My Stubborn, Beautiful Dandelion

 

Setting: An Alternative Seventh Year

 

Disclaimer: I do not own the Harry Potter series, but I am still devastated over the fact that it is over, even four years later. I also do not own the song. It's Maroon 5-Markes Me Wonder

 

            Colors blurred in unison, forming a triad of confusion in my vision as I attempted to open my eyes. My head pounded relentlessly, cruelly reminding me never to drink punch spiked with Firewhiskey again. Try as I might to roll over into a more comfortable position, I felt incredibly exhausted. Even after ten hours of deep sleep, I could still feel the effects of our graduation party that had lasted late into the night. I couldn’t remember any of it at the moment though.


 

            Taking two very deep breaths, I mustered up enough energy to reach over to my bedside table, blindly groping for the pepper-up potion I kept there for hangovers like this. I quickly drained it, feeling the familiar burn crawl down my throat. Instantly, all my senses were alert and responsive, my eyes soon adjusting to the bright light shining in from my windows. Stretching my arms above me, I turned to lie back down and realized for the first time that morning I was not alone in my room.





 

I wake up with blood-shot eyes,

Struggle to memorize.

 

            A wave of shock coursed through my body, overwhelming me all at once, followed by at least twenty other emotions: worry, curiosity, confusion, anxiety, and just plain wonder. Contrary to popular belief, I had never been in such a situation before. I felt frozen, unsure of what to do, what to think. Had this really happened? Was I dreaming?

 

            Hesitantly, I rolled over and looked at the girl’s petite form, covered by blanket and a mass of cinnamon colored hair. I lifted up the sheets slightly, feeling my face turn pink, and confirmed what I had believed all along. Neither of us had any clothes on.

 

            Her bare back was smooth and ran in an elegant line to her backside, which curved down to slim legs. Her skin was creamily pale, not a blemish in sight. Lightly, I trailed a finger down the girl’s spine, amazed at the beauty lying beside me. I felt my heartbeat increase as I brushed the hair from the side of her face, wishing to know the woman who had been my first.

 

The way it felt between your thighs,

Pleasure that made you cry.

 

            “Bloody hell!”

 

            I said it before I could stop myself, much too loudly as well, but my reaction could not be helped. I felt a rush of words get caught up in my throat, my mouth hanging wide in shock. My stomach felt as if it had shriveled up and died. A feeling of absolute dread filled me as she stirred, opening her eyes, no doubt confused about her surroundings. I couldn’t move; I couldn’t breathe. She turned toward me, more alert than I had been when I awoke, and let out an unearthly scream at the sight of me. Her eyes were filled with horror and what I assumed to be revulsion. She scrambled as far away from me as she could, feeling that she was indeed naked underneath the satin sheets, and wrapped them tightly around herself.

 

            The silence in those next few moments was unbearable. We starred at each other, uncomprehending, both wishing to be anywhere but here. And with a sinking feeling, both of us came to the conclusion that I, Draco Malfoy, had indeed slept with Hermione Granger.

 

            It was then that she caught sight of my bare chest and didn’t have the need to look any further. She knew just as well as I did what must have happened. A whimper issued from her throat, and she looked as if she was about to cry. Red rose up in her cheeks, and at first I thought it to be out of embarrassment, but soon I realized it was the result of anger as she broke the ugly silence.

 

            “You’d better tell me in less than ten seconds what the hell I’m doing here, or else I’ll curse you so badly, you’ll never recover!” she seethed in absolute menace.

 

            “Do you honestly think I know the answer to that question, Granger?” I spat angrily, gaining my composure back. The shock was starting to wear off and other feelings took its place. How could she blame me for this? Like I had any clue of what was going on.

 

            “You must have tricked me while I was intoxicated!” she accused. “This is all your fault!”

 

            “You really think that lowly of me? After everything…?” I was revolted by her accusation, so much so I couldn’t find the right words to say. Neither could she, I guess, for she sat there, silent as the grave. Angry, I raged, “Out of all the girls in this school, why would I pick you to have sex with?”

 

            She blanched at the word, struck dumb by the truth that had been spoken aloud. There was hurt in her eyes now, and I figured it was both from my words and the situation, and I immediately felt regret for my harsh statement. It wasn’t like she asked to be here. I took a deep breath as I spoke my next words, not being so cruel as to purposely hurt her in such a delicate ordeal.

 

            “Granger, let’s just forget about this, okay? We’ll pretend it never happened. It’s not like it actually meant any-” My words stuttered to a halt as tears began pouring down her face.

 

            Her shoulders shook with silent sobs, grief saturating her every movement. Embarrassment and disgrace emanated from her, and I knew then that what we had done would be irreversible damage. Suddenly, all my confidence was gone. This situation wasn’t going to be mulled over; this would end up being like that peanut butter that got stuck to the roof mouth, and no matter how hard you tried, the remnants would be there for a long time. She hiccupped, trying to catch her breath.

 

            “How can you say that? How can you tell me that it doesn’t matter? Of course it matters!” she half shouted, half sobbed.

 

            It was then that I realized she wasn’t one of those girls who gave it up easily, which I had somewhat figured from the beginning. But surely when her and Krum had been together, hadn’t they? Or her and Weasley? But I knew that from the look of self-disgust in her eye that I didn’t even have to ask my next question.

 

            “Granger, you’re not a virgin, are you?” I asked awkwardly.

 

            “Of course I am, dammit! And now I’ve lost that to you!” She collapsed into tears again.

 

Feels so good to be bad.

Not worth the aftermath,

After that, after that,

Try to get you back.

 

            For one of the first times in my life I felt guilty. My actions obviously hadn’t been intentional, but yet her pain had been caused by them. In any other situation, I wouldn’t have cared as much, but this was a big deal. Hell, if I was to be completely honest with myself, I even thought it to be a tad bit important. I knew from sharing Head Boy and Girl responsibilities with her that she had been through quite enough as it was this year already. So without thinking, I moved closer to put a comforting hand on her shoulder, but as soon as her skin came in contact with mine, she flinched and pulled away forcefully.

 

            “Don’t touch me! You don’t know what it’s like! I don’t just go around sleeping with people like you do!” she yelled.

