or verb tense; it was a nice little arrangement they had going. But that day, Draco sat near Isabel during their classes, so Hermione was left to fend for herself.

His eyes clung to hers only once that morning. During their practical lesson in Herbology, Professor Guerin asked Draco to list all the characteristics of Lufulicas. She saw a glimpse of the boy on the couch last night in that moment, but then he turned away quickly, shaking his head. She tried to talk to him between History and Charms class, but Draco basically blew her off. He was gathering up his quills, flanked by Isabel and her friends, as Hermione approached him. "Um, Malfoy, do you have a minute? I'd like to ask you something." He purposefully avoided looking at her, but she still tried to peer into his eyes for some sign.

Finally he looked up, but she was startled by the granite curtains which greeted her. "What is it now, Granger? Is the mean old teacher still talking too fast for your dirty little mudblood ears?"

That thoroughly irritated her. He was acting like she had done something wrong, but Hermione had no clue as to what it was. At first she assumed he felt awkward about their near kiss; like they were "caught" doing something bad, since it was his parents' owl which had interrupted them. Now she wasn't so sure. He wasn't acting awkward. If anything, Draco was being antagonistic and hostile. He was back to his old self, and Hermione was not going to let him bait her. But before she could even send a zinger at him, Draco had turned his back abruptly and left the room with Isabel, who searched Hermione's face with a questioning look as she walked away.

Hermione was prepared to have it out with him later, but he asked Professor McGonagall if he could take his dinner with Isabel and her friends and be excused from studying that evening and rest up for the field trip on Saturday. Professor McGonagall agreed, which left Hermione to herself on Friday night. Phillippe had asked her to spend some time with him, but she was in no mood to be sociable and put on a stoic. So she caught up on her correspondence and replied to Hagrid's letter, and even sent some off to Ginny, Lavender and Parvati.

She had curled up in one of the large chairs by the fire, and was just finishing up a letter to Ron checking on Crookshanks (he had graciously offered to look after the cat while she was away), when Draco sauntered in. He looked at her sitting amidst all her letters and envelopes and huffed disapprovingly. "It figures," he said snidely and slammed his door shut behind him.


Hermione was thrilled when Saturday morning finally arrived. It was the day of their first field trip, and she had been looking forward to it ever that Monday when Professor McGonagall informed them they would be visiting Rosceaux. It was a magical museum with collections of first edition spell books, robes of famous witches and wizards, gold from Egyptian tombs, and even the wand of Rowena Ravenclaw, one of Hogwarts founders. Hermione had never been to a magical museum before, and she tingled with excitement. She was even happier when Phillippe told her that he and some of his fellow seventh year Beauxbatons students would be taking the trip as well for extra credit in their History class.

Phillippe sought out Hermione, who was standing there alone, in the small crowd gathered in the entrance hall before they left that morning. She smiled at him gratefully, pleased to know someone at Beauxbatons was happy she was there. Phillippe gently pressed his hand against the small of her back and led her out the door. Just before she exited, Hermione could feel someone's piercing stare on her. She turned, searching the crowd for the source of her tingling sensation, but she didn't have to look far. Draco's stormy eyes were fixed on her, unblinking. This time he didn't even bother to look away when she stared back. But the next moment, Phillippe had ushered her out the door and the connection was broken.

Hermione and Phillippe had a wonderful time at the museum. He had been there before, so he showed her where all the really great artifacts were and filled in some of the historical background for her. Hermione was intent on pushing her and Draco's current tiff out of her mind and enjoying her new friend, but Draco would not let that happen. It seemed like every time she turned around, Draco was staring at her with a penetrating gaze, condescension and contempt written all over his face. Being the stubborn person she was, Hermione tried to ignore it. I'm not going to ask him what's wrong. I tried talking to him about it, and he ignored me. It figures he'd wait until I was with Phillippe to suddenly notice my existence. If he wants to be a stupid prat, that's his problem. He's made it quite clear I am the last person he wants to talk to.

However, Hermione was not entirely correct in her assessment of the subject of Draco's stares. He was not just watching Hermione; he was also watching Phillippe, who, in Draco's opinion, seemed to have attached himself permanently to Hermione's person. Phillippe was always touching her arm, or resting his hand lightly on her back, or leaning over close to whisper something in her hair, or so it seemed to Draco. I don't think he's let her out of his reach for one second since we left the castle. He's Beauxbatons' version of a giant squid. She's barely even looking at any of the exhibits, and that's our entire purpose for being in this bloody museum in the first place. She just keeps looking at him.

