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This Is For Real by fromtheashes248
Chapter 2 : Part Two
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 27

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A/N: We’re picking up exactly where we left off from the first chapter. Just a refresher: Hermione decided that she was going to meet with Draco after the prefect meeting to tell him to leave her alone. This is the second half of a two-part story, so this is it, folks. I hope you enjoy reading it! And please don't forget to review when you're done!!!

This Is For Real – part two

When Hermione arrived at the prefects’ meeting, there was another rose in front of her assigned chair. This only strengthened her resolve. Luckily, Ron was running a little late and didn’t see, but almost every other prefect did. Padma Patil immediately starting asking Hermione if she had a secret boyfriend and who had left the flower. Draco just smirked through the entire interrogation, and Hermione knew that the point of the roses now was for his own amusement.

Hermione stayed behind after the meeting to tell Ron that she going to the library, and, when he was out of sight, went straight to the statue of Boris the Bewildered on the fifth floor. She didn’t even know if Draco was going to show up; after all, she hadn’t told him she was coming. But then a voice from behind her alerted Hermione to his presence.

“Granger,” Draco said, stepping out into the corridor, a small mile gracing his lips, “I said ‘behind’ the statue, not in front of it.”

“Well, forgive me for not trusting that I would be safe in a hidden alcove behind a large statue with you,” she snapped, the sound of his voice setting her teeth on edge. Hermione was suddenly regretting her rash decision to meet with him; nothing good could possibly come from this. But she wouldn’t run away, she would stick it out. All she had to do was make her point known and then leave.

Draco was extremely happy that she had come. He didn’t even know why he had asked her to meet him there in the first place; it had been a spur of the moment thing, really. All he knew was that he wanted time alone with her, and this was the only way he could think of to get it. He couldn’t stop grinning, especially with her glaring at him balefully. He would never be able to explain why her dislike of him was such a turn-on.

Making sure that her wand was securely in her pocket for easy access, she stalked past Draco into the alcove behind the statue. Surprisingly, it wasn’t dark. Apparently he had cast a charm to light the entire area. Hermione couldn’t help being impressed, as it was a rather difficult spell to work.

“This needs to stop,” she began without preamble when Draco followed her in. She tried not to be distracted by the fact that his tie was loose, and his shirt was untucked, and his sleeves were rolled up to just below his elbows. Goddamn it, he was a sexy bastard. “Stop staring at me, stop writing me notes, and for Merlin’s sake, stop giving me flowers.”

“Oh, come now, Granger. What could you possibly have against flowers? Everyone likes flowers.” He was smirking as he spoke and leaning nonchalantly against the opposite wall, his gray eyes dancing. Hermione was quickly becoming pissed off; thinking about how angry she was about the situation was a lot easier than thinking about how she was dying to get her hands on him.

“I don’t have anything against flowers,” Hermione bristled. “I only have a distaste for them when they come from you. And I don’t know why you think this is so bloody funny," she burst out when his grin widened, "because I certainly don’t. What the hell are you thinking, hmm? Why do you stare at me all the time?”

“Oh, I don’t know. It couldn’t possibly have anything to with the fact that you’re beautiful, could it?” Draco had meant this to come out as a joke, but he could see that Hermione hadn’t taken it as such. In fact, she looked absolutely stunned, which confused the hell out of him.

For a minute, Hermione couldn’t speak. That was honestly the last thing she had expected to hear come out of Draco Malfoy’s mouth. After a moment, she finally found her voice, but could only manage to say one thing: “I’m not beautiful.”

Now it was Draco’s turn to be shocked. Had the girl looked in a mirror lately? Hadn’t she noticed the way she had changed in the past year? Then again, how often would Hermione hear that sentiment? Certainly not from the two idiots she stupidly gave her time to. And not believing that she was beautiful would explain something that Draco had been wondering about; why didn’t this amazing girl already have someone wrapped around her gorgeous finger? Evidently it was because she didn’t know she could.

“Yes, you are,” he said quietly, looking directly into her eyes so that she knew he was being serious. She didn’t look away, and that was always a good sign. He straightened away from the wall, never taking his eyes off hers. “And it’s been giving me a bit of trouble lately.”

Hermione shook her head, not really as though she disagreed, but rather like she thought the topic wasn’t worth discussion. “Even if that were true, that isn’t the point –”

“That’s exactly the point, Granger,” he interrupted, moving toward her without even realizing he was doing it. “I’ll admit I didn’t notice it until recently, but only because I didn’t take the time to look. But then I did look, and now I can’t stop.”

“I…” She couldn’t think clearly. Draco’s gaze was making her brain fuzzy, but she couldn’t look away. He was getting closer and closer, and in a moment he would be touching her, but she didn’t move to stop his advance. Deep inside, she craved to know what his body would feel like pressed up against hers.

“You have no idea how fascinating a creature you are, do you? You’ve crawled inside my brain, and I can’t get you out. Why do you suppose that is?”

“I… I don’t know,” Hermione answered huskily, her voice shaking slightly. Draco had stopped moving forward, and now stood directly before her, mere centimeters away. His body was so tantalizingly close; she wished she could bring herself to reach out and touch him.