 

            “Actually, I don’t do that either. This is quite new for me too,” I spat with some disdain. I had never understood why I had gotten such a reputation for being a playboy.

 

            She looked like she had been slapped in the face. Opening her mouth, she tried to speak but the words didn’t come. I shook my head, angry at her ignorance. I was tired of being nice. I had had enough of this.

 

            “Granger, if you’re done fooling around in my bed with me, I’d appreciate it if you left,” I sneered coolly.

 

            Her blank stare was replaced with the fury I had expected. “You, Draco Malfoy, are a pig! How this ever happened, I will never know!” She swept the top sheet off my bed and wrapped it around herself as she stood up, searching for her clothes. I rolled over and found my boxers and jeans on the floor and slipped them on.

 

            When I turned around, she was only partly dressed, the sheet still wrapped around her bottom half. It was then that I spotted what she was looking for. White, lace underwear were laying on the floor near me. I picked them up and looked at them, puzzled by the fact that someone like Hermione Granger would wear something even the least bit sexy. I blinked rapidly, shaking my head to rid myself of all the thoughts that had just raced through my mind. I threw them over to her, and she grabbed them, giving me an unnecessary glare. I turned back around to give her some privacy.

 

            Once I heard the zipper of her jeans, she cleared her throat, and I turned around once again. Her clothes were put on haphazardly, her hair wild, and her face flushed. I fought a smirk as I watched her eyes glance at my naked torso. My arrogance proceeding me, I raised my eyebrows and asked, “Like what you see?”

 

            “Don’t be such a prick, Malfoy!” I saw her blush intensely, but then her face turned serious. “Could this please not get out to anyone…?”

 

            “Don’t worry about it, Granger,” I cut her off. “I wouldn’t want anyone to know I slept with a mudblood anyway.”

 

            With something between a sigh of frustration and a scream, she turned on her heel and marched out of my Head Boy Dormitory and slammed the door behind her.

 

I still don’t have the reason,

And you don’t have the time,

And it really makes me wonder,

If I ever gave a fuck about you.

 

            As soon as she had left, I flung myself down on my bed, letting the whole situation flow over me. This was so messed up. Whether we liked it or not, we were now both special to each other. No one gets that close without it having some sort of an effect on them. But really, me attracted to her enough to sleep with her? I must have been completely slammed.

 

            But if I were to be honest with myself yet again, I would have to admit that I couldn’t have been that pissed the night before; I had quite a tolerance for Firewhiskey. So how had this whole thing come about? What could have possibly happened that would have caused both of us to lose our inhibitions and throw our past prejudices out the window? I rolled over to stuff my head under my pillow, but my whole bed smelled of her: fresh ink, brown sugar, and something tart, like cherries.

 

            Suddenly, I remembered everything.

 

            I couldn’t hear a single thing the girl next to me was saying over the loud band in the corner. It didn’t matter though, as I was rather bored with her constant, overt flattery, so I excused myself and walked over to the punch table to pour myself another glass. The night had been going on forever it seemed. The seventh year graduation ceremony had begun at noon after all the younger students had left on the Hogwarts Express and lasted until two, and afterwards, everyone settled down to a feast. It was then that they announced that there would be a party at eight that evening, and the following day we would depart at mid-afternoon.

 

            Everyone attended. The Weird Sisters had been booked, just like in our fourth year, but to my relief, the attire was not formal, so I went in my traditional weekend clothes of a black dress shirt and jeans. I had spent most of the night so far dodging Pansy Parkinson and watching Crabbe and Goyle stuff their faces. It was obviously not my idea of a good time.

 

            When I took a sip of the punch, I could instantly tell it was spiked. Nothing burns down to your fingertips like Firewhiskey does. I was on my third glass when Miss Know-It-All Head Girl came prancing over to pour herself a glass. She was all smiles until she saw me. She gave me that look, the one she seemed to reserve just for me, and began ladling some punch into her cup. Another look was sent my way, and just as she was taking a sip, I decided that I was going to have a little fun with her.

 

            “Ah, Granger, I wouldn’t-” Too late. She had suddenly spit her punch out in a very unlady-like way and was coughing savagely, wiping her mouth on her napkin. Her eyes were watering.

 

            “Can’t handle your liquor, Granger?” I smirked.

 

            A rage came over her face. “Draco Malfoy, what did you do to this punch?” she demanded.

 

            “That, my dear Know-It-All, is Firewhiskey. But I certainly did not put it in there,” I said innocently, trying not to laugh at her astounded features.

 

            “Like hell you didn’t,” she muttered, watching me drinking it like it was water. “You have quite the stomach for it.”

 

            “Call it my drink of choice, if you will,” I said with blasé.

 

            She gave a humorless laugh and rolled her eyes. Then that headstrong girl took another timid sip and tried to pretend it didn’t faze her, but I could tell in the way she had a hard time swallowing that she honestly couldn’t handle it. Her eyes were watering again.

 

Give me something to believe in,

Cause I don’t believe in you anymore.

 

            “Honestly, Granger, you’re pathetic,” I chuckled.

 

            “Oh yes, because drinking this stuff makes you so tough,” she mocked, rolling her eyes again. It was quiet as we both nursed our drinks. It was an awkward silence, and I couldn’t help but wonder why she was still standing next to me.

 

            “So I take it Potter and Weasley couldn’t make it back for this?” I asked a couple minutes later, sneering their names. I tried to act nonchalant, but I was actually curious as to their whereabouts and how much they had accomplished on their trip to search for Horocruxes. She looked irritated for a moment, angry that I had brought up the topic, but it was her fault. If she hadn’t told me about them leaving without her, I wouldn’t have ever known.

 

            “No, they are too busy to come back.” I could sense the bitterness in her voice and knew that she was still furious that they had made her return to school by herself. She laughed bitterly and tossed back the rest of the contents of her glass, only to clear her throat once. I looked at her, mildly impressed, and she chuckled again. “What? Didn’t think I could do it?” She then proceeded to refill her glass. There was more awkward silence between us, and I was beginning to think I should just head upstairs for the night. It was nearing midnight, and this party wasn’t exactly thrilling.

 

            “So did you get the results of your N.E.W.T.’s back yet?” she asked abruptly.

