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Chapter 21-a bumpy ride.
AN: Please read and review!

Since her conversation with Ron and Harry, neither of them had spoken to her, they were not even looking at her. Draco was being pretty good about it all, comforting her. But finally she decided it was time to get on with her life. She really needed to keep moving, since she only had so much life left. Combining Damien and Draco made completing her list easier; she did not have split her time. Draco continued to help her with her book, language and instrument, but she needed him for one other task. 

“You want to do what?” Hermione was giving Draco her best impression of the ‘puppy dog eyes’, begging him to help her out.

“You said you would help me with whatever I needed to do, this is number four on my list, I have to do it. I just don’t know how, please help me.” Draco huffed and gave a big sigh. 

“Fine, but there are different levels.” Hermione listened intently as Draco explained her options. 

“Depending on the severity of the rule breaking, different levels of severity are found in the detentions as well. For example, flooding a corridor gets you three days scrubbing floors without magic, but stepping on Mrs. Noris gets you two weeks polishing all the trophies in the trophy room every night.” Hermione laughed, remembering when Ron and Harry had to do that. 

Together they decided on an entry level rule breaking with a short and mild detention. All they had to do was to get caught out after curfew. 

Of course it was not until they were caught out after curfew that they remembered that they were the only students in the school allowed out at all hours. Epic failure there. 

Next they decided to try writing profanities on the walls of the bathroom. However that too backfired when Professor Flitwick caught them and assumed that they were cleaning it up, reprimanded them for doing detention goers work and sent them off to bed. 

As things always turn out, they got their wish when they were not asking for it. The two of them had been spending so much time trying to earn a detention that they both completely forgot about a three foot essay Professor Snape had assigned them. 

“Detention, for the both of you.” Snape told them. “It’s disgraceful and unacceptable, no one, not even the Head Boy and Head Girl, gets away with neglecting homework assigned by me.” Draco and Hermione tried to hide their smiles. “Meet me in my office at six tonight.” They nodded their understanding and went back to their seats, ecstatic. 

This is so exciting!” Hermione’s whispered words drifted across the classroom o where Draco was sitting, cataloging ingredients. Naturally he got to catalog and Hermione got to thoroughly clean all the cauldrons without the use of magic, but that’s Snape. 

“I never thought I’d see the day when Hermione do-gooder Granger would be excited to be serving a detention.” Hermione lopped a blob of soapy bubbles at Draco for that comment. He whined that she had gotten his nice robes dirty. 

“You are such a girl sometimes Draco.” Upon hearing her say this Draco’s jaw dropped. 

“How could you say such a thing?” He exclaimed incredulously. “I’ve certainly proved to you that I am no girl.” Hermione laughed at this, but next thing she knew Draco was charging at her and tackling her to the ground. Once he had her there he tickled her mercilessly until she gave in. 

“Alright,” she finally conceded. “You are never anything even remotely resembling a girl, now please stop!” She had trouble even saying her surrender due to frequent interruptions to scream with laughter. However, once she had forced all the words out Draco stopped tickling her.  

“I see I have successfully proven my superiority.” He said this while standing, feet apart, with his fists on his hips, a dominating stance. Unfortunately his powerful posture was ruined when Hermione tugged on his ankles, forcing him to fall flat on his butt. Once they had finally calmed down they decided to finish their work before Snape came back to yell at them for disregarding their duties.  

The next day they made a plan to focus on one item on her list until that item was completed and then move on to the next item, not splitting their focus up on all the unfinished bits. She had about six or seven items left, though there were a few that she had no plans on telling Draco about. The first, and easiest they hoped, item they decided to tackle was number nine: write a book. 

“So, now that you’re half way through, I think it would be best if you gave your readers something new, something exciting. Maybe introduce a new character.” Hermione stared at Draco in amazement.

“How are you so good at this whole process?" 

