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Lonely by allyourwishes

Format: Novel
Chapters: 16
Word Count: 54,832
Status: WIP

Rating: Mature
Warnings: Contains profanity, Mild violence, Strong violence, Scenes of a mild sexual nature, Scenes of a sexual nature

Genres: Drama, Romance, Action/Adventure
Characters: Harry, Ron, Hermione, Draco
Pairings: Harry/Ginny

First Published: 09/10/2020
Last Chapter: 09/27/2020
Last Updated: 10/14/2020

Summary:

Hermione finds herself alone at school after the war. Harry and Ron have both moved on, but to study wizard law she must complete her final year. She can't believe how alone and empty the castle feels without her friends, and let's face it she's never been good at making any. As she settles into a new normal at the castle, she finds herself face to face with none other than Draco Malfoy. With a simple promise to herself, she finds herself in the midst of something she never thought she'd want. Is she willing to do what she has to for herself? Or will she give up on what seems to be a hopeless cause? Most importantly, will her heart survive the hell she's about to put it through. 



Chapter 1: Chapter 1
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Hermione Granger was not at all prepared for the Hogwarts Express to stop at the platform in Hogsmeade. All summer she had waited for this. For things to return to some sense of normalcy, but things were not normal at least not the way they used to be. The month after the Battle of Hogwarts had been a blur of memorials and celebrations and cleanup and so much more that her head hurt just to think about it. It was after July that things began to change. The dust settled and people started back to their normal lives. She had spent so long with Harry and Ron it had felt weird to leave them and return to her muggle home. Her parents had been retrieved and their memories restored by Kingsley Shacklebolt, the minister of magic himself. Telling them where she’d been and what had been going on for the last seven years of her life wasn’t easy. They were frightened. They were proud. They were scared. They were also sad, sad that so much had happened and she hadn’t trusted them with it. The last month of them watching her over meals and sneaking looks when they thought she couldn’t see was something she just couldn’t stand anymore. She was more than ready to return to Hogwarts and finish her last year, if just to get a break. Or so she thought she was. 
 

Shortly after leaving the Burrow, she received two owls on the same night. The first was an offer from Kingsley for an immediate auror position at the ministry. The second were letters from both Harry and Ron saying they had accepted Kingley’s offer and would not be returning to school. They both felt their abilities had gone beyond what school could teach them. While they weren’t entirely wrong, Hermione wanted to study law. She wanted to make a difference in the world for muggle borns and magical creatures. To do that she would need to go back and finish her N.E.W.Ts. Kingsley has changed a lot but he would not allow her to practice wizard law until she completed her final year. She had thought Harry and Ron would be coming with her. Now she felt her heart sink at the thought of going back alone. Of course Luna and Ginny would be there finishing as well, but they weren’t Harry and Ron. She’d sent Kingsley back her plans and a letter to Ron and Harry congratulating them but that she had chosen a different path. As usual, Harry was understanding a supportive while Ron was in disbelief over her decision to return. Their relationship had not gone well. 
 

After a heated kiss in the midst of battle, Hermione had thought that they would have a normal relationship. Ron was not on the same page. Ron wanted sex. Hermione wasn’t ready for that yet. With their celebrity status, there was no shortage of girls throwing themselves at Harry and Ron. Harry only had eyes for Ginny, but Ron wanted to sow some wild oats. She didn’t begrudge him this. Their relationship had always been awkward at best. Their friendship was all the better for it. They had taken a chance. It hadn’t worked and they seemed to be just fine with it. Though she would miss him as much as she would Harry for the next nine months. She would probably see them at Christmas she reminded herself. Harry and Ron were roomies in a flat they had rented near the ministry. She’d been to visit a few times and for two boys, it was surprisingly lovely. She could have been their third she thought wistfully. 

 

“Stop it!” She scolded herself. “This is the life you want and you’ll be with them soon enough. It’s only nine months.”
 

Now here she sat alone in the compartment for Head Girl on the Hogwarts Express about to go back to an old life without her old friends. And of course it was raining. She sighed and pulled her cloak out of her suitcase before latching it back. She pulled the thick velvet over her shoulders and the hood over her head. She opened the door to the compartment and stepped out into the car. Other students were crowding at the doors and shoving. 
 

“Mind your manners.” She shouted over the students. She was after all Head Girl. Where were the bloody prefects? She turned to look for Luna. She was the only prefect she knew so far and figured her blonde head would be easy to find. Not being very tall she couldn’t see much over the sea of black school robes. She made to move past a group of students, and caught her foot on the hem of her cloak. She pitched forward grabbing the closest thing she could find to catch herself. 

“Watch what you’re doing Granger!” A snotty voice screamed at her. She’d recognize it anywhere. Draco Malfoy. Of all the students finishing their final year she never dreamed he would be one of them. 

“Malfoy?” She asked incredulously. 

“Watch where the hell you're going next time.” He shouted and shrugged her arm off of the shoulder that she’d used to steady herself. He shoved past her, knocking her into the wall. He was taller than most and she watched his white blonde hair disappear off the train and up the path still speechless. 
 

No Harry. No Ron. And now Malfoy. She wondered idly if it was too late to start auror training. She pushed the thought away. Dark wizard catching was not what she wanted to do with her life. 
 

She performed her Head Girl duties and checked the remainder of the compartments to make sure all the students made it off the train. By the time she made it out onto the platform only a few prefects and the Head Boy, whom she did not know, were straggling behind. Malfoy stood away from the others but still behind the rest of the school. She’d nearly forgotten he was a prefect. 
 

The rain was coming down in sheets now and she did not envy the first years and their boat ride. Two carriages pulled by thestrals, which she could now see, stopped in front of their party. She finally spotted Ginny and hurried over to climb into her carriage. Sadly they were followed by Malfoy after the occupants of the other carriage refused to let him in. 
 

“Great, stuck with the mudblood and the blood traitor.” He scoffed as he took a seat as far away as he could manage. 

“You can always walk.” Ginny smarted back. To Hermione’s surprise he did not respond. 
 

The carriage rocked forward and he crossed his arms and stared at the rain out the window. His scowl was so deep Hermione thought it might be permanent. 
 

“Ignore him.” Ginny snapped as they rolled up the hill. “Clearly he’s learned nothing in the last year. He’s not even worth the air he’s breathing.” She gave him a mean look that he didn’t acknowledge. Not for the first time, Hermione felt sympathy for the boy. 
 

She could only imagine what it must be like to have parents like his, to never know love and hugs and kindness. Not that that excused his cruel behavior. It was classic nature vs nurture. He’d been taught to be cruel and hate, but the  she’d been taught she was a normal human. People were capable of changing. They just had to want to. He’d been a bully since she met him and that didn’t seem to be changing despite his side switching at the end of the war. He’d only done it to save himself. She couldn’t wait to owl Harry and Ron and get their opinions on this new development. She was dying to know why he’d returned when he was so clearly hated or at the very least disliked by his peers. The Slytherins surely thought him a traitor. The rest of the school thought he was an evil coward. So why come back at all? The question ate at her mind. Hermione Granger did not believe in questions to which she would not find an answer. 
 

The carriage finally reached the school and Malfoy disembarked before it came to a complete stop. She and Ginny followed his blonde head up the castle steps to the great hall. The school had been restored after the battle. All of the original structure had been rebuilt. It looked exactly the same as she remembered it. When she entered the great hall though she knew much had changed. The students at the tables were younger than she remembered. The staff table had a few adjustments as well. McGonagall was headmistress though she had decided to keep teaching transfiguration. Slughorn, Hagrid, Professors Trelawney, Flitwick, and Sprout were all there as well. She didn’t recognize the new astronomy professor. However, Fleur Delacour gave her a friendly wave. She was to be the new Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor. Other than that the hall looked the same. The cheery candlelight danced around the room reflecting off the golden dishes. She wished with all her heart that Harry and Ron were waiting for her at the Gryffindor table. She felt tears threaten as she took her seat beside Ginny. Hogwarts itself was the same, but her life was so incredibly different. The only person who looked more miserable than she felt was Malfoy. He sat quite alone at the end of the Slytherin table. The arrogant expression never slipped from his face, though Hermione noticed an imperceptible shift of his body that told her he was as uncomfortable as she felt. 
 

 



Chapter 2: Chapter 2
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By the time the sorting and the start of term feast had fizzled out and Hermione found herself alone in her Head Girl dorm she was exhausted. Her brain had worked her over good today with its wide range of emotion. She hadn’t had nearly the time she required to process all of the latest changes. Hogwarts without Harry and Ron didn’t feel quite so homey. Even more troublesome was Draco Malfoy. Why of all the things he could have done post war had he come back to school? Mister Malfoy had been captured and locked away. She’d heard Narcissa had fled to the US to escape. She had mistakenly assumed that Draco had gone with her. She pulled out her quill and jotted a quick letter to Harry asking if he could find out anything about Malfoy at the ministry. She’d drop it off to one of the school owls and have it sent first thing in the morning. For now, all she wanted was a hot bath and some sleep. She swapped into her robe and grabbed her shower bag before heading out to the prefects bathroom. She only had a half hour before prefects curfew.
 

She could hear the back to school celebrations echoing throughout Gryffindor tower. Her more studious half pushed her to go and tell them to get to bed, but she was just too tired to deal with it. She climbed out of the portrait hole and made her way over the bathroom. The lamps were still lit and the room glowed bright and gold. She turned on all the taps and shrugged out of her bathrobe. The scent of the various bubble baths already calming her. She slipped into the pool sized tub and sighed in content. 
 

Surely Hogwarts would feel more normal tomorrow. She was just being silly. She thought this to herself as the hot water soaked into her bones making her feel limber and relaxed. She couldn’t mark how late it was when she finally forced herself out of the magically heated water. She hadn’t felt so wonderful since she’d left Harry and Ron at the burrow on July thirty first. She dried herself on one of the fluffy towels that were kept stocked on the shelves around the tub and shrugged back into her robe. She slipped on her flip flops and opened the door to exit the bathroom. As she stepped out of the doorway she ran right into something hard. There was no catching herself this time and she cursed her clumsiness and she hit the stone floor with a hard smack and the contents of her bag went rolling across the floor. 

“God Granger, didn’t I tell you to watch where the fuck you were going once today?” She looked up from the floor at Draco Malfoy standing an a green and black plaid robe. Which reminded her her own was hiked up around her hips and she hurriedly righted herself. 
 

“Did you ever think that it’s you who keeps running into me you selfish prat?” She shouted as she picked herself up off the cold floor. 
 

“No, of course not,” He smirked. “Everyone knows you have all the grace of an elephant.”

 

”Really this is such a lovely chat, but I think I’d like to go to bed now,” she scrambled to pick up her things and walk away. Malfoy grabbed her arm as she walked by. 
 

“You should watch how you speak to me Granger.” He snarled digging his fingertips into her shoulder. 
 

“Let go of me!” She pulled her wand and pointed it at his chest almost laughing at the comparison to third year. “It’s you who should watch yourself. You haven’t got any friends or followers these days Malfoy. What are you even doing back here?” 
 

He released her arm as if her skin burned him. His anger slipped for just a moment and she saw a shimmer of, could that be sadness? Behind his stormy grey eyes. Before she could analyze it too much he schooled his expression back to arrogant anger. 
 

“Careful Granger, not all the bad guys have been locked away.” He shrugged her off and turned to go into the bath. 
 

“Why did you come back?” She asked before he let the door swing shut behind him. 
 

“Haven’t your ministry friends told you?” He asked angrily. 
 

“No, should they?” She snarled back. 
 

“I expect they will soon enough.” And with that he let the door swing shut.
 

She knew the bathroom wouldn’t  allow anyone else to enter while it was occupied. Though she was curious about that last statement, she didn’t try to follow. She had a feeling it was already well past curfew and it wouldn’t look very good if the head girl got caught breaking the rules in her first night back. She figured she’d spend a restless night worrying about everything despite this being the year she had the least to worry over, but she was out before her head hit the pillow. 
 

                          ************
 

The next morning was a scramble as it always was. She helped McGonagall roam up and down Gryffindor table handing out schedules to her classmates and the underclassman. She’d barely had time to cram a bite of toast in her mouth before it was time to start her first class. Mercifully it was Care of Magical Creatures with Hagrid. She’d never been fond of Hagrid’s lessons, but she couldn’t very well vouch for the rights of magical creatures if she didn’t get an Outstanding on her N. E. W. T. in the class. The weather was lovely with the sun shining through the clouds and she smiled as she made her way across the grounds. Hogwarts was feeling better already. She was a strong independent witch who had helped save the world. Many of the younger witches and wizards and even some of her fellow seventh years looked at her as if she was their saviour. Of course that was more Harry than her. 
 

Hagrid greeted her warmly as she met him near the edge of the forest. He scooped her into a back breaking hug before smiling at her with tears in his eyes. 
 

“Alrigh’ there Hermione? I’m so glad ye’ve come back. In even more glad you’re taking me subject again. And it’s all thanks to you Harry and Ron that we get to be here and smile in the sun. I can never thank you three enough.” He smiled at her and she felt her cheeks heat. She was never one to do well with flattery. 

“Anyone who could have done it would have Hagrid. We were just the ones who drew the short straws.” She shrugged and looked at the ground. 
 

“There was a reason it was you three. Now enough with the pleasantries,” he said adjusting his large leather belt. “I’ve got a bit of a favour to ask ye and it’s not a pleasant task.” 
 

“Please Hagrid, no dragons!” Hermione cried recalling their first year experience with Norbert. 
 

“I’s not dragons though ye may wish it were when you find out what it is, come on let’s go greet your classmates.” He led her over to the group gathered a few feet away. She recognized a few friendly faces and on the outskirts of the crowd once again was Draco Malfoy. 
 

He looked quite strange every time she saw him without Crabbe and Goyle next to him. Of course with Goyle being dead and Crabbe being in prison there was no chance of ever seeing that again. He was quite striking on his own. Usually surrounded by their bulk she hadn’t noticed he’d grown several inches far exceeding six foot and filled out quite a bit from the skinny boy she remembered. No one was paying him any mind as they clustered around Hagrid. She thought she saw that arrogant look slip once more before he caught her looking at him. Like a rubber band, it snapped back into place. She really needed someone to tell her why he was here when he so clearly wasn’t happy. 
 

“Gather round class,” Hagrid’s voice boomed over their heads and the chatter ceased. “As you all know there were a great many casualties from the war and the battle here at Hogwarts. Our creature friends have suffered and we need to help them out. Your assignment for the next couple weeks will be to write me an essay on the effects of wars on wildlife. After we complete the essays we’ll move on to some conservation efforts in the forest. I’ve decided to make this a team effort and I’ve already paired you off so listen up now.”

 

Hermione listened for her name as Hagrid read over his list. She wasn’t worried. Essays were her bread and butter so it didn’t really matter who her partner was. Even if he was a slack off she’d still get a perfect grade. It was the hands on aspect of CoMC that she’d always disliked. 
 

“And las’ but not leas’, Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy.” Hagrid called before he rolled up the parchment. She looked at Hagrid with her mouth gaped open. How could he? He gave her a sympathetic look and strode her way. Malfoy didn’t move from his spot, but looked particularly furious at this latest development. 
 

“Why are you doing this to me? He’s a death eater.” She whined to Hagrid. His big eyes were soft as he looked down at her. 
 

“Its not a punishment Hermione. None of the other students will work with him. McGonagall told me his own house calls him a traitor and the rest of the students aren’t much better. He may have been a death eater, but now he’s a student and I’m his professor. Dumbledore forgave him and I reckon he’d want me to make sure he had a partner who would at least treat him fairly.” Hagrid placed his over large hand on her shoulder and she sighed. He was absolutely right. Personal feelings aside, Malfoy had a right to be here. 
 

“I suppose you’re right. It’s only a bit of studying and an essay. That’s what I’m best at.” She smiled up at Hagrid and he looked relieved. 
 

“Good girl Hermione! Now I’ve got a few chores to catch up on so I’m sending you lot up to the library. I expect the Head Girl to mind them for the hour.” Hagrid winked at her and she sighed again. He gave the orders and everyone went trotting up to the library. Everyone except Malfoy. 
 

“Well come on then, we’ve got studying to do.” She called to him. He fixed her with a hard stare and she rolled her eyes. This was going to be a challenge. 
 

“I’m not going to help you write a dumb essay for that oaf. It’s bad enough I have to be here. Even worse I get paired up with a mudblood for an assignment.” He sneered. 
 

The word meant nothing to her anymore. People could say whatever they wanted. Her reaction to it was what gave it power. His eyebrow raised almost imperceptibly at her non reaction. 
 

“Oh grow up! I don’t give a damn if you want to do it or not. I’ll do it myself. I need good grades if I’m to have the career I want and I won’t have you spoiling it. Help me or don’t. It’s your future you’re spitting on.” She yelled. She hadn’t meant to yell but his smug expression had her blood boiling. He looked even more pleased at her outburst. 
 

“Why aren’t you out there fighting crime with your friends?” He asked. 
 

“Why aren’t you in America with your disgraced mother?” She countered. 
 

He strode toward her so fast she had no time to react. This time it was his wand against her chest. Her heart pounded in her chest. Surely he wasn’t going to curse her like this on school grounds?

 

“Never mention my family again.” His voice had the barely controlled calm of the insane when he spoke. Though she’d rather not admit it, it chilled her to the bone. He pulled his wand away and tucked it back in his pocket. 
 

“I have friends in very high places, Malfoy. You’d do well not to threaten me. Perhaps you should leave if you’d rather not do assignments.” And with that she stormed off towards the castle. 
 

“If only I could,” he whispered sadly. Hermione, however, did not hear him. 



Chapter 3: Chapter 3
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The next couple weeks at school passed much the same as they always had. Students adjusted to new schedules and new classes and the chill of Autumn had just barely started to seep in. Hermione completed her schoolwork with ease. She spent the bulk of her spare time in the library reading up on wizard law books and cases of creatures and muggle borns who had been treated unfairly by the Wizarding world. The library was where she found herself the night the owl arrived. 
 

 She was sitting in the corner next to one of the round windows. She had been engrossed in one of her texts, and hadn’t noticed darkness creeping over the grounds as night settled in. The tap of the talon on the window startled her, and her book dropped to the floor making a loud smack that caused her to jump again. She took a deep breath to slow her pounding heart and unlatched the window. She took the letter from the owl and he flew off toward the owlery. She tore the letter open excitedly and read it as quickly as she could, which for Hermione was pretty quick. 
 

“Dear Hermione,

 

Everything is going well for us at the ministry. We’ve continued to round up Riddle’s followers. I hope all is well at school for you, Ginny (yes I wrote her too), and Luna. As for Malfoy, we don’t know a lot , but I can tell you he’s been ordered by the ministry to finish school. If he refused to go back they were going to send him to Azkaban. I know he switched sides after the war, but I don’t trust him. He always has a hidden agenda. Be safe and stay well Hermione. We’re sending our best your way and can’t wait to have you hear with us in a few months. 
 

                                               With love,

                                               Harry

 

P. S. Ron says hello. Says he’s to busy to write, but we both know he just doesn’t want to.”

 

Hermione rolled the letter up and stuck it into her bag. She picked her book up off the floor, but she didn’t go back to reading. Harry’s letter had given her much to think about. To what end had the ministry sent Malfoy back to Hogwarts? Surely they would prefer him away with his mother where he couldn’t cause problems. Then again, perhaps it was better they kept an eye on him. In any case, it cleared up why Malfoy was so miserable here. Not only was he not receiving a warm welcome but he was being forced to study and take classes. School had to be better than a year with Voldemort. At least it was in her own mind. His return was certainly a puzzle. Luckily for Hermione she was quite  fond of puzzles. 

“Haven’t you read them all by now?” Hermione jumped at the voice and her book hit the floor once again. 
 

“You shouldn’t sneak up on people,” she growled as she bent to pick up the book once more. She was surprised to Malfoy in the library. He was rarely seen outside of his classes these days. 
 

“You should pay more attention.” Malfoy scoffed at her and she rolled her eyes. 
 

“Yes Malfoy nothing is ever your fault. What is it you want now? I’m about to head to bed.” He was testing her patients more than usual this year. 
 

“I don’t want anything from you. You however might want this.” He tossed a roll of parchment onto the table. 
 

Hermione unrolled it and written across the top in tiny loopy handwriting was “The Effects Of War in the Wild” by Draco Malfoy. 

  
“You did the assignment?” She asked incredulously. 
 

“Of course, why wouldn’t I?” He asked like she had the intelligence of a teaspoon. 
 

“You said you weren’t going to.” She answered and it was his turn to roll his eyes. 
 

“Good grades are a condition of my...” he stopped mid-sentence and glanced around. “Good grades are important to me now,” he corrected whatever he had been about to say.  

 

Good grades must be a condition of his probation. Hermione pondered this for a moment. She considered bringing it up but figured now wasn’t the best time. She wasn’t sure how confidential it was supposed to be. 
 

“Well thanks. I’ll add it to mine to turn in on Friday.” She couldn’t quite smile at him, but she did manage to give what she thought was an encouraging nod. 
 

“Okay,” and with that he turned to walk away. 
 

“Malfoy?” She called after him. To her immense surprise he stopped. 
 

“What is it Granger?” I have things to do. 
 

“If you ever need help on assignments, I could help you study.” She didn’t know what possessed her to make the offer. Perhaps it was the need to share knowledge. Perhaps it was the small amount of sympathy she kept feeling for the Slytherin. 
 

“Why on Earth would I want tour help?” He snarled. 
 

“Because I’m offering and it’s not like people are lining up to be tour study partner.” She answered calmly. 
 

“Maybe not, but I’m pretty intelligent. Just because those imbeciles you call friends are daft doesn’t mean all of the male students here are. I do fine on my own.” He had stepped back toward her and she looked him over. 
 

His eyes were bloodshot as if he hadn’t been sleeping. His hair wasn’t nearly a tidy as he usually kept it, and despite filling out on the last year she could tell he’d lost a fair amount of weight in the recent weeks. Her sympathy reared it’s head again, and she took a deep breath. 
 

“I was only trying to help, Malfoy.” She answered calmly once more. 
 

“Well don’t. I certainly don’t need help from someone like you.” His face was contorted in anger once more, thought the arrogance seemed to have faded. 
 

She gathered her things and prepared to leave the library. Malfoy watched silently as she packed up, unsure if he should leave or not. As she moved to brush last him she stopped to tell him one last thing. As she inhaled to speak she noticed he smelled strongly of mint. 
 

“The war is over Malfoy. You don’t have to like me. We don’t need to be friends. There are no sides anymore though. If you want to be enemies then you’ll be enemies on your own. I don’t have it in me to fight with anyone anymore.”  She left him staring after her as she exited the library. 
 

Malfoy had never given the idea much though, but as usual Granger was right. There were no sides to be on now. Of course evil would rise again in some form, but he could not seek it out. He did not want to join anymore dark wizard armies. He just wanted to be left alone. To do that, he would have to suffer through another eight months of school. He wasn’t brave enough to break the rules anymore. With that thought clouding his brain, he headed back for the dungeons. Back to the people who hated him. They didn’t understand though. They didn’t know what it was like to live with Voldemort. He wasn’t just evil to those who opposed him. He was inherently evil to all. He would dare any one of them to try what he had done and walk away alive if he could. They didn’t care about his opinions anymore. He had no friends. He had no family. He had no respect. The Malfoy name was dirt. The only thing he had left was money. He’d never been one to think it before, but there were some things money could not fix. Money could not cure loneliness. He’d never minded being alone when his friends, or rather followers, were not around, but he knew they’d come running if necessary. Being alone was not the same as being lonely. So lonely in fact that he’d spoken to Hermione Granger multiple times in the last few weeks just to have a conversation. She seemed the only one willing to not treat him like dirt beneath their feet. How had he sunk so low that only that bushy haired know-it-all would speak to him? Surely he was bound to awaken from this nightmare. Although this nightmare was better than the alternative. He for one was not sorry Voldemort was dead. 
 

********************************
 

Hermione found herself thinking of Malfoy even more as she headed back to her dorm. It was plain to see he was suffering, and she hated to see anyone suffer. She did concede that a bit of suffering was not unwarranted in the case of Draco Malfoy, but all the same weren’t they all worthy of forgiveness? They had all made choices during the war, some of them impossible. Not all of Malfoy’s had been deplorable. He’d refused to identify them at the manor house, giving them valuable time to escape. He’d refused to take part in any kind of torture while they had been there, though he did nothing to stop it either. She wouldn’t soon forget him watching as Bellatrix had tortured her nearly beyond her limits. She’d thought she’d saw that same imperceptible sadness then, but she’d written it off. Malfoys simply did not pity those who were not pure bloods. Now, however, she wasn’t quite so sure. Perhaps Draco Malfoy wasn’t the smug arrogant jerk he pretended to be. Perhaps underneath all the bravado there was a sad little boy who had never known kindness, for money and wealth were not the same as kindness and love. Harry, for example, had grown up poor and abused and never shown much kindness was incredibly selfless and loved his friends dearly. Perhaps knowing that his parents had loved him and hoping for something better is what kept him going. Draco had never known or thought of something better. He had been taught that what he had was the best and there was no better. 
 

How terribly sad, Hermione thought to herself. As she changed into her pajama bottoms and a matching camisole she made a new promise to herself. She would show Malfoy kindness so long as he deserved. She would not be kind when he was being insulting or mean, but she wouldn’t retaliate either. It was going to be kindness or indifference from here on out. Plus there was the added bonus that if she didn’t react to his insults he may grow tired of using them. 



Chapter 4: Chapter 4
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The morning dawned dark and wet at the castle. The rain pounded at the windows and the thunder could be heard even in the dungeons. The charmed ceiling of the Great Hall churned with grey and black clouds over breakfast. Hermione was quite dreading the walk to Herbology in the rain as she ate some toast and bacon. She turned to Ginny to ask her to pass the pumpkin juice when a commotion broke out at the Slytherin table. 
 

“What’s going on?” Ginny asked her, craning her neck to see over the heads of other students. 
 

“I have no idea, but it’s pretty bold of someone to start something in front of the professors.” She nodded at the staff table where Hagrid was already making his way over to the crowd in the far side of the room. 
 

“Break it up! Break it up!” Hagrid’s voice echoed through the room. “What’s goin on here?” He asked as the students parted for him. 
 

When the students moved to the side, Hermione could see Malfoy holding another Slytherin by the front of his robes with his wand pointed at his neck. She gasped in shock. No one had ever threatened anyone so openly at Hogwarts before. Tensions were running high. Malfoy did not lower his wand when Hagrid asked him too. 
 

“Alrigh’ then, both of ye to the Headmistress right now!” Hagrid’s voice boomed throughout the hall. Hagrid rarely got angry, but she could tell he had had enough. He grabbed both boys by the collar and half carried them from the hall. Hermione and Ginny watched in awe as the hall doors slammed shut after them. 
 

“What was that about?” Ginny asked. 
 

“I have no idea. Hagrid told me weeks ago that Malfoy was having a rough go of it. His own housemates hate him. I guess he snapped. You know how Malfoy is,” Hermione shrugged and went back to her breakfast. That unwelcome sympathy clawed at her once more. 
 

“Well come on then. We’ve got Herbology.” Ginny told her as she grabbed her bag and stood up off the bench. Hermione followed suit.
 

They headed for the heavy castle doors only to be met by Professor Sprout. 
 

“No greenhouses today class! They’re starting to flood and it’s all I can do to keep up with the water. Please use this time to study. I’ll have a short summary of the chapter on Dittany to be handed in tomorrow. It needn’t be more than a half a roll of parchment. Off you go.” The professor motioned them back toward the castle steps before magically donning a raincoat and some goulashes and heading back out into the storm. Hermione jumped as the thunder cracked when the doors opened. She watched Professor Sprout disappear around the castle. 
 

“Well now what? Fancy a game of chess?” Ginny asked quirking her eyebrows up. She greatly shared Ron’s talent for the game. She always left Hermione miserably defeated. 
 

“No thanks, Ginny. I think I’ll go up to the library and knock out that summary. I need to get some new books anyway.” Hermione smiled to Ginny. Ginny was her only girl best friend. She sometimes felt bad that she didn’t share more common interests with the girl. Ginny was all games and quidditch and curses. Hermione preferred books and puzzles and studying. 
 

“Alright then. I’ll see you at dinner!” Ginny smiled at her before trotting up the stairs, reminding Hermione why she loved her. Ginny would never care that they had no common interests. 
 

A while later Hermione found herself in the library once more. It wasn’t as empty as she would’ve liked with the other Herbology students also working, but she found a quiet corner amongst the shelves beside a window to read. It took her precious little time to finish her work for class. She found herself engrossed once again in the book she’d been unable to read last night due to interruptions.  She was finally getting into a chapter when chaos ensued  again. She stood up to investigate. When she turned the corner she saw a group of Slytherin fourth years casting dirty looks at Malfoy who was reading quietly in the corner. 
 

“No one wants you here. Why did you come back? You’re a traitor to your own people.” One of them, a tall thin boy with dark brown hair, scoffed at him. To his credit Malfoy did not acknowledge them. 
 

