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The Artful Fabrication of Draco and Hermione by ChoS_sista_gurl

Format: Novella
Chapters: 9
Word Count: 25,460

Rating: 15+
Warnings: Mild Language, Scenes of a Mild Sexual Nature

Genres: Drama, Fluff, Humor
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, McGonagall, Slughorn, Snape, Draco, Blaise (M), OtherCanon
Pairings: Draco/Hermione

First Published: 12/04/2007
Last Chapter: 10/18/2008
Last Updated: 01/02/2009

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“GRYFFINDOR!” roared the table in red and gold.

“SLYTHERIN!” bellowed the opposing table from across the hall. Dinner had become a battle, not for the first time that week.

How far would Dumbledore go to reconcile, even unite, these houses? And what does that mean for Draco and Hermione?

Chapter 1: Battle of the Houses
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A/N: This is a total experiment...I just wrote this on a whim, although I have an idea that could turn out amazing...if I took my time. Read on!

EDIT (1/27/08): my editing project is coming along well...this is the third of a LOT of chapters whose spacing issues I'm fixing.

          “GRYFFINDOR!” roared the table in red and gold.

          “SLYTHERIN!” bellowed the opposing table from across the hall.

          And the two proceeded to shower each other with any food that was in easy reach, which coincidentally most often was mashed potatoes and gravy. Dinner had become a battle, and not for the first time that week.

          Albus Dumbledore observed them quietly from the Staff Table, shaking his head in disappointment. In all his years at Hogwarts, rarely had he seen a generation with a House rivalry as strong as it was now. It did not take much provocation for them to start up.

          Today, for example, dinner had been generously calm…until a fatefully well-aimed grape had soared across the Hall to strike Hermione Granger in the nose. Squealing in indignation, she of course jumped up at once to see who had thrown the grape. But the source of the disruption became quite obvious as, across the room, Draco Malfoy’s cronies erupted in laughter. Hermione had blushed scarlet and mumbled profanities to herself as she made to sit back down.

          Harry, who already hadn’t been having the best of days today, was eager to find an outlet for his temper. And here was an opportunity ripe for the picking. “Hey, Malfoy!” he shouted, leaping up from his own seat.

          “Aw, sit back down, Potter,” Draco drawled, waving a hand carelessly. “We were just playing around. Granger doesn’t take it personally. Mind your own business, eh?” 

          Harry glared back at him. “This is my business.”

          Draco rolled his eyes patronizingly. “Potter, you just think you’re all that, don’t you? Just like the rest of you lot.”

          The Great Hall fell silent. Malfoy had just brought all of Gryffindor House into this, and everyone knew it. Harry’s eyes were blazing. “I know what I am, Malfoy,” he said dangerously, his voice escalating to a shout. It rang clearly through the room. “I’m a Gryffindor!”

          In the silent Hall his shout would have echoed off of the walls. But it was drowned out in a roar of other voices as the entire Gryffindor table screamed, “Gryffindor! Gryffindor!

          Silence fell. Had the Gryffindors won? Across the room, the Slytherins glanced at each other and grinned. Not so easily. Nobody ever won against a Slytherin easily.

          “Potter, we all know what unfortunate House you’re in,” Draco said coolly, smirking. The resounding calls of the Gryffindors did not prevent the entire Hall from hearing his cutting remarks. “The fact that you are in it certainly does your House no benefit.”

          The Slytherins laughed coldly, and chorused “Slytherin! Slytherin!” in obvious mockery of the Gryffindors.

          Harry had had enough. It was time to shut Malfoy up once and for all, he thought. It would be House against House, and Gryffindor pride could settle for nothing less than victory. He looked up and down his table at the people seated there. What should he do?

          A sudden burst of inspiration came to him, in the form of a Quidditch rally cheer. Harry cleared his throat, and brought up the confidence he used on the pitch. “Which House is bravery?” he hollered.

          His House fell into rhythm seamlessly. “Gryffindor! Gryffindor!”

          Harry made the leap from the floor onto his bench, where he stood, towering above everyone and glaring at Malfoy. “And which House is chivalry?” he demanded.


          Harry gestured to Hermione, who stood up to join him. She knew the cheer as well as he. “And which House is honor?” she shrieked.


          “But which House is influence?” Draco Malfoy’s cold voice cut sarcastically through the cheers.

          His mates caught on. “Slytherin! Slytherin!”

          “And which House is power?”


          “Which House holds the blood of a first Hogwarts founder?” Malfoy roared viciously above the crowd, silencing almost all in the room.

          Blaise Zambini leapt to his feet, eager for the approval of Slytherin’s heir. “Which House is the ambition of the genuine and pure?” he called.

          “Which House leads its followers, destined for greatness?” Malfoy answered proudly.

          Crabbe and Goyle chimed in, “And which House holds—um, the…er…”

          They trailed off, and Harry laughed loudly. Once again he demanded of his table. “Which House holds the favor of the earnest and the strong?”

          “Which House fights for righteousness and accepts the blood of all?” Hermione shouted.

          “Which House is wizardry?”


          “Which House is reality?”






          And which House will win this next bloody food fight, Harry thought as he stooped down, grabbed the nearest bowl of mashed potatoes, and hurled its contents at the silver and green table.

          Albus Dumbledore sighed as the carefully prepared meal came flying past his face. Certainly a food fight every once in a while added a bit of well-needed excitement to dinner, but this was just too much. Something had to be done.

          He could freeze the food right in its place, of course. He could even freeze all of the students in the entire Hall. But what good would that do? If they couldn’t throw food, they would find something else to throw. And he would rather not give them that option.

          No, he thought. It would have to affect them from inside their ranks, past their established intolerance of each other. Then, it would be permanent.

           Dumbledore scoured the students in question with his eyes. His gaze landed on the Slytherin king, Draco. He was slinging gravy with malice at Ginny Weasley, who had just landed a sloppy handful of creamed corn down his robes. It was true that Draco would be the hardest of all, but he had all of the others at his beck and call. After him, it would almost be too easy.

         At the Gryffindor table, Dumbledore saw students that would be nearly as difficult as Draco. Harry was the apparent leader there, but Dumbledore feared that Harry and Draco could never learn to get along. There was too much history there: wrongs done since birth, and wrongs done even before that. It was not Malfoy versus Potter anymore. It was the embodiment of Gryffindor morals versus the embodiment of Slytherin’s.

          What about Ronald Weasley? He was Harry’s best mate, second-in-command. He held sway over the Gryffindor crowd.

           But just the mention of the name Weasley, Dumbledore thought, brought to mind a host of other faces. Molly and Arthur, Charlie and Bill, Percy and Fred and George and Ginny. All Gryffindors, and all blood-traitors in the eyes of the pureblood community. What would this family think of Ronald, if he were to be the Gryffindor to finally ally himself with the Slytherin king?

          No…it was too much to ask, for Ronald to give up his family’s pride.

          Dumbledore felt that Draco would yield more willingly to one of his own year, instead of one older or younger than him. In his year in Gryffindor, there were best friends Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan. But if one were to befriend Draco, what would the other one say? Their friendship would most certainly not survive.

           Lastly in that year, there was…Neville Longbottom. Immediately Dumbledore cast him aside. He was not even an option for this particular experiment. The poor boy’s got a fear of the Dark Lord that’s been forced to the surface by what happened to his parents, Dumbledore thought.

          None of the boys would do…but the girls?

          Dumbledore scanned Gryffindor table once more. His gaze landed on Hermione Granger almost at once.

          She was sitting quietly, almost dejectedly, next to Ron; she threw nothing, but was protected from most of the flying food by Harry, who was standing on the table in front of her. It seemed now that the Gryffindor rally cheer was over, all her House spirit had gone from her. She gazed resignedly at the scene in front of her, her eyes wandering about until they finally settled on a blond head at the Slytherin table.

           Dumbledore smiled a crooked grin. Despite knowing the consequences, the fact was that he just simply liked to meddle. He thought it was fun, and for the better, anyway. 

          This would take creativity. This would take finesse. But in the end, it would all pay off, because it would be something the students of Hogwarts would talk about for ages. They wouldn’t know what hit them.

          “Ugh, this is gross,” Hermione complained to Lavender Brown through the door of their bathroom in the girl’s dormitory. “I have corn and potatoes stuck in my hair!” she shrieked above the roar of the shower.

          “Yeah, well I have corn and potatoes stuck in my hair, too, so hurry up in there!” Lavender replied crankily. The high of the food fight had died down, and all that was left in the Gryffindors was the lingering feeling of animosity, sour like a bad aftertaste. It was what always inevitably happened after a House war.

          “All right, all right, I’m out,” Hermione grumbled, wrapping her clean hair in a towel and her body in another. “The drain’s probably all blocked up though.”

           Lavender raced into the bathroom the moment Hermione set foot into the dormitory. The door slammed shut behind her. Hermione shrugged, feeling grouchy and dirty still as well. Changing into her pajamas, she looked around the room at the other girls.

           “Great dinner, huh?” Parvati Patil commented, sitting contentedly on the floor and grinning. She was too soiled with food to sit on her bed.

          “I can’t believe you’re in a good mood. You’re absolutely covered in filth. Aren’t you going to take a shower?” Hermione climbed into her own bed.

          “Of course,” the girl replied, “but it’s not even like nine o’clock. Why go to bed so early?”

          Hermione shrugged. “I’m doing homework.” And so she was. With books and rolls of parchment stacked around her on the bed, she worked for an hour or so before she gave up trying to concentrate. Stupid food fights at dinner ruin my peace, she thought irritably. Why can’t everyone just leave each other alone already? I’m sick of this ridiculous House pride.

           The lights in the dormitory were still on, but Hermione turned away and hid her face partially in her pillow. She was soon fast asleep.

           Across the castle and below six floors, the Slytherin boys were far from getting ready for bed.

          “And which House is the…er—um—duhhhh,” Blaise slurred playfully while Crabbe and Goyle protested at being made fun of.

           “Come on, you idiots, keep thinking,” Theo Nott protested, sitting on his bed with a serious expression and a piece of parchment. “We have to own them next time. We have to blow them out of this bloody world.” He paused, frustrated at his friends’ unresponsiveness. “For god’s sake, you lot are Slytherins! You can’t think of anything better than, ‘Which House is the shield of the green and silver snake’?”

          Draco, lounging lazily on his own bed, snorted. “We didn’t think of that, Nott. You did.”

           “Well then, it’s high time you thought of something,” Nott snapped bravely at the Slytherin king. “We’ve got to be prepared when they start something again.” He could not risk the remark that it had been the Slytherins that had started it tonight, once again.

           “Oh, grow a spine. Where’s your sense of adventure?” Draco drawled. “They’re not going to try the same thing twice, dimwit. You have to be creative. They’re not going to give you time to prepare your insults, Nott.”

          Nott snapped his mouth shut. Draco’s dad wielded more power and authority in the Dark Lord’s inner circle than his dad. Therefore, Draco also had more in Slytherin House than he did.

           Draco rolled his eyes at the lumbering Crabbe and Goyle, trying to corner the impishly grinning Blaise, who was too quick for them. He leapt from bed to bed, changing course too abruptly for the other two boys, who stumbled over books, trunks, and lamps. There was more than one thing broken in the dormitory by this time.

           “Watching you all scampering about wears me out,” Draco commented, yawning and stretching. His shirt slid up to reveal an intriguing stretch of pale white stomach, but of course none of the boys were interested. “It’s like watching two gorillas and a squirrel go at each other at the zoo.”

           The three boys froze in place at the remark and settled down almost immediately. Even Blaise, who was one of Draco’s closest friends, did not say anything.

           “I’m tired too,” Nott broke the silence. He looked around uneasily before heading into the bathroom to brush his teeth. Draco slid off of his bed and did the same.

           When he returned to the dormitory, the remaining boys were in their boxers and undershirts already, claiming and feigning tiredness. Draco shook his head, smiling slightly. He was too smart to take his power for granted, but it didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy it.

A/N: If enough people are interested in this story, I'll write more soon, i promise. Right now my priority's finishing my Sirius story and starting a Marauders one. Please read and review!

Chapter 2: Island in the Sun, Part I
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A/N: It's been a bit slow going with this story and fast going with real life for me, but chapter two's finally out!

EDIT (3/3/08): I can't transfer text from advanced to simple editing when I first post without losing it all, so I come back and mess with HTML to fix spacing. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Also reminding you all: I haven't forgotten about this story, just recovering from severe writers block. Please review to help me keep going!!!

Hermione woke suddenly as something grainy and uncomfortably itchy flew into her eyelid. Mumbling her displeasure but hardly wanting to move an inch, she scrabbled with her fingers to gain hold of her sheets in case someone were to whip them off in an inconsiderate attempt to wake her up.

          She was met with nothing. There was only that same grainy feeling again, now under her fingernails. She could almost feel it in her scalp, on her neck, up her back. It was spreading everywhere.

          Hermione wiggled nervously without opening her eyes. This was not right. Willing her brain to wake up and function, she sniffed the air for signs of Dungbombs (she had been the victim of one too many pranks to quite forget the smell) in case Ron or Dean Thomas had enlisted the help of one of her roommates again. But she could identify only a light saltiness mixed with the heavy aroma of rotting coconuts. Either someone was cooking coconuts in her dorm, or…

          “Damn that Parvati girl, always spraying that fruity stuff everywhere,” Hermione muttered crossly, still less than half awake.

          As the stench of coconut embedded itself permanently into her nose, she also become more aware of another discomfort: she was burning up underneath her covers. For heaven’s sake, it was like an oven in here.

           She reached to throw her covers off herself, but again her hand closed on nothing, which was quite strange. Hermione wanted desperately to go back to sleep, but the heat was suffocating. The grainy feeling was irritating. And the smell of the rotting fruit was just unbearable. Hermione had no choice but to pry her own eyes open to make whoever was having her lose sleep suffer. 

          But what she saw immediately wiped every trace of frustration from her mind as her vision, still blurry from sleep, filled with blue sky so bright it could’ve been the sea if not for the clouds (white, fluffy, so unlike the heavy gray ones hanging over Hogwarts presently). Slowly she levered herself onto her elbow, squinting in the sun and following the sky to the horizon line. Hermione gasped as she saw, indeed, the gleaming sea stretching from her feet as far as she could see in either direction.

           She was lying on her back in her pajamas, in the middle of a vast stretch of sandy beach so close to the shore that the waves could’ve licked her feet. Whipping her head around so fast her neck cracked, Hermione saw that lining the beach on the far side were rows and rows of beautiful green palm trees, laden with…yes, coconuts.

          There were coconuts by bunches, and some had fallen on the sand, too ripe and unpicked, to crack on the ground and run with milk. Hermione’s nose wrinkled involuntarily.

          The palm trees soon gave way to dense tropical forest, and as much as Hermione’s readings on the tropics could tell her, she could recognize that in this particular place it did so without a trace of anything wizard—or even human—made. Hermione’s stomach twitched uneasily. Did that mean that there were no people here?

          Hermione looked around for a long time without moving. No, there had to be people here. How else would she have gotten here? No one could play a prank this real, not even Fred and George. And they were long gone from Hogwarts. Either she had been snatched out of bed and kidnapped and brought here onto this beach; or, she was just dreaming.

          Gliding over the sand a few feet forward on her hands and knees, she reached out a hand to touch the water that lapped onto the beach. It felt wet. Grabbing a handful of sand and tossing it into the air with sudden unsuppressed glee, she barely cared when the wind blew it all back into her face. It felt grainy. It felt like sand. This was real.

