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DISCLAIMER: I own none of the characters in the Harry Potter universe. They all belong to the talented JK Rowling. I own the plot, nothing more *sob*!

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Hermione woke the next morning with a screeching headache. Every muscle in her body ached, and she felt like she’d been trodden on by a Hippogriff. She gingerly put her fingers to her temples, massaging them gently. She glanced at the half-empty bottle of fire whiskey.

“Stupid Ron,” she muttered. Groaning, she peeled herself away from the table, crawling upstairs and under the shower, where she attempted to drown the memory of the previous night from her brain. It wouldn’t happen. Draco’s face remained firmly planted beneath her eyelids.

Cursing, Hermione climbed out. At least it was Saturday so she didn’t have to think about work. She brushed her teeth, grimacing in disgust at the taste in her mouth. She hated fire whiskey. She vowed never to touch it again. Hermione stood, scowling at her reflection. Her skin was milk pale, and she had large black bags under her eyes. She froze as she heard a voice, a very deep masculine voice, calling her name. She put her fingers to her lips, remembering. The voice called again.

“Shit!” she cursed, grabbing her robe and wrapping it around her dripping body. She went downstairs and couldn’t help but giggle at the sight in her lounge room.

Draco stood there, barefoot, in scruffy denim jeans and a white shirt, looking far from his distinguished self. He’d managed to miss several buttons, showing glimpses of a tight chest. She giggled again. His hair, usually so neat and sleek, was sticking up in all directions. He looked up at her and blushed, hastily smoothing down his hair.

“Morning,” he managed.

“Morning,” she replied, coming all the way down the stairs.

“Are you okay? You look …”

“Terrible?” she finished for him. “I feel terrible. I don’t know how you guys drink that blasted fire whiskey.”

Draco followed her into the kitchen. Imelda was on the table, mewing loudly. Hermione fed her, offering Draco a drink at the same time. She saw his raised eyebrow at the bottle on the table, and she grabbed it, stashing it away in the cupboard.

“It’s Ron’s,” she muttered by way of explanation.

“Oh.” An unreadable expression flickered across Draco’s face. “So he’s …”

“No, not anymore,” Hermione said quickly, glancing at him. “ Not for a while anyway. It ended a year ago.” She saw Draco visibly relax.

“So,” he said.

“So,” she replied nervously. She looked down at herself, realizing she was still wearing her bathrobe. “Oh my! I’ll just go and change,” she stuttered, jumping up.

“It’s fine, it’s early. I can go,” Draco stood, facing her.

They were standing so close. Hermione closed her eyes, breathing deeply. There was that smell again. His smell. She felt drunk.

“Draco, we really must talk about what we … about what happened,” she mumbled, looking anywhere but at him.

“I know,” he replied. “But do we have too?”

“What?”

“I mean, it’s happened, right? Don’t over analyse it. Does it need to be a bad thing?” he asked.

She was taken aback. “No…no, I guess not. But it’s so … strange.”

He laughed. “Strange is not the word for it Granger.”

“Oh so we’re back to that Malfoy?” she smirked. He smiled, reaching out and grabbing her around the waist, pulling her to him. Their eyes locked and they were frozen momentarily. He slowly bent his head and kissed her.

Hermione felt her body explode. She slid her arms around his neck and pressed herself into him, kissing him back. She felt his hands slide down her back until they rested on her hips. She broke off the kiss, aghast at herself. He frowned as she pulled away.

“Don’t ever do that again,” she whispered, angry and humiliated at herself for allowing it to happen.

“But I thought …”

“You thought wrong Malfoy!” Hermione yelled suddenly. He stepped back, the shock on his face slowly turning to anger.

“Fine Granger! It’s not like I want to be kissing a Mudblood anyway!” he yelled back.

She flinched at the term ‘Mudblood’. No one had called her that in years. She was surprised at how much the word affected her. Hot tears sprang to her eyes, and she blinked them away. There was no way in hell he was going to see her cry.

“Still the same Malfoy after all! A Pure-Blood elitist! Your father would be proud! Get out of my house! Don’t talk to me and don’t come near me again!” she screeched, unconsciously echoing his last words to her, six years ago on the steps of Hogwarts. Draco shook his head stubbornly, his grey eyes burning.

“No. You wanted to talk about our little … moment, so lets talk!” he said, taking a step closer to her, his arms folded across his chest.

“What’s to talk about? You hate me!”

“No I don’t! I don’t think I ever did! Sure, I hated the way you knew the answer to every god-damned question asked in every class; I hated the way you were such an insufferable know-it-all; I hated the way you and Potty and Weasel were such good bloody friends; I hated the way I loved to argue with you …” he paused, his face red, and took a deep breath, stepping closer to her as he did so. “But I don’t think I ever really hated you.”

“I don’t believe you! You took every opportunity you had to insult me; to insult my friends! You hated me as much as I hated you!” Hermione shouted. They stared at one another, both red in the face and breathing heavily, anger, pain and confusion written all over their stance. They were standing close again, their faces centimeters apart, so close Hermione could see ever miniscule detail of his face; every eyelash, every soft line and crease around his eyes and mouth.