“That’s quite enough!” She snapped at the group. “The library is a common area. If you don’t care for the company I suggest you go to your own dormitory.” 

 

“Who are you to tell us what to do?” The dark-haired boy turned on her. 
 

“I’m head girl. Twenty points from Slytherin for being a bully and being rude now off you go!” She scolded. They acted like they wanted to argue, but Madam Pince had strolled over and cleared her throat. The boys quickly gathered their things and left the library. Madam Pince gave her a slight nod and returned to her desk.   
 

She glanced at Malfoy who was trying very hard to pretend he wasn’t watching her. He finally glanced her way with an agitated breath. 
 

“If you’re waiting on a thank you, you won’t be getting it.” He said rolling his eyes. 
 

“I don’t want your thanks, Malfoy. I was just trying to help.” She turned to return to her own private corner. 
 

“I don’t need your help. I don’t need someone like you defending me from a bunch of fourths years. I can take care of myself. I merely did not think they were worth my breath.” He rolled his eyes at her and she sighed. He was testing her kindness patience already. 
 

“That’s fine, Malfoy. I was just doing my duty as head girl. Bullying isn’t allowed nor is noise in the library. Enjoy the rest of your day,” and she walked away. 
 

 Bloody hell, Malfoy thought to himself as he watched Granger walk away. When had he stooped so low as to need rescued from a bunch of kids by Hermione Granger. More importantly why did he feel the need to go wherever she was. It wasn’t as if he was going to speak to her or be her friend. Deep down, it was because he knew she would speak to him. No one else would. Even if they just spat insults at least she acknowledged him. He still didn’t need her butting her nose into his business. The idiots at this school were better left ignored. It was only worse if he fought back. He’d already been landed in McGonagall’s office once today for retaliation. His father was what he was, but he would not listen to children who did not know what they were saying speak ill of his mother. She had never had anymore of a choice than she had. It still wasn’t worth the warning he’d received in the headmistress office. 
 

“Mr. Malfoy, need I remind you of the terms of your agreement with myself and the ministry?” McGonagall has asked as he seated himself across the desk from her. 
 

“Of course not. I live that nightmare everyday.” He spat back at her. He saw her nostrils flare at the edges and figured he had better backpedal.  “I apologize for my actions. It won’t happen again.”  
 

“It best not.” She looked at him seriously and her expression softened. “I know things are difficult for you here at the moment. I would step in if I thought it would do any good. I fear it will only make the situation worse. You’ve been given a lot of leeway here over the years because of your father Draco. That’s over now. I’m not speaking ill of your family, but your father is not a role model I think you want to admire anymore. Some of us are fortunate enough to escape our raising. Do try to be one of them.”

 

Malfoy wasn’t quite sure what to say. The urge to defend his father was strong. Why should he want to escape his raising? He’d grown up with the best of everything. And you nearly died for it, the voice in his head whispered. He took a deep breath before speaking. 
 

“I know the terms. I didn’t use magic against another student. I don’t want your help. I just want this year to be over,” he yelled. 
 

“Lower your voice, Malfoy. I won’t be shouted at. I’ve spoken to Zavits about taunting people about their families. He will receive a detention. I will not give you a detention provided I don’t find you here again this year. Do I make myself clear?” She asked him. 
 

“Clear as glass. May I go now?” He asked her.  He was off the chair and out the door before she finished her nod. 
 

He had already missed half of his first lesson. There was no need to go now. When he’d heard the Hufflepuffs and Gryffindors  were dismissed from Herbology, he’d wandered up to the library. His intent was to read and be left alone. A small part of him also thought maybe he could find Granger and pick a fight. That idea had fizzled when he saw that the library was quite busy and there were too many witnesses. Which brought him back to sitting here watching her read in the corner. She always read by the windows. He liked to be near them too. Perhaps he wasn’t the only one who felt like a prisoner here. 
 

He needed to get his head on straight. Instead of sitting in libraries watching mudbloods, he needed to be more productive. He hadn’t lied about grades being important to him. Outstanding grades were a condition of his agreement with the ministry as was graduating. He would toe the line only as long as he had to. Then he would be free. He would escape to America with his mother and they would be happy. Or at the very least they would be away from the watchful eyes of everyone waiting for them to screw up again. The likelihood of that was next to zero. Neither of them wanted to be sharing a cell with Lucsious. Neither of them wanted to see another Dark Lord rise. Draco wanted to be left alone and his mother had always only wanted to keep him safe. Five years, he thought to himself. He was only seventeen. Five years until he could walk away from all of them. If he kept his word. His word had heretofore not been much good. This time he was going to keep it. For his own selfish reasons. Draco only ever did things for his own selfish reasons. 
 

********************************
 

Over the next several days Hermione found herself keeping an eye on Malfoy. She didn’t step in to stop anymore bullying. She’d found that her intervening had only caused more tension amongst the Slytherins. The more she watched him the more she saw of the sadness within him. His face slipped often when he thought no one was looking. It must be incredibly exhausting to keep up such a persona all the time. She’d thought she’d caught him watching her a few times as well. That had to be a figment of her imagination though. Malfoy hated her quite literally down to her blood. 
 

He spent nearly as much time in the library as she did. She suspected he did so to hide from his tormentors. Students used the library, sure, but aside from herself no one spent all of their time there. Slytherins in particular seemed to avoid it. He would find a table back in the stacks where no one would see him. He certainly did not strut about the castle like he once had, but there could be no mistaking the arrogance and contempt he still possessed. She felt sorry for him regularly now. He had truly lost everything. Her kindness project had not been forgotten. 
 

Over those few days before Friday she saw Malfoy more than she saw her own friends. She cited studying as an excuse, but she knew Ginny had noticed her absence. She made mention of it Thursday evening at dinner. 
 

“Hermione, I know your N. E. W. T. level and all, but we both know you’re going to kill those exams. It’s only mid-October. You’re going to study yourself mad.” Ginny lamented over a lovely shepherds pie. 
 

“Its not just about that, Ginny. I’m trying to focus on my career after this year. You should too you know.” She scolded her, knowing Ginny hoped to play quidditch. It would never be Hermione’s first choice, but Ginny was good and Harry also supported her decisions. 
 

“I’ll be fine. You on the other hand need a break. After quidditch practice tomorrow please come hang out with us in the common room. We’re having a bit of a pre season celebration.” She smiled and Hermione couldn’t help but share her enthusiasm. 
 

“I’ll try,” she promised. “Right now I’d just like to go get ready for bed.”

 

Hermione left the hall and retrieved her shower bag and robe from her room. Most of the students were still at dinner so she hoped to catch the prefect bathroom empty before it got too late. 
 

“Pine Fresh,” she called to the portrait. Before she could get the words out, the door swung outward and she jumped back. Malfoy collided with her yet again. She retained her grip on her things as well as her balance this time though. 
 

“I’m sorry,” she said remembering her promise to be kind. 
 

“You should be,” he shouted at her. His hair was damp from the shower and he was wearing what appeared to be black satin pajamas. “Why can’t you watch where you’re going?” 

 

“I said I was sorry, Malfoy. I’ll be more careful. May I use the bathroom now?” She asked politely. He looked momentarily confused, before switching it out for a mask of indifference. 
 

“I suppose so since I’m finished.” He skirted around her and strode off down the hallway. 
 

Hermione smiled to herself. That had been a success in her book. She’d been kind and polite. Of course he’d been an angry arsehole, but before he walked away he’d been almost civil. Progress was progress. There had been no verbal spar and no insults. Maybe her kindness was working. Maybe Malfoy was learning that he no longer had the power to intimidate others. Whatever the reason, Hermione was pleased with herself as she got ready for bed. 
 

Malfoy on the other hand was not so pleased with himself. Why hadn’t he yelled at her more? He’d practically held the door for the freak. This place was killing him inside. He’d stooped  so low as to speak to Granger in an almost civil manner. It was one thing to bait her into an argument to have human interaction. It was quite another to have a normal conversation. He would certainly not allow it to happen again. He was delighted that the other five beds in his dorm had remained empty this year, especially that night. He spent the night tossing and turning and dreaming about Hermione Granger. 



Chapter 5: Chapter 5
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The following morning they found themselves back in Care of Magical Creatures. Hermione was early, because that’s just what Hermione did. Hagrid was washing something in his water barrel when she strolled over to greet him. 
 

“Good morning, Hagrid,” she said politely. 
 

“Alright Hermione? Get your essay finished?” He asked with a knowing look. 
 

“Of course I did. Nearly two weeks ago.” She added grinning. 
 

“Were there any problems?” He asked her. 
 

“None that weren’t handled.” She pulled out two rolls of parchment and handed them over to the half giant. 
 

She’d been surprised to find Malfoy’s essay so well written. He’d written quite a lot considering his handwriting was nearly as small as hers. Where hers was exceedingly precise though, his was a bit more loopy and whimsical. She’d found it rather pleasant to look at while she read. He’d even cited a few points she’d missed in her own essay and she was quite pleased to add his work to her own. Surely they were guaranteed an O for this one. 
 

She should not have been as surprised as she was to find that Malfoy was academically inclined. The Malfoy’s were expected to be perfect and academics would be no exception. She’d heard Harry mention once that he’d over heard Lucious berating Malfoy for allowing her to surpass him in grades. It must have been hard to try and be so perfect for his parents. She found herself feeling even more sorry for him than normal. The stress from all that pressure had to weigh on him. How could he not be happier without it? Family was family she supposed. She’d have to ponder it more later. The rest of the class had shown up while she’d been standing there and Hagrid called them to order. 
 

“Alrigh’ then, everyone hand in your essays? Good let’s get started then. I’ve sectioned off some areas near the edge of the forest for you to work in. Each pair of ye will have to find the creature in your area, figure out what it needs, and help take care of it. At the end of class I’ll come around to collect ye and grade ye based on how happy your creature is. If ye’ve done your research this shouldn’t be too much trouble. Any questions before we get started?” He asked as he looked around at his students. “Alright then get with your partner and we’ll get goin’.”

 

Hermione looked around for Malfoy and saw him in his usual place on the outskirts of the group. She strolled over to where he stood. She was hoping they could pull this off with as little confrontation as possible. He looked his usual angry self, but he did look at her when she approached as opposed to his feigned indifference. Her heart lifted remembering their interaction the night before. Maybe they could manage this class with some semblance of civility. Her hopes were crushed the moment he opened his mouth. 
 

“An hour with the likes of you? What in Salazar’s name have I ever done to deserve this?” He asked the empty air above him. 
 

“I’m sorry I’m such a burden, but this class is very important to my future. You said grades were important to you too. Can’t we just finish the class? You only have to talk to me if it’s necessary.” She pleaded with him. 
 

He seemed to consider her offer for a moment. His expression shifted multiple times over the course of those few seconds before he responded. 
 

“Fine,” he said angrily and followed the group into the forest. Exasperated, Hermione followed behind him. 
 

Hagrid led them all around the perimeter of the forest, depositing each pair of them into a clearly defined circle. It did seem a bit difficult from looking at the other pair’s circles to identify what kind of creature you were looking for. She started frantically reviewing everything she knew about creature habitats in her mind as they walked. She and Malfoy were the last pair to be led to their worksite. It was a small clearing with a moderately sized cave and a covering of gold flower blooms were scattered across the forest floor. The flowers seemed to give off an iridescent glow that Hermione found pleasant to look at. She also realized instantly that the flowers were unicorn blooms. Their creature must surely be a unicorn. 
 

“Alright you two. I’ll be back to collect you and see how ye did at the end of class. Malfoy behave yourself. If you find yourself in real trouble, send up some sparks and I’ll come and get ye.” Hagrid instructed them. They listened to him crunch through the forest for a few moments, and then all was silent. She looked over at Malfoy who was staring off indifferently. 
 

“Well I think it’s obvious we’ve got to find the unicorn. Now we just have to actually do it and discover what it needs.” She said to him. 
 

“Bloody brilliant of you. How about we look instead of standing here talking about it?” He replied with a haughty snort.  He wandered over to the cave and she shook her head to herself. Why must he be so unpleasant?

 

While he searched the cave, she got to work searching the thicker patches of the gold flowers. She was pushing them apart and trying to see past the gold shimmer when something moved beneath a particular thick pile of flowers. She flinched back momentarily before carefully moving the flowers aside. Underneath them was a shiny gold unicorn foal. He was very small and he was shivering. She wasn’t sure if he was cold or afraid. 
 

“I found him,” she said softly over her shoulder so as not to startle the baby. To her surprise Malfoy looked more than a little interestEd. He started to stroll over toward her and she stopped him. “Be quiet and go slow. We don’t want to scare him off.”

 

He looked like he was going to argue, but to her immense surprise he fell back and nodded at her. She conjured a bit of sugar into her hand and held it out to the creature. He sniffed it warily before sticking out his tongue to sample it. She moved her hand back a bit, and he stood on his shaky legs and followed her slowly out of the thicket. She smiled warmly at the beautiful creature. His gold shown brighter than any of the flowers in the field. She couldn’t see how she missed him when the flowers dulled so much in his brilliance. 
 

“How do we know what he needs?” Malfoy asked as she stood next to him. She’d conjured a pile of sugar and the goal was happily lapping it off the ground. 
 

“I’m not sure. I’m sure he needs his mother. He’s so small to be on his own,” she answered him. “This should help a little,” she conjured a horse blanket and it settled itself around the foals small neck. His shivering lessened as he continued to lick sugar off the ground. 
 

“How are we supposed to do that?” He asked her and she sighed. She wasn’t sure either. 
 

The two of them watched the foal for a few moments in silence. Hermione felt sorry for the baby. He was all alone. Surely he must be frightened. There must be some way to find his mother. 
 

“I have an idea,” Malfoy said pulling out his wand and pointing it at the creature.

 

”Don’t hurt him,” she warned grasping his wand arm. 
 

“Don’t be stupid Granger. Get off me.” He shrugged her off and pointed his wand at the foal once more. The creature looked up at him with clear sky blue eyes. “Legillimens,” he whispered. 
 

Hermione watched as Malfoy stared off into space. She knew enough about legillimency to know that he was trying to read the unicorn’s mind. She’d never seen it done on an animal. She wasn’t very good at that particular branch of magic, and she was mildly impressed. She continued to watch as he combed through the baby’s memories. When he finally broke the spell he pulled away so harshly he stumbled to the ground. 
 

“Are you alright?” She cried squatting next to him. 
 

“I’m fine. His mother is dead.” He nodded at the foal. She looked over at the foal sadly. When she turned back she thought she saw Malfoy wiping his eyes on his robes. She chose not to mention it. 
 

“Oh no, now what do we do?” She asked him. 
 

Malfoy scrambled to his feet. His face was angry once more and she took a small step back. He looked especially enraged just now and she felt her hands start to sweat.  
 

“Malfoy it’s okay, we’ll figure it out.” She said calmly. It had the opposite of effect. 
 

“Who cares? This is a stupid assignment anyway. How the hell can we help a creature with a dead mother find its mother?” He yelled. His voice echoed around the trees. 

 

She took several steps away from his rage. The foal on the other hand gave a loud cry and took off running head long into the forest. Hermione, who felt the need to protect the creature ran off after it. She was not unhappy about an excuse to escape Malfoy’s anger. It was only after she took off that she realized what an awful idea it was. 
 

********************************
 

Malfoy found himself alone in the meadow of flowers. He felt as if he couldn’t breathe quite right, as if someone had sucker punched him right to the gut. He knew the terrible sadness he’d seen in that young foal’s mind. The death of its mother had left it frightened and so alone in the world. Those were feelings he fought so incredibly hard not to feel. True, his parents were not dead. His father might as well be, and he was not allowed access to his mother for at least four more years. That loneliness was staggering. He did not want to be lonely anymore. He’d tried so hard not to feel it. He’d tried to be angry and arrogant and put on a mask of normalcy. It was all futile. No matter how hard he tried not to feel it, he still did. He’d nearly let Granger see him crying. Malfoy’s did not cry. He looked at the spot in the trees where she’d taken off. The idiot giant had told them not to leave their assigned areas. Leave it to Granger to fuck it up. Well he wasn’t going after her. He planned to wait for her to come back. Unless of course she didn’t, then he’d  wait for Hagrid and tell her she’d run off. 
 

The longer he sat and waited though, the more concerned he got. She should have made her way back now. Everyone knew the forest was dangerous and it was foolish of her to go running off. The more he thought about it the worse he felt. It wouldn’t look to good to the ministry if they were alone in the forest and he returned when she did not. Perhaps he ought to find her. He pondered it a moment more before the scream ripped through the trees. Granger was in trouble. With one last look back at the opening to the forest he took off running towards her screams. He couldn’t let the ministry think he’d hurt her. That was the only reason he was going after her. 
 

It wasn’t too hard to follow the trail into the forest. There were small hoof prints from the unicorn and a trail of iridescent flowers along the ground. He followed them until the flower petals thinned and he could only spot one or two every few feet. The unicorn prints were no longer visible in the blanket of leaves on the forest floor. Finally, the flower petals ran out and he looked around himself. The trees weren’t too awfully thick in this part of the forest so he knew they couldn’t have gone too deep. He had to find her and her her back to safety before someone blamed him. 
 

“Granger?” He yelled, his voice echoing around him. He waited a minute before he called her name again. 
 

“Help me,” he heard her voice somewhere to the right and headed for that direction. 
 

“Where are you?” He shouted back. 
 

“I’m beside the big fallen tree. I can see you. Just step over.”

 

Her voice was very close now and he saw a large fallen poplar tree. The unicorn foal was lying in the middle of an open space among the trees.  He stepped around the tree and found Granger sprawled across the ground. One of her feet was tangled in the roots of the upturned tree. She looked quite helpless. For a moment he wanted to laugh at her clumsiness. Then he realized she was crying. He shouldn’t have cared. Maybe it was his journey into the unicorn’s mind, but he didn’t want to see anymore suffering today. He couldn’t however just be nice to her. It wasn’t in his nature. 

 

“Walk much, Granger?” He asked standing over her. 
 

“A bit,” she smirked. The effect was dampened by the tears running down her face. Always the smart ass, even in the face of crisis. “Can you just help me please? I think my ankle is broken.” 
 

“Why should I help you? I should leave you here to rot.” He scoffed above her and she hissed as a fresh wave of pain hit her. 
 

“Because you made some kind of a deal with the ministry and they won’t look favorably on you if you leave one of Harry Potter’s friends alone in the forest.” She shot back. 
 

So she did know. He should have guessed Potter would find out and tell her why he had returned to school. He’d been a fool to think only he and McGonagall knew. 
 

“I see your friends told you all about that.” He said it as a statement rather than a question. 
 

“They only told me that you made some sort of deal and had to come back. Can you free my leg? It hurts,” she pleaded. He’d seen that same look at the manor when Bellatrix had been torturing her. Her silent plea for help. He’d been unable then. This time was different. 
 

“Alright, but try to hold still. Only you could be this clumsy,” he rolled his eyes and pulled out his wand. Hermione closed her eyes preparing for the pain. 

 

Malfoy carefully aimed his wand at the branches around her foot. He tried to burn them above where they held her foot so as not to burn her skin. Finally he had a jumble separated from the larger bunch. He’d need to spread them apart carefully to remove her foot. He started to untangle them one at a time, stopping once when she inhaled sharply at the pain, but persisting until at least her foot was free. 
 

Hermione pulled herself up against the trunk of the fallen tree. She felt like such a fool. She’d run off into the forest. Then she’d gotten hurt. Now she realized she’d left her wand back in the clearing. Lovely, she thought, but she was grateful to be free. She was surprised at the care Malfoy had taken to free her. Now he was kneeling next to her looking at her mangled ankle. She looked down and nearly fainted at the sight. Not only was her ankle most definitely broken, but the skin around it had been shoved aside revealing the bone within. No wonder it was so painful. She laid her head back against the tree trunk and tried not to vomit. 
 

“I’m sorry. I don’t know how to heal that.” Malfoy told her. “Can you heal yourself? We need to get back before they think I took Potters princess.” 
 

“I don’t have a wand,” she told him nervously. If Malfoy decided to do harm she’d be defenseless. To her surprise, he laughed. 
 

“You think I’m going to hurt you? Granger if I so much as pull out one of your hairs the ministry will have me in prison. Surely your friends told you that.” He looked over at her. She looked a bit green around the edges as if she might be sick. He realized she was probably quite uncomfortable. 
 

“I don’t really think you would, but I don’t often find myself wandless either,” she breathed out. Her voice was shaky and he thought she may be going into shock. This was not good. He had a wand and she did not. Someone was going to find her wand and think he’d hurt her. 
 

Damn it, he cursed inwardly. This was even worse than he’d imagined. 
 

“We need to get you back now,” he told her urgently. “They’re going to think I did something to you. Can you stand?” 
 

“I don’t think so,” she whimpered. The pain in her leg was off the charts as she sat against the tree. How on earth was she going to get out of this?
 

“Hold still,” he whispered pointing his wand at her foot. 
 

“No no don’t! It hurts,” she shouted in agony and he knelt closer to her. Her eyes looked glassy and unfocused. Yes she was definitely going into shock. 
 

“Look at me Granger,” he said placing a hand on her shoulder. “We’ve got to get you out of here before you go into total shock. I’m going to splint your leg so you can stand. Then I’m going to help you walk out of here. I am not going to hurt you anymore than necessary.”

 

He looked into her eyes as she sat there on the ground. In that moment, something within him shifted. He did not want her to suffer. He did not care what the idiots at the school thought. He had to help her. Her brown eyes looked frightened and sweat beaded her brow. Her hands and face were dirty where she’d fallen, but he couldn’t stop the thought from floating across his mind. Granger was not ugly. He quickly shoved it away though. He realized he did not want anything to happen to her. She was the only one all year who’d been decent to him. He owed it to her to get her out of this. Plus it was his fault she’d run off. Malfoy’s paid their debts. 
 

“Okay, do it now please. I can’t stand the pain,” she whispered. He nodded and stood up. 
 

Hermione watched the emotions run across Malfoy’s face as he got ready to splint her leg. He looked frightened at what he was about to do. He also looked concerned. Concerned for her which was not something she had ever expected. She had just a moment to consider it before Malfoy cast a spell and her vision went white. The pain shooting through her leg was almost unbearable as the splint tightened against her. She was sure it had only been a moment, but it had felt like hours. When she got ahold of herself she realized she was holding tight to something. When she opened her eyes, they were reflected back by clear stormy grey ones. She was gripping Malfoy’s hand and he was not pulling away. He looked so frightened. His eyes were wild, but his expression was concerned. 
 

“Are you alright?” He asked quietly. 
 

“I don’t know. I think the pain is better. Maybe I can get up now.” She said. He didn’t pull away though. He watched her closely. Without realizing what he was doing, he reached out and tucked in of her curls behind her ear. His touch was incredibly gently and not at all unpleasant. She leaned into it and he pulled sharply away. The moment was lost. 
 

Malfoy jerked away as if he’d been burned. He refused to meet her eyes again, even as he helped her struggle to her feet. At last she was standing and he took several steps away. 
 

“Can you walk?” He asked her. 
 

“I don’t know. Let me try,” she took a tender step forward and nearly collapsed again at the pain in her leg. Fresh tears rolled down her face. Malfoy wanted to wipe them away.

 

He did not know where these feelings were coming from. He did know he wanted to make them stop. He’d been being an idiot. He couldn’t stop himself from touching her hair. Now he was going to have to help her walk. All he wanted was to escape her. There was some sort of spell work going on here. Surely these feelings couldn’t be his own. 
 

“Let me help you then,” he cleared his mind of all thoughts and went to assist her. After a few awkward moments she had her hand around his waist and he worked his arm beneath her shoulders. They took a few practice steps and he could tell it was causing her immense pain, but she could move. He started to walk them back around the tree toward their clearing, but she stopped him. 
 

“We can’t leave him,” she looked back at the little unicorn foal still resting on the ground. Annoyed but unwilling to argue, Malfoy conjured a lead rope and threw it over the foal’s neck. He tied the other end to his belt loop and the three of them set off to find their way back through the forest. 
 

 

 


 


 


 


 



Chapter 6: Chapter 6
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The walk through the forest was slow going. The forest was uneven and difficult terrain at the best of times and this was certainly not the best of times. Hermione held onto Malfoy so tightly she was sure she’d leave finger shaped bruises on his ribs. She expected him to complain, but he didn’t say a word as he helped drag her back through the forest. The baby unicorn seemed content to trot along beside them. After what felt like an hour of walking, but couldn’t have been more than twenty minutes, she had to stop. The pain in her foot and leg was excruciating and she didn’t think she could stay upright much longer. 
 

“Please I have to rest,” she told Malfoy. 
 

“You can rest when we get you up to the castle. They’ve got to be wondering where we are by now,” he tried to urge her forward but could see she was in too much pain. He lowered her gently against the trunk of a tree and then took a seat on a fallen log across from her. The foal wandered over to nibble at some purple flowering bushes a few feet away. He was still attached to Malfoy’s waist. 
 

“Thanks,” she breathed out. 
 

“Don’t mention it,” he told her. He was being one hundred percent serious. 
 

They sat in silence for a few moments before her curiosity got the better of her. 
 

“Malfoy?” She said calmly. 
 

“What?” He answered annoyed. 
 

“Can I ask you something?” She asked. 
 

“Well seeing as you just did, I think you’re more than capable,” he sneered at her and she rolled her eyes more out of habit than true annoyance. She could feel little more than the pain in her leg. 
 

“Something else then, why did the unicorns thoughts make you so angry?” She asked tentatively. For a moment she was sure he was about to tell her off, but then he sighed a soul deep sigh and looked at her. 
 

“Because it isn’t fair. He’s so young and he doesn’t have a chance. His life’s already been decided for him.” He said sullenly. 
 

“But what do you mean?” She asked again, encouraged by his answer. 
 

“I mean some things, creatures and people, are affected by things at a young age. They don’t get to decide what happens to them. It just happens and then they’re left to pick up the pieces.” He spoke quietly to her as if he were afraid someone might here. As though someone might read between the lines of what he was saying. 

 

“But sometimes intervention happens. Sometimes they get a second chance.” She smiled at him and he looked at her with a hard stare. 
 

“And sometimes they don’t. No one wants to save the bad creatures. The spiders and the snakes and the werewolves. People only want to help things they deem worthy.” He broke her gaze and stared off into the trees. 
 

Hermione felt tears prickle her eyes and not from the pain in her leg. How could someone so bright think they were unworthy of being saved? She was one to think that everyone and everything deserved to be saved if that was their choice. Even the spiders and the snakes. For someone who had always been treated like a spoiled prince, it shocked her to know that Malfoy found himself so unworthy. Surely if he thought himself so damaged and discarded, he must know that he’d been wrong. Those who knew they’d done wrong always had the potential to change. Acknowledging wrongdoing was the first step in setting it right. 
 

“And maybe that’s a mistake. Perhaps the spiders and the snakes don’t get a second chance because they’ve never been told they could have one.” She said softly. He looked thoughtful as he stared into the woods for a moment before he spoke. 
 

“Maybe,” he whispered so softly it was almost indiscernible. She figured that was the best she was going to get at this moment. Still it felt like a breakthrough. 
 

Neither of them spoke after that. He continued to keep watch on their surroundings while she tried to push through the pain so she could get back up and walk some more. It wasn’t looking good. She was getting quite sleepy and her limbs felt like lead anvils. She had nearly nodded off when they heard a rustling in the bushes around them. She snapped to attention, glancing around nervously. The foals ear pricked up, but he didn’t seem alarmed. Nonetheless Malfoy pulled his wand and came to stand in front of her. She was touched at his gesture to protect her. 
 

They listened and watched as the noises got louder and closer. The foal crept closer to the noises and Malfoy tried to pull him back. He was straining against his tether so hard that Malfoy was forced to take a step forward to relieve the tension. Hermione could feel her heart pounding in her chest as they waited with baited breath. They both knew the kinds of creatures they could encounter in the forest. Merlin knew what was about to stop through the trees. 
 

Finally after several tense moments another small unicorn stepped through the bushes. Hermione nearly cried in relief that it was a “good” creature. Malfoy lowered his wand and tried to take some inconspicuous steadying breaths. This unicorn baby was a female. Seconds after she wandered into view a full grown adult unicorn followed behind her. Her mother, Hermione guessed. Unicorns were brilliant creatures, particularly fully grown ones. She glowed white silver in the dim light of the forest and Hermione watched her wander over the the same flowers their unicorn had been eating. Their foal, delighted at finding a friend, was trotting around trying to get the other baby to play with him. She smiled at the scene before her. They had probably just aced their assignment.

 

The adult unicorn abandoned the flower bushes and came over to Hermione. She bent her nose down to Hermione’s leg and sniffed at it for a moment before blowing hot air down into her splint. To her surprise, the pain started to ease. Of all the things she knew of unicorns, this was not one of them, but she would not complain. She felt better than she’d felt since running away from the golden flower clearing. When she was finished the unicorn nudged her, and Hermione reached out to stroke her silky neck. Malfoy watched the exchange silently. He was much more interested in the two golden babies trotting around the clearing. He almost smiled but caught himself. Voldemort would have cursed them just to be cruel. He’d never just seen them play before. It was quite a sight to behold. 
 

