Chapter 16 : Dazed and Confused
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Taking a deep breath in an attempt to calm herself, she called out Hermione's name. When her friend didn’t answer yet again, she sighed and pushed the door open, calling her name again.
“Hermione, I need your help.” She was walking towards the bed, rubbing her eyes. And that’s when she noticed it. Draco Malfoy, the Ferret, was sleeping in Hermione’s bed, arm wrapped around her, body pressed against hers without a shirt on.
“No,” her voice came out a whisper. Then her sense of betrayal was replaced with anger. She couldn’t say that they weren’t cuddly and then turn around and have sex with him. It just didn’t work like that. Especially since it was only a few days ago. Well, close to a week, but that was beside the point in Ginny’s mind.
“Hermione Jean Granger!” she nearly shouted. She wanted to laugh at them as the two shot straight up, the blankets sliding down, and nearly cracked their heads together.
“Merlin! Weasley, what the bloody hell are you doing here? How did you even get in?”
“Well, I'm here because I needed to talk to Hermione, she gave me the passwords. What I want to know, Ferret, is ‘what the bloody hell are you doing here?’ Especially since Hermione told me just a few days ago, that you weren’t even getting cuddly. And now I find you’ve shagged!” Draco could practically see the steam streaming from her ears.
“Now just hold on a minute Ginny-”
“Granger and I didn’t shag, as you so wantonly put it. We slept in the same bed, big deal. I bet you and Potter have slept together, right? Or maybe you and one of your other friends. Just because you share the same bed doesn’t mean you're shagging, or even want to!”
“Malfoy.” He looked at Hermione, wishing she would have said his birth name, “Just go. We’ll talk later.” She saw, only briefly, the pain in his eyes before the anger shielded it. He threw off the blankets on his legs, swung his legs so that they were on the floor and he was sitting up straight.
“Fine then Granger.” And then he was moving out the door. Neither girl could stop herself, though, from watching every graceful step, the way every distinct muscle moved.
“Ginny, please,” she said after Draco had closed, more of slammed, the door.
Her friend swung around, eyes flaming and said, “Please? Please what Hermione? That was Malfoy, he’s Malfoy!” Her hands were flying around as if to emphasize her point.
“He’s my friend Ginny. He cares about me, jokes with me, makes me laugh when I feel like crying, tries to make me happy. All the things that you did.”
“So basically he’s my replacement then?”
“No, Ginny. He isn’t replacing anyone. You're still my friend, if you want to be. I still want to do all those things for you, because you're practically my sister. You're part of my family, just like Harry and Ron, and now Malfoy. You honestly have no right to treat him the way you do. He hasn’t done anything to you, to earn this kind of hatred you give him.”
“Have you not listened to everything he’s said to you over the years Hermione?”
“Yes, I have. They used to be horrible, horrible things. But I don’t believe he meant them, truly, honestly meant them. They were just words. Besides, words mean nothing. Did he ever once make a move to hurt me horribly? To try and kill me, or send me to Voldemort? No, not once. He’s a good guy Ginny, a good man. He’s earned my forgiveness and isn’t that all that matters? You're mad because of things he said to me, not to you or Harry or Ronald.
“I forgave him, why can't you?” Neither had noticed her movements but suddenly she was standing next to Ginny, her arms placed on her shoulders, very nearly begging.
“But Hermione, he’s just, he’s Harry’s enemy. Someone who’s always been against Harry. I don’t understand, I don’t know how this could have happened.”
“You don’t need to understand, you just have to accept that it has. And Ginny, there’s not much that will change it. Ginny, I care about him, he cares about me-”
“That’s just a little difficult to grasp Hermione. I mean, Malfoy, he, he just never seemed to care about anyone.”
“He cares about his mother, he cares about Brett, he cares about me, and I know I couldn’t tell you everyone he cares about but that I do know. He does care, he always has.”
Draco was sitting inside the bathroom door, listening to everything they were saying. Granger didn’t realize how wrong she was. She had just named all the people he cared about. Maybe more would come, maybe he would eventually care about all the people she cared about, but she had named everyone in this moment.
“No, Hermione, he hasn’t.” Draco paused; let his eyebrows draw together in confusion. He had always cared about his mother and Brett, and yes, Granger to. She had always drawn him to her, hence the name calling and such. He’d wanted to drive her away. Ah, a little voice in his head said, but they don’t know that. Which was definitely true.
“Maybe not me Ginny, but always his mother and Brett.”
“How could you possibly know that?”
“I just do. Ginny, just try to give him a chance as a friend. If not for me, then for him. He deserves it; he's done so much to make up for his past, for his mistakes.”
