That's What Friends Are For

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January 2004
"How does this look?"

"It looks fine," Hermione Granger said for the seventh time in the last twenty minutes, "just like the other six shirts you've tried on."

"You don't think it makes me look too fat?" Ron Weasley teased as he faced his best friend and roommate.

"Stripes are very slimming," Harry Potter remarked as he entered the redhead's room and sat next to Hermione on the large bed. He grinned at Ron as he said, "But haven't you heard that black and white is so yesterday? Red is the new black, but that would clash horribly with your hair so I'd stick with, uh, blue?"

"You guys are very funny," Hermione said dryly, though her lips were curved into an affectionate smile.

"What?" Ron asked innocently as he removed the striped shirt and pulled on a simple blue sweater. He reminded the brunette witch, "You're the one that was muttering on and on earlier about needing to find some female friends."

"Since we don't intend on sharing our Hermione with anyone except a romantic partner, if we ever find anyone that we believe deserves you and that can make you as happy as you should be, we decided to explore our feminine sides so you didn't have to bother meeting any giggly girls," Harry informed her seriously, his green eyes shining with amusement.

"I borrowed several of Ginny's girly magazines and we read up on the latest fashions and female issues," Ron told her, gesturing to a stack of women's magazines that were, indeed, beside his dresser. He shook his head, "I never realized just how torturous your monthly cycle really must be. I read a letter from some lady that compared her cramps to being jabbed in the stomach with a large knife repeatedly for several days!"

"We now realize why you're so darn cranky a few days a month," Harry said pleasantly, "and we promise that we're going to be much more sympathetic from now on. We'll buy you plenty of chocolate because they suggest that the additives in chocolate help with the cramps. Do you get cramps?"

"I don't know whether I should smack you both or hug you," Hermione rolled her eyes, finally giving in and laughing. "Merlin, you're both nutters."

"Seriously, Hermione, we're going to try to be better at remembering you're a girl," Harry smiled sheepishly, "we tend to forget sometimes, you know?"

"Yeah, we're open to discussing clothes and we'll even go shopping with you if you want, but please talk to Ginny about sex because you're like our little sister and that's just not something we want to know about!" Ron told her with a smile.

"Ron!" Hermione glared playfully at the redhead, "Don't worry. I have no intention of discussing the specifics of my romantic life with either of you."

"She says that as though she's *had* a romantic life," Harry smiled as he reached over and mussed Hermione's curly hair.

"Funny, Potter," Hermione said dryly, rolling her eyes as the men laughed. If they only knew the truth, she sighed softly, they'd probably disown her and never speak to her again or they'd be hurt that she hadn't trusted them and told them the truth all along. Either way, things had become far more complicated than she'd planned and she was to the point where she was going to just have to be honest and hope for the best.

"Hermione iny o," Ron spoke up, "we've been friends since were eleven, which is seriously over half our lives. During all those years, you've never had a serious relationship. And don't bring up Krum and the Yule Ball fourth year because you weren't interested in him, even if he did pursue you."

"You and I went out during sixth year," Hermione reminded him, wondering how they had moved from talking about fashion and cramps to her past romantic entanglements.

"Twice and we didn't even snog because it seemed too much like incest," Ron smiled fondly at the brunette witch, "so I don't count, either."

"Is there a point to this?" Hermione frowned, wishing they'd just drop the subject so she wouldn't feel so guilty about not being honest with them about the changes in her life over the last few months. Considering she was happier than she could ever remember being and was so in love she wanted to tell everyone she met about her man and that she felt sexy and loved just by knowing someone wanted her and had loved her for years, she didn't know how her friends could not have noticed something was different. She loved Ron and Harry dearly, but they could be so clueless sometimes.

"Not really, we just like teasing you," Ron grinned as she stuck her tongue out at him.

"So, changing the subject before Hermione starts hexing us, is that what you plan on wearing tonight?" Harry asked her as he looked over her jeans and sweater.

"What's wrong with it?" Hermione asked, seeing the slight frown cross Harry's lips. She really was lucky to have two friends like Ron and Harry, having been friends with them since shortly after meeting at Hogwarts over a decade ago. They were all now in their early twenties, sharing a flat in wizarding London, and working at the Ministry. She was on level nine in Research and Development for the Department of Mysteries, which meant she spent her time working on charms and potions, two areas she loved. Ron was employed at the Department of Magical Games and Sports on level seven, and Harry worked in the Department of Muggle Relations on level one. Arthur Weasley had been Minister of Magic since the end of their sixth year and had done wonders in bringing back integrity and pride to the Ministry. She was proud to work for him as well as call him a friend.

