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The holidays finished quickly much to Hermione’s relief. She hadn’t stopped being pestered since the moment she had left her room with Ginny and it was starting to get extremely annoying. Harry of course had reacted how she had thought he would. He wanted to know who this guy was and if he liked her and if she liked him and where he lived. He was acting like the older brother she never had and part of her liked that idea that he was this protective of her. The other half was the half that told him to shut up a few days later at dinner so that she could get on with eating.

 

Of course Ron had been worse. Lunch on Boxing Day had been terrible. He had stormed up to her, slammed a copy of the paper down in front of her and asking her what in Merlin’s name she was playing at and starting shouting at her that he thought that she loved him. Hermione had instantly stood up and pulled out her wand pointing it at his chest.

“Ronald Weasly, you do not own me, we are not together. I was kissing someone and I happen to like that someone and if you can’t handle that then you need to leave. I never said that I still loved you, you threw that away and that is over now. I miss you Ronald but I need you as a friend and I swear if you kick off like you did last night I will curse you and you will not like it.” Ron had backed down quickly looking thoroughly miserable. Hermione lowered her wand and smiled. “Would you like to sit with us?” she asked. He smiled his goofy smile and sat between her and Harry who’s spirits seemed up now he had his best friend back.

“So you ditched the leach?” he asked.

“I had forgotten how annoying she could be,” Ron had laughed. From that moment on Ron joined in with all Harry’s questions and though there was a slight tinge of jealousy in his voice he tried his best to hide it, for which Hermione was grateful.

 

Of course there was the whole issue with Draco Malfoy. She had to think about what was best for them and he was giving her as much time that she needed. They continued as they had before the kiss. They sat in silence and studied and they spoke briefly in the evenings whilst curled in the two chairs by the bookshelves that no one else ever seemed to want to sit in.

 

He wasn’t making it easy for her to reiterate the idea that they definitely should not be together. Every evening at dinner a large owl would fly into the great hall and drop a single calla lily by her plate. Of course this had set of waves and waves of questions from her friends especially Harry. Of course there were those who had seen these particular lilies before and it wasn’t long before the girls bombarded her.

“It’s him isn’t it Hermione!” Padma had shrieked as the three seventh years burst into Hermione’s room after her and Ginny, Luna trailing closely behind.

“It’s Draco Malfoy,” Pravati squealed, “he’s your mystery man!”

“He changed his hair colour didn’t he, he did it so he could be with you!” Hermione had glanced at Ginny as she placed the sixth flower into the vase. Ginny had rolled her eyes and sighed. Hermione knew she could hide it from them anymore.

“Ok, yes it’s him but you can’t say anything, not to anyone. I swear if I hear this has got out I will know who to come to, and if you leak to the papers…” she trailed off, she didn’t think any of them was the leak but they could be friends with them.

 

She would like to know who the leak was and if there was any way they could find out who the mystery man was. It had to be someone who had been in the common when she had broken up with Ron or at least was good friends with someone who was because the news hadn’t got out around the castle until the paper had. She tried not to think about it. She had more important things to worry and think over.

 

Of course on the Christmas night and boxing day morning Hermione had let one very important, one very big thing slip her mind. Astoria. The girl had stormed up to him at dinner shouting about how he had left her alone at the ball and she wasn’t happy with him and he never thought of anyone but himself. Then she stormed back off and went to sit with her friends.

 

Hermione had asked him why he didn’t just leave her and was annoyed to find that when she said it she sounded quite jealous. The truth was that she was jealous and she wished more than anything that she was Astoria and she already had Draco without all the complications that came along with it. He had told her that since he as only with her for appearance sake he should continue that until Hermione was sure about what she wanted to do. If he left Astoria is would arouse suspicion as her older brother was one of the ten.

 

Astoria however was starting to make Hermione’s life difficult. She was hanging around everywhere she went and hung onto Draco, never leaving his side until she had to. She made nasty comments about Hermione whenever she could and Malfoy just had to bite his tongue and not say anything. Hermione knew that though he could not say anything himself because of the ministry watching he could not say anything about Astoria’s words because of this second group that where watching him. Hermione knew that he must have been struggling but he didn’t show it.

 

Soon enough term restarted and the chatter about Hermione died down. The Tuesday after they returned Hermione had charms first. Ginny was spending the morning in the Griffindor common room working on an essay that was in for Wednesday that she had ‘forgotten’ to do over the holidays and that Hermione had kindly outlined for her.

 

Charms was interesting. They were working on an unbreakable binding charm which wasn’t that unbreakable as Hermione had to explain to Harry who was thoroughly confused with the idea that it actually could broken.

