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~*~

The next day…



    “Uhhh,” Hermione moaned as the trill of her alarm clock resounded off the walls of her new bedroom.
    She clenched her eyes for a moment, sat up and banged her hand against the obnoxious bells.
    As usual, her stomach seemed to churn with morning sickness as she slid out of her warm, comfortable bed and headed over to the bathroom.
    “Looking lovely, darling,” she said to herself with a grimace as she examined her pallid reflection in the mirror.
    Her eyes sported extremely attractive dark circles beneath them on account of not being able to get to sleep at a decent hour the night before.
    Sighing in resignation, she looked away from the mirror and walked over to the freestanding bathtub sitting in the middle of the room. She turned the taps all the way and a burst of rose-scented water came shooting forward, bubbling and steaming appealingly as it hit the bottom of the tub.
    She walked back over to the sink again as the tub slowly filled with its aromatic bubbles. As she reached for her toothbrush, she hunched over as a new wave of nausea hit her.
    Merlin almighty! When will this morning sickness go away? Haven’t I bloody suffered enough?
    As if on cue, she dropped the brush and dashed to the toilet as the nausea became insuppressible.
    As she heaved the meager contents of her stomach into the toilet bowl, she thought, What a charming way to start the first day of my seventh year: not only pregnant, but pregnant and barfing!

* * *



   
    What is that god-awful noise!
    Draco Malfoy awoke with a start as the sound of screeching pipes echoed around his room.
    “Bloody Granger,” he mumbled, throwing off his sheets in one fluid movement and throwing his legs over the side of the bed.
    He sat there with his elbows on his knees, he head in his hands, for a few moments as he fully woke up. Finally, he stood, stretching his arms above him and scratching his stomach before sauntering off to the bathroom.
    “Well, hello,” he said arrogantly as he caught a glimpse of his reflection in the mirror. He ran a hand through his hair, and fluxed his biceps for a moment in pure self-indulgence.
    Tearing himself away from the mirror, he walked over to the shower, reached a hand in and turned the taps so that steaming hot water fell like rain from the showerhead.
    Pulling his arm out, he tucked two thumbs under the waistband of his shorts and pulled them straight off.
    It was at this moment, standing stark naked with only one foot still inside his boxers, that Draco Malfoy heard a intriguing noise coming from the other side of the wall.
    He kicked them aside and walked over to the wall, cupping his hand around his ear and putting his head to the wall.
    Oh, Merlin, it’s Granger retching!  He realized suddenly, jumping away from the wall.
    He looked at the wall with contempt as he walked back over to the shower as though he blamed it for allowing him to listen to the fruits of Hermione’s morning sickness.
    Bloody hell, he thought as he stepped beneath the jet of water, that is something I did not need to hear… She needs to learn to keep her bloody morning sickness to herself, Merlin.
    Draco reached for the bar of pearly white soap and began to rub it all over, creating a fluffy white lather.
    Of course, I’m not going to be able to avoid her what with Dumbledore on my case… How he thinks she’s not going to notice I don’t bloody know. I reckon she’ll catch on in about two hours… She’ll be on my case about it by tonight, no doubt … and she’ll be a bloody pain about it too; I can see it coming already.
   
* * *




    Hermione grabbed her heavy-laden book-bag as she hurried out of her bedroom door. She skipped down the stairs, pulling her wild curls up into a ponytail at the top of her head.
    “Running late to breakfast are we, Head Girl?” came a drawling voice from the sitting room as Hermione flew past.
    “No, Malfoy,” Hermione replied snidely as she halted before the portrait hole, “I’m just running for the fun of it.”
    “Well, you know it’s not bad to get a little exercise… try to stay trim before you blimp out –” Draco said, getting up from the sofa, and demonstrating with his hands just how ‘blimped out’ Hermione would be.
    She shot him her most fearsome glare. 
    “And may I ask what you are still doing here, Head Boy?” she asked, clearly irritated.
    “Just catching up on my correspondences,” he said with an air that he knew he was telling a obvious lie.
    “I’m sure,” she retorted, turning on the spot to exit the common room through the portrait hole.
    “Hold on there, Granger,” Draco called, climbing out after her, “We’re going to the same place after all.”
    Hermione gave him a disbelieving look, quite astonished that Draco Malfoy of all people seemed to be suggesting that they walk down to breakfast together.
    “You are honestly saying we should walk together?” she asked him, eyebrows raised so high they practically disappeared into her hairline.
    “It’s not like I’m asking you to bloody marry me! Merlin, Granger, don’t have a cow!”
    “I’m not! I’m not! Forget I said anything,” she said, hands raised in the air as she continued walking down to breakfast, Malfoy at her side.
    The walk passed by without much ado, and, for the most part, in silence, but as they neared the Great Hall, Hermione remembered something she did need to say to him.
    “Oh, Malfoy! I nearly forgot, we need to meet to discuss the patrol schedules. Does tonight work for you?”
    “I’m free as a bird, Granger,” Draco replied sarcastically.
    “Alright, then,” Hermione said with a grimace, “Meet outside the Room of Requirement on the seventh floor at seven o’clock sharp.”
    “I’m waiting with bated breath,” Malfoy said dramatically.
    Hermione gave him a warning look and then brushed past into the cacophony of the Great Hall.