While Draco was noticing how much attention Phillippe paid to Hermione, Isabel was noticing how much attention Draco did not pay to her. She saw them heading toward the Goblin Rebellion exhibits, so she tried to steer Draco in the other direction. "Draco," she cooed coyly, forcing his thoughts away from his Hogwarts schoolmate. "Why don't we head toward the Divination exhibit? They have large models of the planets that move when you touch your wand to them. Plus there is a room you walk through that looks like the inside of a crystal ball with all sorts of shapes and sounds moving all around on the outside." She tugged at his hand to lure him away, but his feet were fixed to their spot.

Since Draco had arrived at Beauxbatons, Isabel had gone out of her way to make friends with him. They had talked between classes, had shared a few meals together, and had even taken a couple of walks around the school grounds. It had taken him a few days to put his finger on what was so familiar about her. Finally at lunch one day, it dawned on him as Isabel rattled on endlessly about all the new robes she had bought over the summer. He had heard that same conversation countless times before as he was growing up, only then it was his mother chattering away about spring fashions to his father, who cared about such things as little as Draco did. Now Draco understood why his father always seemed like he was memorizing the Daily Prophet at dinner.

But even if Isabel had not befriended Draco, he would have sought her out on his own. His father had instructed him over the summer to become acquainted with Isabel Dupris, for she was the eldest daughter of the French Minister of Magic. "It serves our interests for you to become friends with the daughter of such a powerful and influential wizard, son, Lucius had explained.

Isabel was very pretty and obviously interested in him, and Draco knew other sixteen-year old wizards would give up their racing brooms just for one date with her. Not him. She laughed at all his jokes, told him how smart he was, and batted her eyelashes at him so much that at first Draco thought she had a twitch. But one Narcissa Malfoy was enough.

After Potter told everyone who would listen that Lucius Malfoy was one of the Death Eaters present when the Dark Lord had returned, Draco's father had had to work very hard to retain his status and respected reputation with the Ministry. He could scarcely believe there were even some who believed Potter over Draco's own father. Draco's fifth year had been very difficult for his family, and his mother, being the way she was, had become more of a hindrance than a help. She would get hysterical in times of crisis, and Lucius would have to deal with Narcissa's petty problems instead of devoting his attention to more serious issues. It was very irritating and not what he needed right now.

Draco could feel Isabel tugging at his hand, and he finally looked at her. "What can you tell me about that guy?"

Isabel knew exactly who he meant, but played dumb, "Which guy?"

"Him. That Hasley character." Draco jerked his head in the direction where Hermione and Phillippe had been standing moments before, smiling and laughing, but they were gone. They had disappeared when he had turned to look at Isabel.

Forming her full lips into the sexiest pout she could muster, Isabel sulked, "Is Phillippe all you can think about? You said Hermione was not your girlfriend, but then why does it bother you so much if she spends her day with him? That just means that we get to spend more time together, because she won't monopolize your attention."

Getting defensive, Draco quickly replied, "It doesn't matter one bit to me if she dated the entire school, but look at how she's behaving. We've been here for hours already, and she's barely looked at any of the exhibits. Everyone thinks Granger is so smart and studious and figures she's the perfect candidate to represent Hogwarts in the exchange program. We are here to bring pride to our families and to our school, but she's content to spend our few precious weeks frolicking with the local Quidditch star instead of focusing on our real purpose." Draco worked himself into quite a frenzied state with his tantrum.

Believing his source of dismay was concern for Hermione, Isabel looped her arm through his and tried to calm his fears. "All the girls at Beauxbatons adore Phillippe and want to date him. She is a very lucky girl. I do not blame Hermione for being smitten with him, as Phillippe is quite charming and handsome. And he seems quite taken with her, too." Isabel saw the scowl on Draco's face as she painted this rather flattering picture of her schoolmate and keenly observed, "Do not fret, Draco. Hermione seems the type of girl, who can take care of herself. You do not like him very much, do you? You just met Phillippe two weeks ago. How can you dislike him so?"

"He just reminds me of someone back at Hogwarts. Someone I've hated for a long time."