“Only the person who created the unbreakable binding charm can break it. Harry you are going to have to learn this, your going to need it when you become an Auror,” she said as she flicked her wand and bound Ron tightly in thin ropes. The charm could work on anything and everything. People often used it on doors and keyholes. Of course the spell reacted differently then and there were no ropes but they were working with people today and would move onto locks the next week, which was harder to do.

“Hermione,” Ron said as he hopped over to them, “I really hope you know how to do the counter charm.”

“Professor Flitwick has to perform the normal counter curse to the binding charm first to make sure I did it right, you know that sometimes people just do the normal charm and not the unbreakable one.” She waffled away as she pulled Ron over to Professor Flitwick who had just performed the counter curse to Dean’s charm on Seamus successfully and was telling them to go and try again.

“Professor,” Hermione said, “can you do Ron?” the tiny wizard obliged and performed the counter curse. Much to Hermione’s surprise, because she was sure she hadn’t done it properly, the bindings stayed put.

“Well Miss Granger I would say that is a very good example of the binding charm. The second in the class to complete it, well done, ten points to Griffindor.” Hermione stared at the professor.

“Sorry, erm second?”

“Yes Miss Granger second,” he chuckled, “I’m afraid Mr Malfoy beat you to it today by performing an exceptionally powerful charm on Mr Zabini.” Hermione looked over at Malfoy who smiled and waved. She just glared at him and dragged Ron back to their places to try and perform the counter charm. She skimmed through the book until she found the right page and flicked her wand saying the incantation. She must have done it a little roughly because the binding on Ron contracted and then fell off disappearing into the air.

“Ow! Mione what was that!” he cried rubbing his stomach where the ropes had cut into him.

“Sorry Ron, I was distracted,” she glanced back at Draco who was smirking at her, “can you, can you excuse me for a minute?”

 

She left the two boys to try and continue with their charms and made her way across the classroom to where Draco stood with Blaise. Blaise was only half heartily trying to do the charm and so far could only get puffs of rope to fall from his wand and disappear. Hermione stood next to Malfoy who was twiddling his wand in his fingers and smirking at her.

“Granger,” he said, “finally found out who’s really on top?”

“No,” she snapped crossing her arms, “this is a one off Malfoy, I would get too comfortable if I were you.”

“You forget Granger,” he said leaning in towards her and whispering in her ear using a slow seductive voice that rolled off his tongue, “I’ve already told you, I’m more powerful than you know.” His voice sent a shiver up her spine but she tried to mask the effect he had on her with a glare.

“In your dreams,” she hissed back with a slight smile.

“Is that a challenge Miss Granger?” he asked, his eyes flashing with excitement. Hermione smiled smugly.

“Oh you are on Mr Malfoy. Who ever accomplishes a spell or potion first gets a point…”

“And the person with the most point by next Tuesday wins.” He stuck out his hand and Hermione shook it. The touch sent a shock of warmth up her arm and Draco didn’t fail to notice the effect he had on her. They let go after holding on for slightly too long and Blaise saw the exchanged clearly.

 

Hermione turned around, her face slightly red and walked back up to professor Flitwick. It was only the first half of the lesson and she had already mastered what it would take most others all lesson to do.

“Professor, can I go to the toilet please?” she asked. He let he go telling her to be quick so she could come back and start on the homework and she turned and walked from the classroom quickly. She was almost at the toilets when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She span to see Blaise smiling down at her.

“Blaise,” she said, “what are you doing here.”

“I came to talk to you, it’s the only time I’m going to be able to got you alone.” He led her into an empty classroom and he sat on one of the desks. Hermione perched herself opposite his and swung her legs nervously.

“What did you want to talk about?” she asked.

“You know what I want to talk about,” he replied, “you and Draco. Look I know it was him on the front page so you don’t need to deny it, he told me everything and he told me you know about his…situation…look Hermione you are a great girl but you need to understand what you are getting yourself into. I don’t want you to get hurt if you don’t have to.”

“Blaise, he has explained, I get that if this group find out about me then I’m likely to be in danger, but I can protect myself, you forget who I have faced in the past. Bellatrix Lestrange ring any bell’s? I fought Voldemort’s snake, I came face to face with him myself. Don’t for one second think that I don’t understand.”

“He really likes you Hermione,” Blaise said, “he would do anything to have you. He’s willing to put everything at risk to do that, to have you and to prove the ministry wrong.”

“I don’t even know what I’m doing yet,” she mumbled in reply.

“Would you like to know what I think?” Blaise asked.

“Sure,” Hermione replied.

“I think you like him just as much as he likes you and I think that perhaps you would be good for each other.”

“But what will everyone say,” she moaned, “its going to cause so much stress.”

“So don’t tell anyone,” Blaise said, “keep it quite until Draco is more respected and then you tell people. Hermione its weird for me to be saying this, you are a muggleborn and I am a pureblood but I have got to know you guys and I do care about you. I think this is the best thing for both of you.” Hermione looked up at him her brown eyes wide.