 

            “A civil question, Granger? That is rather unexpected,” I said coolly, and the corners of her mouth turned down in a frown. “Yes, I did, but what I got on them is none of your business.”

 

            “Alright. Just trying to make conversation…”

 

            “Don’t,” I said, although I was a bit harsh. She muttered something under her breath that sounded like “git”.

 

I wonder if it even makes a difference to try,

So this is goodbye.

 

            Then out of the corner of my eye, I saw her tense, her eyes going wide. Looking around, she put down her glass and looked like she was ready to bolt, so I asked her what her problem was.

 

            “Well, you know Justin Finch-Fletchley, right? He’s been following me around all evening, and he doesn’t understand that I want to be left alone. Ugh.” She ran her fingers through her hair exasperatedly.

 

            “Ooh, who would have thought that you of all people would have a stalker?” I teased dryly.

 

            “Shut up, Malfoy,” she grumbled, but was obviously more worried about Fletchley heading towards us. I decided that once again I was going to have some fun and liven up this party a little bit. Mischievous thoughts filled my mind, and I’m almost positive I was sporting quite an evil grin. I swear, Firewhiskey does strange things to me.

 

            “Granger, your safety is in my hands,” I whispered, humor coating my voice.

 

            “Wha-” She was cut off.

 

            “Hiya, Hermione,” chirped Fletchley, finally having reached us.

 

            “Hi, Justin,” said Granger, looking rather confused. There was a moment of silence while Fletchley looked from Granger to I, bewilderment creasing his features. It was time for some entertainment.

 

            “What are you looking at, Fletchley?” I growled, coiling my arm around Granger’s waist as I spoke. She flinched slightly at my touch, and her confusion grew more profound, but she did not pull away.

 

            “Um…nothing,” he said, clearly intimidated. “Hermione, would you, uh, like to dance?” But before she could respond, I answered for her.

 

            “Sorry, Fletchley, but Gran-Hermione is with me tonight,” I said coolly, barely catching my trip up over her first name. I took a deep breath, preparing myself for my next move.

 

            “But-” He made to protest, but my lips crashing violently onto hers made him falter, and he stood there awkwardly for a moment before walking away. Meanwhile, in my head I was laughing. I had only pulled such a move, not to help her out, but because I knew how furious she would be. I loved seeing her all riled up; it made her so…fiery.

 

            I had only been kissing her for five seconds, my persistent lips easily conquering her gentle ones, and already she was struggling against my grasp. Her hands pushed at my chest, and her lips formed a tight line. I opened my eyes to find her glaring back at me, and I let her go.

 

            “Oh, you are so foul! You disgust me!” She reared back her hand to smack me, but I caught it in midair and brought it back down to her side, smirking.

 

            “Come now, Granger. I’m not that bad of a kisser, am I?” I laughed. She turned bright red.

 

            “Ugh! You are so infuriating!” she seethed, looking straight into my eyes.

 

            “Yes, and while that may be all good and true, it did get rid of Fletchley. And, Merlin, the look on his face!” I chucked.

 

            She looked at me, trying to keep up the front that she was angry with me, but her features softened, and in another second, she couldn’t help but giggle. Oddly, I couldn’t help but laugh as well. We must have been quite a sight to anyone around us. I can only imagine what they must have been thinking.

 

            After we had calmed down, Granger refilled both of our glasses. “You know, I’m still angry with you,” she said, but she was still giggling. I had the feeling that she was starting to get a little woozy.

 

            “Suit yourself.” I shrugged, but grinned as the Firewhiskey burned a trail down to my stomach. How many glasses was that? Eight? And before I knew what I was saying, I had already said it. “Wanna get out of here?”

 

            “What? Where to?” she slurred slightly, and I pulled the glass out of her hand.

 

            “I think you’ve had enough to drink tonight.” I set it back down on the table. “Let’s go out on the grounds, get some fresh air.” At this point, I too was feeling a bit out of sorts.

 

            “Okay.” And she linked arms with me for reasons unknown and followed me out of the Great Hall.

 

Goddamn my spinning head,

Decisions that made my bed.

Now I must lay in it,

And deal with things I left unsaid.

 

            We had been walking on the grounds for at least an hour, letting the alcohol do all the talking for us. In the back of my mind, I thought that was the only reason I was with her. Had I been in my right mind, I rationalized, I would have ditched her at the punch bowl.

 

            “So what are you doing after Hogwarts?” she asked, still walking arm and arm with me.

 

            “Well, I was thinking about becoming a healer at St. Mungo’s, especially with my “O” in potions…” I was cut short by a fit of laughter.

 

            “Ha! That’s good! Draco Malfoy taking care of someone?!” That will be the day!” she snorted loudly.

 

            For some reason, I found this quite funny too, and I joined in on the laughing.

 

            “Okay, Miss Genius, what are you going to do?” I retorted with less bite than normal.

 

            “Well, don’t laugh, but I want to get involved with the Ministry, turn things around, you know? Maybe even become the Minister of Magic?” I tried as hard as I could to hold in my laughter because I didn’t even know what was so funny, besides the fact that I had pictured her in Fudge’s lime green bowler hat, but it came bursting out anyway. Luckily for me, she began laughing too.

 

            And that’s the moment when it all went wrong, and I wish I could put full blame on the Firewhiskey, but in that moment, I felt perfectly sober.

 

            I watched her as she laughed, a grin spread wide over her face. In the moonlight, her chocolate eyes gleamed, sparkling with happiness. Her bangs hung half in her eyes, and her pale, delicate hands tried to brush them away. It was then that I realized how close we were standing. Too close. And with a sinking feeling in my gut, I realized I thought she was beautiful.

 

            I had been lying to myself all along that evening. From the moment she had come up to me at the punch bowl, I hadn’t been annoyed. In fact, I had been quiet glad for the company, especially with someone I knew fairly well. Since the beginning of the year, we had been forced to work with each other, to overcome our differences, and it hadn’t turned out to be as hard as I expected. We ended up learning things about each other that we wouldn’t have guessed in a million years, and because of that, I could no longer hate her. The only reason I acted uncivil to her now was because it was mere habit; she also had the same problem, but handled it better than I. So even when we gave each other a hard time, we knew that the other didn’t mean it…much.

