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Back to Life by p0tter fan

Format: Novella
Chapters: 11
Word Count: 41,145
Status: COMPLETED

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Strong Language, Strong Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature

Genres: Drama, Romance
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, McGonagall, Shacklebolt, Lucius, Blaise (M), Draco, Ginny, Pansy
Pairings: Harry/Ginny, Draco/Hermione, Ron/OC, Other Pairing

First Published: 09/02/2013
Last Chapter: 09/20/2015
Last Updated: 09/20/2015

Summary:



Many thanks to the wonderful (and oh so patient) Lake at TDA for the absolutely amazing banner!!!

Now that the war is over, and there is no more fighting, Hermione, Draco, Harry, Ron and the others return to Hogwarts for their 7th year education and N.E.W.T. exams.  So much has changed. This is the story about how each witch or wizard comes to accept those changes as they try to get Back To LIfe.


Chapter 1: Prologue
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Prologue

Draco woke to the sound of soft taps on his window. “Ignore it, he will go away, it isn’t even bloody light out yet. Who could be owling me at this time of the morning”, he thought to himself. With that thought, he turned over, and closed his eyes tighter, willing the owl to go away. He knew of course that this would not work. Groggily he resigned himself to the fact that he would not be getting any more sleep, and went to retrieve the letter. Immediately the owl flew away.

He was pleased to see that it was from Blaise, his best friend of many years.

Draco,

I am writing in reference to your earlier inquiry as to whether I would be returning to Hogwarts this year. I have decided to return for one final year. I need the final year to prepare for and complete my N.E.W.T.s. Besides, I cannot deny all the women of Hogwarts one last chance at me, after all.
We can go to Diagon Alley together to get our supplies later this week. Owl me when works for you, and I will let Pansy know.

Blaise

A look of resignation came to Draco’s gray eyes. If his best friend could return for one more year, so could he. Hopefully he could stick to the Slytherin dungeon most of the year. At least there he could spare himself the looks from the rest of the students, now that all knew his exploits of the last year. He could be with Blaise and Pansy, the only two people he still considered friends. They knew he had changed, that he was no longer that arrogant boy of previous years, the one who had done all of those abhorrent things to everyone. He had changed.


Immediately he took out a parchment and quill. He had to the end of the day today to notify Headmistress McGonagall as to his decision.


He would be returning to Hogwarts, the home of too many memories, one final time.



*



Harry, Ginny, Ron, and Hermione were sitting together at The Leaky Cauldron, discussing their thoughts for the upcoming year at Hogwarts over a few cups of exploding lemonade before continuing to Diagon Alley to finish their shopping.


“I am so excited they have decided to let you all come back to join with the rest of the 7th years!” Ginny was ecstatic that she would not be the only Weasley left at Hogwarts again this year. With Ron gone all last year hunting horcruxes, she had never felt so alone, even when surrounded by friends. Never before in her life had she been anywhere that she didn’t have at least one of her brothers to pester her. It helped also, that she would not have to be away from Harry, after spending every waking moment with him since the war ended. She was just starting to get through his emotional scars left by the previous year’s quest. They were nowhere near where Neville and Luna were though. Even now, no one could pry the two of them away from their current snogging session.



“I know, another bloody year of school. You would think tracking and killing Voldemort last year would have been enough to get us out of another year of school and any job we want!“ Ron was less than thrilled that he would be returning for another year of classes. At least there would be Quidditch. Maybe one more year would not be so bad after all. But, the real reason he was dreading going back to Hogwarts was the return of the awkwardness between he and Hermione after “the kiss”. They had both decided it was a mistake borne in the heat of battle. Even still it was hard to look her in the eyes… It had been easy enough to find other places to be while at the Burrow, but would be considerably harder once back in class, and in need of her “help” with the class work.


“I hear not many from our year are returning.” Harry said aloud, although his head was thinking, “I can’t blame them. All the memories, all the loss. If I thought Hermione would let me skip out, I probably would not have come back either”. “I heard the Patil’s will not be back, their parents are going to homeschool them for their N.E.W.T.s.”


Hermione’s opinion was expected, “I, for one, am thrilled! I am so happy they are allowing me the honor of being head girl! I am going to start studying for my N.E.W.T.s this evening. I have taken the liberty of creating planners for each of you once again to help you all prepare as well. Ginny, I made you one as well!” Ginny rolled her eyes as Hermione passed around the planners. Ron had told her about the color-coded study schedules given to him by Hermione in years past.


“But, the school year hasn’t even begun, Hermione. “ Harry said taking the planner she had prepared for him. “We will all have plenty of time to study before our exams next year.”


“Nonsense, we have so much material to cover. This could be the most important set of exams we will ever take! I know that I would like to work at the Ministry, so I cannot stand to slack off now.”


“Ron and I want to join the ministry as well but it seems we just returned to the Burrow. I want to enjoy every last minute before we have to be on the Hogwarts Express next week” With this he scooted a little closer to Ginny, taking her hand. He noticed the redness blossoming on her ears. He loved this about her. It helped him to know she was happy with him. They hadn't gotten any further that just holding each other's hands. But, this was enough for him.


After finishing their drinks, they exited through the back room. Hermione pulled out her wand, tapped a few bricks, and watched as the bricks rearranged themselves, clearing the way to Diagon Alley. They walked through to purchase the last of the supplies from their lists that had arrived by owl from Hogwarts the previous day. The wall reformed in their wake.



*



“Hurry up Ronald, you will miss the train!” Molly Weasley was full of emotion this day, as she would be standing on this platform, waving goodbye to her children for the very last time. Ron had dropped his knapsack, which had spilled quills and parchment all over the platform. With a flick of his wand, Ron had all the items safe in his bag once again. Molly looked on patiently as he rushed towards the train. It seemed only yesterday she stood on the platform, watching little Bill waving his hand out the window, off to start his first year at Hogwarts. "At least Ginny will have Ron; She won’t be alone", she told herself. She knew that He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was dead. Harry had made sure of that. But, the fear and worry she carried over the past years was hard to banish from her mind just yet.


Ginny, with Harry’s hand held tight, along with Hermione, finally Ron, and the rest of the students boarded the Hogwarts Express before its departure. Molly watched as the bright red train grew small in the distance and finally disappeared. She and Arthur waited until the smoke from the locomotive could no longer be seen in the distance before leaving platform 9¾, to return to the Burrow.


Aboard the train, the four sat quietly in their own compartment, the memories of the previous years together on this very train ride going through their heads… “Oculus Reparo” Hermione had shown her skill by doing this spell for the first time on their first ride, repairing Harry’s broken glasses… Harry thought of Professor Lupin’s first appearance in his life, when he saved Harry from the dementors. He missed his dear friend. He would have Teddy to remind him though. Teddy Lupin, the first and only child of Nymphadora Tonks and Remus Lupin, was his godchild after all, and Harry had no intention of skipping out on his duties as a godfather or the opportunity to hold on to this piece of them…Ron remembered his first meeting with Harry when he had shown him the scar and together they had met the then bushy haired girl sitting before him now…Ginny remembered being on the platform with her parents, to watch Ron board the train, only to come face to face with Harry Potter, and being too embarrassed to speak. Who would have guessed that the boy she had read countless stories about as a child would be sitting next to her now, holding her hand. Her ears went red again.

 

 

Draco sat with Pansy on the train, preparing himself for his final year at Hogwarts. Blaise was busy mingling with his fellow Slytherin housemates, mainly those of the female variety. Draco thought, "At least Blaise can enjoy this year." Draco was happy to sit with Pansy, in companionable silence along the ride to Hogwarts. Pansy was a good friend, and she knew how hard it was for Draco to return. “Draco, you may want to get into your school robes, I can see the castle on the horizon. It won’t be long until we are there” Draco summoned his uniform and with a light tap on his head, his clothes transformed into his Slytherin robes.


“Ready Pansy? Draco?” Blaise had come back to exit the train with his friends. With a small nod, Draco followed Blaise from the train.

 

As the students departed the train, many were shocked by the sight in front of them. Attached to the carriages that had seemed to have been pulled by an invisible magic force until now were bony, dark, horse-like creatures known as thestrals. After having witnessed death first hand, most of the students were now able to see them. Harry had been able to see them for a while now.


Harry noticed, out of the corner of his eye, the tell-tale white blond hair of his former nemesis. He noted, with surprise, how the loathing and hatred he used to feel for this boy was no longer there. Perhaps this was due to the sporadic interactions the two had experienced over the past year. Back at Malfoy Manor, Draco had refused to positively identify Harry to his Aunt Bellatrix. Doing so would have surely meant death for himself, as well as his two best friends. Because of this, even though he knew Draco would be residing at the Slytherin table this year, he felt a certain degree of appreciation that Draco had been asked to return for his final year as well.




Chapter 2: Head Boy and Head Girl
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Head Boy and Head Girl

“Mr. Malfoy, I would like to have a word with you for a moment please. ” Professor McGonagall said after approaching Draco as he came into the castle.

“Of course Professor…” Draco said, following her to the side of the room.

“I know that you have been through a great deal recently, and I hope that you will be able to find solace during your time here, if only for a while. As I stated in my letter, I am prepared to give you a second chance this year. I know that Professor Dumbledore was always fond of doing so, when it was deserved. This year will be a new start for you. A chance to make new friends and start a new life. If there is anything I can do to help, please do not hesitate to ask.”

“Thank you Professor, I appreciate that.” Draco said. While he was grateful for her sentiment, he felt on display. As he had imagined, he got more than a few odd looks from fellow students as they passed by. Some were looks of curiosity, but most were of blame and anger. He had expected these, but they still stung. "What the hell do they know?", he thought to himself. He had changed, he knew this. But he did not feel the need to explain himself to everyone here at Hogwarts.
This last year was a means to an end, a way to get what he needed in order to secure himself the job he most desired. He hoped to gain a position at the Ministry of Magic in the Department of Law Enforcement. He wanted to help to put away men like his father, Lucius Malfoy. Lucius was serving a life sentence in Azkaban. Draco intended to make sure his friends and fellow supporters of the dark lord joined him there as well.

“…. houses will be sitting together. I am sure this will help to promote school wide unity….” "Was she still talking?" Draco had been lost in his thoughts and forgot to listen. He just wanted to be anywhere but there. “… Therefore, I was hoping you would do me the honor of being Head boy this year.” "Wait! What? Head Boy? Me?"

“I am not sure Professor.” Draco immediately said, the doubt apparent in his voice. He hoped to do his best to avoid the looks from his fellow students. He really did not want to put himself in a position where he would be forced to interact with many of them on a regular basis. “Can I think about it?” This was the best he could do right now.

“Of course Mr. Malfoy. If you could let me know by the end of the day today, I would appreciate it.”

“Okay I will, thank you Professor” Draco needed to think about this, and preferably not while he felt he was on display to the entire school. He found his escape in the form of a dark haired bespectacled wizard approaching them at that very moment.

“Excuse me Professor, do you think it would be ok with you if I talked with Malfoy for a moment before the sorting ceremony starts?” Harry said, casting Draco a knowing look.

“Of course Mr. Potter, I need to go make sure everything is in order for the feast.” With that she was off.

“Thanks Potter.” Draco said with a bit of surprise in his voice. "Didn’t Harry hate him? Why would he help him?"

“No problem.” Harry knew they were not going to be friends any time soon, but he felt for Malfoy. He had been audience to many of McGonagall’s long-winded talks over the years, and could see on Draco’s face that he was more than ready to be done with this one.
Draco was grateful for the interruption and didn’t know what to say. The awkward silence that followed was interrupted by a voice coming from inside the Great Hall. The Headmistress was beginning her introduction and the start of the sorting ceremony. Harry and Draco made their way to their respective house tables on opposite sides of the hall.

“Attention students”, Professor McGonagall began. “Welcome back to Hogwarts to all of you! I ask that you find your seats, and direct your attention to the front as we begin the sorting ceremony.” The students quieted as the new first years were ushered through the doors and filed to the front of the hall.

Draco missed most of the ceremony lost in his own thoughts. "Why would she ask me of all people? Doesn’t she know who my family is? What they have done? I do not deserve this. Maybe I should do it? It would be a good addition to my resumé when I apply to the ministry. Maybe I should try it, if only for that reason." He wasn’t one to slough off hard work, so that was not it. He welcomed the work part of it actually, as a distraction. But, this meant that he would be in a position of authority, along with his female counterpart, over all of the students. Could he handle that kind of power this soon? He continued to think it over throughout the ceremony and the feast that followed.

*

Draco made his way to the headmistress's office after wandering the corridors for several hours.

“Splendid, Mr. Malfoy.” Professor McGonagall said, upon hearing Draco’s acceptance of the Head Boy position. She did not seem surprised by his response. “I believe this position, if handled correctly, will go a long way in proving your integrity to the students of Hogwarts, and the magical community as a whole. Now, as soon as the Head Girl arrives, we can begin to cover your duties.” As if on cue, there was a knock at the door. “Ah, Ms. Granger, please come in.”

Draco’s heart stopped. "Not her. Anyone but her." Hermione had always been an insufferable know-it-all; A girl he was supposed to hate. A girl who had always hated him. This would be horrible. He would have to communicate and spend time with her daily. He considered backing out until he looked up at her. Something was different. Maybe it was the way she carried herself, the look on her face that carried no animosity whatsoever when she looked at him. Her apparent change in opinion of him was not the only obvious change. Where her hair had always been rather bushy and wild, it now fell in loose curls past her shoulders. Her rather girlish figure he remembered had transformed into that of a woman. As he stared at the beautiful woman before him, he could not help but thinking "Wow, she looks amazing. Wait! This is Granger. She is a mud… no, I refuse to even think that vile word that Father called witches like her."

*

Hermione couldn’t help the extra spring in her step as she headed to the Headmistress’s office to receive her duties this year as Head Girl. Even Peeves did not seem to be able to dampen her mood, when he decided to conjure a rain cloud to follow and rain on her all the way. "I wonder who will be head boy?", she thought. It wasn’t Harry or Ron, she had asked them both. As she approached the door, she heard Professor McGonagall talking to someone. Whomever he was must already be there. After using a drying spell on her robes and hair, she entered the office. There, in the chair opposite the Headmistress, was none other than Draco Malfoy. While shocked at the choice, Hermione hid this well and settled for a look of indifference. She took a seat in the chair next to Malfoy, her head swimming with thoughts of apprehension.

“Mr. Malfoy, Miss Granger, the two of you will be serving as Head Boy and Girl this year." The looks of doubt did not go unnoticed by the headmistress. "I will expect you both to show the utmost support for each other at all times. I know the two of you have not seen eye to eye in the past. I see this year as an opportunity for us to all come together as a school, and help one another to heal. You two will be the illustration of this idea. This is the reason that I have chosen the head boy and girl from two separate houses. As I shared with Mr. Malfoy earlier, I will be encouraging inter-house relations this year. Our first step being the removal of the requirement for all students to sit at their house table while dining in the great hall. I expect the two of you to take advantage of this opportunity and to begin sitting together as of breakfast tomorrow.” Both of them opened their mouths to object, but thought better of it after a stern look. “And furthermore, we will be having a costume ball for Halloween this year, which I will ask the two of you to head up, taking care to include students from all houses in the preparations. Other than these two items, I will also expect you to carry out the usual duties of the Head Boy and Girl, which include supervising the prefects, as well as helping to maintain order within the school at all times. Do either of you have any questions for me?”

Hermione could not help herself. “Professor, are you sure that Malfoy is the right person for the job?…” Draco flinched at her comment. "She is right. I am not the right person", He thought.

The professor's tone was stern but patient. She had expected this response. “Miss Granger, I assure you that Mr. Malfoy is as deserving of this position as yourself. I am completely confident in his ability to lead fairly and honestly. We have all grown and changed a great deal throughout the war, and Mr. Malfoy is no different. It will serve you well to open your mind a little and give him a chance.” Draco was shocked. He knew that Professor McGonagall had chosen him for this job, but fairness and honesty were never traits he was readily associated with.

“Of course Professor. I am sorry.” She looked at Malfoy as she said the latter part. Hermione knew the professor was right. They had all changed so much over the past year. Maybe Malfoy had too. But, as she looked at him through this new revelation, a startling thought took over. "Did he always look like that? He looked almost friendly. And sort of....attractive even…" She stopped herself thinking along these lines as the professor began to speak again.

“I would like the two of you to take a few minutes and begin to build a plan for the year. I have other business to attend to elsewhere in the castle. Please take your time and stay as long as you need.” With this she left, leaving the two of them alone.
A few moments passed without sound, as each waited for the other to speak.
“Malfoy, let‘s just make the best of it and get through this year”…”Granger, I am sorry” They both
spoke at once.

“Wait, what?! Sorry?” Hermione could not hold back the disbelief in her voice.

“Yes, I am sorry. Sorry for the way my friends and I treated you. It was awful and I hope you can forgive me.” Draco said honestly. That was one of the hardest statements Draco had ever had to make. Afterwards, he felt as though a great weight had been lifted off of his shoulders.

“Oh, umm…. ok.” Hermione was at a loss for words, a feeling she was not used to.

“So, I guess we should start talking about how we will handle things this year” Draco said, breaking the awkward silence.

Hermione, her underlying need to be in charge taking over, said “Yes, of course. First we will need to decide which night we will hold the first meeting with the prefects.” She pulled out her ever-ready planner, scanning through the upcoming weeks’ agendas. “Thursday night at 8pm will work for me, how about you?” Draco nodded. “Perfect. I will prepare an outline of topics to cover, including the Ball and patrol schedules for the prefects.”

That part had definitely not changed. Granger was still the take-charge type… “That sounds good.“ he said blandly. It seemed as though she already had it all planned. He would eventually have to assert his presence, but decided to let her go on with her speech for now. "She is kind of cute when she takes charge.", He thought to himself, before mentally berating himself for the thought.

“I will also prepare a list of possible members for a committee to organize the ball. You would probably be best for figuring out which students from Slytherin might be willing to help.”

“Oh, so you do want my input after all?” Draco could not help the sarcasm in his voice.
Hermione, unphased by his comment, continued with her spiel. “You know them better anyway. I would say we need two or three students from each house to help. You and I can meet on Thursday at 7:30 to go over our committee selections, and I can fill you in on the agenda for that night's meeting as well.”

“You know Granger, it wouldn’t kill you to let someone else help every once in awhile.” She just began gathering her notes, ignoring him.

They both got up from their chairs to head for the door. Not paying attention to Draco, Hermione reached for the knob at the same time as he did, their hands gently brushing before she recoiled, shocked by the electricity that flowed from his hand to hers. "Did he feel it too?", She thought, looking up at him.

“Allow me” Draco said opening the door for her to go before him. She walked past him and out the door, not breaking his gaze until she was well past him. He followed her out the door, and turned to shut it behind them.

*

Back in the Gryffindor common room, Harry, Ron, and Ginny were discussing Quidditch. "I think this is going to be the best year ever for the Gryffindor Quidditch team. With Ron as keeper, Ginny and Katie Bell as chasers, and myself as seeker, we will be unstoppable." Harry could not hold back the excitement in his voice as he spoke. He had thought his days of playing for the Gryffindor Quidditch team were long gone. He had been chosen as team captain once again and could not wait to begin practices.

"Our first match is against Slytherin and it's only 2 weeks away." Ginny was itching to cream Slytherin once again. Harry grinned at her, eager as she was to face their rivals.

"What if I have forgotten how to play?" Ron, as unsure of himself as usual, struggled to find his confidence of old.

"You will be brilliant, Ron. I know you will." Harry was quick to reassure him, knowing that Ron's fears were his only weakness when it came to Quidditch. Ron seemed mollified by this and smiled broadly.
Their quidditch conversation flew from their minds, as Hermione came into the common room. Her eyes were glazed over and she had an odd expression on her face. Harry's first thought was that she had been imperioused. "Hermione? Are you ok?" He asked hesitantly as he began to walk slowly toward her.

UHermione shook her head as her eyes cleared as she focused on the 3 faces staring at her open-mouthed. "Fine..I'm just fine.” She regained herself and added “Guess who the new Head Boy is?” After her friends’ puzzled looks, she said “Draco Malfoy!”

The reactions she received varied greatly. Ron looked horrified. Ginny seemed surprised, but indifferent. Harry’s reaction was the most shocking. “That’s great!” Harry said, before looking around. His 3 friends, including Hermione gaped at him. “What? He saved our lives, and I think he deserves this.” Changing the subject back to a comfortable topic, Harry quickly added “Our first Quidditch practice is tomorrow, we should get some rest.” They all agreed and headed to their dorms.

*

As Draco walked back to the Slytherin common room, his head was reeling from the brief encounter with Hermione. "What the hell was that?!", he thought. Maybe he wasn't the only one who had changed. He unconsciously rubbed his hand where it had touched hers. The tingling sensation the touch had brought still lingered. He approached the door, gave the password, and pushed the memory from his mind as he walked in to join his friends. Blaise was sitting on a couch with his arm around the girl to his left, Pansy was on his other side, checking her makeup in a compact mirror. Draco walked over to the chair across from them and sat down.

“Hey Draco, where have you been? I looked for you after the feast and couldn’t find you anywhere.” Pansy asked.

“I had a meeting in the Headmistress’s office." He might as well just say it. "She has asked me to be Head Boy this year.” He hesitated, waiting for the responses.

“Head Boy?” Pansy and Blaise said together. Blaise pulled his arm from around the girl, and turned his full attention to Draco. The girl got up and walked away, looking offended. Blaise didn't seem to notice.

“Ya, apparently she thinks I will be able to prove myself this way. You will not believe who the head girl is…” He smirked as he made this last remark. “Granger!”

While Pansy seemed disgusted by this, Blaise seemed intrigued. “No kidding? Too bad, I would hope you would have at least gotten someone hot.” He said. Draco shrugged at this. Blaise’s comment brought him right back to his earlier train of thought.

“She’s not that bad looking.” Draco said defensively, though he didn’t know why he felt the need to defend her. He quickly realized he should not have said that. Rather than bear his friends’ comments on this slip, he opted to retire for the night. “Listen, I am tired, I’m going to bed. I’ll see you guys later” Pansy just looked after Draco with an appalled look on her face. Blaise, on the other hand, looked more curious than anything. He had noticed the unintentional candor and made a mental note to get to the bottom of it sooner rather than later.
Laying in bed that night, Draco's mind once again wandered to his encounter with Hermione. He wasn't sure if he was more thrown by the physical changes that haunted his mind’s eye, or the more obvious change in her opinion of him. Maybe this year wouldn't be so bad after all...

8-25-15 I am going back through, re-checking my story for grammar, spelling, and continuity. Hopefully it will all flow a bit better now. Please read and review!