“Neither do I,” Draco said, grabbing her around the waist and pulling her body flush against his. They fit together like puzzle pieces. Something inside him clicked, as though a switch had been flipped on, but he ignored it for the moment, knowing this wasn’t the time for introspection. Without giving himself time to think, Draco leaned in and pressed his lips to hers.

Hermione stood stock still for a moment, unable to respond in any way. Her hands were trapped between their bodies, and she told herself to push him away, that this was wrong, so very, very wrong. But then Draco’s hands moved smoothly up her back, pulling her more firmly against him, and her body reacted of its own accord. Her fingers fisted in the fabric of his shirt, suddenly eager for the feel of him. The only other boy she had ever kissed was Viktor Krum back to in fourth year, and that had felt nothing – nothing – like this.

Draco pulled the band from the end of her braid, and ran his fingers through her hair until the tumultuous curls were cascading over her shoulders. Hermione gasped when Draco’s fingers tightened in her hair, not because he hurt her, but because she was stunned by the pure sexual heat that blasted through her. She felt like he was burning her from the inside out, and she loved being in the fire.

Draco deepened the kiss gently. Hermione’s tentative response was driving him mad, but at the same time, it urged him to be tender; he had never felt the need to be gentle with a girl before. He had never tasted anything as addictive as Hermione Granger. She was a banquet and he felt like a starving man. His scraped his teeth over her bottom lip and she shuddered against him. Hermione’s hands left his shirt and made their way slowly into his hair, her fingers tangling in the silky strands.

He pulled his mouth from hers, and pressed his lips to her flushed neck, trying to give himself a moment to calm down. In a minute he going to lose control and he didn’t want to frighten her. No other girl had ever affected him like this by doing so little, no other girl had ever pushed him so close to the brink of his own self-control.

“God, Granger, how did you get so deep under my skin?” Draco whispered fiercely against the skin of her throat.

His voice jarred Hermione back to her senses. Her head had been swimming and she had forgotten. She had forgotten who he was, she had forgotten who she was, and had let herself get carried away.

She broke away abruptly, pulling her body from his arms and stepping back until she was at a safe distance. His hair was in disarray, and she felt a terrible thrill, knowing her fingers were responsible for it. His eyes were the color of dark steel, cloudy with lust and confusion, and it took a moment for his arms to fall back to his sides. Hermione pressed the back of her hand against her mouth and took a few more steps back, wide-eyed and disbelieving.

“Granger, wh –” Draco began, taking a step forward, but he stopped when Hermione shook her head quickly.

“Stay away from me,” she said, a definite trace of fear in her voice. She wasn’t afraid of Draco, but of herself and her reaction to him. Hermione dropped her hand and picked up her bag, holding it in front of her like a shield. “Please, just leave me alone, Draco.”

With that, she ran out from behind the statue of Boris the Bewildered and down the corridor out of sight. Draco moved to follow her, to bring her back, to somehow change her mind, but he stopped. She had been scared, honestly frightened, and could he blame her? She had plenty to be afraid of when it came to him. And then something occurred to him, with a feeling that was perilously close to pain.

She had called him Draco. And begged him to stay away from her. He would do as she asked, no matter how much he didn’t want to.

Hermione checked her watch. She had been unfortunate enough to have a Friday night patrol; luckily, though, in fifteen minutes her patrol would be over and she could go to bed. But the idea of sleep didn’t comfort her as it should have, because she knew that confusing dreams involving Draco Malfoy and herself would dominant as they had for the past six days. Ever since she had confronted him a week ago about those ridiculous notes and roses – roses, for Christ’s sake, honestly, what was he thinking? – she hadn’t been able to stop thinking about him.

That kiss had shocked the hell out of her, though she couldn’t deny that she had enjoyed it. She had enjoyed it far too much, actually, and Hermione told herself that it was high time to stop thinking about it so frequently. She had resolved that it would never happen again, and apparently, Draco had done the same thing; he hadn’t so much as looked at her in a week, though she had imagined a few times that she could feel his eyes on her. But every time she had glanced to see if he was looking, he was completely engrossed in something else. Hermione couldn’t honestly say whether she was happy about that or not, though she supposed she should be ecstatic. After all, she had asked him to leave her alone, and it seemed he was doing just that.

Her own feelings on the matter were as confusing as they possibly could be. She refused to believe that she could be falling… no, she wouldn’t even think it. It wasn’t possible that she would ever feel anything other than hatred for the Slytherin. But when she was with him…

It was very strange. Draco used to be the person that made her feel the worst –unworthy, inferior, unattractive – but the last time she was with him, Hermione had, for the first time in her life, felt beautiful. Better than she ever had. Not that she didn’t love being with Harry and Ron, but that was a very different relationship. They were her best friends, and always would be. But it wasn’t the same.

Things about Draco’s personality that used to infuriate her no longer did. She actually liked it when he smirked – and not just because he looked ridiculously sexy when he did it. Of course, it helped that she knew that he didn’t despise her anymore, if he ever truly had. She knew now that he had vulnerabilities that he tried to mask with false cruelty and indifference. All you had to do was really look at him to see it, but she doubted anyone else had bothered to look past the surface. He thought he was funnier than he really was. He gave her roses.