Hermione meanwhile had come up with an ingenious plan. She continued to stroke the unicorn and smiled up at it. 
 

“Do you think you could take care of our friend? His mother was killed and he’s quite alone,” She asked the white horse. The unicorn looked at the two babies playing across the way as if considering the question. When she turned back to Hermione and dipped her head into a low nod as if she understood what Hermione wanted her to do. 
 

“Thank you, I’m sure you’ll be a lovely mother to him.” She patted the creature softly, and it nuzzled her hair. 

The unicorn wandered over to the two smaller creatures and corralled them together. She looked over at Malfoy, waiting for him to untether the male foal so that she could take him with her. He didn’t seem too sure of that idea. 
 

“It’s alright,” Hermione told him. “She’ll take care of him now. He’ll be better off with his own kind.” 

 

“Right,” Draco said sadly. He walked over to the baby and stroked his mane for a moment before slipping the rope off of its neck. With a wave of his wand he conjured a rather large plate of sugar. He watched the unicorns lick it up before they took of back into the forest. He and Hermione were alone once more. 
 

Without the unicorns calming breath on her injury, the pain was starting to return. She figured she’d better get up and get moving while she still could. 
 

“Come on, we should try to keep going while it’s still light out.” She told Malfoy. He seemed startled out of some deep thought but came to help her up once more. 
 

It was less awkward this time. He pulled her in closer and took more of her weight. It was still slow going, but they were moving better together. 
 

He smells nice, Hermione thought idly to herself. And he did. He smelled of mint and fresh rain and something dark. She couldn’t quite place it, but it was a pleasant combination. She’d never before been close enough to Malfoy to notice. If someone had told her she’d be here in this moment she’d have laughed herself silly. Things change, she reminded herself. 
She was shocked they hadn’t made it back to their clearing yet. They could not have run that far into the forest. The thought of being lost crossed her mind, but she refused to entertain it just then. She did however know she was going to have to rest again soon. She was getting tired again, and every step was torture. Finally she couldn’t go anymore and she stopped. 
 

“Come on, just a little further,” Malfoy urged her, but she couldn’t do it. She was so tired. 
 

She couldn’t support herself anymore and she sighed against Malfoy. Unable to support her weight that way he was forced to lower her to the ground. Her eyes fell closed and did not open again. Panicked, Malfoy tried to wake her. He patted her cheeks and said her name but she only made a faint groaning sound. His heart picked up speed. He couldn’t let anyone find her passed out and unarmed with him. They’d most certainly think the worst. There was blood seeping around the edges of her splint and he realized she must have lost quite a bit of blood. He pointed his wand at her chest. 
 

“Rennervate,” he shouted the spell, but even that did not wake her. He was angry at her now for doing this to him. If only she had not run off. 
 

“Damn it wake up, mud blood,” he shouted about an inch from her face. To his surprise she stirred. 
 

“Don’t be a jerk,” she mumbled. Malfoy grinned in relief. There was that fighting sprit he knew. He quickly schooled his expression as her eyes opened. 

 

“That’s it Granger, stay awake.” He told her. She still looked a bit out of it, but at least her eyes were open. He had to keep them that way. 
 

“Leave me, go get someone. I can’t walk anymore,” she whispered. He had to lean close to hear her. Her brown eyes were no longer rich brown, but a pale hazel. She was fading quickly. He grabbed his wand and shot red sparks up into the air. He wasn’t sure if they could be seen over the trees, but it was all he had. It would be sensible if him to go, but he would not leave her alone and half faint. 
 

“I’m not leaving you,” he told her as he glanced around. There had to be more that he could do to help. If only he’d learned the levitation spell Potter and his friends had been on about in sixth year. He needed to stop the bleeding or she was not going to make it. 
 

“You’re bleeding, Granger. If I don’t stop it you’re not going to make it. It’s going to hurt.” He told her nervously. Her half lidded, unfocused eyes met his and she nodded slowly. 
 

He knelt next to her and magicked the splint away. Her wound was not a pretty site and his stomach rolled. He pushed past it and conjured some bandages. He would need to wrap it tight. He gave her a sorry look before sliding the bandages beneath her leg. With a quick tug, he pulled them as tight as he could. Her scream tore through the woods and through his chest. She sank her fingernails into his shoulder so hard he knew they’d broken the skin. He didn’t ask her to let go. He was sure it was nothing to what she was feeling. With one last quick flick of his wand, he re-splinted her leg. She did not look good when he finished, though she was certainly awake now. 
 

“I’m sorry,” he said honestly. He hated to see pain these days. 
 

“It’s alright,” she said around hyperventilations, but it was not. She’d lost too much blood and her skin was stark white. She could not go any further. He would not leave her. Someone was going to have to find them and soon. “Thanks.” She added. 
 

“You’re welcome,” he breathed. He sat down beside her this time. He told himself it was so he could hear her breathing. 
 

“You’re quite good at this,” she said as she calmed herself. 
 

“If I was good I could heal you.” He muttered back. 
 

“If you were bad you wouldn’t try.” She countered. He did not concede her point though he did not totally disagree. ”How long have we been out here?” She asked him. 
 

“I’m not sure, maybe three hours? Class ended at three so surely someone will find us soon.” He answered. Awkward silence fell over them once more. 
 

Hermione watched him as they sat alone in the forest. He was back to looking arrogant and angry, but she knew there was more. She’d seen him smile at her when she’d opened her eyes earlier. He’d tried to hide it, but she saw. Deep down somewhere, Draco Malfoy had a heart and it was not totally black. 
 

“What do you read in the library?” She asked him out of the blue. Malfoy looked at her like she’d lost her mind. 
 

“What do you care?” He asked coldly. 
 

“I like books,” she shrugged as if that were enough of an answer. 
 

“These days I read anything I can get my hands on. Books are a lovely distraction from my shitty life.” He gave in and she frowned. 
 

“We’re not so different you know. I used to read books because I couldn’t make friends,” she told him looking down in embarrassment. 
 

“Just because we have one thing in common doesn’t make us alike,” he argued. 
 

“Before I got my Hogwarts letter I was destined to become a dentist like both of my parents. That’s a muggle doctor that fixes teeth. I wanted to be a librarian.” She told him. “My parents were terribly disappointed at first.” 
 

“But they accepted it eventually. From the time I was born, I’ve been told what to do. Changing my mind wasn’t an option. We are not the same.” Malfoy looked over at her out of the corner of his eye. She looked troubled by something more than the pain in her leg. 
 

“Now you have a new chance though. You can be whatever you want,” she told him and he sighed. 
 

“What I want is to be left alone,” he turned away. “I just want to live my life.” 
 

“So why don’t you? After you finish school just run away. Do what makes you happy.” She encouraged him. She had no clue about anything. 
 

“That’s not in the cards for me for the foreseeable future, if ever. I’m an evil death eater. People will be watching me until the day I die,” he was solemn now and she reached out to put a hand on his forearm. He did not pull away. 
 

“There are no death eaters anymore. As for people watching you, it’s up to you to decide what they’ll see,” she said quietly. 
 

He turned to face her. Her words were simple enough, but the task of completing them was no small feat. He was jealous of her optimism. In that moment though, he had hope. Hope for a better future for himself. She was still watching him with her hand on his arm. Granger was not ugly, the thought floated through his mind once more. Her petal pink Cupid’s bow mouth was opened slightly and her brown eyes had regained some of their shine. Her dark eyelashes surrounded them in a black curtain of endearment. She was thin and small, but she had some small curves that he as a man could appreciate.
 

What in the hell was he doing? He was looking at Hermione Granger the way he looked at the girls he used to date. He would never date a dirty mudblood like her. Spending so much time not speaking to others had polluted his mind with these filthy thoughts. She was clouding his judgement by being civil to him when no one else would. He had to stop it immediately, but he couldn’t stop himself from reaching out and pushing the same curl behind her ear. She smiled warmly at him and he pulled away disgusted. 
 

“What are you doing to me?” He shouted with his head in his hands. 
 

“I’m not doing anything,” she said in a small voice. She looked so sad, but gone was the concerned Malfoy. His anger was back in full force. 
 

“Stay the hell away from me Granger,” he told her furiously. He’d pulled out his wand, and she flinched back against the tree she was resting against. 
 

It was at that moment their rescuers finally decided to arrive. This was most unfortunate for Malfoy. 
 

“Expelliarmus,” McGonagall shouted and caught his wand deftly in her hand. He turned in shock knowing how this scene must look to them. It was exactly what he’d been trying to avoid. 
 

McGonagall was accompanied by Hagrid who quickly scooped Hermione up in his arms. 
 

“Best get her up to Poppy,” McGonagall told him. “I’ll deal with Mr. Malfoy. I warned you.” She told him sadly. 


He saw every chance he ever had slipping away in that moment. 
 

“Wait Professor!” Hermione yelled from her place in Hagrid’s arms. “Malfoy helped me. He didn’t hurt me. I fell and he helped me.” 
 

“Be that as it may, he is armed and we found your wand in the clearing. There must be an investigation and you Ms. Granger need medical treatment. Off you go,” 

 

She have Malfoy a sorry look, but promised herself she’d make sure he didn’t take the blame for anything. No one was going to listen to her until she’d been seen by Madame Pomfrey. He shrugged and looked at her with malice. He mouthed something that looked suspiciously like “spiders and snakes” before Hagrid whisked her away. Perhaps some things had not changed. 
 

 



Chapter 7: Chapter 7
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Hermione found herself confined to the hospital wing for the remainder of the evening at Madam Pomfrey’s insistence. She’d refused to be treated though until she’d spoken to Professor McGonagall. She simply could not allow Malfoy to be punished for something she had done. It wasn’t fair of them to assume her was the troublemaker when she’d been the one to run off. Even Hagrid had wanted to hear none of it. By the time he placed her on one of the cots in the hospital wing she was red faced and angry. Why wouldn’t anyone listen to her? She’d shouted and argued until at least Pomfrey went to fetch McGonagall. 
 

“Ms. Granger, what is all the fuss? I am trying to attend to the Malfoy matter. You need to let Madame Pomfrey tend to your injuries.” She swept into the hall with her emerald robes swishing behind her. 
 

“That’s what all the fuss is about. No one will listen to me!” Hermione shouted to the witch. 
 

“Enough of the shouting,” she said coldly. “You have my attention and you may speak Ms. Granger, but you will do so in a civilized manner.” 
 

Hermione shrank back at the hard look in her eyes. Perhaps she should tone it down before she landed herself in detention. 
 

“Yes professor, I’m sorry, but you have to know Malfoy did not do this. I ran away. I fell and hurt myself. He only tried to help me.” She told the professor.
 

McGonagall stood by and listened to Hermione tell the story, and though it seemed unlikely to her that Malfoy would show such kindness, she had to admit the story had the ring of truth. It would be unusual for Hermione to lie for someone who was previously her enemy. 
 

“Very well,” she said at the end of Hermione’s speech. “I shall question Mr. Malfoy about the events and if your stories are the same he will not be punished.” 
 

Hermione felt that was more than fair and sighed with relief. She felt differently about Malfoy. She just couldn’t stand by idly and watch karma take its course which is what she would have done less than a year ago. After all, he’d stood by and watched her be tortured. Of course if he’d helped her he probably would have ended up on the floor right there with her. 
 

Once McGonagall left, Madame Pomfrey set to work on mending her broken bones and sealing her flesh wounds. After that was done she gave Hermione a pain relieving potion and left her to rest. She was just wondering what she was going to do for the rest of the evening when Madame Pomfrey returned. 
 

“You have a visitor. I’ll give you a few minutes and then you need to rest.” She swept the curtain aside and went back to her office. 
 

To Hermione’s surprise, Malfoy was standing on the other side of the curtain. He had two books in his hand, and he sat them on her bedside table. 
 

“What are you doing here?” She asked surprised. 
 

“I have no idea,” he muttered and turned to go. 
 

“Don’t leave she cried. Did you get into any trouble?” She asked him and he turned back. 
 

“No, but McGonagall warned me about finding myself in ‘difficult situations’ which is just her way of telling me people will always assume I’m the guilty party. She told me you stood up for me and where to find you.” He blushed which was quite attractive on his snow-white skin. The faint pink made him look cheerful, as if he’d been out in the snow on Christmas Day. 
 

“I’m sorry they feel that way.” She told him sadly. 
 

“Don’t you feel the same way?” He asked. 
 

“The Americans are fond of saying innocent until proven guilty. I think that’s one thing they may be right about.” She smiled encouragingly. His eyes flashed hot and she knew she’d touched a nerve. His mood was going to shift once again. 
 

“That’s idiotic. Some people are just always going to be guilty.” He snarled at her and she sighed. His mood swings were making her sick the way they switched directions so fast. 
 

“We’re all guilty of something.” She stated matter of factly. 
 

“Maybe, but some of us are worse. I have to go before curfew or I’ll be in more trouble. I figured Hermione Granger would die in the hospital without a book to read.” He motioned to the two he’d sat on her table. 
 

“Thanks,” she said thrilled to have them, and also shocked at the thoughtfulness of the gesture. “Malfoy?” She asked before he left. 
 

“What?” He answered her. 
 

“Maybe spiders and snakes don’t get second chances. Maybe the ones who get the second chances were never really spiders and snakes to begin with,” she smiled at him. 
 

He pondered her words for a moment. Did she mean that he’d never been evil at all? She had absolutely no idea the things he’d done. He hoped she never would, although he wasn’t sure why it mattered really. Her opinion of him was worthless. 
 

“Goodnight,” he said with an almost wistful look in his eyes. 
 

“Goodnight,” she smiled back. 
 

Malfoy nearly ran from the room after their exchange. He’d wanted so badly to touch her curls and her face again. You’re not allowed to want that. She’s a mudblood and you’re a death eater, he scolded himself. His internal admonishments, however, did not stop the dreams when he went to sleep that night. 
 

Hermione Granger in a golden meadow standing betwixt a heard of unicorns. The golden flowers shimmered on their stems. The unicorns shown even more brightly with their iridescent fur. None of it shone as brightly as she did. Her skin exuded it’s own light. Her skin was a pale smooth creamy white. Her lips were bright and full and a delicious rose color. She was dressed in a flowing emerald colored gown with a crown of green roses on her head. She looked like a Slytherin goddess and he felt something stir within him. She motioned him closer across the field, but the closer he got, the more her light burned him. Her light glowed brighter and brighter until she burnt up before him. The unicorns turned to thestrals and the golden meadow became blackened and burned. 
 

He woke up sweating among his satin sheets in his dormitory. His heart was beating fast and his breath came in short gasps. He assessed himself and the dim green light in the room. Nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary. This stupid school and the mudblood were going to drive him mad. 
 

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Hermione was released first thing Saturday morning. She was stiff and still quite tired, but her ankle was almost back to normal. It only twinged a bit when she walked. She couldn’t wait to have a shower and some breakfast. She felt optimistic after her adventure with Malfoy yesterday. She’d seen new sides to him, sides that cared and held compassion. It was proof to her that her kindness project was working magic unlike that taught here at school. Perhaps she’d even ask him to join her when she went to read in the library. She’d been dying to ask him about the books he’d brought her since she’d read them. They were the most amazing texts about the heroics of Magical creatures that had saved countless wizards. She found it odd that someone who thought creatures to be lesser would own such books for they were not members of the school library’s collection. 
 

By the time she was fresh and headed to the Great Hall for breakfast she was practically skipping. She had not been so happy since she’d been away from Harry and Ron. She caught herself mid skip when she realized that she was happy that Malfoy of all people was being friendly. Oh well, she thought. She couldn’t preach kindness and continue to judge. All of his past transgressions would have to be left in the past. 
 

The moment she entered the Great Hall she looked over at his usual spot at the Slytherin table. He wasn’t there. She frowned for a moment before being whisked away by Ginny who was worried about her, but not thrilled about her missing their glorious quidditch party. Hermione listened with half an ear, but her full attention was on the Slytherin table. He rarely missed meals. Was he sick after their evening in the forest? She didn’t know but she intended to find out. 
 

“And then I got naked and gave Harry a lap dance,” Ginny said and Hermione snapped her head in her direction. 
 

“You what?” She sputtered around a mouthful of bacon on toast. 
 

“See I knew you weren’t listing,” Ginny rolled her eyes. Hermione felt guilt wash over her. She’d really been neglecting her friends. 
 

“I’m sorry Ginny. I’m just distracted is all. What were you saying?” She gave the red head her full attention this time. 
 

Ginny was nervous about being quidditch captain. She’d been to Harry for advice and he’d been helpful, but he just wasn’t good for eliminating nerves. At least he wasn’t when he was miles away at the ministry. Hermione hoped he’d come to their next Hogsmeade weekend and visit. She could tell Ginny missed him terribly. 
 

“I’ll tell you what,” she said coming up with an idea in the spot. “I’m no good at quidditch, but how about we have a sleepover in my dorm next Saturday? No quidditch talk, no studying just some good old fashioned girl fun like we used to have at the burrow?” 
 

“That sounds like fun. I’ll bring the junk food.” Ginny grinned and Hermione laughed. Ginny has learned about charming the kitchen elves from Fred and George. She was so much like the twins at times. 
 

“It’s a plan,” Hermione said as Ginny finished up her breakfast and rounded up her team for practice. 
 

Hermione finished her own breakfast and headed up to the library in search of Malfoy. She didn’t find him there either. She set herself up to do some reading and studying in hopes that he would show up later, but he never did. 
 

And so it went for rest of the weekend. She looked for him everyday in the library. She watched for him at mealtimes. She even made extra trips to the prefects bathroom hoping she’d run into him again in a not so literal capacity. It seemed he’d confined himself to the Slytherin common room or his dorm room for the weekend. Try as she might she did not see him. It was rather odd since before the first incident he’d shown up almost everywhere she went. Eventually she surmised that he had to be avoiding her on purpose. This didn’t come as a shock to her from Malfoy, really it didn’t, but her heart hurt a little bit at his absence. She’d thought they’d made more progress towards friendship than this.

 

It wasn’t until Monday afternoon that she saw him. He’d shown up for Care of Magical creatures which she wasn’t entirely sure he would. They were not working in pairs for this lesson so she had no time to go and speak to him. When class ended, he took off for the castle so fast she had to jog to catch up. 
 

“Malfoy! Malfoy wait!” She called. 
 

“What do you want Granger?” He slowed reluctantly down but he did not stop. 
 

“I never got to say thanks,” she said awkwardly. “You know for helping me the other day. I probably would’ve died if you hadn’t ran after me.” 
 

“You’re welcome,” he looked shocked at his own words. He went to walk away again, but Hermione grabbed him by the arm. 
 

“Why did you com after me?” She asked him curiously. 
 

“Because if I hadn’t they would have thought I did something to you. They thought that anyway.” He sad sadly and her face fell. Of course he hadn’t done it just to be kind. Harry had said it perfectly. Malfoy always had a hidden agenda. 
 

“Oh well, anyways, I wanted to return your books.” She opened her bag, but he grabbed her hand. She was momentarily shocked by how warm it was. Then she was shocked that he was touching her. He met her eyes and she could see so much unsaid swimming in their pale grey depths. She wanted to know what he was thinking. 
 

“Keep them,” he said. His voice was rough, almost breathless as they looked at one another. 
 

“Well thank you again,” she said and he dropped her hand like it burned. He looked around to see if anyone had seen them. The other students had already went into the castle. 
 

“It’s fine,” he said simply. He headed back up the hill and she followed him at a slower pace. 
 

“Malfoy?” She said once more. 
 

“What is it now?” He said clearly frustrated. 
 

“I’ll be in the library after dinner.” She said simply. 
 

He pondered her words for a moment as he looked back at her. He’d promised himself to stay away from her. The urge to tell her to shove off was strong within him, but there was something else stronger fighting for his attention. The snake within him that missed having friends, that missed having female company, raised its head up at the thought of time alone with Granger. No, he must stay away from her. She was trash. She was filth. She was poisoning his mind with her nice shit. Still he couldn’t bring himself to tell her no outright. 
 

Hermione watched Malfoy. He seemed to be experiencing some kind of internal war with himself. Finally he seemed to reach a decision. 
 

“Okay,” he said simply and with that he went into the castle leaving Hermione staring after him. When was this going to get easier? He was so difficult to read. 
 

The rest of the day passed by agonizingly slow for Hermione. She’d never found herself so disinterested in her classes at Hogwarts before. She couldn’t wait to get to the library. She wanted so badly for Malfoy to show up that night. She kept wavering back and forth on whether she thought he would or wouldn’t. By the time dinner was over she was practically vibrating the anticipation. When had she become so excited to see Draco Malfoy? 
 

She told herself it was just because he was a puzzle that needed solving. She told herself that it was because she wanted to see if she could help him become a better person. After all he seemed to want to at least half the time. Despite all the things she told herself, she couldn’t get rid of the warm feeling in her belly when she thought about his cool grey eyes and the way they seemed to see right through everyone. She thought about the pleasant blush that she’d so rarely seen on his pale cheeks and the fine white blonde hair that looked soft as silk. She remembered the way his hard muscles had felt beneath her when he’d helped her walk yesterday, and the broadness of his shoulders. She wondered idly how he’d look in something more form fitting than robes. She stopped herself before she could wonder anything else. This was insanity. It was more than she bargained for. Surely, surely, she could not be attracted to someone so unkind. But is he really as unkind as he seems?  She asked herself. She was sure she was going mad. 
 

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Later that night, Hermione found herself sprawled in the floor back in the library stacks. She’d spread her books beside her, but finished her homework early. Now she was engrossed in one of Malfoy’s books. She had decided that he wasn’t going to come. It was nearly eight o’clock and the library closed in an hour. She tried to get rid of the disappointment she felt by reading. It was not a good distraction. She didn’t know if there was a book written that could distract her from the turmoil she was feeling these days. Merlin did she miss her friends right now. Although she was quite sure Harry and Ron would not be jumping on her “Save Malfoy” bandwagon anytime in the future, they would at least be a distraction from her thoughts. No one knew how to avoid serious topics quite like Harry and Ron. She smiled to herself about how silly they were. 
 

“What are you smiling about?” Malfoy’s voice asked. Startled, she felt herself jerk in surprise. 
 

“Just a thought I had,” she shrugged. He was standing awkwardly at the end of her row as if not quite sure what to do with himself. It was all she could do not to smile at him. 
 

“You can sit,” she motioned towards the empty floor in front of where she sat. To her surprise, he sat. “I didn’t think you were coming.” 
 

“I shouldn’t have,” he replied shifting on the floor. 
 

“Why shouldn’t you? Everyone is allowed in the library no matter what.” She shrugged and he laughed at her. Actually laughed. 
 

“Something funny?” She asked feeling a bit put out. 
 

“The fact that you think this is about the library is hilarious, Granger. We both know that’s not what I meant.” He snickered at her a moment longer before his mask of cold indifference slid back into place. She braced herself for another mood swing. 
 

“Well what’s it about then?” She ventured. 
 

“This is about the fact that our kinds don’t mix. This is about the fact that I’m going mad at this fucking school. I shouldn’t be here with someone like you.” He glanced away and looked at the floor. 
 

“Someone like me? To what are you referring? The fact that I’m a Gryffindor? A girl? A mudblood? Please tell me because I’m very interested to hear.” She had to fight not to shout at him. Damn he was was frustrating. If Madam Pince tossed them from the library she’d never get it out of him though. 
 

“Don’t call yourself that.” He said angrily. 
 

“Why not? You do it all the time.” She challenged. 
 

“Yes but I’ve been taught to believe it. You’re only doing it to get a reaction.” He guessed correctly and she sighed. 
 

“Maybe, but sometimes we can be taught new things.” She said knowingly and he sighed. 
 

“What do you think people will say when they find out your spending time with one of Voldemort’s followers?” He asked. 
 

“It doesn’t matter what people think. I can be friends with whomever I want to.” She was frustrated now and he could tell. 
 

“Okay fine, maybe I don’t want anyone seeing me with you. My father had friends that’s aren’t in prison. They wouldn’t approve. Why are you insisting on being so polite anyway?” He pushed and she looked down. 
 

“Why on Earth would you care what they think? You’ve made your choice and I don’t think they’ll be welcoming you with open arms anytime soon. As for why I’m being polite, it’s because everyone deserves some kindness. I don’t like to watch people suffer.” She whispered. Her cheeks flames in embarrassment at how silly she sounded. To her immense surprise he slid a bit closer. 
 

“I don’t like to see anyone suffer either. Not since-” he trailed off and looked away. 
 

“Not since what?” She asked looking back up at his face. He looked so sad again. Perhaps the saddest she’d ever seen him. 
 

“Since my aunt nearly killed you at my house.” He said softly. “I wanted to do something, but I was a coward. I’m sorry.”  
 

More than a little surprised at his revelation, she inched a bit closer to him so that their knees were touching and they were facing one another. 
 

“If you’d done something you’d be dead.” She told him earnestly. “You did what you could when you wouldn’t give them Harry. That counts Malfoy.” 
 

“It will never be enough.” He was angry again and she could tell whatever sort of moment they were having was going to be over soon. “I should stay away from you.” 
 

“If that’s how you feel then why did you come here?” She inquired softly. 
 

“Because-” he hesitated. “It’s hard to be in a place where no one wants you. I feel differently around you.” He spoke so imperceptibly that she almost didn’t hear him. It cost him to admit that. She knew it and her heart ached for him. It also swelled at the thought that she was making a difference. 
 

“You make me feel differently too. I’ve been lonely since coming back. I like having a project to keep me busy.” She told him and he actually smiled at her. 
 

“A project am I?” He asked. 
 

“A bit,” she shrugged. “I believe everyone deserves to be happy.” 
 

“I disagree, but I won’t fault you for trying. I meant what I said though. We will never be friends.” He told her angry once more. 
 

“What are we then?” She said simply. 
 

“You’re a fool and I’m not good. We’re not friends.” He said in a hard voice. 
 

“Of course not.” She answered angrily. 
 

“You should go,” he told her. “Can’t have Miss Perfect out after curfew.” 
 

“What about you?” She asked as she began gathering her things. 
 

“I’ll make it back. I don’t want anyone to see me leaving here with you.” He told her grumpily and she sighed again. 
 

“At some point you’re going to have to realize that being a jerk will get you nowhere. You can see where it’s gotten you thus far,” she told him. She was losing her patience a bit at his insistence that she would never be good enough to be his friend. 
 

“Or I’ll just keep going until someone else decides I’m not worthy. Most of them already have. That will never change.” He told her with a hard edge to his voice. 
 

“Not if you don’t,” she said as she stood up to go. 
 

“You think you know everything,” he said angrily grabbing her by the shoulder. “You don’t know me.” 
 

“I don’t think anyone has ever been given the chance to know you. There’s a wall around you Malfoy, a wall of spoiled arrogance and misplaced anger. Until you let it go you are absolutely right. No one will ever see you differently.” She shrugged him off and turned to leave the library. 
 

“I’m sorry,” he whispered to her back. 
 

“Me too,” she sad sadly. 
 

And with one last look over her shoulder, she left the library and Malfoy. For every breakthrough there was a setback. She wondered how many more setbacks she could handle. 
 


Author’s note: This has been my favorite chapter to write so far. I hope it’s getting more interesting for those of you continuing to read. Please let me know what you think :)



Chapter 8: Chapter 8
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

Hermione was unsure how she was supposed to feel when she left the library that night. For every minute she thought her kindness was working, she was knocked back by Malfoy’s anger. Why was he so angry? Surely coming back to school could not be the worst option out there. She could see there was still a darkness within him though. Despite his surrender at the end of the battle last spring he still felt allegiances to people who were not on the right side of the law. How she longed to help him. She wanted nothing more than to pull him into the light with her. She knew she was in trouble. Her feelings for him were changing. It was more now than just being nice because no one else was. Now she wanted to see him as much as she could. Even if it was just an angry argument, she craved the interaction. She craved it so much it scared her. 
 

The insults were wearing though. She’d think she’d made progress and then he’d bring up her blood. She wasn’t sure how many more angry brush offs she should accept before she abandoned her project. She knew though that if she were forced to abandon it that it was going to hurt very much. She felt so much compassion for his situation now that it would kill her if she couldn’t make a real breakthrough soon. She wondered when she’d started to care so much. She did though and that inspired her new plan. 
 

The next time they spoke it would not be initiated be her. She had given the game her best offensive approach and now it was time to fall back on the sidelines. If he truly was capable of being changed, he would come to her. If not she’d be forced to label it a lost cause. Her heart constricted at that thought. She feared he would feel even more abandoned without her need to seek him out, but this would be a good lesson. He’d been an arse to her in the library. He needed to get the message that she would not keep trying only to be treated badly. She was much too strong to deal with that. Her plan was to be tested sooner than she thought. 
 