Chapter 3: No use crying over spilled ink
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No use crying over spilled ink

Hermione had gotten up early and was sitting at a small table in the Gryffindor common room. She was going over her ancient runes notes again, while Ginny sat across from her, attempting to look like she was studying.

Several weeks had gone by since the beginning of term. All things considered, it was going very well. Her classes seemed less stressful, given the real world experiences she had endured with Ron and Harry the previous year. She had noticed Ron and Cho making eyes at each other, which she couldn't have been happier about. At least now she knew Ron had finally moved on. She had developed a close friendship with a girl, which was a new experience. She and Ginny had spent many nights in the common room discussing everything from boys to the future. Ginny and Harry had moved past the hand holding stage and had moved right on to snogging every chance they got. Hermione had even shared a little of her feelings about Draco. She told Ginny about how she had actually began to enjoy Draco’s company and how she even started to consider him a friend. They had another meeting with the Costume Ball committee tonight, and she was thankful for his help in organizing everything.

What she hadn't shared with Ginny was her unsettling attraction to him. They had been spending more and more time together, always under the guise of planning the Halloween Ball or dealing with prefects as Head Boy and Girl. As she pondered their last such "meeting", her eyes were glazed over, her mind deep in thought.

"...Hermione?... Hermione!" Ginny finally got her attention, after saying Hermione’s name several times.

"Sorry, what?" Hermione answered, embarrassed.

"You ok? Anything you want to talk about?" Ginny raised an eyebrow and Hermione blushed lightly.

"Nah, just thinking..." Ginny didn't seem satisfied by her answer.

"Spill it Granger! If I didn't know better, I would say your mind was with the Head Boy just a moment ago..."

Hermione went beet red. How did Ginny know? "I have no idea what you are talking about." She lowered her head and pretended to go back to studying.

Ginny grabbed Hermione’s book from her hands and locked eyes with her. "Come on girl, it's just me. Let's talk."

Hermione decided to finally confide in her friend. She looked around to ensure they were alone before continuing. "I don't know Ginny, it's like he is a whole different person. He actually apologized for the way he has treated me throughout the years. He looks at me completely different than anyone has before. And when I am with him, it just seems right. It is so easy to talk to him."

Ginny smirked, "It doesn't hurt that he is completely sexy, does it?..."

Hermione's blush returned. "There is that too..." The girls giggled with each other as the door to the boys' dorm opened. They both stopped laughing and looked towards the door.

"Hey, Hermione, Ginny, you ready to go eat?" Harry asked, as he and Ron came down the steps en route to breakfast. Harry wondered what had gotten into the girls. He knew it probably had something to do with a boy, but didn't dare ask in front of Ron. He made a mental note to ask Ginny later.

"Um, ya. Let's go." Hermione said, smiling at Ginny. They gathered their books and set off with their friends towards the Great Hall.


"Over here." Neville called to them to join him, before turning his attention back to Luna. Luna had been sitting with them since the house seating had been done away with. She and Neville seemed even more inseparable than before, if that was possible.

Draco usually sat with them as well. He had found it easier to just join them, since McGonagall's mandate that he and Hermione's sit together. He felt more at ease in this crowd than with the Slytherin group anyway. He had not been able to convince Pansy and Blaise to join them, though he had tried. Harry had been making an effort to include Malfoy. Therefore, he scooted over to make room for Malfoy as he approached the group.

'Morning Malfoy." Hermione's greeted Malfoy without looking at him. "Do you have everything ready for tonight's meeting?" Her face was blushing with the thoughts of her conversation with Ginny.
"Yes, here is the letter to the Weird Sisters asking them to perform at the Ball. I will drop it off at the owlery after you look it over." He held out the letter towards Hermione. As she reached for it, their eyes locked for a moment. Hermione blushed and Draco smirked. Hermione quickly took the letter and engrossed herself in looking it over.

Harry witnessed the exchange and it hit him. Why hadn’t he seen it before? Malfoy was the boy who had caught Hermione's attention! Harry got up from the table and looked at Malfoy "Hey Malfoy, can I talk to you for a minute." It was not a question. Harry wasn't near full, but he had to talk with him now.
"Sure, I didn’t want breakfast anyway." Malfoy said, rolling his eyes. He had barely eaten anything.
As soon as they were outside the great hall, Harry turned to Draco. "Ok, what's going on with you and Hermione?" Draco’s face remained neutral, judging Harry's reaction. The anger Harry had expected to feel evaporated. The animosity of years past was gone. His voice calmed as he continued. "I see the way you look at each other. She has been distracted and daydreaming since the beginning of term. You can’t tell me you have no idea what I am talking about."

"There is nothing going on!" Wait, distracted? By me? "Hermione and I work together as Head Boy and Girl, and co-chair the Halloween Ball committee. That's all.” He paused. “Why? Has she said something?" He tried hard to squash the flicker of hope that he felt deep inside. There was no way she could have feelings for someone like him. She was the embodiment of all that is good in the world and he was just a former Death Eater.

"No, but I know Hermione. She is not easily distracted from anything, especially her studies. I just wanted to say that I do not object, for now. I know you have changed, Malfoy. I have not forgotten what you did for me and my friends last year, and for that I am eternally grateful. But, I want you to know that if you ever hurt her, it will be last thing you do." His face was as firm as his tone when he finished.

Draco's face was purposely indifferent. "What I did that day at the Manor was nothing. It was the right thing to do. Anyone of you would have done the same."

Harry wasn't sure why, but he wanted to reassure Draco. "An old friend once taught me how important it was to choose what was right over that which is easy.." Harry truly appreciated the truth of Dumbledore's words. "I know it was not easy for you and I wanted you to know that I realize that."
"Thanks Potter, that means more than you know to me. Hermione is beautiful and kind. I don’t deserve a girl like her."

"You deserve to be happy; so does Hermione. And believe me, she could do a lot worse." A smile
crossed Harry's face at this, which was returned by Draco.

Back in the hall, Ginny and Hermione exchanged a look before both of their pairs of eyes followed Harry and Draco as they left the Great Hall.

Just then both girls attention was diverted, as a brown owl swooped down dropping a letter in Hermione's lap. Hermione was perplexed. Who would be owling her? Her parents were still in Australia sans their memories of her, and all of her friends were here at Hogwarts. Hermione looked over the rolled parchment. The parchment was high quality, with immaculate penmanship.

Miss Granger,
I hope you are enjoying your time at Hogwarts. Wow, Head Girl, your parents would be so proud. If they remembered you, that is. I encourage you to enjoy your taste of freedom within these walls while it lasts. You have taken something from me, and it is only a matter of time before I return the favor.
Until we meet again,
Your old friend

Hermione went pale. Who could this letter be from? She had absolutely no idea, and the mystery author had not given her any clues. Whoever it was knew an awful lot about her, which scared her even more. She stuffed the letter in her robes and ran from the hall. She had to find Harry and Ron. They would help her decipher this mystery.

Ginny watched as Hermione followed suit, leaving Ginny to continue breakfast, however awkward it may be, along with the seemingly stuck-at-the-mouth Neville and Luna.

*

The conversation with Harry that morning stuck in Draco's head all day. He went through the motions of going to class, but his mind was stuck on Harry's words "I just wanted to say that I do not object, for now. I have not forgotten what you did for me and my friends last year, and for that I am eternally grateful." He did not deserve Harry's confidence in him. He was still thinking of it when he walked into the classroom where the Halloween Ball committee meetings were held at the end of the day. Hermione had been the first to arrive, and was sitting alone, looking over her notes, her back to the door. Immediately he could smell the sweet floral scent that accompanied Hermione wherever she went. He loved the smell and paused for a moment to enjoy the smell and to gaze at her as she sat twirling a small strand of hair around her finger. The smell seemed to calm him, making him forget the stress of the day.

He was so absorbed in the view that he didn't notice the rest of the committee arriving.
"Earth to Draco!" Blaise was never known for his discretion. Pansy and the others followed Blaise into the room.

When Hermione turned around to Blaise's voice, she was surprised to see Malfoy staring at her. She blushed. He gave her a small smile, before taking his seat next to her at the front of the room. "Ok everyone, thank you for coming. As you know, we will be discussing decorations tonight." Hermione
started the meeting.

The meeting continued as planned as each member gave their decor ideas for the ball. They finally came to a consensus to stick with only basic decor, much to Hermione's dismay. She had wanted to go extremely over the top with the decor, but was overruled. Once the meeting had ended and everyone else had left, Draco approached Hermione as she gathered her belongings, stuffing them all into her very favorite beaded bag. "Hermione, I was wondering if you had some time to stick around and help me with my transfiguration homework."

Hermione looked at him, one eyebrow raised. "Sure, no problem." she knew his grade was near the top of the class they shared. There was no way he really needed her help. She couldn't deny that she liked the idea of a little more time with him, so she agreed. She summoned two comfy chairs for them to sit in, facing each other. He pulled out his books and parchment.

They sat for several hours more discussing everything from their transfiguration homework to Blaise and Pansy’s budding romance. They were once again enjoying each other's company as the hours flew by.

"So, where will you be spending your holiday?" Hermione asked, knowing that his parents were not at Malfoy Manor.

"I think I will be staying here this year. McGonagall has given me permission to use her office to floo to St. Mungo's on Christmas. I want to check on my mum and see how she is improving." Despite his words, his voice held no sign of hope whatsoever.

"That will be nice." Hermione tried to sound reassuring. "I will be staying over the holiday as well. I am waiting until I complete my final term at Hogwarts before going to get my parents from Australia. I think it will make the transition easier if I am able to take time to be with them when they return." The memory of the letter, and its reference to her parents flickered in the back of her mind.
Draco hesitated. "Do you think you would want to go with me to see my mum? It may be easier if I wasn't alone. Blaise and Pansy are going to Zabini Manor over the holiday.”

Hermione answered without hesitation. "Of course Draco. I can go with you."

Draco's head was spinning. "Did she just call me Draco? Not Malfoy, but Draco." She had never called him by his given name before. It felt so much more personal, and he like the sound of his name on her lips.

He decided to attempt to get himself back on task. He picked up his quill to continue on his lines. “Can I borrow some ink? Mine is empty.” Draco asked Hermione.

“Sure.” Hermione grabbed her bottle of ink and leaned over to hand it to him. He reached to grab it, and his hand closed over hers. Her first instinct was to pull away, but she kept her hand there, looking up at Draco. Draco looked up at her, his hand on hers and leaned in towards her. Hermione unconsciously leaned closer, feeling the undeniable pull towards him. As she got closer, she could smell the wonderful male cologne that she had come to associate with him. She closed her eyes and breathed in his smell. When she opened her eyes, he was staring at her, a terrified look in his eyes. She immediately let go of the ink and pulled away. "What was I thinking? I wanted him to kiss me, that’s what I was thinking. But of course he didn’t want to kiss me! Why would HE want to kiss ME?" She thought to herself

Draco watched her as if in slow motion. She leaned over to hand him the ink. He reached for it, grasping her hand in the process. Immediately he felt as though the floor was falling beneath him. It was as though he had grabbed onto a live wire. He could not let go. Then she closed her eyes and leaned closer. He wanted more than anything to lean in and feel the softness of her lips on his. "She wants me to kiss her. She is just so beautiful, and she smells so amazing. No! I can't. I am no good for her. She will only get hurt", he thought. He pulled away and let go of the ink. The now unsupported ink bottle crashed to the ground. Hermione screamed at the sound of the bottle shattering on the floor. Draco immediately pulled his wand out and muttered “scourgify” as the ink disappeared, along with the shattered bottle.

“It is late, I need to go” Hermione said, not looking at him. It was all she could do to keep the tears from spilling from her eyes. She ran from the room towards the Gryffindor common room. She ran past Ginny, who had been waiting up for her. She ran straight to her bed, laid down with her robes still on, and pulled her curtains tight around her bed. Her unshed tears began to flow uncontrollably as soon as her head hit the pillow. Ginny came in moments later.

“Hermione?” She spoke softly, as she would to a small child. “Are you ok?”

“I am so stupid!” She yelled.

Ginny's tone hardened. She knew this was the only way to make Hermione listen. “Hermione Jean Granger! You are the brightest witch I know! Do not ever let me hear you call yourself that again! What in the world happened?”

“Nothing, I just was stupid enough to think that Draco Malfoy might want to kiss me!” She hid her face in her pillow again in embarrassment. She could not believe she had said that out loud.
Ginny was glad Hermione could not see the appalled look on her face. She knew how Hermione felt about Draco, probably more than she did herself. It just seemed different knowing that Hermione actually wanted to kiss him. Ginny had hated Draco for so long. She had a hard time walking away from those feelings. It did not help that her best friend was now in tears over the boy. “Come on Hermione. Tell me what happened. What did he do to you?”

Hermione sat up on her bed, Ginny sat down next to her. Hermione took a deep breath and spoke quickly, so she would not lose her nerve. “We were studying. We were talking about everything; He is so easy to talk to. Then touched my hand, it was like there was a force pulling me to him. All I could think about was kissing him. Next thing I know, I look up at him and he looks scared of me. I don’t know what happened. I mean I know I am just so ordinary and he is just so… well, hot.” She let a small smile escape her lips as she looked at Ginny. “Anyway, I should have known better.”
“What did he say?” Ginny tried to keep her voice neutral.

"I didn’t give him the chance to feel sorry for me. I grabbed my stuff and ran out of there.”
“Oh, Hermione, come here.” She hugged her friend. “First of all, I do not ever want to hear you refer to yourself as ordinary ever again! What is it about this boy that has you thinking so little of yourself? You are gorgeous. Do you not own a mirror?” Hermione gave a half smile at her joke. “Second, I have seen the way he looks at you. There is no doubt in my mind that he is probably just as upset as you are right now. Probably more, given it is his fault he did not get a kiss tonight.”

Hermione looked at Ginny doubtfully, “I don’t think so. He had the perfect opportunity to kiss me. He didn’t. He is obviously not interested.” Hermione laid back down and rolled away from Ginny.
Ginny got up and said, "Hermione, you need to rest. Things will look different in the morning." It was obvious she was getting nowhere with this tonight.


*

Draco sat stunned, still in the chair Hermione had conjured for him. He had not moved since he watched Hermione gather her belongings and run from the room. He waited there for a long time after, hoping that she would return so he could apologize. What seemed like several hours later, when she didn’t return, he slowly gathered his belongings and left the room, after getting rid of the chairs and returning the classroom to its normal state with a flick of his wand. He hung his head as he slowly made his way back to the dungeons and the Slytherin common room.

He was not surprised to see Blaise and Pansy tangled together in a corner snogging. He continued past them without saying hello. He took a hot shower, as hot as his skin could tolerate, allowing the pain of the heat on his skin to distract him from the pain inside. She had wanted to kiss him. She had made it obvious. He had wanted to kiss her. He just couldn’t do it. He had developed too many feelings for her. He truly cared for her now. Because of this, he could not let himself go any further with her. She deserved better. He would only hurt her.

The only people he had ever loved had only found pain. His mother was still in St. Mungo’s Hospital, receiving psychiatric help. She could not face the atrocities that she had been witness to during the war. His grandmother Druella had loved him dearly, but had been killed during the first war, protecting him. He could not allow Hermione to become victim to his love. He squared his shoulders in resolve. He would end this and spare her the pain that was sure to follow. He turned off the shower, dressed, and climbed into bed. His night was filled with dreams of beautiful brown eyes and exploding ink bottles.


9-2-15 Revised for grammar, spelling, and content
Read and review if you don't mind :)

Chapter 4: Losing Control
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Losing Control

Hermione woke the next morning to swollen eyes, having cried herself to sleep the night before. She slowly dressed and tried to distract herself by attempting to prepare for her day. It was Saturday and the weather was nice. Maybe she would just take a walk around the grounds, or maybe she would stay in her room all day, that way she would not have to face anyone. "Anyone" in this instance being one drop dead gorgeous blond boy who she could not stop thinking of.


Draco went immediately to the Slytherin table, upon entering the Great Hall the next morning. Even if McGonagall gave him detention, he could not face Hermione after how he had treated her the night before. “Hey, Blaise. How’s it going?” He asked as he approached his old friend who was sitting at the Slytherin table with Pansy by his side.

“Wow, sitting at the Slytherin table. This must be serious.” Blaise smiled, joking with Draco.

Draco just looked down towards the table. He did not think that Blaise approved of his socializing with a Gryffindor, and would much less approve of him almost kissing one. He shrugged. “I just felt like sitting here today.”

Blaise gave Pansy a look. She grabbed a banana, kissed Blaise and left the boys alone to talk, after making a point of rolling her eyes. “Alright, spill it Malfoy. What the hell happened to you?” Blaise said, as soon as Pansy walked away.

“It’s nothing Blaise, it’s just some girl. Nothing to worry about.” He gave Blaise a fake smirk, and began eating his breakfast. Draco knew that this answer would satisfy Blaise. Blaise had never thought any girl worth worrying about.

Blaise shrugged his shoulders. “Oh, well ok. Don’t let it get you down Draco. No girl is worth it.” Draco looked at Blaise with a raised eyebrow. “Don’t let Pansy know I said that! Things are just getting good with her.” When Draco did not answer, Blaise launched into the whole story about how he and Pansy had found love and how they were going to spend the Christmas holiday at his manor. Draco listened; happy the focus had been shifted from him.

*

“Where is Hermione?” Harry asked Ginny, when she arrived alone at breakfast.

Ginny looked around to make sure no one would over hear, “She and Draco had a bit of a tiff last night….” Ginny told Harry what Hermione had told her the night before.

“The two of them are as thick as they come!” Harry said, rolling his eyes.

“Harry! You sound like Hermione! She is the brightest witch at Hogwarts and you know it!”

“No, Ginny, that is not what I mean. She is brilliant when it comes to academics. But, she is as thick as he is when it comes to how the other feels.” Ginny looked confused. “Draco likes her too he just feels himself unworthy. He doesn’t think that she could ever be with someone like him.”

Ginny contemplated her response before speaking. “He has changed Harry.”, she said simply. Ginny knew it was true, though she still hated to admit it.

“I know that. He seems to be the one having a hard time understanding that.”

*

Hermione sat on her bed, gathering her robes to send to the laundry when a very expensive looking parchment fell out of the pocket. She picked up the letter, remembering that she had not yet talked to Ron and Harry about it. She rushed out her dorm quickly, colliding with Ron at the bottom of the stairs to the girls' dorm.

"What are you doing Ronald?" Hermione straightened herself and looked at Ron curiously.

"Ummm..I was wondering why you weren't at breakfast. Cho said she never saw you come from your dorm. So, I came back to check on you. But, I can't get up the steps to the girls' dorm. So, I decided to just wait for you here."

Hermione looked surprised at Ron's concern. She was grateful though, that he was here and decided not to waste any more time. She took out the letter and handed it to Ron. "I received this the other day. I do not know who it is from." Ron took the letter, looking thoroughly confused. His confusion turned to fear as he read the letter to himself.

"Hermione, have you shown this to Harry?" She shook her head. "Well, we need to go find him. He will know what to do." He handed the letter back to her. She carefully folded it, placing it back into her pocket, before they both exited the common room.


Ginny and Harry looked startled when Ron and Hermione came into the Great Hall, Hermione struggling to match Ron's fast pace. "Harry...we...need...to....talk to....you." Ron struggled to catch his breath. As he caught his breath, Hermione pulled the letter once again from her pocket before handing it to Harry. Harry read it over, and stood up, letter in hand.

Harry looked around to ensure no one was paying any particular attention to them. "We need to talk about this somewhere else. Ginny, we will catch up with you later, ok?" He looked to Ginny, leaning down to kiss her goodbye. She pulled away from him and stood up.

"You most certainly will not see me later! I am coming with you." Harry opened his mouth to object, but immediately closed it again, not daring to cross Ginny when she got like this. "You have taken off without me to go on one of your little adventures for the last time!"

Harry could not help the need to protect Ginny. It was what he had always done throughout the war. It had been a necessity. As he saw the determination in her eyes, a thought dawned on him. Ginny was strong, and smart, and they could possibly use her help in solving this latest mystery. More than that though, he wished to never leave her side again, not even for this. Therefore, it was with great pride that he said, "You are right Ginny. You should come."

Ginny's jaw dropped in shock. She had expected a lot more resistance.

"Harry, I don't know. It's always just been the 3 of us." Ron said. "There's my resistance", Ginny thought.

"I know, but I think one extra brain thinking it over could only help." Harry didn't wait for Ron to answer. "Let's go." Harry said, as he got up and led the other 3 out of the Great Hall.

By the time Ron had figured out that Harry had overruled him, they were already halfway to the lake. As they arrived, Harry turned to Ginny, handing her the letter. "You better read this, so we are all on the same page."

Ginny took her turn with the letter, before carefully folding it and handing it back to Hermione. She was trying to formulate a theory. If she was going to be included in on the action, she needed to prove herself worthy. "So, he obviously knows a lot about you, Hermione." At least stating the obvious was better than nothing.

"He even knows about your parents, and that is not exactly public knowledge." Harry was at a loss.

"Let's begin by going over what we know." Hermione pulled out her wand, and began making a list written in colored smoke in thin air. "He knows about my parents." She wrote in the air. "He knows I am head girl." She added.

"That is a matter of public knowledge." All 4 heads jerked up at Draco's voice. "Accio Daily Prophet clipping" Draco held his hand up as a small newspaper clipping soared into his hand. He handed the paper to Harry. "My Aunt Andromeda sent this to me in a letter at the start of term."

The shock of hearing Draco refer to Andromeda, the grandmother to his godson, in such a familiar way, left him temporarily speechless. Ginny, noticing Harry's loss for words, stepped closer to Harry, reading the paper over his shoulder. Up from the pages smiled Draco and Hermione on either side of Professor McGonagall. The headline read

FORMER DEATH-EATER AND FEMALE MEMBER OF THE GOLDEN TRIO NAMED HEAD BOY AND HEAD GIRL AT HOGWARTS

"I guess that explains how he knew that." Ginny had temporarily forgotten the fact that Draco was not originally intended to be part of this conversation. "What else do we know?"

Ron stared at her flabbergasted. "I know that if he is in, I am out. I'll catch up with you all later." Ron got up and left the group, kicking the grass as he walked away muttering to himself. Hermione felt almost tempted to follow him, but as much as she hated it, the prospect of time with Draco won out over comforting her friend.

Harry, having decided the Andromeda conversation was best suited for a more private time, decided with Ginny and included Draco in the conversation.