“You do?”

“No one is saying that people are going to like it but who cares about them, this is about you and him and he needs you. Hermione I have never seen him like this, he needs you and your all he ever talks about. He can’t keep his eyes off you. Pansy has told him that if he doesn’t get on with it she is going to do it for him!”

“Who exactly knows about…us?”

“Me and Pansy. From your side?”

“Gin, and the rest of the girls. They guessed though.”

“As long as none of them is the leak,” Blaise said seriously.

“Actually we kind of thought it would be Pansy, but none of them is, if they were it would already be out.”

“No its not Pansy, she wouldn’t want to hurt Draco like that and she knew who he was at the ball, he is like her brother. She likes you you know, she thinks that you will work for him.”

“So I should be with him?”

“Yes.”

 

Hermione nodded to herself and let in a deep breath. Well Blaise was right. They didn’t have to tell anyone and she was sure they would be able to keep it a secret with the help of Ginny and Blaise. Maybe her being with Draco could help the relationship between Slytherins and Griffindors. Maybe she would be able to become friends with Pansy. She had never thought about it like that before. She had thought that if they were together then they would have to tell the world but they didn’t have to. It was their private life and it belonged that way, private.

 

Hermione jumped down from the desk and brushed down her robes.

“I really do need to go to the toilet,” she said, “and professor Flitwick will be wondering where we are.”

“I’ll wait for you and walk you back,” Blaise replied with a seductive smile. Hermione rolled her eyes and walked out of the door and into the girl’s bathroom. When she came out Blaise was still waiting for her and they walked back to the classroom together but before they could go in Blaise stopped her and pulled her into a hug. She was slightly shocked and wasn’t sure what to do. He let go and smiled.

“You won’t regret being with him Hermione, I can promise you that.”

 

Hermione was blushing slightly when she walked into the classroom and over to Harry and Ron who were still practising their charms. Ron eyed her suspiciously as she sat down and watched them. She saw his eyes flicker from her to Blaise and back again a few times before Harry managed to accidentally set his robe on fire and he was distracted.

 

Hermione knew what was coming but surprisingly she had to wait until dinner to hear it. For the rest of the day Ron was shooting evil glares at Blaise and whispering to Harry under his breath. One or two times Ron opened his mouth to speak and Harry kicked him in the shin to shut him up. Hermione wondered how stupid they thought she was if they thought she didn’t notice the way Ron muttered ‘ow’ under his breath and started to limp by the start of potions.

 

Potions was good for Hermione. They were starting to work on their polyjuice potion and seeing as she had made it before, all be it illegally in a girl’s bathroom in second year, she knew exactly what she was doing. By the time the lesson ended she had been finished for fifteen minutes and it was perfect for the stage they were meant to be finishing on, Slughorn awarded her twenty points and told her that he had rarely seen one so good on its first time around. She smirked at Draco and sent him a note across the classroom.

 

I think you will find that’s 1:1 Malfoy.

 

He sent her one back quickly.

 

For now.

 

She smiled as she folded it up and slipped it in her pocket. Ron resisted the attempt at a asking what was written on it but she explained their challenge anyway. Surprisingly Ron beamed at this news.

“That’s great,” he said as he stirred his potion, “now you can finally show that stuck up Slytherin who really is the better wizard.” He lifted some of the potion out from his cauldron and sighed heavily. “You know considering we have made this before it’s not easy to figure out.”

“I think you will find Ronald, that I was the one that made it last time, you two just took it.”

 

He mumbled a reply underneath his breath and glanced across the classroom to where Lavender was sitting alone, her eyes red and puffy.

“She still hasn’t made up with Pravati,” he said, “she owls me every night begging me to take her back.” Hermione didn’t say anything. She felt bad that Lavender was alone but part of her felt like she deserved it and Hermione definitely wasn’t going to make any effort to make friends with her.

 

Dinner came around quickly. She managed to finish both Flitwick and Slughorn’s essays in her frees after lunch and folded them up neatly thinking that if that didn’t get her good marks and beat Malfoy then nothing would. She wasn’t sure where this competitive streak had come from but then again she had never not been top of the class apart from in defence and that was just because of Harry.

 

Ron couldn’t seem to hold it any longer over dinner. He had seen the way Hermione pushed her food around her plate and had decided to blame it on Blaise. Truth be told it was because of Blaise but it was because of what he said about Draco and not for the reason Ron thought. Ron was sitting opposite with Harry and Hermione sat next to Ginny who was babbling away to her boyfriend about the quidditch match that was going to take place in two and a half weeks’ time on the 22nd of January against Slytherin and the tactics she thought they should use.