********************************
 

The following evening Hermione went to the library as she usually did. There were only two or three students studying in their own corners when she got there. It was wonderfully quiet which was just the way she preferred it. She piled up in her usual aisle near the window and started to work on her homework. It proved more difficult than she thought it would be, but this time it was the weather causing distractions. It was storming again and the rain pounded on the window. The panes rattled every time the thunder boomed and she found herself on edge. She’d never been overly fond of storms. She’d set her books aside to watch it rain and she watched as lightening lit up the grounds. She felt someone’s presence behind her and looked over her shoulder. To her immense surprise, Malfoy was back. He sat at the end of her aisle and leaned his back up against the high bookshelf. She kept her word to herself and did not speak. She went back to watching it storm. Nearly a half hour passed before he finally broke the silence. 
 

“Are you ignoring me?” He couldn’t resist asking. 
 

“Of course not,” she scoffed. 
 

“Then why haven’t you spoken to me today. You’re always bothering me with your chatter.” He said placing a shiny gold bookmark in whatever he was reading. 
 

“That’s why, I don’t want to speak to someone who doesn’t want me too. You made it clear last night that you don’t think I’m worthy of speaking to you.” She shrugged him off and went back to the window. 
 

“I said we can’t be friends. I didn’t say you couldn’t speak to me.” He said to her back. 
 

“Do I need your permission to speak to you?” She asked irritated at his arrogance. 
 

“Not anymore, I used to think people did.” He answered honestly and she relented. She turned away from the window to face him. 
 

“And now?” She pressed. 
 

“Now no one talks to me either way. No one but you. At least until today.” He told her. He bent his knees up and rested his elbows on them. He looked relaxed there with her. 
 

“Why do you want a mudblood speaking to you?” She asked. 
 

“I told you not to call yourself that,” he said coldly. She braved herself for another potential mood shift. 
 

“I won’t if you won’t.” She countered. He was silent for a moment. 
 

“I’ll try,” he conceded. She accepted that. It would take time to unlearn that behavior. 
 

“Fine, did you want something specific or did you just want to have this trivial conversation?” She asked him honestly. 
 

“You’re prickly tonight,” he commented and she sighed. 
 

“How else am I supposed to be? I never know from minute to minute when we’re having a civilized conversation or when you’re mad at me again. I’m trying to go with the flow here, but I’m getting a little seasick.” She told him honestly and he looked mildly contrite with himself. 
 

“You said your parents are dentists. What are they like?” He asked suddenly. He completely ignored her comments on his mood swing. 
 

“Well,” she paused. “They’re like any parents I suppose. They’re always supportive of me and of course they worry. After last year my dad is convinced I’m going to get myself killed. My mum is just hurt I wiped their memories and sent them away.” 
 

“I didn’t know you did that.” He looked surprised and she shrugged. “Why did you do it?” 

 

“I was afraid Voldemort would kill them to get to me. I couldn’t go fight a war without doing everything I could to keep them safe. They’re the most important people in my life.” She watched the emotions play across his face: sadness, anger, sadness again until at last he settled back into indifference. 
 

“That must have been hard.” He said softly. 
 

“The hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” Tears stung her eyes at the memory. “I’m just grateful to have them back. It could have gone wrong in so many ways. The memory charm is tricky. There could have been permanent damage-”

 

“You could’ve been killed.” He interrupted her. 
 

“Well yes, there was always that.” She said and an awkward silence fell over them. 
 

“They must love you very much,” he told her, breaking the silence. 
 

“Of course they do. Don’t your parents love you?” She asked without thinking. Much to her surprise he did not get angry. 
 

“They love me as much as they’re able. My mother loves me I think. For my father, well, I’ve always just been a pawn in his game. Now I’m a disgrace.” He seemed to waver in how to feel about this revelation. 
 

“Sometimes, in the pursuit of power, people lose sight of the things that really matter. It’s not a reflection of those things, but rather a reflection of what kind of people they are.” She tried to comfort him with her words, but she wasn’t sure how much her words were worth to him at this stage of their non friendship. 
 

“You think everyone is worthy of love?” He looked at her curiously. 
 

“Of course. None of us ask to born. We’re brought here through no fault of our own. It’s our parents duty to love us. Unfortunately some of them don’t fulfill that duty.” She explained it to him the best way she knew how. 
 

“Do you think Voldemort deserved love?” He pressed her. 
 

“Of course not. Voldemort was evil.” His face fell at her words. “But Tom Riddle, as a child before he decided to magic away his humanity, was just as worthy of love as anyone.” 
 

“Do you think he could have been saved?” He asked her. 
 

“Unfortunately no, but Voldemort did more than make bad choices. Voldemort gave up his own soul for the sake of evil. He was a unique situation. You’re nothing like Voldemort.” She longed to reach out and touch him, but he was too far away and she feared moving would break the spell. 
 

“We’re all capable of turning out that way though.” He shrugged as if he’d already accepted his destiny. 
 

“We’re all capable of a lot of things. That doesn’t mean we’re destined for them. Even Dumbledore made some terrible mistakes,” she consoled him. 
 

“Really?” He seemed interested in this so she told him about Rita Skeeter’s book. She told him how they’d learned that not all of it was just made up in her mind and that at one time Dumbledore had been a powerful dark wizard. She promised to loan him the book. “So you see we have the power to change our lives with just a choice.” 
 

“You really believe in the power of good, don’t you?” He asked her incredulously. 
 

“Yes I really do. I’ve seen it first hand. I saw Dumbledore die for all of us. I saw one of my best friends lose his brother. I saw my best friend die to save all of our lives. I watched Remus and Tonks and Moody and countless others die in the name of good. I also saw a certain blonde question his teachings and save the lives of three teenagers who were trying to save the world. And now here we sit. Voldemort is dead. No one lives in fear anymore. So I have to say with one hundred percent certainty that there is power in love and good can always persevere.” She spoke with such conviction Malfoy almost believed her. Almost. It was hard to imagine himself on that list of people who had sacrificed so much. 
 

“And if I told you I didn’t do it for you three? If I told you I did it because I didn’t want them calling him back to the house that night, because I feared him would you still think me one of your heroes?” He refused to meet her gaze when he asked this.
 


He feared this would be the thing that put a stop to their tentative acquaintanceship. She thought he was redeemable because of that one gesture. At the time, the only person he’d wanted to save was himself. It didn’t matter that Potter and his friends were in danger. He just didn’t want that thing in his house again if he could help it. He was, as usual, looking out only for himself. He hadn’t helped Granger while she’d been tortured. He hadn’t offered them any help in escaping. All he had done was try and delay the inevitable. 

 

“I would think,” she paused and he finally looked up at her out of the side of his eye. “That anyone who was not afraid of him was very foolish, and that if I thought I was protecting myself and my family that I would do the same thing in a heartbeat. I also think that maybe deep down you wanted him gone for good, and you knew that buying us some time would help us defeat him. Sometimes we don’t know the reasons for our actions in the moment. It’s only after we’ve done what we did that we have time to reflect on the why.”

 

His head perked up at this and she smiled softly at him. She was thrilled at the conversational breakthrough they were having. Her stomach did a small somersault as she watched him twist a stray thread between is long fingers. He’d taken off his uniform robes and was wearing a white button up shirt and slacks. His Slytherin tie hung loose around his neck and the top two buttons of his shirt were unfastened. She’d been right to think he would look lovely in something form fitting. 
 

“You’re staring at me.” He stared plainly. 
 

“I’m sorry,” she apologized not meaning it in the least. “I rarely see you so relaxed. It’s a new phenomenon for me to study.” 
 

“Is that what you’re doing? Studying me?” He asked indifferently. 
 

“It started that way. I wanted to know what you were doing here, why you’d come back. Then I saw you were so miserable, and no one was being nice to you. I figured you could use a small bit of kindness.” She shrugged nonchalantly as if it were the most normal thing in the world to study another human like a bug in a jar. 
 

“Why did you care? I’ve never been nice to you. Who are you to give a damn about my happiness? I don’t need pity.” He was angry again. 
 

“Because I saw a lot of bad things last year, Malfoy. I watched my friends die. I watched the entire world turn it’s back on us while we were out there trying to save it. I was tortured and beaten and nearly died myself. I told you I don’t like to see anyone suffer. It’s more than that though. Every time I see someone in pain, I feel like I’m back at your house. I feel the pain of what was done to me there, and I can’t stand it. I have seen and felt enough suffering to last ten lifetimes. If I can stop it, even in a small capacity, I feel like I’ve got to try. That’s nothing to do with pity.” She had worked herself up and her face was flushed. She’d never shared that. Not even with Harry and Ron. The fact that her torture still haunted her was her own secret until now. She wasn’t sure why she chose to share it with Malfoy of all people, but she’d never related more to someone in her life. 
 

“I really am sorry about that. I wish I could take it back for her, for all of them actually.” He said not unkindly. 
 

“We don’t choose our families. I’ve told you there’s nothing for you to apologize for.” 

“Maybe we don’t, but we do choose how we act in certain situations. You taught me that recently,” he gave her a small smile from behind his fringe. 
 

“Well it’s good to see that you’re learning something through these half arsed conversations we try to have,” she giggled. How absurd to be giggling with Draco Malfoy. The thought only made her giggle harder. 
 

Malfoy looked at her as if she really had gone mad. She couldn’t stop her giggling, but her laugh was pleasant. Her nose scrunched a little and she looked quite lovely. 
 

“Ahem,” someone else had walked up to the aisle they were sitting in. “The library is closing now. Perhaps you’d like to take your rambunctious behavior elsewhere?” Madam Pince looked down at them disapprovingly. 
 

“Sorry Madam Pince,” Hermione quickly schooled her expression and began sticking her things back into her bag. Malfoy remained silent but collected his things. 
 

“Do try to remember your library etiquette next time?” Madame Pince posed it as a question as she marched them from the library. 
 

Madame Pince deposited them in the corridor outside the library. The two of them were at a bit of a loss at the change of setting. The dimly lit hallway was quite a change from the bright lights of the library. 
 

“Well, I guess we should get back to our dormitories before it gets too late,” Hermione said awkwardly. 
 

“I guess so,” Malfoy said feeling just as awkward. 
 

The two of them walked silently until they reached the stairs where they needed to part ways. 
 

“Well goodnight then,” he turned to go down the stairs. 
 

“Malfoy?” 
 

“What?” He asked looking up at her. 
 

“Tonight was nice,” she told him honestly. 
 

“I don’t know if I’d say nice. It was a nice change from the Slytherin idiots. Even your company is preferential to theirs.” His mask was back in place now that they’d left their nest in the library. She sighed and turned to head upstairs to bed. 
 

“Granger?” He stopped her this time and she turned. 
 

“Will you be in the library tomorrow evening?” He asked her looking down at the floor beneath his feet. It cost him to ask her. He shouldn’t want to meet her again, but he couldn’t resist either. 
 

“It’s likely,” she smiled down at him. “Goodnight.” And she turned to go up the stairs. 
 

********************************
 

Hermione was in a brightly lit room laying on a bed with green silk sheets. The walls were painted a dark rich grey. Heavy black curtains were hung over the windows as well as around the large canopy bed she was laying in. She wasn’t quite sure what she was doing there, but she felt no urge to leave. She was naked beneath the sheets and the silk felt wonderful on her bare skin. She was so comfortable in the bed. She was just starting to wonder what she was doing there when the door opposite her opened. Draco Malfoy stepped into the room and her breath caught in her throat. He was dressed in an unbuttoned black dress shirt. His defined chest shone in the bright lights of the room. Her gaze trailed down his stomach to his waistline. A pair of black, tight fitting boxer briefs hung low on his pale hips. She wet her suddenly dry lips as she trailed her gaze over his underwear, marveling at the way the fabric of them stretched tight against what was beneath them. His pelvic bones were well defined and made a nice frame for what he had to offer. 
 

She watched his as he prowled across the room. He moved with the silky grace of a black panther and she tried to slow her breathing. He climbed onto the bed and crawled up her body until he was at eye level with her. 
 

“Malfoy, what are you doing?” She asked, her voice cracking as he hovered over her. His body was hard against her own softness and she was shaking beneath him. 
 

“Only what you want me too,” he whispered seductively in her ear. She whimpered at the brush if hot air near her neck. 
 

He trailed kisses down her jawline, over her neck, along her chest until he reached the edge of the sheet. Suddenly self conscious, she stopped him. 
 

“You know you want this,” he breathed in her ear again and she sighed. Merlin his body felt good against hers. “Tell me you want it,” he whispered against her neck. 
 

“I want it,” she whined beneath him. “I want you.” She was so breathless now she almost couldn’t speak. 
 

He had a hungry look in his eyes as he lifted the sheets away from her body.

 

 

 

Hermione woke up tangled in the sheets in her own bedroom. She was sweating and the fabric was clinging to her uncomfortably. She flung her covers to the floor letting the cool air sooth her burning skin. Where had that come from? A forest rescue and a simple conversation in the library and she was having naughty dreams about Malfoy. How on earth was she going to look him in the eye again after that?


She stared at the canopy of her bed and sighed into the empty air. She’d never experienced anything like that awake or asleep. She wondered idly what was wrong with her. Clearly her subconscious mind found Malfoy attractive. Her conscious mind had noticed it as well though while she’d been watching him those last few weeks. What would people think if they knew what was going on in her mind? She was having fantasy dreams about a former death eater. Harry and Ron would disown her. 
 

She pondered on it for a while as sleep had eluded her. The hardest part was going to be facing Malfoy now, for really it was none of Harry and Ron’s or anyone else’s business. She’d have to get a handle on her thoughts and make it stop. But do you want it to stop?  She asked herself as she picked up her bed clothes off the floor. She rolled over under the covers in hopes of getting more sleep, but she couldn’t stop herself from reliving the dream one more time in her mind. The delicious feeling in her lower bell burned like liquid sugar. Perhaps the dream wasn’t so bad, she thought as she rolled over and drifted off once more. 

 


 



Chapter 9: Chapter 9
  [Printer Friendly Version of This Chapter]

The following morning Hermione was much more jittery than normal. She went through the motions of getting dressed and heading down to breakfast, but gave little thought to any of it. There was little she could think of aside from the dream she’d had. It seemed much more forbidden in the light of day. She felt like everyone who looked at her knew what was going on in her mind. It made for a very tense morning. 
 

While down at breakfast, she tried to be discreet as she checked out the far end of the Slytherin table. She half hoped he would skip breakfast again, but no. There he was in his usual spot alone at the table. As if he knew he was being watched his eyes latched onto hers from across the room. She blushed furiously and looked down at her empty plate. Intrigued by her reaction, Malfoy filed it away for later. He’d be sure to ask her that night in the library, because of course he was going back tonight. Try as he might to convince himself if was wrong, he just couldn’t stay away from her. 
 

Fortunately for Hermione, she had no classes with the Slytherins that day. She dragged herself through Ancient Runes and Arithmancy before lunch which she opted to skip rather than face Malfoy again. She couldn’t go to the library either for fear he’d come looking for her there. She chose instead to spend lunch in her own dormitory. 
 

Her afternoon classes did not fair much better than the morning. She knew she was acting oddly, but she couldn’t shake her nerves. How on earth was she going to make it through the evening? She considered avoiding the library altogether, but quickly discarded that idea. She’d told him she’d be there. Her answer to the problem finally showed up while she was having dinner with Ginny. 
 

“Hermione?” Ginny asked. Hermione brought her gaze up to Ginny’s. She’d been staring hard at the wood grains in the table to avoid catching the eye of a certain Slytherin. “Are you alright? You seem a bit on edge.” 
 

Damn, she cursed herself. Of course people had noticed she’d been acting oddly today. Laser focused Hermione was clearly not focused. 
 

“Oh yes, I’m fine I just can’t seem to calm down today. Maybe I’m excited about our girl’s night tomorrow.” She was trying to play to the most effective distraction, but Ginny wasn’t having it. 
 

“We’ve had plenty of girls nights before and you’ve never been this worked up. Maybe you should see Madame Pomfrey?” Her friend looked concerned and she sighed. 
 

“I’m not sick Ginny. I’ve just got something on my mind that I can’t seem to shake. It’s nothing bad I’m just not sure what to do about it,” She admitted. The other girl looked thoughtful before pulling a small vial out of her bag. It was filled with a pale blue liquid. 
 

“Here drink this,” Ginny offered it to her and she eyed it skeptically. 

 

“What is it?” 
 

“It’s just a calming draught. We brewed it the other day in potions and Slughorn let us keep some of the best ones. I promise it’ll help. It’s not good to be so worked up. Even mum uses it,” Ginny said pushing the bottle towards her when she hesitated. 
 

Hermione, not one to usually look for magical solutions, hesitated for a moment before reluctantly taking it from the other girls hand. Molly Weasley was as straight laced a witch as she had ever met. If she approved, it had to be acceptable. With no more thought about it, she unstopped the bottle and swallowed the contents. She did not regret it. 
 

Within moments her heart rate began to slow. Her thoughts seemed to organize themselves back in her mind. She was now able to rationalize the dream and process it. She felt more in control than she had in days. 
 

“Better?” Ginny prompted her noticing her obvious mood shift. 
 

“Much, thank you Ginny,” she meant it with her whole heart. Her only thought was that she should have come up with it on her own this morning rather than spending her day like a crazy woman. 
 

“You’re welcome, are you going to the library after dinner? I need some help on my arithmancy essay,” Ginny asked her. 
 

Hermione was reluctant to say yes. She knew if she went to the library with Ginny Malfoy would not want to talk to her. Then again she did owe her for the calming draught. Perhaps she could help her get her essay finished early before Malfoy showed up. He usually waited until she was the only one left in the library anyway. 
 

“Sure,” she finally relented and the two of them finished eating and set off to get their work done. 
 

Now that she was calm, she was eager to see Malfoy again. She and Ginny sat at one of the tables in the middle of the room as opposed to the private corner she usually shared with Malfoy. She pulled out her own arithmancy book and essay. She reluctantly let Ginny read her own essay to give her some ideas. She really just wanted to be finished. Much to her chagrin, arithmancy was not Ginny’s best subject. By the time she wrote her conclusion and headed off to bed, it was nearly eight thirty. The library would be closing soon. She picked up all of her things and walked back to her private aisle in the back. To her surprise, Malfoy was waiting for her already. 
 

“You’re late,” he said grouchily. 
 

“I’m not. There was no meeting time.” She stepped over his outstretched legs and took her seat beside the window. Time would be short, but she’d take what she could get. “Besides you never said you’d be here.” 
 

“Of course I’m here. How could I not be after the look on your face in the great hall this morning?” He gave her a hard stare and she knew she was blushing furiously. 
 

She thanked Merlin for the calming draught. Her blush was her only giveaway. She quickly gathered herself and returned his look. She willed herself not to think about the dream. She would not think about Malfoy half naked in his presence. Her inappropriate dreams were not his issue, and she would not allow herself to die of embarrassment. 
 

“What did I do to make you look like an overripe tomato?” He pressed on. 
 

“Nothing, it’s my own issue.” She narrowed her eyes at him in challenge. 
 

“So you won’t tell me then?” He asked her frustrated. 
 

“Not right now,” she answered him honestly. She had no intention of ever telling him anything about her embarrassing dream. So no she would not tel him right now. She wouldn’t tell him later either. 
 

“And if I decide I want to leave then?” He continued on. 
 

“Then that’s your decision to make,” she shrugged indifferently. She was not even remotely indifferent, but she would not beg him to stay either. “I’m sorry but I’m sure you have secrets as well.” 
 

He considered her for a moment, but made no move to go. Convinced he was going to stay, she relaxed against the wall. 
 

“So what were you and the girl weaselby doing all night?” He gave up on asking her questions about her earlier embarrassment. 
 

Ginny,” she emphasized. “Needed some help with her homework. Homework is kind of my thing.” 

 

“Of course, I imagine she’s more important to you than me anyhow,” his voice was cold once more. 
 

“No, no one is any more important than anyone else. Ginny is my friend and she needed help. We didn’t have concrete plans.” She reminded him not unkindly. 
 

She wondered idly how much progress they could make if they had to work through his cold exterior every time they had to interact. As if sensing her thoughts, he quickly changed the subject. 
 

“Where are your other friends anyway? Potter and the weasel?” He asked.  His voice was more inquiring than scathing so she chose to indulge him. 
 

“They went to start training as aurors for the ministry at the end of the summer. Kingsley offered us all jobs instead of finishing school.” She explained and he looked impressed for a second before sliding his cool demeanor back into place. 
 

“Why didn’t you go then?” He asked her. 
 

“I told you I want to study law. There are certain things I have to do first. N. E. W. T.s being one of them.” She told him honestly. 
 

He was sitting closer to her tonight and she watched him twist his long fingers together. Unbidden, an image of those fingers sliding over her body squeezed it’s  way into her mind. 
 

“So you didn’t want to come back?” He continued and she shrugged. 
 

“I did and then I didn’t. I considered taking the offer on the train ride, just staying on and riding back to London. I wasn’t sure I could be here without Harry and Ron. Once I got here things got better. They’ll never be what they used to, but I manage.” She wasn’t sure why Malfoy brought out the honesty in her. When she was alone with him, her most private feelings seemed to come spilling out of her mouth against her will. 
 

“You miss those two idiots?” He rolled his eyes and she resisted the urge to punch him in the shoulder. 
 

“Of course I miss them,” she laughed. “They’re my best friends. I spent seven years of my life hardly ever being away from them. They’re like the brothers I never wanted.”

 

“I’ve never had a brother, but if I did I don’t think I would have the same type of affection you had for Weasley,” he taunted her. 
 

“I’m sure I don’t know what you’re talking about.” She was indigent. 
 

“I don’t kiss my friends, Granger, or I wouldn’t if I had any.” He raised his eyebrows at her. 
 

“Really? I’ve heard differently. Wasn’t Pansy Parkinson your friend?” She felt a bit guilty for bringing up Pansy since she’d been killed in the war, but he’d started this  

 

“Pansy wasn’t my friend.” He gave her a serious look. 
 

“I didn’t know she was your girlfriend,” Hermione said a little shocked. 
 

“She wasn’t that either. She was-” he paused. “Convenient.” 
 

“Is that your round about way of telling me you used her when it suited you?” She guessed. He had the good graces to look embarrassed. 
 

“If we’re being honest, that’s exactly what she was. I had needs. She met them when necessary.” He covered his embarrassment well. 
 

“That’s appalling,” she felt a little sick. She wasn’t sure if it was his dalliance that made her sick or the thought of him with Pansy the way he’d been with her in her dream. 
 

“Are you telling me you and Potter or you and Weasley never found each other convenient last year? I know you had a thing for Weasley and who didn’t love Potter.” He pressed back and she sighed. She hated having this conversation, but he’d been honest and she would be too. 
 

“Harry is dating my best girlfriend. There was never anything there other than a sibling like love. I won’t deny I thought Ron was more than a friend at times. We kissed a few times, but there was no chemistry. It burned out before it ever started.” She told him. He seemed a bit cheered by the though. 
 

Odd, she thought to herself. What did he care of her dating history?


“I always thought  Weasley was a bit of a dunce to be honest.” He shrugged. 

“Ron is a good person. He’s just not a good person for me. Ron, um, enjoyed his celebrity status this summer. He had a lot of female fans.” She fidgeted in her seat uncomfortably. 
 

“You’re kidding? Weasley was out there getting laid all summer?” 
 

“So it would seem,” she said simply. 
 

“And you? I’m sure you got some male attention.” He said it more as a statement than a question. 
 

“There were some. That’s not really my scene though. I never do anything without thinking it through.”  She answered him honestly. The snake within him perked it’s head up again and smiled. He was pleased, though he wasn’t sure why, that she’d found no one she approved of. 
 

“Do you ever stop thinking?” He asked her. 
 

“Not really. It’s hard for me to turn my mind off.” She told him. 
 

“Me too, I can only turn it off during-” He stopped abruptly. 
 

“During what?” She questioned. 
 

“During carnal relations,” he said and she laughed. 
 

“What a very prudish way to put it.” She smirked at him. 
 

“I can’t have them sending me to Azkaban for tainting the virgin ears of one of the Wizarding worlds great heroes,” he said sarcastically. 
 

“Virgin ears?” She laughed again. “My two best friends are guys. I’ve heard worse.” 
 

“Not from me you haven’t,” he said seriously. 
 

Hadn’t she though? She thought about the dirty talking Malfoy of her dreams and a delicious shiver ran down her spine. She wondered idly if the real Malfoy actually spoke that way during ‘carnal relations’ before she realized she was not allowed to wonder such a thing. She was sure she was blushing down to her toes now. 
 

“Why do you look like a tomato again?” He asked curiously. 
 

“None of your business,” she said gathering her bags. “We should go. The library will be closing soon and I don’t want Madame Pince throwing us out again.” 
 

“I’m going to find out eventually,” he said following her out into the hall.  
 

“Don’t count on it,” she turned to glance over her shoulder at him and caught the toe of her shoe on her robe. 
 

She tripped and fell onto her back knocking the wind out of her. Malfoy, unable to stop himself went down as well. He landed sprawled on top of her. He looked down at the curly headed brunette beneath him on the floor. Her rich brown eyes were startled and her petal lips were parted in surprise. Where his body was hard angles, hers was soft beneath him. It had been so long since he’d been so close to someone. Particularly someone of the opposite sex. He couldn’t deny that her parted lips looked deliciously inviting. 
 

Hermione looked up into the stormy grey eyes above her. She tried to calm her body’s reaction to being so close to Malfoy, but the calming draught must have worn off. She couldn’t help but draw parallels between her dream and her current situation. Her heart sped up to double time, and she felt that delicious warmth start to spread through her. She didn’t spare a thought to be embarrassed as she looked over his porcelain face. His skin was the smooth perfection girls could never achieve with makeup. The only flaw were the dark faint purple shadows beneath his eyes. His lips were a rich mauve. They practically begged to be kissed. He leaned his face down toward hers a little more. They were mere millimeters apart. Hermione gasped either in shock or excitement, she wasn’t sure which.Her gasp was the catalyst needed to break whatever spell had fallen over them. 
 

Malfoy pulled back and extracted himself from her limbs. She pulled herself together and got to her feet, preparing for another one of his legendary mood swings. To her surprise, he did not appear to be angry. He looked at her uncertainly, but did not speak. Unable to take the weight of his look anymore she broke the silence. 
 

“I’m sorry I tripped you,” she could hear the breathlessness in her own voice. 
 

“You should be more careful,” he said distracted and she silently agreed only she was not thinking about tripping. 
 

“I guess we should be off then?” She posed it as a question. 
 

“Probably,” was all he could manage. 
 

“Well I’ll see you tomorrow,” she moved to step around him and go up the stairs. He reached out for her as she passed pulling her close. His mouth was once again inches from hers. 
 

“Shall we set a time for tomorrow then?” He breathed over her skin as he spoke and she tried to hide the shiver that came over her, lest he notice. 
 

“I-I can’t,” she stuttered over her words. “I promised Ginny we’d have a girl’s night. She’s been worried about me.” She told him regretfully. 
 

“Right,” he said harshly letting her go. “Have fun with the girl weasel.” 
 

“I’m sorry. Saturday night perhaps?” She tried to pull him back from his nasty mood. 
 

“Maybe, but not the library. People are going to start noticing us there. I’ll send my owl.” He said as if that settled things. 
 

“Goodnight then,” she moved to go up the stairs. 
 

“Goodnight indeed,” he whispered behind her. 
 

********************************
 

Malfoy found himself particularly irritated as he laid in bed that night. His interaction with Granger was getting dangerous. His pulse felt like lightening in his throat after their tumble by the stairs. She was doing something to his mind. She was changing everything he’d ever thought about her. She was bright, witty, and quite attractive. She was not a stupid, dirty, mudblood at all. He couldn’t deny the very physical reaction he’d had to laying on top of her. He wondered if she had noticed. He suspected not. Surely she would have been repulsed if she had. She’d made no move to get away until her desperate sigh had made him pull back. He could not lie to himself about what he’d been about to do. He’d had every intention of tasting those delicious looking rose petals lips. He knew for sure he was going mad now. The only thing that had stopped him was their public setting. Now he would have to wait over a full day to see her again. He felt like an alcoholic being denied his drink. He was restless and try as he might he could not get to sleep. 
 

The scene from outside the library seemed to be on replay in his mind. The more he thought about it, the more the muscle below his waist twitched and ached. He’d already let it go once tonight. He told himself if he didn’t tend to it he was sure to be very uncomfortable for the rest of the night. He slid his hand into his pajama bottoms and set to work taking care of the problem. Try as he may to avoid it, Hermione Granger was at the forefront of his mind the entire time. When he was finished he rolled over onto his side spent. He felt mildly disgusted with himself at what he’d done. Not really with what he’d done, but what he’d been thinking while doing it. In his mind he’d undressed Granger there in the corridor and had his way. As if that were ever going to happen. Fortunately, his self loathing could not overpower the exhaustion now consuming him. He always felt sleepy after getting off. His eyes slid closed and he drifted off to sleep. 