Hermione was not so sure. With a quick wave of he quickly wiped away the clues that had been hovering next to her this whole time. "Malfoy, thanks for the information, but you do not have to stay. We can figure this out." "So, we are back to Malfoy are we?" He couldn't help his disappointment that flooded his mind in the backward progress of their interaction.

Draco smiled at her. "I think I will stick around awhile, if that's ok." He leaned against a nearby tree indicating his unwillingness to move. Hermione, dumbfounded at his smile once again, only managed a small nod. "What are we trying to figure out anyway? And who is this 'he' you are talking about?" Draco had seen what had been written, and was concerned that someone knew a whole lot about Hermione, and that she and her friends did not seem to have any idea who it was.

"We don't know. That is actually what we are trying to figure out." Harry had already added one to their trio, and with Ron's recent abandonment, why not add another? "Hermione, show him the note." Hermione took the note from her robes yet again and passed it to Draco without looking up. Draco placed his hand on the letter but did not pull it away, this caused Hermione to look up into his eyes. She smiled meekly and blushed a deep red. "I love it when she does that", he thought.

He took a step back, opening the note and reading it. A feeling of anger spread over him like fire in his blood as he read the words. He took a deep breath, calming himself before speaking. "What does he mean 'enjoy your freedom while it lasts'? Hermione, this is a direct threat. We need to find out who sent this and stop him before he has a chance to carry out his plan."

Hermione blushed again at his outburst. Maybe he did not completely hate her after all. "Malfoy, how are we supposed to do that if we do not know who he is, where he is, or what his plans are?"

Hermione did her best to stay focused on the task at hand. "We know this." With a wave of her wand, the clues returned to the air beside her. Draco reread the words, trying his hardest to control the anger that boiled anew in his stomach.

"I think that it has to be a Death Eater. One that feels especially connected to you, Hermione. I think we need to try to get some information from the Ministry about which Death Eaters are still at large, and we can go from there. I know Ron isn't keen on being here, but Ginny can you ask your dad if he could get us some information." Harry of course had a plan.

"I am not sure I can give you as much information as the Ministry, but I can give you a list of the Death Eaters that are still out there." Draco turned to Hermione "It's the least I can do." Draco's usual smirk was replaced with a look of sadness.

"That would be great, Malfoy. Thank you. If you could get a list together of names, and any association you may know of with Hermione, we can get together in a day or two and go over it all." Harry looked from Hermione to Draco, and smiled to himself. He had Ginny now, to be there for him to talk to and now, finally, maybe Hermione had someone too. He hoped Hermione and Draco could be that for each other.

Ginny saw where Harry's eyes were, and the smile on his face. She walked over to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. Maybe, just maybe, this might work out. "I am really hungry, Harry. Can we go back to the great hall?" Ginny smiled at Hermione, giving her a wink. Ginny took Harry's hand and they began walking hand-in-hand back to the castle.

Draco stayed and waited for Hermione after the other two had left. Hermione stood, facing the lake, her arms wrapped around herself. She was lost in thought, and was startled when she felt arms around her waist. Immediately she felt the warmth spread through her veins, as her heart raced, spreading the fire throughout her body. She turned her head around, her eyes locking with Draco's. She couldn't help but think how she should pull away, but she didn't. She felt a sense of safety wrapped in his arms, and she wanted to hold on to it just a little longer.

"Is this ok?" Draco asked hesitantly. Hermione nodded. He tightened his arms around her, pressing his front against her back, and looked out over the lake with her. Neither spoke for the longest time. Then, when she started to shiver in the cool fall breeze coming off the lake, Hermione turned again towards Draco.

"Thank you, for your help with this." She did not know why he was so adamant to help, but she was grateful that he was here.

Draco turned her around without releasing her, his hands still on her waist as she faced him. "Hermione, we need to talk." Hermione started to pull away but he held her firmly. "Please, this is very hard for me to say, and I may never again work up the courage to say it if I don't say it right now." Hermione stilled and looked up at him.

"Last year, when you were brought to the Manor by those snatchers, when I watched my evil aunt hurt you, something inside me changed. My whole view of the world flipped upside down. Ever since the first day I met you, I had been told that I was supposed to hate you. I tried very hard to do it too. I never could quite manage it though. You were smart, and funny, and so kind to everyone." Hermione raised an eyebrow, thoughts of her punching him in the face near Hagrid's hut floated in her brain. Draco smiled at her expression. "Ok, you were kind to those who deserved it. But anyway, you were everything that I wished I had. I realized then that I could no longer be the person they wanted me to be. I vowed to myself that day to make it up to you some day."

Hermione's face fell. Draco looked confused. "What's the matter? I am sorry to bring it up again. I am sure it is very hard for you to remember."

Hermione pulled herself free, this time he let her. She walked a few steps away, looking anywhere but at him. "Is that what this is? You feel obligated to help me?" She knew it was true, but it stung. She had allowed herself to think, for a moment, that he might actually like her. "Well, you have fulfilled your duties. Consider your debt repaid. You don't have to pretend to be friends with me anymore." She started to walk back to the castle, shivering even more than before.

"Wait!" She stopped, but did not turn around. "Is that what you think? That I feel obligated to spend time with you?" She turned to look at him, tears filling the corners of her eyes. "That could not be further from the truth. I'll admit, when I saw you walk into McGonagall's office at the beginning of term, I thought only of having to fulfil my promise to myself. What began as simply that, has turned into so much more, for me at least." He walked to where she stood, taking her hands in his. "You have become very important to me, Hermione. It is like you make the pain of all of those years less."

She stared at him in disbelief. "But last night.."

"I am so sorry. I know I hurt you. That was the last thing I wanted to do. It is the reason I did not kiss you. I know you will get hurt. Every woman I have ever loved has been hurt." His eyes were wide with fear, fear that she would not forgive him.

"Loved, did he just say loved? Focus, Hermione." She squared her shoulders and spoke with authority. "First you need to know one thing about me. I do not do the damsel in distress thing well. I appreciate your desire to protect me, it is truly flattering. Maybe you should just let me decide what I need protecting against and what I don't." She stepped closer to him, until she could feel the heat radiating from his body. His eyes joined with hers again, sparks flying between their eyes. "No one has ever made me feel the way you do. It terrifies me," Draco flinched. "not because I am scared that you will hurt me, but because I am not used to losing my hold on complete control. It is something I crave, and it is the only thing that kept me from going mad last year. When I am with you, I feel anything but controlled." She looked back down to the ground, hoping she had not been too honest.

Draco smiled at her, pulling her against his body again. "So, what you are saying is, you wouldn't have the self-control to stop be if I leaned in" Hermione felt her skin on her face reddening as he leaned his face close to hers. "and put my lips here" He gently touched her lips with his. He held her tight as their lips gently touched each other. He pulled his head back slowly, his eyes still closed. When he opened them, he saw Hermione smiling up at him.

"Yes, that is exactly what I am saying." Hermione stood on her toes, planting a small kiss on his lips, before pulling away from him and taking his hand. "So, before we try to push the limits of my control any further, let's go in and get some breakfast."

Draco walked beside her, holding her hand. He did not want to stop kissing her, but given his interruption of breakfast, he was starving.

"Hermione?” Draco said her name again. She looked up at him, still holding his hand.

“Yes, Draco?”

“Would you do me the honor of accompanying me to the Halloween Ball?” Hermione could not help the smile that spread across her face. She looked up at him.

“I would love to.”

A grin threatened to split his face in half. Everything seemed to be finally going his way.

They continued on to the Great Hall, which was mostly empty by now, given most of the students had finished with breakfast already. They made their way to their now normal spot. Draco sat beside Hermione, not letting go of her hand. They ate and chatted, enjoying each other's company until they were both full.

“So, what do you want to do with the rest of the day?” Draco asked, turning towards Hermione.

Hermione hesitated, “Do you want to see what Harry and Ginny are doing? Maybe spend some time with them?”

Draco smiled at her. “Sure, a day with Gryffindors, sounds great.” He laughed at his own joke as they both stood up and went to find their friends.

*

“So, I guess we better get used to seeing them together, huh?” Ginny said to Harry, as they walked up to the doors of the castle, turning around to see Draco put his arms around Hermione.

“So much has changed, Gin. It’s hard to believe that we will be gone from Hogwarts, and facing life in the real world less than a year from now.” Harry stared at Ginny, he knew that no matter what life beyond Hogwarts held for him, he wanted this girl there, right beside him.

Ginny looked over to find Harry staring at her, a lost look in his eyes. “What are you thinking about, Harry?”

“Just the future.” With that he took her hand, and they headed into the castle together.


Chapter 5: The Halloween Ball
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The following weeks passed pretty much uneventfully. Draco had shared his list of known Death Eaters that were still at large. Harry had managed to find connections between Hermione and all of them. Despite much time and thoughts spent on the issue, they did not seem any closer to figuring out who had sent the letter. Since no more letters had arrived, and no one had made any attempts on Hermione’s life, they had agreed that it may have been a prank, and agreed to let it go for now.

 

Draco and Hermione spent most of their time together, along with Harry and Ginny. Since Hermione and Draco were taking more subjects than the others, they had some time away from the other two as well. They spent every possible moment together, so much in fact, that the other students had almost stopped staring when they saw the two of them enter the room hand in hand, almost.

 

Ron had even become slightly less frigid towards the idea of Draco and Hermione being together. He would at least spend an occasional hour or two with the others, but only when Cho Chang was able to join him as well. It was not quite like old times, but even Ron knew that things were different now.


 

This particular evening found Ginny and Hermione, along with the rest of the Gryffindor girls, squeezed together, attempting to share a giant mirror that someone had conjured to replace one entire wall of the Gryffindor common room. They were a mess of wands flying everywhere, some applying makeup, while others were casting charms on their hair, creating beautiful masterpieces. Others still were performing slight alterations to dresses, lowering the front, or shortening the bottom, in order to provide the desired effects.

 

Tonight was the much anticipated Halloween Ball, and the girls all wanted to look their best. While the Headmistress had issued a rule that all students were required to wear costumes, most of the girls used that term loosely and settled for very short dresses with certain extras that classified them as a cat, bunny, or other cute animal. Hermione, uncharacteristically going with the flow, had decided to go as a black cat. She wore a dangerously short black dress, that hugged her curves, fishnet stockings, and tall black high heeled boots, that came just past her knees. She also wore the obligatory headband with pointy black ears. She couldn't help but chuckle at the resemblance to the cat she had accidentally become with polyjuice potion during her earlier years at Hogwarts. She could barely walk in her shoes, but Ginny taught her a spell to make her shoes more comfortable, as well as adding a balance spell. Once Ginny helped her apply the makeup and applied a few curl-taming spells, even Hermione was impressed with the results. Harry and Ginny were going as a prince and princess. Ginny wore a spaghetti strapped, floor length pale blue gown, made of the softest silk with a sparkling tiara on her head. As she was nearly the same height as Harry, she chose to wear ballet type slippers on her feet, so as not to push her any higher.


 

“We have to get going! I need to make sure everything is in order out there! Come on Ginny!” Hermione was in a panic about tonight’s ball. Therefore, knowing she would not be able to shut Hermione up any other way, Ginny took one last twirl in the mirror, and followed her out of the common room, into the hall. The boys had been ready hours ago and had decided to go down to the Great Hall to get away from the primping girls.


 

“Ok, so Pansy and Blaise were supposed to make sure the band got set up." Hermione listed as she absentmindedly pointed towards different areas of the castle. She was more talking to herself than Ginny, but Ginny listened anyway. "Ernie Macmillan and Susan Bones were supposed to ensure that the house elves were clear on the menu. Cho and Luna were in charge of the last minute decor, and Katie Bell and Ron were supposed to be in charge of the voting table for best costume. Do you think I should have done more myself? What if Ron forgets what to do?” While this was a valid worry, Ginny knew to just let Hermione ramble on. It was how she dealt with stress. Hermione continued streaming questions, not waiting for responses as she and Ginny made their way to the Great Hall.


 

As they made their way down the stairs towards the entrance to the hall, Ginny smiled a huge smile. Everything looked wonderful. The decorations were simple, but stunning from the real spiders suspended mid air throughout the entrance and hall, to the glow coming from the spell cast upon the candles that lit the great hall, giving off an eerie yellowish light. There were more spider webs than usual hanging from the ceilings. The band was setting up at the front of the hall, and students had begun to filter in from their respective houses. Ginny was happy to see that Professor McGonagall’s hopes of inter-house unity were being upheld. There was much intermingling between the houses, to the extent it was nearly impossible to see who was from which house. The exception, of course, was Slytherin. Most of the boys and girls from Slytherin were gathered together, away from the crowd. Other than them, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves.


 

Ginny spotted her prince across the room. “Hermione, there’s Harry, I’m going to go talk with him. I’ll see you around ok?” She began to walk away. She stopped short and turned to say, “And Hermione, everything looks perfect.” Hermione nodded, giving her friend a thankful smile. Her mind was still frantic, focused on the different aspects of the dance and who needed to be doing what.

 

All of her worry seemed to fly from her mind, though when she felt two strong hands wrap around her from behind. She could smell the distinctively Draco smell and closed her eyes as the smell relaxed her body and mind.

 

“You look absolutely breathtaking.” He whispered into her ear, so that no one could hear but her. Hermione’s heart melted feeling his arms around her, and hearing the words he spoke. She turned around and stepped back to look and see his costume. She almost screamed when she came face to face with familiar round glasses, and dark hair. She immediately withdrew in embarrassment before taking a better look. She began to laugh hysterically when she realized that Draco had in fact come dressed as none other than Harry Potter.

 

She continued laughing so hard she had to double over and hold her sides. Draco stared at her, a smirk across his face in amusement at her reaction. "Like my costume?" He asked, laughing with her.

 

"You are dressed as Harry? Thank you so much for that. As usual, you have been exactly what I needed right now. " She finally gained control over her laughter and took in his costume more thoroughly. His blonde well groomed locks had been transformed into black, messy cut. He wore a fake scar and perfectly round glasses. If it weren't for the smirk and the obviously more developed physical appearance, he almost might be able to pass for a twin. "Has Harry seen you yet?"

 

Draco shook his head. They looked at each other conspiratorially before setting off to find Harry. It did not take long until they were laughing once again, this time accompanied by Ginny, Harry, and Neville, who had come dressed as a mandrake root. Everyone thought Draco's costume was hilarious, and he was secretly relieved. He hoped Harry would see the humor, but was worried he may think it more of an insult, coming from him.

 

After the laughing had subsided, Harry turned to Draco and Hermione. "Everything looks great you two. I mean it, you did a great job of organizing this event." Ginny nodded in agreement as she looked around, once again at the great hall and everyone enjoying themselves.

 

Draco took Hermione's hand and led her onto the dance floor as soon as the music began. He held her close and they moved together. He loved being able to hold her like this. As they swayed to the music, it suddenly hit him just how much things had changed since arriving back at Hogwarts. He and Hermione were closer than ever.

 

For the first time in his life, he felt like he needed to share his relationship status with others. He had dated before. He had dated Pansy back in first year, and Astori Greenhouse as well. Both had been relationships that he was expected to be in. Both women were purebloods and his father had expected that he would marry one of them. Because of this, he had never felt the need to make it “official”. They were just expected to be together, so they were. This was so different. He was with Hermione because he wanted to be, because he loved everything about her, and more importantly, he could see himself living happily with her.

 

He looked down at Hermione, who gazed up at him dreamily. "Hermione, I was just thinking. I would like to introduce you to Blaise and Pansy. I mean you already know who they are, but I mean as my girlfriend." He waited for her reaction. She seemed to contemplate the idea before nodding.

 

"I think that is a very good idea, Draco. I would love to meet them, well meet them again." She giggled as Draco's grin spread across his face. "But, can we dance a little more first?"

 

"Of course." Draco pulled her close against him once again as they spun around the hall. After a few songs, they took a break and made their way to a table, where Hermione sat next to Harry and Ginny, while Draco went for drinks.

 

"You two look really good together." Ginny smiled at Hermione. Hermione blushed, but couldn't agree more. They just seemed to fit together, and now it seemed they were a real couple. Moments later, Draco returned with the drinks. They sat and chatted while they drank with their friends. Draco looked up to see Blaise and Pansy heading out the doors, apparently in need of some air.

 

"Hermione, can you come with me for a second?" She followed his eyes and nodded, nervously. He stood, taking Hermione's hand, and helping her up from the table. He led her out the door that he had seen Blaise and Pansy go through. They caught up to them quickly, as they were sitting just outside the doors on the steps. Draco took a deep breath, pulling the refreshingly cool air deep into his lungs before sitting down next to Blaise, pulling Hermione down on the step in front of him, between his knees. Blaise and Pansy looked up, surprised.

 

"Um, Hey Draco. Everything looks really great. Awesome job planning all of this." Blaise didn't look at Hermione.

 

"It was mostly Hermione." He said, looking down at Hermione. "She is the one with the great ideas." She smiled up at him.

 

Blaise looked at Pansy before turning back to Draco. "So, what's the deal with you two? Are you like together?" His voice didn't sound accusing, just curious.

 

"Ya, we are. Hermione has found it in her heart to forgive me for my stupidity in years past, and I have never been happier." Draco purposely avoided Pansy's glare. He knew that she and Blaise were now together, but still knew she would take it as an insult that he was happier with Hermione than he had ever been with her. Blaise, however, looked genuinely happy.

 

"Now that you finally told us, you think you two could sit with us every once in awhile too?" Blaise looked at Hermione for the first time.

 

"Of course we can." Hermione looked at Blaise and smiled. She loved spending time with Draco, but hated that he never got time with his own friends anymore.

 

Pansy stood up, readjusting her dress. "When you are all done making new friends, Blaise, I would like to dance." She stared at him until he stood up. He gave Hermione and Draco an apologetic smile before turning and following him back into the castle.

 

"Don't mind Pansy. She is just jealous that I am happier with you than I was with her." Draco stood up, and offered his hand to help Hermione up. They headed back into the castle as well.

 

All of the students danced the night away together. Everyone seemed to have taken the obligation to dress up seriously and there were costumes that ranged from vampires to werewolves to fairies and angels. Much to his surprise, Draco won best costume, and grinned widely as he accepted his award.

 

After many hours, the hall started to clear out as the students headed back to their dorms, feeling good for having attended the event. Many of the students were in pairs as they retreated to the common rooms. The restriction that usually only let house members into their own common rooms was lifted for the evening, in the spirit of inter-house relations, but only for tonight, and only it only included the common rooms, not dorms.

 

Draco and Hermione stayed until the last of the students had left the great hall. "Let's go get a good night sleep, we can come clean this up tomorrow." Draco saw Hermione's shoulders relax in apparent relief, as she sighed. It had been a very long day, and she looked dead on her feet. Draco took Hermione's hand and led her back to the Gryffindor common room. Hermione groaned with each step, the comfort spell on her heels having worn off. As they approached the entrance to the hall, Draco leaned down and picked Hermione up, lifting her through the hole and carrying her to a dark red couch across the room. They were met with many looks from other students who were scattered throughout the room. Draco did not care, though. He was just happy for this opportunity to follow Hermione into this usually off limits area.

 

After laying Hermione on the couch, he paused to admire his surroundings. It was so different than Slytherin's common room. Where Slytherin’s was cold and dark, here it felt warm and cozy, a product of both the roaring fire in the fireplace and the warm reds and golds that emblazoned every inch of the room. Draco could not help but feel more relaxed here.


 

Hermione laid back on the couch, watching Draco's expression as he took in his surroundings. It felt so intimate to have him here. It almost felt like having him in her home. She leaned over and removed her shoes. Her feet were sore. She began absentmindedly rubbing them when she felt Draco's hands on hers. "Here, let me." He lifted her feet and sat down on the couch, placing her feet on his lap. He began massaging her feet.  A small groan erupted from the back of Hermione's throat.


 

"You are quite good with your hands, Draco." She wiggled her eyebrows at him.


 

"Oh really? You would be amazed what I can do with these hands." He allowed his hands to travel from her feet up her legs, squeezing the muscles as he went. She laid her head back and closed her eyes, feeling the muscles in her legs loosening at his touch. He stopped when he got to the hem of her skirt and looked up at her face. Hermione had raised her head to look at him, an intense look on her face as her cheeks went red and her breathing quickened. She removed her feet from his lap, sitting up. She leaned towards Draco, taking his face in her hands.


 

"I love you Draco Malfoy." She said without thinking, then blanched at the moment of honesty, waiting for his reaction.


 

He could not believe he had heard her right. LOVE? Had she said she loved him? He was scared to death, but knew without a doubt that he loved her too. "I love you too, Hermione." He pressed his lips to hers. The kiss was full of the intimacy of the recent confessions. As his tongue caressed hers, her hands slid down from his face to his neck, pulling him closer still. He wrapped his hands around her waist and pulled her body against his.


 

Then, all of a sudden, Draco pulled his lips from hers, leaning his forehead against hers. They stared at each other in silence as they waited for their breathing to return to normal. "Wow" It was all Hermione could manage. Her brain felt completely scrambled.


 

Draco's trademark smirk crossed his face as he leaned back and sat up, Hermione couldn't help but smile back at him. "Do you think it would be ok if I stayed here tonight?" Draco looked at Hermione hopefully.

 

Hermione looked pleased. "I think it would be perfect. I am going to go change out of this dress, though." Draco looked at her, disappointed.

 

"I rather enjoy you in that dress.” He raised an eyebrow at her. “You have amazing legs, you know that?" He placed his hand on the outside of her leg rubbing upwards until his fingers were once again just under the hem of her skirt.

 

Hermione playfully slapped away his hand before heading towards the girls dorms. "The bathroom is right over there." She motioned with her head. "Maybe you could de-Potter-fy yourself?" She smiled as she turned and continued up to the dorms.

 

Ten minutes later, she returned wearing an oversized t-shirt and flannel pants. Her makeup was gone, and she had let her hair down to fall in soft curls around her shoulders and down her back. She looked down to the common room to find Draco, Ginny and Harry chatting on the couch. Draco had apparently borrowed some night clothes from Harry. Hermione could tell they were Harry’s because the t-shirt was extra tight. Hermione looked at him, an expression of appreciation in her eyes at the way the shirt fit tightly around Draco's muscular chest and shoulders.

 

Draco and Harry looked up at Hermione as she came down. Harry glanced at Draco, and noting the admiration in his eyes, decided to leave the love birds alone. "Gin, want to sit over by the fire with me?" Harry winked at her and Ginny nodded. "'Night Hermione, Malfoy." Harry said and Ginny waved, grinning at the two.

 

"Goodnight." Hermione was grateful for good friends. She went over to the couch and sat facing Draco. "So what do you want to do now?" She was exhausted, but was nervous about how exactly this was going to work.

