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She almost cried out in frustration when she saw him but the pain in her ankle had become excruciating and it took all her strength not to scream out in pain. Even when he pulled her into his arms and carried her down a small street that lead off the main ally. She didn’t have the strength to protest. Ginny and Luna came behind them, the former carrying her bag with her shrunken down items. Hermione didn’t know where he was taking her as he stopped and opened a door with a flick of his wand. He carried her up a flight of stairs and opened another door. He carried her into the room and laid her down on the sofa. Ginny and Luna came up the stairs and gasped. Hermione wasn’t sure what they were so shocked about as she scrunched her eyes up in pain.

“Wait here, I’ll go get some ice to put on that,” Malfoy said. He returned soon after and placed the ice on her ankle. The cool feeling calmed the pain and Hermione was able to relax slightly. She opened her eyes and saw a half smiling Malfoy looking up at her from where he was half kneeling by her foot. He had removed her shoe without her noticing.

She glanced around. She was laying on a cream coloured sofa in a large living room. There was a huge plasma screen TV mounted on the wall. She looked behind her. In the open plan kitchen stood Ginny and Luna who both looked astounded.

“When you said you had a flat in London, Diagon Ally was not what I expected,” Hermione breathed, wincing at the sharp pain in her ankle. Malfoy shrugged.

“It’s close enough to everything else,” he looked down at her foot, “I could try and fix that but I don’t want to get it wrong. You should let Madame Pomfrey do it back at the school.”

“Yeah, I will, how I’m going to get back I don’t know,” she said.

“I’ll carry you to the port key,” Malfoy shrugged, pouring himself a drink of water, “easy as pie.” He flicked the kettle on and turned back to her.

“No you will not!” Hermione cried, “there are tons of reporters out there, if they see you carrying me what are they going to think?”

“They will think I am helping you because you have hurt yourself,” he said confused.

“No Mione’s right,” Ginny said, “Luna and I will go and get Harry, he can carry you. Will you be ok here on your own? You know, with the ferret?” she whispered the last bit causing Hermione to giggle.

“I’ll be fine Gin, go and find Harry.” The two girls left and Hermione laid her head back on the arm rest.

“Tea?” Malfoy asked as the kettle boiled.

“Milk and two sugars please,” she replied. Malfoy brought over two mugs and sat on the armrest near her foot.

“Who knew,” Hermione laughed, “that the great Draco Malfoy drank tea.”

“I’ll have you know Granger that tea is very calming to the system.” She sipped it gratefully and felt its warmth spread through her. Her ankle still throbbed but the pain was slightly muted. Here with Malfoy she felt oddly comfortable.

She pulled herself up into a sitting position and Malfoy slid down to sit where her foot had been. He readjusted the ice-pack and continued to drink his tea. This was one of those things, Hermione had decided, that confused her.

“Malfoy, I have to ask you something,” he looked up at her, “what the hell is going on?” He smiled and put his tea down.

“I don’t know what you mean.”

“I mean the whole mudblood thing one second then tea the next, I don’t understand it!” she said.

“Hermione I haven’t called you a mudblood since Flourish and Blotts.”

“Yes but you don’t stop others from calling it me,” she said, “ and anyway, that’s another thing! Now you’re calling me Hermione again? Malfoy your confusing the hell out of me. I don’t understand. Sometimes when we are alone together I see it in your eyes and I see what you have been through and I see how much you hurt. But when you are with everyone else I don’t see anything but the annoying brat I met in fist year! Which one is the real you?” He didn’t look at her.

“No one has ever seen the real me, I don’t even know myself.”

“You do Malfoy I can see it, you know the real you, you just won’t let it out. You try so hard to let everyone see the bad side.” He twisted towards her.

“Hermione I only have a bad side!” She sighed and sank back into the sofa.

“No you don’t, I’ve told you, I see it. You have good in you I know it.”

Malfoy looked as if he was struggling with himself before he finally spoke.

“You don’t get it, you don’t know what it felt like, feels like. You don’t understand,” he said miserably.

“Help me to understand! I want to understand Draco I really do.” He looked around at her and they both stopped. She had just called him Draco.

“Why should I help you understand?” he snapped quickly breaking the silence.

“Because you want me to. I know you do. You are only ever like this around me. You don’t even let Astoria see this side of you.”

