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A/N: Only one more chapter to go! I hope this one reaches you all faster than the last one. Once again, read and enjoy!

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Hermione took a bite out of her toast. It had been nearly a week since she last spoke with Blaise on the ship after the Hunt. She didn’t even speak with Draco for the past few days either. Hermione absently looked over to the Slytherin table to find Blaise once again, absent from his usual seat. Draco sat idly in his seat, unaware of his surroundings. Pansy and Cecilia sat huddled together on the other end of the table farthest from Draco.

Hermione closed her eyes and tried to think calmly about the mess she had created. She destroyed Draco and Blaise’s friendship. She ruined Pansy and Draco’s relationship. She completely demolished her own relationship with Blaise.

And for what?

She still wasn’t with Draco. She certainly wasn’t happily with Blaise. Everyone was miserable, and it was all because of her. Why did she toy with everyone’s emotions? Blaise was the world to her, and yet she couldn’t find that to be enough. Why did she need to seek out Draco? Why couldn’t she just say no?

“Hermione don’t do it.” Harry whispered. She turned to face him.

“Do what?” She asked.

“Beat yourself up. I can see it in your eyes.” Harry looking right at her.

“I don’t even feel alive Harry.” Hermione whispered. She was right though. In class she barely paid attention. She completely let go of her appearance. She was sure her hair was disheveled, her eyes puffy, her face a mess. Yet somehow none of this seemed to matter. Nothing anymore really mattered.

“You can’t just mope around Hermione. You’re not Moaning Murtle. You can move on with your life.” Harry responded.

“And how do you suppose I go about that Harry?” Hermione sharply replied. As soon as she said it she regretted it. She shut her eyes and let out a deep breath.

“I’m sorry. I’m just…” Hermione began.

“I know Hermione, I know.” Harry replied reassuringly as he placed his hand on hers.

“It was so perfect before and now I just…” Hermione started but stopped half way.

The rest of her breakfast went by quietly. It was Sunday and she had an entire day to relax. Hermione quickly excused herself from the table and walked outside. The day was beautiful and warm. Hermione noticed the flowers and trees blooming with life as spring was in full awakening. She walked down to the gardens, past Hagrid’s hut and moved toward the Lake. It was serene and quiet; just the way she liked it. Hermione found a quiet spot near the lake to rest against. She plopped down under a tree and closed her eyes. The smell of fresh water and the cool breeze through her hair was intoxicating.

It was perfect until Hermione could hear a girl’s giggles not too far away from where she was sitting. She opened her eyes only to hear more giggles ensuing from the nearby forest. Hermione got up to see what was happening behind the trees. As she approached the front of the forest she could make out the silhouettes of three bodies. As she neared them she saw him perfectly.

“Blaise?” Hermione called out. The two girls stopped giggling as Blaise’s smirk faltered when he faced Hermione.

“What are you doing here?” He asked sharply. He avoided locking eyes with Hermione.

“I should be asking you the same thing.” Hermione replied authoritatively as she glanced at the two girls who were arm in arm with Blaise.

“We were just leaving.” Blaise said pushing past Hermione.

“Blaise you’re drinking.” Hermione replied noticing the bottle in his hands. He turned around to look at Hermione.

“And?” He asked.

“And you know its forbidden to drink alcohol in school!” Hermione a little louder. Blaise merely laughed as he heard Hermione.

“I don’t need you to recite the rule book for me Granger.” Blaise replied. His look changed from humor to pain as he said Hermione’s last name. Hermione looked at him with the same expression. Her eyes glossed with tears as she faced him.

“Blaise can we please talk?” Hermione whispered. Blaise contemplated speaking with Hermione for a minute. He turned around to the two girls who were still clutching onto him.

“I’ll meet up with you two later.” Blaise replied casually as they both nodded and walked off.

“This isn’t you Blaise.” Hermione said with a stressed voice.

“You don’t know me.” Blaise replied quickly taking a sip of his Fire Whiskey.