           Immediately she stripped off her cotton tank and pajama bottoms, which were getting sticky with sweat. Wearing only her undergarments, she ran squealing and splashing into the surf.

           Seaweed and invisible fish tickled her legs and coarse gravel crunched under her feet as she waded out further into the water. It was real, alright. Hermione turned her face to the sun, squinting gleefully, running unbelieving fingers through the calm waves. The water was so blue that Hermione thought it was impossible for her to be anywhere near London. This quiet place, with its beaches, palm trees, and blazing sun was definitely tropical. 

          When the water had reached above her belly button, she took a deep breath and dove straight under. The water running over her itchy, sandy skin felt wonderful, and she could’ve swam there forever. Eventually, though, she dragged herself back up onto the sand before she caught a cold. It took almost more willpower than was present in her at the moment.

          For a while, all she could do was tip her head back, dip her feet into the waves, and enjoy the sunshine, which was warm enough to dry her. For someone who had lived near London all her life, this weather was paradise. Just heavenly. It was all just too good to be true. And a holiday from all of her Hogwarts schoolwork was more than welcome. She could’ve fallen asleep, there on the beach, all over again.

           But she was, as ever, Hermione. As soon as the thrill began to wear off and hunger set in, the practical part inside of her brain snapped to attention and promptly began to panic.

           What was she doing here? She wondered uneasily, looking around again. The pressing silence, the absence of human life, was beginning to feel much more malevolent. If she truly had been kidnapped, where were her kidnappers? Did they just mean to leave her here to die? What would have been their purpose in kidnapping her then? It didn’t make sense!

           Her imagination began to run wild. Maybe she was being held for ransom. Maybe Voldemort’s very headquarters were in this place.

           Maybe the Death Eaters were hiding among the trees, biding their time, waiting for exactly the right moment and the command to pounce…

          Guiltily she reached for her clothes hurriedly to cover herself and her sopping undergarments. But even as she yanked her pajamas back over her sandy skin and tried to pull her windblown hair back, she couldn’t shake an uneasy feeling of nakedness. Of vulnerability. She glanced back at the trees lining the beach, still swaying innocently in the slight breeze. There was nothing there, she chided herself, embarrassed at her own paranoia.

           But if there was, how could she protect herself? Unconsciously she reached into her pocket, and came up empty. Her wand…!!!

          Hermione shrieked, running her hands over her pajama pants where pockets would normally be on her jeans. If she had no wand, she was a sitting duck, an easy target. She had no way to protect herself at all. Dropping to her knees, she began to paw through the sand where she had been laying before, in the vain hope that it had been covered up.

           Her stomach flipped violently as she forced herself to stop looking and admit that she was now, in fact, without wand.

          Hermione forced herself to calm her breathing and racing heart before she started hyperventilating, which would only make this bad situation worse. Okay, so she was lost. In a place that had no sign of being inhabited by anything. Stuck, with no idea where she was, or how to get back to where she came from. And stuck without a wand. It was looking pretty dire.

           At least there had been no sign of attackers yet. Maybe she had only Apparated here by accident…in her sleep… 

          Hermione shook her head, disgusted at herself. Professor McGonagall had mentioned once a warning of spells performed unconsciously. It was a wizarding phenomenon that had caused quite a bit of trouble in the past at Hogwarts. It didn’t happen often, but occasionally there had been an exceptional student with strong wizarding potential who would have gone to bed a bit upset…

          That one student stupid enough, incompetent enough to let their power leak out of them could not be her, Hermione told herself. After all, she had to have tight control over her own mind. And she had no idea how to Apparate. She would be getting her license this coming summer.

           But sitting here was getting her nowhere. Absolutely nowhere. And it was better to be a moving target without a wand, she reasoned, than a target sitting stationary on the beach, waiting to be attacked. Without a wand. If she had indeed been brought here by others, she needed to evade capture until she could figure out how to escape.

           She staggered to her feet, lightheaded and dizzy from panic and sun. She needed to get under shade before she became dehydrated, she thought mechanically.

           Looking around, there was more than enough shade provided by the trees away from the beach. Noting the tropical climate with less happiness than before, Hermione headed into the shade of the woods. But far from providing relief from the heat, the stagnant air in the woods positively steamed. At least near the water there had been a slight, if salty, breeze. Hermione sighed before deciding on a compromise: she would walk along the very edge of the woods, under the shade of the outermost ring of trees without relinquishing the fresh air on the beach.

           The tropical climate posed another problem for Hermione. It told her, vaguely, where she was geographically. This kind of climate would only be found near the Equator of the Earth. That was approximately 25,000 miles, and more. 

          She had to start from somewhere, she supposed. The first thing would be to figure out how large the body of water that had formed this beach was. If it was a lake, there surely had to be civilization somewhere along it. If it was a sea, then by following the beach she would eventually end up somewhere along the coast of a mainland of some sort. Where there would be civilization. And if it was an ocean…? Hermione gulped. Anything was possible.

           She was about to swallow the lump risen in her throat and start off walking away when an urge suddenly bade her to run back onto the beach.

          Finding a long stick of driftwood on the sand, she ground the thick end of it deep into the sand, above where she thought the tide would rise, leaving the thin, pointy end to stick out a good two feet into the air. Lightheaded, she reached out and snapped the very end half-off with painful precision. There it hung, like the head of Nearly Headless Nick.

           Reaching up to twist her bothersome hair out of her face as she began to walk back toward the trees, Hermione felt a bit better. She was quite proud of her creation. It served to mark where she had started, if she were to get lost. She could always come back to her stick.

           Shaking her head, Hermione followed the edge of the woods, off in search of fresh water and some food other than coconuts. As mysteriously unexplainable as it was, the fact stood that it was more than likely she would be here for some time. Survival was more important presently than answers. 

          For once, Hermione had no answers. She could only walk, helpless, for what seemed like hours.

          Just as hope was draining out of her, she rounded a bend into a clearing. In this clearing flowed a small, cold, stream of water, which collected into a pool at the base of a large, natural rock formation. Next to the rocks stood a poor tree whose branches were drooping so low they almost touched the ground. Hermione’s jaw dropped as she saw the weight that brought them down, the weight of bunches and bunches of bright yellow bananas.

           This made no sense. She had not heard the trickle of water nor smelled the ripeness of the fruit until but a moment before she saw them. It was almost as if they had just appeared in front of her.

           Too grateful, thirsty, and hungry to wonder about them for long, Hermione ate and drank her fill until she finally dropped into a weary, heat-induced sleep.

A/N: A little repetitive, wasn’t it? I tried to make the island imagery vivid, and Hermione’s thoughts on survival as logical as her character would actually be. Did I succeed? The thing is, all this description and background is needed to keep the story from becoming too far-fetched.

Meanwhile, we have here quite the mystery. Thoughts on what could possibly be happening? Please review, and watch for the next chapter, Island in the Sun, Part II

Chapter 3: Island in the Sun, Part II
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A/N: Here's Part 2, finally! Sorry for the long wait, but this chapter was kind of hard to write.

EDIT (4/26/08): Spacing. Sadly, I haven't even started chapter 4 yet (too busy with others). Please review, though. Suggestions and criticism are very welcome!!

          Draco awoke the same morning to find that someone had turned up the heat in the dormitory. It was blazing hot. He could’ve simply sat up, reached for his wand, and uttered a brief spell to make the air around his bed cooler. But Draco Malfoy was too lazy, not to mention above behavior such as that. So instead, without opening his eyes, he wished for someone else to turn the heat down for him.

          Almost immediately, Draco felt a welcome coolness sweeping over him. Wish…granted?

          That’s nice, Draco thought. He was so used to having everything and everyone at his beck and call, he didn’t really notice or care about the curiosity of the situation. Besides, it struck him that there was something else a little more curious about this morning anyway. Draco’s mind, slow with sleep, struggled to identify it.

          It wasn’t bad, per se. Only a little strange, that the room around him was so serene. Usually it was the idiotic squabbling of the mindless goons that awoke him at ungodly hours of the morning. More likely than Nott, it was Blaise who had provoked them into aggravation.

          But today, Draco heard nothing. There was only blissful silence.

          This was too rare not to be taken advantage of. He would finally have one morning where he could sleep as late as he wanted to, and not have to wake to the disconcerting sight of Crabbe and Goyle stumbling and tripping over one another.

          Draco rolled over to a different spot on his pillow with the sole intent of going back to sleep, and instead got a face-full of coarse sand.

          “Bloody hell!” Draco roared, not caring who he woke up, in the dorm or outside. Sputtering indignantly and trying to scrub his eyes clean, he spat sand out of his mouth frantically. What was this, some completely unfunny attempt at a practical joke? Hadn’t the dimwitted imbeciles learned by now that one does not prank a Malfoy?

          It was no matter. He could—and would—get them all back accordingly. Compiling a mental list of revenge strategies, as well as materials he would need to write home to request for, Draco finally got the last of the sand from his eyes and opened them, intent on physically harming any suspects within reach. “Whoever did this is gonna—”

          The rest of his sentence trailed off into nothing. Looking around, Draco gulped. Not only was there sand on his pillow, but there was sand everywhere.

          An island. He was on an actual island. Blue sky, sparkling sea, long stretch of beach, palm trees, coconuts. Yep, it was all there.

          As mad as he was, Draco had to give the goons some credit. If Draco didn’t know any better, it almost looked believably real. Although Blaise had to have helped them with some of the trickier spells, because everyone had found out exactly how skilled Crabbe and Goyle were at Charms after the time they tried to perform an Aguamenti and ended up flooding the entire Great Hall. Though, Draco supposed, the skill could come in handy when conjuring up an ocean.

          And any second now, after they waited just long enough to make Draco panic a little, the goons and Blaise would leap out from their hiding spots, cackling like hyenas at their own cleverness, and wave their wands to make it all disappear. He could be back in his dorm any second, and if it was still early enough, hopefully get some more sleep. Honestly, it felt as if he had not slept at all.

          Draco crawled over to the base of the huge palm tree that had been shading him from the sun (which had appeared only for that purpose, though he didn’t know it) and leaned his back against the trunk to wait. He was going to be calm and collected, when his mates wanted most to see him terrified, and maintain his composure even if it killed him.

          But by the time the sun had crossed over half of the sky, Draco was beginning to become impatient of waiting. Where the hell were they? They didn’t actually think they would get the satisfaction of watching him panic over nothing, did they?

          Draco sighed. The island might not have been real, but he felt as if it was. He was hot, hungry, and really thirsty. If he didn’t get back to the dorm soon, breakfast would probably be over.

          Plus, if he stayed here much longer, he’d faint from overheating and dehydration. Now, that’d be a sight for the goons to behold: Draco Malfoy, pale and shriveled, sprawled unconscious underneath a palm tree.

          Draco’s chuckle turned into a dry cough. He needed water, now. And if there was really no other choice put to swallow his pride…staying alive was more important. He sighed, heaved himself to his feet, and began to pace around frantically, muttering to himself in the semblance of worry. Every few seconds, he’d glance around to make sure they were watching. But when that yielded no results, he began to run in circles, yelling hoarsely for help at the top of his lungs. Still nothing. Was this not good enough?

          This is ridiculous, Draco thought disgustedly. I want out, now! Waving his arms above his head, he raced over to the nearest clump of bushes and began to trample them with a singular concentration. Why don’t you ignore me now, you prats?!

          Sweating and out of breath, after he had flattened the entire row of bushes, Draco had to admit that there was no Crabbe and no Goyle and no Blaise hiding behind them.

          Glancing around again, he spotted a line of scruffy palm trees not too far away. Maybe they had climbed up and were watching him from above, creepy as it was. Maybe they hadn’t heard him shouting, and were wondering why he had just crushed an entire clump of bushes. Maybe they were trying to come and rescue him, but Crabbe and Goyle couldn’t climb back down and were now stuck in the tree.

          There were an entire host of possibilities.

          Plodding over to the row of trees, his head hung dejectedly, Draco slammed both fists into the first trunk he reached. Making sure anyone who was near could hear, he buried his face into his hands and began to force dry sobs from his throat. Pathetic, he knew. But he supposed he could always repair his dignity later, after they took him out of this nightmare and back to Hogwarts.

          He slid to a seat on the sand again, his back against the trunk. Still, there was no movement, from above or anywhere else. His sobs increased with volume and got wetter as his aggravation grew. Where the hell were they? Were they seriously going to wait for him to faint and then have to drag his unconscious body to the Hospital Wing for fun?

          As real tears began to run between his pale fingers, Draco marveled at how great he was at acting. He could become a first-rate thespian like this.

          Too bad the tears just kept coming, and he could do nothing to stop them.

          “Sir, I am concerned,” Severus Snape, Head of Slytherin House, pressed. He had requested a meeting alone with the Headmaster, but Dumbledore was being less than helpful.

          “And what in the world might concern you, Severus?”

          The twinkle in Dumbledore’s eye annoyed Snape. It was like the man could never take anything seriously. Either that, or he already knew what Snape’s problem was, and he was just humoring him. But that was pretty much impossible.

          “Draco Malfoy has not been attending classes or seen around the school for the last 24 hours,” Snape proclaimed slowly, savoring the idea of alleviating this burden from himself onto the Headmaster. It went without saying that if Draco, the Slytherin Prince and heir to the House of Malfoy, suddenly turned up missing, then Lucius Malfoy would be out for blood at Hogwarts. And Snape preferred not to have to deal with such consequences.

          To his great annoyance, Dumbledore didn’t appear to share his concern at all. “So you think he has vanished?” the Headmaster clarified.

          “It would appear so,” Snape growled.

          “Have you checked his dorm?” Dumbledore asked, like he thought Snape was not as brilliant as he thought himself.

          There was nothing Snape hated more than being patronized. “I doubt Mr. Malfoy would do such a thing. He would grow too hungry too soon,” he replied dryly. “Besides, who or what could he be avoiding by hiding?”

          Dumbledore chuckled. “I’m sure, Severus, that I have no idea.”

          Snape sighed. He knew a dismissal when he heard one. And now that Draco wasn’t his problem anymore, he could go back to teaching those other miserable hopeless worms that called themselves witches and wizards.

          The door to the Headmaster’s office slammed shut behind him as he made his way back down the spiraling stairs.

          After a while, Draco felt a pounding headache coming on. Looking up and squinting at the relentless sun that he was starting to despise, he guessed that it was about midday, or later.

          His brain worked furiously. It was pretty obvious that Blaise and them weren’t playing the game he had thought. Even they weren’t stupid enough to play a prank on Draco and then forget to come back and collect the reward, the satisfaction of having succeeded in scaring Draco out of his mind.

          But then what was really going on? he wondered, his head swimming. Maybe being the loyal minions they were, they had noticed how stressed Draco had been lately, and sent him here for a mini-vacation from classes.

          Draco snorted. Loyal minions sending him on vacations? Well, wasn’t that just wishful thinking? He was obviously becoming delirious from dehydration. He really needed to find water.

          Standing up, he was startled to hear the soft trickle of moving water within the woods. It was probably just the ocean, and his mind deceiving him. But as the rush of water grew louder, calling to him with the promise of a refreshing drink, he decided to investigate it further anyway.

          After a few minutes of fighting through thick jungle-like underbrush, Draco found himself about twenty meters into the forest, at the base of a huge rock formation. It wasn’t a mountain or a cliff, exactly. It just looked like a piece of the ground on which no plants could grow, washed clean of soil naturally by rain…if any rain ever fell in this climate.