“How do you know I don’t?”

“I just know.”

He looked at her and their eyes locked for a split second. It was as though he was pleading with her to help him, pleading with her to save him from himself.

“Hermione,” he whispered, “I want you to understand but you can’t.”

“I can, I can try.” He slid himself off the sofa and moved over to her side, kneeling on the floor. A tear ran down his pale cheek and Hermione’s heart fell. She wanted to help him. For some strange reason she felt bound to him. Bound to save him. She didn’t know what it was but when he looked at her she knew she was safe, she knew she had somewhere to go and that she would never be hurt. She had only ever felt that once…

No, she couldn’t. She shook the thoughts from her mind.

“Draco listen to me. You are a good person. You have done enough this year to prove that.”

“I still have scars to show otherwise.” He glanced at his left forearm and Hermione knew what he was talking about. His dark mark.

“But that’s just a scar, scars fade. Scars are just symbols of the past. A past that has gone and won’t come back again.”

“I don’t want to hurt you,” he said mournfully.

“You won’t I’m a big girl, I can take care of myself.”

“Yeah that’s why you’re sitting in my living room with a bag of frozen chicken nuggets on your ankle,” Draco laughed and the room instantly lightened as he went to sit back down on the sofa. Hermione looked down.

“Chicken nuggets?” she asked.

“Come on you know they are delicious, the best thing the muggles ever invented. My mother used to sneak them up to me when I was in bed as a child and we would eat them whilst she read me a bedtime story.”

“I can’t believe you eat chicken nuggets,” Hermione laughed, loving the fact that she felt completely at ease with him. She wasn’t a mudblood and he wasn’t pureblood. It was just Hermione and Draco and nothing else.

“I practically lived off them all summer,” he said.

“I bet you have never had a McDonalds,” Hermione said.

“McDonalds?” Draco asked.

“Yeah, another muggle invention, they do the most delicious chicken nuggets.”

“You will have to take me sometime,” he said. Neither of them flinched at the fact that Draco had just asked Hermione to take him out. It seemed normal. Like they had been doing it forever. Draco summoned some chocolate biscuits from his cupboard and they each took a few to dunk in their tea. She changed the conversation.

“Do you have your costume for the ball?” she asked.

“Yes, it’s all sorted, you won’t recognise me,” he laughed, “I don’t suppose you are going to tell me what you’re going as will you.”

“Nope, it’s a secret,” she said.

“You girls are all the same,” he sighed as Hermione winced. He readjusted the chicken nuggets on her ankle.

“No we are not, I seem to recall Astoria telling you that she was going as an Arabian princess…don’t tell me you did co-ordinate with her?” she said her eyebrows raised.

“Astoria is annoying,” Draco said, “I am only with her because she is pureblood and father insisted on it. And no I have definitely not co-ordinated with her!” Hermione felt her heart sore slightly at this news but she couldn’t place why.

“But your father is in Azkaban, how can he still dictate you out here?”

“He has his ways.”

“What about your mother? Surely she doesn’t like that you are with her when you don’t want to be?”

“She is in a villa in the south of Italy with a new boyfriend. She cares but she thinks I can get out of it on my own.”

“That’s awful,” Hermione said.

“The burden of being a Malfoy,” he replied, “anyway, what about you and the weasel? Has he apologised yet?”

“No,” she said miserably, “but I wish he would. I know it would fix everything.”

“How on earth would it fix everything?” he asked shocked at the comment.

“Because if he apologised then I would take him back and everything would be ok.”

“But even after what he did to you?”

“I love him,” she shrugged.

She knew it was true. She was still in love with the red headed idiot and she wanted him back but he was still with Lavender. She had been thinking about it a lot lately. She knew she would take him back if she could. She had suffered this long without him, she had punished him enough. She wanted to feel his warm arms around her and his kiss in the morning.

“You are mad,” Draco laughed.

“Maybe,” she whispered. The she remembered. “Gin told me what you did.”

“If you mean I knocked the living day lights out of him then yeah,” he paused then smiled, “it was fun to finally have a real excuse to do that. Have been wanting to for years!”

“Why did you do it?” she asked.

“I don’t know,” Draco shrugged as he picked up another biscuit, “I just lost it. Blaise told me after that there were not a lot of people in the world he would go that far for. He said it was weird I had done it for a mud…” he trailed off and looked at her, “that I had done it for you.”