Voldemort had been defeated shortly after graduation in a rather anticlimactic battle. There had been casualties to both sides throughout the War, but the final battle itself was over fairly quickly. Their side had greatly outnumbered Voldemort and his Death Eaters, the majority of Slytherin surprising everyone by joining Dumbledore during seventh year, and the entire fight hadn't even lasted an hour. She, Ron, Harry, Snape, Dumbledore, Neville, and Draco had formed a circle around Voldemort, combining their power and giving Harry the extra force he needed to finally defeat the Dark Wizard. When it was all over, most of the Death Eaters had been caught and their side had only suffered injuries, no life being lost in that final battle. She was pulled out of her memories of the past by Harry's scrutiny of her wardrobe.

"We're going out tonight," Harry reminded her, "to that new muggle club that just opened up a few blocks away."

"I do have an excellent memory, Harry," Hermione said, "remember? I received top marks at Hogwarts and graduated at the head of our class. It's not at all difficult to recall that we made plans to go to that club tonight, no matter how much I loathe the idea of being surrounded by a crowd of strangers and listening to really loud muggle music."

"It's called Belladonna and it looks quite fun," Ron spoke up, "and this was Harry's week to choose our Saturday outing so quit whining."

"Ron's right. Next week, you can force us to go back to that boring museum or the library, but this week we're having fun," Harry smiled smugly, knowing that Hermione preferred spending time with friends to going out dancing with strangers, but also knowing that she'd have fun once they got there. Especially considering his surprise, which reminded him, "And you're not going with us wearing those old jeans and that sweater."

"Why not?" Hermione argued, "I'm comfortable and I honestly don't care what I wear since I'll be hanging out with you two all night!"

"Hermione, darling, honey, angel-face," Ron began before she interrupted.

"Don't you angel-face me, Ronald Weasley," Hermione warned, "what's going on? You've both been acting stranger than normal the last few weeks and now you're reading women's magazines and talking about my clothes."

"You know we love you and only want you to be happy," Harry told her sincerely, "we just thought it would be nice for us to all dress up and go to a club and have a little fun. We're not getting any younger, after all."

"I'm twenty-two, Harry," Hermione said dryly, "I don't believe I'll buy my walker and a dozen cats for a few more decades yet."

"Just quit arguing and go change," Ron groaned, "why can't you ever just do something without analyzing every angle and being suspicious and thinking about it so in depth? Go put on a pretty dress, preferably something in a shade of red since that is the color of the moment and it looks smashing with your hair color, and meet us in the sitting room."

"Okay, that's it," Hermione narrowed her eyes, "I know you both well enough to know you're up to something. I see that planning and sneaky look in your eyes and I want to know what's going on and why I was left out of the planning!"

"For Merlin's sake, Hermione, it's a bloody surprise!" Harry said impatiently, "Go change and then we'll tell you!"

"A surprise? For me?" Hermione slowly smiled as she looked from one best friend to another. They were smiling at her, seemingly pleased with whatever their surprise was. She decided that it was time to be honest with them and tell them she was in love and hope that they loved her enough to accept her lover. She'd talk to him tomorrow about making their relationship public, though she knew he'd be thrilled since he'd never had any interest in keeping it a secret. She finally sighed, getting to her feet and muttering, "You'd both better be glad that I love you or I'd refuse to change until I had some answers."

"Stubborn darn wench," Harry smiled affectionately, waiting until she was gone before looking at Ron and asking quietly, "Do you think this is going to work?"

"It'll work," Ron nodded, making a face as he said, "but are we sure we want to do this? I mean, I want Hermione to be happy and to be loved, but do we really think he's the one? All they ever do is bicker and argue and annoy each other."

"He's the one," Harry said slowly, "he's Hermione's soulmate. I'm not overly thrilled about it, either, but I can accept him because he loves her and can make her happy. Besides, the bickering is usually about getting each other's attention and has been since their first meeting at Hogwarts, which is actually rather cute if you think about it. The way they fight their feelings by having heated discussions and those ridiculously intelligent conversations that no one else can even follow. I just can't believe I never noticed their crush on each other until recently. I was so preoccupied with fighting Voldemort and honestly thought Malfoy was one of the bad guys until seventh year so I never gave it much thought until I noticed them sneaking looks at each other during lunch a few months ago. Now, well, it all makes sense. You've even mentioned how often they're going to exhibits and museums or simply meeting for lunch recently. There is definitely something between them, they just need to stop denying what they feel and do something about it. They like each other and there is definitely passion and respect as well as friendship."