          The bottom of the rock on this side was about as wide as Draco’s arm-span. He couldn’t see through to the other side because of two particularly large palm trees that the rock was wedged between, but decided it wasn’t worth caring about. Most likely, there was only more jungle, steaming as the greedy sun drew moisture away from the ground.

          Besides, what was important was the small trickle of water flowing down from the top of the rock to make the soil at its base moist. Draco supposed there was a spring or fresh-water source above the rock formation, and cupping his hand against the side of the rocks, drank gratefully. The water was cold, surprisingly.

          After drinking his fill, Draco felt a lot better. His mind began to think clearly again.

          Curse Hogwarts for teaching us Divination instead of something useful, he thought. How about a class on Essential Skills for Survival on a Deserted Island? I could die here, for all they know.

          But maybe there are other people here. How else would I have gotten here? he thought.

          Draco chuckled a little. How obvious. If he found the inhabitants of this place, maybe they could help him get back to Hogwarts. That would be just as good, if not better, than being rescued by Dumbledore or his father or something. He’d show Dumbledore he was not to be coddled or pitied; he’d show his father he could accomplish something on his own. This was Draco Malfoy’s time to prove himself to the world!

          Gulping down a last mouthful of water and noting the location of the rock in his head, Draco smashed his way back through the underbrush until he broke through again onto the beach. The waterfront was as quiet as ever, the sand undisturbed. There were no footprints.

          The next obvious thing to look for would be a trail or a path. No sane human being would want to trample back and forth through the jungle like an elephant when they could just make a path.

          Setting off along the edge of the beach, where it met the forest, Draco began to walk. He peered through the dense trees, hoping for a glimpse of a house, or a trail, or anything man-made. He walked for what seemed like ages, and his feet were killing him. But as he plopped down onto the sand to yank his loafers off his feet, something on the beach in the distance caught his eye.

          He walked closer to it, eyeing it suspiciously. It was a stick of wood, firmly anchored into the sand at a 90-degree angle. But though the stick looked like a normal branch or a piece of driftwood, Draco could think of no possible way it would have naturally ended up in such a position. It had to have been placed there.

          Even more curious was that at the top, about three inches had been snapped halfway off so that it hung precariously in danger of separating from the rest of the stick. Draco laughed. It almost reminded him of that ridiculous Gryffindor ghost, Nearly Headless Nick.

          This was no coincidence, Draco realized. This was the work of intelligent life.

          Although the term ‘intelligent’ should be used loosely, Draco thought dryly. Perhaps this is some sort of primitive art form. Either way, there are people on this island, which means there is a way off of it.

          The thought spurred new energy into Draco as he set off down the beach again, in search of the people that he now knew had to exist. He abandoned his loafers to sit on the sand next to the stick.

           As Minerva McGonagall climbed the spiral staircase that led to the Headmaster’s office, she felt the joints in her knees creak with protest. Maybe I’m getting too old for this job, she thought to herself. She was, after all, over the 70-year hill, and swiftly approaching 80.

          Looking up from her defiant knees, she saw the shadow of a man block the way up the stairs above her. It only took one glance at the way the light reflected off his greasy head to figure out who he was.

          McGonagall silently chastised herself for having such mean thoughts about a fellow teacher before nodding at the man, who moved aside to make room for her to ascend. “Severus,” she greeted him shortly.

          “Charmed, as always, Minnie,” Snape replied just as curtly.

          McGonagall almost turned back around. She really shouldn’t allow him to address her so casually and with so little respect. She had, after all, been his Transfiguration professor back in his day at Hogwarts. But Severus had grown up into a cynical, sour man, and had little respect for anyone, so why should she expect any?

          Briefly, she wondered what had sent him up to see Dumbledore, but dismissed it just as quickly, because she was sure that whatever it was couldn’t possibly be as urgent as her problem.


          Dumbledore turned around expectantly as McGonagall arrived at the top of the staircase, panting slightly. It seemed that he had somehow already anticipated her arrival.

          “Yes, Minerva? Is something the matter?”

          “Oh…” McGonagall coughed. In all her years as Head of Gryffindor House, she had not once encountered a problem she could not solve herself. Now faced with having to finally admit defeat to Dumbledore, she found that it did not come as easily as she imagined.

          “Yes?” Dumbledore waited patiently for McGonagall to find her voice.

          “Well, Headmaster, it seems that…Hermione Granger is missing,” she whispered ashamedly. “I’m not sure how it happened, or why. There were no abnormal changes in her behavior patterns, or emotional distress of any sort. I just simply can’t explain it, Albus.” She seemed near tears.

          The corner of Dumbledore’s mouth quirked up. He had always known that Minerva McGonagall kept close tabs on her students, but this was the first time he had seen the woman in action. Monitoring changes in behavioral patterns and amounts of emotional distress was going a little too far, even for Minnie. Although he had to admit that it was nice to see a Head of House care for her students like she did.

          “I’m sure she’s fine,” Dumbledore comforted her, patting her on the shoulder. “She can’t have gone far.”

          “Wha—what?” McGonagall looked up at him, eyes narrowing in suspicion before the tears in them had completely dried. “You wouldn’t have anything to do with this, would you, Albus?”

          Dumbledore summoned up his most innocent expression. “Of course not, Minerva. You must stop jumping so quickly to conclusions. Perhaps Hermione is just ill, or tired, or doesn’t wish to see anyone at the moment. Have you checked her dormitory?”

         McGonagall sighed. She could see there was no getting through to the Headmaster. “No, sir, I have not,” she admitted. “But…”

          “Well?” Dumbledore prodded. “But what?”

          “It just doesn’t seem probable, that’s all. Hermione would never skip so many classes for no reason…” McGonagall paused. “And wouldn’t she get hungry?”

          Dumbledore laughed out loud. “Is food everything these days?”

          “What?” McGonagall looked confused.

          “Never-mind. I will take care of Hermione, Minerva. Now, don’t you have a class to be teaching?”

          McGonagall sighed as she bade the crazy Headmaster goodbye and headed back down the spiraling stairs. 

A/N: So, is Draco's reaction to the island compared to Hermione's realistic enough? Please REVIEW and tell me if I achieved the characters I was aiming for (Hermione: practical and level-headed, Draco: spoiled and dependent on others), plus thoughts on what could be happening now. Has anyone figured it out yet?

Chapter 4: A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes
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A/N: Here is the complete 4th chapter...enjoy!!

          Hermione woke with a jolt. For a moment, she looked around in panic, before she remembered where she was. The sun was hovering low on the horizon; its burning orange reflection in the water made Hermione’s eyes hurt. When she had settled in this clearing, the sun had been almost directly above her. She had been asleep long enough for the sun to set.

          Heaving herself up off the ground was a painful experience. Wincing as unused joints creaked and stiff muscles cramped, Hermione realized that sleeping on a slab of rock wasn’t the same as her fluffy mattress in her dormitory at Hogwarts.

          She sighed heavily, and plodded over to the spring to drink and splash some cold water on her face. Even though, judging by the sun, her nap had taken about 7 hours, she felt as if she had not slept at all.

          On the bright side, she now had a water and food source (although she didn’t know how well her stomach would adjust to an all-bananas diet). She mentally mapped out the location of the clearing so she could find it again later before striking out again into the forest.

          The sun was setting, casting long purple shadows of the trees behind Hermione. It was beginning to get cooler, which was good, she supposed.

          But as dusk began to fall and it grew harder and harder to see through the trees around her, Hermione realized that although she had just woken up, she could not reasonably spend the night exploring the forest. It was alien enough in the daytime, but in the dark it could be fair dangerous. She had to find an open space to set up camp.

          Then she remembered the stick she had planted in the sand earlier that day, to mark the place where she had arrived. There were stretches of beach there, shaded by palm trees. She could go there.

           Immediately Hermione reoriented herself so she faced away from the patches of pink sky where the sun had been and headed back toward where she had come from that morning, feeling cross. All this wandering around was pointless and tiring; she felt like she had not slept at all, and she was no closer to finding a way off this island. What was she supposed to do now?

          The trees thinned as she approached the beach. Up ahead, she could see the thin silhouette of her creation, nearer to the water than before.

          As she walked closer she noticed two new objects sitting next to the stick, which itself was unaltered, undisturbed. Hermione squinted through the semi-darkness to see what they were. She nearly trod upon them before she could identify them.

          She gasped. A pair of shoes, black loafers. Mens shoes.

          She flipped them over. Size 44. This man had large feet, whoever he was. But more importantly, he was here, on this island! Hermione leaped up for joy and squealed, clutching the shoes tightly. He had gotten here, and he would have a way to get back!

          Heart pounding, she settled down to examine the shoes more carefully. She could barely see, but the leather felt well-cared-for and well-made.

          “This would be so much easier if I could light a fire,” she grumbled to herself.

          Under the tongue the maker of the shoes was stitched. Crockers. Something in Hermione’s mind stirred as she recognized the name. Harry had shoes like these. Ron had—Percy’s old ones—but shoes like these nonetheless. Her father even had shoes like these, for work.

          Whoever the man was, he had British-made shoes, Hermione realized excitedly, and was most likely from Great Britain. He might even live in London!

          Leaping up once more, she could not contain her happiness at her sheer luck. “Hurray!” she screamed to the empty sky, waving the shoes around above her head. The sound traveled across the water.

          When Hermione stopped to draw a breath, a quiet but indignant voice sounded behind her. “What the hell are you doing with my shoes? Put them down!”

          As the girl let her arms drop to her sides and turned around, Draco felt his jaw drop. This wasn’t just any mad crazy girl. He knew this one.

          It was Hermione Granger.

          When the sun had begun to set, he knew that he had to stop his exploration for the time being. Still, he had come across no path or shelter that indicated that there was any human life on the island. He supposed he would go back to the stick in the sand where he had left his loafers, and strike out again in the opposite direction the next day.

          As he had neared this stretch of beach, through the darkness he had heard a series of shrill squeals that could only have been made by a human. Excited, he had raced ahead to peer through the darkness, and found…

          “What the hell are you doing here?” Hermione cried, the expression on her face vaguely mirroring Draco’s. This was it? These shoes were Draco’s? There was no man from London with a way off the island, then. No chance of escape. And saddled with this inept and belligerent boy to deal with, practically no chance of survival for Hermione at all. She flung her hands up in aggravation, almost hurling Draco’s shoes into the water.

          “Watch the shoes, girl!” Draco snarled, forgetting his hunger, thirst, exhaustion, panic, and other uncomfortable feelings in a burst of extreme concern for his favorite pair of shoes. “Once they’ve gotten wet, the leather will never be the same again!”

          Hermione laughed aloud in his face. Severe disappointment and frustration didn’t keep her from thinking his vanity was hilarious. “We’re trapped here, you prat. We could die here. And all you can think about is your bloody shoes?”

          Draco set his jaw unhappily. “If I could sell them for a one-way plane ticket out of here, I would,” he muttered defensively.

          “I’d think you wouldn’t trust planes, being a Muggle invention and all,” Hermione commented.

          “Well, it’s easier to wish for than to sell my shoes for a wand that did my bidding and the ability to Apparate,” he explained.

          Hermione sighed. “So you don’t have a wand, either?”

          “Unfortunately, no,” Draco said, quirking his mouth. “I don’t usually sleep with my wand tucked in my pants.” Realizing that he was having an actual civil conversation with Hermione, the little know-it-all princess of Gryffindor, Draco paused. The shock of it jolted him back to reality.

          He was stuck here, maybe for good. And he was stuck here with Hermione.

          “Wait…so how did you get here again?” he asked her.

          “I have no idea,” she replied honestly. “I woke up on the beach, but I don’t remember anything between that and the food fight last night in the Great Hall.”

          Draco had the grace to flush slightly. “Oh, yes, dinner.” He frowned. “I woke up here today also. Do you think someone brought us here on purpose?”

          “If they did, I couldn’t imagine why,” Hermione grumbled. She plopped down in the sand, running the grains through her fingers. “I haven’t done anything remotely vile enough to deserve this punishment.”

          “Now look here, Granger,” Draco said tensely, “you think I wanna be here? This island is gross and hot and lacking in private necessities, not to mention food! I’m hungry!”

          “Well, I hope you like bananas,” Hermione said dryly. She grabbed Draco by the wrist, something she wouldn’t have thought of doing in a million years the night before, and used him to haul herself back up again. Setting off down the beach, she didn’t look back to see if he was following her.

          Draco trailed her down the beach dazedly. A part of him reprimanded him for letting her take control, and for following her. But if following her meant food, he didn’t have any better ideas at the moment.

          He rubbed his wrist, which tingled strangely.

          “Albus, you’ve really outdone yourself this time,” McGonagall muttered as she stalked across the Gryffindor common room. All around her, students raced to get out of her way, casting fearful glances at their disgruntled professor. “‘Have you checked her dormitory?’ Honestly, I am not a fool, Albus, why treat me like one!”

          McGonagall’s long robes, which usually flared so impressively behind her as she walked, needed to be held up so that the hems did not trip her as she mounted the stairs to the girls’ dormitory.

          “We have a dire situation on our hands, an emergency…a missing student!” McGonagall continued to grumble to herself. “That unconcerned manner of yours only serves to make the rest of us ever more concerned.” Sighing, she pushed open the door to the sixth-year girls’ dorm and scanned the room, expecting to see five empty beds.

          Empty. Empty. Empty. Empty…and one occupied?

          Intrigued, McGonagall crept closer to the shape on the fifth bed. It was late in the afternoon, and classes were wrapping up. Outside, the sun was setting, and the grounds were filled with children enjoying the fresh air. Soon the students would be flocking to the Great Hall for supper. Who in their right mind would be sleeping at this hour?

          Surely it could not be Granger. That girl had prided herself since first year in her hardworking diligence and ability to stay up all night completing Outstanding assignments that her mates had just skived off.

          McGonagall was nearly upon the foot of the bed when she spotted the scattering of textbooks, scrolls, and quills that accompanied the sleeping girl.

          The corner of her mouth curled in a small smile. Perhaps it could be Granger after all.

          And it was, McGonagall saw at once as she pulled back the covers slightly to reveal a familiar head of bushy brown hair. Sighing, she had to admit to herself that once again, Albus Dumbledore had been correct and she had been wrong.

          The girl must be hungry, she thought to herself. She shook Hermione by the shoulder gently in an attempt to wake her up.

          “Miss Granger…Miss Granger, wake up. Are you feeling alright?”

          Despite McGonagall’s attempts, Hermione did not even stir. She gave no sign of waking up or even hearing McGonagall at all.

          Drawing breath quickly as panic began to edge in again, McGonagall flipped Hermione from her side onto her back and placed her ear close to the girl’s chin. As far as she could tell, the girl’s breathing was normal and peaceful. A quick check of pulse at her wrist verified that Hermione was indeed alive. So why wasn’t she responding?

          All thoughts of pride gone, McGonagall turned and raced back down the stairs into the common room, forgetting to hike up her robes and stumbling a little over them in the process. She climbed through the portrait hole and set off for the dungeons.

          This was not in her field of expertise. To wake Hermione up, she needed to enlist help from the school’s resident Dark Arts expert, Severus Snape.

          “Oh, the day I have to ask help from Severus,” she lamented, shaking her head.

          Snape was in his office, poring over essays written by his students. The room was no longer filled with bubbling cauldrons and shelves of glass beakers, as it had been the previous year. This year, and McGonagall still shuddered at the thought, Severus Snape had been promoted to the teaching post of Defense Against the Dark Arts.

