A very special thank you to Christina Teresa, my Amazing Beta Reader,
who has always encouraged me to expand my writing horizons--
and who always insists that I do a very thorough job on my characterizations,
including any special attributes that a character might have.
Thank you, Christina--it wouldnt have been half the fun without you!!
She checked the mirror in the empty common room one last time.
You could do a bit more of something with that hair, you know, the mirror said haughtily.
Yes, well, theres a nasty-looking spider web just attached to the top of your frame--and Im planning on leaving it there, she replied, giggling when the mirror acted as if it would jump from the wall, jiggling in order to pull itself loose from the web.
She hadnt had time for planning and preparing a real costume. All of that extra Potions work shed had to do kept her busy in the dungeon until just before the feast was to begin. In spite of the mirrors complaints, she thought her hair looked all right. True, the shiny, little orange mask she slipped over her eyes pulled her hair a bit awry until she adjusted it. But with a little fluffing, the bushiness covered the tiny elastic cords on the sides of the mask just fine.
The Halloween feast was to be a bit different this year. Ordinarily, those in the wizarding world didnt wear special costumes on All Hallows Eve; but a number of students had brought up the fun of the Muggle tradition of dressing in elaborate costumes and pretending to be someone or something you werent. Eventually Dumbledore had given in to their demands and the grand Halloween feast in the Great Hall had become a fancy dress party as well.
Nearing the Great Hall now, she took a deep breath. It had taken a long time to make up her mind, but now she was determined to do it. Usually she had the support of her best friends when she was doing something this risky--but those two couldnt help her with something like this.
When was it that she first began to notice him as something more than the others? It must have been during the second year when she first began to see that special something that she wanted in him. Hed always been so terribly mean to her, but she found that quality in him to be something of a challenge--and downright appealing sometimes.
How she loved to watch him play now that he was on the house Quidditch team! Flying with the grace and ease of a much more experienced player, he swooped and dove, his muscles visibly straining under the confines of the silvery-green cloth. Like that of some Nordic god poised on the edge of heaven, his silver blond hair blew around his head, creating the halo effect that was so utterly misleading.
After that last game when hed looked at her--she thought shed drown in those pools of icy gray and shivers of excitement ran the length of her body. She knew then that shed have to act on those feelings, or betray a part of herself that could no longer be denied.
The lights were low in the Great Hall as shed expected, and she was thankful for the cover the dimness gave her on her mission. The usual striking Halloween elegance of the candle-lit pumpkins floating in mid-air, and the ribbons of whipping orange streamer-fire lit the ceiling of the Great Hall with a fascinatingly eerie beauty.
Hermione? She recognized the voice as belonging to Neville, who shed earlier heard bragging about his Singing Cowboy costume--spurs, chaps, hat, guitar, and all. She started to turn his way, but just as quickly she thought better of it. How could she explain why Hermione Granger was sneaking over to the far side of the Great Hall, ready to find herself a seat at the Slytherin table, only so she could be closer to him?
Pretending not to hear Neville, she turned into a large group of students and did her best to get lost in the crowd. Though it was nearly impossible to see, she noticed across the hall that one red-haired figure stood above the masses, and she knew that thered be another shorter, black-haired figure right next to him. Ron and Harry--shed have to avoid them at all costs tonight--or nothing about her plan would go right.
Sometimes she wondered to herself why she wasnt more attracted to either one of them. It seemed like they would be more her type--and that smile of Rons could certainly give her chills at any given moment. But sometimes she nearly gagged on all of their goody-good heroics when the entire school was talking of nothing else. She decided that she was done with thinking about them for tonight.
There he was, seated as usual between Crabbe and Goyle, that tantalizing smirk of his broken at times by a sly, sexy smile as he talked and laughed with his friends. She sat down on the end of the opposite bench, trying to decide what to do with herself.
Although the tables were piled high with the traditional loads of delicious food and sweets, she knew the somersaults in her stomach were warning her not to eat any of it. Besides, Draco wasnt wearing a mask--just to feast on his pale good looks alone would be more than enough--for now.
It took him a few minutes to realize that she was there. He opened his mouth to say something--no doubt some biting, sarcastic remark--to call attention to her presence in sitting among the Slytherins.
But she opened her eyes wide and tried her best to flirt, hoping that it would let him see some of what she felt for him.
His mouth still open as if ready to speak, Draco took in her look, suddenly got a perplexed expression on his own face, and clamped his mouth shut. He furrowed his brow in thought, then half-stood to look across the huge room toward the Gryffindor table. Appearing to stare directly at Harry and Ron for a few moments, he turned back to her with a questioning gaze, and slowly seated himself back on the bench, ignoring the oblivious guffaws of his two henchmen.
Draco began to pick up his fork again and continue with his meal, but looking up at her from his plate, he simply set the fork down again.
She watched him carefully, trying to memorize every move he made. The rapt attention she was giving him appeared to make him uncomfortable at first; but even from across the table his dilated pupils told her that her flirtations had intrigued him.
A short time later, most people were groaning as they pushed themselves from the tables and Dumbledore stood to transform the hall. Clapping three times, the Headmaster moved the tables aside to create a dance floor of sorts. Legions of bats swooped across the Great Hall, pulling behind them and attaching to the walls many delicate, dangling sheets of intricate spider webbing, studded with the tiniest of sparkling lights.
Now that he was standing, she noticed for the first time that Draco was in costume. Covered in black leather from head to toe, he appeared to be emulating that Muggle movie star from the 1950s--the one astride a motorcycle whose charisma made him all but leap from the poster shed seen in a store once. Though the bomber jacket he wore suited him well, that was not what she noticed first.
