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While You Can: personal essay on mother’s day

Mom once told me her goal was to walk with Jesus each day. It was a beautiful sentiment, a personal philosophy, and a Christian truth. Today on Mother’s day, I realize there are many of us whose Moms truly walk with Jesus every day now. And while they do that, and we are left with a beautiful vision of what joy awaits us in the afterlife, we still miss them.

Some of us have holes in our very lives that nothing can fill the way mother did. Some of us, feeling complete in our lives with loved ones, spouses and children, still grieve that one missing plate setting where mother used to be. We miss her sitting in her favorite TV chair playfully shouting at game show contestants. We miss her greeting and accepting every stranger as if they were a member of the family. We miss her wisdom and simple compassion, the zest for life she attempted to instill in our childish little hearts.

It is a consolation that our mothers are now free of pain, worry, heartache. They don’t cry over us anymore when we do something stupid, but every day when it rains, I look out the window, where she used to sit and eat her lunch, and I can feel her there. I can almost reach out and get me a really big mother of a hug. Today it’s mother’s day and she’s everywhere, dancing through eternity with both her heavenly father and my natural one. She is at peace, and she’s not alone.

Many mothers now, and even more as we grow older, join her in her most extreme happiness, and while I know I should be happy for that freedom she so longed for, and mow possesses, I am sad and grieving her loss as if it were yesterday instead of a decade.

If your mother is still here, please allow me to suggest this. Do not waste a single moment on selfishness. Do not turn away or make excuses when she wants to spend time with you. Do not make an argument out of every disagreement. Cherish your mother, not just for the life she borne you into, but for the time that she has left to enjoy hers. Love her today as if there is no tomorrow for any of us. Regret is not something you should feel on mother’s day. Celebrate mom now while you can.

God bless all mother’s everywhere.

Love Is The Darkest Art 21

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione fanfic serial

Scene 31:

The afternoon was growing overcast, though there were still a few hours left. Darkness seemed to be descending on the driveway leading to Malfoy Mansion. Not that Hermione or Draco noticed. They couldn’t see anything other than the back of their eyelids and the dreamscape that danced in their heads. Eyes closed, lips mingling moist kisses, melting like snow on a warm hearth, they were in their own moment and world. Having been seperated by unfortunate choices and pride for days, the time apart had brought them crashing against one another in intense joy and a desire neither of them understood.

Hermione could have stayed right there forever, at the beginning of the Malfoy driveway, inside of Draco’s embrace, but it was getting colder outside and the events of the day had exhausted them both. They needed the warmth of the house and to get off their feet for awhile.

“We should go inside,” Draco said. “They might be looking for us. If they followed…”

Hermione grabbed his hand. “Come on, let’s go.” She certainly didn’t want to be standing in the middle of the path if a slew of Death Eaters should apparate in front of them.

They both walked up the drive and to the house. A dog howled in the distance again. Was it the same one Hermione had noted on her arrival, or had perhaps another joined it to stalk them from some spot hidden in the woods?

“Wolves,” Draco told her, noticing her trepidation. “We get them around here sometimes.” He squeezed her hand. “Of course, most of them are friends of my dad.”

She gave him a sharp quizzical look, and he laughed. She punched him playfully in the arm, and they went up the front steps to the large ornate door of the mansion.

Once inside, Hermione was taken back by the size of the place. High ceilings, a large foyer, and when Draco led her to the dining hall with its immense fireplace, she was already thinking the place was more suited for giants than people.

Draco pulled a seat out for her at the table. She sat down in the high backed chair and glanced over at the fireplace. No flame burnt in its hearth and though they were inside now, she could see her own breath.

“How did you know where I was?” Hermione asked, as Draco sat in the chair beside her.

He looked at her with a confused look. “What do you mean?”

“When you saved me from your…um double?”

He hesitated. But only slightly. “Umbridge.”

Her jaw dropped. “Professor Umbridge sent you to save me?”

He laughed. “Hardly.” Getting up, he walked to the fireplace mantle, his back to her so he wouldn’t have to look in her eyes. “She sent me to spy on you.”

Now she stood up too. “Spy on me? For what?”

He sighed. “She says someone told her there was an unauthorized secret meeting going down and she wanted to know what it was. I guess she thinks you’re a real rebel.”

“Maybe I am,” Hermione replied proudly.

“I didn’t always think so, but I’m beginning to see that. I’m just not sure how far you want to take this rebel thing.”