"You're starting to sound like those magazines," Ron snickered, "maybe we should just encourage Ginny to visit more often so Hermione can have a female friend."

"Who was it that filled out all those quizzes?" Harry asked pointedly, watching Ron smile sheepishly.

"Well, I just wanted to make sure Hermione and Ferret would be a good couple according to those things," Ron defended, "and they were except for that quiz about love in the workplace. Since they work in the same department and are often partners for that boring old research, it warned that they would need to keep their personal and private lives separate but shouldn't have any problems as long as they were on an equal level."

"And you said that *I* was starting to sound like those magazines?" Harry laughed, "Malfoy's only working to spend time with Hermione. You know he's got enough galleons to live comfortably for several centuries, plus he's shrewd at investing his money wisely and keeps increasing his savings, annoying bastard that he is. There really isn't any issue keeping them apart except their stubborn refusal to admit their feelings."

"What about Papa Malfoy?" Ron mused, "I know he's been a huge fan of Mione since she saved him during the final battle, but there's a huge difference between respect and admiration of a muggleborn to supporting a relationship between his precious Pureblood heir and said muggleborn. I don't want to interfere and end up hurting Hermione because Malfoy can't give her happily ever after." "Actually," Harry smiled, "I spoke to Lucius the other day when he dropped by the Ministry and he was very pleased when I casually mentioned that I thought Draco might be interested in Hermione in a romantic way. He confessed that he'd suspected it for years, noticing how often Draco talked about her and how he seemed somewhat obsessed even during our first year."

"I don't care if he did end up spying for our side, I still don't like that bastard for what he put Ginny through during second year," Ron frowned, "and here I am, plotting to fix one of my best friends up with his arrogant prat of a son. I am definitely not telling Dad about playing matchmaker between Hermione and Ferret. I'd never hear the end of it from any of my family!"

"You mean I can't tell the twins to ask you about fall's upcoming fashion trends?" Harry asked innocently, ducking as Ron threw a pillow at him.

"If you do, I'll tell them to ask you about the 'Secret Fantasy Lives of Women' article that you found so fascinating," Ron threatened.

"Guys, I thought you said to meet you in the sitting room!"

"Bloody hell, Hermione, you look beautiful," Harry whispered as he looked at the brunette witch.

"That's sweet, Harry," Hermione said, smiling shyly as she looked down at herself. She was wearing a silk dress that she'd bought on a whim when she'd been out shopping with Ginny recently. She'd tried it on and imagined her lover's reaction when he saw her in this dress, having to buy it because she felt beautiful and seductive. She always felt beautiful around him, the look in his eyes and the way he touched her and the words he spoke made her feel as if she was the most beautiful woman in the world, but she knew she wasn't beautiful. She was pretty but nothing exceptional. Wearing this dress had given her that same feeling of beauty that she felt whenever he looked at her with those beautiful gray eyes. It was a dark burgundy and looked wonderful against the chestnut curls that fell down her back. Her hair was thick and still a bit unmanageable but it was long enough that it didn't look too bad when she left it loose, which she had done this evening. The dress was simple, caressing the curves of her breasts and hips, though it did not cling to her tummy, and falling past her knees. There was a slit on the side that displayed her lightly tan leg and, honestly, the dress made her feel rather sexy and alluring. She might have to pop in and surprise her lover tonight after leaving the club, she smiled slightly, too easily imagining this dress on the floor beside his bed.

"Mione, that is definitely your color," Ron stammered, a smile crossing his face as he said, "We definitely won't forget you're a girl when you're wearing that dress! Absolutely smashing, love."

"Thanks," she smiled at her friends, folding her arms across her chest as she said, "Now what is this about a surprise?"

"We'll tell you when we get to the club," Harry promised, knowing that it would be safest to tell her when they were surrounded by muggles and she was unable to simply apparate home.

"Are we ready?" Ron asked as they walked into their sitting room. He helped Hermione with her coat, nervously watching her put her wand into an interior pocket, hoping that she didn't hex him and Harry for interfering with her romantic life by inviting Draco to join them this evening.