“I don’t know. I could never write a book myself, but I am generally pretty good at helping others with stuff I wouldn’t do on my own.” He grinned at her, she smiled back. “Perhaps your new character could be a dashingly handsome and sexy blonde guy who all the ladies want to date.” Hermione laughed at his suggestion. 

“Am I getting the impression that you want to be in my book?” Draco smiled. 

“Well, you and Potter and Weasley are all in it, I think I should be too.” Hermione frowned.

“Harry and Ron aren’t in it.” She half stated, half asked.

“Oh come on, the main character is a girl right?” Hermione nodded. “And she just got in a huge fight with two guys, right?” She nodded again. “And one of the guys was mad because she was in love with a third guy and the other didn’t believe it, right?” 

“Sort of, I guess.” Hermione thought for a second. “I guess if you put it that way it does sound a bit like them, but then in that case wouldn’t you be the third guy. Since the Ralph, the third guy, steals Teresa away from her friends Kyle and Pierre, then wouldn’t that make you Ralph, stealing me Teresa away from Ron and Harry? So you are in it, if you choose to apply the book to my life, which is not how I intended it.” 

“Alright, something else then, maybe kill off one of the characters, or something else dramatic. Someone could get pregnant, or ill…” Silence fell and the atmosphere got a bit uncomfortable. And as if sensing the topic of discussion sparks flashed at the corner of Hermione’s vision, clinging to her hair and cracking like lightning and thunder. Hermione broke the silence. 

“Well, I guess Teresa could be pregnant, that would be interesting. That makes her choice to be with Ralph irreversible, since he would obviously be the father. And that begs the questions of whether, with her carrying his child, Kyle and Pierre will ever forgive and forget or if they will just never talk to her again. I like it. We will go with that. Thanks.” Draco smiled, glad to move past the weird situation. 

They worked for a few weeks on that project. Finally Hermione announced her novel complete. They were going to start on perfecting her German when they realized they had other responsibilities to fulfill. 

“Ok, I’ve called this Prefects meeting to discuss a decision we made earlier in the year.” Hermione opened, once all the prefects were seated. “We had decided on a Valentine’s Day dance to be casual with a color requirement, is that correct?” When everyone nodded their agreement she went on. “Well, it is practically February, so I figured we should start planning, that way it could be an awesome dance. It should not feel like a date is required, but obviously it is going to be preferred, since it is Valentine’s Day.” Again people nodded their agreement. 

“Well Hermione and I had an idea we wanted to run by you all, to get people in the mood for a Valentine’s Day dance.” Draco jumped in. “We thought it could be fun if we had what muggles apparently call candy-grams.” He glanced at Hermione to see that he got the word right, he did. “Anyone would be able to send someone they cared about a heart shaped cookie on Valentine’s Day for say, five knuts or so. That way it would be reasonably affordable. We could even go all out and give options, people could decide between a cookie, rice-krispy treat, brownie, treacle tart or cauldron cake.” Again he glanced at Hermione to see that he got the muggle treats correct. “Now some of the treats mentioned were muggle, but Hermione and I taste-tested what the elves would make for us to sell, and they all tasted great, I assure you. And as a bonus, the money raised could be used to buy new brooms for the school. Speaking from experience back in first year, who can learn to fly on those ancient brooms, for not too much money we could buy reasonably better ones and donate them to the school as a gift from the prefects of this year. How does that sound?” Reactions varied. Most thought it sounded like a great idea, some complained about buying books for the library instead of brooms (Hermione), but some were less enthusiastic. 

“Why would we have stupid muggle treats, jeez Draco, what happened to you? Did the mudblood poison your mind with muggle-loving nonsense?” Every face in the room, except for the two Slytherin prefects, went beet-red with anger. Draco stood up menacingly. 

“Hermione has become a good friend of mine, and she is Head Girl. No matter your personal opinions she deserves your respect and she has earned at least the appearance of respect from you. You could earn a week’s worth of detentions for calling her that name and I will not tolerate it. If you can’t contain yourself you are free to leave. I have had my eyes opened, it is about time you opened yours.” The Slytherins looked shocked. They stood up, spit at Draco and Hermione, and left.  