“What’s that mean?”

He turned towards her. “Well…are you here to stay the night or….?”

Her face registered surprise, but it wasn’t shock. It was blushing embarassment.
“Draco, we can’t stay the night. We have to get back.”

“That’s true, but we both have afternoon passes. And the afternoon isnt over yet.” He looked around the room. “And there’s no one here but us.”

She smiled slyly. “What are you suggesting?”

He touched the side of her face. “A warm fireplace. David Bowie on the radio. You curled up in my lap. Me kissing you all over.”

“I think I get your point,” she replied breathlessly. She put her hand against his chest as if trying to feel his bare skin through the fabric. With her other hand she produced her wand and pointed it at the fireplace. Whispering the proper charm, she ignited the logs, which produced soft blue and red flames that seemed to dance to the beat of her own heart.

Draco placed his hand gently upon her chest as well, moving his hand slightly to feel the spot of her heart. Resting on the swell of her breast, he felt as if the blood within his hand was growing warmer, causing a gentle tingle that moved through his arm and on to other parts of his body.

Her kiss arrived softly against his face, lips slowly parting to allow his tongue to play across hers. Hermione leaned into him, her body pressed against his. She moved her hands to his back and allowed them to slide down his frame and squeeze. He smiled beneath their sweltering, passionate kiss and did the same with her, pulling her as close as he could with a soft caress upon the lowest part of her back. In each other’s hands they committed themselves to the flames of the fire, eventually sinking to the hearth where, she climbed onto his lap and took his face into her hands pulling it down to her throat and neck. His kisses landed there, wet, warm, and bent on sweet exploration of her skin. With nimble fingers he began to unbutton her blouse as the crackle of the fire seemed to grow with their attentions.

Hermione lost in the feel of Draco’s lips on her bare throat, threw her head back. As she did, she grabbed his shirt and pulled it open. She didn’t bother with his buttons. They popped loose from the cloth and scattered across the floor.

Perhaps it was the sound of the buttons skittering across stone that broke her thoughts of giving in to Draco and having him give in to her, but she found herself pulling her kiss from his and begging for breath. She felt as if the color was leaving her flesh and imagined she must now appear as a pale ghost in his eyes. “Draco…I..” she whispered, catching her breath in her throat and holding it there.

“I’m sorry,” he interrupted. “I..just…I..” He didnt know how to finish the sentence, and so just hung his head, not daring to look at her.

“It’s okay,” she reassured him, lifting his chin with her hand so his face was level with hers. Suddenly she felt as if she were ten years older, instead of just one. “I started it. You were just following my heart’s music. Speaking of which, what happened to Bowie?”

Draco had forgotten. In their almost love making, he’d forgotten to put David Bowie on the radio as he suggested. He rectified that with a quick charm. A song began to play seemingly from nowhere, it’s first lyrics bursting forth from a speaker cabinet she could not see. “The hand that wrote this letter sweeps the pillow clean…”

Hermione instantly recognized the tune. It had been playing in her classroom daydream, that first fantasy she had had of Draco. Had it been a prophecy of this moment? Of this day and all its possibilities?
“What’s this song?” she asked.

Draco grinned. “Letter to Hermione.”

“No, I’m being serious.”

“I am too. It’s called Letter to Hermione. Mom used to play it when I was little. Father hates it of course.”

She snickered. “Yeah I can imagine. Bowie is a muggle, isn’t he?”

“Actually, I think he’s The Goblin King.”

She looked at him, skeptical. Then laughed. “Very funny. I saw that movie too.”

The song continued to play in the background, and Draco took Hermione’s hand. He spun her around in a pirouette as if they were at a formal dance. Then he pulled her into his arms. “You know, this is a pretty sad song. He’s in love with a girl who is now with someone else. He’s not supposed to have her anymore.”

“Yes, that is sad,” she agreed in a whisper.

“Are we supposed to have each other, Hermione?”

The question surprised her, though she’d asked herself the same thing many times. “I try not to think about things like that,” she lied. “I try to just live in the moment.”

“You seem to be the kind of girl who thinks of the future, always planning ahead. Living in the moment isn’t you.”

“It is when I’m with you. Nothing else seems to matter. I mean, normally I’m worried about my studies and what’s happening at Hogwarts. I’m thinking of helping house elves, hoping my friends have good days. I worry about Harry. Ron, and Hagrid..”