"Let's go," Harry said as he took Hermione's arm and led her outside. They were walking to the club because it wasn't far from their flat and it wasn't convenient for apparating. The walk didn't take long, occupied with talk about their work week, the latest girl Ron was dating, and the new girl that was working on level five that had been flirting with him the last couple of weeks. They paid their cover charge and entered the club. It was already rather crowded and the music was playing loudly. A stage was set up and Harry noticed that there was a karaoke machine off to the side. The dance floor was large and well lit with multi-colored lights. Overall, it was rather entertaining. They made their way to a table and sat down. Within a minute of sitting down, Hermione was looking at them expectantly.

"Okay, we're here. It's noisy and crowded and I want to know about this surprise," Hermione said simply.

"Let's order a drink first," Harry said quickly, waving a waitress over. He was about order firewhiskey when he remembered that they were in a muggle club, asking instead for, "I'll take whiskey."

"Me too," Ron said, not overly familiar with muggle alcohol.

"I'll take a soda," Hermione told the waitress, glaring as her two friends gaped at her, "What? You know I don't drink alcohol!"

"Hermione, just one drink won't kill you," Harry gave her his best puppy dog eyes, his jet black hair falling over his forehead as he whined.

"Besides, I think you might need something stronger," Ron snickered, looking innocent when she gave him a thoughtful look after his statement.

"Fine, give me something fruity?" Hermione decided, "You can choose."

"I'll get you our specialty. It's called the Bella and is very tasty and doesn't have a huge amount of alcohol," the waitress told her before going to the bar to get their orders.

"All right, drinks are ordered, I'm wearing a dress, and we're in this club. Now what is my surprise?" Hermione demanded impatiently.

"Hermione, angel-face, you know that Ron and I both love you," Harry started slowly, "and you know that we're both extremely protective and devoted to you."

"Harry, if you don't tell me what's going on I'm going to go to Arthur and demand that both of you be sent to St. Mungos!" Hermione said sharply.

"We invited Malfoy to join us tonight," Ron said quickly, not wanting his father involved in this at all.

"What?" Hermione stared at them in surprise, looking from one to the other. She laughed softly, shaking her head as she said, "Goodness, it must be loud in here. I could have sworn that you said Malfoy was going to be here tonight."

"Hermione, you're our best friend. Do you think we haven't realized that you fancy Malfoy?" Harry asked with an arched brow, watching as she blushed and looked at the table. He smiled gently, "We're of the belief that he could very well be your soulmate."

"I think you're even crazier than I first thought, Harry James Potter," Hermione denied weakly, wondering what the heck was happening. They knew she fancied Draco and Harry was spouting off some romantic nonsense about being soulmates and they didn't seem upset about the idea of her Draco being together. Did they know? She decided to deny it to see their reactions as she tried to analyze this unexpected turn of events, saying, "Me fancy Malfoy? That entire idea is just ridiculous! We're co-workers and friends. Bloody hell, I'm going to kill both of you!"

"Can I watch?" an amused voice drawled lazily from behind Hermione.

Hermione turned her head and looked at Draco, savoring the image of him wearing muggle clothes. He was wearing black jeans that fit him well, molding the curves of one of the best arses she'd ever seen, and a dark green shirt that clung to his muscular arms and chest. He was nearly a head taller than she was, his body slender but ideally muscular, in her opinion. She knew that, beneath his shirt, there was a stomach that could very well be in the dictionary beside the term 'six-pack'. He was still pale, but it looked good on him. His sharp features were no longer pointy but aristocratic, giving him a noble appearance. He had always been cute, even when he was one of the shortest students in his year and his hair had been slicked back with that awful gel and he's been a rude little ferret. Now, though, he was handsome and charming and confident, and she even found his arrogance and sarcasm attractive. He moved with effortless grace, making her think of a jungle cat stalking its prey, sleek and predatory. His eyes changed in shading from a pale slate gray to a stormy darker gray, which she'd seen on a few occasions when he'd been particularly upset or angry. She knew that his eyes turned a brilliant shade of gray when he was consumed with desire and passion. Shaking her head slightly, she pushed those thoughts from her mind, still unsure how to react to what was happening and instead said, "Right now, I might very well let you help."