 

            Her laugh faltered as she realized I was no longer laughing. She looked up into my eyes, at least a good eight inches higher than hers, with a questioning stare. I couldn’t figure out why I suddenly found her so attractive. She hadn’t changed. Maybe it was because the only other time we had talked this much had ended in a fight? Or maybe it was the happiness on her face that made all the difference? Or maybe it was because I was finally opening my eyes and realizing that she was no longer an enemy, but a friend, or the closest thing I would ever have to one?

 

            “What?” she asked finally.

 

            “Dammit, Granger, why are you so sexy?” I whispered, unable to stop myself.

 

            I braced myself for her reaction, for rage to spill over the top, but instead color rose to her cheeks, and a steely look formed in her eye. Shock and determination were both playing an active roll in her features.

 

            “Why, Mr. Malfoy, I’ll take that as the highest compliment coming from you.” She reached her hand up to stroke my cheek, and I shivered at her touch. There was a fire blazing in her eyes now, all inhibitions gone, and I felt a hunger well up from deep inside of me, clawing to get out. There was only one thing I could do to satisfy it, so I leaned down and captured her lips.

 

            This kiss was nothing like the first, instant relief rushing over me like cool water. Her lips were lush, and I felt the need behind them, soft yet demanding. My hands automatically threaded themselves into her tangled hair, bringing her closer. She tasted of Firewhiskey still, but her hair smelled of cherries. Her hand caressed my neck, and I couldn’t help but let out a soft sigh. This only seemed to urge us both on, our mouths becoming more fervent, nothing was enough.

 

I want to dive into you,

Forget what you’re going through.

I get behind, make your move,

Forget about the truth.

 

            I wasn’t exactly sure how we got from the grounds to my room, but the next thing I knew, we were on my bed, the passion mounting. There was something addicting about her kiss; I couldn’t get enough. Eventually, my hands began to slide down, finding her curves. I half expected an objection, but none came. Instead, it only seemed to compel her further. She began trailing kisses down my neck, nibbling on my ear, and then she took my shirt off and threw it onto the floor. I had had no idea that she could be so seductive and reasoned that she must have done this all before. I felt like I was floating. Fingers trailed down my stomach, stopping just short of my belt, and never before had I felt so turned on.

 

            With lust in every moment, I rolled us over, I being on top now, completely in control. As I slipped off her shirt, she scratched her nails into my back, causing me to shiver once more. From that moment, there was only a whirlwind of movement, no though involved. Her bra came off next, and I kissed her all the way down her torso, her sighs echoing in my ears. Soon we were both in just our underwear, and I stopped only for a moment; I couldn’t help it. Her body was beautiful, slim, petite, and just enough curves to make her truly feminine. I must have smirked because I could feel identical grins on our faces as I kissed her into oblivion and lost myself inside of her.

 

I still don’t have the reason,

And you don’t have the time,

And it really makes me wonder,

If I ever gave a fuck about you.

 

            I lay there, sprawled out on my bed, replaying the events in my head. I could scarcely believe them to be true, but there they were, like a film reel, tying me to the deed. I could feel the tingle of a blush rising to my cheeks as I pictured Granger naked again. Who had I been fooling all these years? She was just as pretty as any other girl at Hogwarts, if not more so due to her extreme self-confidence. And for one night, she had been mine.

 

            And as much as I might have once chalked it up to being intoxicated, I knew that wasn’t the only reason why it had happened. It may have aided in the process, but the tenderness, smiles, and passion were things that came from actually having feelings for someone. I groaned as I thought of this, unsure if it was a conclusion that I wished to come to.

 

            I sat up slowly as I tried to wrap my mind around all my thoughts. An odd sensation was traveling through me, and I wasn’t really sure what it was, but I figured that it mostly had to do with regret and that I was responsible for her distress. Had this happened between me and anyone else, I would have ignored my conscience, but the feeling continued to plague me, and I knew that it wouldn’t go away until I had apologized for the night before.

 

            Sighing deeply, I tugged on a shirt from my closet, not caring which one it happened to be. Quickly, I snuck a glance in my mirror and caught sight of my disheveled state. I knew it was no use to try and make myself presentable, so I just brushed my teeth and ran my fingers through my hair before I deemed myself ready to leave.

 

            Walking out of my dormitory, I concluded that the first place I should check would be her room. Her Head Girl Dormitory was placed next to the library by Granger’s own personal choice, and as mine was in the secluded west tower, I sprinted down the stairs, just wanting to get the whole ordeal over with.

 

            As I ran, I tried to think of what I was going to say to her. I knew that I should be as straight to the point as possible because I was pretty sure that she wasn’t going to be the most attentive audience. Every word that played through my mind either sounded horribly cliché, insincere, or would endanger me of sounding like I cared too much. I would just have to improvise.

 

Give me something to believe in,

Cause I don’t believe in you anymore,

Anymore.

 

            Breathing heavily, I rounded the corner and came face to face with the statue of armor that served as her doorway. Luckily, it was policy that we share our passwords with each other, or else I would have had to stand there all day guessing.

 

            “Hogwarts, A History,” I drawled, rolling my eyes at the ridiculous password. The suit of armor jumped aside to reveal a narrow hallway, lit with brilliant blue torches. I sauntered quietly down it, seeing a glow of lamplight at the end, unsure of what I was going to say when I saw her.

 

            When I reached the end of the passage, I found myself in a small, circular chamber I had visited quite often throughout the year. It was filled with a plush, cream-colored couch, a matching love seat, a black rug, glass tables, a fireplace, and bookshelves. It was classy, sophisticated, and empty.

 

            I figured that she was probably in her room, so I ascended the stairs in the far corner, feeling nervous about intruding her privacy, as if I hadn’t already done it enough. As a warning, I called out, “Granger!”, but there was no answer. I reached the top of the stairs and found myself facing another empty room. Her bed was made, crimson and white sheets, her desk was in a state of organized disrepair, and the windows were open, letting in a warm breeze. I was puzzled by her absence, wondering where else she would be, but a second later, I spotted the abandoned clothes laying on the floor. It was then that I also realized the steady hum that I had heard since I had entered, had been her shower running in the adjoining room. I put two and two together and came to the conclusion that I should leave before I got myself into anymore trouble. Of course, this was when the shower shut off and the door opened.