He scowled and muttered, “Weasley is our king…”

She gave him a scolding look. “That wasn’t nice, by the way. You should stop teasing people so much.”

“I can’t help it, Hermione. It’s who I am, I guess.”

She shook her head. “No, it’s not who you are. I have seen the real you, Draco.”

“Then tell me who I am, because I don’t know.”

She put her hand up and touched his cheek. “You are beautiful,” she said. “Strong and brave, loyal to your family and friends. You are a planner yourself. For you it’s more than the moment. It’s a stepping stone to bolder, greater things. You have a loving heart but do not always allow it to shine.”

He opened his mouth to say something but she put her finger to his lips. “You have a kiss that sets me afire, Draco. You find all my secret desires and bring them to the light. I know you see yourself as something dark and lonely, but you are the brightest thing in my sky right now.” She kissed him lightly. “I want you to make me shine.”

Draco looked in her eyes, so deeply it was as if he were falling inside of her. “You already do, Hermione Jean.” He returned her soft kiss. “It is I whose sky is empty.”

“Not anymore, Draco.” This time, her kiss lingered full upon him, and did not fade until the last strain of the song was no more.

Love Is The Darkest Art 17

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione fanfic serial

Scene 23:

Hermione hadn’t spoken to Draco for a whole two days. That may not seem like a long time to some, but to her it felt like forever. It was almost as if he’d fallen off the face of the earth. The day after she’d thrown the Flipendo spell at him she saw him that morning in class but he was summoned to Umbridge’s office and didn’t even look at her. She tried her best to get his attention, even on his way out, and yet he didn’t once look in her direction, even though her desk was closest to the door. If there was such a thing as giving someone a cold shoulder, then his was compleyely frozen.

As the rest of the class droned on, she found herself thankful it was Friday. Tomorrow she’d be meeting friends at the Hogshead and hopefully wouldnt feel so lost without Draco. He’d come to mean so much to her in recent times that this distance between them made her think she’d been transported back to Year 3 or something.They had hated each other then. She’d even punched Malfoy in the face. He’d run away then too, but this was different. In Year 3 it had been humiliation. Here in year 5 however, it was hurt.

She looked down at her textbook, hoping to focus on today’s lesson, but it was no use. Instead of words and diagrams on the page, all she could see in her mind’s eye were memories of the past few days. The library. The hidden tent in the forest. Under the invisibility cloak in a hall full of students. And in every memory there was Draco. Holding her. Touching. Kissing. Confessing his love for her. And yet she had remained silent. She fought the urge to cry in class. Instead of dealing with her most tender emotions, she’d hurt him instead. And it was eating her up.

She felt eyes on her. It was one of those awareness things where you just knew someone was staring at you. She lifted her head and looked around the room. Only one person was looking at her. Ron Weasley. He smiled sadly in her direction. His eyes looked down at her feet. She leaned over in her chair to look. A badly folded paper owl lay close to her feet. Trying not to draw attention, she reached down and picked it up, unfolding the note in her lap. “You sick?” it read.

Hermione looked at her friend and shook her head. She wished she could tell him the reason for her melancholy but she couldn’t. She couldn’t tell anybody. She felt so alone, as if she were walking around Hogwarts stumbling and lost. Everyone needed somebody to talk to. And she did have that kind of support group with Harry and Ron, but her relationship with Draco had changed that. Before she hadn’t had much in the way of secrets. But now she did. And she found herself wondering how many Draco might have himself.

Scene 24:

Draco Malfoy found himself sitting across the desk from Prof. Umbridge. Though there was serious doubt among students and staff alike that she was a real professor, Draco knew that she had a dangerous power over his education. She didn’t speak to him for several minutes, instead using the time to pretend she was sifting through important papers on her desktop. Finally she sighed.

“So young Malfoy, what do you have for me,” she finally asked, glancing up at him.

“Excuse me, Professor?”

“We had a deal. You would pass me information as you learn it in exchange for me not revealing your…um…cute little romance.”

Draco wanted to tell her she broke any such deal when she went to his house and told his parents. But he didn’t say anything. He knew better than to step on the tail of a poisonous snake. “I have nothing, I’m sorry. ”

“I see,” she said. She shifted in her seat and for a moment he thought she’d grown taller in the chair. “It has come to my attention that your little girlfriend is plotting against my curriculum.”