In the middle of the night, when everyone else was asleep, Hermione would sometimes allow herself to dimly imagine what it could be like if she and Draco were together. But every time she began to imagine it, his family loomed in front of her, an eternal deterrent. Hermione knew that it wouldn’t be a problem except for the fact that Draco was so obviously afraid to defy them. And Hermione also knew that he would never feel strongly enough about her to do so.

Hermione shook her head, trying to dispel the thoughts from her mind. The same conversation had circled around her brain continuously since her last meeting with Draco, and it was pointless to continue thinking about something that would never come about.

Deciding that she would quickly check the Charms corridor and then head to bed, she turned down the closest hallway. Out of nowhere, a pair of hands grabbed her around the waist and pulled her into a dark corner. Hermione’s reflexes were quick, however, and she pressed her wand into her captor’s side. She was released almost immediately, though whoever had grabbed her didn’t back away. As a familiar scent reached her, she heard the words, “Careful with that thing, Granger. You’re likely to take someone’s eye out.”

“Malfoy?” she said disbelievingly. She should have known.

“Who else would be grabbing you in the middle of the night?” There was a smile in his voice when he spoke. Hermione figured he was amused with the situation, but in truth he was just happy to be close to her again.

“Lumos,” she muttered. The dark corner suddenly filled with light and Hermione saw that he was still wearing his uniform. Didn’t the boy own any normal clothing? She was dressed comfortably in an old pair of jeans and plain gray sweatshirt with a large hood, which was helpful when she had to venture down into the dungeons; they got quite chilly at night. “What are you doing out of bed at this hour? Or do I even want to know?”

Draco considered the best way to answer this. The past week had been pure torture for him. He had been trying to honor her request, really he had been, but it was impossible. He felt like an alcoholic, and Hermione was his favorite drink. As long as she let him sip from time to time, he could continue to breathe, continue to exist, even if it was only to make it until his next fix.

He hated not being able to touch her, not even in the most innocent of ways. His feelings had changed somehow; they weren’t purely sexual anymore, and he was starting to admit to himself that they never really had been. He had never felt this strongly about a girl before. It was quite terrifying, frankly, but at the same time, he didn’t want it to stop.

He would steal glances at her constantly, this time around making sure she didn’t know he was looking. Draco found himself incredibly jealous of Potter and Weasley, even knowing that there was nothing romantic in the way Hermione felt for them, or in the way they felt for her. But they had her affection, they could spend time with her, talk to her, simply be with her. And Draco had none of that; all he had from Hermione was suspicion and reluctant attraction. He wanted more.

“Well,” he began, but then stopped when he heard scuffling foot steps and a faint meow that could only mean one thing: Filch and his horrid cat, Mrs. Norris.

Hermione heard it too. “Quick, in here,” she whispered, grabbing his hand without thinking and dragging him to the nearest door. It turned out to be an unused classroom. She shoved him into it unceremoniously just as Filch turned down the corridor, holding a gas lamp and wearing a despicable grin.

“I thought I heard voices. Oh, you’re in trouble now, missy. Gallivanting through the hallways after curfew –”

“I’m a prefect,” Hermione interrupted him, pointing to the badge that was pinned to her sweatshirt. “I’m just finishing my patrol.”

Filch looked deeply disappointed that he hadn’t caught her breaking the rules. “Well, I know I heard somebody talking. Was you havin’ a conversation with yourself, then?”

“Yes,” she lied without a qualm. Standing behind the door listening, Draco was utterly amazed. He had never known Hermione to lie to an authority figure before. Okay, maybe it was only Filch, but still… She continued, “It gets a little lonely, walking around all by myself in the middle of the night.”

“Well, what was you doin’ in that classroom, then?” Filch asked her roughly, clearly grasping at straws to find a reason to report her.

“I thought I heard someone in there. It was only Peeves; as soon as I opened the door, he threw chalk at me and flew up through the ceiling. I think he said something about causing some chaos in the teachers’ cloakroom.” Draco had to admire how quickly she had come up with a workable lie, though he knew she must have plenty of experience from spending time with Potter and Weasley. Hermione tried to keep herself from smiling at the evil grin that spread over Filch’s face at her words. He was so easily fooled.

“The teachers’ cloakroom, eh? He ain’t allowed to be in there. I’ll get him this time! Thinks he’ll be destroying the teachers’ possessions, does he? Well, we’ll stop him, won’t we, my pet? We’ll get him.” With this, Filch hurried away quickly, the dusty cat trotting along behind him, leaving Hermione alone.

“You can come out now,” she said after a moment.

Hermione heard the door open behind her, but instead of coming out, Draco grabbed her hand and pulled her into the classroom with him. He quickly shut the door and pinned her gently against it. He let his hands rest loosely on either side of her waist, just enjoying being so close to her again. “You were lying for me, Granger.”

“I wasn’t lying for you,” Hermione snapped. “I just didn’t want to get in trouble for not reporting you immediately for being out of bed. Which, by the way, is where I was heading before you accosted me, so please let me go.” She really needed to get away from him soon; it was getting rather difficult to breath properly.

But instead of letting her go, he leaned in and skimmed his lips down her throat, smiling when she shivered deliciously against him. “I have a better idea,” he whispered. “Why don’t you spend some time in here with me?”

