Day 2: Roses
Amid the hustle and bustle in the lobby of the Ministry of Magic something caught Hermione's eye. She turned her head quickly to see a flash of bright pink and white blonde hair. Making a dash for the elevator she noticed Draco Malfoy standing towards the back of the car with a large bouquet of deep pink roses. As they rode upward towards their office the passengers grew fewer allowing Hermione to eventually move to stand next to Draco.
"Good morning Malfoy. Those are lovely roses, the color is very vibrant." She attempted to make small talk with the man.
"Good day Granger, these are from my Mother's garden. It's Astoria's birthday and pink is her favorite color." He replied.
She felt a twinge of jealousy in her chest at the mention of Astoria's name. It was uncalled for really, she and Draco were nothing more than co-workers and office mates. It was not as if their interactions were more than work related. Draco may have complimented her now and then when she would make an extra effort in her appearance or when she had a brilliant suggestion that would save them time on a project.
For the most part they shared an amiable working environment. So why the jealousy then. Could it be that Hermione took notice that Draco was no longer the vile little prat from school, he was still arrogant but no longer was he cruel to her or anyone else. Perhaps it was the way he had filled out over time, his shoulders broadening, he was tall and always well put together wearing immaculate robes that were tailored to fit perfectly. She did appreciate his wit and enjoyed the fact that he could hold a conversation with her on many subjects, enjoying the fact that she did not have to 'dumb down' the way she spoke to him.
The elevator 'pinged' breaking her reverie, Draco waved his hand in a gesture for her to exit first. He stopped by Astoria's desk to hand her the flowers. "Happy birthday Tori." Draco said handing her the bouquet and giving her a quick hug.
"Oh thank you Draco, they are gorgeous." Astoria replied smiling brightly. "Will we see you at dinner?" She asked.
"Looking forward to it." With that Draco headed off to his office that he shared with Hermione. As she was settling in to her desk Draco passed by close to the edge, the sleeve of his robe brushing by leaving behind a single deep pink rose in a small clear bud vase. Hermione turned from where she was reaching around her chair to see the flower. Glancing over to Draco she flashed him an appreciative smile hoping that he did not notice her blush.
A month later, Hermione entered her office to see a grand bouquet of roses in the most perfect shade of lavender. She then glanced at Draco to say. "Morning Draco, I don't think I have ever seen roses in that shade of purple before."
"Good Morning Granger, yes they are quite exquisite. They are for Pansy, she just announced her engagement." Draco gave her a half smile.
"Where did you get them from." She asked making small talk as she settled into her desk to start work.
"Ah, it's sort of ... well here goes. They are from Mother's garden, when Pansy and I were about five or so there was an... understanding of a betrothal between us." He began.
"You were betrothed at five?" Hermione questioned.
"Yes, well it was our Father's doing, anyway in support of the agreement Mother planted a set of rose bushes in honor of Pansy becoming part of the family eventually. She spent a week perfecting the charm to create Pansy's favorite color. Well after the arrangement fell apart Mother did not have the heart to destroy the plants." Draco relayed the story as Hermione intently listened.
"How do you feel about her not being engaged to you?" She asked.
He snorted at that. "Relief, she is a stage five clinger." Draco said with a wink. Hermione had a look of shock at this use of Muggle slang.
"Well then." She said and went about starting her work.
When Hermione returned from lunch there was a gorgeous lavender bloom in a clear bud vase on her desk.
"Oh Draco, how thoughtful. You remembered my birthday." She beamed at him as he handed her a rather large bouquet of bright yellow roses.
"Yes well you were not very subtle about your 'count-down' to the big day." He replied with a chuckle. Just then the office door burst open with Harry and Ron leading a few others into the office singing as loud as was possible 'For She's a Jolly Good Fellow'. Susan walked in with a cake and presented it to Hermione who blew out the candles to the celebratory ruckus everyone was making in the office.
Once the cake was served and the commotion gone. Hermione picked up a slice of cake to bring over to Draco. He looked up from his work to see her half sitting on the edge of his desk, the aforementioned cake in her hand. "Is the queen finished holding court now, can we get some work done?" He said in a teasing tone giving her a wink.
"Hey if the commoners want to shower me with gifts and lay flowers at me feet who am I to deny them." She laughed at the ridiculousness of her statement. "Besides, I bring you the gift of sweets and to thank you again for the beautiful flowers." She concluded, swiping some frosting with her finger. As she was about to raise it to her mouth, Draco reached for her hand licking the frosting off it.