"Promises, promises," Draco said huskily, his gray eyes moving over her casually before looking back into her eyes. She was wearing a tight dress that molded curves that had haunted his dreams for years, her hair framing her face in soft curls, her cheeks slightly flushed from her discussion with Potter and Weasley, her chocolate brown eyes flashing with annoyance and embarrassment, and he found himself wishing he'd overhead more of their conversation.

To be honest, he'd been rather suspicious when he'd first been approached by Potter and invited to join the Golden Trio for their Saturday evening outing. He'd assumed it was some prank, especially upon hearing it would be some silly muggle nightclub. After much debate, he'd finally decided to take a chance and show up, if only to spend time with Hermione. She looked very pretty tonight, the dress giving her a sexy confidence that he had not often seen outside the bedroom, but he tended to find her just as beautiful when her hair was put up in a sloppy mess and she had potion ingredients on her cheek and she was wearing her work robes, which did nothing to flatter her curvaceous figure. She'd been working on a potion the afternoon nearly six months ago when he'd finally just gone to her and kissed her, something he'd wanted to do for years. He could feel his body beginning to react at being so close to the object of his affection, cursing softly under his breath and reaching for the glass that was placed in front of Weasley. He drank it down, cringing slightly at the strong flavor, but needing to divert his attention from how gorgeous Hermione looked in that sexy little dress before he forgot they had an audience and simply kissed her.

Hermione followed Draco's lead and took a healthy sip from her drink. It was definitely fruity and quite pleasant, but it did nothing to dampen the fire that was coursing through her body just from seeing Draco, from hearing his voice, from smelling the scent of cinnamon and vanilla that she tended to now associate with the wealthy Pureblood. She was definitely going to kill Ron and Harry, she decided, not caring if they had invited him out of some misguided attempt to help her. She knew that they had no idea that she'd had a crush on Draco from year three, after she'd slapped him and their eyes had caught for a moment and he'd simply walked away. She'd realized then that there was far more to Draco than she'd ever imagined and she'd set about trying to figure him out. Of course, she hadn't had any idea until a few months ago that he felt the same way. They bickered and argued and had actually become friends and, following that passionate kiss in the lab over half a year ago, they'd become lovers and so much more. Ron and Harry were oblivious to the change in her and Draco's relationship and seemed to have invited him here tonight for her, not knowing that it was going to drive her crazy not being able to relax and freely touch him.

Of course, she thought as she took another drink, Harry and Ron were trying to set her and Draco up, which meant they must accept the idea of a relationship between them. Could she have been worried for months about losing her best friends for no reason? This was one of the rare instances when she would gladly accept being wrong if meant she didn't have to hide her love for Draco. This was not how she had planned things, though, and that annoyed her a bit. Ron and Harry were meddling and, while she was thankful that they might be okay with her relationship with Draco once they forgave her for keeping it a secret for so long, they deserved a good hexing for interfering and ruining her plans of how she was going to tell them about her and Draco. The drink was really good, she smiled slightly as she finished her glass, feeling warm and a bit giddy. More drinks were ordered as Draco took a seat beside Hermione. She caught Harry's eye and glared at him, especially when he had the audacity to smile smugly and wink before blowing her a kiss. Ron at least gave her an apologetic smile, though he, too, was looking rather smug. Darn fool boys, she thought crossly. She didn't care if they did promise to buy her chocolate during her next monthly cycle and that they had willingly read women's magazines to give her feminine discussions, she was going to disown them both as adopted brothers. Let Ginny deal with their nonsense, she decided, knowing the younger redhead could definitely keep them on their toes.

"So, Ferret, have you ever been to a muggle establishment before?" Ron asked politely as he waited for his drink.

"Of course," Draco said dryly, "we all know my fondness for muggles, after all. I make it a habit to mingle with the wretched creatures at every opportunity."

"I think that means no," Harry whispered loudly, rolling his eyes at Draco's sarcastic response. He might not be overly fond of Malfoy, but he did have to admit he could appreciate the blond wizard's sarcastic sense of humor, as long as it wasn't aimed at him.

"Really?" Ron asked wide-eyed, his lips curled into an amused smile, "And here I thought he was all sincere and muggle-loving now."

"Don't hex them," Hermione told Draco as she looked up from her drink, seeing the way he was looking at her friends with narrowed eyes and a slight snarl on those lovely full lips. She shrugged, "They're annoying morons, but they are my best friends. Besides, I want to be the one to hex them for this."