Hermione put her hands on his chest and half-heartedly tried to push him away. “I thought you agreed to leave me alone,” she said quietly.

“Well, I guess I lied.” Draco pressed his lips to hers with an urgency that shocked her. It was suddenly as though someone had set her body aflame, except that the pain was delightful; what a wonderful way to die.

This time she didn’t resist him, knowing it was pointless to even try. Her hands slid up his chest and into his hair in one smooth motion. Hermione’s mouth opened under his, urging him to take her deeper. Draco’s hands fisted on the hem of her sweatshirt at her eager response, pulling her as close as was possible.

Draco started pulling her away from the door, and Hermione followed eagerly, not caring for the moment where they were going. He bumped into what seemed to be the teacher’s desk; it was quite tall. Turning so their positions were reversed, Draco, in one fluid move, grabbed Hermione and lifted her onto the desk so that he was nestled between her thighs. She gasped at the sudden move, but couldn’t complain since Draco’s mouth had yet to leave hers.

He was going crazy for her, like an addict finally taking a hit. Hermione was making sexy little whimpering sounds in the back of her throat that were driving him mad. His hands ran over her, as though he trying to memorize her shape. He couldn’t stop touching her – her face, her waist, her neck, her hair – nothing was enough. One of her hands had worked its way around to his back and was fisted in his shirt.

Hermione felt like she was in a whirlwind. Draco’s hands slid up under her sweatshirt, tracing the skin of her back. A trail of fire ignited in the wake of his fingers, making Hermione tremble fiercely. Oh, God, he made her want him so badly, despite everything else. He made her want to throw her inhibitions to the wind and give herself to him fully, the way she had never wanted to with any other boy.

And then the thought popped into her head that no matter what happened now, he would never give himself to her.

“Why are you doing this to me?” she whispered breathlessly, breaking away from him momentarily. She looked into his eyes, just short of pleading with him to stop playing with her this way.

“I couldn’t stay away from you. I just want to be with you,” Draco responded, bringing his hands up to frame her face. It had only just occurred to him how much he wanted to be with her. He started to kiss her again, but she pulled away, shaking her head, trying desperately to deny his words.

“I don’t want this,” Hermione said against his mouth, and she knew she was trying to convince them both. Even as her body screamed in protest, she pushed him away with more force than was really necessary and jumped down so she was standing on her own two feet again. Getting angry was the only way she could think of to deal with him. And in truth she was angry. Angry that he had made her feel this way, when nothing could ever come of it.

Draco gave a small smile and walked right back to her, so close that they were touching slightly. Really, it was sort of cute the way she kept fighting what was happening between them. He touched his fingers to her cheeks. “You’re lying, Hermione.”

She jumped slightly when he said her name. He had never called her by her first name before, and it sounded different somehow when he said it. “Don’t call me that,” she said without thinking. She smacked his hand away, which for some reason made him smile again.

“Why can’t I call you by your first name? Would you rather I call you ‘sweetheart,’ then?”

“The only people that call me by my name are people that I enjoyed being around,” she lied quickly, trying to cover her childish reaction. “You know, friends, family, loved ones; you fall under none of those categories, thank Merlin.”

Draco felt a pang in knowing that what she said was completely true. But he refused to let her see how deeply that arrow had sunk.

“Well, I may not be one of your loved ones, Hermione,” he emphasized her name, delighted by the scowl that appeared on her face. He trailed one finger down the side her throat, thoroughly enjoying the way her skin vibrated at his touch. “But you definitely enjoy being near me.”

“I absolutely loathe you.” She smacked his hand away again. Draco put his hands in his pockets and rocked back on his heels, grinning smugly.

“Do you have any idea how much of a turn on that is?”

“You’re disgusting.”

“And you’re even sexier when you’re pissed off.” He smirked at her. Oh, how she both hated and craved seeing it.

She glared at him, and his smirk only widened. “I hate you,” she growled out before walking away.

“Keep telling yourself that, Granger,” he called after her. She let out a half-hearted scream of frustration, and the sound of his laughter echoing around the empty classroom wasn’t helping her state of mind. She spun around quickly and marched back to him with purpose.

“What the hell is your problem? How many times do I have to tell you that I don’t want you?”

“Don’t lie, Hermione. We both know perfectly well that you want me.”

“Oh, my body might.” His smirk widened at her words, and he started to move toward her again, but she held out her hand to stop him. “But my heart and my mind don’t want any part of you. You’re a disgusting excuse for a human being, Malfoy; you’re spineless and pathetic.” His smirk had disappeared and she could help but feel a vicious stab of victory.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Oh, don’t I? When was the last time you really spoke your mind about anything? Hmm? When was the last time you stood up to your father, Malfoy?”

“Shut up, Granger.”

She ignored the ripple of pain that crossed his face. If he wanted reasons, he was going to get them. “That’s what I thought: never. Say we did get together, what then? Would you be telling your mother and father about your new girlfriend, then? Or would you be hiding the Mudblood filth from them like the plague?”

“I told you I don’t think about you like that! I couldn’t care less who your parents are. Blood doesn’t matter to me, it never has; how many times do I have to tell you that?”