“Fine! Well, I guess this was a mistake. I guess you do still hate me after all,” he yelled, the intensity in his eyes making her flinch a little. This was still Draco Malfoy. He was still strong, powerful and unnerving. Hermione sighed.

“I don’t hate you Malfoy,” she said quietly. “You just infuriate me! You always have!”

“And you drive me insane,” he replied, just as quietly, stepping even closer to her. Hermione could feel the heat coming off his body in waves, wrapping around her. He was so close; too close. Shuddering, she put her hands up against his chest, preparing to push him away, but he grabbed her wrists in one powerful hand, the other cupping her chin, forcing her eyes up to his.

“Don’t walk away from me, please,” he whispered, his breath hot against her skin, and she felt her knees go weak. He was so close to her it was becoming painful. Slowly, so very slowly she felt as if the earth had stopped turning, he bent his head, kissing her gently, and softly. Involuntarily, she closed her eyes, melting against his touch, and allowed him to kiss her.

Hermione eventually found her strength, and her voice. Gasping, she pulled away from him. “Draco, we can’t do this,” she said softly, and he shook his head gently.

“We can Hermione,” he said, trying to kiss her again, but she pulled her mouth out of his reach.

“No one will understand this. Hell, I’m not even sure I understand it. We don’t even know each other anymore,” she replied. He said nothing for a while, until he grinned.

“Nice robe,” he whispered, and she gasped, suddenly remembering she was naked beneath it. “Spend the day with me,” he whispered, pulling her closer.

“I don’t know. I mean, this is all so bizarre! The last thing you said to me six years ago was don’t ever come near me again, and now you want to spend an entire day with me?” She asked, looking into his eyes.

“We need to get to know each, right?” he winked. “I’ll make it worth your while.”

“You are so cocky Malfoy.”

He laughed. “I always thought that was my best feature. Say yes,” he grew serious, kissing her gently on the lips. She closed her eyes, savoring the feel of him. Slowly, she nodded.

“Okay Malfoy. Deal. I’ll spend the day with you,” she replied softly.

He let her go. “Good, now go get dressed and we’ll go.”

She raised an eyebrow. “ Where?”

“I don’t know. South America?”

“We can’t just go to South America for the day!”

Draco laughed again. “Why not? I’m a wizard; you’re a witch. We can go wherever we want. Now go get dressed.”

***

Hermione flopped into a chair, accepting a drink from Harry gratefully. They were sitting on Harry and Ginny’s back verandah, watching the sunset. Hermione sighed, her thoughts coalescing through her tired mind in a fiery turmoil.

“You look buggered Mione. What have you been up to?” Harry asked.

“Yeah, I tried to call today, but no one was there. Where were you?” Ron asked in a hard voice.

“South America,” Hermione answered quietly.

“What!” Harry said. “How did you …”

“I’m a witch remember? I can go wherever I want,” Hermione smiled, echoing Draco’s words.

“So you just went to South America for the day? Alone?” Ron asked, his eyes narrowing.

Hermione sighed, her smile vanishing. “No. Not alone. I went with Draco.”

“Mione! What the hell?” Ron yelled.

“What’s going on?” Harry asked.

“Well, we talked again last night and …” Hermione began.

“Oh date number two was it?” Ron spat, his face going red.

“Ronald, it was not a date! It was just dinner!” Hermione replied, her voice rising.

“Ooooo,” Ginny leant forward eagerly, her brown eyes dancing with curiosity. “What was the Manor like?”

“YOU WENT TO HIS BLOODY HOUSE??” Ron yelled.

“YOU KNEW ABOUT THIS??” Harry yelled at Ginny.

“It was not up to me to tell you,” Ginny fumed back at her husband. “It’s up to her, that’s why she’s here!”

“YOU WENT …”

“Oh shut up Ron or I’m going home!” Hermione snapped, and the redhead shut his mouth.

“So are you going to explain all this Hermione?” Harry asked through gritted teeth. He was just controlling his temper, kept in check by the occasional warning glance from his wife.

Hermione took a deep breath and told them the same story she’d told Ginny. She told them about dinner (leaving out the kissing part and that mornings events), about the Manor, and about Draco’s apology.

“He what?”

“He actually apologized? And you believed him?” Ron snarled, incredulous and angry.

“Yes Ron, I did. He wants to move on. He wants to forget about the past and get on with his life,” Hermione said.

“Can’t he go do it somewhere else?” Ron whined.

“Don’t be so childish,” Ginny snapped at her brother. Harry frowned at his wife, who sighed. “You know, maybe Malfoy is the only one speaking with any truth or common sense. It’s in the past guys! I know how much he tormented you, me, all of us, but perhaps he really has changed. You remember how stubborn and proud he was? Well, I bet if he hadn’t have had a change of heart, there is no way he’d have apologized to Hermione,” Ginny said.