 

"Oh, I could think of a few things I would love to do." Hermione's face flushed once again into what had become its almost constant blush. "But, I think you are exhausted, we should probably try to sleep." He stood up, pulling Hermione with him. He pulled his wand and with just a few movements, converted the couch into a full sized bed complete with privacy curtains on all 4 sides. He pulled back one of the curtains and held his hand out to usher Hermione in. "After you, love."


Hermione did not hesitate, she climbed onto the bed and watched as Draco gracefully climbed onto the bed, and under the covers. He pulled back the covers and patted the bed next to him. Before climbing in, Hermione cast a silencing charm around the bed as well, just in case. Then she climbed under the covers, her back to his front. He wrapped his arms around her and kissed the back of her head. “Goodnight my love.” Draco whispered into her hair as he closed his eyes. A single happy tear slid to Hermione’s pillow. They both fell into an almost immediate deep sleep.

 

 

 

 

Thanks so much everyone for reading!!! Please take just a moment and let me know what you think of this plot. Is it too slow? Too fast? Any feedback is helpful! 


Chapter 6: McGonagall's news
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The next 6 weeks passed quickly for the students of Hogwarts. Gryffindor won against Slytherin in  Quidditch, but just barely. Because of this, Harry had his team practicing every moment they had for the match against Ravenclaw after the Christmas holiday. Hermione and Draco spent their time either managing the prefects or in the library, studying. Their classes were harder than they had ever been, and since they were taking so many more subjects than anyone else, the homework seemed never ending. Despite this, the time helping each other with homework had only brought them closer together. It seemed the only time they were apart was in the evening when they would go to their dorms and fall straight to sleep.

 

Before they even realized, the Christmas holiday was upon them. They would be spending the holiday apart from each other, in pairs. Harry and Ginny would be spending their holiday at the Burrow. Andromeda had owled Harry and told him that she would be bringing Teddy to visit with throughout the duration of his stay at the burrow. Harry was excited and planned to spend as much of his time as possible just Teddy, Ginny, and himself.

 

Pansy and Blaise at Zabini Manor. Pansy was grateful for the invite and they had big plans to do a lot of nothing during their break.

 

Luna and Neville were going abroad, apparently searching out a new breed of nargles thought to be residing in southern France.  Neville had no idea what a nargle was, but was happy to spend time with Luna trying to find them.

 

Hermione and Draco were keeping with their plan to stay at Hogwarts and to visit Draco's mother on Christmas. They also planned to spend a weekend in Hogsmeade some time during the break, in order to spend some time Christmas shopping for their friends. Neither had said so, but they also looked forward to spending one more night in each other's arms and were going to rent a room for the night at The Hog's Head. They planned to spend the rest of their time studying for their NEWTs.

 

The students had gathered in the Great Hall to say their goodbye's early in the morning. It was an emotional goodbye for many of them, since it would be the longest some of them had been apart from the others since the war. "Have fun at the Burrow, you two." Hermione said, hugging Ginny, her eyes filled with tears.

 

"You too! I wish you would come to the Burrow at least for an afternoon. It will be too long before I see you again otherwise." Ginny said, holding the tears from her eyes as well. Hermione was her best female friend, and she felt like she would have no one to talk to once back at the Burrow.

 

"We will see, Ginny." Hermione said, glancing up at Draco.

 

"Of course Draco is welcome too!" Ginny said, knowing that Hermione would never come without him.  Hermione grinned and Draco gave a polite smile. Hermione gave Harry a hug as well, she would miss him greatly. After one more hug each, Ginny and Harry walked along with Neville and Luna to the edge of the grounds. Once past the barrier, they apparated away to their destinations.

 

Blaise and Pansy approached where Draco and Hermione stood. "Hey, man. Have a great holiday." Blaise reached out and shook Draco's hand.  "What will you do with almost the entire castle to yourself?" Blaise wiggled his eyebrows at Draco, causing Hermione to blush and Draco to smirk.

 

"Ya man, you too, and I am sure we will do plenty of studying." Draco tried to defuse the awkward situation. He shook Blaise's hand, gave Pansy a hug, and put his arm around Hermione as they watched the couple walk away.

 

A few steps away, Blaise turned and said, "And don't do anything I wouldn't do." before turning and rushing Pansy to the apparation point, and they were gone.

 

After the last of their friends were gone, Hermione turned to Draco. "So, I know it is the first day of our break, but we really do need to study. I am only halfway through my lines for Ancient Runes. You still have to read the rest of the Transfiguration homework." Draco rolled his eyes at this typical Hermione thing to say. As his eyes looked toward the ceiling, he noticed one of the school owls swoop down in front of them. It had one letter addressed to Hermione and Draco and another just for Hermione. He handed Hermione hers and opened the other.

 

Dear Mr. Malfoy and Miss Granger,

I have some news to share with you. After much deliberation, we have decided to allow certain students to take their NEWTs and leave Hogwarts early, in order to fulfill the needs of the magical community. The two of you are among those who would be allowed to test early. I do however ask that the two of you, in order to fulfill your duties as Head Girl and Head Boy, consider waiting until the normal end of term in May.

The students who choose to take advantage of this opportunity will take their exams the week that school resumes after the holiday, in January. Many of your friends are among those who are being offered this choice. They will receive a letter similar to this one upon arriving to their destinations today.

Please take your time and think this over. It is a big decision, and should be treated as such. If you have any questions, feel free to come to my office. The current password is "licorice snaps".

 

SIncerely,

Professor Minerva McGonagall

Headmistress, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

 

Hermione then opened her letter.

 

Dear Miss Granger,

Please meet me in my office this evening at 6pm, I have a situation to discuss with you. I ask that you do not share with anyone the fact that you will be meeting with me. If you feel the need, you may allow Mr. Malfoy to be privy to this information, and he may accompany you to my office. No one else is to know.

Until this evening,

Professor Minerva McGonagall

Headmistress, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry

 

Hermione held the letter, and stood there for a moment in contemplation.

"Hermione? Everything ok?" Draco asked, taking in the contemplative look on her face.

Noting his concern, Hermione seemed to come to a conclusion and handed him the letter. After reading it, he looked at Hermione. "Do you want for me to come with you?"

"I think you should. She wouldn't have offered that you could come with me if she didn't have good reason for you to be there."

 

*

Hermione walked alongside Draco as they headed towards the headmistress's office shortly before 6 o'clock that night. She was nervous, and quiet. Draco took her hand in his, interlacing their fingers. He slowly rubbed the back of her hand with his thumb, trying to calm the obviously agitated girl beside him. Hermione felt the relief flooding through her from where their hands joined. She looked up at him, and gave him a grateful smile as they approached the entry to the headmistress's office.

"Licorice snaps" Hermione said, and they stepped forward onto the moving staircase. As they approached the door, it opened before them.

"Please do come in." Professor McGonagall said, standing up behind her desk, and waving her arm towards the two empty chairs in front of her. The two students sat down, their hands separating because of the distance between the chairs. McGonagall noticed this and said "You may want to move the chairs closer, Miss Granger, I think you may need a hand to hold during this meeting."

Hermione looked worried, but did as she was told. Something is wrong. Why do I need a hand to hold? Hermione's head swam with all the possibilities, her parents, had the death eaters found them? Her friends, had harm come to them? Surely not, McGonagall could not have known so soon, as she had received the letter requesting her presence at this meeting only moments after watching her friends apparate away. She once again felt a sort of calm come over her as Draco reached over and took her hand in his once more. He gave it a gentle squeeze, and she knew she could handle whatever news McGonagall had for her.

"First, I need to remind the two of you that this meeting is of the utmost secrecy. No one is to know where you have been tonight, or what we are to speak of." Both students nodded their understanding. With a look of worry and concern, McGonagall picked up her wand, waving it over her desk. She spoke a spell too quietly for Draco and Hermione to understand, after which the top of the desk opened, revealing a secret compartment below the surface. It was from within this compartment that she retrieved a stack of letters that were bound together with a thin twine. She hesitated before handing the letters to Hermione. "Miss Granger, I have a confession to make. I have been withholding some of your mail for the better part of this term. I apologize but assure you it was completely necessary to do so until a point in time when you could read them alone, or in this case with Mr. Malfoy."

 

Hermione pulled one end of the twine, releasing the letters. She took the first one in her hand, noting the perfect penmanship on the outside of the letters. It looked familiar to her, but she could not place it. It wasn't until she opened the letter and began to read the threatening words written inside that she remembered that it was the very same writing as the letter that she had received early in the term. Her face went white as she realized that there were at least 10 more letters, all addressed in the same way, sitting on her lap. She took her time, reading each one in turn, before handing it to Draco. After reading them all, she looked to Draco as he finished the reading the last letter. Terror was written on her face. If first letter had been worrisome, and seemed threatening, each letter had grown progressively more so, detailing the writer's plans to torture Hermione in retaliation for something she had taken from him.

 

They both turned to the headmistress, in hopes that she somehow had the answers that they had been unable to come up with after the first letter. "I want you to know that I also know about the first letter that you received. I also know that Mr. Potter, as well as Mr. and Miss Weasley have read it and that the lot of you were unable to come up with any plausible solutions." Hermione had no idea how she knew, but couldn't say she was surprised. McGonagall always seemed to know things, like the headmaster before her.

 

"I want you to know that the Ministry is aware of all of the letters, and has a special auror team working on it at this very moment. It will please you to know that they have come up with very little more than you did, and they are trained professionals. It seems they have come to a dead end, which is why I am coming to you now. I need to know if anything in any of these letters stands out to you. Is there anything that gives you any idea who may be sending these letters?"

 

"The writer does refer quite often to the fact that I have taken something from him. I cannot think of anything I may have taken at any point that would be of consequence to a Death Eater. You do believe it to be a Death Eater, don't you Professor?"

 

"That we can be sure of, Miss Granger."

 

"We searched for and destroyed the horcruxes, which I would think to have been important only to Voldemort, as he would not have shared their existence with anyone beyond his inner circle, which we believed to be himself and Bellatrix Lestrange. Since the two of them are dead, I do not believe it to be this the writer speaks of."

 

Draco stared at Hermione open mouthed. Horcruxes? Those are some of the darkest known magic. What did Hermione know of them? Hermione realized too late that Draco did not know about the details of her time last year. She gave him a look upon realizing her slip that said I'll tell you later.

 

Professor McGonagall did not even acknowledge the interaction. Instead, she continued the conversation with Hermione. "I agree Miss Granger. There must be something else they believe you have taken. Whatever it is, it has to be something that he or she values greatly."

 

"As far as I have ever known, there are very few things in most Death Eaters' lives that they actually place any value in." Draco had far more experience than the other two with Death Eaters and the way they think. "One would be money, the other would be power. Since I do not think Hermione has ever gotten any money from any Death Eater, I think it is safe to assume that they believe she took something that has compromised their power in some way."

 

"What could I have that would give them power? That doesn't make any sense Draco. I do not associate with any of them or anyone who runs in their circles." Hermione looked to Draco, hoping he had some sort of insight, some idea what they may want. If they could figure this out, maybe they could figure out who was writing the letters. Draco looked as stumped as she was.

 

"It may help for you two to try to think it all over during your break. The other thing that I wanted to ask of you two is that you do not leave the castle for any reason, other than the planned trip to St. Mungo's on Christmas." Draco looked at Hermione, her disappointed look matching his. "Is this a problem? I wasn't aware that the two of you had planned to leave for the holiday."

 

"I'm sorry, Professor, but we had planned to spend a weekend in Hogsmeade to do some Christmas shopping for our friends and family." Hermione hoped that something could be done to change the headmistress's opinion.

 

"I will allow the two of you one day at Hogsmeade, this should be ample time to do whatever shopping you will need to do. I will arrange for an Auror to accompany you, to ensure you are both safe." The hesitant looks that both of the students tried to hide did not go unnoticed. "Also, on another matter altogether, I have decided that the remaining students from your year will be moving into a separate dorm for the remainder of the school year. My reasoning being first that there will be very few students from your year are expected to return after the holiday. Also, for those students like yourselves that will be preparing for an extra large number of NEWT exams, the common room will be designed to be more accommodating to studying away from the rest of the students' disruptions. I have taken the liberty of having the house elves move both of your belongings into your new dorms as you two are the only ones from your year that are here for the duration of break." She paused a moment to allow for any objections, ones she knew would not come. "Unless either of you have any questions, or ideas about the letters, I can take the two of you and show you where your new dorms will be?"

 

Hermione looked to Draco. "No, Professor, we don't have anything. I would like to know if I could keep these letters, though."

 

"I do not see a problem with that. The ministry has done all they needed to with them. If you two do come up with anything, please let me know immediately." Professor McGonagall stood up, leading the two of them to their new dorms.

 

She led them to the far side of the castle on the main floor. They approached a large painting of none other than Albus Dumbledore. Professor McGonagall approached the painting. "Good afternoon Albus." The portrait Dumbledore nodded a hello to the group. "Hippogriff" McGonagall said, and the portrait swung open, revealing another corridor which led to an archway at the opposite end. The walls of the corridor were lined with torches that created a soft glowing pathway to the room at the opposite end.

 

The students followed the professor into the common room. It was an older looking room with rounded walls, creating a single solid curved surface for walls. It had dark wood floors, with small area rugs in different areas. The ceilings were high and was illuminated by the natural light that poured in through the numerous windows that lined the curved walls far above the floor. There were 3 doors other than the one they had entered through. "the door on the right leads to the girls corridor, the one on the left to the boys'. The door in the middle is a common bathroom. At the end of each of your corridors you will find the Head Girl and Head Boy room. There is another bathroom that is for the Heads only, which each of you can access from your room." McGonagall said, motioning to each door in turn.

 

"I will leave the two of you to get comfortable and unpack. You will find your items in your rooms. Remember to let me know immediately if you come up with any other ideas concerning the letters." The professor turned to leave as the students looked around at their new home.

 

Once the professor was gone, Draco turned to Hermione, taking the letters from her hand. He placed them on a nearby table and put his arms around her waist, pulling her close. Hermione laid her head on his chest, letting out a breath she didn't realize she had been holding. They stood like this for the longest time before she pulled back from him, a smile on her face. "Thank you Draco. For being there for me through all of this. I don't know what I would do if I didn't..." Draco put his fingers on her lips, successfully quieting her, after which his finger was replaced by his lips. She reciprocated, showing her appreciation this way instead. The letters, and all the stress that went with them would have been too much if she did not have Draco there with her. As it was, the thoughts were not far from her mind, but for now she was happy to live in this moment.

 

Hermione placed her hands around his strong waist. Draco's left hand traveled up to the back of her neck, holding her face on his. She opened her lips, granting his tongue access to her mouth. He took full advantage, caressing her tongue with his. Her heart was racing with desire. She began pulling his t-shirt from where it was tucked his pants, placing her hands on his bare back, beneath his shirt. She felt his sharp intake of breath at the contact. He immediately pulled his head back from hers, placing his hands on her wrists, pulling them from behind him. "Hermione, we need to stop."

 

She could not hide the hurt in her eyes. It was just like the night she had wanted to kiss him all over again. She started to turn away, but he held tight to her wrists. "Let me go, Draco. I am sorry. I thought you wanted to..." She couldn't stop the tears that formed in her eyes.

 

Draco reached up and wiped a tear that ran down her cheek. He then placed his palm against her cheek, and looked deep into her eyes. "Oh, please don't misunderstand, love. I absolutely want exactly what you thought I wanted. I just don't think we are ready for that yet. You mean the world to me. I don't want to ruin that by going too fast. Come here." He pulled her against him once more. "You are the most beautiful and sexy woman that I have ever known. I would be barking mad if I didn't want you."

 

Hermione smiled up at him, drying her eyes. "Are you sure?" He pulled her back into another kiss as his answer.

 

"Do you want to go unpack?" Draco asked. Hermione nodded. "I'll help you if you help me?" Draco smiled as he followed her towards the girls' dorm door. He almost fell over backwards, though, when he slammed into an invisible barrier when he tried to pass through the door to follow Hermione.

 

"What the?" Hermione exclaimed when she heard the bang of Draco hitting the invisible wall. "Maybe you cannot come down this corridor."

 

"I have an idea!" Draco said, running towards the boys' door. "Go to your room. I'll meet you there." And he was gone.

 

Hermione had no idea what he was thinking, but did as he told her. She walked down the short corridor to the last door on the left that had a sign on the door that read HEAD GIRL. She opened the door and gasped. It was the biggest bedroom she had ever seen. It has to be as big as my parents' entire house. The floor was a lush cream carpet, pale blue walls, and four windows lining the outer wall, that were covered in the sheerest of white fabric. There was a huge four poster bed in the middle of the room that was made of pale white wood, hung with linens of pale blue that matched the walls and a duvet that was white and cream. On the far side of the room there was a sitting area with two overstuffed chairs that looked to be covered with the softest material Hermione had ever seen. In the other corner of the room, next to a beautiful armoire made of wood that matched that of the bed was her belongings.

 

Completely forgetting about Draco, Hermione ran over to her bag, retrieving her favorite book. She took it over to one of the chairs and began reading. She nearly jumped out of her skin when the door beside her opened, and Draco stepped through.

 

A broad grin crossed his face when he saw Hermione. "Forgot about me already?" He sat on the floor next to her feet, and placed his hand on her knee. She closed her book and looked down at him.

 

"Never" She said simply. She leaned down and kissed him quickly before standing up and pulling Draco up with her.

 

"Are you going to show me your room?" Hermione was excited to see if Draco's room was like hers.

 

"Sure!" Hermione followed him into their shared bathroom and was again stunned by the sight in front of her. To the left was a counter that ran the length of the the entire room. Above it was a mirror that ran from just above the counter all the way to the ceiling. There were 2 sinks that were made of the whitest marble. To the right was the swimming pool sized bathtub and a glass walled shower. Hermione glanced over at Draco who was staring at her with a smirk on his face. It occurred to her that he had probably had a bathroom this large growing up.

"After you" Draco opened the door on the opposite wall, allowing Hermione to pass before him into his room. The room was exactly like hers, but a mirror image. And where hers had been light and airy, his was dark and warm. All dark wood and deep reds and greens.

Draco walked over to his belongings, retrieving his school books and looking at Hermione. “I’ll meet you in the common room ok?” He leaned down and placed the softest of kisses on her lips before walking away, leaving Hermione flushed and wanting. Before he exited into the boys’ corridor, he turned around giving Hermione his trademark smirk.

Hermione rolled her eyes and walked back through the bathroom to her room where she gathered her school work and continued to the common room.

The two of them spent the remainder of the evening studying and chatting, until long after the sun had gone down. Hermione looked up at Draco when she heard the groan his stomach had given off and realized that they had missed dinner entirely. “Hungry? We could go to the kitchens and see if the house elves have anything for us to eat.”

Draco raised one eyebrow. “Let the poor house elves do extra work?” He had heard about her campaign to free all house elves and couldn’t pass up the opportunity to give her a hard time about it.

Hermione blushed. “I know that Kreacher has come to work in the kitchens here and he and I are friends.” She knew it was a poor excuse. Kreacher had come to work at Hogwarts on Harry’s orders. He was not, however, a friend. Nor would she ask a friend to make her dinner after she had missed the dinner that had been prepared. “Maybe you are right. We should not ask them to do that. They have enough work to do without preparing an extra dinner for us.”

Draco laughed at her and grabbed her hand, pulling her out of the room and towards the kitchen. “I was only joking, love. They truly live for these opportunities. They will enjoy it.” Hermione was sceptical, but hungry, so she allowed Draco to lead her to the portrait of fruit. He tickled the pear and the door swung open. Inside several house elves stopped what they were doing to usher the pair inside to a small table.

“What can we do for Master and Miss?” A small girl house elf asked.

“We missed dinner Ally, would you mind it terribly if we had a small snack to hold us over until breakfast?”

Hermione was dumbfounded. How did Draco know this house elf’s name? Even more shocking was the manner in which Draco addressed the elf. His voice held none of the disdain or hatred that his father’s held when he addressed Dobby. Draco noticed Hermione gawking at him and felt the need to explain.

“Ally used to be my personal house elf back at the manor. She has followed me to Hogwarts while I am here since I was 11. She has been with me since I was born. She took care of me as a baby, played with me as a small child, and has prepared more than one meal for me when I missed dining in the Great Hall here at Hogwarts.”

Hermione had gained another amount of respect for Draco, after learning this new insight into his life before this year. She reached over and grabbed his hand, squeezing it tightly in hers. “I love you so much Draco Malfoy.” She could not help this expression of love for this man beside her. 

 

Author's Note: Wow, this was a long one! Sorry, it was necessary though. Please leave me feedback and let me know what you think! Good, bad, or indifferent. I want to hear from you! Thanks for reading


Chapter 7: Christmas Morning
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Christmas holiday was going splendidly. Draco and Hermione's shopping trip had gone off without a hitch. Kingsley Shacklebolt had accompanied them, much to Hermione's surprise. He was still acting minister, and it seemed a bit of overkill for him to accompany them. Surely they had other aurors for such jobs. Kingsley had explained that the auror department was very low on manpower since the war. This was the reason for allowing certain students to leave Hogwarts and begin their training as soon as possible.

 

They had each bought the gifts they needed. Hermione had bought gifts for Ron, Harry, Ginny and Draco. Draco had bought gifts for Blaise, Pansy, and Hermione. Together they had picked out a simple throw made of the warmest wool for Draco's mother. He knew from his previous visits that it was quite cold in her room. While she had not spoken in quite some time, he knew she tended to be cold most of the time and he hoped she might appreciate the added warmth.

 

*

 

Hermione woke early on Christmas morning. She looked down to the end of her bed and saw the large stack of presents that waited for her. She ignored the gifts, grabbed a small square box from her bag and ran excitedly through the bathroom door and into Draco's room. Her sense of urgency evaporated at the sight that met her when she opened the door. Draco was sound asleep in his bed. His normally well groomed hair fell over his face. He had kicked all of his linens off of the bed and he laid spread eagle on his bare mattress, with nothing but his boxer shorts on. Hermione couldn't help but stop and take a few moments to admire the beautiful model-like body sprawled on the bed. After a quick contemplation, she threw caution to the wind and laid down on the bed next to Draco. She laid on her side, supporting her head on her hand. She used her other hand to gently touch every inch of his muscular chest and abs.

 

He awoke to the feeling of someone laying down on his bed. He felt her soft fingers moving up and down his abdomen. The sensation was like fire on his skin. Where she touched, his skin burned and tingled in the most wonderful way. He kept his eyes closed as long as he could, just enjoying her touch. When he could take it no longer, he opened his eyes, his lips forming a smirk. "Can't help yourself can you Granger?" He reached up, grabbing her face, pulling it down to his.