Blushing a little at her own feelings, she tried not to stare too obviously. She was in the mood for something Dark and delicious--and he was standing ten feet away from her in black leather pants, staring her up and down.
Dracos patience had worn thin--he walked up to within inches of her and looked down into her eyes, making no secret of the fact that he was more than flattered by her attention.
I dont know what youre up to, Granger, but keep looking at me like that and youre bound to get what your eyes are asking for, Draco said suggestively.
Think so? What could that possibly be? she taunted, embarrassed that she could even say such a thing and mean it.
Dance with me and well see if we can figure it out. Draco pulled her by the hand to the middle of the floor.
The beat of the music unable to keep up with the beating of her heart, she was almost painfully aware of how having his body this close to her made her feel. The undulating rhythm of the song took control of her and she forgot about everything except him. Looking down, she realized she must have been staring when Draco put a finger under her chin and lifted her eyes to look into his.
See anything you like? he asked, insistently holding her gaze with his eyes as he grabbed her hands and slid them down both sides of his body. He stopped past the top of the black leather pants, pushing her hands into place on his hips and holding them there. The feeling of his hip bones swaying and sliding under the taut black leather made her shiver.
Just cant keep your eyes off of me, can you? Draco asked. I dont know what s possessed you tonight, but lets see if we can do anything to satisfy this little craving of yours.
Slipping his arm almost completely around her waist in one swift move, Draco yanked her body against his and rather roughly shoved his lips against hers. Forcing her lips apart, he kissed her deeply until she was afraid she would black out either from holding her breath or from the way his kiss made her feel.
Damn, Granger, that insipid little nurse did a fine job with those teeth! he said, backing off for a moment and licking his wet lips. Mmmm--I think I checked every single one of them--theyre all nice and straight and even. But maybe I missed one or two in the back--Id better try again.
She barely had time to sneak a quick breath before his lips crashed down on hers again.
Suddenly she felt a strong yank wrench Draco away from her mouth and her body. The two of them looked to the side to find a fist poised to strike as it aimed directly at Dracos face. Beyond the fist she saw other faces staring from one side of the Great Hall, though everyone everywhere in the room had stopped to watch what they hoped would become the fight of the decade.
Malfoy--you get your filthy, slimy hands off of her, and keep them off! Ron said threateningly. Ron grabbed her arm and pulled her aside.
Hey, youd better talk to your little girlie, Weasley, Draco replied. Im not sure myself what did it for her, but I seem to be everything she wants tonight.
Ron didnt seem to care what Hermione wanted, he just snarled back at Malfoy in a furious voice, Why, you-- Ron drew back his fist again to strike, but a hand on Rons arm stopped him cold.
Ron? a familiar voice questioned.
Not now, Hermione, Ron responded, focused on his target. But several seconds later, Rons expression changed to one of confusion; he must have realized that Hermiones voice had come from behind him, not in front of him where she stood.
Ron lowered his fist a bit and took a cautious step back to find that he had a Hermione on each side of him.
What the bloody hell--? he said quizzically, swinging his gaze from one to the other.
The two Hermiones simply stood with mouths open, gaping at one another, as did everyone else in the hall near enough to see what had occurred.
Surprisingly, Draco was the one to speak first of all of them. His eyebrows knitting in thought, he muttered, Wait a minute... Grabbing the Hermione closest to him, the one whose teeth he had appreciated so recently, he pulled her to him and covered her mouth with his once more.
Rons skin tone became a rather sickly shade of green, and he had to turn away from the image before him, a grimace on his face.
The Hermione behind Ron looked as if her mouth had filled quite suddenly at the sight of Draco kissing her. She clapped a hand over her mouth and bolted for the girls loo.
Draco finally withdrew from the kiss and looked at the girl before him. Pansy? What the hell are you doing looking like Granger?
Youve been ignoring me lately--and I just wanted to get your attention, Pansy pouted.
Well-- it worked, Draco admitted. Polyjuice Potion?
Pansy-as-Hermione nodded slowly.
Why, Pansy--I didnt know you had it in you, Draco said almost proudly. He paused a moment, then looked as if he had a thought. How long are you going to stay looking like that?
I dont know for sure, Pansy answered. At least another two hours or so.
Draco grinned lasciviously and slipped an arm around her, beginning to usher her out of the room. Wicked--lets go play.
Hermione returned from the loo to find Ron and Harry waiting for her by the door to the outside courtyard.
I wondered why Pansy made such a big deal about moving the calipers from the table behind me, Hermione said as she approached her two best friends. She must have managed to catch one of my hairs in them to put in the potion.
Feeling any better? Harry asked her as she took deep breaths of the fresh, cold air pouring through the open door.
Its better now that Im not watching them, Hermione said. But Ive got to keep my mind off of what theyre doing if she looks like me and hes doing things to...urgh!! She shuddered at the thought.
Bugger, Hermione! I hadnt thought of that! Ron said irritably. Bloody hell, now Ive got to keep my mind off it, too. Ron paused for a moment, looking into space, then shook his head as if to clear it. Urgh--I need a butterbeer!
Me, too, Harry agreed, preparing to walk away with Ron to the refreshment table. You coming, Hermione?
No, you go on ahead. Ill be there in a minute.
Hermione watched her two friends walk away, guiltily sneaking a second look at Rons adorable backside.
Haha--Ron in black leather, she chuckled to herself, smiling and shaking her head in amusement. She continued to watch him thoughtfully as he walked away--but soon her smile faded and her eyebrows lifted.
Hmmmm..., she thought, considering seriously now and looking at the floating pumpkins above her without really seeing them. Hmmmm...Ron in black leather...