“I hadn’t heard…”

She slapped her hands down on the desk and it made a loud crack that silenced him.
“You mean to tell me, that you of all students, having an intimate time with Miss Granger, is the only one who has not been approached to form a special, secret class to learn her aggressive version of Dark Arts Defense.”

It’s true he hadnt heard. Hermione had never spoke of it with him. “Why would I need to learn that?” he reasoned aloud. “My family has always preferred the offense.”

“I am well aware of your family’s darker connections. But the ministry is very very concerned that your lover is plotting against it.”

“I’m sorry, but she’s never brought it up in converation.”]

“Perhaps if you would stop trying to suck her lips off she could speak,” Dolores replied snidely. “Now, I want to know what you are going to about this secret sedition.”

“Me? I dont think….”

She stood up suddenly. He jumped a little but she was so short she hardly towered over his sitting form. “I don’t care what you think, Malfoy. You are going to stop this. You are in the perfect position to halt this exercise in insubordination. And I expect you to look into now!”

Draco looked at her for a moment. He and Hermione weren’t exactly on the best of terms. They may have shared many intimate moments but what did that mean. Really?
He smiled cruelly at Dolores Umbridge. “What is it you want me to do?”

Her return grin was just as cruel. “Another student has informed me there is a meeting this weekend. A secret one off school property. At the Hogshead.”

“I havent bern invited.”

“So crash it.”

Draco stood. “Very well. But after this…”

“After this weekend, nothing else will matter,” she replied, and with that Draco was dismissed back into the hall, where he could finally breathe again.

He stood there outside her classroom a moment, his mind filled with all the things she’d said. And the detail that stood out the most was this: Hermione had turned down his offer to hang out the weekend because she was masterminding a meeting to overthrow Umbridge. Even before she’d attacked him, perhaps even as a result. He had to let her know exactly where he stood on such things. Where his loyalties were. What was most important to him. He grinned, and a few second years saw him and turned the other way. Other students began to arrive for Umbridge’s next class.

We’re all mindless sheep he thought, but not anymore. He strode down the hall, head held high, smug smile on his lips. Perhaps Umbridge was right. After this weekend, nothing much else would matter.

Scene 25:

Lord Voldemort stood in the darkness. Beside him was a window, but it had been bricked up to shut out all light. He hated the light. It reminded him of all the things he loathed. It reminded him of his failure. Harry Potter.

“Nagini,” he spake.

A large snake, coiled up in a corner began to unravel and lifted its head. “Yessss,” it hissed.

“He disturbs me,” Voldemort darkly mused. “There must be a way to bring him to me.”


“No not yet. I need you here. But do not worry. I will send you visiting someone soon enough. No, i think this requires something more subtle than killing.”

A knock came upon the door and the snake’s head turned. Voldemort placed his hand on the creature’s head. In anyone else the gesture would have seemed affectionate, but the dark lord only meant it to still Nagini, to allay his companion’s tenses.

“They’ve been invited,” Voldemort explained, and then, “Enter.”

The door creaked open to reveal a young man in a black cloak. While only in his twenties, scarring on his face made him look older and far more frightening than a university student. Still he stepped into the room with a little hesitation, as if to be summoned was not high on his list of pleasant experiences.

“You wished to see me, m’lord.”

Voldemort attempted a smile, but it looked crooked, more like a grimace than mirth. “Yes. I have need of your…talents.”

For a second it seemed as if the visitor’s face changed slightly, features rearranging briefly before settling back to its horrid scarred tissue. He bowed slightly. “I await your wish, m’lord.”

“I wish you to bring me a…girl.”

The man raised an eyebrow. He knew of the Dark Lord’s obsession with Harry Potter, and had assumed his task would have something to do with that. But a girl…

“Oh it does,” Voldemort said as if reading his visitor’s thoughts. “It has everything to do with…Potter. Her name is Hermione Granger.”

Beneath his bony hand, Nagini stirred excitedly.

Happy Anniversary honey

Every day I look at you
Thanking heaven and stars
For that first day we met
And bringing us this far
I never quite imagined
A life as wonderful as this
And every day I’m in awe
Of this sweet wedded bliss

I remember seeing you
Back of church at the aisle
And as you walked towards me
It seemed like miles
I just couldn’t stop smiling
At the very sight of you
My love, my heart, my very bride
To start our life anew.