Their group had returned from the museum after the rest of the school had eaten dinner, so Professor Lemieux had arranged for a late supper for any students who were hungry. Phillippe escorted Hermione, and Isabel wanted Draco to go with her, but Draco felt he had endured enough of watching Phillippe hang on Hermione that day and made an excuse to Isabel. Draco waited in the VIP common room while the others ate. He told himself he was reading some background information on the museum to prepare for their presentation to the Ministry in a few weeks, but deep inside, he knew. He was waiting for Hermione. She's the one who keeps running off at the mouth about how important it is to do well at Beauxbatons and make Hogwarts proud. But she obviously doesn't care about any of that. She just wants to cozy up to the Beauxbatons version of Harry Potter. She has no idea what pride and honor is.

But Draco knew all about restoring pride. His father made certain of that. As the events surrounding the night of the Dark Lord's reappearance slowly came to light, including Cedric's death and Barty Crouch's role as a Death Eater, Draco had seen his father struggle to maintain the integrity of the Malfoy name. Draco had always considered his father's fascination with the dark arts as more of a desire to be fashionable and on the cutting edge of the wizarding community rather than as a heartfelt desire to bring the Dark Lord back to full strength. It had to do with image, nothing more. After all, the Malfoys were a pure blood wizard family and most powerful pure blood families dabbled in the dark arts at one time or other. What wizard in his right mind would want to bring back all the killings and slaughter when there was so much at stake.

The Malfoys had always disapproved of muggles and mudbloods. That would never change, but it had nothing to do with following the Dark Lord. After the Triwizard Cup, Draco had had a hundred questions for his father about his role in the Dark Lord's return and the effects his reemergence would have on their society. Speculations were swirling, and Draco had wanted answers. Lucius had explained it in a way Draco would never forget. "You see, Draco, muggles and mudbloods ARE inferior to us. That was always true. But I would never want to wipe them out. Quite the contrary. I have become very skilled over the years at making people believe I favored the dark arts. I am the head of a rich and powerful pure-blooded family. It was expected I would show some interest in it, but it was really just a role I played. My role made people fear and respect me. It gave me control over them, and that is where real power comes from.

"The fact is, pure-blooded wizards need to have muggles and mudbloods mix with us. How can we demonstrate our superiority if there are no underlings below us? Unfortunately, we must tolerate those beneath us for social and economic reasons. By keeping them down, we elevate ourselves into a higher class, where they inevitably look up to us with envy and desire. They will strive to be like us, all the while knowing it will never be, because only pure bloods are born to such privilege. This is why we need mudbloods and muggles. If they were eradicated, only pure bloods would be left and the advantages and rights granted to us would cease."

He then cautioned Draco. "But it is very important never to expose our role-playing, especially now. I will fight to maintain our family's respectability with the Ministry, but we cannot anger the true supporters of the Dark Lord. Choosing one side out right over the other would be suicide at this point." Lucius then made Draco promise to continue at Hogwarts the same as in the past by making snide comments about the "dregs" of the wizarding world. His father told him this would help the Malfoys retain their social standing with the pure bloods. The Malfoys still maintained a certain level of dignity with the Ministry and still had some powerful allies, who leaned toward the dark side. Lucius assured Draco everything would be fine as long as his son continued at Hogwarts in the same manner, showing his superiority and keeping his inferiors down.

While Draco ruminated on his father's advice and instructions, he heard voices and footsteps in the corridor. The footsteps stopped outside the door, but the voices continued. Draco heard Hermione's soft laughter, so he rose and made his way toward the door. He heard Phillippe say, "When they told us a girl was selected for the exchange program, I knew you must be very intelligent, because only the best students are chosen. But I had no idea how beautiful you would be."

Then Draco heard a nervous giggle and the sound of feet shuffling. Without thinking, Draco flung the door open, causing Hermione to leap back from Phillippe as if a Filibuster Firework had exploded between them. Her face was flushed with embarrassment and confusion, and Phillippe could not hide his annoyance at being interrupted at such a moment.

Draco, on the other hand, peered at them with wide-eyed innocence. "Oh gee, I'm sorry. Was I interrupting something important?" The look on Hermione's face was priceless. Draco laughed inwardly, knowing Hermione desperately wanted to throttle him but did not want her new beau to see her banshee-like side. It took all of his willpower to maintain his innocent look.