“I do know you. You’re not this person in front of me. The Blaise I know…” Hermione began.

“The Blaise you knew was a foolish, naïve, ignorant…” Blaise started.

“…sweet, loving, wonderful person! This cold, indifferent person in front of me isn’t you Blaise!” Hermione protested.

“You didn’t even know me before we met. This is me Hermione! Whatever you changed in me is dead. I’m back to who I was, who I should have been. I’m Blaise fucking Zabini!” Blaise yelled out.

“I know why you’re doing this. Blaise I can do nothing more than tell you I’m sorry.” Hermione said softly as she walked closer to him. He backed away a few feet.

“You think this is about you? This has nothing to do with you! You know, you think Pansy and Ce are conceited arrogant people but take a good look at yourself Hermione! Last time I checked, you were the one fooling around with someone’s best friend. You were the liar.” Blaise replied disgusted.

“Blaise I don’t know what to tell you.” Hermione replied defeated.

“You don’t need to say anything.” Blaise said. Hermione felt the tears flow freely from her eyes.

“Please…” Hermione pleaded.

“Just stay out of my life.” Blaise said firmly as he turned his back on Hermione and walked towards the castle.

*

Hermione found herself late that night sitting atop the Astronomy Tower starring out at the illuminating lights that cast themselves from the stars above. She liked the quietness engulfing her. It allowed her to clear her mind. It allowed her to think.

Blaise’s words from earlier this morning still were ringing through her mind. ‘Just stay out of my life.’ His voice heavy and angry. Yet it wasn’t that simple. She couldn’t just stay out of Blaise’s life. He meant more to her than she previously believed. It was only now that she could see just how much he had meant to her. Hermione closed her eyes and tried to block out all thoughts of Blaise.

“Do you mind?” Hermione heard a deep voice from behind her. She turned around. Draco.

His golden hair was billowing in the wind. She couldn’t see his face properly, but she could make out his icicle eyes. Hermione nodded silently as he seated himself beside Hermione and leaned against the wall she was near. They were quiet for sometime. Hermione could feel the warmth of his body as she felt his arm rest beside her own. It was only a few moments before she felt Draco’s hand entwine with her own. All thoughts of Blaise melted from her mind. She rested her head against his shoulder as they both stared out onto the fields.

“You honestly can tell me you don’t want this?” Draco asked softly. Hermione was silent for a moment as she thought.

“I do want this Draco.” Hermione replied. She shifted her position slightly as Draco wrapped his arm around her.

“But you’re thinking of him.” Draco stated. Hermione didn’t refute this. She knew that Draco knew that Blaise was still in the back of her mind.

“He was a big part of my life. I can’t just forget that.” Hermione replied. Draco was silent. He didn’t want to talk about Blaise anymore. He was sick of hearing Blaise’s name.

“Let’s just not talk about this.” Draco said. Another few moments passed before Draco stood up. He took a deep breath and turned to Hermione before saying, “I can’t do this.”

He straightened his posture and looked down at Hermione. She was a little confused.

“I’m done chasing you Hermione. I’m exhausted.” Draco wearily as he gave her a final look. He examined her gaze.

“You’re never going to love me are you?” Draco asked coming to a heartbreaking realization.

Hermione remained silent. The pressure of the truth that weighed her down was unbearable. Tears stung her eyes as she watched him walk away from her for the last time. Hermione wasn’t sure what to do. Should she run after Draco? Should she run after him. She couldn’t process the thought quickly enough but she got to her feet and opened the door. She ran down the spiraling stairs calling out Draco’s name, yet no response was heard.

Hermione felt as though a giant weight had been placed down on her. Sinking her lower and lower as she continued to descend the stairs with no hope of reaching Draco. She ran down to the corridor, which was empty. Hermione felt the hot tears burn down her face as she sank to the floor. The silence was filled by the echoing of her own sobs.