 

            Thank Merlin, Granger had had the good sense to wrap herself up in a towel before she came out, or else the situation would have worsened ten-fold. For a moment, nothing but her scream filled my ears. I cringed as I imagined what this must have looked like to her.

 

“Draco Malfoy! What the hell are you doing in my bedroom?! Get out, get out, GET OUT!” she shouted, storming across the room, pushing me towards the door.

 

            “Trust me, Granger,” I retorted coolly. “I had no intention of seeing you naked. I’ve already done that, remember?” As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew I had said too much.

 

            Flames sparked in her eyes, a ferocity coming over her like I had never seen before. Her fists started pummeling me; they didn’t hurt, of course, but I knew this was the only way she could get her aggression out. At the same time, she started screaming, “I hate you, Draco Malfoy! I hate you!” She repeated this over and over again until tears came to her eyes, the words turned to sobs, and she sank to the floor in despair.

 

            I can’t explain the guilt that flooded through me in that moment. It was the most powerful thing I had ever felt; all prideful notions faded away from me, and I knew that at least for now, I’d have to set aside my cold nature. I sat myself on the floor next to her and hesitantly put my arm around her shoulder. I felt her flinch at our contact of skin against skin, but she said nothing. It was then that I noticed how red her skin was, how warm it was, like she had tried to scrub herself away with scalding water.

 

I wonder if it even makes a difference,

It even makes a difference to try.

 

            “Granger,” I said softly, in the most timid voice I had ever used. Startled by my change of tone, she looked up at me through her wet bangs, tears streaking down her cheeks. She looked so broken and fragile in that moment that it took me a second to remember what I was about to say.

 

            “I’m sorry for what I said. I didn’t mean for that to come out of my mouth. I’m just so used to saying whatever insults come out of my mouth that it was too late by time I had realized I had taken it too far,” I murmured, my eyes on the floor. I couldn’t look into her eyes, fearful of her reaction and the emotions that resided there.

 

            “It’s…it’s okay,” she mumbled, wiping her eyes on a corner of her towel. Meanwhile, I was having a hard time grasping that Hermione Granger was sitting next to me, in her room, with nothing but a towel from keeping me from seeing what I had just the night before. Once again, a wave of guilt consumed me, and I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

 

            “You know, I am truly sorry for what happened between us last night.” I felt her freeze at my words, and I grimaced as I continued. “It was stupid on both of our parts, and I shouldn’t have teased you about it this morning, not when it’s something that matters so much to you,” I finished lamely.

 

            I could feel goosebumps rising on her arms and legs as a cool breeze blew in from the windows. She seemed to be deep in thought, contemplating what I had just said. Pushing her hair out of her eyes and tucking it behind her ears, her large, brown eyes met mine. I could see myself in their reflection and wondered if my cheeks were always so pink, or if it was just because of our close proximity.

 

            “Thank you for apologizing. That takes a lot.” She sighed, and I was about to say something when she cut me off. “But you didn’t have to come up here to do that.” I could see a shield coming up over her eyes, determination defeating the sorrow that resided there. “I accept what happened, and I can deal with that. Like you said before: it’s not as if it really matters.”

 

And you told me how you’re feeling,

But I don’t believe it’s true anymore.

Anymore.

 

            To me, it sounded as if she was trying to convince herself more than me. It was easy to spot the lie in her cinnamon iris that betrayed all her thoughts.

 

            “You don’t have to be so headstrong all the time, you know? No one expects you to be made of steel.”

 

            “I’m not lying!” she huffed, as she jumped to her feet. I could see that she was flustered at my correct guess, but yet too proud to admit that I was right. In a way, it was admirable, but mainly I was just annoyed.

 

            “Right, Granger, and I’m the bloody king of England.” I smirked, and then frowned. Wrong words again.

 

            “Ahhh! You’re so arrogant! Why can’t you just accept the fact that I’m not like every other girl who wants to get in your pants?! Last night meant nothing to me! You mean nothing to me!” The tears began to glimmer in her eyes again.

 

            I stood there in shock as she let herself get carried away with what she believed I was thinking. It was typical of her to take my comforting words as a way of boosting my own self up.

 

            “Granger, listen-”

 

            “No! You listen! Don’t you dare assume that I wanted to do what I did! I was drunk and so were you. It was stupid; it meant nothing, and your arrogance isn’t going to let me be persuaded otherwise!” She stomped over to the doorway and pointed a threatening finger towards the stairs. “Get out of my room!”

 

            I looked at her, my mind conflicted with thoughts. How dearly my old self wished to throw out a retort, but I swallowed it back down. This wasn’t her fault; she had just experienced too much emotion in one day and was jumping to conclusions because of it. A fire shown brightly in her eyes, and suddenly a picture from last night filled my head. The passion in those eyes was the same, but her lips were upturned in desire. Sprawled across my bed, I had never seen anyone so beautiful in my life. And as I looked at her now, furious and cold, she was still as attractive as the night before to me. There was still a spark between us.

 

            She really did have everything going for her. Her intelligence provided her with a future to do whatever she pleased. She had a kind heart, yet a fierce attitude. She had charisma and a natural beauty. If the blokes in the school weren’t so blind and caught up in their own unrealistic expectations, she would be well sought after. I saw all of this in her, and I was hit with such a blow as I realized how much I had taken from her the night before: dignity, respect for herself, hope, and her virginity. She was right; it was time for me to leave.

 

            “I didn’t mean it in that way,” I whispered as I walked out. “I’m so sorry. You didn’t deserve any of this.” The sincerity that filled me was an odd sensation. I walked down the stairs, not looking back, and I stopped at the bottom as I heard her door click shut, her body sliding down it, and muffled sobs from the other side. The emotion was overwhelming; I needed to escape.

 

I wonder if it even makes a difference to cry.

So this is goodbye.

 

             Ten minutes later, I found myself on the Quidditch field.

 

            It was a beautiful day out, not a cloud in the sky. I could hear the sounds of the other students on the grounds, enjoying the lake for one last time in this warm weather. Luckily, I had the field to myself, and I laid down in the middle of it, starring up at the enormous hoops above me. I rolled up my sleeves, hoping my pale skin would get a little sun, and closed my eyes, anxious for escape.