* * *




“ – class will be extremely important seeing as a higher level of education in Transfiguration is required in many fields of work. I suggest you take this class seriously. If you do not you will face the consequences of fail – ”
    “Hermione.”
    Hermione turned her neck ever so slightly, her hand still moving steadily across the paper as she took down every word of McGonagall’s lecture. Ron was leaning forward at his desk, holding out a folded piece of parchment for her.
    She looked shiftily back at McGonagall and then reached back to grab it when the old professor turned to write something on the chalkboard.
   
    So, is it Ernie then? What did Dumbledore have to say?

    Hermione scowled as she looked down at Ron’s scrawl. How was she going to put this?

    No, it’s not Ernie, it’s Malfoy. Dumbledore didn’t offer a very satisfactory explanation… but apparently Malfoy knows all about you-know-what.

    She tossed the folded paper over her shoulder casually and heard it hit the wooden top of Ron’s desk. Hermione braced herself, not knowing what to expect from their reactions.
    “ – Of course at least six additional training years will be required if you desire a career in Healing; however – ”
    “AHWHAT?” Ron bellowed. Hermione sank down in her seat.
    “Is there something wrong, Mr. Weasley?” Professor McGonagall asked, her usual stern expression in place.
    “Uh, nothing Professor… six years? Really? Just gave me a bit of shock,” Ron said hastily. Hermione imagined his ears turning the color of fresh beets.
    “Yes, Mr. Weasley, six years. I wasn’t aware you were interested in Healing, but nevertheless, could you please keep your excitement to yourself from now on?”
    “Yes, Professor,” Ron mumbled in response.
    As McGonagall got back to her lecture, Hermione could hear Ron tearing apart another piece of parchment and she groaned mentally in thought of what his reply might say.
   
    You’ve got to be joking, Hermione, and, if you are, it’s a bloody cruel joke.

    Hermione rolled her eyes and then wrote, underneath his line:

    No, not joking, unfortunately. Did you let Harry read?
   
    There was a small strangling sound and Hermione pictured Ron holding back another outburst as his worst fears were officially confirmed.
   
    This is Harry – Are you positive Dumbledore really chose him? Malfoy might have him under the Imperius curse or maybe just a Confunding charm…

    Hermione put her forehead in her hands before replying. Dumbledore being confunded by Malfoy! Honestly!

    No, I’m positive it was 100% Dumbledore’s decision… But, honestly boys, there’s nothing we can do about it now, so please, just drop it.

    There was a small squabble going on behind her now and she peeped over her should slightly to see them fighting for the quill.

    NO, WE WILL NOT “DROP IT”! This is IMPORTANT, Hermione! What’s the bloody matter with Dumbledore? Something’s got to be wrong for him to choose effing MALFOY as Head Boy.
    Hermione let out an irritated sigh as she scribbled her retort.

    You know what? I’ve told you everything I know, so you can either accept it or leave me alone and discuss it amongst yourselves. I’m through with this subject.