"Yes, Malfoy," she spat. "As a matter of fact you were interrupting something very important. But you already knew that, didn't you, so you can drop the act. Nobody here is buying it."

Acting as if her words hurt him deeply, he continued, "My deepest apologies, Granger. It's just that I heard voices and figured it might be you and I wanted to tell you something." His eyes twinkled briefly as Draco leaned in the doorway, folding his arms across his chest. He got an I-know-something-you-don't look. "I just figured you might want to know your boyfriend, the one and only Harry Potter, sent another owl for you. Since you wait by the window every day for a letter from your little smoochie-poo, I thought you might want to know as soon as the white fur ball arrived."

Hermione heard an indignant squawk come from inside the room, and peered around Draco's shoulders to see Hedwig perched on one of the chairs. Draco looked back and forth between Hermione and Phillippe, thoroughly pleased with himself. He seemed to think he had spoiled her fun. "Hasley, I assume Granger has told you that her boyfriend is none other than the illustrious Harry Potter? That's right, Phil," he remarked harshly. "You've been fawning all over the girlfriend of The-Boy-Who-Lived. It's a safe bet I will never be a card carrying member of the Harry Potter Fan Club, but, I daresay, that if he can beat You-Know-Who at age one, than a slick Frenchman like you would be no problem."

Phillippe rained on Draco's parade. "'ermione has already told me of her friendship with Harry Potter. If she says they are just friends, then I believe her. She has no reason to lie to me." Phillippe placed his arm around Hermione's waist and pulled her close to him. "Besides, what business is it of yours who 'ermione sees? From what she has told me, you are not even her friend."

"The two of you could tiptoe through the tulips for all I care, but on your own time." He glared at Hermione, "But we agreed at the beginning of this week that we would get together right after we returned from the museum to prepare notes on it while it was still fresh in our heads. Then you just took off and left me hanging for over an hour."

Hermione let out a loud, "Ha," and took a deep breath. "Well you should have thought of that before you decided to transform into the moody jackass standing before us now."

Draco pushed himself from leaning in the doorway and turned so swiftly his robe snapped against Hermione. He stormed across the room, opened the door to his bed chamber, and slammed it shut. Hermione was outraged at his little performance and had every intention of telling him so. She turned to Phillippe. "Excuse me, please" she spat through gritted teeth. "I suddenly have the urge to practice the Furnunculus Curse on someone." She was so angry she didn't even care that Phillippe wanted to say a proper good night. She just stormed past him through the open door, and swung it shut, leaving a speechless Phillippe standing behind it, confusion and disbelief swimming in his azure eyes.

Hermione marched over to Draco's locked door, drew her wand, and without hesitation, screamed "Alohomora!" The door flung open with a bang, and she closed the gap between her and Draco in three strides. He was at least four inches taller than she, but that didn't hinder her ability to get right in his face. "What is your problem, Malfoy? For two days you avoid me and glare at me for some inexplicable reason like I'm the school pariah. Then when I am finally enjoying myself with someone who is actually interested in me for me, and not as just as a way to pass his classes, you try to muck it all up by lying about Harry and me. Plus you made a spectacle of yourself by staring at Phillippe and me all day at the museum like--"

"Oh, I'm the one who made a spectacle of myself," he countered sarcastically. "I'm not the one who spent the entire day hanging on a dimwitted, messy-haired, four-eyed jock. What is it with you and glasses, anyway? Don't they get in the way? I thought McGonagall was going to have to use the "Blastara" spell to separate you two. It was disgusting." The vein in the center of his forehead throbbed a vivid pink against his pale skin.

"That's exaggerating a bit, don't you think? So we held hands a few times. Big deal. At least I didn't drape myself across his lap like that little vixen of yours." She could feel this argument wasn't really about her and Phillippe or Draco and Isabel. Draco had been itching to argue with her ever since that night when the owl came, and this just gave him an opening to pick a fight.

Hermione turned her back and started for the door, but with two quick strides, Draco cut off her exit. "Don't you dare turn your back on me," he ordered, his eyes glinting like silver swords. "Do you know who you're speaking to, Granger? Do you think having some brains and a few high profile friends means you can turn your back to the heir of one of the most influential and powerful wizarding families? Well, think again. Your behavior the past few days has been reprehensible, and you're disgracing the entire exchange program by it."