 

            This had been my place of solitude over the past year, the place I had retreated to whenever I felt overwhelmed. My mind soon let me wander from my situation with Granger and returned back to the thoughts I had pondered last time I had been here.

 

            The truth was, I didn’t have a place to call home once I left today. After the end of my sixth year, after I had failed to kill Dumbledore, I was not only demoted and labeled as incompetent, but I was also exiled from my family. My mother and father had thought of me more as a tool for Voldemort’s use than their own son, so as soon as I brought shame on our family name, I was disowned. Secretly, of course, so they could still keep up on their pretenses. That, by no means, was the end of it though.

 

            That summer I lived in constant fear of Voldemort. He did not forget nor did his forgive, and I had failed him in the worst sense. I had not made a mistake, but rather deliberately disobeyed his commands, deciding at the last possible moment that I did have a choice in the matter. So I did as I wished and didn’t shed the old man’s blood. I had never wanted to be a cold-blooded killer.

 

            And I was right to fear the Dark Lord. Sure enough, later that summer, while I was couch surfing from place to place, his followers found me at Blaze Zambini’s house when he was out one night. I remember it like it was yesterday.

 

            I was sitting on the couch, flipping through an old Daily Prophet, when I heard five faint CRACKS from outside the open window. It was obvious that some wizards had just apparated onto the street outside, but I thought nothing of it. I went back to the article I was reading, an uninteresting blurb on the growing prices of unicorn horns. That’s when I heard voices right outside. The tones were kept low, feet shuffling quietly, and I knew I was in trouble. At ten past midnight, visitors were not the welcome kind.

            Thinking quickly, I extinguished my wand tip that I had been reading by and pulled myself into a dark corner. It was then that I heard someone mutter “Alohamora” and the door creaked open. In the entrance stood a group of Death Eaters all covered in their black cloaks. I knew I was outnumbered, but I had the element of surprise on my side. As they approached the living room, I sprang from my hiding place, yelling stunning spells left and right. For the moment, they were caught off guard. Two of them fell instantly; the other three were more prepared.

 

            I ducked as a jet of red light soared over my head, smashing the lamp to my left. Rolling across the floor, I took the opportunity to stun another cloaked figure running rather pathetically and unprotected across the kitchen. I smirked in satisfaction at his dimwittedness, until I realized he had been purposely used as a distraction. In the meantime, the other two Death Eaters had crept up on me, and before I even realized it, I was stunned. Defeat.

 

            A bag was slid over my head, and I felt my body being levitated. We must have exited the house and continued down the street because it was a while before someone grabbed my arm and used side-long apparation. Next thing I knew, the levitation spell had been taken off, and my stiff body fell to the floor like a board. Then suddenly, I had full use of my limbs and the bag was taken off my head. Lord Voldemort stood directly in front of me.

 

            That is where everything goes fuzzy for a while. From there, I knew that I endured at least a month of torture under the hands of Lord Voldemort. I was fed little and constantly put under the Cratitus Curse; my room was a pitch-black prison cell. I grew weak with each passing day, my hope for escape vanishing. I gradually came to assume that I was going to die there, as was evidently Voldemort’s plan. So one night, after a particularly painful evening, I figured I might as well get it over with.

 

            I started screaming in my cell, blood-curdling shrieks that echoed off the walls. It was a horrific, tortured cry of a wounded animal, and I did not stop until I heard footsteps come running. I began rocking back and forth, clutching my knees to my chest. Just as I had planned, Peters came sprinting down the hall, wand in his right hand. He was a small, pathetic-looking man, hunched over with shifty eyes, and he was looking at me with a mix of rage and satisfaction on his face, making his face all the more uglier. I was glad it was him who was on guard duty tonight; he had a history of acting first and thinking later. And if I was wishing for the end, he would be the one most willing to give it to me.

 

            “So you’ve finally cracked, eh?” he laughed rather throatily. He muttered a counter-curse, and the door to my cell sprung open. Still in my sitting position, pretending to act as crazed as possible, he pulled me up by my collar and gave me a look of disgust. “Well, no point in keeping you now. Consider it mercy that I’m doing away with you. Voldemort may not be pleased with my decision, but since he‘s not here, I don’t think he’ll mind too much.”

 

            At first, I felt nothing but relief at his words. He was going to end this misery for me; no longer would I be stuck in my own personal hell. He was giving me exactly what I wanted. But then, as I considered this, what I honestly wanted was freedom, and while death gave me that, there was still confinement in that state of being. I wanted to follow my own path through life, make my own choices, experience things I had never experienced. What I wanted most was escape.

            That’s when things really clicked. Peters had said that Voldemort was gone for the night. If so, he would want all of his followers with him, leaving only one behind. They wouldn’t have counted on their one guard being overtaken by a prisoner behind bars. At this thought, hope surged up within me, my stomach swelling like a balloon. I was at least a good half-foot taller than him and more muscular compared to his wiry frame. I would just have to play my cards right, and then maybe I wouldn’t have to forfeit my life.

 

            I got to my feet unsteadily, half dragged by the power-crazed man in front of me. As weak as I was, I pretended to be even more so. Clutching my side, I emitted a loud groan; Peter’s smirked and shoved me out into the hallway. Dramatically, I fell to the ground face first, keeping still. Just as I had hoped, he bent over me, laughing manically, prodding me with his outstretched wand. My reflexes were that of a cat; my fingers shot out and grasped his wand, and at the same time, I pulled him down with my other hand, wrestling for control. His pock-marked features went from surprised, to angry, to defeated in a matter of seconds as he realized that he no longer had the upper hand.

            That’s when the wand slipped from his grasp, and I spared no second in petrifying Peter. The struggle ceased instantly, and I crawled off of the Death Eater. Brushing off the blood that was trickling out of my mouth, I took in my surroundings and scurried off as fast as I could, wanting to leave this prison as soon as possible.

            The next couple of days passed quickly for me. Once I had reached the outside of the barracks I had been kept in, I apparated to Hogsmade and walked to Hogwarts, the only place I knew I was safe from Voldemort. It was then that I sought the refuge of Professor McGonagal, who was now headmistress of the school. She learned of my story while I was under the influence of Veritiseurm, and she took pity on me, letting me stay at Hogwarts for the remainder of Summer Holiday.