 

His kiss was like a match igniting her flame. Before she realized what she was doing, she had rolled her body on top of his, her knees on either side of his hips. She supported her upper body with her hands on either side of his head, her lips never leaving his. Draco's hands wandered from her face, down her back, to her bum. They were a mess of tongues and limbs, tangled together, pushing them further towards the line they had not yet crossed. "I love you." It was all Hermione could think to say at this moment. The moment it took her to say it was all that was needed to snap Draco back to reality. He moved his hands back up to her shoulders and gently pushed her upper body upwards so she was now sitting on his pelvis, which did not make what he was trying to do any easier.

 

Hermione brought her hands to rest on his stomach, dragging her fingernails lightly down his chest. Draco's eyes rolled back, relishing the sensation. He grabbed her wrists and kissed each of her palms in turn. "Hermione, love, you are going to be the death of me I swear." A mischievous grin spread across Hermione's face.  She knew what Draco was trying to do, but due to her current seating position, she knew that he was not immune to her.

 

"If you insist." Hermione said, wiggling her hips before climbing off of him and standing up next to his bed.

 

"I know what you are trying to do, Hermione, and it's not going to work." Draco sat up, grabbing a tshirt from his bedside table and pulling it over his head. Hermione found it easier to focus now that his body was more covered.

 

"Rough night?" She said, gesturing towards his bed.

 

"Ya, I have nightmares." He didn't want to talk about this so he opened the drawer in his bedside table and retrieved a small black box. It had a single red ribbon tied around it. He handed the box to Hermione and kissed her lightly on her lips. "Merry Christmas Hermione."

 

Hermione blushed and pulled the string, releasing the small bow. She allowed the ribbon to fall to the ground as she opened the small black box slowly. Deep down she worried what it may be. They had hardly been together any time at all, hoped it was not an engagement ring. She sighed in relief when she saw it was not a ring, but gasped in awe at the absolutely beautiful bracelet that laid sparkling in the box. It was a silver link bracelet with alternating sapphires and diamonds along its length. Sapphire was her birthstone and she wondered how Draco knew when her birthday was. "Oh, Draco. It is so beautiful!" She wrapped her arms around his neck and squeezed him tight. "How did you know when my birthday was though?"

 

"I actually asked Harry. When he told me, I knew this was the perfect gift. It is also my mother's birthstone." His voice grew soft at the mention of his mother. "My father gave this bracelet to her many years ago. She had offered it to me to give to Astoria, back when she and I were together. I did not give it to her, though. It was too beautiful for her."

 

He took the bracelet from the box and put it on Hermione's wrist. "It looks perfect on you Hermione." He kissed her again before turning to look at the stack of presents at the end of his bed. "Did you already open your other gifts?"

 

"No, I was too excited to come and give you this." She handed him the black box she had brought that contained the gift she had bought for him. "It's not much. It is hard to know what to get for someone who already has everything." She looked at her feet.

 

"You are right." He said, placing his finger under her chin and bringing her eyes up to meet his. "But is only since I have been with you that I truly have everything." She smiled at him.

 

He opened the box to find a simple silver pocket watch. "It is a special watch." Hermione explained. "You press your lips to the face and it works like a 2 way mirror, except you see through the face of its mate. It also causes the other to vibrate softly so that I know you are trying to see me." She showed Draco the necklace she was wearing. It held a locket version of the watch she had given him.

 

"The same works the other way around. You cannot hear, but you can see. I saw a mirror like it once during the war, and thought it would be a good way for me to be able to see your face, even when I cannot be with you, and visa versa." Hermione blushed. "I got them from George and Fr... George's shop. They are called Lovers Links." It was still so hard to accept that Fred was gone. It seemed so unnatural to say one name without the other.

 

Draco pressed his lips gently to the face of the watch and saw the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, cheeks flaming red as she watched him stare at her face in the watch with complete adoration. "It is absolutely perfect Hermione. I pray that I am always close enough to you so as to never need it."

 

Hermione could not help but notice how he had referred to being around her forever. It was not a marriage proposal, and it was perfect. The best Christmas gift she could have received. "I'll be right back." She told Draco, exiting into the bathroom. A few moments later she returned, levitating her stack of presents in front of her before placing them on the floor next to Draco's.

 

"Do you want to open them now or go eat then open them?" Draco and Hermione looked at each other and grinned widely.

 

"Open them now!" They said together, before laughing hysterically for at least five minutes. Hermione couldn't help but be amazed at Draco when he was like this. He was so childlike and happy. She could almost see a small Draco on Christmas morning, eyes wide with joy as he opened his countless gifts as his loving parents looked on. She quickly corrected herself, the young Draco probably never had the happy Christmas mornings she had as a child. It was in this moment that she truly appreciated the word he had spoken to her before. It is only since I have been with you that I truly have everything. She was happy to be his everything and planned to stay that way.

 

Hermione had received a new sweater from Mrs. Weasley, it was actually quite pretty. The sweaters she usually received were bulky, and not at all girly in color. This year, she had made her a beautiful royal blue, form fitting sweater with a flattering v-neck. She loved it and put it on immediately.

 

Harry had sent her a new book that had been written about the war. She thought it amazing that she was a part of books such as this that students like herself would be studying from for years to come. Ginny had sent her a book on hair-do spells that Hermione planned to try out soon. Ron had sent her some candies from Honeyduke's.

 

Much to her surprise she had received a pretty pair of earrings as well. The attached card had said it was from Pansy and Blaise, but she imagined that Pansy had very little to do with it. Hermione made a mental note to get something for him before he returned after the holiday.

 

It was then that she realized that Blaise may not be returning. She was quite sure that Harry and Ron would not be. She had little doubt. The letter from Harry that she had received earlier in the break had said they were still considering it, but she knew before they did what they would decide. Ron hated school, and Harry needed to be saving someone. It was who he was. She would miss them, but she had Draco now. Also, Ginny would be returning. Since she was technically a year behind the others, she was not given the same opportunity not to return.

 

Later that day Hermione and Draco walked hand in hand toward Professor McGonagall's office. Draco carried the wrapped gift they had purchased for his mother. As they approached the door, they gave the password, gaining access to the office before exchanging pleasantries with the headmistress and using the floo powder to transport them to St. Mungo's.

 

*

 

Hermione sat quietly by Draco's side as he held his mother's hand. Draco had covered her with the blanket from the two of them. She had not spoken to them or acknowledged them in any way. Still he proceeded to tell her about his life and everything that had happened since he had seen her last.

 

"I am Head Boy mother. McGonagall said she was willing to give me a second chance. I knew you would have approved, so I accepted. It hasn't been as bad as I thought it might have been. It seems that everyone is finally starting to accept that I have changed. I shared my duties for planning a Halloween costume ball with Hermione, she is Head Girl." He paused, seeming to realize that if his mother had been coherent, that she would have noticed the familiarity with which he referred to the girl beside him.

 

"There is something else, mother. I have found someone. Someone who makes me happy. I know that she is not a pureblood, like father would have wanted. She is a muggle born," He looked at Hermione. "and the bravest, smartest, most beautiful witch I have ever met. I know that if you could understand me that you would be happy for me. She has shown me a whole new life. A life that is good and full of happiness." He sighed and leaned down, placing his forehead on her hand. "I know you would be happy for me mother. I know you would love her as much as I do."

 

Hermione gasped. As he muttered these last words, Narcissa's right hand reached over and stroked Draco's hair. His head shot up as he stared at his mother, opened mouth, tears forming in his eyes. "Mother!" He wrapped his arms around her neck and sobbed. Hermione ran from the room to get a healer. She returned moments later, a healer on her heels.

 

"Mrs. Malfoy! How are you feeling? Are you in pain anywhere?" The healer asked, waving her wand to and fro over Narcissa's body.

 

"I am thirsty. Could I have something to drink?" Narcissa said. Her voice was hoarse from months of non-use. The healer ran from the room to fetch a glass, returning and filling it with a tap of her wand. Narcissa drank it quickly and asked for more. This continued until she had drank 3 glasses. She then sat the glass down and turned to Draco.

 

"My dear Draco. Thank you so much for coming to see me today. I do not know how, but you have dragged me back from the darkness. For what seemed like an eternity all there was all around me was darkness. It was so cold and lonely. I was not aware of day or night, although it seems many days have passed." She grasped the ends of her hair that had grown several inches in her time here. "Then something changed today. I felt warmth for the first time." She absentmindedly fingered the blanket that covered her. "Then I could hear voices, they seemed so far away. I realized that it was your voice, Draco. All I could think was that I wanted to hear you. I prayed you would keep talking. Then your voice seemed to get closer. Then I felt your head on my hand. Thank you Draco." She hugged her son before lifting her head and looking straight at Hermione.

 

Hermione shrank under Narcissa's stare. Even though weakened from months of illness, Narcissa's face still held an air of royalty. Then, amazingly, her eyes softened. "Thank you so much Miss Granger." She held out her hand, and Hermione gently took it. "It seems you have been there for my Draco when I could not be. I will be forever grateful to you."

 

Her eyes were sincere and Hermione was touched. She could no longer control the tears that rolled down her face. "Mrs. Malfoy, I do not know what to say. Draco has grown very important to me over these last few months." She turned to Draco, love in her eyes.

 

"Please dear, call me Narcissa or Cissy."

 

"Ok...Narcissa. Thank you. It means a great deal to me that you are willing to overlook my... origins." She was still nervous, but her attitude towards Narcissa softened realizing that she did indeed love her son very much. Maybe they could focus on this common love and at least be civil.

 

"It was always my husband's opinion that the blood that ran through our veins was somehow superior to that of other witches and wizards. I was forced for a great many years to go along with him because I felt it my duty. With the fall of the dark lord, I no longer feel compelled to stand by my husband's views. Besides, it is clear to me by the look in both of your eyes that my son has finally found his soulmate. You obviously love each other very much. Also, I owe a great deal to you and your friends. It is because of your testimonies that I was able to avoid Azkaban, where I likely would have perished by now."

 

Hermione smiled sweetly at Draco before again facing his mother. "Yes, it is true Narcissa. I love your son very much. As far as my testimony is concerned, I only told the truth. You saved Harry's life. Thank you."

 

Narcissa and Draco took over the conversation from there, for which Hermione was grateful. They discussed everything from the Halloween Ball to the new dorm assignments. Narcissa surprised everyone when she let out a soft giggle when Draco told her of his "Harry Potter" costume.

 

Narcissa could feel the weight she had carried most of her life start to lessen, the one that had been multiplied during the war especially upon watching her husband be sentenced to life in Azkaban. She finally allowed herself hope for the future. Seeing Draco and Hermione so in love, so full of life, it gave her a new breath of life as well.

 

The hours passed as they spoke, interrupted only by the healers that came to give Narcissa food and strengthening potions. Several hours after the sun had set, Draco's stomach gave a loud growl. "Draco, I have been so selfish. You both must be starving! Please, don't let me keep you any longer. Besides, I think I need to rest if I want to be able to leave this place soon."

 

"Do you think you will be able to?" Draco looked hopefully from his mother to the healer who had brought her a potion.

 

"She needs a couple of days for the potions to strengthen her muscles back to their normal state. As long as all of her tests come back normal, I do not see any reason she will not be able to leave after that. She will be free to do as she wishes, but will need someone to check on her regularly to ensure she is alright."

 

"I am sure McGonagall will let us floo to the Manor every day or so to check on you." Draco said. Hermione nodded in agreement.

 

Narcissa's face fell for the first time since she had awakened from her trance. "Draco love, I do not think I can ever go back to that place. It feels like a prison, where I was held for too many years. We will work something else out. Do not worry about me." She then downed the sleeping draught. "I am going to rest now." She took Hermione's hand once again, looking deep into her brown eyes. "Please take care of my Draco. He is the only thing I have left."

 

Hermione looked at Narcissa, eyes wide. "Of course. Take care, Narcissa." She walked out of the room to give Draco and Narcissa privacy to say their goodbyes.

 

"Mother, we can buy a house somewhere else for you. You tell me where and I will make sure it is done."

 

"Do not worry son. We will figure it out." Narcissa took her son in her arms again, tears streaming down her face. "I love you so much, Draco. I am very happy that you have found that woman. She seems to be perfect for you. Someone who will love you as well as stand up to you."

 

"She most definitely does that." He smiled as Narcissa's eyes drooped, the draught taking effect. "I will let you rest. Happy Christmas mother."

 

"Happy Christmas, my love."

 

*

 

As Hermione walked out of the hospital room, down the corridor and into the waiting area, she noticed how deserted the hospital seemed to be. It must be later than she had realized. As she passed through the doorway into the waiting area, she suddenly felt a hand cover her mouth and another snake around her waist. "Quiet or else!" She heard a rough whisper behind her ear. She immediately stilled.

 

"Where is your dearest Draco?" Hermione didn't respond, her mind racing. She did not recognize the voice, although it was obviously male.

 

"I hope you enjoyed your safety whilst at Hogwarts. Now you are in my world, mudblood. I was worried I would have to deal with your stupid lover, but it appears he has left you alone. How convenient." He pulled her closer to him and apparated her away with a pop. She felt the familiar tug behind her navel. Once she felt her feet hit a cold stone floor, she looked up. The man's hands released her, grabbing her wand from her back pocket. "You will not be needing this." She jerked herself away and turned around. The sight that met her was unfamiliar. It was cold and damp. It seemed to be some sort of dungeon. There was a single door on the far side of the room. Through the barred window in the door, she could see stone steps that led up. Otherwise, it did not appear to have any other way out.

 

As she took in the face that stood before her, she suddenly realized it was familiar. It was the face of the Death Eater that had pursued her in the battle of seven Potters and one of the Death Eaters that had raided the Lovegood home when she, Harry and Ron had visited during the war. She had met with him on her way into Gringotts when she had been disguised as Bellatrix Lestrange. She remembered him being referred to as Travers, though she did not know his first name.

 

"That's right. I can see it in your eyes that you recognize me. I bet you didn't think you would ever see me again, did you?" He smiled at her, his mouth full of yellowed teeth. His busy grey hair was dirty and wild. His already thin build had deteriorated to the point of dangerously thin. "I have been waiting for my time. I knew eventually you would be stupid enough to leave that castle. Even I did not think you would be so stupid as to leave his side while unprotected. The master will be so pleased." He then turned and exited through the door and up the stairs, securely locking the door behind him.

 

Hermione stared after him, hate in her eyes. How dare he take her here. How dare he put his hands on her. She was startled when her necklace began to vibrate. She breathed a small sigh of relief when she looked down to see the face of the man she loved staring back at her from her locket.

 

*

 

Draco walked out of the hospital room to find Hermione with a smile on his face. He walked down to the waiting area, and was confused when he did not see her waiting there. He went to the healer's station. "Did you see where she went?" He asked, pleading.

 

"Where who went, dear? The girl who was with you? I saw her walk out to the waiting area."

 

His heart stopped as he once again checked the empty room. She was gone. He fell to his knees as he heard something fall from his robes onto the floor. It was the watch. How could I have forgotten? He pressed it to his lips and waited for her face to appear. When he saw the terrified look on her face, he knew for sure that the feeling deep in his soul was correct. She had somehow met with foul play.

 

"Where are you? What happened? Are you alright?" He screamed at the watch. She looked back at him, pointing at her ear and shaking her head. Of course, she had told him that you could see but not hear each other.


He took his watch and turned it around, pointing it around the room, hoping for her to do the same. Maybe he could figure out where she was. She nodded, seeming to understand. As he watched her surroundings passing in front of her, he gasped. There was no doubt, he knew where she was. She was in the dungeons at Malfoy Manor. 


Chapter 8: The Battle at Malfoy Manor
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Author's note: This next chapter is best given from different POV's, so that is how it is written. I think it will make it easier to understand how they are each feeling throughout the events that unfold throughout the chapter.  It is my longest yet, but I promise it is worth it.

 

Hermione:

I am watching as Draco's mouth moves silently in my locket. He must have forgotten that I cannot hear him. I then do the only thing I can think of to remind him. I point at my ear and vigorously shook my head. Understanding crosses his face. Fear grips me when I no longer see his face in front of the mirror, but instead all around the St. Mungo's waiting room, until I realize what he wants. He wants me to show him where I am. I quickly take the locket and pointed it around the room, making sure to show him that there is only one door. One way in and one way out. When I bring the locket back in front of my face, the ashen look on his face sends chills down my spine. What does he know? I wish I could hear him. The best I can hope for was that he now knows where I am and will come save me.

 

Draco:

Hermione and I sit for another few minutes, just staring into each others' eyes. Grey into brown, love flowing wordlessly between us. I know I need to go for help, but I am scared to stop watching her for even a moment. Then her face changes, she looks over her shoulder then back quickly, a look of terror in her eyes. She motions to herself with her finger, then lays her hand on her heart, then points at me before closing it quickly.

 

I could have sworn I saw a flash of familiar long golden hair in the doorway before Hermione closed the locket. Could it be? No way. He is supposed to be locked away in Azkaban. Without wasting another moment, I approach the fireplace, grab a handful of the powder, and travel back to McGonagall's office.

 

Professor McGonagall looks up from her desk as I tumble out of her fireplace. She takes in the frantic look in my eyes, and stands up when she realizes that Hermione has not followed me. "Where is Miss Granger? Why is she not with you?" She sounds frantic.

 

"I do not know what happened Professor. She left me to say goodbye to my mother and when I went to find her, she was gone. I thought she had gone back to the waiting room. The healer said he saw her go there. Then she was not there." I explain about the pocket watch and how I knew her to be in the dungeons at Malfoy Manor. I did not choose to mention the flash of blonde hair, because I just knew it was not possible for it to be who I thought.

 

"We need to contact the ministry immediately Mr. Malfoy." The headmistress turns to a portrait behind her. "Albus, will you please go into your painting at the ministry and tell the minister I need to speak with him right away."

 

"As you wish, Minerva. May I suggest that you have Mr. Malfoy contact Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley. Whoever has captured Miss Granger may come after them as well."

 

"Of course, Albus. I will contact Molly to see if she will allow Mr. Malfoy to floo to the Burrow, I believe they are all still there." The portrait Dumbledore turns and is gone. McGonagall leans forward placing her face in the fire saying "The Burrow" before placing her nose into the flames.

 

Harry:

Ginny and I are sitting by the fire, enjoying the down time after a busy Christmas with the Weasley family. It has become our favorite thing to do at the end of the day. I have vowed to make the most of his time with her while it lasts. After the new year, I will begin my auror training and Ginny will return to Hogwarts. I hold her close, stroking her long red hair. We both nearly jumped out of our skin when a face suddenly appears in the fire. I immediately run to kneel in front of the fire.

 

"Professor? What is wrong?" I ask the fiery face before me.

 

"I think it is better if Mr. Malfoy explains it to you. Could you allow him to floo there?"

 

"Of course Professor, when should we expect him?" I glance back at Ginny who's puzzled look mirrors my own.

 

"Immediately, if that is alright."

 

"Oh, alright professor." And she is gone as suddenly as she had come. I wave his wand in front of the fireplace, muttering the necessary charm. I step back and looked at Ginny. "You had better go wake Ron. It has to be serious if she is sending Malfoy here at this hour."

 

Without hesitation, Ginny runs up the stairs to Ron's room. They return moments later to see Malfoy dusting off his robes in front of the fireplace.

 

Hermione:

I look deep into the grey eyes in my locket. I do not know how it could be possible for him to find me. I had not been able to give him much information, other than that I am in some sort of a dungeon. I hear the sound of someone coming down the stairs. I do not want Travers to realize that I am able to communicate with Draco so I do the only thing she can think of. I point to myself, then lay my hand on my heart, and then point to Draco's face in the locket. I love you Draco, I think before closing it and facing my enemy.

I turn around to see two men coming through the door into the dungeon. The face of the man that comes with Travers stuns me momentarily and I am unable to move. I know those grey eyes, that pale blonde hair. I know it is impossible, yet here he stands before me. Lucius Malfoy is no longer in Azkaban.

 

"Ahh. Miss Granger. Welcome back." He smiles the most evil of smiles.

 

Back? I have never been here before, have I? "I have no idea what you mean." My voice was dripping with hate and disgust.

 

"Oh, that is right, while your fellow scum were whisked here to my dungeon, you stayed upstairs to have fun with my lovely sister-in-law." His grin widened as he glares at me. He is enjoying the utter horror that is plastered on my face.

 

The memory of that day at Malfoy Manor comes flooding back into my mind. The searing pain as the word was carved into my arm, the evil laugh of Bellatrix “Where did you get that sword?” she had asked over and over, the look of horror on Draco's face as he stood watching the events unfold in front of him. I grasp my arm where the scar still shows beneath my sleeve. It burns like it was fresh again. My heart is racing, my breathing shallow and quick. I try to calm myself as his hand connects with my cheek.

 

“That is for my son.” Slap “You are a lying tramp and you took him from me.” Slap “If it had not been for you, he would be by my side!” The hardest hit so far.

 

I can see the black creeping into the edges of my vision. I try with all of my being to remain standing. It was no use, before I could endure one more blow, everything goes black.

 

Draco:

I stand up, dusting off my robes. I am in a small, cluttered kitchen. I had often wondered what the Weasley house looked like. Harry is standing in front of me waiting for me to speak. Ginny and Ron are running down the stairs. They all stare at me impatiently imploring me to explain my presence to them. "It's Hermione. They've got her." I fall to his knees once again, putting my face in my hands. All I can think of is the horrible things that have happened in that dungeon, and now my Hermione is there, without me.

 

"Who has her? What are you talking about Malfoy?"

 

I look up at Harry, tears are flowing from my eyes. I usually would not allow Potter to see me weak like this, but I know he loves Hermione as well and will not think less of me for it.

 

"I don't know. All I do know is that they took her to Malfoy Manor." I tell the story once again of the pocket watch and what I had seen in it. I again withhold the portion of the story about the person I hope I had not seen in the locket.

 

"We have to save her!" Ginny says, tears pooling in her eyes. "We have to leave now!" Ginny grabs onto Harry's arm, trying to move him towards the fireplace. I suppose she thought she could just floo to the manor, as if it would be that easy. Harry stands still, his face is like stone. Apparently he understands just how difficult this will be.

 

"Gin, I know you want to save her. We all do. But we need to be prepared. I don't think it is going to be just as easy as popping in to get her then back out. We need to make a plan. Also, I think we will need more than just the 4 of us. I will contact the minister directly, his auror department is not as strong as it once was, but along with us, I think we can do this.”

 

“McGonagall has already contacted the minister. I believe they will probably meet us here.” I should have stayed to listen to McGonagall's meeting with Shacklebolt.