"Tsk, tsk, Hermione," Harry scolded playfully as he finished his first drink and moved on to his second, making a mental note to give the waitress an extra large tip for having drinks waiting for them as they finished their first ones. He was feeling rather pleased with himself, having all the proof he needed that Draco was, indeed, Hermione's soulmate. He had suggested the muggle club knowing that the blond wizard had a dislike of muggles, no matter which side of the War he had fought on, and that it would take something very important to get Draco to show at such an establishment. He must really care about Hermione since he'd willingly shown up amongst muggles just to have a chance to spend the evening around her. Harry smiled as he said, "You two be nice and stop threatening hexes."

"Piss off, Potter," Draco muttered as he started his second glass of the unfamiliar alcohol. It was rather pleasant, tasting a bit like firewhiskey, but not as strong.

"I'm hungry," Ron declared as he stood up, "I'm going to the bar to see if they have any food."

"Get me another drink, please," Hermione said as she finished her second glass of the fruity house drink. She was beginning to feel rather warm, and not just because Draco was close enough to touch her leg every time he shifted in his chair, and she realized that she was well on her way to being drunk. She frowned at that realization, having never experienced that sensation before. She didn't like alcohol, finding the taste too bitter or strong, plus she didn't understand finding enjoyment in losing control and acting rather silly, as she witnessed her friends being when they'd had too much to drink. Now, though, it was providing a rather satisfying alternative to either hexing her friends or merely openly ogling Draco and possibly drooling on the table.

"Me too," Draco spoke up, his grip on his glass tightening as she brushed her leg against his again. Count to ten, Malfoy, he told himself, having become an expert at concealing his reaction to the tempting brunette witch beside him over the years. As he had gotten older and spent more time in her company, however, it had become increasingly more difficult to not just pull her to him and kiss her with all the passion and affection he'd tried to ignore during the years. He was not a coward by any means, priding himself on his bravery and courage and confidence, yet he had never managed to find the nerve to admit to Hermione how he really felt. At first, she had barely tolerated him much less been willing to give him a chance. Life had been far too complicated to being any sort of relationship, with fighting Voldemort and dealing with the stress of his Father's spying for the Order and NEWTs and his responsibilities as Head Boy, he'd not wanted to attempt a relationship with someone that had grown to mean something to him for fear it would be doomed before it began.

After the War, time has moved fairly quickly and five years had gone by and he had become her friends, her colleague, and someone that occasionally joined her and her friends for weekend quidditch scrimmages and group outings, but he'd still never confessed how he felt. It was really rather foolish, to waste so many years wanting something so badly and never taking the risk of trying to get what he wanted. It was a foreign concept to him, actually. Malfoys tended to always get what they wanted, but Hermione was different. She meant too much to him to risk losing because of his arrogance or the possibility that she could never see him as anything but a friend, a platonic brother like she treated the rest of her large group of male friends. When he had finally broken and simply kissed her, she'd kissed him back with just as much intensity and passion and love. After they'd made love, he'd felt content and happy for the first time in his life. He hadn't wanted to keep their affair a secret, wanting everyone to know that Hermione loved him and he loved her, but he'd reluctantly agreed because he knew Potter and Weasley meant a lot to her and understood she wanted time to figure out how to tell them. That was over six months ago, though, and he was becoming increasingly impatient, not at all happy about keeping their relationship a secret from everyone. He knew she loved him, didn't doubt that at all, but he was very annoyed that she wouldn't just tell her friends the truth. He frowned as he took another drink, wondering where her noted Gryffindor bravery was when it came to telling people she loved him.

"This music is rather catchy," Harry said as he began to move his fingers against the table in beat with the song. He looked from Hermione to Draco, rolling his eyes as he saw them sneaking looks at each other but not actually having a conversation of any sort.

"It's noise, not music," Draco remarked with a scowl as he took another drink.

"I think it's lovely," Hermione declared as she finished her second glass. She smiled happily at Harry, saying, "This drink is yummy."

"Angel-face, maybe you should get that soda now," Harry suggested as he realized that Hermione was drunk. He glanced at Draco and saw the blond wizard glaring at the table and brooding, noticing the two empty glasses and the third that was currently in his hand. This wasn't good, he panicked, knowing from Neville's bachelor party a couple of years ago that Draco was not a happy drunk. He was sullen and quiet and broody.

"I like this drink," Hermione giggled, "it tastes all fruity. I want another one. Harry, get me another one."