 

 

 



Chapter 10: Chapter 10
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The following day Hermione did not see Malfoy until their afternoon Care of Magical Creatures class. Try as she might to get his attention, he seemed to be purposely ignoring her. She assumed he was put out over the plans she’d made with Ginny. Who knew when it came to Malfoy? He could never just come out and explain his feelings. When he was feeling anything he fell back on anger. It was extraordinarily frustrating. She also wondered if it had anything to do with what almost happened the night before. 
 

It had all been an accident of course. She hadn’t meant to trip obviously. She was quite certain she had completely imagined him leaning in as if he were going to kiss her. Draco Malfoy did not kiss people who were not purebloods. Even if blood status was out of the equation there was no way he’d be caught dead kissing her. They were mortal enemies. She thought about their time in the forest and the evenings they’d spent in the library that week. Perhaps they were not the enemies they once were. And yet she could not imagine him wanting to kiss her. 
 

She watched him from across the grounds as he worked alone with a niffler.  Hagrid had asked them to trim their nails which was no small feat. He had struggled to get his creature to submit. By the time he’d tossed his watch to it to distract it, he was sweating. He’d hung his robes over a nearby tree and she admired they was his white shirt clung to his damp skin. His hair fell into his eyes and the sun reflected off the white blonde strands. His shoulder and back muscles were well defined beneath his shirt, and she could see them tight against the fabric as he moved. She absently moistened her dry lips while she ogled him. 
 

The familiar warmth spread through her as she remembered how his body had felt against hers. The real life Malfoy from their accidental fall last night tangled with the memory of her naughty dream. She felt small beads of sweat break out on her own skin but not the kind one got from exertion. As if sensing her, he finally looked up. She blushed and to her surprise, so did he. Both of them looked away quickly. She spent the rest of their class trying not to stare at him. Little did she know he was doing the same. 
 

Finally class ended and Hagrid rounded up their nifflers. Malfoy was one of the first to head back to the castle while Hermione trailed behind the others. When she made it to the castle doors and stepped inside she was quite surprised when someone grabbed her and pulled her into an empty alcove. She was about to scream when she saw it was Malfoy standing in front of her. 
 

“What in the hell are you doing?” She scolded him. She did not appreciate being taken places against her will. Last year had left her a little overly sensitive to such things. Considering what she’d been through though, maybe it wasn’t overly sensitive at all.  
 

“Language Granger,” he smirked and she rolled her eyes. 
 

“What is it you want?” She ignored his scolding. 
 

“So you and the Weasley are having a slumber party?” He asked feigning disinterest. 
 

“I don’t know if I’d call it that, but we’re going to have some girl fun,” she shrugged and he looked thoughtful. 
 

“Nude pillow fights and sex talk?” He questioned and her cheeks flamed. 
 

“Do guys really think we do that?” She answered with a question. 
 

“No, but I think they like to imagine you do.” He shrugged it off. 
 

“Is that something you imagine?” She couldn’t resist asking. His pale cheeks flushed pink and she smirked at her win. 
 

“Maybe if the right girls are nude,” he played off his embarrassment so she changed the subject. 

 

“What did you need?” She asked again. 
 

“I told you I don’t want to meet you in the library tomorrow. I wanted to make sure that if I send you an owl that you’ll go somewhere else with me?” He asked all serious now. 
 

“Hmm, probably within reason, but I’m not going anywhere I’m not supposed to be.” She gave him a serious look. 
 

“Always obsessed with the rules,” he rolled his eyes. 
 

“I can’t help it. That’s who I am. You need to stay out of trouble too you know,” she reminded him. 
 

“Yes Granger, I know. I promise you we won’t break any rules. I just don’t want our library meetings to start lighting up the gossip board around here. I like my privacy,” he told her and she blushed. 
 

She briefly imagined what they could do with a little privacy. Then she reminded herself that there was no way that was ever going to happen. She’d never been so ruled by her hormones before. It was slightly disorienting. 
 

“Why are you blushing?” He asked suspiciously. 
 

“I’m not,” she lied.
 

“Whatever he said. Will you come?” He asked again. 
 

“Yes Malfoy, I will be there. Now I really shouldn’t keep Ginny waiting anymore.” She relented. 
 

“Thank you, why is every conversation with you such an uphill battle?” He asked her frustrated. 
 

“I could ask you the same.” She countered. 
 

“You are so irritating!” He half shouted at her. His emotions were warring within him and he’d finally had to let some of it out. Unfortunately it came out as anger. 
 

“You’re no picnic yourself,” she shot back. 
 

“I didn’t ask you to inject yourself into my life!” He roared.  
 

“Why do you have to be such an arse all the time?” She parried. 
 

He took a few steps forward forcing her to back up against the wall. She looked up into his cool grey eyes and he smirked at her. He liked the look in her eyes as he cornered her. She looked more excited than frightened. He found himself trying not to react to her physically. It was no easy task. 
 

“Because that’s who I am Granger. You should know that by now.” His voice was low and husky. He was so close she could feel his body heat, and while she was loath to admit it, she liked what it did to her. 
 

“I know that’s what you want people to think.” She didn’t back down. 
 

“You have no idea what I think,” he was looking down at her only inches away now. He placed his hands flat on the wall on either side of her head. 
 

“I’m learning,” was all she could say. 
 

“Maybe, so tomorrow night then?” His mint scented breath tickled her eyelashes. Their outbursts seemed forgotten now, and she felt half sedated by his hot breath against her face. 
 

“Yes I should think so,” she answered primly and he lowered his arms, but didn’t back away. “May I go now?” She prompted. 
 

“Oh right, enjoy your nude pillow fight,” he smirked and stepped away. 
 

********************************
 

Later that night Hermione and Ginny found themselves surrounded by tons of snacks and about a million issues of Witch Weekly and a few other girly magazines. They were discussing new hair and makeup spells when Hermione came across a silly article in one of the issues. How to Know if He’s Into You, it read across the tops of the page and Hermione looked at it interested. Some wizard model was smiling and making sexy eyes at her, and every time she looked down he made a kissy face. 
 

“What’s that you’ve got?” Ginny asked curiously and Hermione scrambled to flip the page. 
 

“Nothing,” she insisted embarrassed, but Ginny wouldn’t be fooled. She snatched the magazine out of her hand and flipped back to the article Hermione had been reading. 
 

“Hermione don’t you know if someone likes you?” Ginny laughed. “You used to date Ron.” 
 

“We never really dated. We only kissed a few times,” she shifted uncomfortably on her bed. 
 

“Are you wondering if Ron still likes you? I can ask Harry.” She asked her friend. 
 

“No,” she said a little to quickly. Ginny raised her eyebrows and Hermione backpedaled. “Ron and I don’t have any chemistry Ginny. I love you, but Ron and I aren’t going to work.” 
 

“Well is there someone else you’re interested in?” The redhead asked curiously and Hermione felt her skin get hot. Ginny on the other hand seemed encouraged by her reaction. 
 

“No Ginny, it’s nothing like that,” she tried unsuccessfully to play it off. 
 

“You’re lying,” Ginny gave her a knowing look and she sighed. Ginny was like a dog with a bone. 
 

“Okay, say there is someone, how would you feel about it?” She asked seriously. “What if it was someone you didn’t like?” 

 

“I think who you date is your business same as anyone. I also don’t see how I wouldn’t like them. You have a wonderful judge of character Hermione,” Ginny told her truthfully and she almost laughed at the absurdity of what she was saying. “If I didn’t like them, I’m sure I could get used to whoever it was.”

 

Hermione considered what she was saying. It was highly unlikely that she’d ever warm up the idea of her being in a relationship with Draco Malfoy. No one would ever get used to the insanity that was sure to bring about. The thought made her sad, but then again it shouldn’t. 
 

Where had the idea of a relationship with Malfoy even come from. They weren’t even friends, let alone more than that. She doubted that they ever would be. Then again she was almost certain she’d seen a want to look in his eyes last night and earlier that evening. She was most likely deluding herself though. 
 

“Maybe Ginny, but I don’t think Harry and Ron would be so accepting,” she gave her a sad smile and Ginny wrapped her arm around her. 
 

“Harry is a lot more sensitive than you’d think. Ron is an idiot, but I’m sure he wouldn’t begrudge you happiness. He’s the one out there slagging it around everywhere,” she comforted her older friend and Hermione smiled. 
 

“Ginny?” She said curiously. 
 

“Hmm?” The girl asked grabbing a licorice whip and taking a bite. 
 

“Do you ever dirty dreams about Harry?” She blurted and Ginny coughed around her mouthful of licorice. Hermione handed her a glass of water and patter her back until she settled. 
 

“Where did that come from? Are you having dirty dreams about this mystery guy?” She asked excitedly. 
 

“I asked you first,” Hermione said indigently. 
 

“Fine, yes I have naughty dreams. Sometimes I tell Harry about them and we make my dreams come true,” Ginny blushed and giggled. It was easy to see how smitten she was with her boyfriend. Be that as it may, Hermione was shocked to hear this about Harry. 

 

“That’s my best friend you’re talking about,” Hermione reminded her and she laughed. 
 

“Sorry, you’re the one who asked.” She shrugged. 

 

“Fair enough,” Hermione let it go, but Ginny wasn’t ready for that yet. 
 

“So did you have a naughty dream?” Ginny was vibrating with excitement. 
 

“Just one, but I woke up in the middle of it,” Hermione said vaguely. 
 

 

 “Spill Hermione,” Ginny crossed her arms across her chest stubbornly. 
 

Very reluctantly Hermione told her all about her dream about Malfoy. She refused to tell Ginny who the subject of her dream was, but she did tell her everything else. She smirked to herself remembering what Malfoy said about sex talk. They were doing exactly what he’d said minus any naked pillow fights. When she finished her story Ginny looked shocked. 
 

“That’s juicy Hermione. I think you really like whoever this is.” Ginny told her excitedly. 
 

“I don’t think he’s interested in me that way. We’ve only talked a few times. We aren’t really even friends,” Hermione said with disappointment coloring her voice. 

“Well maybe you need to get friendly. You’ll never know unless you go for it. Just ask him if he’s interested,” Ginny said confidently. 
 

“Those are bold words from someone who spent years hiding from Harry,” Hermione cocked her head to the side and gave Ginny a scathing look. 
 

“Well you aren’t wrong, but eventually I learned to relax and Harry and I became friends. I would have went for it, but he went for it first,” she shrugged and Hermione sighed. She wished Malfoy was as easy as Harry. 
 

Harry was like a simple hundred piece puzzle. Malfoy was a Rubik’s cube. He had so many faces and emotions it was hard to figure him out. She wondered if she’d ever be able read him. Hermione was pondering this when an owl tapped on her window. She opened it excitedly while Ginny watched from the bed. The owl had a small note in its beak and she took it. The tawny owl flew away and she went back to Ginny on the bed. 
 

“Who’s it from?” Ginny asked curiously. 
 

“I’m not sure,” Hermione lied unfolding the small slip of paper. 
 

In familiar loopy script is read: Room of Requirement at six-only if you want to.


Hermione smiled to herself. It was such a Malfoy thing to write. He couldn’t invite her like he wanted her to come. He had to be standoffish about it. Her heart fluttered nervously. She hadn’t been to the Room of Requirement since the night of the war. She hadn’t known if it would still work. Apparently it did. 
 

“It’s from him isn’t it?” Ginny asked excitedly. 
 

“Yes,” Hermione answered with her cheeks flaming. 
 

“Well I think that settles that. He’s definitely into you.” Ginny laughed and Hermione looked at her as if she had gone mad. 
 

“How on Earth do you get that from this note?” Hermione asked. 
 

“Well he’s obviously asking you on a date,” Ginny urged and Hermione’s mouth fell open. 
 

Draco Malfoy was not asking her on a date.  He would never. He only wanted to talk like they normally did. To the best of her knowledge Malfoy had never dated anyone. He’d said so himself. Pansy was only convenient. Still she was more nervous now than she’d ever been. Even though she was sure Malfoy would never ask her on a date, part of her felt like Ginny wasn’t wrong. 
 

“You really think so?” Hermione asked her friend softly. 
 

“It sure sounds like it. I’m sure he’s not as bad as you’re making out. No one you care about could be all bad,” Ginny reassured her and she felt cheered a bit. 
 

She’d been telling herself for the last few weeks that exact same thing. Surely she wouldn’t be the only one to ever see it. Malfoy had to have some good in him. He was smart and incredibly witty. Not to mention he was more than a little bit attractive. Maybe he was asking her on a date. Maybe she just wanted him to be. Either way she was more nervous than ever. She was also more than a little excited. She thought about his lips being so close to hers not once, but twice. Perhaps she was not imagining him wanting to kiss her after all. She smiled up at her friend. 
 

“You’re right Ginny,” she told her. “About all of it. If it is a date I won’t be the one who has to go for it either.”

 

“Well don’t be reenacting any dreams on the first date,” Ginny joked and Hermione forced a laugh. She was positive that wasn’t going to happen. 
 

“No worries,” she reassured Ginny and the redhead smiled. 
 

“If things get serious you’ll tell me?” Ginny looked concerned. “I only want to look out for you.” 
 

“I promise Ginny,” she told her and she meant it. The idea of getting serious with Malfoy was so absurd she was sure she’d never have to tell Ginny a thing. 
 

“It’s late, we should get some sleep,” Ginny told her pushing the magazines to the floor and stretching out on Hermione’s queen-sized bed. It was after midnight and Hermione yawned. She stretched out beside her friend and turned off the bedroom lamps.  Ginny fell asleep quickly, but Hermione lay awake. She couldn’t stop thinking about the idea of going on date with Malfoy
 

She wanted to toss and turn, but she didn’t want to wake Ginny. It was nearly one in the morning, and even though there was no class tomorrow Ginny had quidditch practice and needed her sleep. Little did she know she wasn’t the only one having trouble sleeping. 
 

Down in the Slytherin dungeons Malfoy lay among his black sheets unable to sleep either. He hadn’t been so restless since Granger made it her mission to speak to him everyday. He’d been getting used to their chats in the library. Without having one tonight he felt restless. She was like a soothing balm to his mind. He was jealous of Ginny Weasley. He just wanted to rest. He remembered how well his relaxation methods had worked the night before and found his hands wandering his body once more. Only this time he didn’t try not to picture Granger. He imagined her tangled in his sheets underneath him with her rose colored lips parted in ecstasy. It was glorious, and he found his release quickly. He yawned, finally capable of sleep, and rolled onto his side. His last thought was of his meeting with Granger the following night. He refused to call it a date, but he found himself wanting to impress her. His last thought before he fell asleep was that he hoped he made her happy. 


Author’s Note: I know I was late on the update for the latest chapter so I am sorry about that. I appreciate all of you that continue to read. I hope you’re all enjoying it. I always welcome feedback so please tell me what you think :)

 


 

 



Chapter 11: Chapter 11
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The following morning found Hermione bleary eyed and exhausted. She’d hardly managed any sleep and her nerves were dancing on edge this morning. She’d been awake when Ginny had left for quidditch at seven and had tried to get a couple more hours sleep. It was a futile effort as her mind would not allow it. At almost nine she finally gave up writing it off as a lost cause. She figured she’d gotten maybe three hours of sleep in total.
 

A look in the mirror over her dressing table was not kind. her hair was a frazzled mess and her eyes were bloodshot with dark circles beneath them. Even her skin looked pale in the morning light, and she sighed to herself. She was nervous enough about her evening with Malfoy (she refused to refer to it as a date) without the mess she’d made of herself by not sleeping. Unfortunately she also was not very good at appearance enhancing spells. She thought hard about who might be able to help, but came up empty. Ginny was no good at them either. She decided her best bet was to check the library for some advice.  
 

As she wandered through the corridors she thought to herself how strange it was that she was so worried about her appearance. She hadn’t wanted to look this nice since the Yule Ball in their fourth year. That had been less about impressing Viktor and more about making Ron realize she was in fact a girl. She couldn’t deny that she enjoyed the way she’d felt that night. All eyes on her and every girl and some of the boys in the room had been jealous of her. She knew the spell to tame her hair back into its wonderfully sleek sheen from that night, but she didn’t want to do that tonight. She wanted to shape her curls as opposed to getting rid of them. She wanted to appear casual like she hadn’t tried too hard.  She hoped one of the library books had something about that despite that sort of magic being discouraged. Never in her wildest dreams had she thought she’d be trying to look pretty for Malfoy. Then again, her dreams had been pretty wild lately. Damn you Ginny, she thought to herself. She hadn’t been a bit nervous before Ginny had opened her mouth and used the “d” the word. 
 

She set herself up in her usual spot in the library with a few books to study. To her delight there were several spells she could use: one for red eye, one to brighten her skin, and one to bring out natural beauty. It all sounded quite promising, and she looked forward to trying it. She spent a few more hours in the library before she retreated to her dorm room to prepare herself for the evening. She wanted to allow herself time to correct the new spells if they went wrong. 
 

She needn’t have worried though. As with most spells she tried, they came out flawlessly. Her bleary eyed look was gone and she looked fresh faced when she finished. Her frizzy curls were now well defined and shiny. As a last minute splurge she penciled on some black eyeliner and gave her eyelashes a few swipes with some mascara. Satisfied with her look, she changed into a pair of her nicest jeans with a dark grey button down shirt. 
 

She’d started early to allow for incident, and now she had extra time to spare. Despite her eyes no longer looking it, she still felt quite tired. Glancing at the clock she saw she had about forty five minutes before she was to meet Malfoy. She decided to catch a quick power nap before she went. Her eyes didn’t seem willing to stay open anyway. 
 

********************************

 

Malfoy waited impatiently on one of the sofas in the Room of Requirement. He was pleased with the amenities the room had conjured. It was now a small den-like room with heavy dark wood bookshelves lining all the walls. There were two cushioned leather sofas facing each other over a heavy wooden tea table. The lighting wasn’t overly bright, but allowed plenty of light for reading if one desired. There was even a bathroom in the corner of the room so that they wouldn’t need to leave to use the loo. The room seemed to have everything he desired for the evening. Except for Hermione Granger. 
 

He tried not to watch the clock, but failed rather miserably. Six o’clock came and went. Six thirty blinked out of sight just as quickly, and still she did not show. He felt his heart sink despite himself as he waited for someone who seemingly was not coming. As the hands neared seven o’clock he considered leaving. 
 

He shouldn’t be disappointed that she hadn’t shown up. She was only a mudblood, and his note had said only if she wanted to. Perhaps she’d found she did not want to. The thought made him sad which in turn made him angry. He’d finally made up his mind to leave when the door flew open and in walked the girl he’d been waiting for. She was red faced and breathing hard. He tried to hide his pleasure at the fact that she’d shown up however late she might have been. 
 

“You’re late Granger,” he said coldly. “Do you think I have nothing better to do?” 
 

“I’m sorry, I fell asleep. I actually figured you’d be gone by now. Since you aren’t I will assume that you don’t have anything better to do.” She countered and his temper flared. She was feistier than normal tonight. 
 

“Why are you sleeping in the afternoon?” He scoffed at her. 
 

“I didn’t sleep much last night,” she admitted. 
 

“Up too late having pillow fights?” He teased her. He found his anger dissipating. 
 

“Not exactly,” she said simply. She didn’t elaborate and he did not ask. “What are we doing here?” 
 

“What do you mean what are we doing here? We’re talking like we do in the library. We’re just doing it without the rest of the idiots at this school mouthing off about it,” he shrugged nonchalantly and she felt like a fool. 
 

She’d been so stupid to think he was asking her on a date. Ginny had put the idea in her head and now she felt incredibly silly for listening. Of course it wasn’t a date. She was sure her face was on fire so she busied herself with studying the bookshelves around the room. She was pleased to find several texts on wizard law and magical creatures. Of course it made sense that the room had books she’d find useful. 
 

“These are amazing,” she commented as she strolled around the room. 
 

“They’re only books,” he shrugged remaining on the sofa. 
 

“I thought you liked to read?” She asked him strolling over to take a seat on the sofa across from him. 
 

“I do, but books rarely amaze me,” he scoffed at her. 
 

“Does anything amaze you then?” She asked curiously. 
 

You. He caught the word before it could fall from his lips. “No,” he said instead. She sighed frustrated again. She hated that they seemed to start at square one every time they encountered one another. 
 

“I realize it’s difficult for you to not be a jerk, but I really do wish we didn’t have to start every conversation with this standoffish nonsense. It’s growing tiresome,” she told him honestly. He looked slightly chastised, and she saw him visibly relax. 
 

“I’m sorry,” he said to her surprise. “Are you hungry?”  
 

“Starved actually,” she admitted realizing she hadn’t eaten all day. She was missing dinner to spend the evening with him. 
 

“Pizza?” He asked her and she raised her eyebrows in surprise. She hadn’t figured Malfoy for a pizza kind of guy. 
 

“Yes please,” she nodded enthusiastically. 
 

With a wave of his wand, two place settings complete with silver goblets appeared on the tea table in front of them. Between the plates was a jug of pumpkin juice and a large, steamy pizza. Hermione’s mouth was watering just looking at it. Malfoy reached out to take a slice, but to her surprise he scooped it up with a spatula and placed it on her plate before getting his own. She raised her eyebrows at him. 
 

“I was raised to know every social grace out there. Always serve a lady first, even if she’s a mu-, even if she’s not someone you like,” he corrected himself before he said mudblood and she appreciated his effort. “Enjoy,” he gestured at the plate. 
 

She picked it up and took a small bite. It was heavenly. The cheese was hot and melty, and the pepperoni had just the right amount of spice. The crust crisped when she bit into it. She really was starving. 
 

Malfoy watched her take a bite of pizza from across the table. The look of ecstasy on her face was almost more than he could handle. He’d never in his life had such a reaction to a female eating pizza, but here he was crossing his legs to hide the evidence. Hermione Granger had invaded his mind. She’d polluted it into being something it had never been before. He tried to convince himself that it was only a physical reaction to her being a woman, but it wasn’t just physical. She was good for him mentally too. She opened her eyes to look at him and her face flushed. 
 

“Sorry, I haven’t eaten today,” she told him. Embarrassed, she wiped her mouth on a napkin. 
 

“You shouldn’t go all day without eating,” he scolded her. He found himself concerned for her well being. 
 

“I know, it’s really not like me, but I’ve been a bit preoccupied today,” she told him. 
 

“Preoccupied with what?” He asked her suspiciously. 
 

“Well I was a bit nervous about meeting you here alone,” she told him honestly. 
 

“Why? You don’t think I’m going to hurt you?” He asked her shocked. Surely she knew he had no desire to go be his fathers cell mate. 
 

“No, no nothing like that. It was just something Ginny said last night,” she waved it off, but his temper flared once more. 
 

“You told her you were coming here to see me?” He shouted angrily. 
 

“Of course not,” she rolled her eyes at his shouting. “She was with me when the owl brought your note. She thought I had a date,” she blushed furiously and set her pizza down on the plate. 
 

“And you didn’t tell her who?” He pressed her. 
 

“Of course not,” she said. He seemed to relax at this and she sighed in relief. Another mood swing had been sidestepped. 

“This isn’t a date,” he said sternly. He wasn’t angry this time, but there seemed to be no room for argument. 
 

Hermione felt very silly. She’d spent all night and all day beside herself worrying that she was going on a date with Malfoy. Of course she wasn’t. That was entirely absurd. She tried to hide the hurt she felt, and thought she did an excellent job of it. 
 

“I never said it was,” she said coolly. 
 

“Good,” he reiterated and they finished their pizza in silence. He waved his wand again cleared away everything but their drinks. 

 

“Have you ever been on a date?” She asked him curiously. 
 

“I don’t date,” he told her simply. And he didn't, or at least he never had. He enjoyed female company, but only as it suited him and not really in a dating capacity. 
 

“Ever?” She asked shocked. 
 

“No, dating is an inconvenience. It’s messy and boring,” he explained himself in a haughty voice. 
 

“How do you know if you’ve never tried it?” She asked him. 
 

“Because I’ve watched others do it. If I recall it hasn’t worked out well for you,” he looked her over scathingly and she squirmed. 
 

“I told you Ron and I never really dated. He went out with Lavender and we kissed a time or two. There was never a date though,” she felt the need to explain though she didn’t know why. 
 

“See? Messy,” he said again reinstating his point. 
 

“Messy as opposed to convenient?” She taunted him. She wondered how often he found girls convenient in their years at school. 
 

“Exactly, with convenience there’s no hurt feelings. Both parties walk away satisfied without the expectation of anything more,” he shrugged and leaned back against the cushions of the sofa. 
 

“You can’t honestly believe that,” she cried. “People have feelings, Malfoy. If you think Pansy was satisfied then you’re a bigger idiot than I thought.” 
 

“Watch yourself, Granger. No name calling,” he said it in his patronizing voice and she bristled. “What would you know about that type of satisfaction anyway?”

 

Her face flamed at his speculations. She hadn’t thought her virginity status would come up into conversation. The closest she’d come to any kind of sex had been in a dream about the very guy sitting across from her. He couldn’t know that though. He was only guessing. Correctly, though she was loath to admit it. 
 

“I thought so,” he said watching her fret to herself. 

 

“So you never felt anything for Pansy?” She asked trying to cover her faux pas. 
 

“Oh I felt several things for Pansy. I felt several things with her too,” he laughed suggestively. “Hearts and flowers and romance just weren’t included in those feelings.” 
 

“You’re a pig,” she told him rolling her eyes. 
 

“You asked, Granger,” he shrugged her off and watched her. 
 

Little did she know he was just as uncomfortable as she was. All this talk of his arrangement with Pansy had him thinking too much. The last release he’d had had been to thoughts of Granger beneath him. He wished he’d worn his robes as opposed to slacks to better cover his obvious train of thought. He felt disgusted with himself for feeling this way in her presence, but it seemed he could not stop his body from reacting. 
 

“Poor Pansy,” she said wistfully. 
 

“Believe me, Pansy never had any complaints. She was more than happy when we met up to be convenient,” he told her and she gasped. 
 

Hermione's mind wandered as she thought about what Malfoy was saying. The hungry fiend in her mind shifted back to her dream. She wondered if that’s how Malfoy had been with Pansy. The thought made her see red, but she also felt that delicious feeling spread through her again. She needed to get rid of the excess energy coiling inside her. Ignoring his last statement, she got up to peruse some more of the books on the walls. 
 

Malfoy watched her wander the room like a lion watching its prey. She looked good in her muggle jeans. She had small hips, but the curves she did have were on full display beneath the tight denim. He warred internally about how wrong his thoughts were. Hell with it, he finally thought. Wasn’t that really why he’d asked her here in the first place? They were alone. There would be no witnesses to how he behaved in this room. He could hate himself for it later. Her got up off the sofa quietly. 
 

She was beside the back wall looking at the books above her. She reached up to pluck one off the shelf over her head. She was struggling with it when a pale hand reached over her and pulled it out before she could get ahold of it. Startled she turned around. Malfoy was inches from her holding the book she’d been after. She found herself once again backed against the wall. 
 

“Here,” he said handing her the book. 
 

“Thanks,” she said her mouth suddenly dry as cotton. She sounded breathless to her own ears. 
 

He didn’t back away. She found herself once again looking up into his eyes. Their normally cool grey seemed to be on fire. His pupils were wide and his lips were parted. He was looking at her with something almost like desire. 
 

“You’re wearing makeup,” he said suddenly. His breath kissed her face as he spoke. She’d forgotten her last minute thought to her eyes. 
 

“I’m a girl, we do that,” she said trying to calm her shaky voice. 
 

“You look better without it,” he said and reached out and pushed her hair away from her face the same way he’d done in the forest. 

 

“Thanks,” she said unable to stop the quiver in her voice. He misunderstood what it meant. 
 

“Are you afraid of me?” He said pushing her closer to the bookshelf so that his body was pressed against her. Damn it she felt good against him. He’d forgotten how wonderfully soft she’d felt beneath him a few nights ago. 
 

“No,” she said not being entirely truthful.
 

She was not afraid of him in the traditional sense, but she was afraid of the unfamiliar feelings boiling within her. She was quite sure if she acted on any of them that it was not going to end well for her. As she looked up at the fair haired man above her, she felt her resolve start to fade. It did not matter that they weren’t friends. It did not matter that they’d once been enemies. All that mattered was the searing heat shooting through her veins in that moment. Ron had never made her feel this way. She wanted to feel his mouth on her the way she had in her dream. The only question that remained was did he want the same? 

 

“You’re lying,” he whispered. 
 

His voice had taken on a heady quality. He felt his desire stir as he looked down into her eyes. They were the rich brown of melted chocolate and they were wild beneath her lashes. Her lips were parted slightly as they always were as if just begging to be tasted. 
 

“Am not,” she breathed through them and he felt the snake within him rear its head ready to strike. 
 

“Prove it,” he cocked his head sideways never breaking their gaze. 


 

“How?” She was breathless now and her heart beat hard in her chest. She watched him watch her as the moment hung on a thread. 
 

Unable to take it anymore, Malfoy threw caution to the wind. The hell with their past and her blood and war that should never have been theirs. To hell with his parents and her friends and what people would think. He had to taste those delicious lips. Just once and then the temptation would be easy to resist. Just once, he promised himself. 
 