 

I’ve been here before.

One day I’ll wake up,

And it won’t hurt anymore.

 

            All of this filled my mind as I looked up at the luminous sun, and then I thought about something else Professor McGonagal told me that day. She had said that war was coming and that the school would need a good leader, a good example for the students to follow, and then proceeded to ask me if I would like to be Head Boy. At first, I was taken aback. Why the hell would the old woman choose me? Hadn’t I just told her that I had been in league with the Dark Lord? And then I wondered why she wasn’t asking Potter since he was the golden boy an all. Like she had read my mind, or more like my expression, she told me that Potter and Weasley were both no longer attending Hogwarts. When I asked why, she simply said I could ask Hermione Granger, who would be Head Girl.

 

            When I asked her why I was her second candidate for this position, she said that not only my grades and comments from my teachers showed my aptitude for learning, but that the past year alone had shown my bravery in the face of danger, and by coming to her, I had proven that I did wish to change and reform my ways.

 

            I had to admit to myself as I laid there that Granger and I had got along together rather well this year, more so than I had expected. We had been able to have civil conversations and get our work done on time, but that didn’t mean we didn’t have our usual squabbles. Yes, we still bickered and got in each other’s faces when one of us was being pompous, but it wasn’t done just to provoke the other. The secret was that we had just learned to respect each other. Over many late night patrols, she had learned about my defiance to Lord Voldemort, and I in turn learned how alone she felt ever since Potter and Weasley went to find the Horocruxes.

 

            This year we had both been standoffish to the rest of the school, preferring to be alone with our thoughts where we didn’t have to pretend like everything was fine. Even after confiding those stories with each other, we hardly ever brought them up again, too afraid that our emotions made us more alike than we had originally thought.

 

            Because in all honestly, we were. We were both stubborn fools, who believed that no one else could be right except ourselves. We were both perfectionists, working as a team into the late night hours on our N.E.W.T. level homework. Then there was the fact that we both hid away our true feelings, not wanting to look weak to the other, and we both had overcome many challenges that most people would never have to face in their lifetime. Granger may not have noticed all this, but I had. All year, she had been my closest companion, and even when we weren’t together, she was constantly on my mind, and I could never figure out why.

 

              Sure, we saw each other a lot, more than I saw anyone else. Yes, we had our similarities. Of course, she was civil and kind-hearted, even to me, but deep down I knew that wasn’t the reason I thought about her so often.

 

            The reality was that I was curious about her, in the most extreme sense. I wanted to know what made her tick, what made her the fiery, head-strong, intelligent woman that she was today. What did she think about when she laid in bed at night? What made her put that look of confidence on her face when she really knew that nothing was okay? How did she make it through the day? What did she think about me…?

 

You caught me in a lie.

I have no alibi.

The words you say don’t have a meaning.

 

            I figured that I had thought so much about her that my imagination had decided to conjure up an image of her, like she had floated from my mind into being. If so, I must have had a more creative mind than I once believed because surely she wouldn’t be wearing a bright yellow sundress, her wild curls tangling themselves in the wind, and her mouth turning upward in an unsure smile as she stood over top of me. Hell, I could even imagine her perfume, sweet but tart, like cherries.

 

            I forgot myself for a moment, so caught up in her sudden presence, that I smiled, realizing that this was no figment of my imagination. She seemed hesitant, and her smile lessened as she saw mine, no doubt bewildered at my reaction, due to the fact that we had just been arguing only minutes ago. I wondered why she was out here. Hadn’t she made it quite clear that she wanted nothing to do with me? As always when trying to decipher her character, curiosity overwhelmed me, and I sat up, resting myself on my hands behind me.

 

            “Hi,” she murmured, her cheeks turning a delicate shade of red. I understood at once that she was ashamed at what had transpired between us in her bedroom.

 

            “Hello,” I answered back, willing her to explain herself. There was a moment of silence as she played with the hem of her dress. So I patted the ground beside me, setting her at ease. She gave me an appreciative glance and sank to the grass, her dress sprawling out around her. It was odd for her to be this close to me and yet still feel peace between us. I tried my damndest not to think about it, but as the sun caught her eyes and I noticed the small freckles on her tanned arms, I believed Hermione Granger to be stunningly beautiful.

 

            I was suddenly pulled out of my own mind by her timid voice saying, “I’m sorry.” She looked up from the ground, fixing me with her large, cinnamon eyes, saying her apology without words as well.

 

            I didn’t say anything at first, and I could tell this unnerved her, but I was too preoccupied with a thought that had just entered my mind. In physical traits, Granger and I were at opposite ends of the spectrum. My hair was as white as snow and straight as a board whereas hers was rich caramel curls. Her eyes were dark, mine light. She was petite, and I was a good eight inches taller than her. Her skin was bronzed from the summer sun, while mine was as pale as it had ever been. Her features were all warmth and mine were all ice. We had no common traits, no similarities. We couldn’t have been any less compatible.

 

I still don’t have the reason,

And you don’t have the time,

And it really makes me wonder,

If I ever gave a fuck about you,

And I…so this is goodbye.

 

            But maybe that was exactly what I needed. Maybe I needed her warmth to melt my icy exterior. Maybe that was all it would take. Suddenly, I was startled. When had my thoughts turned to this? When had I decided that I needed her? Was I honestly considering that there could be something more than civil friendship between us? Had I gone absolutely mad?

 

            No, I reasoned with myself, I was just being honestly with myself for once. I was opening my eyes and realizing that there was no need for hostility between us. Instead, my ideas were quite the opposite. I wanted to help her, I wanted to be open with her, and I wanted to let someone in. Her.

 

            My stomach felt tangled up, my heart thumping rather madly, and my head was as light as air, giddy over this new prospect, but before I could enjoy the jubilant feeling any longer, Hermione spoke again.

 

            “Um, are you okay?” she asked me, clearly unnerved by my silence and the smile that had been growing larger on my face by the second. If I had been her, I would have been rather frightened too.

 

            “Sorry. I was just carried away with my thoughts,” I explained, giving her a shifty grin. At first this unsettled her, but then upon seeing that there was no second meaning to my smile, just happiness, she attempted a grin also, and the atmosphere lightened greatly. That was when my mouth opened and spoke before my brain could even comprehend what I was saying.