"That's right. Ask Potter to get it for you," Draco glared at her, "Don't ask me. I'm not good enough to get you a drink, am I?"

"Stop glaring at me, Draco Malfoy," Hermione told him, "You can smirk because that's sexy and it makes my tummy tingle, but glaring is mean! You know you're more than good enough for me."

"Am I?" Draco arched a brow and stared into her eyes, his eyes moving to her lips. His gray eyes darkened before he suddenly looked away, taking a drink and sneering at Harry, "What are you looking at, Scarhead?"

"I think coffee might be a good idea," Harry said slowly, frowning as he looked from Hermione to Draco, feeling as if he had missed something.

"Here are the drinks," Ron announced as he gave them each another drink, "and here is some chocolate for you, angel-face. It's some kind of brandied chocolate, whatever that means, but it tastes pretty good. I ordered us some appetizers, too, but they won't be here for a bit."

"Thanks, Ron," Hermione smiled softly as she looked away from Draco, wanting to hug him and reassure him that she loved him and wasn't ashamed of their relationship, sigh as she instead took a chunk of the chocolate and ate it. She had to admit, "This tastes really good. It's so sweet."

"I'm going to dance!" Harry declared suddenly, deciding that Hermione and Draco might be better off without an audience. He wasn't sure was happening, but he had a sneaky suspicion that things between Draco and Hermione were far more complicated and involved than he'd ever realized. He and Ron were going to have to have a little chat with Hermione about her not telling them that she was obviously having an affair with Draco. He smiled slowly as he decided they'd remind her that friends were always honest with one another, make her feel a bit guilty for keeping secrets from them, and then tease her until she turned the color of Ron's hair regarding the fact that she was shagging Ferret. He finished his third glass of whiskey and moved onto the dance floor, weaving his body to the disco tune he'd never heard before that was being sung on stage. The singer wasn't that bad, for karaoke, and Harry was soon following the catchy lyrics and knowing exactly when to hum along about Staying Alive. It wasn't long before he had a few girls dancing around him, a pleased smile on his face as he tried to blend in with the dancing muggles.

"I think I'll dance a bit, too," Ron said after Harry stood up and nudged him deliberately before looking towards the dance floor. He wasn't sure what was going on, but it was obvious Harry thought they should give Hermione and Draco some time alone. He grinned at the brunette witch, "I'll be back to check on the food in a bit."

After Ron left the table and they were alone, Hermione looked at Draco. He was scowling as he drank the muggle whiskey and she had to admit he looked rather sexy even when he'd had a bit too much to drink and was sulking. She leaned against him, not caring who saw her, resting her head on his shoulder as she looked at the dance floor. "Harry can't dance," Hermione laughed as she took another healthy drink of the peachy concoction. She looked up at Draco and smiled brightly, "He looks like he's having a fit of some sort, doesn't he?"

"He always looks that way," Draco sneered, looking away from the dance floor to find Hermione studying him with a soft smile on her pretty face. Her head was resting against his shoulder, her eyes shining with love and desire as she smiled at him. He slowly smiled as he looked into her eyes, feeling content and happy just being loved by her.

"You should be nicer to Harry," Hermione declared seriously, "he thinks you're my soul tomato." She frowned as she shook her head slightly, "No, that's not right. Mate, soul mate!"

"Potter thinks you and I are soulmates?" Draco repeated with a surprised _expression on his handsome face. He began to sober up as he realized why he'd been invited to join them tonight. Potty and Weasel were playing matchmaker, trying to get him and Hermione together. Bloody fools didn't have any idea that they'd been involved for months, but he had to give them credit for their actions. It was rather amusing, in a way, and it meant that there was no need to keep their relationship a secret anymore. They could let everyone know they were in love and then he could finally tell his Father and Mother about his feelings for Hermione and get permission to ask her to marry him. Before Hermione could answer his question, he heard Potter's voice coming from the front of the club. "This song goes out to our best friend, Hermione, and the man she loves, Draco," Harry was saying into a microphone from the stage where the karaoke was set up. Ron and Harry grinned at them, giving them the thumbs up sign as their song was selected. They began to sing a very bad off-key version of the old muggle song That's What Friends Are For, playing up to the audience of flirting women who didn't care how bad the two handsome men sang.

"He sings worse than he dances," Hermione shook her head sadly as she took another bite of the chocolate, her eyes amused as she tenderly smiled at her best friends. Turning to look at Draco, she found him looking at her, a loving smile on his face, his eyes gleaming with love and desire and affection.