 

“Good, now we need to know as much as we can about where she is being held.” Harry turns to me. “Malfoy, what kind of protections are set up?"  

 

"There are wards around the entire property. No one can apparate in or out without a Malfoy allowing it." I stopped, realization dawning on me. There are only 3 Malfoys left. My mother is ill in St. Mungo's. I know I have not let anyone in. That means one thing. I had not been mistaken. I had seen my father in the watch. How? How is it possible? I do not have time to contemplate.

 

Harry narrows his eyes, apparently following my train of thought. "So that means that either yourself, your mother, or your father has her. Right?" I nod slowly, the pain in my heart was growing stronger by the second.

 

"My mother is in St. Mungo's. She regained consciousness today for the first time in many months. She is unable to walk. It could not have been her. Obviously I did not do it." I hesitate and then decide to tell them. "There is something else I saw in the watch. I did not tell you before because I thought it was impossible. I think I saw my father right before Hermione closed her locket." Everyone in the room gasps in horror.

 

Before anyone can say anymore, the fire in the fireplace turned green once more as the Minister of Magic arrives in the kitchen. “We need to act fast Mr. Malfoy. I need to know exactly what wards are set up on the manor, and how we can get it without being detected.”

 

“Minister, we have another important piece of information that you should know. We have reason to believe that Draco’s father, Lucius Malfoy is the one who has Hermione. The wards are set up that it takes a Malfoy in order for anyone to apparate in or out of the manor.” Shacklebolt looks at me, questioning the validity of Harry’s statement. I nodded in agreement.

“Very well.” The minister sends a patronus immediately to Azkaban for an immediate search of father's cell. “Draco, we will need for you to allow all of us to enter the manor, preferably undetected. Is this possible?”

 

I was taken aback for a moment at the open communication between myself and the minister. The minister’s tone held no anger or blame, and for that I was grateful. I know I do not deserve all of the confidence everyone is placing in me, but I am determined not to let them or Hermione down. I decide to do everything within my power to make sure their mission, my mission, is a success. “Yes, minister. There are 2 apparition points within the manor. One is in the dungeons where Hermione is being held. The other is in the kitchen. I can make it so you can each apparate in one at a time. Once I am there, I can attempt to remove the wards, to make it easier for us to leave once we have her.” I turn to Ron next. “Weasley, do you have some parchment I could use?” Ron nods and quickly retrieves several pieces of parchment.

 

I take out my wand, touching each piece in turn. As I do this, a detailed map of the manor appears. “Each of you need only tap the parchment with your wand. A small dot will appear representing yourself as you move about the manor. The dungeons are here.” I point at the dungeons on the map. “The kitchen is here. The safest route is through this hidden hallway. When you are not using the map, simply tap on the parchment again with your wand, and the parchment will again appear blank. No one's wand except for the ones in this room will be able to make the map appear." I demonstrate, showing them how to make it blank again.

 

"Remember that you can only apparate from the dungeons and the kitchen, even once the wards are removed.” I look to each face as I hand them their map. Everyone seems to understand the gravity of the situation and each face is full of determination and gratitude instead of malice and hate like I almost expected. Everyone takes their maps and taps them with their wands before stowing them in their robes.

 

The minister then turns his attention to the group as a whole. “Very well, we will apparate into the kitchen. Harry, you and Ron will go first. Then I will go, followed by Draco. I can tell Ginny is going to object. She is probably wanting to go as well. I agree with the minister, she should stay. I know Harry shares my sentiment.

 

"Ginny, I want you to stay here and operate the Burrow as a sort of control center. I will send a patronus once the wards are down. I would like you to ask your mother and father if they would be willing to join us, as well as any other former Order members that you can get in contact with. Any aurors who were coming from home will be directed here as soon as they arrive at the ministry. I need for you to hold them here until the wards are down, then Ron will come back to side along apparate them, since they likely have never been to the manor." Ginny nods in understanding. Her role from the Burrow seems to satisfy her need to be involved.

 

"Mr. Weasley, I will have you apparate back here once you get back to the manor. As soon as any of them arrive, I need you to bring them into the manor, once the wards are down, before returning to get the next to arrive. I expect you to continue like this until you receive word otherwise from me. Do you understand?" Ron nods.

 

The minister then turns to me. "Mr. Malfoy, do we know how many of them there are?”

 

I wish I had more information to give him. “I do not know. I only saw my father. Although, he would have needed an accomplice to escape Azkaban, so we may not want to underestimate them.” I turned to face the group, swallowing hard before beginning.

 

“He is my father, I know how evil he can be. He will not hesitate to kill any of you on sight. Please do not underestimate him. He will be desperate not to return to Azkaban. Please everyone be careful.” I am trying hard to prevent the tears in my eyes from falling in admiration. The people before me are doing this for the woman I love. They are risking their lives, and they trust me to do the same. I know in that moment that everything I have ever thought about this group has been wrong. I now trust them with life, and more importantly, the life of the woman I love.

 

Hermione:

I can feel before I can move. I feel ropes biting into my wrists and ankles. I am laying on my side on a cold hard surface. My face and ribs are aching. I can feel something wet trickling across my cheek. I can hear voices coming from behind me, seemingly in an adjoining room.

 

"Did you kill her?" I think this is Travers voice. "What are we going to do now? Draco will never join us if he finds out you killed her!"

 

Realization hits me like a brick. Lucius has been the one sending the letters. Draco is what he thinks I have taken. I remain still, listening.

 

"I didn't mean to kill her. I just could not control myself." It is Lucius's icy voice this time. "That filthy mudblood took my son from me. I had him ready to take his place at my side. Together we could have brought back together the Death Eaters. We would have carried out the dark lord's dream to bring the purebloods back to their rightful place as rulers of the magical world. Now it is all ruined."

 

I can just imagine his nose pointed in the air as he keeps talking about his "rightful place" and it is almost more than I can do to keep myself from jumping up to attack him right then. I know I do not have my wand, and judging by the growing pain in my ribs, I will not be moving well enough for that any time soon. I decide to bide my time, and gather as much information as possible. If Draco is coming to try to save me, the least I can do is have some information to help him.

 

Somewhere deep inside a thought is creeping its way to my conscious mind. What if he joins with his father again. He thought his father was gone for the rest of his life. What if he stops loving me. I cannot stop the tears that fall silently down to the floor. I am silently grateful that I am facing away from them.

 

"What are we going to do?" Travers speaks again.

 

"We leave her there for now. Our contact at the ministry says they have called all available aurors to the ministry for an emergency rescue. That means our plan is working. They will all show up to save this filth. Once we call the other Death Eaters here, we can finish off the rest of that department, enabling our takeover of the ministry. I only pray that idiot Shacklebolt shows up so I can finish him."

 

"How will they be able to get in, Lucius?" Travers seems apprehensive of Lucius' plan. "I thought a Malfoy had to allow someone to be able to enter?"

 

"I know that you idiot! I have heard that my dear son has developed feelings" This word comes out as an expletive, full of disgust. "for this mudblood. I have little doubt that he will enable their entry."

 

"Why don't we call the others now? What if they show up before we are ready?" Travers continues to question Lucius.

 

"You fool, you dare question me? What do you think will happen if I call them here, and Draco and his new friends do not show up after all?" Hermione stopped breathing. Even Lucius had considered the fact that Draco may not come. Travers did not answer, I guess he was finally satisfied. The two of them exited through the doorway. I could no longer hold off the darkness that was closing in and everything went black once more.

 

Draco:

I side-along apparate Harry and Ron, as they had not been to the kitchens in their visit to the manor. The thought of their last time here haunts me still. I turn to both of them.

 

"I'm sorry. For the last time you were here. I am sorry I did not try to stop her." They both nod, understanding when and who I meant before Harry steps forward, standing directly in front of me.

 

"Draco, don't. If you had tried to stop her, someone may have called Voldemort and we would not be alive. I appreciate all you did for us that day. Let's move past that and focus on saving Hermione." Harry extends his hand and I shake it.

 

I wish them luck and then apparate back to the Burrow for the minister, bringing him back with me again. Harry and Ron are awaiting our arrival, and Ron apparates away, as the rest of us turn towards the door. I open the door into the corridor and jump. There is a dark figure leaning against the wall to my left. He slowly looks up, and I recognize him.

 

"Travers? What are you doing here?" I cannot hold back the disdain from my voice. I had never liked Travers. He had always disgusted me. He is constantly dirty, smelly, and has none of the self-respect or pride that usually is characteristic of a Death Eater.

 

He slowly turns toward me an evil grin on his face. "Well, that was a touching little moment you had with Harry." I move towards him but feel Harry's hand on my shoulder. I stop, glaring at Travers, who just smiles his yellow smile at me. "Your father will be so happy to know you finally came to rescue your little mudblood."

 

I cringe at the word. "Why isn't he here then? Where is he?" I am angry, and can't help but think that if he is here with me, then he can't be torturing Hermione. As if on cue, my father comes strolling down the steps of the manor, into the room I had just begun to enter. I can feel Harry and Shacklebolt standing behind me, one on either side of me.

 

"My dear Draco, how wonderful it is to see you again." My father says, sarcasm obvious in his fake-pleasant words. "I see you have brought some of your little friends. Only these two though?" He looks behind me as if expecting to see more people. He then smiles, seemingly thinking that he had over estimated my support system. I am glad he underestimates us.

 

"Wonderful. This should be easier than I expected! Once the rest of my friends arrive, we will make light work of you three." An evil look comes to his eye, all trace of humor gone. "Let me call them." He presses his wand to the dark mark on his forearm. I can feel the matching mark on my arm burning. I cringe. My father notices and seems to enjoy my discomfort.

 

"Let's head down to the dungeons, Draco. I believe there is something you will want to see. We will meet the rest of our friends there."

 

I nod towards Harry and Shacklebolt to follow. We need to get away from kitchen so they do not know as others begin to arrive. We stay close together, wands drawn as we follow Travers and my father towards the dungeons.  I begin waving my wand slightly, removing the wards. Shacklebolt notices and I see a small silver lynx fly from his wand.

 

Ginny

I watch Draco and the minister apparate away with a pop. Ron returns a few moments later. I immediately begin sending patronuses. "Lucius Malfoy has escaped Azkaban. He has Hermione. Come to the Burrow if you can help. I will give more instructions upon your arrival." I send one to my parents, they had gone to help Andromeda get all of Teddy's presents home. I send one to Neville, Seamus, Dean, Cho and Luna. After thinking about it for awhile, I decide to send one to Blaise and Pansy as well. They are Draco's friends and will be loyal to him.

 

The first to arrive are my parents. My mother rushes to me, wrapping her arms around me. I cannot speak as the tears begin to fall uncontrollably. She hugs me tighter.

 

Ron speaks up. "He has her in the dungeons at the Manor.  The minister, Harry, and Draco have gone ahead. We have contacted the DA, the minister wants you to contact as many of the order as you can. Once we receive the word that the wards are down, I will begin side apparating you in. Have everyone come here until then.

 

My father begins to send a patronus to his list of witches and wizards. His message is simple and to the point, like mine. He sends it to Bill, Charlie, Fleur, George and Percy.

 

One by one our allies begin to arrive. Neville and Luna arrive first, hand in hand. Luna comes immediately to my side. "She will be okay you know? She has the nargles to protect her after all." I cannot help but smile at Luna. She is so sweet and I can't help but feel a little more confident after her comment.  Neville shakes Ron's hand and they turn as Seamus, Dean and Cho arrive.

 

Cho runs into Ron's arms, crying. "I am so glad you are ok. I cannot lose you, Ron. It's like Cedric all over again." He takes her hand and pulls her to his side, so he can shake hands with Seamus and Dean.

 

"Just tell us where you need us." Seamus is eager as ever to be a part of battle.

 

The rest of my family arrive one at a time, with the exception of Bill and Fleur. They each take turns hugging me, George last. He holds on to me, squeezing me hard. "I'm here for you Gin. We will do all we can to save her. I know how it feels to lose your best friend. I will not let you lose yours." His voice cracks at the reference to Fred and my tears begin to fall again.

 

"Thank you George. I love you." He winks at me in a very George like way and we all listen as Ron again explains what he knows. We all wait in silence for the signal. It seems that hours pass, when I know it can only have been minutes before a white lynx floats into the room. The minister's voice speaks to us from its mouth.

 

Hermione

I awaken to voices behind me. "Is she...dead?" I can hear the voice of Malfoy talking. He seems unhappy. I cannot move, only listen. I can feel ropes on my wrists and ankles. I try with all my might to break the hex as I continue to listen. I hear Harry's voice. He must be here to help me. I let out a breath and feel a stabbing pain in my side. What happened to me? Why don't I remember how I got here?

 

I can hear Lucius Malfoy's voice along with his son, Harry and the auror Kingsley Shacklebolt, I think. There is another voice I do not recognize as well. They are arguing loudly when I hear several pops as people apparently apparate to where we are. I hear spells being uttered. I wish I could move, help Harry and Kingsley. I am not able to move, though. I cannot help but think how Harry and Kingsley have no chance, being so outnumbered when I hear familiar voices coming through the door. It sounds like the whole Weasley crew is here. Also I hear Neville, Luna, Seamus, Dean, and Cho. There is another french sounding voice that I do not recognize, but she seems to be on the good side. I lay there, willing my limbs to move, to try to break free of the ropes, but they will not cooperate.

 

I hear more spells being yelled behind me. I cannot tell who is winning. The voices seem to get further away as everything goes black once more.

 

Draco

We walk down the stairs into the dungeon. I get shivers as I remember the many atrocities I have witnessed within these walls. As we get to the bottom of the stairs, I walk forward towards the cells. There on the floor in a small puddle of blood is Hermione. Her ankles and wrists are bound with rope. I start to rush to her side to free her but my path is blocked by my father as he points his wand at my chest.

 

"Is she...dead?" I am heartbroken. She is not moving. There is blood coming from her head and her back is bent at an unnatural angle. I cannot tell if she is breathing or not. Before my heart can break further, I hear pops of apparition all around me as the familiar faces of Death Eaters materialize around me. I jump away from my father's wand and to Harry and Shacklebolt's side. We stand side by side, deflecting curses sent at us, while trying to send some of our own. One of my spells connects with Travers, who crumples to the ground, stunned.

 

I worry how much longer we can hold them off when I begin to hear friendly voices behind me. I turn to see Molly and Arthur Weasley leading the pack followed by a sea of red hair, then Seamus, Dean and a few others from Hogwarts. I am touched. They are all here for her. My inner revelry is cut short by a spell, sent by my father at Molly Weasley. Arthur waves his wand, deflecting the curse. This effectively brings the battle back to action.

 

There are spells flying everywhere. I send another stunning curse at Rodolphus, hitting him the same time as one sent from Arthur. Rodolphus' face goes white before he hits the ground with a thud. I stop momentarily, realizing I just took part in taking someone's life when I feel a searing pain in my left arm. I look up to see my father smiling triumphantly. I send a stunning charm at him, successfully knocking him to the ground. I turn around to help Seamus, who is battling Yaxley, we successfully restrain him with a body binding hex. I turn around, it seems that we are winning. I help where I can as the last of the Death Eaters fall.

 

Shacklebolt immediately sends a patronus. "The last of the Death Eaters has fallen. Send the guards to apprehend the offenders. They will be held at Azkaban until their trials." Moments later, they arrive, taking the fallen Death Eaters one by one until only my father is left.

 

"Can I talk to him before you take him?" I ask the guard. He nods and steps back. I walk over to where my father lies on the floor. He is just outside Hermione's cell.

 

I point my wand at my father. "Renervate." He stirs. "Expelliarmus" His wand flies to my hand.

 

He stands up, my wand pointed at his chest. He just smiles at me. "Are you going to kill me now boy? Maybe you are evil after all. Go on then, do it. Make me proud." I stand there glaring at him.

 

“You are an evil man and a horrible father. Mother and I will be so much better without you. I hope they finally let the dementors perform the kiss on you.” His stone face seems to show a flash of fear before returning to its prior indifference. He narrows his eyes at me before looking down at Hermione's body. He looks back up at me, smiling before kicking her square in the stomach.

 

The next moments are a blur. I send a body binding curse at him, successfully knocking him to the ground. I hear a small moan escape Hermione's lips and realize she is alive. The guard rushes by me, apparating my father away before I can hex him again.


I immediately fall to Hermione's side. I wave my wand over her wrists and ankles, successfully removing the ropes. She is breathing but only barely. Molly rushes to my side, putting her hand on my back. "She needs to go to St. Mungo's Draco. Take her there. We will get everything cleaned up here and meet you there." I nod, taking Hermione in my arms and standing up. Mrs. Weasley hugs me, taking me off guard. "Go now Draco." I apparate us away.


Chapter 9: Time in St. Mungo's
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Draco felt his feet hit the floor. He ran from the waiting area to the healers' station, Hermione in his arms. Several healers ran to his side after seeing the broken girl's body. They ushered them into an empty room where he placed her gently onto the bed. He was sickened by the contorted form on the bed in front of him. Her back was bent strangely and there was blood oozing from her head soaking the white linens beneath her. Two of the healers set to work on her, waving their wands over her body as the other healer ushered Draco from the room.

 
Draco tried to resist the healer. "I cannot leave her. She needs me." Draco said. The healer patted him on the back comfortingly. He finally walked with her slowly back to the waiting room.

 

"I will come and get you the moment you are able to be with her. I promise." The healer conjured a cup of tea and handed it to Draco, after emptying a vial of calming draught into it. "Here, this will help you." He took the glass, murmuring a thank you to her.

 

He drank it in one drink, hoping that it would work quickly. He could feel the warmth spread throughout his body. It did not calm him as much as he had hoped, but he was able to sit down for a moment.

 

Several long minutes later, Ron and Ginny flooed into the room. They both stared awkwardly at the broken man in front of them.

 

"Mum and Dad are at home with everyone else. They didn't think there would be room here in the waiting area for all of us." Ron knew Draco didn't necessarily want to hear about what anyone else was doing, but did his best to fill the awkward silence.

 

"We are supposed to send a patronus with any news. Harry is with Shacklebolt, getting the prisoners checked into Azkaban. He will be here once he is done there." Ron said, addressing Draco directly for the first time.

 

Draco looked at them, his fear and anxiety growing. The draught was wearing off. As if she knew, the healer again entered the room with another cup of tea for Draco. She nodded hello to Ginny and Ron, handed Draco the tea, and left the room without a word.

 

Ron and Ginny looked at Draco, questioningly. "Calming draught." He said, drinking it in one gulp again. He closed his eyes, hoping to help the draught to work better. He kept his eyes closed as he spoke in barely more than a whisper. "They haven't told me anything. They have been working on her since I arrived. They will not let me see her."

 

He opened his eyes and looked at Ginny, who had tears soaking her cheeks. He walked slowly to her, putting his hand on her shoulder He was attempting to comfort her, when she wrapped her arms around his neck and buried her face in his chest, sobbing. Draco didn't quite know how to take this uncharacteristic expression of emotion. He had never seen Ginny cry before. He settled for patting her lightly on her back. Ron looked away, first his ex-girlfriend, now his sister. He just couldn't watch.

 

Ginny cried until the tears would not come any longer. She let go of Draco, looking at him thankfully. She sat in one of the chairs. Draco and Ron sat on either side of her. All three heads jerked up as another healer came in some time later. Her robes were stained with blood and Draco's stomach wretched at the sight.

 

"She would like to see you, Miss Weasley." The healer looked at Draco apologetically as she took Ginny from the room.

 

Draco and Ron looked at each other, both obviously shocked that Hermione had not asked for Draco.

 

Ginny followed the healer to Hermione's room. She had expected Hermione to ask for Draco, but was happy she could see her friend.

 

Her breath caught in her throat at the sight of Hermione on the bed. Her entire torso was wrapped in bandages, as was her head. Her left arm was in a sling, and her face had many bruises and cuts. Tears began to fall anew as she sat down on Hermione's right side, taking her good hand.

 

"Hi, Gin." Hermione was happy to see her friend. Maybe she could help her understand. "Can you tell me what happened?"

 

Ginny took a deep breath and retold the story of the day's events from her perspective. Hermione looked completely baffled by most of what she was saying. Ginny wondered if today's events were all that Hermione had forgotten.

 

"Do you remember anything that happened before today, Hermione?" Hermione looked at her for a long time, contemplating her response.

 

"Gin, I cannot remember anything from today, this month or the past couple of years. The last thing I remember is arriving at Hogwarts for my fifth year. The healers tell me I am currently in my seventh year, after missing last year. I do not understand Ginny. What happened?" Tears welled up in Hermione's eyes from her frustration.

 

Ginny was dumbstruck. Hermione did not remember the battle, the loss of loved ones. She gasped as she realized suddenly that she didn't remember she loved Draco. Hermione looked at her, eyebrows scrunched in confusion. She knew there was something she was missing.

 

"Hermione, I need to talk to the healers. I will be right back, ok?" Hermione nodded and Ginny practically ran from the room. She did not know what to do. She knew she did not have it in her to tell her already wounded friend about the atrocities of war.

 

"She doesn't remember! What happened to her?" Ginny was nearly screaming at the healer in front of her. The healer took a step back before leading her to the waiting room where Draco, Ron and now Harry were waiting.

 

Ginny ran into Harry's arms, sobbing. "She doesn't remember anything. The last thing she remembers is the start of fifth year." She cried once more into Harry's chest.

 

The occupants all turned to the healer for further explanation.

 

The healer spoke softly and slowly. "She suffered many severe blows to her head." Draco fell back into a chair, and buried his face in his hands. He knows that it was his father that had done this to her. Just like his mother, his father had hurt another woman he loved. "The memory loss may be temporary or it may be permanent. Only time will tell."

 

"What should I do? Should I tell her everything? I do not want to hurt her. So many bad things have happened. I don't know if I can do it." Ginny looked to the healer and then Harry.

 

"I think you should try to help her to remember on her own. Give her hints of happy memories. Hopefully the memories will come back to her on her own. I do not believe telling her of the horrors of the war will help her to remember. If anything, it will only cause her to cling further to her new version of reality. I need to get back to her and check her physical wounds. You can each take turns visiting, 2 at a time." The healer then left the room.

 

They each looked at each other. All of them wanting to go, but none of them wanting to tell the others they could not. Ginny took charge. "I have been in already. Maybe it would be best if Harry and Ron go next." Draco nodded in agreement and the two walked out to find Hermione's room.

 

Ginny immediately sat down next to Draco. "Draco, she does not remember that she loves you. I did not think it would be best that she see you right away. She still thinks you hate each other. It may be too much for her right now. I think if Harry and Ron tell her some things, maybe she will be more comfortable having you in there." Ginny felt awful for Draco. She could not imagine how she would feel if Harry ever forgot his love for her.