“Well,” Draco continued, “without the help of those two I think we will be able to pull this all off. If there are no more questions, meeting adjourned.” He left quickly. Hermione followed. 

Hermione found him in their rooms. 

“Hey.” She walked in slowly, wondering if he had left quickly because he was angry or upset in some way. He did not turn to look at her when she spoke so she assumed that meant he was upset. 

“Are you ok?” She hated people asking that when she clearly was not ok, but she did not know what else to say. He did not answer. She walked over to where he was sitting on the couch and just sat down next to him. When he didn’t move away or shoot her angry looks she assumed that meant that it was ok for her to sit with him. After a few minutes she picked up his hand and rubbed it between hers. 

“What’s wrong?” She said this in a quiet voice, nervous that he was just then realizing what being with her would do to him. She had worried that it would happen eventually, but she had hoped for more time. Naturally though, he had finally seen that she was totally not worth it all. It was too much. His friends would abandon him, hers would not accept either of them, and soon they would only have each other. She knew that he was finally seeing that having just her wasn’t enough for him. He still didn’t talk to her, so with all these thoughts going around in her head she let go of his hand. She stood up. 

“I’m sorry.” She whispered before standing up and running out of the room. She didn’t want to start crying, or at least she didn’t want him to see her crying. She had been fine, but it just hit her suddenly. 

She hadn’t realized how much he meant to her until she knew she had lost him. She really did care for him, and she really wanted to be with him, so knowing that he was finally realizing that he did not want to be with her, well, it hurt. She went to the room of requirement. She had not know what she needed until she walked into that room and saw it. The room of requirement had decorated itself in an exact replica of her bedroom at home. She threw herself onto her bed and just lay there. 

The room gave her everything she needed, it gave her space and a bed to lie down and think on; she spent the night there. She wanted to give Draco all the time he needed to figure everything out for himself. She didn’t want to rush him or pressure him. The next day the room gave her clothes and provided a spare set of books for her. She ate breakfast in the kitchens, not having anyone to go to the great hall to see, since Harry and Ron still were not talking to her. She then went to class. Her first few classes were fine, but she had potions with Draco, she was even his partner, having swapped a few weeks back. Luckily she got there before him. She sat in their normal place and got everything they would need for their potion ready and lined up along the desk. 

When Draco finally arrived he sat down next to her and leaned over, putting his lips next to her ear. “We need to talk” he whispered to her. 

They worked in silence the whole period, though they still produced the best potion in the class. After potions was lunch. Draco grabbed her elbow once she had collected her books and guided her to their rooms. Once inside he walked over to the couch and sat down.  

“So, what did you want to talk about?” Hermione decided to get right to the point, why drag it out? 

“You know what I want to talk about.” He spoke in a deep tone, almost reprimanding sounding. Hermione looked down at her feet, thinking about what he must be referring to, his decision to stop being with her. Draco continued, seeing as she did not seem about to talk.

“Why did you run off yesterday? What did I do? What did you do? Why did you say ‘I’m sorry’?” He never took his eyes off her, though she wouldn’t meet his eyes. “Look at me, please.” She couldn’t resist, he said please. She looked up at him. “What went wrong yesterday?” He looked pleadingly into her eyes. It was the Malfoy version of the puppy dog eyes.

“I really don’t know what to say. I feel like I should be the one asking you these questions. Nothing happened with me, it was all you.” She cringed, it sounded like she was blaming him for something, it wasn’t his fault that he finally realized the truth.

“So I did do something wrong. Just tell me, please. I can’t make right what I don’t know.” Hermione just stared at him.

“What do you mean ‘make right’? You didn’t do anything.” At that Draco stared at her. 

“If I didn’t do anything wrong then why did you leave so suddenly? Why did you seem upset? Why didn’t you come back last night?” Hermione was seriously confused.