“Maybe I’ll start believing it when you stop being daddy’s ignorant little lap dog.”

She knew immediately that she had gone too far. Before she could take her next breath, he had grabbed her by her upper arms and lifted her up onto her toes. It amazed her that even now her body being so close to his was exciting, even when they were screaming at each other. Their faces were inches apart, but she still had to strain to hear his next words. They were low and fierce, and his eyes were staring intently into hers.

“I’m not my father.”

“Prove it,” Hermione growled back. Draco didn’t move, he didn’t speak, and even the expression on his face disappeared. He became completely blank. “That’s what I thought,” she whispered. “Let go of me, Draco.” He lessened his grip on her arms and she stepped away, hugging herself.

“You know, for a while there I thought that maybe you really had changed.” Hermione laughed humorlessly and gave her head a nearly imperceptible shake that he never would have caught if he hadn’t spent the last six weeks watching her constantly. She met his eyes one last time and Draco was shocked to see that her eyes were brimming with unshed tears. She spoke so softly that he barely heard her. “And really, it’s surprising how disappointed I am.”

Hermione’s words left him absolutely staggered. So much so that he couldn’t speak when she turned and walked out of the door. He stood in the empty classroom for a long time, because he was truly afraid that she had walked away from him for the last time.

When he was finally able to move himself, he went out onto the grounds, despite the fact that they were covered in snow and that it was nearly midnight and frighteningly cold out.

She doesn’t understand, he thought to himself as he walked toward the lake. She didn’t have a scar on the back of her left leg from the punishment she had received because she had unwittingly played with a Muggle girl at the park when she was five. She had never had to watch her every word for fear that it would be used as the reason for a beating sometime in the future. She didn’t need to endure watching her mother become deaf, blind, and dumb every time she cried out for help. Of course, Draco had stopped asking at the age of eight. No, Hermione had absolutely no comprehension of what he was up against.

But, an annoying voice in his head cut in, think of everything that she’s been through. Draco had to admit that Hermione had been through a lot. Not just everything she had been through fighting alongside Boy Wonder and his fabulous sidekick Weasley. She had been petrified in second year, for crying out loud. Rumor was, she had figured out the entire thing on her own right before she had been attacked. Draco himself had spent the majority of his time that year hiding in the Slytherin Common Room, protected by his pureblood heritage and pretending he found the entire thing hilarious.

And then last year at the Ministry… Draco shook his head, kicking absentmindedly at the crust of ice that had formed around the lake’s edge. He couldn’t imagine the kind of courage it would take to fight the way she had, to follow your friend into a fire that was sure to burn you. Looking at everything she had done in the past five years… it was rather staggering when you put it all together.

Then again, those very qualities were some of the things that Draco loved most about Hermione. He loved her courage, he loved her loyalty, he loved her confidence… the way she smiled and lit up the whole room, the way the left side of her mouth would jump when she was trying not to laugh, the way she would roll her shoulders when she was tired and thought no one was watching…

And then it him like a bolt of lightning. Draco stopped walking in mid-stride, shocked that he hadn’t realized it before.

He was completely, head-over-heels in love with Hermione Granger. What the hell was he supposed to do now?

He sat down in the snow, not even noticing the cold and wet seeping through his pants, and dropped his forehead into his hands. If Draco knew anything for sure, it was that if Hermione came to feel for him the way he felt for her, she would give up everything to make it work. She would be willing to fight any battle, stand strong against any foe; that was just how she was built. Shouldn’t he be willing to do the same? Hermione deserved a man that was brave enough to face his demons. The problem was, could he do it?

Monday morning came far too quickly for Hermione’s taste. She had been able to avoid seeing Draco that weekend by staying holed up in the Gryffindor Common Room and eating either very early or very late. But she knew that she would have to face him today, and she wasn’t looking forward to it. The entire weekend had been horrible. She not only hadn’t been able to concentrate enough to do more than two advance essays, but she also had to lie to Harry and Ron about why she was so unhappy.

She couldn’t possibly tell them the real reason. She had actually cried, for Merlin’s sake. And she was completely confused about how she felt about Draco. She was so angry, but at the same time, she felt inexplicably drawn to him. How could it be that she felt so strongly for someone that she had spent so little time with? Especially when only a few weeks ago she had hated him?

After her shower, Hermione took one look in the mirror and winced. Fantastic, she thought to herself sarcastically, not only do I feel terrible, I also look it. This day couldn’t possibly start off better. Though it was out of character for her, she applied a bare minimum of make-up to hide how pale she looked. She didn’t know any beauty spells; that was the one area of magic that Hermione had completely ignored, and she was now regretting that decision. She made her way down to breakfast, thinking that the last thing she needed was for Draco to be able to tell just by looking at her how miserable she was.

Draco hadn’t enjoyed his weekend anymore than Hermione had enjoyed hers. He knew she was avoiding him, because she hadn’t been in the library or in the Great Hall at meal times. As a result, he had spent a lot of time in the Slytherin Common Room (something he had recently tried to ignore) brooding and trying to ignore Pansy’s pathetic advancements. Draco had never been particularly interested in her, and he was even less so now that he was in love with Hermione.