          It wasn’t that McGonagall doubted Severus’s knowledge of the Dark Arts, or their defense. No, she was sure there was no one at Hogwarts who knew more. But because of his personality, his isolation, it made McGonagall nervous that perhaps he was too easily swayed, tempted, used.

          “Minnie, how nice of you to…burst in like this,” Snape remarked sardonically as he looked up from his papers.

          “I have no time for witty banter, Severus,” McGonagall said desperately, wringing her hands. “One of my students is in what appears to be a magical sleep, and I cannot wake her. Have you a potion or something that could do the job?”

          Snape stared at the frantic McGonagall for a moment before replying, “Unless the sleep was induced by a potion with a known antidote, my brews won’t help you.”

          McGonagall raised an eyebrow. “What about a spell?” she asked cautiously. “Are there any…spells of dark magic that could do this?”

          Snape’s eyebrows snapped together. “You believe this is the doing of a dark wizard?” he asked, his voice straining on the brink of laughter. “Who is this student, so important is he?”

          “Not Harry Potter,” McGonagall said a tad too quickly. She knew Snape’s dislike for Harry. But Snape disliked Hermione almost as much. “Please, Severus,” she pleaded, “come and see what you can do.”

          A sarcastic smile curling his lip, Snape stood up from his desk and left the office, McGonagall trailing behind him. They trooped back through the common room, where students noticed and gawped at the odd procession once more. A warning glance from a tense-looking McGonagall was all they needed to keep far, far away as the two professors mounted the stairs.

          “So it’s a girl,” Snape said as McGonagall pushed open the door. They crossed the room to the bed, and as he recognized the figure in the bed, Snape exclaimed disbelievingly, “It’s Granger?”

          McGonagall shook her head. “I can’t explain it.”

          Kneeling near the head of the bed, Snape examined Hermione’s face and skin for signs of poisoning. He found nothing out of the ordinary. The girl appeared, in all ways, just to be sleeping.

          “It has to be a spell, Minnie. Probably just someone’s idea of a funny prank,” he said dismissively.

          “How do you wake her up?” she asked him.

          Snape sniffed with disdain. “You’ve let your care for your student make you panic, and your panic cloud your judgment,” he said. “The only spells that can produce artificial sleep are cousins to the Stunning Spell.”

          Drawing his wand from his robes, Snape quietly uttered, “Ennervate.

          And miraculously, as Snape and McGonagall looked on, Hermione began to shift in the bed and stir. She yawned widely and began to cough, her mouth was so dry. “Water,” she croaked without opening her eyes.

          “Aguamenti,” McGonagall said hurriedly.

          Swallowing, Hermione opened her eyes slowly and looked around. She furrowed her eyebrows in a frown as she saw Snape and McGonagall standing over her. “Professor? Where…where am I?”

A/N: So the mystery is revealed...sort of. This is going to cause all sorts of problems for Draco and chapter. Please review!

Chapter 5: A Friendship That Could Not Survive the Night
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A/N: I would really like reviews because I know this is more than a little confusing. Please let me know if this chapter or story plot is unsatisfactory, because I've been exceedingly frustrated with my writing capabilities lately =(

          “If this is going to work, Malfoy, you’re going to have to walk a little faster than that!” Hermione called behind her, amused at the sight of the struggling blond boy. “I know you’re hungry, but I’m not going to carry you!”

          “Ha, ha, very funny,” Draco spat, running to catch up from about fifteen yards away.

          No clever comeback or insult? Hermione was surprised. Maybe he was just too tired…or hungry, and I’m the only one who knows where food is, she thought. In any case, I like this change in disposition.

          She turned back to check on his progress. “We’re almost there,” she said encouragingly, this time with less of a vindictive tone. From the look on Draco’s face, he was just as surprised as she that they were getting along adequately well. If this kept up, soon they might even be able to work together without wanting to claw each other’s eyes out.

          Behind her, Draco walked a little faster to catch up with her. They trudged along in companionable silence for a little farther before Draco stopped.

          “I need to roll up my pants before they get any more sand in them,” he explained.

          As he sat down in the sand, Hermione saw that at second glance, he looked more than a little travel-worn. He seemed to have fallen asleep with half of his school uniform on the previous night: he was void of tie, sweater, and robes, but still wore the crisp white shirt and heavy grey pants that was standard Hogwarts boys clothing. His usually immaculately combed hair was ruffled with wind and neglect; his clothes were wrinkled and had lost all neat creases; his face looked paler than usual, and drawn with worry. The heat had made him roll up his sleeves and unbutton his shirt. Only the decorum of being in the presence of a lady kept him from taking it off altogether in favor of his thin white undershirt, which was undoubtedly much cooler.

          “Is it always so hot here?” Draco asked wearily as he got back to his feet and they began walking again.

          Hermione chuckled. “It was definitely worse when the sun was up,” she remarked. “Don’t you think so?”

          “I didn’t notice. I was already half-delirious,” Draco admitted, remembering vaguely that he had crushed a significant amount of vegetation in anger earlier.

          “Well, we don’t have much longer before dawn,” Hermione said, gesturing to the horizon, which was slightly lit with the earliest of false dawns. She didn’t know if that was necessarily true, since in this climate it could very well still be winter.

          “In any case, maybe it’s better if we sleep during the peak of day and wake up in late afternoon,” she reasoned. “That way we won’t get as dehydrated.”

          Draco ran a hand through his hair in despair. “You talk like your planning on staying here,” he observed softly.

          “Do you have any ideas on how to leave?”

          “No, but—”

          “So, isn’t it smarter to figure out how to survive first?”

          “…yeah. You’re right.”

          Hermione paused and stared at him like he had sprouted another head. “Did I hear correctly? Did you just agree with me, Malfoy?”

          Chuckling, Draco shrugged. “I guess…Hermione.”

          Hermione raised an eyebrow. “Are we on first name terms now? Or just forced to be by our dire plight?” Draco laughed outright, and strangely, it made Hermione smile. It was nice to have someone who was quick enough to keep up with her. Harry and Ron were nice, but not quick, precisely. Besides, Harry was always preoccupied with something or another.

          She bit her lip. “Do you prefer I call you Draco?” she asked politely.

          “No,” Draco said. To her questioning look, he explained, “Draco is such a pansy name.” Hermione burst out laughing. “I’m serious. At least Malfoy sounds important…if you don’t say it as spitefully as you did before.”

          “Oh, like the way you said ‘Granger’ before wasn’t both spiteful and degrading,” Hermione said disbelievingly.

          “Yeah…well, that was before we got stuck on this damn island.”

          In the distance, Hermione could hear the stream running. She thought she could smell ripe bananas as well, but then again, the scent could very well just be ingrained in her nose.

          “Does this mean we’re agreeing to get along?” she asked him as they entered the clearing, careful not to slip on wet rocks in the semi-darkness.

          Draco reached up and picked some fruit off of the trees. “Uh huh,” he mumbled through a mouthful. Hermione smiled to herself and shook her head as she went to get a drink. Boys always would be boys, she thought to herself, whether they were Gryffindor or Slytherin; Weasley or Malfoy.

          Soon after Draco was done eating, they walked back out to the beach. Hermione had informed him that sleeping on rock resulted in severe discomfort and stiffness, and Draco had suggested that they try sleeping on the sand. Getting sand all over was a small price to pay for a soft place to sleep.

          Before they settled down under a large tree, Draco shrugged out of his shirt and offered it to Hermione for a pillow.

          The tree’s leaves kept them shaded after the sun rose and throughout the day, so they slept comfortably until Hermione, who had slept more the previous day, awoke. Judging by the position of the sun, it was about mid-afternoon.

          She was hungry, so she returned to the clearing and ate, then cleaned up by using water from the spring, careful not to get sand into their only source of clean water.

          The sun had dried her and her clothes completely by the time Draco joined her in the clearing.

          He shook sand out of his hair and rubbed his eyes tiredly. “Why don’t I feel like I’ve slept at all?” he asked, squinting up at the sky. “It’s nearly been half a day, hasn’t it?”

          Hermione shrugged. “I don’t feel that great either, but what do you expect?” She paused, and remembered his shirt, which she had shook out, washed, and laid in the sun to dry. She ran over to retrieve it, smoothing the wrinkles, and handed it back to Draco shyly.

          Draco muttered his thanks, then turned to head toward the rocks to wash up, before halting mid-step and turning back around to face Hermione. She felt her cheeks flush pink as she realized his problem.

          “You get clean,” she said hurriedly. “I’ll—I’ll be by the water when you’re done.”

           Cursing her suddenly inept conversational skills—usually she talked way too much—and fighting her way back through the underbrush, Hermione was soon gone from Draco’s sight. In relief, he began to wash away the sand that now made his scalp and skin itch. It was a while before he was able to get acceptably clean and head out in search of Hermione.

          Strangely, the beach where they had slept before was now empty. She had said she would be near the water, after all, and Draco assumed that this is where she had meant.

          She couldn’t have gone far. Walking to the very edge of the water and peering up and down the beach both ways for a girl, Draco saw nothing. How strange.

          He was suddenly beginning to feel quite faint and incredibly sleepy. His head bobbed on his neck, twice as heavy as normal. His last thought was that perhaps Hermione had just been a heat-induced figment of his imagination, before he sighed and crumpled to the ground.

          After they had sent a bewildered and disheveled Hermione down to the Great Hall to eat supper, McGonagall and Snape stood by her bed awkwardly for a moment before Snape asked, “So why were you in such a hurry to see Albus earlier? Other troubles?”

          “No,” McGonagall said. She hesitated before continuing, “I thought Miss Granger was missing. She hadn’t been to classes in almost two days, you see, and—”

          “You were getting worried because Granger never misses a class,” Snape finished dryly.

          “I never thought to look in her dormitory,” McGonagall confessed.

          Instead of laughing at her as McGonagall expected him to do, Snape looked decidedly surprised. He had just remembered that he had a missing student of his own.

          “You say she had been gone for more than a day? And she was just sleeping, right?” he asked urgently. When McGonagall nodded, regarding him oddly, Snape turned away. “Perhaps…” he mused, heading toward the door.

          “Perhaps what?” McGonagall asked sharply.

          It was Snape’s turn to feel uncomfortable. “I…went to see Albus about a missing student today as well,” he admitted. “Whoever did that to Granger could have done that to Draco as well.”

          “Mister Malfoy?” McGonagall raised her eyebrows. “They’re hardly in the same friendship clique, Severus.”

          Snape frowned. “It’s worth a try, Minnie,” he replied before turning on his heel and heading down the stairs, presumably back through the portrait door and across the castle to the dungeons where the Slytherin dormitories were located.

          “A prank, indeed,” McGonagall muttered. “It doesn’t have the touch of a student.”

          Hermione had been extremely confused about where she had been when she first woke up. She had seemed not to accept, even, that she was lying in her own bed. When Hermione had finally agreed to go downstairs for supper, McGonagall thought she’d heard her murmur, “Perhaps it was all a dream,” as she walked past her. It would’ve taken an exceptionally strong Confunding spell to produce such bewilderment in a mind like Hermione’s.

          McGonagall forced herself to push the strangeness of it all out of her head. She didn’t have time to mull over such foolishness. She had found her missing student unharmed, and it was a disaster averted.

          She descended the stairs, this time remembering to hike up her robes so she did not stumble over the hems.

          Meanwhile, across the castle, Severus Snape yanked open the doors to the Slytherin boys’ dorm and launched himself inside. Once out of McGonagall’s sight, he had been free to express the vague panic he felt because of Draco Malfoy’s disappearance. All of this panic drained out of him the moment he saw a platinum blond head poking out from under the covers of the bed opposite the door.

          Momentarily Snape remembered what Dumbledore had told him earlier that day: “Have you checked his dorm?”

          He cursed under his breath before striding across the room to shake the young man in the bed by the shoulder. As expected, this disturbance did nothing to rouse Draco. Snape then pulled out his wand.

          “Ennervate,” he said once again. And immediately Draco began to stir.

          Scrubbing his eyes and struggling to sit up, the usually cool and collected Slytherin king flailed in bed. He moved his mouth, but no words came out. Finally Snape opened Draco’s jaw, aimed his wand, and muttered, “Aguamenti.”

          Spluttering a little, Draco swallowed. He stared at Snape, as if registering who he was for the first time. “What—what happened? Where am I…?” he asked frantically.

          He looked around. Upon seeing his own dormitory, he grew visibly more upset. “Where’s Hermione?” he burst out.

          Snape’s eyes widened in shock, but he quickly recovered. Perhaps it was just a coincidence, he assured himself. “Miss Granger is in the Great Hall with the rest of the students, enjoying her meal,” he said shortly. “If you would like to join them, please do.”

          “I’m really at Hogwarts again?” Draco asked him, seeming unconvinced. “And Hermione’s back too?”

          Snape sighed. “Yes, really. Whatever you’re talking about, it was just a dream. Probably induced by that plum pudding—I keep telling those house elves they make it too rich. Now, if you please, I have essays I need to get back to grading.”

          “A dream?” Draco said slowly as Snape propelled him out of the room. “Yes…that makes sense…”

          “What ecstatic news,” Snape muttered. “Now off you go!”

          As Hermione entered the Great Hall, slightly late for the meal, she suddenly felt ravenous, despite the multitude of bananas she had consumed earlier. The only sensation that beat out her piercing hunger was confusion, and she wandered about for several moments before remembering her seat and heading over to the Gryffindor table.

          And as she ate, her brain began to whiz about again in its normal fashion. She did not stop to speak to anyone, despite the concerned looks Harry and Ron kept shooting at her.

          Her thoughts only went around in circles. While she was on the island, sleep could not satisfy her, yet food could. Now back at Hogwarts, she felt as if she had not eaten for days, but was not tired in the least. How did that make sense at all?

          And Malfoy—Draco, actually…how could she explain that?

          She ran her gaze up and down the Slytherin table, looking for a shock of blond among the green and silver. Nothing. Draco was not at supper.

          She bent her head back down to concentrate on her plate, but a bang that issued from the double doors made her look up. When she saw who stood there her heart stopped for a moment.

          It was Draco, his hair tousled and clothes crinkled with sleep. His eyebrows were scrunched against the bright light in the room.

          Slowly, looking as confused as Hermione felt, he trudged to his place at the Slytherin table without looking at anyone. Not all conversation stopped, but a hush fell on the entire Great Hall as students craned to see the absent Slytherin king’s return. There were vague mumblings, theories of where he had been. But nobody called outright to him. When Draco finally sat down, Hermione let out a breath she had not remembered holding.

          That was it, then. They were both back, drugged and placed back into their beds, released from whatever reason they were held captive.

          Hermione cast her eyes down at her food again, mind racing.

          They were both back, but things were different now. She and he, two of the most dissimilar people to be found at Hogwarts, had formed a bond. At the least, they had agreed to put aside their differences and work together. Heart pounding, she remembered that Draco had given her his shirt as a pillow. So, she thought with a slight smile, the boy was not only tolerable, but he also had a chivalrous streak.

          Suddenly Hermione was not hungry anymore. She had eaten enough to feed a small army, anyway. She could not let this opportunity slip by.

          It was so clear, so simple. She needed to talk to Draco, so that together, they could show Gryffindors and Slytherins that it was not so hard to get along. There would be no food fights tonight.

          Dazedly she rose from her seat and started across the Great Hall towards the Slytherin table. The walk felt alien and unfamiliar, and along the way students stared at her like she was insane. Gryffindors rarely decided to pay a visit to the Slytherins.