His mouth was on hers before he could change his mind again. She gasped when his lips touched hers. Her reaction made him press harder into the kiss. As he willed her lips to part, the hardness between his legs was undeniable now. 
 

Hermione was shocked, deliciously shocked. She felt her body react as Malfoy deepened the kiss. She’d never kissed anyone this way, and she loved the way it made her feel. She felt wild and sexy and dangerous. The kiss felt forbidden and that made it even sexier. He tasted lovely, like mints and something wild and dark. She couldn’t place it, but she couldn’t get enough either. She parted her lips when he ran his tongue along the seam allowing him access. She was tentative at first letting him explore her mouth until she felt comfortable, and then she pushed back. At her reaction, he pressed her harder up against the wall, the shelves digging uncomfortably into her back. She felt his own desire press against her, and the warmth she’d been feeling for days pooled between her legs. She moaned into his mouth as he pressed against her, longing for more friction. As soon as she moved to rock her hips against his he pulled away roughly leaving her gasping against the wall. He seemed just as breathless as he tried to compose himself. 
 

“That,” he said catching his breath. “Can never happen again.” 
 

“Because I’m a mudblood?” She asked regaining her composure. 
 

“Because it’s wrong. I’m me and you’re you. This can never work.” He told her. He hated saying every word. He’d never felt such a fire within before. Not with Pansy and not with any of the others, but he couldn’t imagine the self loathing he was going to put himself through over this little episode. 
 

“That’s stupid,” she told him. 
 

“Is it? It will be the end of both of us if people were to find out about this. I can’t do anything like this with you again. It was just convenient,” he told her coldly. 
 

“Convenient?” She repeated the word. She’d never found such an innocent word so dirty before. She felt cheap and used. Her lip started to tremble and her eyes watered. “Nothing about this has ever been convenient.”
 

“I told you yesterday, Granger, I didn’t ask you to insert yourself into my life.” His voice was hard and her eyes burned. 
 

“No you didn’t, and I’m sorry to have made such a terrible mistake.” And with that she left him alone, still trying to catch his breath. 

 


 

 

 



Chapter 12: Chapter 12
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Hermione could not get out of there fast enough. What had she done? She’d let herself do the unthinkable. She’d had no business kissing Malfoy. Hadn’t he warned her about this? He’d told her to stay away, but her stubborn nature wouldn’t allow her to do so. Now she was a mess of too many emotions in not enough minutes. She felt used and dirty. She’d been so high on Malfoy’s kiss that the crash back to Earth had her feeling beaten and raw. Never in her life had she ever felt anything so strong. She thought he’d been just as into it. After all she’d felt just how into it he was. Convenient, she reminded herself. That’s what she was to him. 
 

When she got back to her room, her clothes felt too  tight against her skin and she tossed them in the corner. She wrapped herself in a soft fleece and curled up in her window seat. And then she cried. She cried until her head ached, and she felt like she was going to be sick. How had she let herself get in too deep? More importantly why was she so upset? They’d only shared a few moments since the start of term. One heated kiss did not warrant this sort of reaction. She surmised it must be the hangover from the intensity she’d felt. And oh had she felt it. She’d never wanted anything as badly as she’d wanted Malfoy to keep kissing her. She wondered what she’d have done if he hadn’t pulled away. How far would she have allowed it to go? She knew she’d been feeling things like she never had. She’d felt physical desire manifest itself between her legs. The only other time she recalled that happening was when she’d been dreaming about Malfoy. Was there something wrong with her that she only felt that desire for him? Was she one of those stupid girls who could only be with a bad boy? She’d never classed herself as much of a risk taker, but here she was pondering a relationship with someone who’d been her enemy for most of her life. It didn’t matter thought. There was no relationship. There never would be. She was going to stay away from him now. Her emotions were too raw to be casual anymore. She was so confused by what she was feeling. Her thoughts were a torn up mess and she wanted nothing more than to sleep forever. Unfortunately her mind would not allow that to happen, and so she sat there. She stared over the dark grounds until the sky started to brighten. 
 

********************************

 

Malfoy did not fare much better. While he had no tears to shed, he felt quite destructive. He had energy to burn and he channeled it poorly. He tore books from the shelves in the room of Requirement, flinging them across the room as hard as he possibly could. When that got boring he flipped the tea table and the sofas. Finally, exhausted he sat and leaned against the shelves. What had he done?

 

He should not have kissed her. He knew better than to get tangled in a relationship with her. He knew from day one that their encounters were not a good idea. Now here he was living the aftermath. To his surprise though it was not her blood status he cared about now. It was himself. He couldn’t allow anyone to think that he’d harmed her in anyway. Surely what he’d been doing counted as harm. He’d toyed with her desires. To be fair he’d also toyed with his own. He knew he shouldn’t have allowed himself to kiss her, but he’d been unable to think above the waist in her presence. His groin still ached with his own desire. Hermione Granger was more dangerous than she realized. She undid his resolve with a single parting of her lips. He’d kissed her harder than he’d ever kissed anyone. He’d never had such a reaction to a kiss. And then he’d ruined it. 
 

He had to make sure she knew it wasn’t going to happen again. He knew how disgusted she’d been at him calling Pansy convenient. He’d known it would cut her deep. It’s what he wanted. Or did he? He recalled the hurt on her face before she’d run from the room. He much preferred the look she’d had while he’d been trying to ravish her. She’d looked so wild and sexy beneath him and he’d loved the way her body felt as it stirred against his own. It doesn’t matter, he told himself. It would not, could not, happen again. He would make sure it didn’t. He’d stay away from her. It’s what he should’ve done in the first place. He had no business wanting her in any capacity. Especially not now. 
 

********************************
 

And so it went for the next several weeks. Malfoy and Hermione did not speak. There were no meetings in the library or the room of requirement. When they were forced into the same class together they avoided one another as much as possible. Hermione did not meet Malfoy’s eyes, but she did watch him when he wasn’t looking. 
 

He seemed to have reverted back to the way he’d been at the start of term. He spoke to no one. No one made any effort to speak to him either. Even from a distance she could see that he was losing sleep. His eyes had deep purple shadows underneath them, and he looked thinner than he had. She wondered what was bothering him so much. He’d chosen to end their brief association so surely that couldn’t be it. Her heart ached as she watched him from afar. She’d tried to forget their last night together, but it was to no avail. He’d ripped open a gaping wound in her chest, and it would take time for it to heal.

 

He haunted her dreams though. She found herself lost in delicious fantasies when she closed her eyes at night. In her dreams he didn’t toss her away. He kissed her until she was putty in his and hands. She always woke up just before it went any further than that. It was wearing on her mind, and she knew Malfoy wasn’t the only one with dark circles beneath his eyes. The fact that he seemed to be suffering just as much as she was was a small comfort to her pain. 
 

She had no idea how much he was suffering. As the days got shorter and frost started to fall over the grounds, he found his soul grew cold along with the weather. Halloween came and went. He missed her company, and he hated himself for it. For every moment they spent apart he felt like a part of him was shriveling and dying. He’d never thought that a girl, this girl in particular, would affect him so much. He longed for her to break their silence. He knew he had hurt her and had no right to hope for that at all. It would be just as simple for him to speak to her, but it wasn’t in Malfoy to apologize. An apology would be necessary for her to forgive him. He wasn’t ready to ask for that yet. His depression was worse than ever. The only moments he found happiness was at night when he pleasured himself to the memory of her kiss and the fantasies he could imagine in his mind. 
 

He longed for even an argument to quench his thirst for her. Finally, the first week of December, he was given a chance. 
 

********************************
 

Snow was falling softly outside and the castle had grown chilly. Try as they may to keep the fires burning, the corridors were still drafty and cold. Hermione’s feet were aching with the chill when she arrived at dinner the Friday of December sixth. Ginny looked surprised to see her. After Care of Magical Creatures with Malfoy on Fridays she usually skipped dinner so she didn’t have to pretend not to look at him any longer. She glanced at the Slytherin table as she took her seat next to Ginny. To her relief, disappointment, and surprise he wasn’t there. She felt sick as she sat down. That was a lot to feel at once. 
 

“What are you doing here?” Ginny asked her. She’d gotten used to Hermione’s Friday no shows. Hermione has told her it was so she could do extra studying. She was quite sure the younger girl didn’t buy a word of it. She’d asked her a hundred times if she was alright after the Malfoy disaster. Hermione answered with the affirmative every time no matter how not alright she felt. 
 

“I’m eating dinner Ginny. It’s dinner time.” She said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. 
 

“You never come to dinner on Friday, Hermione. Don’t act like I’m daft or something,” she said raising her eyebrows at her friend. 
 

“We have Care of Magical Creatures outside. I’m freezing after that, and I want some stew,” she said it as if Ginny should already know that. It was also the truth. 
 

“Right,” Ginny said but kept staring at her. “Whoever this mystery guy is he has really messed you up.”

 

Hermione's spoon dropped into her bowl with a clang of metal on metal. She’d warned Ginny never to mention the mystery man again. She’d told her there had been no date and never would be. 
 

“I told you that was nothing,” she said stubbornly. 
 

“Please don’t insult my intelligence. Anyone can see you’ve been down for over a month Hermione. It started the night you went to meet him. Obviously it’s more than nothing. You need to either fix it or get closure because your moping around is worrisome. Harry and Ron are worried. They want to see you in Hogsmeade next weekend before Christmas. Unless you want to answer questions from them I suggest you get your act together,” she looked at Hermione sternly. 
 

“Why did you tell them?” She asked Ginny angrily. 
 

“Because one of them is my boyfriend and we don’t keep secrets. The other is his best friend and yours. They don’t keep secrets either,” she shrugged her off. 
 

“I suppose you’re right. I’m okay though Ginny I promise,” she tried to reassure her friend. 
 

“You’re a bad liar Hermione. Get your act together by next weekend okay? You know I’ll help in any way I can.” Ginny nudged her gently to take the sting off of her words. 
 

Hermione sighed inwardly. Ginny couldn’t help, not with this. There was only one person who could, and he wasn’t interested in doing so. At least he’d given her no indication that he was. Ginny had tried to get her to tell her the name of her mystery date, but she continued to refuse. Surely if anyone bothered to pay attention they’d notice Malfoy was deteriorating at the same rate she was. 
 

“I’ll work on it,” she told Ginny honestly. “I’m going to go have a hot bath in the prefects bathroom and try to get happy already.” She smiled warmly at the youngest Weasley. 
 

“If you need me I’ll be around,” Ginny told her. 
 

“I know you will,” Hermione said gently finishing her dinner. 
 

She went to her room and gathered her things for a bath. The thought of the hot bubbly water caused her to pick up her pace. She loved a hot bath more than anything, and the prefects bathroom had that magnificent tub. When she arrived at the door she uttered the password to the painting. It did not open. Frustrated that someone was already in there, she decided to wait them out. If she left and dinner ended who knew when she’d get another chance. She tightened her robe as a draft swept through the hall wishing she’d worn socks with her slippers. She thought about giving it up as a lost cause and going to the regular girls’ bathroom for a shower, but she really wanted a soak. She was just starting to give it serious consideration when the door opened. She was not prepared to be so close to him. 
 

Malfoy stood in the doorway with steam rolling out around him. He looked delightfully warm. The hot water had made the blood rise to the surface of his skin, and it gave his alabaster coloring a pleasant pink tone. He was dressed in a deep green t shirt with matching plaid pants. She hadn’t seen him so close in so long. The dark circles beneath his eyes were even worse than she thought, and his waist was thinner too. It made her sad to see him like this. Sadness was not the only emotion she was feeling. That familiar desire spread throughout her despite her efforts to stop it. Even with a lack of sleep and an unhealthy diet he looked wonderful to her. Neither of them made an effort to speak. She met his eyes and didn’t look away as he analyzed her. 
 

Malfoy was just as shocked as she was to find himself so close to the girl he’d made such an effort to stay away from. She looked well worn from the last several weeks. A deep purple ran beneath her bottom lashes, and her beautiful petal lips were chapped from being chewed. Even her hair seemed to lack its usual shine. She wasn’t eating much. He watched her at mealtimes when she was distracted and she rarely ate more than a few bites. She looked tiny wrapped in her fluffy scarlet robe. He longed to touch her. Yes he wanted to undo that robe and have his way with her like he had so many times in his own mind, but he also wanted to make her eat and put her to bed. These were feelings he was not used to. He’d grown to care for her in the weeks they’d spent apart. Her absence had made him appreciate her presence more. He would not allow her to be absent anymore. Maybe they couldn’t be friends. It was probably the most wrong thing he would ever do, but he was not going to let her go again. He watched her as she licked her dry lips, trying to ease the sting. Unable to resist for one more second, he reached out and grabbed her by the belt of her robe. He pulled her into the bathroom and shut the door. He pressed her back up against the heavy wooden door, and then his lips were on hers. 
 

Hermione was momentarily shocked, and then she was kissing him back. She’d forgotten how wonderful he tasted. Her dreams did not do him justice. His lips were warm and soft where hers were rough from her bad habit of chewing them. Her body melted against his, and she once again felt how much he wanted this. This contact had the opposite of the desired effect. She realized what she was doing and felt the gaping hole in her chest rip wide once again. She brought her hands up to his chest and pushed him away. He resisted for a moment, then realizing what she wanted he pulled back. He didn’t move away though and she could still feel his body move every time he took a breath. 
 

“I can’t do this, Malfoy. It’s too difficult. You say you can’t be my friend then you kiss me senseless. Then you ignore me for a month. Now here you are kissing me senseless again. What is this? Why are you doing this to me?” She said desperately. She looked into his eyes and he looked like he was having an internal debate. 
 

“I’m sorry,” he whispered and her heart sank. This was another goodbye. She didn’t know how many her heart could take. “I’m sorry for not staying away. I tried so hard to get you out of my head, but I can’t. You’re right that we can’t be friends. We can’t be strangers either.” He was breathless as he spoke. 
 

She felt her heart lift a bit. Did this mean what she thought? She felt like an addict happy to just get a taste of her drug, but could he do it. Could she? Could she continue to not be his friend and still spend time with him? She loved the way his kisses and his touch set her body on fire, but that wasn’t exactly friendship. The word more lingered at the edges of her mind, but she wasn’t willing to entertain it right now. She’d never done anything impulsive in her life. She only had a few months of school left. She made her decision then. She would enjoy whatever this was while she was here. At the end of the school year they would have to let the chips fall. She wondered if her heart would survive that, but she wasn’t willing to give up what little he was offering. 
 

“What are we then?” She finally spoke. He seemed to analyze his answer. 
 

“We’re trying,” he said simply. 
 

“Trying?” She questioned and he nodded at her. 
 

“I’m going to try and not hate myself for this. I’m going to try and control myself. I’m not going to try to stay away from you. Like it or not, being around you makes me better. Not good, but better than myself. We’re going to keep it a secret, and we’re going to try to make it until the end of the year. Then who knows?” He echoed her thoughts and she considered what he said. Trying sounded good to her at least in present company. 
 

“Trying sounds good,” she smiled up at him and he almost smiled back. He schooled his expression back to neutral. 
 

“This doesn’t mean I like you,” he warned her. 
 

“Of course not,” she was still grinning. “Does that mean I’m convenient then?” She waited anxiously for his answer. 
 

“Granger you have never been convenient,” he rolled his eyes and she smiled even broader. 
 

She knew deep down that every single part of this was going to crash and burn. She also knew that she was going to take whatever she could get before it did. They had gotten good at civil conversation. They were working on getting better at kissing. However wrong she knew it was, she was going to be selfish just this once. 
 

“Now that we have that settled, I’d like a bath,” she gave him a look that said quite clearly to get out. 
 

He looked around the room like he was lost for a moment before speaking. 
 

“Can’t I stay?” He asked blushing and looking down at the floor.  The idea of her naked was almost too much for him, but that wasn’t the reason he wanted to stay. Now that he was with her he wasn’t willing to let her go just yet. 

 

“No you can’t watch me bathe Malfoy,” she rolled her eyes. “We’re not supposed to be in here together.”
 

“Well we’ve already broken that rule anyway, and I don’t want to watch,” he rolled his eyes back. “I’ll wait back there. For some very strange reason I’ve missed your company in the evenings,” he pointed back toward the dressing area behind the wall around the tub. It seemed strange to bathe with someone else in the room, but she’d missed his company as well. He wouldn’t be able to see her anyway. It felt forbidden, but she was getting pretty good at that these days. 
 

“Alright,” she relented. “But you’d better stay back there.” She knew it cost him to ask her to stay, and her compassion seemed to be in overdrive. 
 

It seemed strange to be back in his company after what had transpired between them. The kiss in the room of Requirement seemed years ago rather than weeks. The kiss from moments ago felt like a balm on her wounds. She knew it was no quick fix, and that they still had to discuss things. She wondered when he’d shove her away again because that’s what he always did. She knew deep down that a stolen kiss in the bathroom did not make up for the way he’d treated her, but she felt like she could breathe for the first time in a month. She was in no hurry to end that so soon. She felt better than she’d felt since before Ginny had mentioned a date as she slipped into the warm water. 
 

She tried to pretend he wasn’t just on the other side of the wall while she was naked in the water. Her body tingled with excitement at the thought. Twice he’d kissed her and twice she’d felt him hard against her. He desired her physically as much as she did him. The thought warmed her even more than the water. 
 

“Granger?” He said startling her out of that place in her mind. 
 

“Hmm?” She answered. 
 

“Why do you want to spend time with me? I’m shit company. I yell at you. I’m really not very good at any of this,” he called over the wall. 
 

“Your company suits me fine. I find we have things in common,” she said rubbing the foaming water over her arms. 
 

“What could we possibly have in common?” His voice had a hard edge, but it seemed less hard than it usually did. 
 

“We’ve both seen war firsthand. We’ve both lost people we cared very much about. We’ve both made decisions we would rather not have. We both survived,” she added to the end. He was silent for so long she thought he wasn’t going to answer. 
 

“Sometimes I feel like I didn’t survive at all,” he said softly. She almost didn’t hear him. 
 

“You’re here now aren’t you? That’s surviving.” She reassured him. 
 

“I guess,” he answered skeptically. 
 

She didn’t know what to say to that so she remained silent. He didn’t speak either. She finished her bath and started to get out of the water. 
 

“Make sure you stay over there,” she said quite uncomfortable with him there now that she was exposed to the air. 
 

“I’m not a peeping Tom,” he scoffed at her. 
 

“Better men than you have been tempted,” she told him sternly. 
 

“Oh I’m tempted alright,” he said wickedly and she shivered for different reasons. Damn it he could be so sexy at times. She didn’t answer that either and hurriedly rewrapped herself in her robe. 
 

“You can come over here now,” she said once she was decent, as decent as one could be in a bathrobe. 
 

He looked over her lightly tanned skin and smiled to himself. She looked lovely in her fuzzy bathrobe. He fondly remembered the night she’d fallen and he’d seen it hiked up on her hips. He longed to untie it. Not yet, he told himself. 
 

“You’re staring,” she told him shifting under the intensity of his gaze. 
 

“I’m admiring,” he corrected and she blushed. 
 

“You’ll hate yourself for it later,” she cautioned. 
 

“I hate myself anyway,” he shrugged and she sighed. 
 

One step at a time, she reminded herself. 
 

“We should get going,” she told him out loud. 
 

“When will I see you again?” He asked. He was so afraid she’d be gone again. Only available to him from across rooms during meals and classes. 
 

“Tomorrow,” she promised and he almost smiled again. 
 

“You leave first then. We don’t want anyone to see us leaving the bathroom together,” he stuck his chin out toward the door. 
 

“Alright, goodnight then,” she went towards the door, but he cut her off. 
 

She looked up into his stormy grey eyes that always seemed to be hiding some sort of internal war. He was incredibly difficult and frustrating, but she found herself wanting him around. Despite himself he made her happy. 
 

He leaned toward her then. She met him halfway as he kissed her this time. There was no urgency or roughness to this kiss. It was just a slow roll of lips on lips, but her body reacted as it always did. She wanted more, but he pulled his lips away. He rested his forehead against hers.  
 

“Go to bed, Granger,” he whispered. 
 

“Don’t tell me what to do,” she teased and he finally smiled. 
 

“Don’t be so stubborn,” he scolded her back. 
 

“Don’t be such a hypocrite,” she shot back. It felt good to be arguing again, even in their intimate position it felt normal. 
 

“Touché,” he said finally pulling away. “Tomorrow then?” 
 

“Tomorrow,” she promised and left him alone in the bathroom. 



Chapter 13: Chapter 13
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Malfoy felt like he was dreaming standing there alone in the bathroom. She was his again. Well perhaps not his. She’d never been his, but she was back in his life. He hadn’t meant to kiss her again, but damn it he could resist her. He’d missed her terribly over the last several weeks. She felt like a cool drink of water in the middle of the desert. He knew there’d be consequences. He knew he couldn’t expect her to just forgive him the awful things he’d done. Their entire arrangement was unorthodox and messy. He knew without a doubt that it was not going to end well for either of them. He was selfish though. That was the one thing that would never change. He needed her at this juncture of his life to keep going. Irregardless of the consequences he was going to keep spending time with her. He still felt disgusted with himself for what he was doing with her. She was not a pure blood. Try as she might to say it did not matter, it mattered in his world. His mother would be ashamed if she discovered what he was doing. His father, not that it mattered at this point, would surely want to punish him. 
 

The thought scared him more than it should. He’d seen his father's wrath firsthand. He was a coward, true, but he also didn’t hesitate to curse anyone he thought weaker than him. He definitely thought Draco was weak. His father was locked away in wizard prison though. He would likely never see him again. Besides, no one out in the world was ever to know about his dirty little secret. 
 

And oh was it dirty. As he crawled into bed that night to preform his nightly routine, he felt better than he had in weeks. When he finished, he fell asleep almost instantly. He had no nightmares, but he did dream of Hermione Granger. 
 

********************************
 

Saturday morning dawned bitterly cold. A blizzard had moved in during the nigh. The snow was blowing so hard outside the windows Hermione could hardly see anything beyond the glass. She loved the snow, but she was not especially thrilled about the negative temperatures outside the castle walls. 
 

She spared little thought for the weather though. She felt elated as she got out of bed. She’d had a lovely dreamless sleep, and she felt better than she had since summertime back at the burrow. Her body felt rejuvenated like she’d finally recovered from a long bought with the flu. She looked in the mirror over her dressing table to find the dark circles had disappeared, and her skin looked fresh and new. She practically glowed. 
 

She knew Ginny would notice the change at breakfast, but she couldn’t reign in her happiness. She’d just have to keep her reasons to herself. Ginny would ask questions. That didn’t mean she had to answer them. Well maybe she could answer a few. She didn’t have to tell Ginny the identity of the man who was making her feel so much better. She felt like she’d explode if she didn’t tell someone how she was feeling though. 
 

She remembered Malfoy’s kiss in the bathroom last night. Not the frantic kiss where he’d pinned her against the door, but the gentle kiss he’d given her before she’d left him. He simply could not kiss her like that and claim he was not good. He’d kissed her like she was a delicate flower he did not want to break. She’d loved the way he’d made her feel small and fragile. It was sexy in an entirely different way. 
 

They’d shared three kisses now. She wondered when they would share their fourth but made a promise to herself. She would not get caught up in him again, not until they knew more about one another. She was not a tramp, and she wasn’t about to have any random hookups. Not that she did not want him. Her body seemed to betray her every time she was in his presence. She thought she wanted more physically thought it was hard to think clearly at all when she was with him. She’d never wanted more before. Once she’d thought she would share all of these feelings for Ron, but he’d never made her feel as good as Malfoy did. Ron was funny and kind but awkward. Malfoy was dark and sexy. He had a sophistication about him that Ron never would. She wondered if that was what she found so appealing. Either way, he set her body on fire in ways she’d never known. She could not in good conscience have a physical connection with someone that she, for all intents and purposes, barely knew. Other than what she’d learned in the time they’d spent together this year, all she really knew was his reputation. He insisted they not be friends. That didn’t mean they couldn’t learn more about one another. After all he’d said they were trying. This was something she’d have to insist he try as well. 
 

She spared a moment to wonder if he’d even want any part of that with her. Then she remembered his body when they’d kissed. He definitely wanted her physically. Then he’d told her he had missed her company last night. Some part of him wanted to be around her. She was determined to grow that part. 
 

Before she headed down to breakfast, she tossed on a pair of jeans and a fuzzy light blue sweater. She pulled on her thickest pair of socks and a pair of cable knit boots in a nice shade of grey she thought complimented her sweater. She knew she was extra aware of how she looked now but couldn’t help it. She ran a brush through her hair which seemed to be behaving today. Satisfied at her reflection she headed down to have some breakfast. She was starving. It felt like she hadn’t eaten a full meal since she’d shared a pizza with Malfoy in the room of requirement. That night didn’t bring back the best of memories so she pushed it aside as she wandered downstairs. Ginny was already seated at the Gryffindor table and Hermione took the empty seat beside her. 
 

“Good morning, Ginny. Can you pass the bacon and the potatoes and the toast?” She asked her friend. Ginny looked at her like she’d sprouted an extra head. “What?” She shrugged. 
 

“Who are you and what have you done with Hermione?” She asked handing her the dishes she’d asked for. Hermione loaded up her plate before answering. 
 

“I don’t know what you mean,” she lied. Of course she knew what she meant. 
 

“You’ve barely eaten for weeks. Now you’re eating like you’ve never seen food,” Ginny looked at her incredulously. Then it seemed she saw the light dawn in Ginny’s eyes. She busied herself with her food. “You made up with your mystery date,” she smiled knowingly. 
 

Hermione, her mouth full of food, blushed as she snuck a glance over to the Slytherin table. There he was sitting alone as he usually did. She wasn’t the only one who’d gotten rid of their dark circles. She snuck a smile at him when she thought Ginny wasn’t looking. He didn’t smile back, but he did acknowledge her with a small nod. 
 

“Maybe,” she said simply to Ginny. 
 

“Maybe? No bloody maybes. I need details,” she pressed, but Hermione couldn’t give them. 
 

“We bumped into one another last night.” She told her truthfully. “It seems we both misunderstood our last meeting and now we’re trying again.” She lied then. There had been no misunderstanding. Both of them knew exactly what had happened. 
 

“And now you’re just Sally Sunshine? What exactly did you do when you bumped into one another?” She asked suggestively. 
 

“Oh God Ginny not that,” she said exasperated. “We’re getting to know each other not having sex.” 
 

“Yet,” Ginny giggled and Hermione gave her a hard stare. “Alright I’m sorry. I’m glad to see you getting back to yourself though.” 

 

“Me too,” Hermione said softly blushing again. 
 

“Be careful though. Make sure he’s in it for the long haul this time. I don’t like what it did to you last time. You’ve been a wreck for a month. It’s not healthy to be like that over a guy,” Ginny told her friend. 
 

“If Harry dumped you don’t you think you’d be a wreck?” Hermione countered. 
 

“Harry and I have been together almost two years. It’s a bit different. You’d barely been dating this person. He affects you,” she explained herself and Hermione silently agreed. Her behavior lately had been quite out of character. 
 

“You’re right. I’ve been acting silly. I’m better now though. I think this person and I are in a good place,” she explained to her friend. 
 

“I hope so,” Ginny said it like a warning. Hermione looked away. 
 

“What are you going to do all day?” Hermione changed the subject. To her surprise Ginny let her. 
 

“Luna and I are going to help McGonagall and Flitwick finish decorating for Christmas. You’re welcome to come,” Ginny told her. 
 

“I’d love to,” Hermione said ecstatically. She loved everything to do with Christmas. 
 

Besides it would give her something to do all day. She was working on a plan in her mind for her and Malfoy this evening. It would be a long day without distraction. Ginny hid her surprise well this time. She knew she’d been avoiding her friends this year, but had it really gotten so bad that they expected her to abandon them? She promised herself again to do better. 
 

“We’re going to get started right after everyone finishes breakfast.” Ginny told her. 
 

“Perfect, I’ve got to run up to the owlery and send something and I’ll meet you back here.” She finished her breakfast, feeling pleasantly full, and headed up to the owlery. She wished she had her own owl. 
 

When she reached the tower that housed the owls, she selected one of the school owls. She pulled out a spare bit of parchment and scribbled a quick note. She tied it to the owls leg, and he flew off. She felt bad for sending him out in such a storm, but he wouldn’t have to leave campus. He’d be back to his perch in no time. Her recipient would probably get the note before he finished breakfast. 

********************************
 

Malfoy was about to leave the great hall when the owl swooped down in front of him. It was covered in snow, and the icy crystals sprayed over the table. He detached the note from its leg. The owl sipped some of his hot tea and flew away. He had to resist the urge to smile to himself as he read the note:

 

Do over in the room of requirement at six-only if you want to. 