“Get up Granger.” Hermione heard a demanding voice call. Hermione looked up to find Cecilia towering above her. Hermione’s big honey eyes, now glossed with frozen tears, looked back at her unforgiving gaze. “I said, get up.” Cecilia repeated herself.

“What do you want?” Hermione’s cracked voice asked. Cecilia rolled her eyes as she crossed her arms.

“I just wanted to let you know, that if you think you have a shot with Blaise again, you’re really wrong. You might as well give up now and go hook up with Weasel. Blaise is no longer yours to take.” Cecilia said coldly.

“What are you talking about?” Hermione glared at her. Cecilia smirked as she tossed her sandy blonde hair to the side to reveal a rather ravenous looking bruise on the side of her neck.

“That’s how Blaise likes to leave his mark.” Cecilia smiled bitter-sweetly.

“You’re nothing but a slut Cecilia.” Hermione replied. Cecilia’s smile faded.

“Stay away from Blaise. He’s no longer your Slytherin to take. Never was, never will be.” Cecilia concluded as she walked away from Hermione. The clicking of her stilettos could be heard as she cat walked down the corridor.

Something new inside Hermione began raging and she couldn’t quite understand what this new burning sensation within her chest was. But she was sure it felt a lot like a passionate desire to win. She was determined to beat Cecilia and Pansy at their own games. She wouldn’t be told what to do. She was Hermione Granger and she was not giving up without a war.

*

The sight Hermione was welcomed by the following morning was nothing she expected. Everyone around her was silent as she walked up to the Gryffindor table. Hermione found it a bit odd and asked what the deal was. Ginny subtly pointed her head towards the Slytherin table only to find Cecilia hand in hand with Blaise and Draco in a conversation with Pansy. Cecilia was telling the truth: they have returned to their rightful positions.

Hermione looked away hurt but she didn’t know why. After all, this was her work of art. It was her fault. Even with Blaise gone, she still had Draco waiting for her. Now she ruined it with him as well. She wanted to escape. She needed something to get her out of her mind. She wanted to jump off a building, scream profanities, run until her legs fall off, swim until she drowned; anything. Hermione barely ate any breakfast before she quickly excused herself from the table and made her way towards her first classes for this early Friday morning.

*

Hermione could hear quick scampering feet running around. It was a curiously late hour to be running around in the corridors this late at night. She quietly followed the sounds which eventually led her to the all too familiar Room of Requirement. Of course, yet another Slytherin party probably was commencing. Hermione rolled her eyes. She could practically smell the Fire Whiskey from the door. She sighed loudly and began walking towards the slightly ajar door and peeked in. The room was alive with not only Slytherins, but Ravenclaws, and a few Hufflepuffs as well. She watched as everyone carelessly danced, socialized, and just had plain fun. Suddenly the need to stop the party became less attractive to Hermione as she now began contemplating how she could get inside without everyone freaking out.

Hermione slowly opened the door and subtly walked inside. She adjusted her skirt and tugged on the white button down shirt. The room was a scene from a movie perhaps with the girls prancing around, as the boys lusted behind them. Hermione smiled. No one noticed her just yet. She walked over to a small table which had plenty of alcohol ready for anyone who could handle it. Hermione gingerly took the small bottle and held it up to her lips. She had, of course, tasted Fire Whiskey in the past but that was merely a sip. But now, the cool liquid was searing down her throat as she drank. She looked around. Tears began to sting her eyes as she remembered Blaise. Everyone’s blurry faces reminded her of him. And of Draco. She took another large gulp.

Hermione wasn’t quite sure how many empty little bottles lay on the floor scattered around her but she didn’t care. She was feeling carefree and happy. She danced around with everyone. Once people began to realize Hermione would not go and tell the Headmisstress right away of their illegal gathering, they all loosened up to her. Hermione felt herself slowly being slipped away into another world. She felt as though for these few minutes, for this evening, she was in someone else’s life. She was an entirely new person.