Hermione was stunned and completely confused. "What in the world are you talking about, Malfoy? Get off your high horse, because you have no right to talk to me like that, and you certainly have no right to order me around like I'm one of your poor house elves. I worked hard to earn the right to come here, and I have done nothing to be ashamed of." Neither of them had mentioned it to each other, but now Hermione couldn't stop the words from spewing forth, "You're just sore because when we were studying the other night, you know you were about to kiss me, and the only thing that stopped you was that bloody owl." Draco rolled his eyes at her, but she forged on, sarcasm dripping from her lips, "Your pure, pristine lips were a breath away from touching my dirty, mudblood mouth, and that thought is driving you crazy."

"For someone so smart, you really are clueless, Granger." He shook his head in mock despair. "Do you really think I wanted to kiss you? That was just the juice talking." His smugness reached new heights. "I never would have gotten that close to you, if I hadn't drunk that much Peppered Up Pumpkin Juice. I do have a reputation to protect. I told you that stuff can make you act funny."

"That's a pathetic excuse, and you know it. It would be some coincidence if that particular effect of the juice, which you conveniently forgot to mention, by the way, wore off at the exact same moment Midas appeared outside the terrace." She eyed him critically. "It was that letter which changed everything, and not some lousy pumpkin juice. I don't appreciate you taking your frustrations out on me, when I've done everything in my power to be civil, and amicable, and be a positive representative for Hogwarts."

"A 'positive representative,' you say?" he asked incredulously. "Well I'll bet the Daily Prophet would not think snogging the local Quidditch talent at every possible turn to be the actions of a positive representative."

Hermione was dumbfounded. "What are you talking about? What does the Daily Prophet have to do with any of this? Maybe you drank so much pumpkin juice it completely saturated your brain."

Draco brushed roughly past her and moved toward his chest at the foot of his bed. He opened it harshly and picked out the envelope Hermione recognized at once as the letter Midas had delivered two nights ago. He removed its contents and thrust the pieces of parchment roughly into her delicate hands. "The Daily Prophet has everything to do with this. Don't tell me you didn't know about the nice feature article in the paper on the one and only student chosen for the Beauxbatons exchange program this year: the brilliant, talented, best friend to the famous Scarface ... Hermione Granger."

Hermione looked down at the crumpled pages and read:

Hogwarts Finest Goes to France

Hermione Granger, a sixth year Hogwarts student, was selected as the first individual in over 13 years to represent her school in the Beauxbatons-Hogwarts student exchange program this year. Many students coveted this highly illustrious appointment, but Miss Granger was chosen to represent Hogwarts as its best and brightest student for all the wizarding world to see...

Hermione's mouth hung open as she read the front page article and its continuation on page 7, shocked that for all the long-winded ramblings, there was not one mention of Draco. The entire article was about Hermione and how she would certainly bring honor to her school and family. Knowing how hard Draco had been working, she now understood his source of ire. "Malfoy, I really know nothing about this. No one even approached me about writing an article on the program, and it certainly wasn't my idea. "

"You expect me to believe that? This is just the kind of stunt you and your do-gooder friends would pull to take away my family's glory." He stuck his chin out defiantly, trying not to show how badly his pride was hurt but knowing Hermione could see right through it. He turned away from her and walked to the window, looking out so he wouldn't have to face her soft, yet penetrating stare. He breathed heavily. "You have no idea how much this meant to me ... and to my father. I worked so hard last year to get this opportunity, because I knew it would help restore some of the strength to my family's name.

"My father was so proud when we received the letter indicating I would be representing Hogwarts in the program. He said, 'Now we'll show them only the best breeding of a pure blood family can bring glory and honor to that muggle-loving school. They could have chosen anyone, son, but they chose you. I know you will make me proud.' I honestly think he was more excited about it than I was." He turned and scowled at Hermione. "Then you had to go and get selected too and ruin everything. Harry Potter's best friend and daughter of two muggle parents. You were a publicist's dream. Plus you're barely qualified to be here with your lousy French and inability to do anything more constructive than get all moony-eyed over some pretty-boy Quidditch star."

Hermione stood her ground. "First, let's keep Phillippe out of this, OK? Second, why does it matter what that article said anyway? The people who matter know you are here with me doing the same work and achieving the same levels of success. Everyone at Hogwarts knows you are here and so do your parents, so who cares if some little wizard in West Ogey knows that Draco Malfoy went to France?"