********************************
 

Hermione spent the day laughing with Ginny and Luna. Professor Flitwick taught them how to charm the decorations so that they moved on the trees making themselves sparkle even more than normal. Professor McGonagall transfigured the ordinary pine limbs into fantastic swirls. With wands waving they trimmed them in garlands and baubles until the whole hall resembled the inside of a glittering snow globe. It was the perfect way to spend a snowy day indoors. She’d missed feeling so jubilant.

 

If Luna noticed the change, she didn’t mention it. Luna was wonderful that way. Ginny on the other hand kept sneaking glances at her around the Christmas trees and grinning. Hermione tried to ignore her but found herself grinning back. It felt good to joke with her friends. The promise of the evening didn’t hurt.

 

Finally, half exhausted from their work, they declared the hall complete. It was around four thirty which gave her just enough time to get ready for the evening. Luna and Ginny invited her to go to the library before dinner, but she respectfully declined. Ginny gave her a knowing look while Luna warned her against the gnargles in the hallway. Feeling elated, she bid them goodbye and rushed up to the room of requirement. 
 

She tried to imagine quite clearly what she needed. She knew the room tended to give you what it thought you needed as opposed to what you wanted. As she walked through the door she found herself quite pleased. The floors were a dark wood, and the ceilings rose high over head. It was tall but not large. A big picture window looked out over the grounds on the back wall, though she was unsure how the room could have a window. There was a single couch with a matching ottoman facing the most grand fireplace she could imagine. It was made of light colored bricks that rose all the way to the ceiling with a decorative grate surrounding the flames. The fireplace itself was as tall as she was with flames dancing cheerily inside. It was quite cozy. 
 

She waved her wand and a silver tray appeared on the ottoman. It was filled with graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate squares, and some peppermint candy canes. There were two mugs on the tray waiting to be filled with steaming tea or hot cocoa. If she’d thought decorating the great hall made her happy, spending the evening this way had her elated. Now all that was left to do was wait for Malfoy. She was pretty certain he would show, but the mercurial nature of his moods always left a question. 
 

She needn’t have worried. At promptly six pm he strolled through the door. He was dressed similarly to her in a pair of jeans, but his sweater was black. She didn’t think she’d ever seen him wear jeans before. They fit him nicely. 
 

“You’re very punctual,” she said from her place on the sofa. 
 

“You’re very observant,” he rolled his eyes at her. He lingered by the door as if not sure what to do with himself. 
 

“Come sit down,” she motioned to the other end of the sofa. He hesitated before taking a seat opposite her. The middle cushion offered them a nice neutral barrier. 

“This is different,” he said taking in their surroundings. 
 

“I thought it was cozy with the weather,” she shrugged nervously. 
 

“It’s suitable,” he amended and she smiled. 
 

“Cocoa?” She asked offering him a mug. 
 

“Granger, you are an amazing clichè at times,” he told her and her face fell a bit. “I’ll still have some cocoa.” He added and she brightened. 
 

She filled his cup with her wand and offered him the tray of goodies. He took one of the candy canes and placed it in his cup to melt along with a piece of chocolate. She dropped several marshmallows in her own cup. 
 

“Are we going to discuss what’s going on here?” She asked boldly. 
 

“I’d rather we didn’t,” he said standoffishly and she sighed. 
 

“If we can’t talk about it then we shouldn’t keep doing it,” she warned him. 
 

“Fine, what is it you insist on discussing then?” He relented. His fear that she would desert him again outweighed his desire to avoid this conversation. 
 

“Well you said we can’t be friends,” 

 

“Of course not,” he interrupted. 
 

“What are we then? Because as we’ve already discussed we don’t kiss our friends, and I don’t kiss strangers.” She explained to him and he felt his agitation prickle. 
 

“Not everything needs a label Granger. This is new territory for me. Can’t we just let it ride without complicating it?” He asked her. 
 

“Perhaps we can,” she paused. “But it’s new to me too and I have conditions.” 
 

“Of course you do,” he looked up as if some divine force were going to save him from this moment. “What are they?” Still staring at the ceiling, he looked at her out of the corner of his eye.
 

“Well this is different for me. I’ve never made a habit of convenient dalliances. I’d like to know more about you if we’re going to, um, keep letting this ride.” This was not going as well as she’d hoped for. 
 

He considered her for a moment, before deciding that entertaining her nonsense could be worth her company. 
 

“What is it you want to know?” He asked finally. 
 

She looked at him surprised. Did she think he couldn’t carry a conversation? His question set her on a roll. She asked him everything. She asked about his childhood which he was reluctant to say much about. She asked him about his mother and father. She even asked him about Crabbe and Goyle and some of the other Slytherins. Much to his own surprise he answered every one of them. He never dropped his angry facade. He was stubborn on what he did give her, but he tried to answer everything. He only avoided the ones about his father. He wasn’t willing to broach that subject at this stage in their non friendship. As the conversation went on her questions grew a bit more sensitive. 
 

“What are you really doing here? Harry told me they gave you a choice between here or Azkaban. What’s the plan after this year?” She asked him curiously. He had discussed the terms of his agreement with the ministry with no one, but he found himself blurting it to her. 
 

“They told me I had to finish my education, so I could have a career that would help repay my debt to society. They gave me an approved list and I have to choose one of their options. After four years of working, I’ll be re-evaluated. If I do well I get my freedom. If I don’t it’s off to prison.” He explained looking out over the snowy scene outside. It seemed stupid when he said it out lout. It felt stupid. He felt like a puppet in their game. 
 

“That seems fair,” she commented and he gave her a hard stare. 
 

“Does it? I don’t think it’s fair at all to have someone else decide my future. My father did it for years, then Voldemort, and now the ministry. I just want to be free to make my own choices,” he told her. 
 

“Well when you put it that way it does sound rather bad, but they’re giving you a second chance. It’s only a few years and you get to choose your career. They’re not choosing it for you,” she made some valid points. 
 

“Cold comforts Granger,” he scoffed at her. 
 

“Have you considered what you might want to do then?” She asked him curiously. 
 

“Well I had one idea, but I don’t think it will work out,” he shifted uncomfortably and wouldn’t meet her eyes now. The tops of his ears were tinged pink in embarrassment. 
 

“Please tell me,” she reached across the cushion and placed her hand on his thigh. Her touch was like veritaserum. He couldn’t help but tell her then. 
 

“I thought I might like to study and become a healer. It seems a proper way to help. After causing pain why not try to undo some,” he shrugged as if it were the most obvious thing in the world for him to do. 
 

“Malfoy that’s amazing,” she smiled broadly, and he shifted uncomfortably again. “What made you decide on that?” 

 

“You did,” he answered looking at her again. 
 

“Me? How?” She asked curiously. She didn’t recall every mentioning healers to him. 
 

“In the forest, you were in so much pain. I just wanted to be able to make you better, but I couldn’t. I figured that day that healing would be a good choice,” he shrugged nonchalantly. 
 

“It’s a great choice. I’ll help you if I can,” she encouraged him. 
 

“Thanks, can we please discuss something else now?” He could hardly handle anymore talk about his legal situation. 
 

“Of course, did you have anything in mind?” She asked him. She felt like she’d been speaking for hours. 
 

“Did you ever kiss anyone other than Weasley?” He blurted.

 

His face flamed at what he’d just asked. He had no business checking her dance card, but he found he had to know. Her cheeks blushed slightly as well before she answered. 
 

“Viktor Krum, but only once. He was nice, but deadly dull. I suppose he was a good wizard, but he struck me as a bit dim,” she laughed a little. 
 

Malfoy did not laugh. The thought of her kissing the quidditch star was not even remotely humorous to him. Sensing a change in him she stopped. 
 

“Are you jealous?” She asked him. 
 

“Of course not, I just didn’t think you were that kind of girl,” he told her coldly and she frowned. 
 

“I’ve kissed two boys, Malfoy. That hardly constitutes me being any kind of girl. How many girls other than Pansy have you found convenient?” She shouted at him and his eyes widened before he busied himself with his cocoa. “Well?” She was relentless. 
 

“A few,” he finally told her. 
 

“How many is a few?” She was the angry one now. How dare he treat her like she was promiscuous  when she’d never slept with anyone and had only kissed two guys. 
 

“Four,” he said begrudgingly. 
 

“And you treat me this way over kissing two? Who were they?” She continued. 
 

Malfoy sighed. He did not want to have this conversation. His past partners meant little to him. He’d never felt a thing for any of them. Talking about them just made him think about his fantasy Granger. The one who turned to putty in his hands and called his name. Not the angry red faced woman in front of him now. 
 

“Pansy, the Greengrass sisters, and Millicent Bulstrode.” He told her against his better judgement. 
 

“The Greengrass sisters? Please tell me it was not at the same time,” she looked horrified and he actually found himself laughing. 
 

“Don’t be such a prude Granger. Experimentation can be a good thing, but no it was not at the same time,” he considered lying but took pity on her. Her face looked ready to pop as it was. 
 

“And Millicent? She’s a troll,” Hermione said unkindly. It wasn’t like her to speak ill of others, but she hadn’t forgotten Millicent beating her up in second year. 
 

“Too true, I was in a bad place sixth year. She was a distraction.” His skin crawled at the memory. She really was a troll. 
 

“I can’t just be convenient,” she said suddenly serious. 
 

“I thought we already covered this last night,” he told her. 
 

“We did. I’m just reminding you,” she gave him a serious look. 
 

“I will never forget that you’re inconvenient, Granger.” He was not angry when he said this and she smiled.
 

He watched as she chewed her bottom lip. She looked irresistible when she did that. He wanted to be the one to grab her lip between his own teeth. She seemed intent to take whatever this was a bit slower than they had been. He found himself okay with whatever it was they were doing as well so he resisted his urges. 
 

For the remainder of the evening they found themselves quite conversational. She asked him questions. He answered and vice versa. Hermione was quite pleased at the way her Saturday had gone. She hated to see it end, but curfew loomed and Malfoy could not get into trouble. Sometime during the evening a blanket had appeared in the sofa and Hermione had covered up. Now she folded the blanket over the back of the couch and got to her feet. She was shocked at how quickly three hours had passed. The picture window was now just a black square  
 

“We should be going,” she told Malfoy. “It’s getting late.” 
 

“I suppose it is,” he waved his own wand and cleared away their drinks and snack before getting up. 
 

“Tomorrow night?” Hermione asked him hopefully. 
 

“It’s possible,” he shrugged. Knowing that was as close to a yes as she would get she followed him to the door. 
 

As she watched him from behind an idea struck her. Every kiss they’d shared had been initiated by him. Perhaps it was her turn. She told herself they’d talked enough for her to keep her promise to herself about their fourth kiss. She had learned quite a bit about him after all. When he reached out for the doorknob her hand caught it first. He turned and raised his eyebrows. Before he could speak she stood on her toes and brushed a quick kiss across his lips. His eyes were still closed when she pulled away. 
 

“Goodnight Malfoy,” she told him turning the knob. She stepped around him out into the hall. 
 

“Goodnight,” he said to her back. He watched her walk away amused. Granger was full of surprises. 


 

 

 

 



Chapter 14: Chapter 14
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The next several nights were much of the same. They had some serious conversations as well as some lighthearted ones. They also studied quite a lot which was just fine with Hermione.  Hermione’s exuberance hadn’t dimmed since they’d rekindled whatever it was they were. While Malfoy would never openly admit to being happy he had to try a lot harder to be surly in her presence. They’d shared a couple more chaste kisses, but Hermione had put the brakes on the intense make outs. She felt they needed to make more sense of whatever they were before they progressed to that again. An out of control fire was sure to be dangerous. 
 

This did not stop her from dreaming. Her dreams had progressed into such steamy adventures she often woke up with her heart racing and her chest heaving. Almost every night she went to sleep and had dreams of Malfoy doing delicious forbidden things to her body. It made it very difficult for her to slow down their physical relationship. Clearly her subconscious mind was desperate for more. Luckily the rational part of her mind won favor in that argument. 
 

She’d gotten quite comfortable with their routine. He still avoided her in classes and at mealtimes. He was always worried about what people would think. She wasn’t exactly jumping up and down to advertise what she was doing to the ones she cared about. Still, he was much more secretive than she was. Both of them looked forward to their casual evenings though. 
 

On Friday morning Ginny reminded her that they would be meeting Harry and Ron in Hogsmeade on Saturday. She was nervous at how Malfoy would take this news. They’d almost worked past the uneasiness that began each of their encounters. She was nearly certain that this was going to be a setback. She certainly would not have been thrilled if he’d been meeting Pansy. Pansy was no longer any threat her though. Hermione spared a small bit of sympathy for the dead girl but couldn’t manage to be too heartbroken over it. She’d been a dreadful bully. 

 

She tried to tell herself it did not matter what Malfoy thought of her meeting her friends. She was free to do as she pleased and would not allow anyone to stop her. The fact that it would hurt him did make her hesitate to tell him. She avoided his looks all through their afternoon Care of Magical Creatures class. She was sure he’d caught on that there was a rift between them. She had a quick meal with Ginny in the great hall, and then she could not avoid it any longer. She reluctantly climbed the stairs to the room of requirement. He was already waiting for her when she arrived. He was dressed in his Slytherin robes, and they contrasted sharply with his skin tone. He looked lovely in black. 
 

“Something on your mind?” He asked casually from the couch. They were back in the fireplace room. 
 

“No, why?” She answered as innocently as she could. 
 

“You haven’t looked at me since breakfast,” he reminded her and she sighed. May as well get it over with. 
 

“I expect I’ll be a bit late tomorrow,” she said dropping her bag on the floor and sitting across from him. 
 

“Why?” He eyed her suspiciously. 
 

“Tomorrow is the last Hogsmeade visit before Christmas. Ginny and I are meeting Harry and Ron for some drinks at the three broomsticks and I’m going to do some holiday shopping,” she explained calmly. 
 

“A double date with those idiots?” He shouted at her angrily. “I thought you weren’t seeing Weasley.” 
 

“Do not shout at me,” she warned him. She had stood up from the couch. “Ron and I are friends same as Harry and I. I haven’t seen them in quite a while. We’re going to have a drink at the Three Broomsticks, and we’re going to catch up. Then they’re going to go back to work while Ginny and I do some shopping. I’m sorry if you don’t like it, but that’s how it’s going to be,” she left no room for discussion. 
 

“I bloody well don’t like it!” He said angrily. 
 

“I bloody well don’t care. We aren’t friends remember. They are my friends and I want to see them,” she refused to budge on the subject. 
 

“We may not be friends, but I didn’t think you were the type to slag it around either,” he told her snootily and her own temper flared. 
 

“Excuse me? How dare you?” She shouted at him now. He seemed to flinch back as she spoke. “I have told you several times Ron is my friend. I won’t be spoken to that way again. I’ve been nothing but honest with you. I deserve a bit more respect than that considering you’re the one with the sordid past here. You and all your bloody convenient tramps have no right to judge me!”

 

She was breathing heavily when she finished her monologue. Malfoy seemed to be shocked into silence. Her cheeks were flushed and her eyes were wild. He could see her chest rising and falling with her breaths. She looked wild and beautiful if he was honest with himself. It had been a long time since he’d seen that fire within her. He recalled her punching him in the jaw in third year. The girl had quite the temper when it involved someone she cared about. 
 

He assessed her standing there by the door. Was he happy about her seeing the morons? Of course not, but he could see she wouldn’t be stopped. It wasn’t his place to stop her no matter how bad he wished he could. He’d never seen her so angry before. It rather excited him. 
 

“I’m sorry,” he said calmly. 
 

“For what exactly?” She was flippant, her anger still flaring. 
 

“For insulting you. I won’t be sorry about not wanting you near them.” He conceded. 
 

She considered his apology for a moment. She wasn’t sure his insult deserves her forgiveness but found she wanted to let it go. She resumed her seat on the couch across from him. 
 

“Very well, I’m sorry you feel that way, but they are my friends. I’ll be seeing them tomorrow and any other time I choose,” she stared at him hard looking for any inkling of disagreement. 
 

Malfoy was not a fool. He knew when he was beaten. He also knew when it was best to fold. He clearly had the losing hand here with no basis for his reservations. 
 

“I won’t like it,” he said grumpily. 
 

“I wish you felt differently,” she told him simply. 
 

“Never going to happen,” he fidgeted with a loose thread on his robe.
 

She was quiet now. His fear that she would leave and not come back kicked into overdrive. There was a chance she’d see her friends and realize that what she was doing with him was a mistake. He couldn’t have that. 
 

“You’re impressive when you’re angry, Granger,” he said offhandedly. 
 

“Am I?” She raised her eyebrows at his observation. 
 

“Quite,” he sat up straight on the couch and slid towards her. “Do you remember this?” He turned his head and pointed to a small scar just beneath his jawline. 
 

“Should I?” She studied the mark curiously. The pale line was barely visible on his already pale skin. 
 

“You should, you did it. Fists of fury you got there,” he nodded at her hands and she laughed. Her 
 

“I’m not sorry for that, you know,” she told him. Her anger was dissipating in spite of herself at the memory from third hear. 
 

“I wouldn’t expect you to be,” he shrugged. 
 

“I didn’t know I hit you that hard,” she reached out to turn his head back to the side. She cupped his face and ran her thumb gently over the raised white line. 
 

Unbidden, his eyes slid closed at her touch.  She quite liked touching him. He so rarely allowed it. They usually only touched lips. His skin was smooth and warm and she felt the hair on the back of his head brush her fingertips. She kept up the rhythm of her thumb over the scar. His lips parted and he hummed in the back of his throat. It was a pleasant sound. It reminded her of her cat’s purring and made her smile. 
 

They were much closer on the couch now. Their knees were brushing against one another. She could smell the minty smell on his breath that she’d come to love. It was like a spell falling over her. She kept stroking his jaw as she leaned in. The second her lips brushed his she felt like she was on fire. He didn’t move, letting her take the reigns for a change. She brought her other hand up to his face and held it as she kissed him. It wasn’t a chaste kiss, but it wasn’t a frenzied rush of passion like their others had been. She rolled her lips into his willing him to participate. He responded in kind meeting her gentle force with his own. He hesitated for a moment before gripping her waist. His warm hands felt wonderful through her robes. She longed to feel them trail across her bare skin the way they did in her sleep. 
 

She didn’t resist when he took over. This was one area where he knew more than she. He guided her back against the cushions until she was lying on her back. He hovered over her for a moment breaking their kiss. There was a wicked gleam in his eye and the fire in her veins roared toward his touch. 
 

“Look what being angry got you,” he ran his nose along her jawline. She squirmed in ecstasy beneath him. This was so eerily similar to that first dream. She felt like her body was one fire. 
 

“I should get angry more often then,” she tried to mimic his sexy tone, but her voice came out more breathless than anything. He couldn’t take her quivering beneath him much longer. 
 

He crashed his lips back into hers. He scooted her until he could get one of his knees beside her at the back of the couch. His knees braced her hips and he broke away again. He was going to enjoy this. He was going to make sure she came back for more. Weasley would be a distant memory.  Her eyes were hungry and she licked her delicate little lips. He grinned down at her and she gasped. It was the first true smile she’d seen all year. Taking advantage of her shock, he bent down and kissed her earlobe dipping his tongue into it and teasing her. He trailed his nose along her jaw peppering kisses until he arrived back at her lips. She parted them for him and he explored the inside of her mouth. Her taste was exquisite. Kissing her was nothing like kissing the others. 
 

He pressed her down into the couch with his body. He pressed against her hard and she squirmed beneath him. He’d longed to have her in this position since the night they’d tripped outside the library. He didn’t have to be her friend to claim her body. He slid her robes back on her shoulders so he could pick at the shirt underneath. He untucked it from her skirt and slid it up. 
 

The skin on her abdomen was smooth and soft. He kept his lips on hers while his long fingers climbed her rib cage like it was a ladder. Hermione shuddered as he trailed over her sensitive spots. He ground his hips against hers, and she felt his erection pressing against her thigh. The feeling had her writhing beneath her Slytherin companion. 
 

She was enjoying herself immensely. His hands continued to explore her body. She gasped into his mouth when they reached the waist band of her bra. She was grateful she’d worn a nice one that day. He trailed his hands over the cups underneath her shirt. Her hips lifted off the couch seeking his. She craved that delicious friction. He pushed his hips back against hers. And then he stopped. 
 

“What are you doing?” She whimpered. She felt cold without his body touching hers. 
 

“Saving you from yourself,” he whispered against her ear before pulling away. 
 

She looked disappointed at this turn of events and the thought pleased him. It seemed wrong to seduce her this way, but she wanted to make sure she knew Weasley was nothing. Perhaps seducing her was a very Malfoy thing to do after all. 

 

He slid back away from her and she pulled her shirt down over her bare skin. She adjusted her pleated skirt back down her thighs, but not before he had a chance to glimpse her underwear. They were dark red and lacy. Interesting, he thought to himself. That would certainly add some spice to his nighttime activities. 
 

She seemed uncomfortable and he felt guilty. She was a virgin and he was toying with her. He reminded himself she was a willing participant. 
 

“Have fun with your friends tomorrow,” he told her devilishly and she finally laughed. He breathed a sigh of relief. 
 

“I will,” she said stubbornly. Her body felt raw from being consumed by his touch. 
 

He looked pleasantly disheveled on the other end of the couch. She wondered if she looked that good. Surely not with her wild curls and her uniform in disarray. 
 

“What was that like?” He looked smug. 
 

“Almost like my dr-” She cut herself off and her face flamed the same color he’d glimpses of her underwear. 
 

“Like your what?” Surely she had not been about to say what he thought. 
 

“Never mind,” she said hurriedly but he was not giving up. 
 

“Did you dream about me?” He pressed and she wished a hole would swallow her up. 
 

“Perhaps once or twice,” she relented her face turning even redder. 
 

“This is an interesting development, Granger,” he looked at her as if she were his prey. It pleased him to his very core that he wasn’t the only one having fantasies. She wasn’t to know that though. He enjoyed watching her squirm. 
 

“Care to share?” He teased her. 
 

“Not especially,” she told him stubbornly. 
 

“Fine, but I’ll get it out of you eventually,” he gave her a wicked look and she felt it all the way at her core. 
 

“Don’t count on it,” she declared and he laughed.  
 
She flung one of the couch throw pillows at his head, but he caught it in midair and tossed it aside. Frustrated, in both body and mind she grabbed the other and fully tackled him with it. She hit him several times before his arms circled her waist. He locked her arms at her sides and pulled her down on the couch next to him. 
 

It felt nice to be held this way. Her agitation and embarrassment forgotten, she relaxed against him. He stiffened against her for a moment before relaxing. He’d never been the cuddle snuggle type, but her body felt warm beside his. She sat between his legs with her back against his chest. His arms wrapped around her waist. This was very unfamiliar territory. It spoke of hearts and flowers and the type of relationship he’d never had. It scared him. The fear made him angry, but he did not let her go. This was trying, he reminded himself. He still marveled at the fact that she allowed him to be so close to her. To touch her. Perhaps he could be worthy of her. He knew he would never be worthy in her friends’ eyes. That made him angry again. He wanted to go back to the solitude of his dorm room, but realized she’d fallen asleep. Unwilling to wake her, he held her as she napped. 
 

When she did wake it was nearly time for them to part ways for the evening. He couldn’t believe he’d held onto her for hours as she’d slept. It had felt good to have something to anchor him. He’d never wanted to keep someone safe before, but watching her sleep had made him realize that there was not much he wouldn’t do for her at this point. He maintained that they were not friends, but they were something. Something different, perhaps something more. The thought was unfamiliar to him, but not unpleasant. 
 

“Malfoy,” she grumbled as she stirred in his arms. 
 

“Granger, funny I’ve been here the whole time and I didn’t notice any rats in your hair,” he teased her as she woke up. She gave him a dirty look and tried to flatten her curls. “I’m only kidding.” He said. 
 

“What time is it?” She looked around seemingly confused at the now dark window. 
 

“Almost nine, time for us to go,” he roused her. 
 

“I can’t believe I slept almost two hours,” she seemed shocked at herself. 
 

“I wore you out,” he said wickedly and her cheeks turned pink. 
 

“So it would seem,” she said getting herself up off the couch. He stood up behind her. “Malfoy?” She said facing him. 
 

“What?” He asked looking down at her sleepy face. 
 

“Thank you for tonight,” she said simply. 
 

Unable to quite tell her she was welcome, he nodded at her. She knew what he meant. It was enough. Their gazes lingered, but he did not kiss her again. He didn’t know if he’d let her leave if he got his hands on her once more.  
 

“You’ll come tomorrow? After you see your friends?” He looked at her. 
 

“I promise,” she reassured him and he nodded again. 
 

He watched her leave the room. Hermione Granger was a part of him now. Like it or not she was the only corporeal thing that kept him tied to his sanity. She made his life livable. It was time he started showing it. 

 


Author’s Note: Holy cow almost eight hundred views? You all are AMAZING!! This chapter is definitely nothing more than fluff, but I wanted to give you an update and I didn’t have a lot of time. I hope you enjoy it in all its fluffy glory. Thank you for continuing this with me :))



Chapter 15: Chapter 15
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The next day Hermione and Ginny bundled up in heavy cloaks, hats, and scarves and made their way down the winding path to Hogsmeade. The snow had let up a few days ago, but it was still thick on the ground. Their boots sank into the crunchy drifts making it difficult to stay upright. By the time they made it to the village they were both sweating under their layers. They headed straight for the Three Broomsticks where they shed their heavy outerwear. Once they’d hung up their cloaks they cased the pub for their boys. 
 

Harry and Ron were seated at a table in the corner. The two of them were surrounded by a small group of admirers. The second Harry set eyes on Ginny he waved them over and dispersed the crowd. Harry stood up and pulled out the chair next to him. Hermione marveled for a moment at how grown up they were now. The men in front of her had changed since their last year at Hogwarts. She felt even more strange about being there without them. 
 

“You look beautiful,” he said kissing the redhead on her lips. “I’ve missed you. And you too,” he turned to Hermione and wrapped her in a hug. 
 

“I’ve missed you too. You have no idea how much,” she hugged him back hard before sitting down next to Ron. Ron patted her awkwardly on her arm. 
 

Harry slid closer to Ginny so he could twine his fingers with hers. The two of them made a lovely couple and Ginny looked thrilled to be here. If Hermione hadn’t been so caught up in her own drama she’d have noticed that Ginny was missing Harry. She knew they kept up over letters, but that was no substitute for the real thing. 
 

“How’s school?” Harry asked them as Madam Rosmerta dispersed their drinks. 
 

“School is school. It’s very much the same but a little different. Of course you guys aren’t there so that’s a change but mostly nothing has changed,” Ginny shrugged sipping her butterbeer. 
 

“I’ve heard you’re doing amazing things with the quidditch team,” Harry nudged her and she grinned broadly. 
 

“We are undefeated. I do miss my favorite seeker on the field,” she smiled up at him and he blushed a bit. Harry had always been awkward with girls. 
 

“You two are nauseating,” Ron said speaking for the first time. 
 

“Oh grow up, Ronald. They’re a couple. I think it’s sweet,” Hermione scolded him. 
 

“Don’t mind him Hermione. He’s found that too many girls is not necessarily a good thing. He’s a bit sore over it,” Harry teased his friend. 
 

“Really? Do tell,” she said interested. 
 

“I’d rather not thanks,” Ron gave her a dirty look and went back to sipping his drink. 
 

“Don’t you guys read the Prophet?” Harry asked barely containing has laughter. 
 

“No, no one does anymore. They’re idiots,” Ginny told her boyfriend. 
 

“Oh no lots of people still read it,” Ron commented, his ears turned a spectacular shade of pink. 
 

“Some of Ron’s fans were visiting. While we were sleeping one of them stole all of his underwear. She was a Prophet reporter and they ran an article on what kind of underwear famous Ron Weasley wears, complete with pictures.” Harry was laughing out loud by the time he finished telling them. Hermione and Ginny joined him. Rons red face clashed spectacularly with his hair. 
 

“Shove off,” he told them. They tried to quiet their laughter. 
 

“That’s what you get for acting like an idiot,” Hermione told him quieting. “Women aren’t toys Ronald.” 

 

“What would you know about it?” He glared at her. 
 

“Hermione has a boyfriend,” Ginny said. Hermione kicked her hard in the shin underneath the table. 
 

“Ouch,” Ginny hissed rubbing her leg. 
 

“Boyfriend? Who?” Ron asked curiously. 
 

“You don’t know him. Besides he’s not my boyfriend,” she lied and scoured to room for something else to look at. 
 

“Is it Viktor Krum?” Harry asked and she rolled her eyes. 
 

“I haven’t seen Viktor since the wedding and he and I are just friends,” she told him. 
 

“It’s someone at school,” Ginny told them. Hermione gave her a look that said quite clearly she wanted her to shut up.

 

“Come on Hermione. Tell us who. Don’t you owe me that much?” Ron begged and she gave him a hard look. 
 

“Quite the opposite actually. I owe you nothing,” she told Ron and he looked disappointed. “You lost your rights to know anything about my love life.”

 

Harry and Ginny shifted awkwardly across the table. This was a sensitive topic and both felt the need to disappear. 
 

