It was late in the afternoon, a week after Draco and Hermione had spent their first day together, and Hermione was laying out in the warm, emerald alfalfa field near her aunt’s home, thinking about the boy whom had run off with her heart. Spending so much time with him had made her see the true person that he was: intelligent, kind, gentle, and amusing. She smiled as her mind became filled with an image of his soft, platinum hair, silver eyes, and fair, smooth skin. Her mentality became blocked as fantasies of him holding her in his arms, combing his fingers through her brown curls, and planting kisses on her parted lips clouded her alertness. She grinned as the thought entered her mind, and she came to realize that this boy was someone she had felt for like no other…he was someone incredibly exceptional…but she would never be able to get up the nerve to tell him so. She was afraid that things would become too awkward between each other. They had held so much hate towards one another for so long, she didn’t know how they could ever begin a relationship. She watched the sunlit clouds float by against the cerulean sky, and swore that each one compared to Draco’s figure, when suddenly, a voice startled her from her dream-like state. “Daydreaming about me?” Hermione looked up, and saw Draco standing at her feet. “No,” she retorted, denying the fact that she really had been. “Too bad,” he said, and he began to stroll away. “Hey! Where are you going?” “Home.” “Mind if I come with?” “Sure.” Hermione boosted herself up off the ground, and dusted stray pieces of grass from her jeans. She jogged to catch up with him. “Why are you in such a hurry today?” she asked, as she walked quickly along his side. “There’s a lot to do. Mum wants the house to be finished up and cleaned today. It’s almost done, you know.” “I haven’t seen your mother for a while. How is she doing?” Draco shrugged, as though he weren’t sure himself, “All right, I guess. She’s been tired lately. I suppose it’s because of the fact that she’s been working so hard on the house. I offer her my help, but she always refuses. She’s turned out different than she used to be. Hiding out doesn’t suit her well.” “Well, I should think not,” replied Hermione thoughtfully, “I wouldn’t like it much to be cooped up inside that old house in the middle of nowhere. There’s no one to interact with at all, except for you and I.” “You’ve held up my sanity, you know,” said Draco boldly as he stopped, and took her hand. Hermione’s eyes opened wide as he did, and her cheeks grew rosy, “Being able to talk to you and see you everyday has made this whole situation loads better than I ever imagined it to be.” “Well,” said Hermione as though she were trying to brush off the subject, “I just—well I, It’s not like I’ve been a huge help or anything.” She retracted her hand back to her side, and swiped a few fluttering strands of hair out of her face. As much as she liked Draco, she didn’t feel right about admitting it to him, at least not yet. She felt afraid and nervous every time he said or did something that suggested his feelings for her, and she had taken up the habit of changing the subject at random. “So,” said Hermione before Draco could get another word in, “what’s there left to finish on your house?” “Paint job. It’s nice to be able to paint with magic. Just a flick of the wand, and the house will look as good as new on the outside. Mum’s done a great job though. She wanted me to be there while she put the finishing touches on.” “Oh, hello Hermione! It’s been a while since I last saw you! Oh, I’m so excited! Doesn’t the house look wonderful? It’s better than I ever imagined that I could do!” “It’s really nice, Narcissa. You did great!” said Hermione with a smile. Narcissa beamed as she gazed at the freshly painted house that now looked like a comfy home in the woods, rather than the rotting fish crate it had once gave the impression of being. “Next off, I plan to start a garden. I think I’ll do it the muggle way. It’ll take up more time, and I won’t be left with nothing to do. Draco, why don’t you take Hermione inside and show her all of the latest improvements.” Draco gently took Hermione’ s arm, and led her inside. For once, Hermione decided to not let it bother her that he was touching her, and felt with each heartbeat, a certain warmness spreading through her veins; something that she had never felt before. It was like rolling up in a blanket next to the fire on a cold winter’s night, except with an intense feeling of emotion. Hermione had never experienced it, and couldn’t depict what it was that had caused her to feel this magnificent. She looked at Draco’s face, and noticed that he looked happy. She had never seen him this way at Hogwarts. He had a glow to his cheeks that made her want to touch his fair, flushed skin. “Here’s the living room, of course,” said Draco, snapping Hermione out of her splendid thoughts as he let go of her arm; that one connection that seemed to make her feel as though nothing else in the world could have phased her except the boy who had mesmerized her into that wonderful feeling. Hermione looked around, and saw that everything now sparkled and glistened as though it were new. The couch was fully repaired, the woodworking appeared to be new, the floor was scrubbed and polished…It was now a beautiful place, and Hermione admired every renovated room that Draco had taken her to. “And this,” said Draco with finality, “is my room.” Hermione poked her head inside the door, and