“I left because I thought it was what was best, given the circumstances. I didn’t come back because I thought you needed some space and some time to, I don’t know, adjust, accept it, whatever it was you needed to do.” 

“Adjust to what? Accept what? What circumstances?” 

“I’m not unintelligent Draco; I could tell what happened in the prefects meeting. I know what that all must have made you realize. I thought to talk to you about it, sort it all out, but you didn’t seem to want to talk, so I decided to give you your space. And I’m sorry, but I’m not going to pretend it doesn’t hurt. I understand completely and I was kind of expecting it, but I did think I would have a bit more time.” Draco looked completely perplexed.  

“I’m sorry Hermione, but I really don’t know what you are talking about. What is it you think I’ve realized, why does it hurt, what hurts? Whatever you say you understand completely I do not understand at all. What are you talking about?”

Hermione just looked at him, and then she dropped her gaze again. “When the Slytherins said what they did, asking if I’d poisoned you, changed you, their disgust with how you had changed, I know what that must have made you think. It’s natural. Up until then it had only been me who had had to deal with the abandonment, the isolation that came with being with the enemy, you had yet to encounter that, since so few Slytherins really had noticed.” She paused for a breath. “But naturally, being forced to realize what you would be giving up, everyone you would give up and to gain me and only me, I understand why that would be an awakening for you. I did not expect you to stay with me for very long, just as long as it took you to realize how very unworthy I was of all the trouble, I know I’m not worth what you would have to forfeit, I get it. I guess I just underestimated you abilities again, thinking, or maybe hoping, that it would take you longer to figure it out. I kind of hoped I would get to spend a bit more time with you.” She was playing with her fingers, avoiding his gaze. 

“Are you insane?” Her head snapped up at that. 

“What?”

“That is what you thought was going on? That I was realizing that you weren’t worth all the trouble?” Hermione nodded, confused. “But it was just the opposite. I’m sorry I didn’t reply to you, I guess I just didn’t hear you. I was adjusting to something, accepting it, but that’s not what.” He smiled. “Hearing them talk about you the way I used to, remembering what I used to be like, it did give me an epiphany. I realized how very lucky I was. I hadn’t really noticed how much you had changed me, but seeing them, and hearing my own reaction to them, it opened my eyes, like I said then. I realized how incredibly special you are and how much better off I am, being with you. You have changed me, but it is for the better. I’m still me, but it a better way. I was trying to absorb the intensity of what I feel for you. I’ve never felt this way before. It’s strange. So yeah, I did need time, but I most certainly did not need space. I got worried when you ran off and never came back. I looked for you at breakfast, but you weren’t there.”

“I ate in the kitchen.” It was all Hermione could get out. She was shocked. 

“I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean for you to think that I was, I don’t know, rethinking my decision to be with you. Come here.” She scooted closer to him, still struggling to understand. He wrapped his arms around her.  

“I may not know why I care about you. Our friends may not accept that we are together, as friends or as more. And I may not always have the easiest life because I’ve chosen to be with you, but I have chosen to be with you. That decision is not going to change. I’m not going to have some great epiphany and wake one day wanting nothing to do with you. I’m sorry that you thought that and that you have spent all this time expecting that to come.” He grinned. “Sorry to disappoint, but that day is never coming. I’m with you; for whatever reason you fascinate me, you complete me I guess, as cheesy as that sounds. You are not getting rid of me that easily.” Hermione smiled a bit. Draco kissed her on the forehead. For the rest of the lunch period they just stayed there, Draco holding Hermione, relaxing in the realization of their feelings for each other, as scary as they were. 

AN: So, long wait, but also a long chapter. This is my longest chapter ever for this story. I’m proud of it. It’s not exactly as I want it, but I think you all deserve another update. Thanks so much for the reviews. They really did motivate and inspire me. I want you all to know how much I appreciate all of you. It’s great to know that what I do makes people happy and that I’m not a totally crappy writer. Please, review. It really makes a difference. You are the best readers I could ever ask for. Thanks a ton and I hope you like where the story is going. :D

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