 

Harry walked first into the room, the sight before him made him weak. Hermione was always the strong one. Yet here she laid, completely broken. He went to her good side, taking her hand. Ron followed silently behind, but remained standing. "How are you feeling, Hermione?" Harry could think of nothing else to say to her, although he felt there was so much more to say.

 

She smiled weakly. "I've been better." Her smile quickly left her face. "Ginny left when I asked her what has happened in these last few years I cannot remember. She got this awful look on her face and ran from the room. Can someone please tell me what is going on?" Hermione pleaded with her two best friends.

 

Harry looked at Ron, who looked scared to death. He knew then that he would be doing this alone. He took a deep breath, choosing his words carefully. "Hermione, a lot has happened in that time. The healers think if we can give you some hints, it may help you to remember on your own." He did not want to tell her about Draco just yet, so he decided to focus on himself.

 

"One of the big changes, Ginny and I are together now." He smiled broadly at her.

 

She grinned back at him. "I always knew the two of you would end up together. Ever since the way she reacted to you that first time at the Burrow." She chuckled at the thought of the young embarrassed Ginny before wincing. Pain shot through her abdomen, caused by her laugh.

 

"Are you in pain? I will go get a healer." Ron was happy to see Hermione alive, but did not want to be any part of telling her that she had fallen for Draco Malfoy. He quickly left the room.

 

A healer entered immediately, rushing to Hermione's side. "Are you in pain dear? I think you have had enough excitement for one day. I am going to give you something for the pain, and then something to help you sleep." She turned to Harry. "You may stay with her while she sleeps, if you are quiet. But she needs to rest so that her body can heal." Harry nodded, squeezing Hermione's hand.

 

The healer gave Hermione first one vial, then another, which she poured down her throat, grateful for the relief. Immediately she could feel the pain lessening. She could feel the sleepiness creeping into her mind. She turned to Harry, clinging to consciousness for a moment longer. "Please don't leave me alone." Her eyes closed and she was asleep.

 

Ginny came quietly in and conjured another chair, sitting down next to Harry, taking his other hand. She whispered in his ear. "Ron said you told her about us." She smiled.

 

"Ya, it was the happiest memory I could possibly think of." He whispered back. They sat for a while longer before Ginny let go of Harry's hand.

   

"I am going to go get Draco. She is asleep and he needs to see her. He is a complete wreck." Harry nodded in agreement.



 

Ron had returned to the waiting room, and sat watching Draco as he paced back and forth in the waiting room, all traces of the calming draught gone.

 

Draco knew he could not go in yet, but he would not leave her here. His pain grew as the moments passed. He looked up, a tortured look on his face as Ginny came back into the room.

 

"She is sleeping. They say we can sit with her while she sleeps, if we are quiet. Would you like to go next, Draco?" Draco did not hesitate and was out of the room before the words were done coming out of her mouth.

 

He walked into her room to find Harry holding her hand. Harry looked up, and let go of her hand, moving to the other chair to make room for Draco. Draco walked slowly to her side, sitting down and taking her hand gently in his. Immediately he could feel that familiar electricity from her hand to his. Hermione stirred in her sleep and he looked at her longingly. Willing her to feel it too. She seemed to settle back into her deep sleep, and did not show any other signs of awareness of her surroundings.

 

Harry leaned closer to Draco. "She seems more peaceful now. She seemed to be having nightmares before." Draco nodded, thankful for the glimmer of hope that flickered inside him. Maybe his presence would help her.

 

Harry sat for another hour or so until his stomach began aching with hunger. "Draco, I am going to go to the Burrow to eat, I will send back some food for you. I am going to take Ginny and Ron. Some of the others may want to come see her too. I will send them one at a time." Draco nodded, not looking away from Hermione. Harry silently left the room.


 

Hermione was relieved as the sleeping draught took effect. She was physically and mentally exhausted, even though she had no idea why. Her sleep was troubled, though. She dreamed of long golden hair, and evil laughs. She felt pain through every part of her body as she recieved blow after blow to every part of her body in her nightmares.  After restless dreaming for what seemed like an eternity, the tone of her dreams changed all of a sudden. She felt warmth spread throughout her body, radiating from her right arm. Immediately her dreams changed to beautiful grey eyes and passionate kisses. She had no idea who this man in her dreams was, but undoubtedly preferred these dreams to the others.  

 

Draco sat by Hermione's side through the night, as her friends came and went one at a time. Mrs. Weasley had brought him a plate of food. He took a couple of bites with his available hand to make her happy, even though he had no appetite. Eventually he had succomed to sleep, resting his head beside Hermione's shoulder on the bed.

 

Draco woke the next morning to Hermione screaming. He immediately jumped up, his eyes wide. Hermione was staring at him with her eyes narrowed. Immediately a healer came running into the room.

 

"What is HE doing here? Draco Malfoy hates me! I hate him!" She turned to Draco. "And you! Why were you holding my hand?" Her voice was softer now. "I don't understand. I want to see Harry." Tears of frustration were once again forming in her eyes.

 

Draco left the room, headed to the waiting room and flooed to the Burrow. He landed in the kitchen where the Weasley clan was sitting around the table eating breakfast. They all stopped, looking up at the unexpected visitor.

 

The desperation was obvious in his voice. "She is awake. I tried to stay awake, I must have drifted off. She went mad when she awoke to me holding her hand." Draco's voice cracked. He remembered the look of horror on Hermione's face. "She wants to see you, Harry. Maybe you can calm her down."

 

Harry stood up, kissed Ginny and stood in front of Draco. He stepped into the flames and disappeared first, followed by Draco. He led Draco out of the waiting area and down to Hermione's room.

 

Harry entered the room alone, leaving Draco in the hallway for now. "Harry, please tell me what is going on! I asked you not to leave me. Then, I wake up this morning to Draco Malfoy asleep next to me, holding my hand!" Her voice rising higher and higher as she went on.

 

Harry sat down next to her, taking her hand once more. Hermione remembered the warm feeling from her dream. It didn't seem to have come from Harry. It wasn't Harry...There is no way it was Malfoy! Was it? Hermione's face was scrunched with frustration.

 

"Hermione, there is something you need to know. Draco has changed." Hermione was shocked by the familiarity of Harry's reference to Malfoy. "You and him..." Harry stopped as Hermione's eyes grew wide with realization.

 

"We...? There is no way. How could this happen?" She seemed to struggle internally with Harry's words. Finally seeming resigned she turned to Harry. "Do I love him Harry?"

 

Harry looked at her, pity written on his face. "Without a doubt Hermione. And he loves you. The two of you have been inseperable since the beginning of term this year. You came here with him to visit his mother, she had been unconscious since....well she had been unconscious for a while. She woke up while the two of you were with her. She gave her blessing, Hermione. Even with your memory loss you must know what a big deal that is."  

 

Hermione put her hand up, successfully quieting Harry. She needed a moment to sort through it all. She loved Draco and he loved her. Narcissa Malfoy had given her blessing. Harry was right. That was huge. "Is he here now?"

 

Harry did not have to ask who she was referring to. "Yeah, he is in the hall. He did not want to rush you or put any more stress on you. I think you kind of scared him this morning when you screamed at him." Harry smiled at Hermione.

 

She smiled a little back at him. "Can you have him come in? But will you stay too?"

 

"Of course Hermione. I will stay as long as you need me to."

 

"Thank you Harry." Hermione released his hand so he could go retrieve Draco.

 

Draco and Harry came in a moment later. Hermione couldn't help but smile. Draco really did seem scared. Draco relaxed when he saw the smirk on Hermione's face. "What's so funny?"

 

"You looked scared. Like I was going to hex you or something." Hermione chuckled, wincing again at the pain. She silently noted that the pain was not as bad as it had been the day before. Draco's face fell and he flew to her side, taking her hand. He suddenly pulled back, remembering himself.

 

"Uh, I'm sorry." He looked down at the ground.

 

Hermione's voice was soft. "It's ok, really." She held out her hand towards him. It felt unnatural to be reaching out for Malfoy, her mortal enemy. But, she had to see if her hunch was correct. As he took her hand, her suspicions were confirmed. The familiar warmth spread up her arm, to her whole body.  She looked into his eyes. They were the most beautiful shade of grey. Her face turned scarlet red as the eyes she had dreamed of the night before came fresh into her mind. She looked away in embarrassment as she remembered the passionate kisses they had shared in her dreams.

 

Draco watched in wonder as she reached for his hand. He gave it to her and watched as her face went scarlet red and she turned away, embarrassed. He looked at Harry who looked as confused as he was.

 

"Did I miss something?" He asked Hermione, a small smile playing on his lips.

 

"Um, well....it's nothing" she said quickly. "So, Mal-Draco, Tell me about us. How did we...get together?" She was eager to change the subject.

 

"I guess it started when the Headmistress appointed you and I Head Boy and Head Girl." He paused.

 

Hermione nodded, of course she was Head Girl. Then she realized he had not said headmaster. "Headmistress? Where is Dumbledore?" Draco looked at Harry. Hoping he could help. He knew he was not supposed to tell her anything bad.

 

Harry jumped in. "McGonagall took over the post. But, we will talk about that later. Listen to Draco's story. It's much better." He smiled at Draco who gave him a thankful look.

 

Draco dove back into his story. "So anyway we were forced to work together, guiding the prefects and planning a Halloween ball. One night after a meeting with the ball committee, We almost kissed. I was scared so I didn't kiss you. You weren't happy about it. I didn't think you would ever forgive me. Then the next day, out by the lake, I finally made good on it and kissed you for the first time." Her face went red again, but she said nothing, waiting for him to continue.

 

"From then on, we were pretty much inseperable. We went together to the Halloween Ball."

 

"What were our costumes?" Hermione asked, her face scrunched again as if trying to grab some obscure memory from the depths of her mind.

 

Draco looked at Harry, hope shared on their faces. "You were a very sexy black cat and I went as Harry." Harry laughed out loud, startling them both. They looked at Harry and he stopped, but couldn't manage to wipe the smirk off his face.

 

Hermione could feel the memory in her head, just out of reach. She closed her eyes and saw Draco, with dark hair, glasses, and a fake scar. Her eyes flew open. "I remember! I remember the ball! I remember your costume. I remember dancing with you and then talking with Pansy and Blaise outside." Hermione was speaking quickly, the memories of that night coming back to her. "Tell me about another time we were together." She implored him.

 

"Yesterday was Christmas. You woke up first, and came into my room to wake me." It was Draco's turn to blush. Hermione raised one eyebrow at his discomfort. "I gave you this bracelet." He took the silver bracelet from his pocket and placed it on her wrist. "You gave me this pocket watch." He showed her the watch before placing it back into his pocket. He explained how it was linked with her locket. He saw the locket laying on a nearby table, broken. "We can get it fixed. I am sure George can fix it. You got it from his shop."

 

"George's shop? What about Fred?" Hermione screamed as it hit her all at once. The memories of the past years came flooding back to her mind. She watched as she lost Fred, Tonks, Lupin, Dumbledore, Snape and everyone else in the war all over again. It was more than she could take. "I think I am going to be sick." Draco conjured a bucket just in time. Harry ran to get a healer.

 

"Miss Granger, are you alright?" The healer stood next to her, assessing her reactions. Hermione nodded weakly then was sick again. Draco held her hair, rubbing her back. "Harry says you are remembering what you had forgotten. I can imagine that it is very hard for you. I will tell you that the worst is probably over. Also, now that the memories have returned, your physical healing will speed up as well."

 

The healer handed her another sleeping draught. Hermione hesitated before drinking it. "Draco, will  you stay with me and tell me the rest of the story when I wake up?"

 

Draco looked deep into her eyes, his face only inches from hers. "Hermione, my love, I will never again leave your side. This I swear to you." A single tear fell from Hermione's eye as she took the potion and slipped into a deep sleep.

 

Harry spoke next. "I think she would be okay if I went back to the Burrow for awhile. I need to tell the others the news." Harry walked to the bed and shook Draco's hand and kissed Hermione gently on her forehead before leaving the two of them alone.


Draco took out his wand, extending the size of the bed. He laid down in the bed beside Hermione. Being careful not to put pressure on any of her wounds, the only place he was touching her was her hand. He felt a calm come over him as he laid with her and fell into a deep sleep almost at once.

 

Ok, everyone only 2 more chapters after this one! Please let me know if you are liking what you are reading. 


Chapter 10: The Future
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The next few weeks passed slowly. The injuries to Hermione’s arm and ribs had healed quickly, the ones to her spine and head more slowly. Draco spent every day and night with her. He only left when she insisted that he go back to their dorm to shower. He would swing by the Burrow each time he left, updating Harry and Ginny on her progress.

 

He ate with her, helping her to cut her food while her arm was still in the sling. He would brush through her hair each morning, something that Hermione loved. No one had brushed her hair for her since she was a small child. The memories of her childhood made her miss her parents terribly. She vowed to go to find them as soon as she finished her exams.  

 

She would tell Draco stories about her childhood. He was amazed at all things muggle. He never thought much of muggles, and therefore was amazed at just how little he knew of their world. Hermione promised to take him to the cinema soon. He could not wait to experience the thing she called a movie. She had explained about electricity and how it worked. He never seemed to get enough of her stories, and she was happy to share them with him. It somehow made it seem like her parents weren't half a world away when she talked about their times together.

   

Now that she was almost completely healed, the healers had decided she could go home the following day. She was to try to take it easy but she could return to classes the day after she went back. Hermione was grateful because the start of term had been two days before, and she did not want to get too far behind. Draco sat next to her bed, holding her hand as the healer gave them the good news and explained what she could and could not do. Hermione and Draco both blushed deeply when the healer said that she was not to engage in any sexual activity for at least one week. Not that I have to worry about that anyway, Hermione thought to herself.

 

Once the healer was gone, Hermione suggested that Draco go to Hogwarts and tell McGonagall of their plans to return to Hogwarts the following day. Draco agreed and kissed her soundly before leaving the room.

 

After walking into the hallway, it occurred to him that he had been in this hospital all of this time and had not gone to see his mother even once. He quickly made his way to the ward where Narcissa's room was. The sight that greeted him upon entering was so drastically different than the last time he had been there. It almost appeared to be a flat rather than a hospital room. The colors were warm and inviting, instead of bland and sterile. His mother was sitting on a navy blue couch, reading a book. The blanket he and Hermione had given her for Christmas was laying across her lap.

 

Sunlight poured through an open window onto her face. He was so pleased to see that her face held so much more life than before, there was a sparkle in her eyes and a slight blush on her cheeks. Her blonde hair was pulled up into a tight bun and she was wearing makeup.

 

Draco cleared his throat. She looked up at him and a huge smile came across her face. She immediately ran to him, pulling him into a bone crushing hug. Draco embraced his mother before pulling her out at arms length to look at her. "You look wonderful, mother." The frail look that she had the last time was long gone, replaced instead by the strong beautiful woman he knew his mother to be.

 

She seemed to be bursting with excitement. "I am going to be released tomorrow, Draco." Draco was pleased, but could not help but wonder where she would go.

 

"That is wonderful. I am very glad to hear it. Listen mother, I have to explain to you why I have not been to visit you in the last few weeks." His mother put her finger over his mouth and he stopped, wondering why she did not want to hear.

 

"No worries dear. Your aunt Andromeda has been here every day to visit with me. She brings Teddy some of the time and he is such a joy. I have not been lonely.  Also, the healers told me everything about what happened, love." She placed her hand on his cheek, sadness in her eyes. "I am so glad that Hermione is ok. I would like very much to go down to visit with her before I leave tomorrow, if that is ok with you?"

 

"Oh, of course. I think she would very much enjoy that. She is being released tomorrow as well. I actually am leaving to go discuss our return with McGonagall, so now would be a great time. I can show you to her room before I go, if you want?"

 

Narcissa smiled and nodded. They checked with the healers to make sure it was ok, then made their way to Hermione's room.

 

Draco entered first, his mother following closely behind. Hermione looked up from her book and smiled to see Narcissa looking so well compared with the last time he had seen her. Hermione stood up and made her way to the Malfoys. Narcissa took her completely off guard when she wrapped her arms around her and gave her a firm hug. Tears formed in the corners of Hermione's eyes at the gesture. She knew that Narcissa understood more than anyone how she felt, and she was glad for her affection.

 

"I am going to go meet with McGonagall now. I will leave you ladies to catch up." He smiled broadly at the notion. The two women he loved, together in one room. There is no way he could possibly be happier. He kissed his mother's cheek and Hermione's lips before leaving the room.

 

Narcissa followed Hermione to the hospital bed as they both sat. Narcissa took Hermione's hand in hers before speaking. "Hermione I am so sorry for what that evil man did to you. I am sorry you had to endure it. I understand how you are feeling and if you ever need to talk, I am here for you."

 

Hermione's words caught in her throat. She was so touched by the words of this woman. "Thank you so much. I appreciate you being here with me right now. I only wish you didn't have to be away from us after tomorrow. I do not know what our plans are after Hogwarts, but I know we can make sure we are near you."

 

Narcissa smiled. "Actually, I have a bit of news, Hermione. The headmistress has decided to offer me a position within the school." Hermione gasped, not because she thought Narcissa unworthy of the position, but purely from shock that Narcissa would accept such a job. Hermione always thought of her as the woman who stayed home, tending to her husbands needs, besides that she was pretty sure that the Malfoys were richer than rich and Narcissa had no real need to work at all.

 

"I will be teaching a new class being offered that focuses on culinary skills, from a wizarding perspective. It will be an optional course offered to students, with no NEWT exams. Draco was always very fond of my cooking. I bet you didn't know that." Narcissa seemed pleased with her new position and Hermione couldn't have been happier for her.

 

"That is so amazing, Cissy." Hermione paused. She hadn't meant to be so familiar with Narcissa, but she relaxed when she saw the smile come to Narcissa's face. "Does Draco know?"

 

Narcissa grinned even wider. "I believe that the headmistress will tell him today when he meets with her." Hermione tried without success to suppress a yawn. "I really should be going, dear. You need to rest." She stood and turned for the door. All of a sudden she stopped, turned around and pulled Hermione into another tight squeeze. Hermione tried to hold back the groan of pain from her newly healed rib cage. Narcissa pulled back sharply.

 

"Oh goodness, I am so sorry Hermione. I almost forgot you were newly healed." Hermione forced a smile and Narcissa left her in silence.

 

Hermione laid back on her bed, exhaling a long breath. Her newfound relationship with Narcissa was both unexpected and overwhelming. Despite the sharp pain in her ribcage, she couldn't have been happier about it.



 

After an hour or so, Draco came bursting into Hermione's room. "Hermione, you won't believe it. McGonagall has offered my mum a position at Hogwarts! She will be teaching culinary classes. I had nearly forgotten how much I love her cooking."

 

Hermione could not hold back the giggle that escaped her lips at hearing almost the exact same words that had come from his mother's mouth.

 

Draco looked at her, amused. "What? What's so funny?"

 

"Your mum already told me. I am so happy for her Draco. She seems very happy. And best of all, you will not have to be away from her." Draco looked so happy he could just burst. Hermione knew exactly why he was so happy. He had been constantly worrying about where his mother would go once she left St. Mungo's.

 

The couple chatted more about their return to Hogwarts the following day. They would be going along with his mother back to the castle.

 

As evening fell, a healer came in with a sleeping draught for Hermione, successfully ending their conversation. Hermione downed it quickly, ready for the next day to come. She quickly fell into a deep sleep, wrapped in Draco's arms.

 

Hermione awoke the next morning and turned over to find that Draco was not in her bed. At first she was worried, he had promised not to leave her ever again. She began to panic until she saw the parchment on his pillow.

 

My dearest love,

 

I hope to return before you wake. Just in case I don't, I wanted to leave you this note.

 

I have gone to help mother pack her things. We will be down to collect you around 9 so that we can all travel together back to Hogwarts.

 

I'll miss you every moment I am away, but my heart remains with you.

 

Your Draco xoxo

 

Hermione smiled at the note. She folded it and placed it in her robes for safe keeping. She glanced at the clock. 8:45, she had 15 minutes to be ready. She felt panic rising for the second time in as many minutes until she looked on the floor and saw all of her belongings, packed neatly and ready to go. She smirked at the gesture. Draco loved to take care of her. It was not something she was used to, but coming from him she loved it. She got up and dressed as Draco and Narcissa walked in the door.

 

Draco smiled at the sight of the woman he loved. "Ready love?" She nodded.

 

He kissed her quickly, shrinking down her belongings, and placing them into his robes, along with his mother's.  He took their hands, placing one in each of his before turning towards the door. The women looked at each other and smiled as they followed Draco from the room.


 

After arriving back at Hogwarts, Hermione and Draco helped get Narcissa settled into her dorm, before continuing to theirs. He laid their belongings on the floor, returning them to normal size. All of the other students from their year had returned but were still in class, so the common room was empty.

 

Draco turned to Hermione, a fire burning in his eyes. "Hermione, I am so sorry..." He began before her mouth met his, silencing him.

 

Hermione pressed her lips against his. She put her hands behind his head pulling his head towards her with all of her strength. She had missed this terribly, not that she had been in any condition to snog while at St. Mungo's. It had just been too long since she had been free to kiss him the way she wanted to.

 

Draco matched her emotion by kissing her back with all of his might. He had missed her as well, but had the fear and guilt over what had happened that he couldn't help but express as well. He quickly put his hands under her bum, pulling her face up level with his. She wrapped her legs around his waist as she deepened the kiss, her tongue invading his mouth. He slowly walked her towards the girls corridor, their mouths never parting. He nearly dropped her on the floor when her body passed through the doorway and his met the invisible wall.

 

They both laughed out loud as he slowly lowered her to the floor. "I will meet you in my room in 30 seconds." She said, running through the doorway to her room. She ran into her room, stripping off her shoes and socks before jumping onto her bed. Draco came in moments later and walked towards the bed, removing his shirt along the way.

 

Hermione was entranced at the sight of his bare chest and arms. She stared open mouthed as he climbed onto the bed beside her. "Like what you see?" Draco raised an eyebrow, his trademark smirk on his lips.

 

"You have no idea." It was all she could say before she again pulled his lips to hers. She ran her fingertips up his firm abdominal muscles and chest, over his shoulders before grasping his biceps. She pushed gently backwards until he was flat on his back. She quickly lifted her leg over his body, and shifted her weight so she was hovering over him, still connected at the lips. She pulled her head up, sitting back on him.