And now here we are
Nine years from that special day
I’m still so in love with you
It never diminishes or fades away
In fact it just keeps on growing
As we add days to our history
A forever love counting another year
Happy Anniversary…

*For my beautiful, loving wife Heather, with all my heart on our 9th wedding anniversary. ❤💏 Love you baby!

Love Is The Darkest Art 10

(Note: My apologies this post is so short. This part was originally intended to have two different scenes, but for some silly writer reason I thought each scene stood better on their own, so I split it up. Anyway, hope you enjoy and I’ll post the next scene within a couple hours.)

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione fanfic serial

Scene 14:

Hermione Granger sat on the edge of her bed. She tossed another sock on the mattress. Her project of making socks for the house elves could usually distract her from the usual stresses of life at Hogwarts. This evening though, it wasn’t working. Despite the fact she had convinced Ron and Harry not to report Draco’s attack, they both seemed to be suspicious about the incident. All the way back to Hogwarts, they had asked her questions about it. And all the way, she had lied. It grieved her to be dishonest. To keep a secret from her truest friends was just as hurtful to her spirit than if she had flunked the whole school year. And yet she couldn’t come clean. No one would understand. Not Harry. Definitely not Ron. And the girls in her room were no depository for her secrets either. They sat on beds immersed in their own worlds. Lavender Brown. Parvati Patil. She couldn’t confide in them her truest, deepest feelings. Only Draco could hold her secrets. Just as he held her close to himself.

She closed her eyes. Oh Draco, my Draco. Are you really mine? I already feel I am yours. Please do not break my heart. Just love me. I need to see you. Only you can soothe me, make me feel perfect. I’ll give you my dreams. Give me yours.

These tumult of thoughts swirled so largely in her head she didn’t realize that Lavender had gotten up and approached her. “You okay, Hermione?”

Looking up, Hermione put on her best smile. “Never better.” When Lavender didn’t move from where she stood, she knew the girl had something else on her mind. “Why do you ask?”

“Um….Have you ever crushed on somebody?”

The question threw her off, and for a brief second Hermione wondered if Lavender already knew her secret.

“I suppose,” she answered. “I mean, like I crushed on Krum for awhile, i guess.”

“Oh yeah, i can totally see that. Viktor is so dreamy.”

Hermioned nodded. “Yeah he is, but…”

Before she could finish, Lavender interrupted with a but of her own. “But have you ever crushed on someone you shouldn’t have?”

Hermione hoped the surprise didn’t show on her face. She stammered a bit before she could get her answer out. “I…I don’t know. Who am I not supposed to crush on?”

Lavender laughed nervously. “Oh, not you, silly. I’m talking about me.”

“Ohhh,” Hermione replied. “You.” Then it dawned on her. Lavender is crushing on someone. Impossible! “So who is it?”

The other girl blushed and turned to look back at Parvati. Then she lowered her voice. “I can’t really say because ..” She nodded her head in Patil’s direction.

Why would Lavender be concerned about her roommate overhearing? The question had just entered her head, when the answer came to her in a typical Hermione a-ha moment. Parvati Patil was the twin sister of Padma, who had been the date of Ron Weasley at last year’s Yule Ball.

Hermione looked at Lavender with raised eyebrows. “Ron?”

Lavender registereda look of surprise, then shock, then horror. “R..R..Ron! No! Oh, no way,” she cried out, alternating looks at both Hermione and Parvati. Then she bolted back to her own bed and immediately immersed herself in her books, completely dismissing both roommates as if she’d never said a word.

Hermione looked at Parvati, who shrugged and returned to her own studies as well. Hermione shook her head thinking about the possibility of a romance between Ron and Lavender. Like her roommate said, she thought no way, too. And then she thought of herself and Draco. If she had mentioned the romance she herself was immersed in, both girls would have looked at her so incredulous you would have thought a flobberworm was crawling out her nose. She imagined Ron and Harry’s reaction would be ten times worse.

She reached down and picked up the sock she’d been working on for her house elf project. Part of her berated her for even thinking of Draco, and urged her to get back to work. Another part of her, the part that cried out desperately inside, wanted nothing more than to be in his arms again, feeling his hand on her face, lips pressed perfectly to her own.