The pureblood Slytherin Draco Malfoy was in love with the Muggle-born Gryffindor Hermione Granger. How unlikely, and yet… nothing about it felt wrong. It felt absolutely right in fact, and there was nothing Draco wanted more than to be with her freely, like a normal couple.

Okay, he knew that they would never really be a normal couple, coming from enemy Houses, not to mention that he hated her friends and she hated his (although he thought she would like Blaise if she got to know him), but Draco still thought they could make it work. He had hope, and that alone was a completely new experience for him.

He had an idea about how to make it happen; he just hoped that it would be enough to convince her that he was being earnest. She thought he didn’t care enough to fight for her. He just had to prove to her that she was wrong.

Hermione was already sitting at the Gryffindor table when Draco walked into the Hall. Her chin was resting on her fist and she wasn’t eating. Instead, she was staring vaguely into middle distance. His heart stopped in his chest at the sight of her. It was now or never. He drew a deep breath, knowing that there was no turning back from this point, and feeling relieved that Potter and Weasley were sitting on the other side of the table from Hermione; that was one less thing he had to worry about.

He walked purposefully toward her, in between the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff tables, never taking his eyes off of her face. Hermione seemed to feel his gaze; she turned and watched him coming toward her, her eyes clouding with a mixture of confusion and apprehension. Some people had stopped talking, waiting to see what would happen. Everyone knew that Draco Malfoy and the Trio hated each other immensely, so whatever Draco had in mind was sure to be entertaining.

For Hermione, time seemed to have slowed, moving at a tenth of its usual speed. She took in every detail of Draco’s appearance – from his carelessly tousled hair to the fact that he had, once again, neglected to tuck in his shirt to his left shoe, where the laces were beginning to come undone – drinking in the sight of him as though she was dying of thirst. She met his eyes and saw two things: fierce determination and something else that she couldn’t place; what was it?

But this question was driven from her mind; Draco was suddenly in front of her. He grasped her shoulders, hauled her to her feet and pressed his lips to hers as though it had been weeks since he had last done so. Hermione dimly heard Ron exclaim, “Oi! What the hell are you doing?” before a rushing sound filled her head, wiping it completely blank.

Hermione’s hands, which had landed splayed on Draco’s chest, automatically fisted in his shirt, pulling him closer. After a few moments, Draco pulled his mouth from hers, though he kept her in his arms. She realized that the entire Hall was silent, likely in shock; even the teachers were watching with ill-disguised curiosity. And out of the corner of her eye, she saw Harry and Ron both standing with their mouths hanging open, though she noticed Ginny had a large grin on her face.

Hermione didn’t know what to say; she could barely think straight. She opened her mouth, but all that came out was a faint “What…?”

“I love you,” Draco said without preamble, his tone deeply sincere. Though he hadn’t raised his voice, it seemed that every person the Hall heard what he said. Several people gasped loudly and someone giggled anxiously. Harry and Ron’s jaws practically hit the table. Hermione’s mouth opened again, but no sound came out; she thought her heart might have stopped beating.

Draco continued with a small smile, as though he hadn’t noticed the stunning effect his words had just created, or the fact that everyone was hanging on his every word. “I think I have been since you slapped me in third year.” The smile disappeared and his voice became serious once again. “I know I don’t have a lot to offer you, and I know it won’t be easy, but I want to try to be a better man. I want to be a man that’s worthy of being with you.”

“Draco…” What did he expect her to say? All she knew for sure right now was that when Draco had said he loved her, a deep warmth had spread through her entire body, as though she had been waiting her whole life to hear him say those words. “I…”

“The other night, you gave me a whole list of reasons why things could never work between us. But you left out all the reasons why it could work. I’m done being spineless and pathetic, Hermione, and I have never felt for anyone what I feel for you. I’m completely in love with you. Think about that.”

Before Hermione could respond, the bell signaling the beginning of classes crashed through the air, breaking the spell that held been holding everyone transfixed. As the sound of students beginning to shuffle to class surrounded them, Draco let Hermione go and took a step back. She swayed a little, not quite steady on her own feet. “I’ll wait for you,” Draco said quietly before turning around and quickly disappearing into the throng of students trying to make their way out of the Great Hall.

Hermione lowered herself slowly back into her seat, trying desperately to process what had just happened and make some sense of it. Behind her, someone cleared their throat loudly, and she turned in surprise to see Ron, Harry, and Ginny sitting on the other side of the table; the rest of the Hall was totally deserted. Hermione didn’t know what to say to them, but was saved from the task of trying to speak coherently when Ron opened his mouth.

“Hermione, what the bloody hell –” he began savagely, but Ginny stopped what was sure to be a tirade with a terse, “Ronald!” that was so reminiscent of Mrs. Weasley that he stopped talking immediately.

“Hermione,” Harry said, his tone much calmer than Ron’s had been. “Care to explain?” he asked as gently as he could.

“Sure… as soon as I figure it out, you’ll be the first to know,” Hermione said after a moment.

“I think Draco should technically be the first to know, really,” Ginny cut in cheekily from Harry’s right.

“Since when have you started calling him ‘Draco’?” Ron asked his sister vehemently from Harry's other side.