 

Give me something to believe in,

Cause I don’t believe in you anymore, anymore.

 

            “You remind me of a dandelion.”

 

            She raised her eyebrows, looking skeptical. “A weed?” she asked, a kind of irritation in her voice.

 

            “No, no. Let me explain. Yes, at first I might have seen you as a weed, growing unwanted in a place I inhabited. But upon a second look, dandelions are quite charming, cute…” I couldn’t believe that word had just left my mouth, and from the way she was looking at me, I guessed that neither could she. “…they aren’t appreciated enough; people also don’t realize their beauty.” She was even more still now. “They are pushed aside, ignored, or attempted to be exterminated. They are stubborn little buggers though, just like you, and they keep coming back. And lastly, just like wishing on the seeds, you give me hope, hope that maybe I don’t have to be as bad as people believe me to be, that maybe I could be worth something to someone someday,” I finished, feeling very vulnerable, something I was not at all comfortable with, and rather anxious about her reaction. When she didn’t answer right away, I said lightly, “And your dress helped add to the illusion.” I laughed half-heartedly, feeling even more nervous.

 

            She just sat there, looking at me with a mixture of what I assumed was amazement and confusion. No doubt my words were the last thing she had been expecting. When she finally did speak, there was an edge of emotion in her voice. “I give you hope?” she asked quietly.

 

            “Yeah,” I said, feeling instantly more mortified as my words were repeated back to me.

 

            Once again, there was a brief silence in which she looked into my eyes, as if she were searching for answers there. For the first time in my life, I couldn’t find the right words to say. She had robbed me of my reason.

 

            “And you give me hope in return,” she whispered, her cheeks going red once again.

 

            Now it was my turn to be shocked. “How’s that?” I asked her, wondering how on earth I had provided her with that feeling.

 

            But if I had been surprised a moment ago, it was nothing compared to the feeling I received when her hand inched over and laid itself on top of my own. For a moment, I tensed, unused to such blatant contact with anyone, but then all I could feel was the soft, warm skin of her hand sending electrical sparks up my arm. I flipped my palm over, my hand now fitting into hers, and I intertwined my fingers. I could hardly breathe.

 

            “Everything you’ve told me this year, from how you couldn’t kill Dumbledore to fleeing from Voldemort has made me rethink who you are. You aren’t the cold-hearted boy I thought you were. Instead, I see someone who is brave and strong beyond their years, and it gives me hope that someday I can be as courageous as you.”

 

            Her eyes filled with tears, but they didn’t fall. Her thumb rubbed across my hand, and I knew in that moment that Hermione Granger meant more to me than anyone else in the entire world.

 

I wonder if it even makes a difference,

It even makes a difference to try.

 

            “You want to be like me?” I laughed aloud at her absurd thought, and she joined in, our carefree sound traveling across the grounds. And we couldn’t stop, our mirth flowing out in a delightful abundance. Her eyes sparkled, and she was clutching her sides. My cheeks grew sore, and I realized that I’d probably never smiled so much before. The whole thing wasn’t even that funny, but I think it was rather the thought that her and I were here together, having fun by simply being in each other’s company that was truly hilarious.

 

            Finally, taking a deep breath and calming herself down, she smiled broadly at me, all of her hesitation obviously gone. “I like it when you laugh. Your mask disappears, and I get to see the real you.”

 

            I looked at her again, unsure of what to say to that. Pulling courage from deep inside of me, I stroked her arm with my other hand, feeling goosebumps as they rose on her arm.

 

            “Is that a good thing?”

 

            “One of the best.” She grinned.

 

            “You know, I can’t tell you how sorry I am for last night. I never meant for that to happen. I would never use you like that, I swear,” I promised with the utmost sincerity I possessed.

 

            “I know. And it’s not like it was all your fault. It takes two, you know,” she reminded me. She then reached up and moved a strand of my hair out of my eyes. Suddenly, desire shot through me, and there was nothing I wanted more than to make her mine.

 

            “Hermione, what do you think of me?” I asked, burning with curiosity.

 

And you told me how you’re feeling,

But I don’t believe it’s true anymore, anymore.

 

            “Well, um, that’s a tough question.” She paused, unsure of what to say, confused to where this was leading, so I rephrased my question.

 

            “What would you say, if I asked you if we could start over?” I felt my heartbeat quicken. I squeezed her hand tightly.

 

            She pondered for a moment, but slowly a smile spread over her face. “I think that would be the best idea you’ve ever had.”

 

            And without knowing what the hell I was doing, I leaned over, placing one hand on her lower back and the other behind her neck, and brought her into my arms. For a moment, we just looked into each other’s eyes, almost as if truly seeing each other for the first time, and then hers flickered to a close. Feeling more alive than I ever had, I placed my lips on hers. As soon as they came in contact, I heard her gasp, and she wound her arms around my torso. Where disbelief was moments ago, desire replaced it; where our skin met, there was fire. It was so much better than I had remembered from the previous night. Kissing her was like no other girl I had ever kissed. There was need, dependence, adoration, and care all intertwined. She tasted of honey and felt like satin. I simply couldn’t get enough.

 

            We stayed like that for at least a half an hour, wound around each other, caught up in the passion that embraced the both of us. No words were said, but they didn’t need to be. Thoughts were spoken through our embraces and our eyes. We both knew that this was what we wanted.

 

            In the distance, from across the lake, a train whistle sounded, giving the first warning of the day. We knew that we had to leave; Hogwarts would be part of our past in less than an hour. She started to get up, but I pulled her back down to the grass, kissing her again, barely letting myself believe that this was actually happening. I had to make it real somehow; I had to know I wasn’t dreaming. So I asked, “Hermione, will you be mine?”

            This time, there was no hesitation when she responded, only a magnificent smile and a confident tone. She leaned over a kissed me sweetly on the lips, then on the cheek, and then below my ear and whispered, “ I would love to, Draco.”

 

            Pulling myself and her to our feet, I wrapped my arms tightly around her, tasting her lips over and over again as we walked back to the castle, feeling more secure, more free, and more happy than I ever had, as we said goodbye to our past and hello to our future.

            

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