    As she threw the paper one last time over her shoulder, she happened to look over to the other side of the room only to meet eyes with the very person she was currently fed up with discussing: Malfoy.
    He shot her a cocky smirk and with that one look he was able to completely convey that he knew they were talking about him, that he was pleased he got such a reaction, and that he was also pleased that she was getting so irritated with her friends over him.
    Bloody bastard.
    She glared back at him coldly, narrowing her eyes as he pretended to be highly affronted.
    Luckily, the bell rang just then, signaling the end of class and Hermione shot out of her seat and grabbed her things. As she walked out the door, she glowered at Harry, Ron and Malfoy, very sick of all three of them at the moment.

* * *




    The rest of the day passed by without much upheaval… not counting that which Hermione committed in the girl’s toilet after lunch.
    Finally, it was time for the last class of the day, and the seventh years seemed to all arrive early for Charms, perhaps in hopes that the sooner they got there the sooner the tiring day would be over.
    Hermione walked lethargically into the classroom, her heavy book bag slung over her right shoulder and an expression over utter fatigue etched into her features.
    The room was warm and seemed almost static with the voices of her carefree classmates as they happily spent the last few minutes before the bell chatting to one another.
    As she wove amongst the clusters of desks to find an empty one for herself, somebody ran into her hard from the side. She stumbled sideways with the person and felt an awkward hand land on her stomach. Quite suddenly her heart skipped a beat.
    “Oh! So sorry, Hermione!” shrieked a startled Lavender Brown, steadying them both. Hermione didn’t miss the flicker of malicious excitement flash past Lavender’s eyes and she knew immediately there was going to be a problem.
    For a second, she let her eyes slide past Lavender’s and they landed almost immediately on Draco Malfoy’s smirking countenance, a few meters behind them. She watched as his lips twitched almost unnoticeably and a silver wisp of light emitted from the wand he had hidden beneath his arm. Reverting back to Lavender, she stood shocked as she witnessed Lavender’s clear blue eyes gleam an opaque, pearly white as her memory was modified.
    “Um, sorry, Hermione,” she said awkwardly as she looked down confusedly at the minimal space between them.
    “Oh, it’s alright,” Hermione said quickly, still a bit startled by the whole ordeal. She sidestepped Lavender clumsily and then hurried over to a seat by the window before anyone else got the chance to run into her.
    As she sat down, she looked cautiously over at Malfoy who was still standing against the wall. He gave her a smirk, which read “I’ll let you thank me later for that” and then strode over to the clump of desks occupied entirely by the Slytherins.
    Hermione scowled and turned around in her seat. She could already tell Malfoy was going to be an extraordinary pain tonight when they had their meeting.