 

Draco's hands traveled from her thighs, up her sides, beneath her shirt. He moved his hands slowly upward, dragging her shirt up with them. His fingertips roamed, grazing every inch of her sides and back until he was at her shoulders. She raised her arms as he removed her top. His fingers made their way to her back once again, undoing her bra and tracing a line down her arms, removing it completely.

 

Hermione blushed under his stare. She felt so exposed. Her shyness quickly burned away as she read the look of appreciation in Draco's eyes as he appraised her naked upper body. He allowed his hands to roam from her bare shoulders, down her front, gently massaging as they went. Hermione closed her eyes and let her head fall back, feeling his touch.

 

Draco put his hands on her hips, easily lifting her off of him, and lowering onto the bed beside him. He then placed his knees between her legs, supporting his weight on his arms. She felt the muscles in his biceps ripple as they contracted, supporting his weight.

 

Draco's mouth picked up where his hands left off. He kissed and gently sucked every inch of her neck and chest. Hermione's hips involuntarily raised towards him. He pushed against her, his perfect control slipping.

 

"Hermione, wait." Draco said through gritted teeth. He did not want to do this yet and if he went any further, he wouldn't be able to stop. Hermione looked at him wide eyed as he sat back from her body on his knees, still between her legs. She pulled herself back, into a sitting position facing him.

 

"What's the matter, Draco? I'm healed enough. I can take it." Draco took her hands in his, kissing each one in turn.

 

"It isn't that, love. I mean of course when we do go all the way, I do not want you to hurt in any way. But, I mean I don't think it's the right time. I love you with all of my heart, and believe me I want you. I just want to make sure you are ready." Hermione opened her mouth to object but was interrupted by Draco. "Hermione, I want to ask you something. Have you ever?"

 

Hermione's eyes fell. She shook her head. "Draco, just because I haven't had sex does not mean that I am not ready. I know what I feel. I know that I love you and I want this."

 

Draco's eyes fell down as well. "Hermione, I want you to know that I have done this before. With Pansy and with Astoria." Hermione looked at him, one eyebrow raised in disbelief. Draco tried not to smile. "Yes, just the two of them. When we did it, it was because it was what was expected of me. That I would have sex with them. It was not intimacy. I did not love them. I did not care how they felt about any of it. I just did it. I..."

 

Hermione did not wait for an opening to speak this time. "Draco, I do not care what you did with other girls. I believe when you say you did not love them. I know you do love me. I do not doubt your motives and I know that you are not with me for that reason, otherwise you would have been gone long before now. If it is important to you, we can wait. I love you, Draco Malfoy." She grabbed her shirt, pulling it over her head.

 

"What do you want to do today then? We do not start our classes until tomorrow." Hermione said when they had both returned to the common room fully dressed.

 

"Why don't we talk about what our plans are for after Hogwarts. Exams will be here before we know it."

 

He conjured two glasses of hot chocolate and they sat down on the couch. "I was actually hoping to join the ministry. I don't know which department just yet. I just know I want to help put the bad guys away. Speaking of, I got an owl from the ministry last night. They want me to testify against my father at his trial."

 

"How are you feeling about that?" Hermione knew he was happy to see his father put away, but knew that since this was his second serious offense, he would probably be sentenced to the dementor's kiss.

 

"I am happy to help. Really. After first my mother, then you were so nearly taken from me by that man, I can think of nothing more satisfying than making sure it never happens again." He pulled her closer, resting her head against his chest. "How about you? What are your plans?"

 

"I also plan to work for the ministry. I want to work in the department of law enforcement. I was thinking of being a lawyer." Hermione played with her fingers waiting for his response.

 

"I think you will make an amazing lawyer!"

 

She looked up at him smiling "Do you really think so?"

 

"Hermione Granger, I have never seen anyone who can win an argument with you, unless you want them to. Believe me, I have tried." He pulled her back down onto his chest, running his fingers through her hair.

 

"I was thinking. What do you think of us sharing a flat near the ministry once we leave here? We have already been practically living together here." They had been taking turns sleeping in the other's room since the others had moved in. "I honestly don't think I could manage waking up without you next to me."

 

"Draco, I think that is a great idea. We can start watching the prophet for flats for rent."

 

"Actually, I kind of already had one picked out. I hope that's ok. We can go see it today if you would like? I'm sure we can convince McGonagall."

 

Hermione jumped up, excited. "Who says we have to tell her?" She had a wicked grin on her face.

 

"Hermione, I do believe the Slytherin in me is rubbing off on you. How do you plan on getting out of the castle without McGonagall knowing?"  Draco looked at her in admiration. Even he had no idea how she planned to manage this.

 

Hermione leaned down, giving him a quick kiss. "It's a surprise. I am going to go change. Be here in 15 minutes, ready to go see our new place!" She raced from the room.

 

15 minutes later Hermione emerged from the girls' dorm corridor, Harry's cloak in hand.

 

"What is that?" Draco was intrigued to say the least.

 

"This, is an invisibility cloak. It is the best of its kind. Harry let me borrow it. We can walk beneath it to the edge of the grounds. Then you can apparate me to our new flat." She was practically bouncing with excitement. Breaking the rules was not something she usually enjoyed, but she couldn't help but love the feel of the adrenaline running through her veins.

 

She wrapped the cloak around them once they were outside. They traveled closely together beneath the cloak. The cloak that had easily covered Hermione, Harry and Ron in their early years, was not quite big enough to cover Hermione and Draco, given his broad stature. Hermione decided the best way to handle it was for her to jump up and wrap her limbs around him, pressing their bodies together beneath the cloak.

 

Carrying her this way, Draco made his way past the wards and apparated them without warning, the cloak still covering them.

 

They landed on a rather busy street, a few blocks from the visitors entrance to the ministry. The buildings surrounding them were tall, and people were coming and going from them, all too busy with their own thoughts to notice the two appear from under the cloak. "It's in this building." Draco took her hand, leading her to the tallest, most expensive looking building.

 

Hermione followed him, overwhelmed by the beauty of the landscaping in front of the building.  A uniformed doorman held the door for them. "Good evening Mr. Malfoy."  The man nodded at the two of them, wearing a genuine smile.  Hermione gave a shy smile in return.

 

The inside of the lobby was majestic. There were white marble floors that matched the top of the reception desk. The rest of the desk and all of the furniture were dark wood. Behind the desk sat a beautiful muggle woman with long brown hair and blue eyes. She smiled at them as the doorman had. "Are you here to show her the flat? She is going to love it!" She asked Draco, obviously excited for the two of them.

 

Draco blushed but nodded. "This way, love." Draco led her to the lift.  After getting in, he pressed his wand to the top button with a PH on it. Realization dawned on Hermione. "Penthouse?"

 

Draco nodded, judging her reaction. "Yes Hermione. My family owns this building. My father used to use the penthouse for business that he wished to keep from me and mother. When he went to Azkaban the first time, I had someone clean it out completely. It has sat empty since then. I always planned to move here after leaving Hogwarts, but it really is too big for just one person. I would be honored if you would share it with me, Hermione." She squeezed his hand tightly as the lift went higher.

 

The doors opened directly into a sitting room. It was a beautiful room. It was completely empty, but for a huge fireplace on the far wall. On either side of the fireplace were sliding glass doors that led out onto a balcony that overlooked the city. The floors were made of dark wood, so dark it was almost black. The ceiling was high, enchanted to look like the sky outside and held a beautiful crystal chandelier.  "I thought Hogwarts was the only place with a ceiling like that."

 

The whole room had the feel of being outside. Hermione stepped out of the lift and into the space. She felt an arm on her back and looked up to see Draco's grey eyes penetrating hers, waiting for her reaction. She chose not to say anything just yet.

 

He led her further into the sitting room and to the right slightly. There was an island counter around the corner that separated the sitting area from the kitchen. There were 4 silver bar stools with black leather seats in front the island. Beyond this area there was a large open dining room that was big enough to house a table for 12 at least. Behind the island there was an all stainless steel kitchen. Hermione was overwhelmed by the idea of cooking in it, so turned the other direction to a set of doors on the far wall.

 

The first led to a walk-in coat closet. Who in the world has a walk-in coat closet? She thought to herself before closing that door and opening the next.

 

This room was a rather large bathroom that was completely white with silver fixtures on the sink and shower. She left and again went to the next room.

 

This door led to a large master bedroom, there were two more doors on the opposite wall from her. The bedroom had plush black carpet and stark white walls. The wall to her right was lined with windows and had a sliding door that led out to a separate balcony. She opened the first door off of the master bathroom and closed it again quickly. If the walk-in coat closet had been too much, this closet was absolutely ridiculous. It was massive. There is no way I could ever fill up a tenth of that closet, much less half, She quickly forgot the closet, though when she opened the final door. It was a bathroom alright, it had the necessary fixtures, but if not for those, she would have guessed it to be a public pool. The bathtub was large enough to hold the entire Gryffindor Quidditch team. It was completely white, like the smaller bathroom with the same silver fixtures. There was a separate shower with dual shower heads that faced each other. She blushed at the thoughts that crept into her mind about a shower for two people. She quickly left that room and walked back into the bedroom, hoping Draco did not notice the rose color of her cheeks.

 

She walked into the middle of the bedroom, closing her eyes and turning her face towards the ceiling. She took several deep breaths attempting to take it all in. She startled when she felt Draco's strong arms wrap around her waist from behind. "What are you thinking?" He whispered in her ear.

 

"Draco, it is beautiful. I really don't know what to think. I do know that there is no way I will be able to afford to split the rent with you. Not on an entry-level ministry position salary, and that is if I get a job there."

 

"Shhh, love. I told you. My family owns this building. So, there is no rent to pay. Of course, if you do not want to live with me here, I understand. We can find somewhere else. Wherever you like. All that matters is that I am with you."

 

Hermione turned to face him. "I love it Draco. I would love to live with you here."

 

He put his arms further around her waist, lifting her off her feet and spinning her around. "I am so happy you like it! I left it empty because I thought you might want to help me pick the furniture and decor. My mother said she would love to help us, if you would like her to."

 

"She knows already?" Draco nodded, smiling.

 

"I would love for her to go with us. I do have a question though. The other door, is it a guest bedroom?"

 

Draco was confused why she would ask this. He thought she may want Harry and Ginny to come stay with them. "Yes, and it has it's own bathroom off of it as well. Why do you ask?"

 

"I know your mother now has a permanent home at Hogwarts, but I thought we should set it up for her if she ever wants to come here. She can stay on holidays and breaks. What do you think?"

 

Draco was taken aback by Hermione's suggestion. She genuinely was the most thoughtful person he had ever known. "I think that is a great idea Hermione. We can tell her about it when we get back to the castle." He looked down at his watch and jumped. "Hermione, it is nearly dinner time. I think they will notice if we do not show up." Quickly they exited the flat, and apparated from the hallway to outside the gates.

 

Once they landed, they realized they had forgotten to put on the cloak. As they looked up, they were both startled to see Mrs. Malfoy standing just inside the gates, her hands on her hips.

 

"Draco, Hermione where have you been? Come in quickly. It is nearly dinner time and you will be missed if you are not there." Without another word, she led the two back to the castle and into the Great Hall. It was not yet full, so no one noticed that they had been anywhere but their dorm.


 

The rest of the school year passed uneventfully. Blaise and Pansy had returned for the remainder of the year, along with a few others. Hermione and Pansy weren't exactly friends, but Hermione harbored less animosity after Draco's confession about never loving her. She was genuinely happy to see Pansy and Blaise so happy together. The four of them spent most of their time together by the fire in the evenings and roaming the grounds during the day, when they were not in class. Hermione had relaxed a little, but still made sure each of them took time each day to prepare for their NEWT exams.

 

Hermione and Narcissa got together a few evenings a week to browse wizard decorating magazines. They had all of the furniture and decorative items for the flat picked and delivered, including the ones that would go into Narcissa's room.

 

Hermione and Draco of course joined the new culinary class, along with a large percentage of students from every year. Draco was pleased when he realized that he had finally found a subject he was better at than Hermione. He had excelled at the subject and managed to help Hermione enough to keep her from burning down the castle. Hermione hated the subject but enjoyed watching and learning from Narcissa. She was so in her element here in the kitchen. Draco and Hermione had approached her one day after class and had offered her the room and she had been overjoyed at the idea. 

 

*

 

Ok everyone, sorry for the abrupt ending to this chapter, but there is just one chapter left to this story and if I did not end it here, it would have been too long. So, I hope you enjoyed this chapter and remember, just one left!!!


Chapter 11: The End of an Era
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The day for their NEWT exams had arrived in the blink of an eye. In the days leading up to the exams Hermione had become unbearable, though Draco never wavered on his promise to never leave her side. He did, however, choose to have his face stuck in a book when she did, it seemed to calm her to believe there was someone else studying as much as she was.

 

On the day of the NEWT exams, Hermione woke early, more anxious than ever about her exams. She awoke to find Draco snoring beside her. He looks so peaceful. She thought, before shaking him awake. “Draco! Wake up!”

 

“What? What’s wrong Hermione?” Draco sat up looking around, expecting to see Death Eaters surrounding the bed by the way Hermione was carrying on. Hermione smirked slightly at his reaction before remembering the reason for her urgency.

 

“Nothing is wrong, today is our exam day! We need to eat breakfast. Make sure you eat a lot of proteins, not too many carbohydrates, that will not help with your concentration. Make sure you bring extra quills….” Hermione continued giving advice as she ran around the room, changing, quickly brushing her hair and teeth, then throwing shoes on. Draco laid back on the bed, his hands behind his head just watching her in amusement. He wasn’t listening to a thing she said, but thought she was so cute when she was like this.

 

Hermione looked up to see him smirking at her. She stopped, put her hands on her hips and said. “Draco Malfoy, if you do not get up off that bed this instant and stop staring at me like that, I am going to hex you.” Draco got up off the bed, his hands raised in surrender, before exiting to their shared bathroom to get ready for his day.

 

10 minutes later he exited into the common room to see Hermione’s face once again buried in a school book. He went to her, taking the book from her hands and leading her from the room by her hand. “Hermione love, you know everything in that book. Weren’t you just telling me the benefits of a good breakfast?”  Hermione opened her mouth to object, but changed her mind. He is right. I do need to get a good breakfast….Most important exams of my life...What if I fail….What if Draco fails….What if we both fail and don’t get jobs anywhere and are forced to live on the street…. Hermione snapped herself out of it as they reached the Great Hall and the smell of bacon and eggs hit her nose.


 

After sitting for her last exam,Transfiguration, Hermione waited outside the great hall for Draco. He finished soon after and exited the great hall grinning like a fool. Hermione ran to him, jumping in the air and wrapping her arms and legs around him. She kissed him full on the lips, taking him by surprise. After a good snog, Draco pulled his lips from hers. "Wow, that was unexpected." His smirk once more playing on his lips.

 

She slowly climbed down from him and smiled. "It's over, Draco. Eight years later, so much has changed. You have gone from a complete prat" She playfully joked with him. "to the most wonderful man I have ever known." She kissed him again, gently this time. They walked hand in hand back to their dorms to collect their things, smiles plastered on their faces.

 

They quickly gathered their belongings and headed towards the front of the castle. They shrank down the bags and sent them with Draco's owl Rolen to their flat. Blaise and Pansy were already standing on the lawn in front of the castle, waiting for them. Draco and Hermione paused to say goodbye to their friends.

 

Hermione hugged Blaise and Pansy, wishing them the best of luck. Blaise would be joining George at the joke shop, helping him to open a new location in Hogsmeade. Pansy planned to take the next year and travel the world.

 

"Goodbye to the two of you. Please Pansy, come visit when you make it back to England. And Blaise, you are more than welcome at our place any time." Hermione couldn't help but get emotional at the goodbye. It was more about leaving the castle, though. She knew that she would see her friends again, eventually. Hogwarts had been her home for the better part of the last decade and she looked up at the castle and smiled as she reminisced over the many adventures she had found with Harry, Ron, Ginny, and now Draco in this castle.

 

Blaise was the one to respond. "Absolutely, I will make sure I come visit. Maybe sooner than later." He winked at Hermione and Pansy slapped him, before pulling him towards the door. Hermione rolled her eyes, praying that Blaise would give them at least a few days to get settled in their new home before he dropped by unannounced.  She could not help but smile at his statement though, again in awe of the drastic changes that had taken place in the past year.

 

Draco turned to Hermione. "Are you ready for this?" She nodded and they slowly crossed the grounds towards the apparition point.

 

They arrived soon after in the lobby of Malfoy Tower, the building where their flat was located. It was a primarily wizard office and flat building, but some of the employees were muggles, so they had a concealed a section of the lobby for wizards and witches to apparate to and out from.

 

Hermione walked excitedly to the lift, pressing the button with her wand before Draco was fully inside. This would be the first time she would see the space with all of the decor in place.  Hermione was practically bursting with excitement as the lift slowly climbed to their flat.

 

She ran out as soon as the door opened and screamed. There, spread throughout the newly renovated space where all of her friends and loved ones. Harry and Ginny were there grinning like cheshire cats, their hands intertwined while Teddy bounced happily on his lap. Ron was in the back of the room looking bored as he draped his arm over Cho's shoulder. Mr and Mrs Weasley were there as well, the latter looking as though she was about to cry. Bill and Fleur were there, along with Charlie, George, and even Percy. Neville sat on one of the couches with Luna on his lap, along with Dean, Seamus, and the Patil twins. Blaise and Pansy were there, Hermione looked at them questioningly and they both just smiled back in a knowing way. Hermione was surprised to see Andromeda standing near Narcissa and Professor McGonagall on the far side of the room until she remembered that Andromeda was not just the grandmother to Harry's godson Teddy, she was also Draco's aunt.

 

Hermione nearly fainted when she saw the last two people. There, sitting on the edge of another couch, was her mother and father. She ran to them, wrapping her arms around both of them. Tears immediately formed in her eyes. "How? When?" She was at a total loss for words. She turned back to Draco, tears now running down her face. "Did you? How did you find them?"

 

"That is a story for later, love." He took her hand leading her back to the front of the room to face their guests. She looked up at him, eyes wide. She was wondering why everyone was so excited just to see their new place.

 

"I guess you are wondering why I invited everyone here tonight." Draco pulled a small black box from his pocket, dropping down onto one one knee in front of her. Hermione’s hands flew to her mouth as the tears began to fall anew.

 

“Hermione Jean Granger, I love you with all of my heart and soul. After being surrounded by evil for most of my life, you have shown me there is so much good in the world. You have become my reason for living. I want to fall asleep and wake up next to you every day for the rest of my life. Would you do me the great honor of becoming my wife?”

 

Hermione’s hands remained on her mouth, as she shook her head yes. The tears continued to flow steadily from her eyes. Draco gently took her left hand, placing on her 4th finger the most beautiful ring Hermione had ever seen. It was platinum, with a large princess cut diamond in the middle, surrounded by countless sapphires. It was perfectly accented by the bracelet Draco had given her for Christmas, that she was wearing. Draco stood and pulled her into his arms. “I love you so much, Hermione.” A single tear fell from Draco’s eye. He could not remember ever being so happy in his whole life.

 

Hermione pulled away from Draco, holding tight to his hand. She led him around the room, thanking each of her friends for being a part of this special evening.  After making their rounds, she pulled him behind her, stopping in front of where her parents sat. She pulled them into another hug before beginning her inquisition. “Ok, how did this happen? Draco, how did you find them?”

 

“The first thing I did was to ask for a little help from the ministry." He winked at Harry who had begun his auror training, and who Hermione guessed had been his "help".  "Whenever a spell like your obliviate is performed on a muggle, the ministry receives notification and keeps a trace on the affected muggles. So, I had a general location of where to find them. I went one evening while you were shopping with my mum. I bought a local newspaper to look for any indication of where I might find them when I saw an ad for their dental practice staring up at me. The names were different, but I knew your mother the moment I saw her picture. You have her smile, love.” Her mother tried to hold back a sob. “I went right to the office, making it just before closing time. I had quite a time explaining myself once removing the memory charm. They seemed to remember you telling them how horrible I had been to you in our previous years.” The room had grown quiet as everyone listened intently to the story.

 

“I finally showed them a picture that we had taken Christmas morning. After a lot more explaining, they finally said they could not deny the love in our eyes. I know you wanted to go to find them yourself, but I wanted to ask your father’s permission to marry you. I hope you understand. It was only just last week when I brought them back here, and it has been awful trying to keep the secret from you. Luckily you were so worried about your NEWTs that you didn't seem to notice how nervous I was.”

 

Hermione sobbed, trying to speak between her tears. “Draco, of course it is ok.” sniff  “You asked my father?” sniff  “That is so sweet.” She pulled him close to her, sobbing into his shoulder. There were soft sniffles all around the room as Mrs. Weasley, Ginny, Narcissa, and even Pansy shed tears of joy for the happy couple.

 

The party lasted well into the night. The students were happy to be finished with exams, the adults were enjoying one more night together before everyone went their separate ways to begin their own lives.  

 

Luna and Neville were the first to go, and approached the couple to say their goodbyes. Dean, Seamus, Ron and Cho were next. Ron hugged Hermione and shook Draco's hand. He was genuinely happy for the couple. He would not ever forget the pain and suffering that Draco had caused, but he could see that Hermione loved him.

 

The Weasley clan left soon after, Harry and Ginny in tow, then Professor McGonagall, followed by Andromeda and Teddy. "Congratulations to the two of you. I am so proud of you Draco. You have become a wonderful young man and I cannot wait to see where you two end up."  Draco smiled, hugging his aunt. He was happy that they had rekindled their relationship during the school year. She and his mother had been there for eachother when he could not be.

 

After everyone had gone, Narcissa waved her wand, putting the flat back in order. She walked to Draco and Hermione, whose hands had not left each other. She pulled them each in turn into a hug before leaving them alone and retiring to her room.

 

Draco looked at Hermione. She looked tired but excited. "Big day." It was all she could think to sum up all that had happened in the past 24 hours.

 

"Welcome home, Hermione." He led her into their bedroom where they both changed into their night clothes, and laid in their bed.

 

As Hermione laid waiting for her sleep to finally come, she couldn't help but think to herself. I do not know exactly how our futures will play out, but I know one thing. As long as this man sleeping beside me is part of it, I will be the happiest girl in England. She finally fell into a restful sleep, a smile stuck on her lips.


 

Author Note: Well, that is it for this story. I am already working on the next part of their lives together. The title will be "A New Reality" and will be the story about our favorite witches and wizards as they leave Hogwarts for the real world. If you have any requests for the next story, leave me some feedback. Less Draco/Hermione? More Harry/Ginny? Let me know what you think.




Thanks again for reading everyone. This is the first thing of any kind that I have ever written and I cannot believe it is done (or maybe not)


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