Hermione felt like hugging her. She looked at Ron and Harry, who were looking at both Ginny and Hermione like they’d lost their minds.

“He wants to be given the opportunity to apologise to you guys too,” she said.

“No way!” Harry shook his head.

“Never! I don’t want that slimy git anywhere near me!” Ron shouted, his ears going red.

Hermione threw her hands in the air. “Fine. Whatever, you two. But you are both being utterly ridiculous.”

“Ridiculous? Hermione, it’s Draco Malfoy we are talking about,” Harry shouted, his temper getting the better of him.

“He’s the one being ridiculous,” Ron joined in.

“He’s not the one wanting to hold grudges! And you are calling him ridiculous!” Hermione shouted, slamming down her drink.

“Why on earth are you sticking up for the guy?” Harry asked suspiciously.

“Because Harry, I believe people deserve a second chance, the opportunity to prove they have changed. Obviously,” Hermione stood and grabbed her bag, “you don’t. I’m sorry Gin,” she turned to her friend. “I’ve got to go.”

Ginny nodded, standing to give Hermione a hug. She turned and glared at Ron and Harry, both sitting there looking angry and sullen. Ron was getting redder by the second, and Hermione knew he was biting back nasty words.

“See you, I suppose. Think about it, please?” she said to them, before walking with Ginny to the front door. Ron’s voice floated to her ears.

“Yeah go on! Get back to your boyfriend then!”

Ginny glared in the direction they’d come. “You did your best,” she told Hermione. “Who knows? Maybe they’ll change their minds? Malfoy just makes them angry, makes them remember things they’d rather forget.”

Hermione nodded. “I know Gin. Thanks for your support out there.”

“No worries,” Ginny smiled. “It is time to move on from school. Merlin’s beard, it’s been years!”

“Hard to believe sometimes,” Hermione mused. “I’ll call you, okay.” Hermione kissed Ginny’s cheek and made her way outside.

“Hey Mione,” Ginny called back from the open door. “Is he a good kisser?”

“Ginny Potter!” Hermione gasped, spinning around, but Ginny had shut the door and gone inside. Hermione just smiled, and walked away into the darkness.

***

Ron gulped down his drink. Harry was surprised he didn’t choke on it. Muttering to himself, Ron poured another, which he threw down, and another. Harry gently took the bottle from his friend’s hand.

“Trashing yourself is not going to fix this Ron,” he said softly.

“It might help though,” Ron replied, his cheeks burning. “I just don’t get it Harry! Why him?” he wailed, tossing back his third shot of fire whiskey in five minutes.

“Look mate, we don’t know for sure that there is anything going on between them,” Harry said. “I mean, there couldn’t be right? It makes no sense at all.”

“You saw her face! You saw how quickly she jumped to his defense,” Ron muttered. He sounded like he was in physical pain.

“You know how Hermione likes a cause? Maybe this is just one of those times,” Harry suggested. Ron shook his head.

“Nope. She’s with him, I know it.”

“Ron don’t jump to conclusions,” Ginny said, joining them outside. “And don’t get so drunk that you spew in my bathroom again.”

“Go away,” Ron muttered darkly at his sister. She sat down next to Harry, eyes flashing dangerously.

“No I will not! If Hermione wants to be friends with Malfoy than it is her decision and you need to respect that,” Ginny said firmly.

“No I don’t,” Ron mumbled stubbornly, reaching for the bottle. Harry held it away from him.

“Gin,” Harry said softly, turning to his wife. “Has she said anything to you about it?”

“No more than what she has told us tonight,” Ginny answered.

“But do you think that…you know…she likes him?” Harry pressed.

Ginny sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe. I think she feels sorry for him, and I think she wants to bury the past.”

“That’s what I don’t understand. Malfoy hurt her as much as the rest of us. How could she just forgive him that easily?” Harry asked, shaking his head.

“I don’t think it was that easy Harry. You know Hermione. She would have put a lot of thought into this. She’s not stupid,” Ginny replied, putting her arm around her husband.

“Could have fooled me,” Ron slurred.

“Will you quit it! Stop acting like some jealous little school boy!” Ginny snapped at her brother.

“I’m not jealous …” Ron began.

“Yes, you are. It really doesn’t matter that it’s Malfoy. It could be anyone, and you’d still be behaving like a prat Ron. You’re not ready to let her move on!” Ginny said, her voice rising.

“Ginny, he’s evil!” Ron spluttered.

“Hermione seems to think he’s okay, so why can’t you just trust her judgment?” Ginny spat.

Ron turned beet red. “But it’s Malfoy.”

Ginny opened her mouth, but Harry cut her off. “Ron, go home mate. Have a shower. Sleep on it. We can talk about it later, with Hermione.”

“She’ll never speak to me again,” Ron cried.

“Yes she will, but you know her Ron. You have to give her time to calm down,” Harry replied.

“It’s just so wrong,” Ron said softly.

********

A/N: Hey! Please leave a review if you like!

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