“Ahem, Hermione is it?” A deep voice from behind her called. Hermione whipped around, her wavy hair sashayed behind her.

“Yes?” Hermione inquired. She recognized the face but couldn’t remember anything about the boy standing in front of her.

“I didn’t know you were one for parties.” He smirked. Hermione rolled her eyes and turned her back to him.

“You don’t know a lot about me.” Hermione said as she walked away from him. The boy stood there, intrigued, as he followed Hermione back to the couch she seated herself in.

“Then why don’t you tell me?” He asked as he too sat beside her. Hermione let out a small laugh as she took a sip of her drink.

“Who are you?” Hermione asked. The corners of his mouth curled into a smile as he stretched out his hand.

“Alexander Stone. But I’m better know as Lex.” Lex replied waiting for Hermione to shake his hand. She looked down at his hand amused and shook it, just for the sake of it. He took her hand and brought it up to his lips. He gently kissed the back of her hand as he looked into her amused eyes.

“And what house are you from Mr. Suave? Let me guess, you’re a Slytherin?” Hermione asked almost mockingly. Lex smirked.

“I heard you enjoyed Slytherins.” He raised his eyebrows as he leaned back on the couch and took a sip of his drink. Hermione wasn’t sure if she should feel insulted, angry, or indifferent.

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Hermione asked roughly.

“Nothing Hermione. I’m only saying people have seen you around with Blaise and Draco. Now all you need is to be seen with me and you’ll be the envy of every girl in the entire school.” Lex smirked.

“And why would I want to be with you?” Hermione asked teasingly.

“Because I’m the third most desirable guy in Slytherin.” Lex grinned.

“I’ve already had the two best. Why go for you? What could you possibly offer me?” Hermione asked playfully as she felt Lex’s body get closer to hers. His face was a mere inches away.

“Third times a charm.” Lex winked as he leaned in and kissed Hermione on the lips. At first she wanted to draw back. But then a strange, unfamiliar voice in the back of her mind began to protest and tell her to sit put. She wanted an escape, and she found one.

If was now Hermione who was ravenously kissing Lex back. She could taste the cool Fire Whiskey on his tongue and it felt nice against her lips. Hermione pushed him harder on the back of the couch as she straddled either side of his lap. She began tearing away at his shirt. It was too constricting. She felt his hands travel up her body. She should have felt disgust at the flesh, but she didn’t. Hermione didn’t recoil. She was plummeting downward, and she was determined to go all the way. She felt Lex’s rough hands travel down her sides of her legs, only to continue back up underneath her skirt. She moaned a little but would not give him the pleasure of knowing he was in control. Hermione’s hands went to reach for his belt when she felt herself being picked up from behind.

She turned around to face Blaise’s enraged glare. His look was positively murderous.

“Go wait for me by the door.” Blaise demanded in a collected voice. It was evident the rage he felt boiling within him.

“Blaise I was just…” Hermione began.

“GO!” Blaise roared. At this point the entire party had come to a pause to witness Blaise heaving. Hermione did not want to undermine Blaise again and proceeded to walk to the door.

“What the bloody hell are you doing mate?” Lex asked as he stood up to face Blaise. Blaise turned his attention to him.

“Don’t fucking touch her again. Don’t go near her again. Do you understand? Or I will disembody every limb on your pathetic excuse of a human body.” Blaise replied through gritted teeth. Lex could do nothing but laugh at this.

“Sorry if I’m a little confused, but I don’t think I understand. You let Draco have his fun with the Gryffindor Princess. He got to do all sorts of nasty things to her. Now you’re denying her to us?” Lex replied smirking. Blaise had lost any last shred of self-control he had within him. He did not even bother to think as his fist collided with the side of Lex’s face. He was knocked over to the side with a slightly bleeding nose. Lex went to grab for his wand, but Hermione was too quick for him. She shot a body binding curse from across the room.

“You’re not going to get away with this Mudblood!” Lex screamed across the room. Blaise had already walked up to Hermione.