“Let’s go get another drink,” Harry told her. She followed without hesitation. 
 

“Maybe I want another chance,” Ron said softly when they were alone. 
 

“And maybe it’s too late,” she said gently. “I’m sorry Ron. You know we weren’t very good together. You’ll find someone else. You only think of me because I’m convenient.”

 

There was that word again. It seemed to pop up a lot in conversation about relationships. 
 

“You’re probably right. I did have feelings for you. Maybe they were just convenient after all,” he gave her a sad smile and she patted his arm. 
 

“We’ll always be friends,” she told him. 
 

“So who is the mystery guy?” He asked her and she blushed. 
 

She considered Ron saying she’d been convenient. She thought about Malfoy calling her the same. Then she thought of him telling her she was anything but. The thought made her blood burn in a fantastic way. She couldn’t stop the smile that spread over her face as she compared him to Ron. Ron was simple. Malfoy was a puzzle. 
 

“I’m sorry, I really can’t say right now,” she broke it to him softly and he sighed. 
 

“I hope he’s worthy of someone like you,” Ron told her with a smile. 
 

“I’m sure he is,” she reassured him. 
 

The awkwardness of the conversation dissipated. Harry and Ginny reappeared at the table. The four of them shared a few more drinks and a healthy amount of laughter. The conversation didn’t steer toward any sort of romance again. For that, Hermione was grateful. As the morning shifted to afternoon Harry and Ron announced they had to go. They had a long trip back to London and an important meeting with Kingsley the following morning. 
 

“On Sunday?” Ginny asked Harry skeptically. 
 

“Yes, apparently there’s been some sort of emergency and they want us all in. I’m sorry Gin,” he stroked her face softly. 
 

“I miss you,” she told him sadly. Hermione felt her throat constrict as she watched the exchange. She understood now what it was like to be away from someone you cared very much about. 
 

“It’s only a couple weeks this time Ginny. I’ll be at the Burrow for Christmas. I got you something really special,” Harry comforted her and she smiled. 
 

“All I want is you,” Ginny looked up at him. 
 

“And you’ll have me,” he promised giving her a deep kiss. The kiss went on a bit longer than was polite, and Ron cleared his throat. Hermione elbowed him in the ribs. 
 

“You don’t have a romantic bone in your body,” Hermione scolded him. 
 

“She’s my sister,” he said stubbornly. 
 

“And Harry takes good care of her,” she told him. Unable to argue with that he fell silent. 
 

Finally goodbyes were said and hugs shared all around. They promised to be at Mrs. Weasleys on Christmas morning. Hermione would be arriving that afternoon after seeing her own family. Seeing her friends had made her quite happy, but not as happy as she’d come to be with Malfoy. It was odd. Months ago all she had wanted was Harry and Ron back. Now she just wanted to be back in the room of requirement with Malfoy. Things had changed so much since her return to school. Harry roused her from her pondering and gave her one last hug. 
 

“Whoever he is, be careful,” Harry warned. 
 

“I always am,” she hugged him back and then he was gone. He and Ron apparated off the sidewalk. 
 

“Well shall we pick up some Christmas gifts before we head back?” She turned to Ginny who still looked sad. “Don’t worry Ginny. We’ll see them soon. Then one more term and we’ll see them all the time.” 
 

The thought was meant to comfort Ginny and while it seemed to do that, it made Hermione sad. She was just getting to know her new role with Malfoy. The thought that it would end in just a few short months made her heart ache. She knew the real world would come knocking sooner than she’d like. As much as they’d pretended it didn’t matter, deep down she knew it did. She quickly schooled her expression before she could bring Ginny down again. 
 

The two of them strolled they streets of Hogsmeade, popping into a shop or two when one of them saw something that caught their eye. They were casually chatty, but neither of them mentioned Hermione’s relationship or Harry again. Both could sense the other would rather not discuss it. Ginny really was a wonderful friend to have. She saw everything but only mentioned things if she thought they were of great importance. 
 

She picked up gifts for her most important friends and family, but couldn’t decide what to get for Malfoy. She wondered if they’d even exchange gifts, but she wanted to be prepared if they did. Finally inside of a small wizard thrift shop that sold a bit of everything did she spot something that caught her eye. 
 

Ginny was perusing quidditch antiques while she checked out the glass cases in the back of the shop. It was in one of these cases that she spotted an antique silver men’s ring. The silver was crafted into two dragon heads. One of them was the same silver of the ring while the other had been plated in back gold. The two dragons faced each other as if they were about to kiss or fight one another. It reminded her sharply of her own relationship with Malfoy  It was so obviously a balance between light and dark. She asked the shopkeeper if she could take a closer look. He pulled it out of the case and handed it to her. She examined it closely and almost as if it were meant to be there, the inside of the band was engraved with two words: what if? Hadn’t that been what she’d been asking Malfoy since the start of term? What if he changed? What if he could be good? What if their relationship could last? She hadn’t asked him the last question, but she found she wanted to. There had never been a more perfect gift. She fingered the price tag attached to the ring and inhaled sharply. It was one hundred and five galleons. It wasn’t too expensive, but it was definitely the most expensive gift she’d purchased for any of her friends. It was too perfect to pass up and she handed the money over the the shop owner. He packaged it in a small black velvet box and she shoved it in her bag before Ginny could ask her any questions. 
 

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While she and her friends shopped in town, Malfoy was busy back at the castle. He’d made a promise to himself the night before and he was, for the moment at least, planning to keep it. The room of requirement was now a new room, and he was pleased with the result. He was still a bit sore with Hermione for abandoning him to see the Weasel and Potter, but she was just as stubborn as he was and could not be deterred. It was that very fire that had him in his dormitory fretting about attire of all things. He wanted to look impressive. 
 

He finally settle on an all black ensemble, reasoning that black looked good no matter the occasion. He pulled on a black dress shirt and tucked it into a pair of fitted black plants. He tied a black silk tie around his neck and pulled a black cashmere sweater on over his shirt. Finally, he slipped on a pair of shiny black shoes. He ogled himself in the mirror. He did look quite striking in head to toe black. It was a sharp contrast to his hair and his skin. Satisfied with his appearance, he snuck up the stairs to the room. Our room, he thought. Fortunately for him, he did not meet anyone on his way. They were all gone to Hogsmeade. When he arrived, he made himself comfortable to wait for her. 
 

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By the time Hermione and Ginny made it back up to the school they were both damp and chilled to the bone. Both of them felt as if they’d walked miles rather than just the short path up to the school. They were laden with brightly wrapped packages and despite Hermione’s dilemma and Harry’s departure, they were both in good spirits when they climbed the castle steps. Once inside, it was a dreadfully long walk up to Gryffindor tower. At last they reached the portrait hole. They climbed through into the common room. 
 

“Are you coming to dinner?” Ginny asked before they parted ways for their dorms. 
 

“Not tonight,” Hermione said sheepishly. Ginny have her a knowing look. 
 

“Meeting him again?” She asked and Hermione nodded. Ginny wasn’t stupid. There was no point in lying to her.

“See you tomorrow then,” Ginny told her climbing the stairs to her own room. Hermione followed branching off at her own door. 
 

She tossed the packages into her bed and stripped off her wet clothes. She pulled on her favorite jeans and a red hooded sweatshirt. It felt good to be warm and dry again. She looked and the mirror and smiled. The day out had given her face a rosy glow. Excited and nervous to see Malfoy, she couldn’t wait any longer. She hoped he wouldn’t be too sore at her after her day out with her friends. Her stomach fluttered as she raced to the room of requirement. When she stepped through the door, however, her breath caught in her throat. 
 

The room now resembled an adorable cafè style restaurant, but on a much smaller scale. It was a cozy room with dim candlelight. A small fireplace burned on one side. The floors were a dark rich wood and they smelled of fresh wax. The walls were a cheery mauve color and they were covered with paintings of the French Riviera. In the center of the room was a booth table with cushions that matched the walls. Seated on one side of the booth was Malfoy. 
 

“What’s this?” She asked him curiously. 
 

“What does it look like?” He answered. 
 

“It looks like a beautiful French restaurant,” she told him as she walked farther into the room. 
 

“That’s what I was going for. I’m glad you got that much at least,” he seemed frustrated and Hermione looked at him curiously. 
 

The thought hit her like a lightening bolt. But it couldn’t be that, could it? The cozy little setting seemed just the right place for such an idea. Malfoy had said he’d had no such ideas though. The thought boggled. The only way for her to know would be to ask. 
 

“Malfoy, is this meant to be a date?” She asked him shocked. 
 

“If it were?” he dared hope. 
 

“I thought you didn’t date,” she countered and he sighed. 
 

“I do a lot of things I didn’t used to do. If you’re not interested we can just go,” he refused to meet her eyes then. 
 

She was quiet for a moment, and he feared she would leave. This had been a bold move on his part. Half of him, the part of his brain that she hadn’t invaded, thought that this had been a terrible idea. 
 

“I feel a tad underdressed,” she answered taking the seat across from him. 
 

“You look lovely,” he told her looking at her across the table.

 

She was staying. He felt elated as well as vindicated. His careful planning and his surprise had not been for nothing. He had to concentrate to appear his reserved self. 
 

“You look wonderful in black,” she told him. 
 

“I look wonderful in anything,” he told her stone faced  and she laughed. 
 

He gave her the ghost of a smile and set to work uncorking a bottle. He poured a rich red liquid into two wine glasses on the table. Hermione eyed it suspiciously. 
 

“We aren’t supposed to drink here,” she warned him. 
 

“It’s sparkling cranberry, Granger.” He showed her the label on the bottle.

 

Ever the rule follower she seemed appeased. Draco would have preferred wine. He’d been having wine with dinner at home for quite some time now. He’d known ahead of time that she would not allow them to break the rules for spirits and had decided on the sparkling juice. 
 

“It’s quite nice,” she told him sipping her bubbly beverage. 
 

“Tell me about your day,” he ordered as he sipped his own glass. 
 

And so she did. She told him about her meeting with her friends. She told him how Ginny was missing Harry. She gave him all the details of her shopping and the gifts she’d bought for everyone except him of course. He watched her carefully and listened to every word. She was surprised to find herself talking so much. Rarely had she had so much to say. He asked all the right questions and inserted just the right amount of encouragement to keep her going. She marveled at the way they seemed to be getting along. She did not know what changed within him, but she hoped it lasted. 
 

Sometime during the conversation he’d waved his wand and two covered platters had appeared. He lifted the lids, and she set eyes on some of the most delicious looking food she’d ever seen. They dined on honey glazed pork with roasted potatoes and a delicious apple brandy sauce. He served it with a loaf of crusty French bread. It was quite delightful. As it always did when they were alone in their room, time slipped by faster than they would have liked. It was half past nine when Malfoy waved his wand and cleared the table. 
 

“This was wonderful,” she told him truthfully. She’d never been on a date like this before. 
 

“I was hoping you’d enjoy it,” he stood up and offered her his hand. Surprised but pleased at the gentlemanly gesture Hermione took it and let him pull her to her feet. 
 

“Can I ask why you did it?” She followed him over to the door. 
 

“Because I made a decision last night. Our time with people in this world is limited. I know that better than anyone. Being around you, although I still find I hate myself for it at times, pleases me. If there’s one thing in this life I’ve never done it’s deny myself pleasure,” he explained looking down at her. 
 

“Does this mean we can be friends now?” She dared ask. 
 

“No I don’t think so,” he told her sadly. 
 

“Oh,” was all she could muster. She really thought they had made some progress. 
 

“Haven’t you figured it out Granger? I want to be much more than your friend,” he gave her a wicked grin, and she gasped out loud. 
 

Before she knew what happened, his lips were on hers. He kissed her until they had no choice but to break apart for air. There was no groping or frenzied rushing about it either. Just a long slow hard kiss. It left her panting nonetheless. He had her locked in an embrace and she looked up into his eyes. 
 

“Being with you pleases me too. Thank you for such a lovely date,” she whispered for fear of breaking the moment. 
 

“Thank you for not leaving. And coming back every time I’ve shoved you away,” he whispered back. A single tear fell from his eyelashes as he tried to blink them away. He’d never felt so much emotion before. 
 

“As long as you want me, I’ll be here,” she promised him. He didn’t speak, but simply nodded. 
 

For the first time since they’d begun spending time together, he pulled her into his arms just to hold her. It felt good to be held against him. His long arms circled her protectively and he rested his chin on top of her head. She inhaled his dark minty scent as he pressed her head into his chest. Kissing was lovely, but there was a tenderness and a vulnerability in his hug that had her blinking tears out of her own eyes. 
 

“We need to go,” he whispered above her. The moment broken, she stepped away. 
 

“Thank you again,” she told him reaching up to stroke his face. 
 

“It’s you who needs all the thanks,” he said. He pressed his lips gently to her forehead before spinning her around and gently pushing her toward the door. He waited a few moments before following. 


Author’s Note: I’m a little late on my update, but I hope you guys love this chapter. I’m amazed at the number of views this is getting. Thank you all so much :)



Chapter 16: Chapter 16
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After that Saturday night, the weeks leading up to Christmas were like something from a dream. Hermione could never have imagined she would find such comfort and companionship in Draco Malfoy. He was equally as shocked with himself but had no regrets. At least none at the present time. They’d taken to spending every spare moment alone in the room of requirement. They spent their mealtimes there along with breaks between classes and free periods. It seemed neither could get enough of the other. 
 

Physically they stayed the course. They regularly found themselves tangled on the sofa. The heat and passion they felt seemed to burn from within, but Malfoy always pulled away before any clothes came off. Hermione's self restraint was not so good. Hermione suspected he thought he was protecting her virtue, but each time he pulled away she felt empty. Perhaps it was not just about her. Since that Saturday he’d gone out of his way to make sure she was happy. Oh he was still his surly self, but there was such and obvious tenderness when he looked at her or held her. It made her heart ache in the most wonderful way. Even though he seemed to know that she wanted more from him physically, he was not yet willing to give. Little did she know it was more of the promise to himself. 
 

Malfoy could not be away from Hermione. The pain of having her torn from him was a thought that he could barely entertain without wanting to scream bloody murder. He’d promised himself that he would walk the straight and narrow so long as he had her to lead him. He knew a part of that was preserving her innocence as long as he felt she needed it. Then someday, when it was more appropriate, he would claim every part of her as his. He still knew that the public would never accept what they were together, but he almost didn’t care. In his own mind he saw them leaving Hogwarts. She would go off the the ministry and he would train to become a healer. At night though they would find a secret place to meet, like their room at Hogwarts, and they would get lost within each other. He knew it was a pipe dream. She was never going to lurk in the shadows to be with him forever. Her light burned to brightly for that. Still he clung to the thought that maybe they could find away. 
 

His father didn’t even matter anymore. He was locked away in Azkaban where his opinion was worth less that a single knut. As for his mother, she loved him. Surely if she ever discovered what he was doing she could accept it. She didn’t have to like it. She only had to tolerate it. If she couldn’t, we’ll, he didn’t want to consider that. There were two women in this world that Malfoy cared for. He did not want them to be at odds, but if he had to choose, he knew his mind was already made up. 
 

Hermione seemed just as self assured in her own feelings. Though her visions for their future differed from his. She wanted to work with him and guide him into the world of light. She knew he had it in him. Who could reject him when he had one of the three people who had personally defeated Voldemort standing beside him? She saw their relationship as a lovely redemption story rather than a forbidden romance hid in the dark away from prying eyes. She was quite proud of the person Malfoy was trying to become. The rest of the world need only pay attention to see what she did. 
 

Her parents did not know enough about the wizarding world to know the Malfoys’ reputation. They would only ever know the polite boy who seemingly cared too much. As for Ron and Harry, she had made a great many sacrifices for them. It would be their turn to support her. They could not claim to be the good guys if they refused to give chances to those deserving of redemption. She wanted Malfoy beside her one way or the other. She knew the picture in her mind was not going to play out quite so perfectly, but she was also ready to start making sacrifices to have him with her. She knew him better than anyone else had ever bothered to, and that meant she knew deep down that he would never be capable of doing anything that would hurt her. Returning to his dark ways would surely hurt her more than she could fathom. He seemed determined not to do that. She also knew people didn’t change overnight. Malfoy had struggled with their relationship. After her Hogsmeade trip, some sort of switch seemed to have flipped and whatever else stood in the way, he had put her ahead of it all. Surely the rest of the world would have to see that he was more than a reformed Death Eater and a traitor. If they saw anything close to what she did, they’d know he was worth so much more. 
 

********************************
 

The night before Hermione was due to leave school for the holidays she wanted to do something special. Malfoy was not allowed to return home per his agreement with the ministry. It made her heart hurt to think of him spending Christmas alone. She wanted to make sure he had enough good thoughts to tide him over until her return. This time she’d made the plans and set the date. 
 

It was shortly before six in the evening, and she had spent the last several hours in the room of requirement preparing. She was dressed in her favorite holiday dress. It was a long sleeved red dress made of a satiny material with white stripes along the length making it look like a candy cane. Small stripes of silver glitter ran along each stripe making it shine. She’d paired it with some sparkly black tights and black high heeled Mary Janes. Normally she hated wearing heels but thought them just fancy enough for her date tonight. She’d pinned half of her hair back with a small peppermint shaped hair clip and thought she looked properly festive. 
 

Her own festive look paled compared to the room. It looked as if Christmas had exploded into the small space. It was the same room with the cozy couch, fireplace, and picture window, but Hermione had done some magic. She’d decorated every surface with Christmas garlands and bows and shimmering baubles. The only thing she hadn’t done was decorate the Christmas tree that sat the the left of the fireplace. She’d set out several boxes of ornaments in hopes that Malfoy would help her with that part. It had been a long time since she’d decorated a tree by hand. They were done by magic in the wizarding world and since she’d started school at eleven her parents already had theirs decorated when she came home. It had always made her so happy to hand the decorations on the tree herself. She wanted to share that with Malfoy. He was due to arrive any moment. 
 

“What the hell is this?” He gasped as he stepped through the door. 
 

“Well it’s Christmastime so I did a bit of decorating. Do you like it?” She asked him hopefully. 
 

“It looks like you’ve brought me to Tinseltown,” he said looking around unsure at all the sparkle and decorations she’d put up. 
 

“I love Christmas. I thought we could trim the tree,” she gestured to the plain Scotch Pine beside the fireplace. 
 

“This isn’t really my thing Granger,” he told her barely hiding his disgust. 
 

“Well I know, but I thought you might want to try it,” her face fell and she sat down on the sofa. 
 

She looked lovely in her sparkly Christmas garb. That he couldn’t deny. He knew Christmas made most people joyful and happy, but it had never been that for him. Christmas was about getting presents in his family. The house elves did all the decorating. His family never really put much thought into traditions the way other did. 
 

“My family doesn’t do that. It’s servant stuff,” he told her dismissively. 
 

“It’s not servant stuff. It’s something normal families do together. I thought you might enjoy it,” she told him   Her own voice had a cooler quality now. 
 

“Oh alright,” he told her sulkily and she brightened almost immediately. “But you’ll have to show me how.”

It turned out to not be so bad. They wrapped lights and silver garland around the tree. Hermione was very meticulous in her decorating. She pulled out the box of decorations and transfigured them so that they were all shades of blue or silver. Once they were colored to her satisfaction she showed him how to hang them on the tree. The color scheme was quite pretty as a whole. Finally the only thing left was the sparkling star to sit upon the top. Hermione, being to short herself, offered it to Draco. He hesitated a moment before plunking it down on top of the tree. The two of them admired their work before sitting to have a steaming cup of cocoa. 
 

“Thank you for doing this with me,” she told him softly with a smile.
 

“It wasn’t as bad as I thought,” he stubbornly refused to admit it had been fun.  
 

“I’ll be leaving in the morning,” she told him gently. They were seated on the floor with their backs against the front of the couch and their shoulders touching. 
 

“How long will you be gone?” He asked her. 
 

“Only about a week. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I’ll spend it and Christmas morning with my parents. Then I’ll join Harry and the Weasleys for the evening. I’ll stay with Ginny until we come back the night before New Year’s.” She told him. She knew he wouldn’t be happy about her spending time with Harry and Ron instead of him. 
 

“Will your former Weasel squeeze be there?” He asked her grumpily. 
 

“He’ll be there for Christmas, but that’s all. He and Harry have their own place in London.” She gritted her teeth waiting for his explosion. To her surprise it did not come. 
 

“I’ll miss you,” he said instead. 
 

“I’ll miss you too,” she smiled at him. 
 

“I got you a Christmas present.” He told her awkwardly.  “Please don’t make a big deal of it Granger. I just wanted you to have something from me,” he pulled out a small, flat box wrapped in black wrapping paper. The paper had sparkling silver vines spread across it with deep red rose buds for accents. It was very pretty and very Malfoy. He handed it over to her. 
 

“Good because I got you something as well,” she laughed and pulled his gift

out of her bag. She’d opted for green and silver stripes wrappings on it. She handed it to him. 
 

“You didn’t have to do this,” she said lifting the package. 
 

“Nor did you,” he told her stonily as he held his own. 
 

“Please you go first,” she gestured to the small green package. He looked as if he’d argue, but thought better of it. He tore the paper gently off and opened the box. 
 

He stared at the ring inside for a few moments. She wondered if it was really a good gift at all. Some men didn’t like jewelry. He could be that type. She waited anxiously for him to speak. He lifted the dragon ring out of the box and slid it onto his right ring finger. It fit him perfectly. There was a very masculine quality to the heavy jewelry and it looked lovely on his hand. Finally he looked up at her. 
 

“I take it this is supposed to represent good versus evil?” He asked her of the dragons. 
 

“Not exactly, it’s more to represent that two very different ideas can still be a part of something beautiful,” she explained the gift to him. 
 

He pondered what she said for a moment. He looked carefully at the ring on his finger and seemed to nod to himself. 
 

“I think you’re right. They do look amazing when you put them together,” he was looking at the two dragons, but she knew he’d gotten the meaning behind them. The thought pleased her. “Open yours,” he told her. 
 

She peeled the paper off of a thin wooden box. When she lifted the lid she gasped at what it contained. Inside, resting on black silk was the most beautiful pendant she had ever laid her eyes on. Delicate white gold leaves encircled a round black diamond that seemed darker than the blackest black. Set in the middle of the diamond was a bright white dahlia that seemed to glow from within. She suspected it was indeed magical. She lifted it carefully from its box and turned it each way in her hand. The light definitely came from within the flower. 
 

“It’s gorgeous,” she exclaimed looking at Malfoy across the sofa. “It must have cost a fortune.” 
 

“Money is the one thing I have plenty of,” he told her with a shrug. 
 

“Help me put it on?” She asked him excitedly. 

 

The two of them stood and she watched him fasten it behind her neck in the mirror over the mantle. She met his eyes in their reflection and he gave her a sad smile. 
 

“You’re the light in the dark for me. Don’t ever forget that.” He whispered looking down at the necklace. He placed a gentle kiss on the back of her head. She turned in his arms to face him. 
 

“You’re more than just darkness,” she whispered looking up into this eyes that were now as familiar as her own. 
 

“Maybe, maybe not. Either way please don’t stop reminding me,” he held her close. 
 

“Never,” she promised him. 
 

Her heels allowed her to kiss him without standing on her toes. She pressed her lips against his. His gift had been so lovely and so thoughtful. She tried to put all of her feelings into that one kiss. She knew he would not allow her to say them out loud. He kissed her back, holding onto her like a life preserver in the open sea. 
 

As they often did, the kiss shifted from warm to hot. Their embrace burned as he lay her back on the rug in front of the fire. He kissed her hard before trailing kisses along her jaw and her neck. Her Christmas dress hiked up on her hips as he lay between her legs. The only lights in the room were the fairy lights and the fire. Both reflected in his eyes as he looked down at her. She could see the desire that lived there. She could feel it between her legs as well. After so many close encounters, just his kisses set her body ablaze. The way he drug his nose along her jawline and kissed her neck made her shiver. He peppered kisses along the neckline of her dress and ran his hands up her rib cage. She lifted her hips at the touch and he ground his back into hers. She gasped beneath him her chest heaving. As he always did he pulled away. 
 

“Please don’t stop,” she begged him. They had been too close too many times. She didn’t want him to protect her any longer. She wanted to feel every part of him. 
 

He studied her for a moment, struggling with himself. He wanted her. He’d been wanting and denying himself for so long it was hard to resist. He would though. If only for a little while longer. He wanted to make it special for her. As special as their evening had been, it wasn’t quite the scene he wanted to set. That didn’t mean they couldn’t take another new step in their relationship. 
 

“Give me a moment,” he climbed off of her and went into the small lavatory just off their main room. 
 

Hermione waited with bated breath. Would tonight finally be the night? Her heart pounded in her chest. Now that she teetered on the point of the moment, she felt her nerves read their head. She’d been wanting more for so long that the idea had eclipsed the real thing. Was she truly ready to lose her last piece of innocence?

 

When Malfoy stepped out of the bathroom her already pounding heart kicked up a notch. He was the sensual panther from that very first dream. He’d left his trousers behind in the bathroom and was now dressed only in his black button down shirt and black boxer briefs that hugged him deliciously. The wetness pooling between her legs increased. He’d unbuttoned the shirt halfway so that his bare chest was visible. It was more sculpted than she’d have imagined. He stalked toward her with that panther like grace. He rejoined her on the rug laying on his side with his head propped on his elbow. He looked down into her hungry brown eyes. Salazar forgive him she was hard to resist. 
 

“You’re drooling,” he teased her and she laughed a little. 
 

“I like what I have to see. It reminds me of my dream,” she told him quietly for fear her voice would break the spell that had come over them. 
 

“The dream again. Care to tell me about it now?” He asked her with his own desire burning in his eyes. 
 

“You were dressed just like this. I-I was naked in your bed,” she stuttered. “You kissed me. Everywhere.” She’d finally achieved that seductive voice she’d been after and Malfoy’s groin ached. 
 

“Shall I make your dreams come true then?” His voice was deep and husky and she nodded her head. 
 

His lips were back on hers now. He kissed her senseless as she unfastened the last of the buttons on his shirt. His torso now bare, she ran her fingers over the faint abs that lined his stomach. He groaned in pleasure as her fingers grazed his sensitive spots. She increased the pressure on them with a wicked look in her eyes. Two could play at that game. He kissed her earlobes and her neck as he reached behind her to unzip her dress. He slid it down just low enough to expose her lacy red bra. She seemed to love red lace. He filed that away for future reference as he eyed her cleavage. Her breasts were not large, but they filled her bra nicely. He kissed the tops of them as her chest heaved beneath him. He moved his lips back to her mouth and ran his hands over the delicate lace. She moaned into his mouth at his touch. Her own hands now tangled in his hair. 
 

He looked at her once more to make sure she was alright before hooking his thumbs into the tops of her tights and sliding them down her legs. He pulled back then to admire his forbidden lover. She was breathless and panting on the floor. He rolled off so that he was once more lying beside her. He trailed his hands over her bra cups and down her dress before sliding one beneath her skirt. He gave her a questioning look to make sure she was alright before exploring further at her nod.  He felt the thin material of her panties beneath his hands before slipping his fingers underneath them. He couldn’t give her what she really wanted, not yet at least, so he would give her something that was sure to blow her mind. 
 

He found the wetness between her legs. She jerked at the contact and he pulled her close for a kiss and flung one leg over hers.  He explored her folds slowly at first allowing her to adjust to his touch. She moaned loudly when his fingers found her sensitive bud and he smiled to himself. He stroked it in slow even circles until her body was practically vibrating on the floor.  Then he increased the speed and the pressure until she was coming apart beside him. 
 

Malfoy, oh,” she shouted as he continued his onslaught until her quivers started to slow. “Malfoy,” she whispered his name and he pulled his fingers away. 
 

His own erection raged between his legs, but for once he didn’t care. He wanted this to be about her. She had to know that her needs were more important than his. She had to know it was more than convenient. Eventually he was going to claim her body, probably sooner than later, but tonight would not be the night. 
 

“Are you alright?” He asked her as the aftershocks of her orgasm seemed to calm. 
 

“Better than alright,” she breathed. “That was magical.” 

 

“Physical actually. There’s nothing magic about it,” he joked and she laughed out loud. 
 

“What about you?” She sobered and glanced at the bulge beneath his underwear. 
 

“I’ll be alright,” he shrugged. “I wanted this to be for you.” 
 

“You can’t protect my virtue forever,” she told him seriously. 
 

“No, not forever, but for tonight at least. Don’t think I don’t want to. I do. I just want to make sure the moment is right. I don’t want you to have regrets,” he explained when her face fell. 
 

“Well I certainly don’t regret a moment of that,” she told him with a yawn. She sat up and he helped her put her dress to rights. She looked lovely in her post orgasmic glow. 
 

“I need a minute,” he told her before going back into the bathroom. He took care of his own needs to the image of her gasping on the floor before getting dressed himself. 
 

When he went back to the main room, she was asleep on the sofa. Unwilling to wake her, he slid onto the sofa behind her and pulled her close. He draped the fluffy blanket over the two of them and drifted off himself. 

 

 



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