And then there was silence. He figured Ginny had nodded and then Hermione had given her a hug. That was just what girls did. They could never voice defeat: it just wasn’t in their nature.
He smiled suddenly, Granger was convincing her friends to give him a chance. He was going to make sure that he didn’t screw this up for her. She wanted them all to be friends, and it would take an effort on both parts to make it that way.
Effort he was willing to give if it made her happy.
Middle of November
“So class, your potions should be completed by the end of today, and we'll proceed as usual, now hurry up,” Professor Slughorn said, clapping his hands together in an effort to make them move faster. Draco and Hermione glanced at each other, trying not to grin. So far, they were doing a pretty good job of convincing everyone that they were still enemies. Besides, they both enjoyed the banter that everyone else still saw as hateful. Well, everyone but Hermione’s close friends and family. She thought of her mother and Bryan, no longer here with them, searching for answers.
They had moved into Grimauld Place only a few days after they had gotten back from China . Hermione was still having trouble accepting the fact that Bryan wasn’t her father, that Brett was, and of course she was a pureblood, who was quite rich. Sure, she had been rich with two Muggle dentists (she wondered why Brett had chosen that profession for them), but not nearly as much as her parents had now.
They kept the Muggle accounts in case they ever needed Muggle money, and of course they closed up shop, apologizing for the brusqueness and suggesting new dentists for the families. So everything had been cleared up.
Not really though. What was she supposed to do now? She had told Brett that Bryan would always be her dad and both men had agreed. But should she still call him dad? Or Bryan? And what was she supposed to call Brett? Still Brett or would he prefer father? She really had no clue. So when they were around each other, outside of class, she continued to call him Professor. Not that he seemed to mind, he actually seemed to understand.
And Draco, no, Malfoy. And Malfoy, he and Ginny seemed to be doing well. It was much more of a struggle with Ron and Harry, but they would get through it, hopefully. And they didn’t even know she spent nearly every night in his arms, warm and comfortable. After their discussion, Ginny seemed to be able to handle it better.
She, of course, knew she had to. Otherwise Hermione wouldn’t have helped her through her confusion. Harry had told her that he loved her, and never would he stop loving her, but she had to stay away from him, atleast romantically, still.
He had said that she was his world, she was the woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, to have children with, to grow old with, but she still had to distance herself from him. It hadn't made sense to her of course.
Then Hermione had explained how Voldemort was more likely to go after Ginny should she be with Harry. And did they really want what happened to her parents to happen to them? Because Harry would do that to protect her.
And Ginny had sighed and agreed. In time, in time they would be together. And ever since then, Ginny had decided she was going to tease Hermione about Malfoy. To which she had.
Hermione could hardly stand it. Ginny thought that Hermione was in love with Malfoy, and had come to enjoy the thought. Day in and day out, she was teasing her, laughing at her, pretending that something he said meant so much more than the words actually did. Sometimes Hermione wished that she had never talked Ginny into giving Malfoy a chance.
But he seemed to like whatever Ginny was doing, they had grown on each other in an oddly endearing way. Weaselette and Ferret became endearing rather than hateful and Hermione was hopelessly confused. But sometimes she felt that she rather liked the idea. Her two best friends getting along together.
Not that Harry and Ronald weren’t her friends, the fact was just that Ginny and Draco had become closer to her. She had found that Malfoy, not Draco, had become sort of her safe haven.
But it still surprised her when he asked her to accompany him to Hogmeade. Not that he actually used the word accompany, nor made the trip sound so date like, because the date wasn’t.
A date, that is. No, certainly not a date. Just a friendly trip type thing. Oh who was she kidding? She wanted desperately for it to actually be a date, really, she did. But she knew a date wouldn’t happen. He didn’t care for her in that way, not that she actually should, simply because nothing would ever happen between the two of them but still. A girl could hope.
And only hope. She would never tell Ginny that she actually wanted the outing to be called a date. Especially since she could still feel his lips pressed against hers, his breath devastatingly hot on her skin, his voice so sexy next to her ear. They had an unspoken agreement not to mention what had happened the night she got back.
She took a deep breath again and again as she continued to tell herself the outing wasn’t a date, remembering that night every few minutes so she would have to try and calm herself again.
She had to force herself to remember that he had only kissed her because she had practically made a move on him and he was just getting her back. He wouldn’t even have sex with her, that night, because he wasn’t going to take advantage of her obvious attraction to him. Because he was a gentleman who didn’t care for her that way and he knew that anything of the sort would ruin their friendship if he had.
Sighing, she took one last look in the mirror she had been staring at for half and hour, nodded to herself, smoothing out an invisible wrinkle, and walked quickly to her bedroom door.
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