“You really think McGonagall is going to believe your word over hers? You’re even stupider than you look Stone.” Blaise replied as he took Hermione out of the door and into the warm spring night.

Hermione’s body binding curse had lifted as Lex seated himself on the couch swearing to himself. From the darker corners of the room Cecilia emerged and sat beside him.

“You had one simple task to do. And you couldn’t even humiliate the Mudblood.” Cecilia replied angrily.

“Shut up Loff.” Lex replied dabbing at his bruised nose.

“Lex he’s out there with her. And you know what’s going to happen? She’s going to play the victim card and he’ll go back to her.” Cecilia replied with sorrow in her voice.

“Look it’s not my problem alright Ce. I feel bad for you, I do. But there’s nothing you can do about it anymore so just stop trying these sabotage plans. What if Blaise found out it was you who was behind all this anyway?” Lex asked.

“I would murder you if you ever told him.” Cecilia replied in a curt voice.

“Not me. I’m just saying. People get real curious about juicy things like this. Just stop with everything before it catches up to you.” Lex replied.

*

“Blaise I’m perfectly fine walking back by myself.” Hermione replied.

“Have you even looked at yourself? Your clothes are disheveled, your hair is a mess, your eyes are red, and you can barely keep yourself balanced.” Blaise noted as he walked in unison with Hermione.

“I thought you didn’t care about me. I thought you wanted me out of your life.” Hermione replied.

“Doesn’t mean I don’t care.” Blaise replied quietly. As much as she didn’t want them to come, Hermione felt the tears swell up in her eyes again.

“I’m sorry.” Hermione said quietly.

“Stop. I need to talk to you.” Blaise said.

“Okay but not here. Filtch’s cat just turned the corner. Let’s go this way. My room is right down that corridor.” Hermione replied seeing the small tabby cat meowing feverishly.

When both of them were in the safety of Hermione’s Head dorm they felt more at ease. Hermione stumbled over her own two feet as Blaise caught her, but she shrugged him off. She staggered over to the couches near the fireplace and seated herself down on them. Blaise sat beside her as he watched Hermione take her shoes off. She leaned her body on the back couch and closed her eyes. It was the only thing she knew that would stop her from crying again.

“Hermione…” Blaise whispered softly. Her eyes shot open at the mention of her name through his lips.

“Yes?” Hermione replied softly.

“I can’t be mad at you any more.” Blaise said defeated. Hermione was not expecting this reaction from him at all. She turned her head to face him.

“What are you talking about?” Hermione asked quietly.

“I can’t be mad at you anymore. I’m tired of not talking to you. I’m tired of seeing you cry. I… I just want it all to end. I’m sick of it.” Blaise confessed. Hermione remained silent.

“What are you trying to say?” Hermione asked.

“I just can’t not talk to you anymore. I miss you Hermione.” Blaise finally said. He looked down and let out a deep breath. Hermione diverted her eyes from his face. Could her ears be playing a trick on her? Could the Fire Whiskey be creating a hallucination before her eyes? Was this really Blaise telling her he wanted her back after all she had done to him?

“Are you saying you want me back?” Hermione asked as she gingerly placed her hand on top of his. Blaise smiled at her touch and looked up to face her. His gorgeous childlike smile made Hermione’s heart melt.

“We both know that can’t happen.” Blaise said simply. Hermione’s face looked crestfallen.

“Right…” Hermione replied as she looked away.

“You don’t love me Hermione.” Blaise stated. He didn’t sound angry or hurt. He only said it as if it were just another fact in the world.

“Blaise don’t say that. I do love you!” Hermione protested because she knew that she did in fact love Blaise. The feelings she had for him were true. He did nothing but smile back at her. He took another great sigh, and began talking again.

“I knew you about you and Draco. Before Pansy screamed it out that night in the maze.” Blaise confessed as he removed his hand from Hermione’s. Hermione felt her face grow pale.

“How… when…” Hermione stuttered.