"How's the chocolate?" Draco asked huskily, his eyes looking at her lips as his tongue ran across his bottom lip. Everything around them faded as she moved closer to him, both of them overjoyed at the idea of not having to keep their love a secret anymore.

"You should try it," Hermione suggested. No sooner had she gotten the words out before there was a loud explosion. She jumped as the club went completely dark. She felt Draco move closer to her, his hand moving along her arm as someone alerted them not to panic, mentioning a blown transmitter causing the lights to go out. Hermione wasn't listening, suddenly sober as she felt fingers caress the contour of her cheek. When his lips touched hers, she moved closer, giving herself to him completely. She moved her right hand to the back of his head, tangling her fingers in his soft hair as she pulled him closer. When they broke the kiss, it was still dark in the club, the back-up generator providing some light. She whispered against his lips, "I love you, Draco. You are my world, my heart, my soulmate."

"Don't you mean soul tomato?" he teased softly before catching her lips in another kiss, holding her as he whispered against her ear, "I love you, Hermione."

"Merlin, can you believe this? That was some explosion!" Ron said excitedly as he and Harry finally made their way to the table. He saw Hermione and Draco kissing, groaning as he said, "Eeew, do you have to do that in front of me? I mean, I'm happy that you're happy, Hermione iny o, but I don't want to see you snogging Ferret."

"Don't look then," Hermione suggested with a smirk as she broke the kiss and looked at her friends.

"This isn't good. She's already smirking like him," Harry sighed dramatically, warning, "if you start strutting around like an arrogant, conceited arse, we're having an intervention."

"Potter, Weasley, I'm only going to say this once and I will deny it if ever questioned in the future," Draco said slowly, a slight smile crossing his face as he said, "Thanks."

"That's what friends are for, Malfoy," Harry said simply before he suggested, "Let's get out of here. I'm hungry after all that dancing and singing. There's a great Italian place on the way home."

As they made their way through the crowd trying to leave the club, Ron looked at Draco and said, "Ferret, I think you are a smart enough bloke to know that Harry and I will make your life miserable if you ever hurt our girl so I won't bother with the warning."

"I'd never hurt her," Draco said sincerely, not looking away from Ron's gaze.

Seemingly satisfied by this answer, Ron grinned as he said, "Pizza. I think I want some pizza. Oh, and those garlic breadsticks. Malfoy, you're gonna love those breadsticks."

"Well, you've been accepted," Hermione smiled up at Draco, "Ron doesn't share his food with just anybody."

"Aren't I the lucky one," Draco said drolly before he brushed a kiss against her lips. He smiled, "Have I mentioned how pleased I am about being able to kiss you any time that I want?"

"No, but feel free to practice that desire as often as possible," Hermione smiled before she kissed him. Pulling back, she said, "I can't believe how this night turned out. I'm so happy that they know and accept it and I love you so much."

"I'm glad we don't have to hide it anymore," Draco admitted.

"You're mine, Draco Malfoy, and I plan on letting everyone know it!" Hermione smiled.

"I love it when you get bossy," he smiled sensually, "I'm yours, Hermione, just as you're mine."

"Would you guys quit snogging and come on?" Ron asked impatiently, a smile on his face as he saw how happy Hermione was. Ferret loved her and that's all he wanted for his best friend. He smiled, "I'm starving."

"Ron, leave them alone," Harry laughed, "they're so cute being all sappy and sweet and romantic."

"You know, as much as I love them both, there are times that I'd really love to just hex them," Hermione sighed, smiling sheepishly as she looked at Draco, "Sorry about them. They're a bit annoying but you get used to them after a while."

"They care about you a great deal. That's enough reason for me to tolerate them," Draco told her as he put his arm around her waist and followed Harry and Ron down the street. He leaned over and kissed her again, whispering, "I love you, Hermione."

"I love you, too," Hermione smiled softly as she snuggled against him, her eyes watching her best friends turn and tease them by making kissy sounds and quoting really awful poetry before smiling affectionately at them and starting to talk quidditch, including Draco in their conversation. She knew they'd figured out that she and Draco had been together for a while and she had little doubt that she would be interrogated properly as soon the opportunity arose, but they were being so great about it all. Hermione held Draco's hand as they walked, looking into his eyes and smiling as she saw the love and desire in their gray depths, content and happy in the knowledge that they were going to have their happy ending.