 

Scouts from the Holyhead Harpies, the Chudley Cannons and the Tornadoes were all attending the game. Ginny was excited about the Harpies but Ron seemed keener for her to get into the Cannons. He knew how good his sister was and he felt like maybe she could help them win a little more than they were accustomed to.

 

As Gin babbled on Harry wasn’t paying attention to his best friend so couldn’t stop when the words burst from his mouth.

“It’s Blaise isn’t it, that stinking ‘prince charming’ is Blaise Zabini,” he said slamming his knife and fork down on the table. Hermione rolled her eyes.

“No Ronald it is not Blaise, you might want to use your eyes for once and remember the colour of his skin next time you jump to conclusions.” Ginny laughed from beside her.

“Ron you can be so thick sometimes, Blaise is black is he not? Have you ever seen anyone paler than Hermione’s prince charming?” Hermione’s stomach lurched and Ginny’s eyes widened slightly. She had said too much. Ron just gaped at the pair but Harry wasn’t as stupid. Hermione could see the cogs working in his brain.

“But you and Blaise took ages to go to the toilet in charms and you came back in blushing,” Ron cried.

“It is not Blaise Ron,” Ginny said sharply, “and even if it was she wouldn’t tell you!” Ron’s eyes widened.

“You know who it is don’t you?” he cried glaring at his sister. Ginny rolled her eyes again.

“I’m not saying another word.” Hermione wasn’t paying attention anymore. She just watched Harry as he glanced up and down the table and spotted Blaise and then saw the very pale boy sitting next to him. His jaw almost dropped open and his green eyes widened. Hermione took this as her cue to leave. She grabbed her bag and said a quick goodbye to the trio. She reached Draco and bent down to whisper in his ear.

“Meet me in my room in ten minuets.” He nodded and she rushed off up into their common room. It was empty. Everyone was at dinner still and the quiet was nice. She walked to her room and dumped her bag on her bed and sat down with a sigh hoping that Harry hadn’t figured it out. Running her fingers through her hair she got up and put her bag in her trunk, locking it away. She pulled off her robe and pulled a thick jumper over her regular clothes.

 

The knock on the door came quicker than she had expected and she opened it to a worried looking Malfoy.

“Is everything ok? You sounded flustered.” Hermione couldn’t help it. Once he had closed the door she flew into his arms and let them encase themselves around her. It felt comfortable and she instantly relaxed. He felt the change in her and kissed the top of her head letting her go.

“Hermione?” he asked.

“I’m sorry,” she said breaking away fully and walking away, “Ron’s jumping to conclusions and I think Harry has figured everything out and…” she trailed off and looked up at him. She couldn’t get over the way he looked at her. His eyes were always so intense when she was alone with him and they took her breath away.

“We can get around Potter,” Draco said softly, “and for as long as I’ve known the weasel he has been jumping to conclusions so that’s nothing new.” Hermione laughed and walked back up to him taking in a deep breath, scared shitless about what she was going to do.

 

“Draco, I spoke to Blaise today,” she said.

“He told me.”

“And I have come to a decision….” She looked at him and laced her fingers in with his.

“Which is?” Draco asked.

“I think that we can try to make this work,” she whispered. A smile broke over Draco’s face and he pulled her face up to kiss him. It only lasted seconds but in those seconds Hermione felt every emotion he was feeling pour into her heart. She pulled away her own face smiling.

“But we have to keep it as quite as we can, tell Blaise and Ginny and Pansy and I guess Harry if Harry really has figured it out.”

“I agree with you,” Draco said, “it will be so much easier for you and it will put you in less danger.”

“We just have to make sure the leak doesn’t find out. Oh I have to know who that is!”

 

Draco’s eyes flashed with excitement and Hermione knew he was thinking something up in his head.

“I think I know a way of finding out who it is.”

“How?” Hermione asked.

“Well we know it was someone who was in the room when you and Ron had that argument so that’s all the seventh years, the Weasly girl-”

“Ginny,” Hermione corrected.

“Ginny and the lovegood girl.”

“And I know that none of the girls apart from Lavender could have said… and it wouldn’t be Ron or Harry.”

“And I know it’s not Blaise or Pansy.”

“So that’s Ernie, Michael, Terry, Seamus, Dean, Neville, Lavender or Daphne.”

“I doubt its Daphne but its possible. So anyway we come up with three different things that could be leaked and tell two of them one thing, three of them another and three of them another.”

“That is actually a good idea. I’ll think about what I can say and start tomorrow.”

“So,” Draco smiled pulling her towards him, “we can make a go of this?”

“Yes,” Hermione breathed. She leaned up and kissed him gently, “there is only one thing we are forgetting.” Malfoy looked at her confused.

“What?” he asked.

“Astoria.”

 
 

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