Love Is The Darkest Art 3

Love Is The Darkest Art

A Dramione Fan Fic Serial

Scene 4:

The very first kiss had taken place not even a year earlier at the Yule Ball. It had been very awkward as she had been there as the date of Victor Krum, a famous Bulgarian Quiddich seeker, and Draco had been there with another Slytherin, Pansy Parkinson. It was a strange event, as it seemed all eyes had been on her that day, but the ones she noticed the most were the astonished grey silver orbs of her nemesis. Or at least that’s what she had thought of him then.

When she had first descended the steps and felt everyone’s eyes on her, it was Draco in his black velvet dress robe who she noticed, though she tried not to show it. It wasn’t that he was dressed for success, in fact the high collar of his robe looked a little ridiculous. No, it was the fact that for once he was speechless in her presence. The boy who earlier that year had hexed her and given her huge horrid teeth. The boy she had slapped two years ago for laughing about Buckbeat’s impending execution. The boy who almost certainly hated her for not being pureblood. And yet now, he was nothing like his usual self. In that fact, he turned away from her as she passed by him and his date. It wasn’t a rude or baleful turn, but one of embarrassment for staring at someone so long.

And then later that evening as Victor left her side to greet some of his fellow teammates, for some strange reason she found herself looking to see if Draco were anywhere around. After all, it gave her a sense of satisfaction to see him so uncomfortable at the sight of the new her, the young lady in the periwinkle blue. Her eyes found him standing in a corridor doorway. He was alone, leaning against the frame, and his eyes seemed to be boring holes into her.

She didn’t quite know why she wanted a confrontation. Perhaps she would find it fun, or seeing how he’d been speechless earlier, to goad him into some new insult, so he would be back to usual Malfoy behavior. Either way, she found herself approaching him.

“What are you staring at, Malfoy?”

He didn’t respond at first, and when he tried to smile it came off more like a smirk, but she didn’t mind. “My doom,” he finally replied.

“Do I look that bad? No wait, don’t answer that. You are not one who would say something nice.”

Again the smirk. “I was going to say you look beautiful, but since my words don’t matter…”

He turned away from her in an attempt to walk off but Hermione took a couple steps after him. “Draco, I’m sorry…”

He stopped, but didn’t turn to face her.

“I can’t believe I’m apologizing to you for anything…” Hermione continued.

“I guess that makes us even, for I cant believe I think you look…ravishing.”

He finally turned to look at her, took a few steps closer, then changed his mind, choosing instead to walk away, his black velvet robes swishing in his wake.

Hermione, against her better judgement, followef him into a dark corridor, away from the sound of the festivities. “Draco, what has gotten into you?”

He turned to her, his eyes narrowing. “You have. But perhaps it’s just the season. I shouldn’t be thinking such things about a mudblood.”

She let the comment slide. “What kind of things are you talking about? If you are planning some trick or insult to embarass me on this night, I will….”

He kissed her. It was quick but still a kiss. His lips touched hers and it was long enough to make her close her eyes and enjoy it, even if it was Draco. But then the moment was over, the brief smooch done, and she slapped him.

“Draco!” She scolded. “What are you doing?”

He touched his cheek where she slapped him. It was red. But so was her own face, whether in anger or embarassment, no one could tell. They stood looking at each other a moment, neither saying a word, but then he answered her.

“I was just …wanting…needing…no…” He stopped and hung his head. When he raised it again, he couldn’t look at her. “Hermione, the greatest tragedy in my life so far is… wanting what I know I can’t have.” He finally allowed his grey eyes to see her. “Everyone likes you. Krum. Potter. Weasley…”

“Ron? Don’t be ridiculous…”

“But I am ridiculous. Ridiculously, hopelessly, ….” He let it hang in the air.

Hermione waited for him to finish, but he never did. Never even had a chance to.

“Are you okay, angel?” A deep voice interrupted. It was Victor Krum.

Hermione smiled at her rugged date. “Yes, I’m fine…Draco and I were just talking.”

Krum looked at Malfoy and raised a thick eyebrow.

“A disagreement as usual,” Draco clarified. He looked at Hermione, his eyes unreadable, but seemingly cold again. “No need to discuss this later.”

Victor seemed satisfied, but Hermione peered at Draco with different, kinder eyes. “No disagreement,” she answered, “just bewilderment.”

As she walked off, her arm linked through Victor’s, she dared to glance back with some satisfaction. After all, she’d felt Draco’s eyes upon her, and though it surprised her to think so, she liked his attention, and as the hours passed on further into night, she found her mind returning to Draco’s attempt at a kiss.