* * *



   
    Hermione glanced down at the thin, silver watch she wore on her wrist and picked up her speed as she realized she was already a minute later for her meeting with Malfoy.
    Hermione wasn’t ever the one to be late to a meeting, but here she was racing down the seventh floor corridor, searching for the familiar stretch of wall that concealed the hidden door to the room of requirement.
    The reason for her racing was simple. She had told Malfoy to meet her at seven o’clock, half an hour after dinner. Unfortunately, she had decided to go back to her room to change her clothes before meeting him. She had put on her loosest sweater, hoping that it would effectively conceal her bump from Malfoy’s prying eyes and keep his thoughts on track. She realized now, that if she wasn’t going to be teased over her pregnancy, she was going to be bothered for being late. Most likely, however, it would be the two combined.
    Finally she approached the wall opposite the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy and slowed down her pace. She closed her eyes and paced in front of the wall three times, thinking, I need a place to meet with Draco Malfoy.
    When she opened her eyes, the door had appeared and she walked toward it wondering if Malfoy was already inside.
    “About time you showed up, Granger,” Malfoy said snidely as he pushed the door open in her face.
    “Malfoy!” Hermione shrieked, startled at his abrupt appearance. “Merlin! Could you give a little warning?”
    “Of course not, Granger! What would be the fun in that?” He then stepped back from the door and ushered her inside.
    The room that had been conjured was dark and, Hermione was glad to see, appeared very business-like. There was a plush looking carpet situated in front of the fire and Hermione gestured to it when she said, “I guess we should sit over there… it will give us more light”
    She walked over and sat herself down cross-legged upon the rug, swinging her bag around to her front so she could pull out the patrol tables she had already drawn up. Malfoy followed her lead and sat across from her.
    “Alright Malfoy, let’s get straight to business. I’ve already drawn up the patrol tables and I’m fairly 100% sure they’ll work out perfectly, but I suppose you can take a look at them and tell me if you think there should be any changes – ”
    “So Granger, tell me, did you wear that god-awful, lumpy sweater tonight hoping that I wouldn’t bring up what happened with Lavender earlier today?”
    Hermione dropped a few papers in her stack as he said this. Why must he be so bloody observant? Boys aren’t supposed to notice those kinds of things!
    “I wore it, not that it’s any of your business, because I was hoping you would let this meeting be strictly professional.”
    He chuckled a little bit as she said this.
    “It was a sharp save, you’ve got to admit.”
    Hermione glared at him.
    “Yes… almost too sharp, like you were expecting it … Were you?”
    “Was I what?”
    “Waiting for someone to do something like that?”
    “No!”
    “How were you so quick then?”
    “Hey, why are you attacking me about it? I would think you’d be pleased Brown isn’t skittering around telling all her brainless little friends her suspicions. Unless that’s what you want, the whole school talking about you?”
    “Of course it’s not what I want!”
    “Alright then, why are you getting so upset that I saved your arse?”
    “I’m not upset, I just think it’s … curious that you were so prepared,” she said with eyebrows raised. Malfoy looked into the fire as she said this, his expression unreadable. There was a considerable silent pause.
    “Since we’re on the topic, Malfoy, I have a question to ask you,” Hermione said abruptly, cutting through the silence. 
    “Well, ask away, Granger,” Draco replied, sounding resigned. 
    “What’s gotten in to you this year? Why are you so different?”
    “Different?” He asked, pretending to look greatly puzzled, “Are you talking about my hair, because it did get quite a bit lighter from the sun this summer…”
    “Don’t be ridiculous, Malfoy. I’m talking about the fact that after six years of torment and – ”
    “And me calling you Mudblood every chance I got, why am I suddenly being so cordial?”
    “I’m not sure I would say cordial, but, yeah, essentially.”
    “You are a nosy witch, aren’t you, Granger?” Malfoy said with a laugh.
    Hermione shrugged.
    “Well, if you must know, and I know you must, at the end of last year I made a decision, on behalf of my mother and I, to pledge my allegiance to Dumbledore in exchange for a certain amount of protection.”
    Hermione looked at him intently, digesting the information.
    “You’re telling me Dumbledore was willing to forgive the infamous Malfoys simply because you, a sixteen year old boy, decided he didn’t much fancy following You-Know-Who anymore?”
    “Naturally, I remain in his debt, but we’ve presently got that semi-sorted out.”
    “Do you now?” Hermione asked quickly, suspicion mounting. “That debt wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with –” Hermione gave a peculiar look down at her stomach, but Draco just chose to grin and ignore her.
    “What are these tables you’ve got here? Don’t tell me you’ve already drawn up the patrol schedules?”
    “Of course I have, and I’ve already told you about them. You just never listen to –”
    “And I suppose you thought it was perfectly OK to draw them up without consulting me?”
    “You and I both know you are the world’s greatest procrastinator, Malfoy. I was not about to wait around for you to help me.”
    “I guess I’ll give you that. Let me just see them for a second…”
    He reached over and snatched them from her lap, holding them near the fire so that he could read.
    “Hmm, alright, alright,” he said as he tapped the parchment with his wand. “Just a few changes.”
    He grinned wolfishly as he handed them out to Hermione and she ripped them from his hands.
    “Malfoy!” she exclaimed after getting a good look at them. “You’ve put us together for every single patrol date!”
    “Well, Granger, you don’t honestly expect me to patrol with some snot-nosed fifth year, do you?” he asked rhetorically, standing up and giving an impressive yawn. “Crazy as it sounds, I would much rather have you for my partner, Granger. You really are not all that dull.”
    He gave her a presumptuous wink and then stalked out of the room, his bag tossed lightly over his shoulder.
    Hermione sat and stared a few moments at the place his head had been mere seconds before.
    Then, she too stood up and grabbed her things, all the while thinking, Malfoy needs to stop getting the last word. This is getting ridiculous.


~*~



A/N: This one was a bit longer like I promised! The next one though is going to be BIG if everything goes according to my outline... You will also be seeing some more Hermione/Draco action as I know people are waiting to see. Please keep reading and reviewing! I love hearing your opinions!

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