"My father cares who knows and he has made it very clear I am expected to uphold the Malfoy family tradition by discrediting you and leaving no doubt in anyone's mind which of us is Hogwarts best and brightest." He winced as he relayed this bit of information. "A letter was sent with the newspaper clipping. Read it."


As you must have surmised, I am very disappointed by this Daily Prophet article. I had hoped you would have used your cunning to force that dirty Mudblood to return to Hogwarts in disgrace before any articles were written about her admission into the program. I should have known you could not handle the simplest of tasks. It is too late now. Any actions on your part to remove her from the situation would seem calculated and orchestrated by me, so you must refrain from retaliating against her. Your only chance now is to convince the Ministry of your superiority over her at the meeting in Paris. The highest-ranking officials will be there, so do not disgrace me, boy, or there will be consequences.


Hermione had never known such callousness could exist between a parent and a child. With a father like that. no wonder he acts like such a cold-hearted bastard. She started speaking hesitantly, "Do you feel the same way as he does? Are you going to do what he ordered in this letter?" She had no idea what his answer would be, but she had to know if he truly felt that way.

He whirled around abruptly, surprising Hermione at the sudden change. "How can I, or have you forgotten our little 'business arrangement'? If my father found out not only was I not doing everything in my power to get you booted from France, but also helping you so you could pass with flying colors, he would turn me into a booger-eating Puffskein.1 No, Granger, I made my choice and now I have to deal with the consequences."

She spoke firmly but without malice, "No, Malfoy. We are dealing with the consequences, and thank Merlin for that." He looked at her quizzically. "We may have struck our bargain to coerce each other into keeping quiet, but I am certain we are both better off for it. Don't you get it? We both have weaknesses the other can strengthen. I still need help with my French, and you are still struggling with Transfiguration and Arithmancy. If only one of us was here, we would be failing miserably. We make each other work harder and bring out the best in each other. The only reason I am succeeding here is because I have you pushing me every step of the way."

Draco shook his head resignedly, "But I am a Malfoy. I should not need the help of any witch, let alone a muggle-born one."

"Here's a news flash for you, Malfoy...you do need me, so get over it." He snorted slightly, but he would not turn around or deny what she said. He had revealed something deeply personal about himself, and she wanted to reciprocate. "And if you must know, I need you here too. Not having you near me on Friday to help me though classes assured me of that." She thought she saw the ghost of a smile on his face, but she wasn't sure.

She approached him slowly, unsure of what to do, feeling compelled to reach out to him. "You do realize we're going to fly through these last six weeks and knock the socks off those Ministry officials in Paris. Years from now they will still be comparing every exchange student to us and we will live in infamy as the best damn Hogwarts students to cross the gates at Beauxbatons Academy. Your father will have no cause to even think about 'consequences,' because he will be too busy hearing accolades about how fantastic you were with the Ministry people." He desperately wanted to believe her. As he stood looking out the window over the vast garden of Beauxbatons Academy, Hermione gently laid her hand on his shoulder. He started slightly at her touch, but did not pull away. "Malfoy," she said quietly. "Draco ...it's going to be OK." He glanced back over his shoulder as she spoke his name. He had never heard her say it before; it sounded softer coming from her lips than from anyone else. Then he turned his head forward again to resume his survey of the garden outside, but she could feel the muscles in his shoulders relax slightly.

She watched his reflection in the window, his long lashes shielding his stormy eyes. Then he moved his gaze to settle on her face in the glass. He stared at her intently, as if memorizing her expression; then he spoke, "That's the first time I ever heard you say my name."

He could tell she was blushing by the way she cast her face downwards and moved behind him so her reflection disappeared. "Yeah**comma** well, the other day I was thinking about our presentation to the Ministry. I heard myself saying, 'Thank you, Ministers. Now Malfoy will talk to you about such and such ...' and it just didn't sound right." She smiled shyly as she spoke, and Draco turned around, wanting to soak in its sweetness. "I figured we'd better get used to calling each other by our first names if we're going to present a united front."

"I suppose you're right. They might get the impression we didn't get along." Draco's face broke into the first real smile she'd seen in days, and his whole body relaxed. "So, how did it feel?" he asked as he peered out from his now sparkling silver eyes, the storminess gone.