          Most Slytherins were dark-haired, Hermione realized as she noticed Draco’s platinum blond head glimmering closer and closer to her with each step. She kept her eyes on her target, feeling her face heat up as the Slytherin boys and girls turned to look at her. They said nothing, and in the silence Hermione could hear her own tense breathing.

          At the sound of Hermione’s footsteps, Draco looked up from his own food, which he had been shoveling in at such an alarming rate that Hermione knew he must have been hungry as well.

          At first his eyes widened, and Hermione saw vulnerability in them that she’d never noticed before. But with a blink of an eye, he glanced around the table at the Slytherins who surrounded him. And then it was gone, and his eyes became as cold as ever.

          It was like always, how he decided not to show weakness for sake of his pride.

          But Hermione would not be deterred. “Draco,” she started, drawing a deep breath. She ignored the incredulous stares of the Slytherins around him and concentrated on the blond boy in front of her. “Do you know what—?”

          “Granger?” He interrupted with a smirk. “Are you talking to me?”

          “Yes,” Hermione replied, a little confused. “I was just saying, about the island, and the bananas…” She trailed off, feeling uncomfortable under the smirking scrutiny of the other Slytherins as they stared at her. They appeared to be more amused with every passing millisecond. There were even a few scattered laughs that broke the tense silence as everyone waited to see what would happen.

          Draco arched an eyebrow, looking like his old self again. “Do you hear yourself, Granger? You’re raving mad.” He turned back to his plate, dismissing her.

          Hermione flushed, her cheeks burning. This could not be happening.

          She bent down and whispered fiercely in Draco’s ear, “I don’t know what you’re playing at, Malfoy, but stop pretending like it didn’t happen just because it’s inconvenient for your ickle pride in front of your friends!”

          Draco’s back stiffened, and he refused to look at her. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he muttered under his breath. “Whatever it was, it was a goddamn coincidence…a dream.”

          “A…a dream?” Hermione murmured, frowning.

          It felt like her feet were rooted to the ground, but she could not stand there any longer and bear the ridicule of Draco and the Slytherins. She turned around and started back towards the Gryffindor table, feeling more dazed and confused than ever. A dream?

          Absently Hermione reached up to scratch an itch on her scalp. There was sand in her hair. With a jolt, she checked her fingernails. There was sand under there, too.

          It couldn’t have been a dream. Draco had been lying.

A/N: Thoughts? Don't hate me for making Draco a jerk...I just felt this is what his character would do in a situation like this. Plus, it was also Snape's fault...Please please please review, it'll make my day! =]

And an interesting tidbit...I just heard that banana trees are not found in the wild anymore. So i suppose my story is non-science-compliant. Thoughts on this?

Chapter 6: Here We Go Again
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Author's Note: Here is Chapter 7. I know the wait has been almost a month, but this is already pretty good for me! Besides, the turnaround in this chapter should make up for it. =]

          After a sleepless night, Hermione wandered through the rest of the next day, the stupor of the previous day not wearing off no matter how hard she tried to pay attention in class. This was especially hard in Double Transfiguration, which she had with the Slytherins. Between staring dazedly at her textbook, not taking in a single word of what she was reading, and sneaking covert glances at Draco Malfoy the Slytherin arsehole, Hermione felt a vague urge to start crying.

         And it didn’t help that Professor McGonagall kept on shooting concerned looks at her, either.

          Hermione let out a shaky breath as she yanked her eyes away from Draco once more. She had thought life was strange and complicated before, what with Hogwarts and magic and Voldemort and the Order…but at least friends had stayed friends and enemies had stayed enemies. At least good and evil had been as clearly defined as day and night.

          “Now I can’t even go to sleep without seeing that git,” Hermione muttered to herself.

          “What?” Ron asked hurriedly from beside her, looking supremely concerned, as he had all day. He was still under the impression that Hermione had been hiding in her dormitory for all of yesterday and the day before. And because of what had transpired at supper last night, he was beginning to suspect that Malfoy had something to do with it.

          Ron sat waiting, hoping for an answer that would confirm that yes, indeed Hermione was still alive and well.

          Hermione glanced over at him. “Did you…say something, Ron?” she asked slowly.

          Ron sighed and patted her on the shoulder with as reassuring an expression as he could muster. “Don’t worry about it.”

          While everyone else in her dormitory was fast asleep the previous night, Hermione had sat wide awake, staring out of the window at the Hogwarts grounds. She was definitely back at Hogwarts, with no disturbance. Could it be possible she imagined the whole thing?

          But Draco had known what she was talking about, despite what he had said to his fellow Slytherins. He had told her that it was only a dream.

          “Too bad humans can’t interact with each other in their dreams,” she grumbled under her breath. “Blows your theory wide open, doesn’t it?”

          Hermione glowered at the cluster of green-robed Slytherins sitting across the room, as if staring would make Draco turn around. This time, Ron didn’t even bother asking. He just shook his head and continued taking notes.

          “If only you would get up off your high horse and help me figure this damn thing out!” Hermione said in exasperation, slamming her hand down on the table.

          McGonagall raised an eyebrow. “Miss Granger? Is something wrong?”

          Titters rose from the Slytherin bunch, and Hermione’s cheeks went red. She noticed that the only platinum blond head in the room carefully avoided looking back at her. “No, nothing,” she murmured, ducking her head.

          “Good,” said McGonagall, frowning.

          “Did I really say that out loud?” Hermione whispered to Ron a moment later.

          “Yeah,” Ron admitted. “You’re a little out of it, aren’t you? What do you need help figuring out?”

          Hermione was silent for a while, wondering what to tell him. Finally she said slowly, “It was only a…a dream I had, that’s all. Nothing more.”

          And she wanted to believe that was true, oh, she really did. But her damned logical mind just wouldn’t accept something so illogical, even just this once. Even in magical terms it didn’t make sense.

          “Well, Mr. Malfoy?”

          Draco’s head shot up from its position propped up on his hand. “Er—sorry Professor, I didn’t catch that. What?”

          “Mr. Malfoy, I would appreciate it if you paid attention while I was speaking,” McGonagall said sternly. “I asked you if you knew the proper wand-work for the Class 3 Animal Transfiguration…”

          Hermione stopped listening again.

          “No, I do not,” Draco replied lazily, with a tone that implied, and neither do I care.

          As soon as McGonagall turned to someone else, Draco’s thoughts began to wander again. Honestly, he had been doing nothing but trying to figure out that cursed dream since it happened. The one with the island, and Granger, and the bananas…

          How could Granger—Hermione—have had the same dream with him in it? Was that even possible?

          Draco yawned. He had not slept a wink the night before, half because of all the things running through his head, and half because he was afraid that if he did fall asleep, he would be trapped back on the island again. He had strange thoughts like that sometimes, feelings his intuition gave him that other people would call superstition and paranoia. But weird feelings or not, he still had to sleep again sometime in his life, and he was beginning to feel tired again. Thank Merlin supper was after Transfiguration.

          Draco felt someone poke him in the back. He turned around, forgetting about his strict rule of not placing himself in Hermione’s line-of-sight, which he had imposed on himself since last night. It was Blaise.

          “Yeah?” Draco muttered. “What?”

          His best mate was looking very perturbed. “Listen to what Pansy just told me. Ever since last night at supper she and the girls have been watching Granger.” He paused to waggle his eyebrows at a very unimpressed Draco.

          In fact, he was more than unimpressed. He was absolutely terrified that his friends had found out about his dream, and his stomach was already squirming at the very mention of Hermione.

          But Blaise continued on. “She says Granger’s been looking at you this whole class, when she thinks nobody’s watching. And muttering under her breath.”

          Draco frowned. “So?” he demanded.

          “So!” Blaise whispered. “Either she’s gone stark raving mad, mate, or she fancies you!” The grin that had been fighting to ruin his serious expression finally won over, and Blaise began to snicker.

          “I don’t see what’s so funny about that,” Draco said coldly, and immediately Blaise was quiet. Draco began to turn back around in his seat, but paused to add, “And besides, you should know that it’s not true. Pansy’s just making stuff up again for shits and giggles.”

          Blaise hunched over his textbook as McGonagall looked their way and said no more. The Slytherin king was back.

          “Yeah,” Draco sighed quietly to himself. It was a disaster averted. A crisis stopped right in its tracks. A catastrophe uprooted and stomped on before it could take hold.

          He scanned the room to see if anyone had heard him and Blaise talking, but nobody seemed to care. His gaze wandered aimlessly around until it locked with Hermione’s, sitting all the way in the corner next to the Weasel. Her normally bright brown eyes were dull with bewilderment, and with a twinge of guilt Draco knew that he had caused some of that confusion. But it was no coincidence that they were looking at each other now. She had been watching him, too.

          After a few awkward moments, they wrenched their gazes free of the other’s and looked back down at their books.

          After supper, as the other students swarmed outside to enjoy the evening, to the library to do homework, or to their respective common rooms, Draco decided to head straight to bed. He was exhausted, after all.

          But thinking about going to bed and actually convincing himself to do it were two completely different things. He was terrified that if he allowed himself to fall asleep, not only would he have to return to the island for an indefinite amount of time (for he still did not know how he had been awakened), but he would also probably have to face…Hermione.

          And after the way he acted to her in the Great Hall, it was the last thing he wanted. He was ashamed.

          Draco shook his head, irritated at himself. What the bloody hell has gotten into you? he asked himself. Afraid of sleeping, afraid of Granger, afraid of a damn dream…you’re a Malfoy for Merlin’s sake!

          “Malfoys don’t get ashamed,” he grumbled aloud as he flung himself on his bed. “They don’t get afraid, either. If I wanna sleep, that’s what I’m bloody well gonna do.”

          Just then Theo Nott came walking into the dormitory. He looked around, but saw nobody but Draco.

          “Erm…who’re you talking to, mate?” he asked cautiously.

          “Huh?” Draco sat up quickly. “I didn’t say anything. What are you imagining now, Nott?” he smirked.

          Nott frowned. “Never mind,” he said, and began to shovel through his hopelessly messy trunk in an attempt to find something. “Why are you going to bed so early anyway?”

          “’Cause I’m tired,” Draco said shortly. He didn’t bother elaborating. But as he sat there, watching Nott fumble his way through his possessions ungracefully, he was struck with an ingenious idea to ease his worries. “Hey, Nott, can you do me a favor?”

          “Uh, yeah. What do you need?”

          Draco drew the curtains around his bed and slumped back down onto his pillow. “If I don’t wake up the same time as the rest of you tomorrow, wake me up, okay?”

          “Okay,” came the reply, before the door to the dormitory clicked shut and Draco was alone again.

          He took a deep breath and let it out. “Here we go again,” he muttered to himself as he closed his eyes. Before long, he was fast asleep.

          Meanwhile, in the Gryffindor common room, Hermione was fighting back huge yawns. Ginny Weasley looked at her friend in concern. “Didn’t sleep well last night, ‘Mione?” she asked, frowning. Hermione’s strange behavior of late had not escaped her notice.

          Hermione shook her head morosely. “No…I think I’m just gonna give up on this”—she pushed her Potions book away—“and go to bed.”

          Ginny shrugged. “Whatever suits you,” she said. She gave Hermione a shove towards the staircase. “Hope you feel better tomorrow.”

          Hermione sighed. “Yeah, me too.”

          After hauling herself up the stairs and changing laboriously into her pajamas, she flopped into bed, feeling utterly exhausted. She didn’t even remember losing consciousness and dropping off into sleep, but after a while she registered the feeling of something tickling the bottom of her foot, and her senses leaped to full alertness in an instant.

          Hermione didn’t even need to open her eyes. Just by the strength of the heat of the sun upon her skin and the smell of the light breeze, she could tell.

          “Here we go again,” she grumbled as she braced herself for the inevitable and opened her eyes.

          “I can’t believe it,” Hermione declared vehemently. “This is absolutely ridiculous, that out of all the two-faced, inconsiderate, hypocritical prats in the world, I have to be stuck with you,” she spat in disgust. Once again, she had run into Draco Malfoy on the island.

          The real difference was that this time, they had both been creeping about the forest in hopes of not meeting each other again. No such luck.

          “I already told you again and again,” Draco protested in frustration, “that I’m sorry! I didn’t think about what I was saying while I was saying it, and afterwards I wanted to take it back.”

          Neither of them had been surprised upon arriving on the island once more. Draco, at least, was assured that in case he could not wake up in the morning he had Nott there to do it for him. But he decided not to tell that to Hermione, in case it made her nervous. Once he awoke tomorrow morning, he could go to the Gryffindor tower and wake her up himself.

          Draco held up his hands helplessly, and Hermione turned away. “It’s all the same with you men,” she grumbled. “You never think at the time, and afterwards you take it back.”

          Draco wanted to argue, but it was impossible. She was right, and he knew it. “Hermione,” he sighed, reaching out to rest a hand on her shoulder.

          She spun around, her shoulder feeling warm where he touched her. “I don’t know what you want from me, Malfoy,” she said quietly. She wouldn’t admit to him that he had made such an impact on her emotions. She felt like he had just broken her heart, though he had done nothing of the sort. “We could stand here and argue forever—Merlin knows we’ve wasted enough time already—but what’s the point? The chance to be friends is gone now. Just leave me alone.”

          Draco’s hand slid off of her, and as quickly as it had been there it was gone. He yawned. “I—I just want to sleep with you,” he said resignedly.

          Hermione’s eyes widened, and she glared at him. “What?”

          “Wait!” he cried, a blush coloring his cheeks bright red. “That’s not—what—not at all what I meant to say!” he stuttered in humiliation. “It just sort of…came out wrong…”

          Hermione frowned. “Then what is it you meant to say?”

          “I was yawning, and tired,” Draco said, struggling to get his thoughts out coherently. He had never been so embarrassed in his life, and now he was even having trouble putting sentences together. “And I meant I was tired—I wanted to go to sleep, but I thought it was…it was better if you—we slept together, you know, like, in the same place, because we don’t know this island and it could be dangerous…”

          He trailed off, pressing cold hands to his burning face. Perhaps it was better if he stopped talking altogether, he thought. Then, to his surprise, Hermione giggled.

          “Oh, Draco,” she gasped, holding her side and trying to suppress her laughter with no success. “Did you—did you just…?”

          “It’s not funny,” he grumbled gruffly, beginning to feel defensive. “Stop laughing at me.”

          At this, Hermione made an effort to sober up. “I’m sorry,” she said, and actually meant it. “I didn’t mean to poke fun. It’s just…saying something like that, making a mistake and then being embarrassed by it…” she trailed off, trying to make sense of her thoughts. “It makes you seem more real, more human.”

          Draco pulled a stern face. “And what did I seem like to you before, a hippogriff?”

          Hermione smiled. “No. I don’t know what, but not a hippogriff.”

          She looked up at Draco’s face, the same pale complexion that it always was now that his blush had faded. He glanced down to meet her gaze and his stormy grey eyes locked on hers for the second time that day. Hermione suddenly felt all of her muscles freeze, and Draco wasn’t moving, either.

          A moment later, she shook the strange feeling away, instead closing the distance between them in a hug. “I forgive you,” she mumbled into his shirt.

          Draco locked his arms around her, squeezing hard. “I’m so sorry,” he said again. He didn’t feel like releasing her, but after a few seconds she seemed to realize that they were still in each other’s arms, and began to move away.

          In that awkward moment after the hug was over and before they had quite detangled themselves, Draco decided that there was definitely something in the tropical air that was making them both delirious. Perhaps it was the humidity, or maybe the blazing sun. It could even be that salty tang of the ocean that he could smell in the wind. But this was not normal behavior for Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger.