“Since he kissed Hermione in front of the entire school and told her he loves her,” she shot back.

“He’s disgusting Slytherin scum!”

“Do you have any idea how much courage it probably took for him to do that? Obviously he cares about her!”

“The fact that you put ‘Draco Malfoy’ and ‘courage’ in the same sentence just proves how mental –”

“Alright, children, let’s play nice, shall we?” Harry interrupted wearily. “Back to the subject at hand… Hermione, the roses? Those were from him, weren’t they?”


“And the reason you’ve been so on edge lately?”

“Also Draco,” she answered, flicking her finger absentmindedly in the air as though checking off an item on a list.

“Oh, for the sake of Merlin, it’s catching,” Ron muttered, lowly his head into his hands dramatically.

“Ron, not now. Why didn’t you tell us?”

“Harry, I’m so sorry, but I didn’t understand what was going on myself. Everything happened so fast. I wanted to tell you all, I really did, I just didn’t know how. Plus, I was a little worried that you and Ron might do Draco an injury.”

“We wouldn’t have –” Harry began indignantly, but Ginny cut him off.

“Oh, yes you would have, there’s no use pretending when we all know the truth,” she said, smiling when Harry scowled and Ron simply nodded. She directed her next words to Hermione. “We understand.”

“Speak for yourself,” Ron interjected. “I don’t understand any of this.” Catching the look on Hermione’s face, however, he added, “But I’m trying to.”

“Thank you,” Hermione said quietly. “You aren’t angry with me for keeping this from you?”

“No,” Harry assured her, reaching across the table to clasp her hands in his. “Just a bit shocked.”

“Thank you, Lord of the Understatement,” Ron joked, but he too reached forward and placed his hand over Harry and Hermione’s joined ones.

“Does he make you happy?” Ginny asked quietly.

“I don’t know,” Hermione answered truthfully. “But…” she gave a small smile, her first genuine one in days. “You know, I really think he could.”

“Well, then,” Ginny said with a satisfied smile, adding her hand to the top of the pile. “Whatever you decide, we’re behind you one hundred percent. Aren’t we, boys?” she prompted them.

“Absolutely,” Harry said immediately. After a few moments of silence, he added, “Ron?”

“Yeah, well… just don’t expect me to call him Draco, alright?”

Hermione laughed for the first time in days, beyond grateful for her friends’ steadfast support. “I won’t, I promise.”

After dinner ended that night, Hermione headed straight for the library, but for once it wasn’t for homework purposes. If Draco himself wasn’t there, surely someone would know where he was. He was no where to be found; the only person Hermione saw that was at all likely to help her was Blaise Zabini. Thank Merlin he was alone.

She walked to the table where he was calmly reading a book on Charms theory. “Zabini?” she said timidly.

“I think you should call me Blaise, considering my best friend is in love with you,” he responded without looking up. He made note of his place, shut the book with a snap, and finally looked up at her, his face unreadable. “Something you want to talk about?”

“Do you know where Draco is?” Hermione asked.

“That all depends, Granger. Why are you trying to find him?”

“I think you should call me Hermione, considering that I think I’m in love with your best friend,” she answered forcefully, crossing her arms.

“You think?” he asked.

“I need to speak with him, so if you know where is, just tell me. If not, stop wasting my time.”

Blaise’s face split into a wide grin. “Draco was right,” he said with laughter in his voice.

“About what?”

“He said I would like you if I got to know you, Hermione. And he was right.”

“Thank you, Blaise,” she said with a grin. He really wasn’t half bad. She took the seat across from him, her smile disappearing. “Do you know where Draco is?” she asked again.

“I’m not sure, but the last time I saw him he said something about going to the Owlery.”

“Well, that’s something at least. Thank you.”

“No problem,” he said, opening his book again. With a sardonic smile, he added, “I’m always willing to help a Gryffindor in need.”

Hermione rose to leave, and said, “By the way, that book is absolute rubbish if you’re researching for Flitwick’s essay on Memory Charms.”

“Yes, I’m starting to see that,” he replied absently.

“You’re better off with Blitthering’s What Everyone Forgets About Memory Charms. It’s very informative.”

“Thanks for the tip,” he said, sounding slightly surprised, and looking up again.

“No problem,” she said. As she walked away, she threw over her shoulder, “I’m always willing to help a Slytherin in need.”

Blaise couldn’t help laughing. Those two should be interesting together, he thought to himself. But maybe Draco will be happy for once.

Hermione made her way up to the Owlery quickly, trying to smooth her hair as she went and pulling at her sweater nervously. She had no idea what she was going to say to Draco if she found him.

She walked up the twisting stairs carefully, and heard a voice when she neared the top. “Just drop it and get out quick, alright? You know what he’s like, and if you hang around, he’s like to kill the messenger.”

There was a soft hoot of response and the sound of a large owl taking flight. Hermione took the last few steps into the Owlery and saw Draco leaning against the open window, watching what must have been his eagle owl disappearing into the darkness.

He turned slowly after a moment, but stopped abruptly when he saw Hermione standing in the door way. Not for the first time, Draco wasn’t sure how to act around her. He took in the sight of her slowly, savoring it. Her hair was wild, hanging over her shoulders the way he liked it best. She was wearing a red and gold Gryffindor sweater (that someone must have made for her, because he had no idea where she could possibly have purchased it) and a pair of dark jeans. She wore no make-up. She was gorgeous.