“Thank you, I guess it made my stunning spell equally as painful. Thank you for my flowers.” His head snapped towards her quickly, his steel eyes full of shock.

“How did you know they were from me?”

“You forget I have handwriting samples,” she laughed, “so remind me why you were sorry, for the Ron things or for the Astoria thing.”

“The Astoria thing,” he said, “she shouldn’t have said that to you.” Hermione shrugged.

“I have learned to live with it, I guess she was just rubbing salt into fresh wounds. I can see why she said I now. It’s something she would say to any muggleborn.”

“I’m still sorry, I should have stopped her-”

“HERMIONE?” Harry voice shouted up the stairs. Draco stood up instantly and walked over to the other side of the room. Where he stood, his arms folded and the wall thrown up over his eyes. Hermione had to suppress a groan of frustration. Why did he always do that?

“Harry I’m here,” she said waving from the sofa as he and Ginny entered the room, “where is Luna?”

“Waiting down stairs with the others. I’m sorry we took so long but this idiot was skulking down knockturn ally trying to find something for Seamus. It took us ages to get to them.” Ginny glared at her boyfriend who was by Hermione’s side. He spotted Draco and walked up to him.

“What did you do Malfoy?”

“Nothing Potter,” he snapped back, “she slipped and I helped her, that a crime is it?” Harry glared at him and gathered Hermione gently up in his arms. Ginny picked up the nuggets and handed them back to Malfoy.

“Keep them on her foot, it helps the pain,” he said. Ginny took them with her as Harry descended the stairs and came out into the afternoon sunshine.

Hermione clung tightly to Harry as he waited for Ginny and began walking down Diagon Ally with the others behind him. Instantly the reporters came down on them like vultures.

“Harry what happened to her?” one of them cried. It was Ginny that answered.

“She hurt her ankle because she was running away from you lot didn’t she, now get out of the way so we can get her back to school before I curse you all.” Ginny whipped her wand out and pointed it at the camera. The reporters didn’t have to be told twice and moved to let them into the leaky cauldron.


As soon as they got back to the castle Madame Pomfrey was summoned to look at her ankle.

“Hmmm, yes, she has broken it, easily fixed.” She pointed her wand at it mumbled some words. Instantly Hermione’s ankle felt better but the nurse wouldn’t let her walk.

“You need to rest it,” she said sternly. Harry and Hermione passed Ron on their way up to the common room and he tried to ask what happened but they both ignored him.

Harry placed her in her bed when they reached her room and Hermione flexed her newly healed foot. Ginny still held the packet of chicken nuggets in her hand and Hermione instantly called Summer.

“Yes miss?” she asked.

“Can you cook these for us?” she asked as Ginny held them out for the house elf, “and bring some tomato sauce?” the elf bowed and was gone in an instant.

“I have never had chicken nuggets,” Ginny said as she sat next to Hermione on the bed.

“Really?” Harry asked.

“They never do them here do they? And mum always cooks her food from scratch,” she said simply.

“You will love them,” Hermione smiled. “Gin can you pass me my…oh no Gin I forgot my bag.”

“Where did you leave it?” she asked.

“At Draco’s,” Hermione said without thinking. Her two best friends looked at her with raised eyebrows.

“Draco’s?” Ginny asked.

“Malfoy’s, I left it at Malfoy’s,” she tried to correct. Summer returned the next second with a steaming hot plate of nuggets and a small pot of tomato sauce.

They spent the rest of the night eating and joking about the ball. Harry was still trying to guess at what Ginny was going to dress as but she wouldn’t tell him. Around halfway through their evening there was a sharp knock on the door and Draco entered carrying Hermione’s bag.

“Granger you left this at mine.” Hermione started to feel hurt that he had called her Granger but then realised that Ginny and Harry where there and felt immediately better.

“Thanks,” she said as Ginny got it for her. Hermione thought fast and threw him a chicken nugget.

“These taste delicious.” He left the room but she swore she saw him smile as he did.

It was this smile she thought of as she was going to sleep that night. The day had been strange. The question that played in her mind as she tossed and turned was a simple one to look at but very difficult to answer. Had she seen the real Draco Malfoy?

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