          “Maybe we should just go to bed,” Hermione muttered, taking several large steps away from Draco.

          “I’m not tired anymore,” he said quietly. “I don’t mind just sitting here.” She looked at him in surprise, and it took all of his willpower not to literally clamp a hand over his own mouth. It was as if somebody else had taken possession of his mouth and was saying things that he himself did not mean to say.

          So they sat in comfortable silence for a while, listening to the birds in the forest and the rustle of leaves. Hermione trailed a finger through the dirt.

          “What would your friends say if they saw you now?” she asked dryly after a while. “The Slytherin king is hanging out with the Mudblood.”

          Draco cringed at her use of the word. “Don’t say that,” he said forcefully. “It just reminds me of how harsh it sounds when you’re not the one using it.”

          Silence descended again, and Hermione contemplated this small insight into how conflicted Draco really was. There were two entirely different people fighting inside of him, and it seemed that this island brought forth the alienated side, the side he rarely showed in life.

          Swallowing a lump in her throat, Hermione got up and walked over to where Draco was sitting, staring at the horizon, which was now lit with early dusk. She patted his knee in a small, hesitant gesture.

          “It’s okay,” she said. “I understand.”

          He shook his head morosely. "All of your friends have accepted you, every part of you,” Draco whispered. “And if you changed into something else now, we’d all hate it.”

          Hermione began to say something, then paused. “We?

          “Yeah,” Draco said, “you didn’t think I was included?”

          “I don’t know.” Hermione had thought she’d known everything about Hogwarts life, but now it seemed to her that she was uncertain about everything. It felt awful, but wonderful at the same time…

          A strange tingle in her stomach brought her attention back to the sunset and the scene before her. Draco had slipped his hand over hers as it lay there in the sand, and as much as she wanted to move it, she found that she absolutely could not. But before long, the urge to run away had faded and she could feel her fingers welding into his.

          “You make me want to be someone different,” he commented casually, as if the intimate contact that was making Hermione melt did nothing to him.

          “Really,” she said. She was not so amazed.

          At this point, Draco was not even questioning his judgment or the words coming out of his mouth. Instead of feeling like somebody else was controlling his body, as he had before, there was now a distinct sensation within him that felt like he was shedding a skin, dropping a burden. This island was a different world than the one where Old Draco thrived.

          “It won’t be easy,” Hermione warned him, as if reading his thoughts.

          He squeezed her hand. “Will you be there to remind me?” he asked.

          Hermione smiled at him. The sun was sinking into the ocean in a blaze of glorious red and pink that made the water flash with bright orange reflections. They sat there and watched, hands entwined in the sand, and as night descended Hermione yawned heavily and leaned against Draco’s shoulder. But before she could even close her eyes, he released her hand and lay down on the beach with his sweater for a pillow, and her head dropped onto his chest and stayed there. His arm had curled around her waist protectively against danger.

Author's Note: Only a few chapters left! I hope you take a little time to let me know what you thought of this chapter, and this story in general. I really appreciate anything you have to say! =]

Chapter 7: Time to Pray to Merlin
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A/N: I promised the next chapter soon, and so here it is! This update has been VERY quick for me. Please congratulate me by letting me know what you think of this chapter!

          The next morning, Theo Nott woke to the loud commotion of Crabbe and Goyle’s argument.

          “Oi! That’s my shoe you’re wearing!” Goyle wailed.

          “What are you talking about, you loon? You just saw me get it from inside my trunk!”

          “Did not!”

          “Did too!”

          “What is it with you and shoes? Don’t steal nothin’ else, just shoes…”

          Crabbe harrumphed. “If you’re so damn convinced that it’s yours, why don’t you have the other one?”

          Goyle’s voice was strained to the edge of hysterics. “Because you’re wearing it!

          In the bed to the right of Nott’s, Blaise rolled over, mumbling something sleepily. After several moments, he extracted an arm from his blankets, fumbled around on his bedside bureau, and grabbed his Charms textbook. Without opening his eyes, he chucked the book in the vague direction from which Crabbe and Goyle’s idiotic ranting ensued. Nott watched in wonder as the remarkably aimed book sailed straight towards them, and then clipped Crabbe in the head. Blaise had gotten lots of practice over the years.

          Unable to go back to sleep, Theo Nott glanced apprehensively towards Draco’s bed, to his left. Usually this was Draco’s cue to stick his head, disheveled with sleep, out of his curtains, and yell for “the bloody imbeciles to shut up.”

          After which, of course, the bloody imbeciles would shut up.

          But today, no such thing happened. The Slytherin king remained in his bed, and by all appearances, undisturbed. If Nott listened closely, he could hear a faint snore emanate occasionally from Draco’s bed.

          He glanced at the clock. It was a little past eight. Time to get up anyway. After all, though the tousled look suited Blaise (the handsome boy always looked as if he had just ended a session in the broom closet), both he and Draco needed time to comb and gel their hair correctly before going down to breakfast.

          Nott began to head into the bathroom before remembering that Draco had not yet stirred. What was it he had said yesterday?

          “If I don’t wake up the same time as the rest of you tomorrow, wake me up, okay?”

          Nott sighed. He was not looking forward to this particular task, as the Slytherin king was not very chipper in the mornings. However, he dreaded even more the consequence of not doing what Draco had asked him to, and so strode over to the bed and threw back the curtains. There Draco slept, as he always did.

          Apprehensively Theo Nott reached out a hand to prod Draco’s shoulder. When he got no response, he shook him a little harder. “Hey, mate, it’s time for breakfast. We’re all awake.” He shook him until Draco’s entire body began to move.

          There was no response from Draco. Nott’s heart began to pound. He wondered if this was some test of his ingenuity, set up by Draco or Nott’s father, or even the Dark Lord himself. Grabbing Draco’s beloved locks of hair, Nott braced himself, grimacing, and pulled. But he had succeeded in nothing but to extract the Slytherin king’s face from his pillow. Still Draco slept on.

          Hurriedly Nott released Draco’s hair and looked around. Blaise was still sleeping, and the other two were now in the bathroom, brushing their teeth. What was he supposed to do now?

          Spotting his wand on his bedside table, he reached over to grab it. “Aguamenti,” he pronounced, aiming the wand directly at the back of Draco’s neck. Water gushed out and trickled over the pillow, but there was still no movement from Draco.

          And then suddenly, his hand twitched violently, nearly scaring Nott into dropping his wand.

          “Dr-Draco?” Nott asked nervously. “Are you awake?”

          But as soon as it had come, the movement was gone. Nott was about to turn away when he heard a soft mumble, muffled by the pillow but a distinctly spoken sentence nonetheless.

          “You make me want to be something different,” Draco said, and sighed. Then he flipped over and was still again.

          “Hello?” Nott cried. “Draco?!” No movement from the sleeping boy. Nothing. Nott was sweating now. He was out of ideas. Without a word to the goons, he sped out of the dorms and up to the Great Hall.

          Still in his pajamas, Nott barreled across the Entrance Hall and through the double doors. He shot up the aisle between the Ravenclaw and Slytherin tables and headed straight for the teacher’s table at the front of the room.

          “Professor—” he gasped when he finally reached them. All up and down the hall, students were glancing after him curiously.

          “You’re causing a spectacle, Mr. Nott,” said Flitwick squeakily, who sat closest to where Nott was now standing. He attempted to look stern. “What is it that is so urgent?”

          “Professor—” Nott was breathing heavily and could not speak more than a word at a time.

          “Yes, yes, we are all professors,” Snape drawled. “But if you do not specify which one of us you are addressing, I’m afraid that none of us are in a position to do anything for you,” he said sardonically. “It would help to know the problem, as well.”

          Nott had caught his breath. “Draco Malfoy’s bedridden, sir,” he told Snape, panic in his voice. “I cannot wake him up, no matter what I do.”

          Far from alarmed, the smirk on Snape’s face was quite amused. He glanced down the teacher’s table at Minerva McGonagall, who was scanning the Great Hall. She looked from the Slytherin table to the Gryffindor table, searching for two students in particular. Then she caught Snape’s eye.

          “They’re not here,” she mouthed to him, and they both rose.

          “Thank you, Mr. Nott, you may sit down and enjoy your breakfast,” Snape said, and turned his back.

          “But, sir, I’m wearing—”

          “There will be no need for you to join Professor Snape in your dormitory, Mr. Nott,” McGonagall said firmly as she passed. “You may get dressed later.”

          Nott watched in bewilderment as the two teachers stalked quickly out of the Great Hall.

          Forty minutes later, Draco had finished wolfing down his breakfast just in time for the end of the meal. He stood up and joined the large throng of students that were headed for the door. Rather than fight the crowd, he let himself be swept away among the other Slytherins, which left his mind free to wander.

          What in the world was going on with him? Every time he went to the island, he became a loon. There was something about that place which forced him to shed all of his inhibitions and restrictions, and revert back to the person he could’ve been…had things been different.

         “But things aren’t different,” Draco snarled to himself. “Things are exactly the way they are. They’ll never change.”

          He caught himself wishing that they would change, but dismissed the thought with a twitch of his head. He concentrated on trying to get out of the Great Hall and to his first class, Potions, without taking so much as a glance in Hermione’s direction. It was quite difficult.

          “Hey, mate.” Blaise came up from behind and nudged him in the arm. “Sleeping like a rock this morning, you were. Up late last night?” He winked at Draco suggestively.

          Draco groaned. “I wish,” he muttered honestly. “But I was having some beautiful dreams before Snape had to come in and interrupt them,” he said, grinning lewdly.

          “What did he want, anyway?” Blaise asked, frowning.

          Heart pounding as he realized that he could hear Hermione’s voice behind him, Draco thought quickly for a lie he could tell Blaise. “Er—I left a note asking for an extension on today’s Defense Against the Dark Arts paper,” he said. “Snape told me no.”

          “Oh.” Blaise shrugged. “Well, good luck. See you in Potions, then.”

          He walked off, to Draco’s relief. It was hard for Draco to talk to him and listen to the sound of Hermione’s voice at the same time.

          “…so I told Professor that I’d be glad to help her, only I have a giant essay due tomorrow in Defense.”

          Her voice was growing closer. It may have just been the paranoia kicking in again, but Draco could hear her as clearly as if she was standing right behind him. Then he realized that he had stopped walking some time ago and was currently standing stationary in the middle of the Entrance Hall. She was standing right behind him.


          Draco whipped around. It was her.

          He swallowed, his throat suddenly feeling very dry. “Yeah?” he asked with some difficulty.

          “I was just wondering…” Hermione trailed off, looking embarrassed.

          Draco frowned. All of Hermione’s Gryffindor friends were looking at them. He could also practically feel the eyes of the Slytherins boring into the back of his head. Thank Merlin Potty and the Weasel weren’t there, too. But all the same, he wished she would just get on with it.

          “Well?” he asked, a tad sharply.

          “I’ve been trying to get good grades in Defense, which is very important to me, but no matter what I do Professor Snape doesn’t like me very much, and I know that he likes you, so I was wondering if maybe you could help me on my essay,” Hermione said very quickly. Draco almost smirked, but stopped himself just in time to remember that he was also feeling a blush coming on.

          At that impeccably timed moment, Potter chose to make an appearance. “Hey, Hermione, are you going back up to the Tower before class?” he asked.

          Hermione glanced at Draco fleetingly before turning back to Potter and answering. “I—I don’t think so,” she said, sounding flustered. “Sorry, Harry.”

          “Oh, that’s okay,” Potter said. “It’s just that I left that awful new Herbology book in the common room last night and…” He trailed off, having finally spotting Draco, who was still standing near Hermione and looking uncomfortable. Potter frowned at him. “What are you looking at, ferret? Bugger off!”

         “No, Harry, wait, I was talking to him,” Hermione protested uncertainly. Potter’s jaw dropped.

          “Him? Hermione, what were you talking to him for?!”

          Draco coughed. “I am here, you know, Potty,” he said coldly.

          “Don’t call him that,” Hermione admonished him, frowning. “He’s my friend so you better treat him with the same respect that you give me.”

          “Wait,” Potter said, holding up a hand. “You”—he looked at Hermione—“are friends with Malfoy? When did this happen?” He glared at Draco as all of the surrounding Hogwarts students stopped walking and gathered around to watch the standoff.

          Hermione was wringing her hands worriedly. “Harry, please calm down. You don’t understand—”

          Draco was done with Potter and his stupid issues. He wasn’t going to stand here a moment longer and subject himself to Potter’s idiocy, what with half of Hogwarts watching. Out of the corner of his eye, he spied Professors Flitwick and Slughorn lurking near, ready to intervene at any sign of a fight. Even the most oblivious of teachers knew an explosive situation when they saw one.

          “You don’t have to explain to Potty, Hermione,” Draco said, his upper lip curled. “There’s nothing even to explain. I suppose I change my mind after this.” He eyed Potter maliciously. “I forgot who you were friends with.”

          Hermione gasped. “But I thought you said I made you want to be something different…?” she said softly, looking distressed.

          Draco pushed away the mounting guilt inside his heart, and made to turn away from the group of Gryffindors. “That was in our dreams, Hermione,” he said. His voice was gentler than before, almost apologetic. “It could never happen, really. I’m sorry I thought it could.”

          He began to walk away, but Hermione was not about to give in so easily again. She made one last effort.

          “But Draco, what about last night?!” she cried.

          The entire Entrance Hall fell silent as Hermione’s words echoed off of the walls. Draco saw Flitwick and Slughorn freeze, as did all of the other students who were not already gathered around them. Potter’s eyes were as big as tea saucers.

          Everyone except Draco and Hermione contemplated her words for a moment. They looked from Draco’s guilty expression to Hermione’s quivering chin and filling eyes.

          And they could draw only one conclusion.

          “Oh, no,” Draco whispered as the cold dread of realization filled him. “Oh, no. T-that’s not—”

          Hermione, her cheeks flaming, shoved past him and whispered, “Oh, bugger. Now see what you’ve done,” and hurried out of the Entrance Hall.

          Draco wanted to follow her and comfort her, but was slightly afraid that Potter would punch his lights out if he did. He compromised by plodding slowly off to Potions and promising himself that he’d talk to her alone once they were back on the island that night. For now, all he could do was pray to Merlin that nothing would get out of control.

A/N: So, it's time for Draco to pray to Merlin that Ron doesn't believe the rampant rumors, huh? =] 

This story started as a romance and turned into a humor fic. Strange how these things, what do you think? Please review!

Chapter 8: Marginally Better than Michelangelo's Best
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A/N: Here is Chapter 8. I hope it doesn't disappoint, because there's only one more to go!

          “A-absolutely shocking, sir! A disaster in the making!”

          “Oh, a right spectacle! Children these days…”

          Albus Dumbledore had just admitted a twittering Flitwick and blubbering Slughorn into his office. The two teachers had been so flustered that they had nearly tripped over their own feet in their haste to enter the room. Now the Headmaster surveyed them serenely over his half-moon glasses. “What, my dear friends, seems to be the matter?” A small smile played on his lips.

          “Mr. Malfoy—”

          “Ms. Granger—”

          “I overheard in the Entrance Hall—”

          “And we came straight to you…”

          Slughorn and Flitwick continued to stumble over each others’ words until Dumbledore held up a hand for silence.

          “Filius, Horace, do calm down,” he said. “Whatever spectacle Mr. Malfoy and Ms. Granger have created, I’m certain it’s nothing of great consequence.” His smile grew. “Do calm down.”