His hands itched to touch her and his arms ached to hold her, but he didn’t dare move. He simply waited.

“Hi,” she said nervously after a minute of tense silence, not quite meeting his eyes.

“Hi,” he answered quietly.

“So… who are you writing to?” she asked him, unable to think of anything else to say. She could see the nerves in his eyes, and wished she knew how to go about soothing them. She looked toward the window, as if she was watching the owl continuing to fly away, though he had disappeared long ago.

Draco took a deep breath before answering, not because he was afraid of Hermione’s response, but because he was still trying to reconcile himself with what he had just done. In truth, he almost couldn’t believe he had had the nerve. “My father,” he said clearly.

Hermione’s gaze snapped back to his with lightening speed, searching for details on his face. The only thing she could think to say was, “Oh?”

“Yeah,” Draco said before turning back to the window and resting his folded arms against the stone sill. A small smile slipped on to his face briefly before floating away. He continued quietly, not really speaking to her, but just in general. “I told him everything. I’ve wanted to for so long… I still can’t believe I finally did it.”

Hermione walked to him slowly, careful not to slip on the droppings that littered the floor. She waited until she was beside him to speak, not close enough to accidentally brush, but close enough to reach out. “Why now?” she asked softly.

Draco turned his head to look at her. “You’re a smart girl, Hermione. You should know the answer to that.” When she didn’t respond, only looked at him, he continued, his eyes never leaving her face. Time to bare your soul, mate, he thought. “It’s all because of you. And not just because I want to be with you. You’ve changed me. I don’t know how you did it, Granger, but you did. You make me want to be a better person, and somehow you gave me the strength to try.

“You’re so bright, and I was in this darkness. You broke through that; you showed me there was something better, and I want that for both of us. I want to be brave for you, as brave as you are. I’m not going to lie and say that I’m not scared, but I’m trying.”

“Draco, bravery isn’t being unafraid; it’s being strong enough to do the right thing in spite of your fear. Do you really think that I’m not afraid? We’re in the middle of a war, Draco; I’m terrified. What you just did proves that you’re brave.”

“Brave enough for you to fall in love with me?” he asked with a characteristic smirk, though this one was a bit self-deprecating. Hermione refused to make light of the situation, however, and answered him very seriously.

Hermione moved closer, until she was brushing against him; her body felt electric with just that subtle touch. She put her hand on his cheek so he looked at her again. She smiled softly. “Draco, I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t already in love with you.”

Draco turned to her more fully and dropped his forehead to hers without saying a word. His heart was suddenly so full he feared it would burst. He didn’t know what he had done to deserve something so amazing in his life, but he thanked God for it.

He wrapped his arms gently around her waist, and in response, Hermione fisted her free hand lightly in the front of his shirt; her other hand was still pressed to his cheek. “I’m gonna hold you to that, Granger,” he said quietly, looking into her eyes.

“I’m counting on it,” she whispered.

Draco smiled and leaned in, pressing his lips to hers. The tenderness in his touch brought tears to her eyes. She wrapped her arms more securely around his neck, bringing him closer. She had never in her life known anything that felt so pure and right. And she knew in that instant, kissing Draco in the middle of the Owlery, that no matter what came next, they would be okay. This was for real, and she wasn’t about to let it go.

I've got emotion
Dripping out my pores and I
Thought I would let you know
You are the night light,
Ripping through my wicked world
How you make it sparkle and glow,
Before I lose control
There's just one thing you should know

This is for real, this time I mean it
I'm coming clean, please don't let go
I said from the start, that you could take it or leave it
I'd prefer that you keep it
Don't let go
Don't let go
Don't let go

I had some nightmares,
Clawing at my skin and bones
I nearly did explode
You smoked the demons
Gave me back my feelings
Now I am good to go
Before, my face hits the floor
There's just one thing you should know

This is for real, this time I mean it
I'm coming clean, please don't let go
I said from the start, that you could take it or leave it
I'd prefer that you keep it
Don't let go

This is the best thing that I've ever had for real
This is the best thing that I've ever had for real

For a physical challenge I'm notoriously bored
Intravenous delivery, electrolytes and more
Every time it's the same routine
Out with the bad, in with the clean
Before I lose all motor skills
There's one thing you should know

This is for real, this time I mean it
I'm coming clean, please don't let go
I said from the start, that you could take it or leave it
I'd prefer that you keep it
Don't let go

This is the best thing that I've ever had for real
This is the best thing that I've ever had for real

This is the best thing that I've ever had for real
This is the best thing that I've ever had for real

A/N: Okay, so there it is, my very first short story! Well, my first fanfic short story anyway. It was supposed to be my very first one-shot, but obviously it was way too long, so I split it up. I hope you enjoyed the second half of the tale. I was thinking about doing a short sequel, but I’m not sure. The more votes I get for it, the more of a chance there is that I’ll write it. Anyway, thanks for reading! Please don’t forget to review! I’d really love to know what everyone thinks about it. Thank you!!! ~Meghan

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This Is For Real: Part Two


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