"She scrunched up her nose at him and confessed, "It felt a little weird, actually." Then she added hastily, "but in a good way."

As he nodded in understanding, his blonde hair tickled his brow. "Well, then I guess I should start practicing, too ... Hermione."

Now she was smiling and starting to look a little nervous. His face no longer contorted in a sneer, she was sharply reminded of how he looked when his face was so close to hers, a breath away from a kiss. "Listen, we have a lot of stuff to go over tomorrow about the museum, so we should probably go to bed now." He smirked and arched his eyebrow at her as if to say, Oh, really? Her face burned brightly, and she sighed exasperatedly, "You know what I was trying to say, Malfoy."

"You mean 'Draco.'"

She put her hands on her hips and repeated exaggeratedly, "You know what I was trying to say, Draco." Hermione turned and walked toward the door. She reached for the knob to turn the handle, but Draco moved in front of her and opened the door for her instead. She laughed lightly, and said, "Good night, Draco."

As she exited he responded good-naturedly, "Good night, Hermione," and closed the door gently behind her. Hermione paused on the other side, trying to let everything sink in. A smile crept across her face without her even realizing it.

Her reverie was broken by the click of the main door and the sound of Professor McGonagall's voice. "Miss Granger, I am surprised to see you still up. I saw you and Mr. Hasley leave the dining hall some time ago. I thought you would have been in bed by now." She looked curiously at the strange expression on Hermione's face. "Miss Granger, are you all right? Because if you are, I would like to discuss something with you." Professor McGonagall was not blind to the mounting tension between her two students in the past few days. She had hoped it would pass, but after observing some of looks which passed between them on their field trip, she feared she might have to intervene.

Reacting to her teacher's somber tone, Hermione answered seriously. "Professor, I feel fine. Why? Is something the matter?" She walked over and sat next to McGonagall on the couch.

"I am concerned about you and Mr. Malfoy. It seemed as if you two were getting along, but it has not gone unnoticed that the strain between you the past few days has escalated exponentially." The creased line in Hermione's forehead relaxed as soon as she heard Minerva's concern.

Hermione waved her hand nonchalantly, brushing aside the deputy headmistress's anxieties. "Oh that. We just discussed it, and everything's OK now." Hermione appeared sincere and not like she was trying to mislead her teacher. "Draco had some things on his mind, and we needed to clear the air a bit."

Did she just call him 'Draco?' McGonagall peered sternly at Hermione over the rim of her glasses, "I am not easily fooled, Miss Granger. If this is some sort of act, you know I will learn the truth."

Hermione put her at ease. "I am telling the truth, Professor. You just missed quite a big row between us, actually. But I learned some things about Draco, and he learned some things about me, and we came to a certain understanding about each other." Her smile was enough of an indication to her professor that Hermione was not lying.


Author notes: A great big “Thanks” to everyone who reviewed:

LadyMarmaladePotter, LadyVoldemort, Queen C, Joeliene, Cecilia, Annie Argo, Fantasy Queen, Wicked_Lady (your review sounds exactly like something I’d say :-) The snogging will come soon. Don’t worry, Erin, Daniela, Lily_Lioness, Bec Chang, glittercharm, Martibella (Thanks for the “pace” comment. I’m actually going to try to pick up speed a bit), Caitlin Black (his family will have plenty to say), jade, Dragon-Chan, bonnie Jupiter, Habile gal, las brujas chismosas, Danika, The Cat, Mayleesa, Christina, babygirl, rei, Prongs, carrie, Sakura, Joycie Lionheart (Thanks for your help! The Potions stuff is definitely coming in the next chapter), Brightstar, Fallen*Angel, ~FleurHartz~, Caitlin Allyana, Rainforest3223, Keri, Jess, and Jessica (can I come to Australia next time. It is way too humid where I am. I need some desert heat!)

1 According to page 34 of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, a Puffskein “is a docile creature that has no objection to being cuddled or thrown about. Easy to care for, it emits a low humming noise when contented. From time to time a very long, thin, pink tongue will emerge from the depths of the Puffskein and snake through the house searching for food. The Puffskein is a scavenger that will eat anything from leftovers to spiders, but it has a particular preference for sticking its tongue up the nose of sleeping wizards and eating their boogies.”