          The two teachers proceeded to gulp down deep breaths and exhale slowly. Slughorn was the first to get his thoughts straight. Flushing so red he could’ve passed for a Weasley, he began, talking very quickly. “Well, Ms. Granger and Mr. Malfoy were speaking to each other outside of the Great Hall today. Which is strange enough as it is. I stayed close to make sure there would be no violence. But based on their conversation, I can only assume that they”—he paused, blushing furiously—“slept together.”

          Slughorn had ended in a barely audible whisper. He himself was a rambunctious man, to be sure, but it was quite awkward to be discussing this sort of thing with the Headmaster. Especially if it was about students.

          Luckily Flitwick saved him from having to continue. “You know the history behind those two as well as any of us, Headmaster,” he chimed in, looking nervous. “I’m extremely concerned about this lapse in judgment, especially on Ms. Granger’s part.” He looked at Dumbledore beseechingly. “The girl will certainly get hurt if they continue on in this fashion.”

          Throughout this, Dumbledore’s smile had not wavered. He chuckled to himself momentarily before tuning back into what Flitwick was saying.

          “…you don’t suppose we should take this opportunity to re-emphasize the importance of the Contraceptive Herb to the students, do you? You know, the whole “eat 3 hours before for best results” talk?”

         Slughorn grimaced. “The Contraceptive Herb doesn’t always work, Filius,” he said knowingly.

          Dumbledore raised his eyebrows with a grimace. “There will be no need for the Contraceptive Herb lecture, gentlemen. I have a feeling that whatever the problem between Ms. Granger and Mr. Malfoy, it will work out splendidly.” He smiled at the two men. “Meanwhile, you needn’t worry yourselves over this any longer. I will take care of any problems that might arise.”

          “But sir—” Slughorn protested.

          “Surely we can’t just sit here…” Flitwick said. “Ms. Granger is one of our brightest and most promising students!”

          “And Mr. Malfoy’s family is one of the greatest and most influential in the Wizarding world!” Slughorn interjected.

          “I assure you,” Dumbledore said, firmly talking over the two teachers, “that no harm will come of this situation. I will see to it. Now please, gentlemen. I understand that you have classes that need to be attended to?” He held open the door out of his office and beckoned to them.

          Slughorn jumped up, remembering for the first time that he had the Slytherin sixth-years in his classroom right now, waiting to be taught Potions. Including Draco Malfoy.

          “I do believe I’ll give the Contraceptive Herb talk anyway,” he grumbled to Flitwick as the two teachers made their way back down the winding staircase.

          As the door slammed shut, Dumbledore made his way to one of the large windows in his office and looked outside at the grounds. By all appearances, his plan was working wonderfully. It was exactly as he had suspected: that if all the inhibitions and connotations that were associated with Slytherin and Gryffindor were removed, the members of the two Houses would get along quite spectacularly. Perhaps in time, Slytherin/Gryffindor couples would even be successful.

          He smiled to himself. Of course, he knew that the rumors about Draco and Hermione were untrue. He himself had observed them on the “island”, though he had been very careful to remain unseen. His plan had only worked because Draco and Hermione had thought they were alone and isolated.

          And now his plan was at its apex. Because Draco and Hermione had both shown affection for each other in public, their secret was now out. They were both bound to be upset. They would need to talk to each other, alone. And of course they would wait until nightfall.

          Tonight, he would remove the spells on the “island”. The illusion would hold, but Draco and Hermione would only be themselves. All their restrictions would not slide away as they had in previous nights. It would only be then that they could finally see the parallel between the life they had held on the “island,” and reality.

          It was by far the best plan Dumbledore had ever concocted. It was foolproof. He had artfully crafted it until it was so good that he could even consider it marginally better than Michelangelo’s best.

          Dumbledore turned away from the window and went to his desk. This called for a celebration. He pulled out a bag of his favorite lemon drops, and chuckled to himself.

          “I can’t believe you let this happen!” Hermione screeched as soon as she caught sight of Draco’s bright blond head among the leafy bushes. He had been looking for her ever since he’d arrived, but now that he saw what a mood she was in he was beginning to feel the urge to hide. Tonight he felt none of that strange courage that the island usually gave him. He could identify the coward in him rising again, and he loathed it. Of course, before he had gone to bed he had given himself a pep talk.

          But now one look into those fearfully bright brown eyes, burning with some inscrutable emotion, and Draco was terrified.

          “I—I—” He stumbled over his own tongue.

          Hermione glared at him. “You have no idea of the type of things I’ve had to endure all day! I’ve got fourth-years whispering around me wherever I go, teachers giving me pathetically concerned looks”—she threw her hands up in the air—“and even the house elves are offering me extra Contraceptive Herb! Draco, it’s all so bloody shameful! And it’s all the worse because nobody will believe me.” She put her hands on her hips. “It won’t work unless you back me up and say it’s not true, you know.”

          “I do, I do,” Draco said hurriedly. Too hurriedly.

          Hermione’s brows drew down severely. “I hope you don’t think this is some sort of status boost for you, Draco,” she said warningly, her voice straining with anger. “All the Slytherins are already steaming mad, and it won’t be long before your dad finds out. Besides, I won’t let you go exploiting my reputation to try to gain fame and respect for yourself!” she huffed.

          Now Draco put his foot down. He had been trying to find the right way to apologize for the situation, but Hermione was being difficult, as usual. How could she even think for a moment that Draco had been using her?

          “Hold on a minute, dearie,” he growled in a momentary flash of anger. “You make it seem like everything is my fault. But who’s the one who screamed it to the entire Entrance Hall? Huh?”

          Hermione bit her lip. “I just forgot that they were all there!” she cried out in exasperation. “You made me so upset, saying that you were going to give up and that we could never be friends because of Harry.” She lowered her voice to a shameful whisper. “I wasn’t thinking, I guess.”

          Draco gaped, all bravado and anger gone. Could he, Draco Malfoy, really have had such an effect on Hermione Granger?

          Tears were beginning to form in her eyes. “You don’t understand. How could you? Now you’re just the boy who scored. But I’m the harlot.” She swiped angrily at her wet cheeks and turned away from him, her voice rising once more. “I’ve worked so hard these past six years to earn the respect of everyone at Hogwarts, and then along comes Draco Malfoy, Mr. High-and-Mighty, who just ruins it all in one moment!”

          Her shrill voice echoed through the expanse of forest around them and across the waters and then came back. Hermione stood still, staring away into the horizon, her breathing heavy.

          Draco struggled with himself as he watched her sad form. A lump had risen in his throat. It was too large to swallow, and too large to talk around. He could do nothing but gaze at her back, which rapidly rose and fell with small sobs. Quiet fell between them, and in the twilight they could see the dark silhouettes of the surrounding trees framed up against the lighter sky.

          Finally she spoke again. “And if they all knew the truth, they’d be disappointed,” she whispered. “Because there’s nothing to tell. You don’t even really want me.”

          After a brief moment of silence, she tried to stomp away in a fury, because that was what both she and Draco expected her to do. But she found that Draco’s silence was draining the anger out of her; if he didn’t argue, she couldn’t either. The lack of explanation and apology from him left her with a sharp sense of want, an instinct to stay and listen to him. She felt with trepidation that if indeed there was something coming, she did not want to miss it. And as unreasonable as it was, there was no doubt in the world that Hermione would forgive him in a moment, if he asked it.

          Hermione paused mid-step, her head spinning. She wanted him to ask it. She wanted to grant it.

          She didn’t turn back to face him, but her hesitation was all it took to release Draco from his frozen state. Swallowing his terror, he bridged the gap between them in four long strides and skidded to a halt about an inch away from her. She could feel the body heat radiating off of him. He could see stray strands of her hair sticking to his sweater.

          Hermione swallowed. She turned around and looked up into his pale face. “Yes?” she asked softly.

          Draco tried to speak. Really, he did. But unlike the other nights he had spent with her on the island, tonight the ideas weren’t flowing into his head fully formed and complete with words to express them. Even as he belatedly remembered what he had been about to say, his instinct was kicking in yet again and he choked the forbidden words back. She was a Gryffindor and he was a Slytherin. They should have been on their guard, if they even spoke to each other at all.

          And yet it seemed that Hermione had already forever and permanently thrown away that guard. When Hermione had looked at him it was not with the brute anger one blindly directed towards the enemy; she saw that he existed separate from the conditions of his life, a part of it but also an entity without. He had almost learned to see people that way, but now the magic of the island was gone.

          He looked down at the top of Hermione’s head. It was painful and aggravating to think that she had learned something important that he hadn’t. He wondered how in the world she could think that anything that existed on the island could be applied to real life.

          “Yes?” she asked again, breathless with expectancy, and the movement of her diaphragm made him realize that he was clutching her close to his chest.

          He peered further down at her, and suddenly he realized that there was no reason for him to hold back any longer. Hermione was giving herself wholly to their cause, and if he really cared about her it was the least he could do to keep his selfish lies from hurting her further. They were alone; there was nobody to hear. For once in his life, Draco Malfoy would be perfectly honest.

          Draco lifted Hermione’s chin to make her meet his eyes. “Don’t ever think that I don’t really want you,” he told her firmly. “I do. But…”—he hesitated, his voice less certain—“…do you really think it could work?”

          To his surprise, Hermione burst out laughing at the incredulous look on his face. “Don’t look so scared, Draco,” she said, looking amused and relieved all at once. “After all this, I’ve decided that night and day maybe aren’t that different. I bet we could do it.”

          Draco raised his eyebrows. “We could?”

          “Yes,” she replied bossily. “The whole school already thinks we’re bedding together. How much worse can it be if it were true?”

          “You have a point,” he informed her. A strange impulse was growing inside of him, and the temptation was just too much. Grinning wickedly, he added, “But it won’t be easy. We’re both so used to hating each other. In order to get it just right, we’ll need plenty of practice.”

          “Practice…?” Hermione arched a brow.

          But before Draco could explain, she boldly raised herself onto her tiptoes, balancing herself on his shoulders, and touched her lips to his. There was an awkward moment before Draco, miffed that she had stolen his idea, grabbed her by the middle and backed her up towards the trunk of the nearest palm tree. They were practically nose to nose.

          “We’re practicing,” he told her gruffly, before kissing her again.


          Hermione shivered as Draco slid his tongue across her bottom lip, sending icy hot prickles down her spine. Her mouth parted open of its own accord, and as Draco’s tongue found her own, Hermione felt her insides clench together. She leaned back against the trunk for fear of fainting.

          “Don’t run away,” Draco muttered as he kissed her temple. He took a step closer.

          Hermione ran her hand up his wiry chest, underneath his clothing. “I’m—I’m not—not running…away,” she argued haltingly. The feel of his cool skin underneath her fingertips was quite a distraction. “I—”

          Ignoring her babbling, Draco kissed his way down to her neck, leaving a trail of fire behind, and Hermione found that such a sensation had never been felt in the world. The strength to stand left her knees in a moment and she began to sink down towards the ground, pulling Draco down with her. Her fingernails scraped Draco’s back carelessly as she yanked him even closer. Kissing Viktor Krum had never been much of a pleasant experience, and Hermione felt now that she had been missing out.

          They collapsed onto the sand, ignoring the itchy grains that flew everywhere. As Draco drew away from her neck, Hermione grabbed his sweater and yanked it up over his head so that he was in only an undershirt. She grinned at him and reached up to bring his lips back to hers, running her fingers through his already-ruffled hair.

          When the warmth of Draco’s hand began to slide its way up her stomach under her blouse, Hermione finally opened her eyes. While they had been busy practicing, the sun had slipped below the horizon and it had become totally dark.

          She placed her hand on Draco’s to stop its advances, and he looked at her with concern. “Is something wrong?” he asked.

          Hermione was silent for a moment, trying to assemble an answer in her flustered mind. Her body screamed for her to continue, but in the back of her mind she was doubtful.

           Draco watched her expression carefully. “I know you,” he told her softly. He placed his hand on top of hers and squeezed it, smiling a small smile. “You always like to be perfectly perfect. You won’t take the exam until you’ve studied all night, so you can get perfect marks.” He said it matter-of-factly, but the heat in his whisper made Hermione shiver.

          “Yeah, so?”

          He kissed her jawline. “You won’t always be perfect. I’ll like you all the same,” he muttered.

          She sighed and squeezed his hand back. “No,” she said firmly. “Not here. It doesn’t feel right.” She looked up at him with a mischievous expression. “We can wait for a while. If it can happen at Hogwarts, it can happen anywhere.”

          “Anywhere…?” He grinned.

         Hermione leaned near his ear. There was a smile in her voice as she said, “Especially on your father’s desk.”

A/N: I didn't particularly like this one. I feel like I switched from humor to drama to steamy without adequate transition, but thanks to those who reassured me! *huggs* =]

So, I know you all have been waiting anxiously for some Draco/ Hermione action...for 7 whole chapters, to be exact ;). It was short, but I hope I didn't let you guys down!

Fun note: "twittering Flitwick and blubbering Slughorn". Can the assonance get any better than that? =] (for all of you who are NOT english professor-wannabes, that is a literary device)

Only one more chapter left! Please review!

Chapter 9: The Artful Fabrication of Draco and Hermione
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A/N: Here you go, the very last chapter of my beloved story! I'm so happy to be completing my SECOND fanfic. Wow. Please let me know what you think of it, now that it is done!

          Early the next morning, Minerva McGonagall and Severus Snape crept into the dormitories where Hermione and Draco slept. While the Head of Gryffindor merely did her duty and then hurried out before any of the sleeping girls could awaken and spot her, Snape tarried over the task. Hovering over the Slytherin king’s bed, he watched the boy’s sleeping form with an expression almost like tenderness.

          Snape knew what it was like to be conflicted. The boy had only begun to experience the torturous process of decision between what was right, and what was easy.

          When Snape had been a student at Hogwarts, he was altogether much more of a power-hungry person than the boy who lay before him. In fact, he would’ve become as much of a monster as the Dark Lord, had not his undying love for Lily Evans curbed his blood-lust.

          Now Snape regarded the young Slytherin’s situation with sympathy. He had been his charge at Hogwarts, but at this point in time the choices Draco would make were his alone. Snape could not save him from the wrath of Lucius Malfoy and his Lord.

          Shaking his head, Snape grimaced. The only place for Draco to run was the Order…and even then, his cowardly ways would not be accepted. Draco would likely die in the oncoming war, unless he went completely one way or the other. To win the graces of the Dark Lord was out of the question. The boy had already demonstrated that he was unfit for that allegiance.

          But to belong to the Order, he needed the friendship of another amongst their ranks…

          Just as Snape drew his wand out of his robes, Draco turned over in his sleep to lie flat on his back. Snape, startled, peered closely at his face to see if he had awoken on his own. The man blanched. Was that…was that a grin on Draco’s lips? What was he so happy about?

          He waved his hand in front of the boy’s face, with no response. Sighing, he pointed his wand at him and said, “Ennervate.

          Then, quickly, he exited the dormitory and made his way upstairs to see Dumbledore. Unfortunately, Snape found that the Headmaster’s office was already occupied. He could hear Minerva McGonagall’s irate voice from all the way at the bottom of the staircase.

          “This cannot go on any longer, Albus! I know you have something to do with this!”

          Snape hesitated only a moment before banging on the door. He had a sneaking suspicion that Minnie was here to talk to the Headmaster about the same thing that he was. Hopefully, she wouldn’t mind a little support from him.

          The door swung open to reveal a red-faced McGonagall and an amused-looking Albus Dumbledore. “Yes?” the Headmaster asked serenely.