"Sweet indeed." He practically purred. A red faced Hermione bolted back to her desk after that exchange.
"Yes, let's get to work." She said flustered. Draco just smirked at her reaction.
"Morning Granger." Draco said as he entered the office holding a bouquet of orange roses the edges of the petals looked as if they were dipped in crimson.
"Is it still morning? Someone is running a bit late today." She replied in a joking manner.
Draco looked over to see her smiling at him waiting for some witty response. "If you must know I stopped my Mother's house to pick up these beauties for us. Happy October." He said placing the flowers on a shelf near the window.
"Stunning, they almost look like flames in that light." She said.
"I have to say these are my favorite. Are you up to going to lunch together today? That Muggle cafe you like has proclaimed Pumpkin Spice everything." He asked flashing her a smile.
"If it's on you, absolutely!" She said confidently. Draco sauntered over to her desk as he leaned down to face her and said. "That would make it a date...no." Reaching to tuck a stray curl behind her ear. In doing so he also placed a flower in her hair. Hermione could not help the blush across her delicate features and how easily she lost herself in the depths of his gaze. The whole encounter left her speechless as she watched him stroll back to his side of the office.
Lunch actually lead to a date that Saturday night.
The office was a buzz for the impending holidays. Hermione could not help her excitement as she tried desperately to focus on her work. All her efforts were for naught, she just could not help but to let her mind drift to the upcoming trip she would be taking with Draco. It had been a little more than two and a half months since Draco and herself started dating. It had been a slow build up of becoming reacquainted outside of school and forgiving past transgressions to the now budding romance. Draco booked them a log cabin in mountains, there they would celebrate their first Christmas as a couple. Hermione was so deep in thought that she didn't even notice Draco enter the office with at least three dozen Scarlet red roses in an intricate cut glass vase.
"Hey, busy bee... better finish up, we don't want to miss the train." Draco said. Hermione jumped as he spoke. "Sorry love, I didn't mean to startle you." He followed up.
Clutching her heart she immediately breathed a sigh of relief to see Draco standing before her. "It's fine I was so lost in thought. I can't wait to get out of here." She winked at him. Taking notice of the roses in front of her. "Oh Draco, these are beyond gorgeous."
"Well to pique your interest of what I have in store for this trip, you should read the card attached to the flowers." He gave her a wicked grin.
At that she raised her eyebrows, then plucked the card. Turning it over she read 'The red rose whispers of passion'. She could not help the heat rise from under her collar or the butterflies in her stomach. Draco walked around her desk, reaching out his hands to her, Hermione took them as he pulled her out of her seat letting her body crash into him as he captured her lips in a searing kiss.
How he even managed to have anything delivered up in the mountains was one thing but elegant snow white roses was something. These particular roses were enchanted to have mini fireworks ignite from their centers once the clock struck midnight. During the count-down to midnight Draco had Hermione read the card, 'and the white rose breathes of love'. Love? Hermione looked puzzled by what she read. There were four seconds till midnight. Draco stood before her next to a roaring fire. He cupped her cheeks gently in his hands as the count-down concluded.
Happy New Year... Draco pressed his lips to hers. This kiss was not the desperate, hungry type of kiss. This was tender and slow. When they finally broke it, Hermione let out a breathless 'I love you too'.
Hermione came home that evening to her house bathe in candlelight. On the floor was a path of rose petals in red and white leading from the door to her bedroom. Following the path she was met once again to the room being filled with the warm amber glow of candles. The path led her to the bed where a plush white robe was neatly folded on the corner, the tag said 'Wear Me (take everything else off) then meet me in the tub'. Hermione hurriedly changed, slipping on the robe the luxurious material feeling so soft against her skin. As she walked into her bathroom, the reflection of candlelight was gently dancing off the walls. Draco was standing there in a plush white robe similar to hers. In hands he held a single blush colored rose. Hermione walked up to him as he took a step closer to her. Handing her the rose he then reached for her hand. Tenderly kissing her knuckles then said.
'The red rose whispers of passion,
And the white rose breathes of love;
O, the red rose is a falcon,
And the white rose is a dove.
But I send you a cream-white rosebud
With a flush on its petal tips;
For the love that is purest and sweetest
Has a kiss of desire on the lips.'
Flashing her a brilliant smile as the end, Hermione wrapped her arms around Draco's neck and pulled him into a passionate kiss.
This chapter is dedicated to my parents who, being together nearly forty years, would often recite 'The White Rose' by John Boyle O'Rilley to each other. I miss them both.