discovered his bedroom to be rather plain. It consisted of a small twin-sized bed with a carved, wooden headboard, some antique looking furniture, a desk (which was littered with bits of crumpled parchment, textbooks, ink blots, and several quills), and a Nimbus 2001 broomstick propped in the corner. “Why Draco, have you been doing schoolwork?” “Yeah.” Hermione walked over to his desk and picked up the first book she saw. “Hogwarts: A History! I’m impressed! Not many students seem to take an interest in this book!” Draco shrugged and took it from her, throwing it back onto his desk with a thump. “I’m not a book person. I forgot to return it to the library last year after I did a report for Professor Binns. Madame Pince will have my head mounted on her wall when I go back to Hogwarts…that is, IF I go back this year.” “Well, of course you will! Why wouldn’t you?” “So many things have changed. I have changed. It’d be too much of a shock to people of the way I am now, not that I really give a damn anyway. Plus, I couldn’t leave my mother alone.” “I’m sure she’ll be fine. She’s safe as long as I’m the only one who knows of her whereabouts, right? She can also visit with Aunt Loretta.” “You don’t know my mum,” said Draco dismissively as he collapsed onto his bed, and sprawled out, “she’s bound to do something stupid. I’m the only one holding her back in hiding. As long as I’m here, she won’t leave and put herself out in danger. But if I’m gone…that’s a different story.” “But you’ve got your future to think about, Draco. You can’t hold yourself back from school and expect to get a halfway decent career. You need to finish schooling.” “I know,” said Draco as he stared up at his ceiling, “and I will.” “Narcissa does have a choice about the life she wants to lead, you know. She’s an adult.” Draco sat up from his bed, and ran his fingers through his soft, loose-hanging hair in frustration. “I’m sure it will be all right,” said Hermione comfortingly, “You shouldn’t go worrying yourself.” She walked over to him, and placed an unsure hand on his shoulder. He looked up at her, and looked into her eyes. Hermione squeezed his shoulder tightly, and then bent down so that she was looking up into his face. He returned the gaze, and smiled at her with a lopsided grin. Hermione let out a small laugh, and patted him on the knee. She rose up from the floor, and began to walk towards the door, but stopped before strolling over the threshold. “Are you coming, Mr. Malfoy, or is your butt permanently attached to your bed?” Draco smirked, and tossed a pillow in her direction. Hermione darted out of the way swiftly to avoid the airborne object, and ran through the hall, laughing profusely as Draco began to chase her. Hermione raced down the steps and dashed out the front door, nearly knocking Narcissa over with surprise. “Sorry Narcissa!” called Hermione jubilantly, as she leapt off the front steps, with Draco at her heels. “Hey you two!” shouted Mrs. Malfoy with a laugh, “Be careful! Don’t fall and hurt yourselves!” “I won’t!” Draco said to his mother as he darted past her, “But I’m sure Hermione will!” Hermione ran as fast as she could, letting out an occasional shout, playfully warning Draco to stay away. They reached the brook, the spot they had first met at during this summer, and Hermione leapt over it. Draco tried to follow suit, but unfortunately he tripped on a gathering of river reeds and fell into the water with a splash. Hermione found this to be incredibly comical, and rolled on the ground with laughter and giggles. “Oh, you think that’s funny, do you?” said Draco with a mischievous sneer as he leapt out of the water and grabbed Hermione around the waist, “Let’s see what you think of the water.” “NO!” she screamed delightedly as she felt herself lifted off the ground, wrapped in Draco’s strong arms. She felt the both of them fall sideways, and land in the water with a splash. Hermione raised her head out of the water, and let out a stream of laughter. Draco stood up, and offered a hand to Hermione, whom accepted, and pulled her upright. Hermione felt herself stumble slightly, and began to tip over again, until Draco caught her waist and held her up. She looked up into his eyes as she felt his arms pull her closer. Her heart began to race with nervousness, and excitement as he smiled warmly at her. She felt the shallow water run over her feet, and the warm sun shine through the canopy of trees overhead. It was all so serene, and she felt caught up in the moment. She watched as Draco tilted his head slightly, and saw it bend down slowly. She parted her lips, knowing what was about to happen, and closed her eyes gently. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and felt him pull her close as his lips finally reached hers. An explosion took place within Hermione, unlike any other feeling that she had ever experienced. It was like sunlight breaking through the clouds after a violent storm, and she didn’t want it to ever end. They continued on for a minute until Draco slowly pulled away, but Hermione kept her eyes closed, savoring the moment that she would never forget. She looked up at him, and it finally had hit her. She had kissed him. She was enchanted, but suddenly felt conscious about herself at the same time. “I have to go,” she said hurriedly, and broke away from Draco’s warm arms. “Hermione, wait!” shouted Draco after her, but she ignored him, and continued on, running towards Aunt Loretta’s home.

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