          “Severus, can’t you hear that we’re in the middle of something?” McGonagall cried. “Come back later!”

          “I would, Minnie, but unfortunately there is something of immediate importance that I must discuss with the Headmaster,” Snape said with exaggerated patience. “It concerns the peculiar behavior surrounding Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger of late.”

          McGonagall quieted her protests immediately and looked to the Headmaster with a triumphant glare.

          Dumbledore made an effort to suppress an oncoming smile. “Don’t tell me they made another public performance, Severus,” he said, looking aghast. “And here I thought one would be sufficient to send the whole school talking.”

          Snape frowned. “My concern extends far beyond petty rumors, Albus. I am referring to the unknown spell that the two seem to be under. The well-being of Mr. Malfoy and Ms. Granger is at stake. I’m sure you know that they cannot be woken except by the Ennervate spell. Minnie and I have had to perform this spell on them for three consecutive mornings in order to revive them from their sleep.”

          Dumbledore raised his eyebrows. “And why does that call for your concern, Severus?” he asked. “I was under the impression that I myself ordered you two to awaken them.”

          McGonagall furrowed her eyebrows. “Yes, but you never said exactly how—”

          “Never mind that, Minnie,” Snape interrupted. “Albus is right. He did know exactly where they were when we thought they had gone missing.” He turned to the Headmaster. “But why are you doing this?”

          “I knew you had something to do with this!” McGonagall blurted out. “I suggest you fix them immediately, Albus!”

          Now Dumbledore walked over to his desk and opened a drawer. “Why am I doing this, you ask?” He pulled out a bright yellow bag and looked up at the two teachers, who were watching him intently. “Lemon drop?” he offered.

          Minerva McGonagall looked about ready to scream. Snape’s face grew darker as he stared at the bag of lemon yellow candies.

          Dumbledore chuckled, his laugh chiming through the large room and slicing the tension like a knife through smoke. “Minerva, Severus, do not worry. All will be clearly explained in just a moment.”

          As he fumbled through the drawer, there was loud pounding on the door once more. McGonagall whirled around in a huff to open it without even asking permission of the Headmaster. In popped Professor Flitwick, looking and sounding once again completely out of sorts.

          “Albus,” he squeaked. “You must come downstairs immediately! There is a…a commotion near the Great Hall.”

          Dumbledore looked up at the tiny teacher through his half-moon spectacles. “Oh. Breakfast has started already?” He looked at the grandfather clock that was perched near the door next to the cabinet that held his Pensieve. “Time begins to pass too quickly as one ages,” he sighed.

          McGonagall clenched her fists, visibly aggravated. “You cannot go until you tell us how you will resolve our problem,” she asserted, gesturing to herself and Snape.

          “But one of your number is not yet here,” Dumbledore said with a small smile. He looked at Flitwick questioningly. “Where is Horace?”

          At that moment, Professor Slughorn appeared, huffing and puffing up the stairs, behind Flitwick, Snape, and McGonagall. He alone of the four teachers seemed to be even a tad amused at the situation.

         “Never—never in my whole career…have I seen…such a spectacle,” he said between breaths, his eyes sparkling with excitement.

          Snape exhaled and looked back to Dumbledore. “I know that you must be having a great laugh by keeping us waiting,” he drawled, “but I do think that if you don’t enlighten us soon, Minnie will have a heart attack and you will be short a Transfiguration teacher.”

          Indeed, McGonagall had flushed almost as deep a red as Slughorn, who had not taken the climb up the staircase well. “What crazy ploys are you making now, Albus?” she snapped.

          “Patience, dear Minerva,” Dumbledore sighed as he pulled a roll of parchment out from his desk drawer. “Ah, here we are.”

          He unrolled the parchment out on his desk, and all four teachers gathered in close to see. They read the words inscribed at the top, and looked to Dumbledore for explanation with varying degrees of patience.

          “The Artful Fabrication of Draco and Hermione?” Flitwick asked. “What is that, a book you’re writing?”

          Dumbledore chuckled again and tapped the parchment with his wand. “Oh, no, Filius. It is exactly what it says. It is an artfully fabricated plan.” As he spoke, lines of ink began to flower across the paper from the point where his wand had touched its surface. Snape inhaled sharply, remembering something similar from the recent past.

          “Is—is this the map? Did you get it back from the Potter boy?” Snape asked, his voice strained.

          Dumbledore raised an eyebrow at his Defense teacher. “I’m sorry Severus, but I have no idea what you’re talking about. I know of no such map in Harry Potter’s possession.” He gave him an innocent half-smile.

          Snape, grumbling to himself, turned his attention back to the parchment in front of them. It was indeed a map, though not the same one that he would have recognized. The center of the parchment was dominated by a large, irregularly shaped circle shaded in different colors, mainly yellow and green. In the corner a map legend told him that the yellow shading was beach, and the green tropical forest. The small grey spots scattered about in the middle were small cliffs and rock formations. Thin lines of blue, usually running near or on top of the grey spots, represented water sources. A final touch lay in a spattering of bright pink dots, which the legend informed him were banana trees.

          “Albus…what is this?” McGonagall asked softly, sounding more perplexed than angry. “Does this—this place—exist?”

          “Theoretically, yes, but physically, no. It took a series of very complicated spells to create not only the image of this island, but the illusion of its physical being, down to the very last bush.”

          “I don’t understand,” Flitwick said in his squeaky voice. “There is no such charm that can make people physically feel that they are somewhere they are not.”

          “Well, I modeled the spells after the brain’s natural dream-like state,” Dumbledore said. “After that it was much easier to weave it all into an Artificial Sleep spell. The only side effect I could not manage to get rid of was oversleeping. They would not wake unless woken by somebody else.” He nodded to McGonagall and Snape.

          “How did the illusion of an island make Draco and Hermione…erm, like each other?” Slughorn asked, tugging at the collar of his robes.

          “Much like a dream, the island stripped away many of the inhibitions and restrictions that plague our students by day. Mr. Malfoy and Ms. Granger could interact with one another at night as if there was nobody else in the world. Nobody to judge their actions, nobody to condemn them.”

          With this, the Headmaster threw a sharp look at Snape, who shrugged. He had his own personal reasons for disliking Potter, and Granger was just plain annoying.

          “So in this way, it was my hope that they would eventually come to see that their similarities and compatibilities greatly overpower their differences and conflicting interests,” Dumbledore concluded. “This concept can be extended to encompass all Gryffindors and Slytherins.”

          McGonagall sighed, leaning over the desk to look more closely at the map. “This will not work for every student,” she warned.

          “Well, I’d have to say that its success rate so far is fairly high—” Slughorn began with a slight smirk, before Flitwick elbowed him in his voluptuous gut.

          “In fact, we don’t even know if it has worked at all,” McGonagall continued matter-of-factly.

          “Oh, I daresay we do,” Slughorn said with a grin.

          Dumbledore chuckled as Flitwick buried his face in his hands, his flyaway white hair standing nearly on end. “Well, gentlemen and lady, shall we go downstairs and take a look?”

          He led the way through the open door and down the staircase, headed for the Great Hall where the students were now breaking their fast.

          Draco had met Hermione at the foot of the main staircase, just like they had arranged. She had been so preoccupied in not noticing him that when she finally lifted her eyes from the floor to avoid crashing into other students as she crossed the Entrance Hall, she was sincerely startled to see him standing in front of her. She drew a small intake of breath, sharp enough to elicit an audible sound, as their eyes locked. She had all but convinced herself on the way down that he would not be there.

          Draco smirked at her, but not unkindly. “Why so surprised?” he asked, sounding amused. “I am quite a dependable person.”

         “Well, I—” she began to retort, but was cut off by a swift kiss. Caught off-guard once again, she gasped into his mouth. Around them, the passing students began to stare, slack-jawed and scrubbing at their eyes with disbelief.

          When he drew away, he was chuckling. Ignoring the indignant expression on her face, he laced his fingers through hers and pulled her towards the Great Hall. They stopped just outside the doors, where he leaned her against the wall and stood before her.

          “You used a charm on your hair today,” Draco observed calmly, fingering a brown lock near her shoulder.

          She nodded, suddenly feeling shy.

          “You knew I would be there,” he added unnecessarily.

          “I suppose so.” Hermione glanced nervously at the doors beside them. “Well, I guess this is it,” she muttered.

          “It’ll be quite a shock for them,” Draco replied, his eyes shining with mirth. “But this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. We need to make an entrance.” He swooped in to place a kiss on her jaw-line before murmuring in a quieter voice near her ear, “What’ll it be, love? A Granger entrance…or a Malfoy entrance?”

          Hermione laughed, tucking her head under his chin to avoid answering the question. Meanwhile, not-so-discreet whispers began to elicit from the students that flocked by them into the Great Hall. In fact, because there were so many who were whispering all at once, the softly spoken words had all merged into one accusing clamor. Fighting their way through the crowd, Professors Flitwick and Slughorn struggled to see what was causing the commotion. But Draco had his back to his audience, and Hermione’s view of the Entrance Hall was blocked by his great height. Neither of them could spare the attention for the incredulous crowd that was gathering near them. Soon, the students hushed to try and listen in.

          “What’s a Granger entrance?” she asked, squirming as he lightly kissed her neck.

          “We walk in, we sit down, and we promptly bury our noses into the Daily Prophet,” Draco replied, smirking.

          Hermione raised her eyebrows before grinning. “So then what’s a Malfoy entrance?” she asked curiously.

          “Like this.” To the sheer delight and horror of the scandalized—and still unnoticed—crowd, Draco took Hermione into a tight embrace and leaned down to kiss her again full on the mouth. As his tongue prodded against her lips, she felt a shiver run down her spine toward the hand that Draco now placed on the small of her back. Kissing Draco within the safety of the island had been an experience, to be sure. But doing it at Hogwarts, where they could be seen at any moment, by anyone…it was beyond exhilarating.

          Hermione’s lips parted easily and granted him entrance. Malfoy entrance, she thought giddily, and smiled against the kiss.

          From the very center of the crowd, nearly buried in students, Professor Slughorn began to don a small smirk. Next to him, Flitwick grew increasingly agitated. “How can you smile at a time like this, Horace?” he asked, mortified. “This inappropriate display is causing a ruckus!”

          “I’m not smiling at that, Filius,” Slughorn said serenely. “I think I’ve just figured out what happened with those two. Come on,” he said, turning around abruptly and nearly smacking Flitwick with his large stomach, “I believe we owe the dear Headmaster a visit.”

          “The Headmaster…?” Flitwick trailed off as he was dragged back through the crowd of children and up the stairs.

          The stunned group gasped as Draco released an audible growl. Several of the younger girls tittered and sighed, while the older ones snorted with exaggerated nonchalance, even as their own cheeks flushed.

          It was a while before it became apparent to the other students that the two had no intention of breaking apart any time soon. Most of them began to feel intrusive and started to drift into the Great Hall. There, the clamor about it started up again unabashedly.

          Finally, Draco released her. “We should go in now,” he said regretfully, tucking a smooth strand of hair behind her ear. “We’ve got to eat sometime, you know.”

          They could hear the normal dull roar of the students through the double doors as they settled down for a meal. Today it sounded louder, more raucous and frantic…even startled into chaos. But after what they had just engaged in, the difference could’ve easily been attributed to the awareness of their heightened senses.

          He tipped his head towards the door. “So how shall we go about this?”

          “Hmm…” Hermione hesitated only a fraction of a second before a mischievous impulse overtook her. She grinned up at Draco. “The Granger entrance is getting a little old for me. I think maybe I’d like to try the Malfoy entrance today.”

          Draco laughed aloud before grabbing her hand and pulling her with him through the heavy double doors towards the roar of the Great Hall. The doors slammed loudly behind them, and Hermione looked up, her heart pounding in anticipation as they made their Malfoy entrance…

          And was met with complete and utter silence. Nearly every head had turned their way, and hundreds of eyes had focused on them before they had even completely entered the room. So much for a Malfoy entrance.

          Hermione’s nails dug painfully into Draco’s palm as they stood there, frozen in the impending silence and squirming under the scrutiny of their classmates. A heavy and awkward pause began to form in the natural flow of the normal breakfast routine as the prolonged silence grew. Draco and Hermione looked desperately around the room for a place to sit, and together, get out from underneath the uncomfortable spotlight.

          “Slytherin?” Hermione asked softly from the corner of her mouth. Still, the students who were seated nearest the doors could hear her. They turned away momentarily, scandalized, to observe the green and silver Slytherin table.

          Draco frowned. “Are you crazy?!” he murmured just as quietly. Draco’s old friends were looking towards them with mutinous expressions. Crabbe and Goyle were scratching their heads, apparently confused with the change in their Slytherin king. Blaise Zabini had turned away from them, but his hands, clenched in fists on the tabletop, were shaking in anger. Even meek little Theo Nott had a slight malice radiating from his dark eyes.

         “Okay, maybe not,” Hermione squeaked, going a bit pale with fear. Her own hands trembled, and Draco squeezed her fingers. "How does everyone already know?"

          Draco shrugged. “Beats me. What about Gryffindor?” he asked with little hope.

          They both shifted their attention to the table in red and gold. Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnegan were both simultaneously pinching each other on the arm. From the wincing responses, they definitely were not dreaming. Harry looked to be struggling silently, which alarmed Hermione, until she realized that he had choked on his pumpkin juice and was wheezing. Neville was worriedly clapping him on the back. With an ominous feeling, Hermione looked toward the redheads. Ginny Weasley was stroking her brother Ronald on the back soothingly, her face turned away from the spectacle as if she could not bear to watch. Only Ron looked towards her directly, his eyes burning and his face a furious Weasley red.

          “Oh, no,” Draco whispered in her ear. “I didn’t know you and the Weasel had a thing.” He sounded uncharacteristically concerned.

         Hermione rewarded him with a small, tense smile. “Not to worry, we didn’t,” she said shortly. Sighing, she wrenched her eyes away from Ron and looked up at Draco. “Ravenclaw?”

          “Are you kidding me?” Draco exclaimed loudly. His voice echoed awkwardly through the silent room and bounced around, repeating itself in a distorted manner. Everyone continued to stare at them.

          “Okay, okay,” Hermione ceded, eyebrows raised. With that reaction from Draco, she didn’t even bother appraising the bronze and blue table in front of her. Anyway, she was pretty sure that all she’d get from them were condescending glances and disapproving clucks of tongue.

          “So…” Draco trailed off, looking uneasy.

          Hermione laughed out loud. "So," she replied, elbowing him in the side. "It all comes down to this, then." She and Draco walked hand-in-hand towards the Hufflepuff table just as McGonagall, Snape, Flitwick, and Slughorn thundered urgently into the dead silent Great Hall, led by a chuckling Albus Dumbledore.


A/N: *squee* It's done! Thanks to those who've read, reviewed, favorited, and enjoyed/not enjoyed this story. I love you all!

I lost lots of delightful reviews, so I appreciate any full-story feedback 10-fold. Please leave a teensy something in that box down there.. =]

Well, I'm wrapping up my "1st generation" of fics from a year ago, so here comes the 2nd: There's Two Shots in the Dark, a political satire in which the Ministry must fight Voldemort in the Second War without Harry's help. It's already UP! I also just put up Ch 1 of a Rabastan/OC novel, Saviour , and am working on a Founders romance, which is NOT up. And my Marauder story, They Couldn't Stop the Voices, is not nearly finished. Please pop in if you're interested!

Thanks to everyone again for reading!