“It was during Christmas time in Madame Puddifoot’s. I had left to go to the bathroom. I actually came back before you saw me. I saw Draco lean in and kiss you. I tried to swallow the image. I couldn’t possibly imagine you would do that to me. I loved you so much that I just forgot about it. But I knew that probably wouldn’t have been the last time. I just thought to myself that if I kept a blind eye to it, maybe I could forget it. I tried everything to keep your interest solely on me, and yet I couldn’t even do that.” Blaise finished slightly laughing.

Hermione smiled but she felt her heart breaking. Truly breaking. Blaise knew about her and Draco the entire time yet he never showed it. He never stopped being the perfect gentleman he was. He stood by her side the entire time.

“Blaise, I just want you to know that even when I was with Draco I thought about you constantly and the pain I would have inflicted on you and it killed me inside.” Hermione confessed. He smiled.

“I know. I knew you would be feeling guilty and I suppose a selfish part of me wanted you to feel the guilt. I suppose, this just shows its not me you were meant to be with. But of course, we all knew that all along.” Blaise shrugged.

“What do you mean?” Hermione asked.

“Oh come on Hermione. It was never me you were meant to be with. Why do you think you kept going back to Draco? Why do you think you went crazy with jealousy when him and Pansy got back together? I saw it in your eyes, your posture, your voice when I told you that night before Astronomy class. It was so obvious.” Blaise smiled slightly at this point. Hermione remained silent. She didn’t know what she could possibly tell Blaise.

“But what about you and Cecilia?” Hermione asked. This was something she never understood. “She came to me the other day and told me to stay away from you.”

“Cecilia and I used to be something in the past but I’m over it. I had you and I guess she could never forgive you for ’taking me away’ from her. I really don’t know though. I suppose she was more than elated when we broke up because she was the first to come find me. I don’t have feelings for her if that’s what you’re asking me.” Blaise squeezed Hermione’s hand reassuringly.

“So what now?” Hermione asked.

“Well, school is over in a week from today. I’ll be off to Italy for the job position at the Ministry there…” Blaise started.

“You took the job?” Hermione interrupted.

“Yeah. I just recently owled the Ministry there to let them know.” Blaise said.

“Wait but I thought you sent the owl after we had that talk? A while back?” Hermione asked a little confused.

“No. I held it off in the slight chance that maybe you would somehow have a crazy epiphany and realize that you wanted to be with me. High hopes right?” Blaise said smiling. Hermione looked down. Never had she seen someone give up so much for just her. She felt ashamed to be in Blaise’s presence.

“How you were sorted into Slytherin, I will never know.” Hermione whispered.

“Don’t get me wrong. It’s only because of you that I’ve changed as much as I have.” Blaise smirked now. Hermione couldn’t help but smile.

They remained silent for a few moments just taking in each other’s company for a little while.

“What do I do about Draco?” Hermione asked.

“I think you know what he wants to hear Hermione. I think you’ve waited long enough to say it.” Blaise stated. She knew he was right. Because Blaise was always right.

“Thank you. For everything.” Hermione replied. Before Blaise could respond Hermione took him into her arms and embraced him. She didn’t let him go, even though he asked her to. She eventually felt the Fire Whiskey taking its course and could feel her eyelids closing down on her. Before she knew it, she was slowly drifting into sleep.

“I love you Hermione.” Blaise whispered in her ear after he knew she was asleep.

She remained in his arms one last night. They both fell asleep holding each other, knowing this was the last time they probably ever will.

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Well there you have it Team Blaise! Sorry darlings, but everyone knows it was always supposed to be Draco and Hermione 4ever. But then again, this is ME, so even the Team Draco lovers aren't quite in the safe yet. ;) I'm keeping you hanging until the next (and final) chapter!

Oh and you'll be happy to know I'm well into the sequel for this story! Its certainly something I don't think many of you will expect, but I'm sure you'll all love the drama! See you all next chapter :)

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