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Losing Control

Hermione woke the next morning to swollen eyes, having cried herself to sleep the night before. She slowly dressed and tried to distract herself by attempting to prepare for her day. It was Saturday and the weather was nice. Maybe she would just take a walk around the grounds, or maybe she would stay in her room all day, that way she would not have to face anyone. "Anyone" in this instance being one drop dead gorgeous blond boy who she could not stop thinking of.


Draco went immediately to the Slytherin table, upon entering the Great Hall the next morning. Even if McGonagall gave him detention, he could not face Hermione after how he had treated her the night before. “Hey, Blaise. How’s it going?” He asked as he approached his old friend who was sitting at the Slytherin table with Pansy by his side.

“Wow, sitting at the Slytherin table. This must be serious.” Blaise smiled, joking with Draco.

Draco just looked down towards the table. He did not think that Blaise approved of his socializing with a Gryffindor, and would much less approve of him almost kissing one. He shrugged. “I just felt like sitting here today.”

Blaise gave Pansy a look. She grabbed a banana, kissed Blaise and left the boys alone to talk, after making a point of rolling her eyes. “Alright, spill it Malfoy. What the hell happened to you?” Blaise said, as soon as Pansy walked away.

“It’s nothing Blaise, it’s just some girl. Nothing to worry about.” He gave Blaise a fake smirk, and began eating his breakfast. Draco knew that this answer would satisfy Blaise. Blaise had never thought any girl worth worrying about.

Blaise shrugged his shoulders. “Oh, well ok. Don’t let it get you down Draco. No girl is worth it.” Draco looked at Blaise with a raised eyebrow. “Don’t let Pansy know I said that! Things are just getting good with her.” When Draco did not answer, Blaise launched into the whole story about how he and Pansy had found love and how they were going to spend the Christmas holiday at his manor. Draco listened; happy the focus had been shifted from him.

*

“Where is Hermione?” Harry asked Ginny, when she arrived alone at breakfast.

Ginny looked around to make sure no one would over hear, “She and Draco had a bit of a tiff last night….” Ginny told Harry what Hermione had told her the night before.

“The two of them are as thick as they come!” Harry said, rolling his eyes.

“Harry! You sound like Hermione! She is the brightest witch at Hogwarts and you know it!”

“No, Ginny, that is not what I mean. She is brilliant when it comes to academics. But, she is as thick as he is when it comes to how the other feels.” Ginny looked confused. “Draco likes her too he just feels himself unworthy. He doesn’t think that she could ever be with someone like him.”

Ginny contemplated her response before speaking. “He has changed Harry.”, she said simply. Ginny knew it was true, though she still hated to admit it.

“I know that. He seems to be the one having a hard time understanding that.”

*

Hermione sat on her bed, gathering her robes to send to the laundry when a very expensive looking parchment fell out of the pocket. She picked up the letter, remembering that she had not yet talked to Ron and Harry about it. She rushed out her dorm quickly, colliding with Ron at the bottom of the stairs to the girls' dorm.

"What are you doing Ronald?" Hermione straightened herself and looked at Ron curiously.

"Ummm..I was wondering why you weren't at breakfast. Cho said she never saw you come from your dorm. So, I came back to check on you. But, I can't get up the steps to the girls' dorm. So, I decided to just wait for you here."

Hermione looked surprised at Ron's concern. She was grateful though, that he was here and decided not to waste any more time. She took out the letter and handed it to Ron. "I received this the other day. I do not know who it is from." Ron took the letter, looking thoroughly confused. His confusion turned to fear as he read the letter to himself.

"Hermione, have you shown this to Harry?" She shook her head. "Well, we need to go find him. He will know what to do." He handed the letter back to her. She carefully folded it, placing it back into her pocket, before they both exited the common room.


Ginny and Harry looked startled when Ron and Hermione came into the Great Hall, Hermione struggling to match Ron's fast pace. "Harry...we...need...to....talk to....you." Ron struggled to catch his breath. As he caught his breath, Hermione pulled the letter once again from her pocket before handing it to Harry. Harry read it over, and stood up, letter in hand.

Harry looked around to ensure no one was paying any particular attention to them. "We need to talk about this somewhere else. Ginny, we will catch up with you later, ok?" He looked to Ginny, leaning down to kiss her goodbye. She pulled away from him and stood up.

"You most certainly will not see me later! I am coming with you." Harry opened his mouth to object, but immediately closed it again, not daring to cross Ginny when she got like this. "You have taken off without me to go on one of your little adventures for the last time!"

Harry could not help the need to protect Ginny. It was what he had always done throughout the war. It had been a necessity. As he saw the determination in her eyes, a thought dawned on him. Ginny was strong, and smart, and they could possibly use her help in solving this latest mystery. More than that though, he wished to never leave her side again, not even for this. Therefore, it was with great pride that he said, "You are right Ginny. You should come."

Ginny's jaw dropped in shock. She had expected a lot more resistance.

"Harry, I don't know. It's always just been the 3 of us." Ron said. "There's my resistance", Ginny thought.

"I know, but I think one extra brain thinking it over could only help." Harry didn't wait for Ron to answer. "Let's go." Harry said, as he got up and led the other 3 out of the Great Hall.

By the time Ron had figured out that Harry had overruled him, they were already halfway to the lake. As they arrived, Harry turned to Ginny, handing her the letter. "You better read this, so we are all on the same page."

Ginny took her turn with the letter, before carefully folding it and handing it back to Hermione. She was trying to formulate a theory. If she was going to be included in on the action, she needed to prove herself worthy. "So, he obviously knows a lot about you, Hermione." At least stating the obvious was better than nothing.

"He even knows about your parents, and that is not exactly public knowledge." Harry was at a loss.

"Let's begin by going over what we know." Hermione pulled out her wand, and began making a list written in colored smoke in thin air. "He knows about my parents." She wrote in the air. "He knows I am head girl." She added.

"That is a matter of public knowledge." All 4 heads jerked up at Draco's voice. "Accio Daily Prophet clipping" Draco held his hand up as a small newspaper clipping soared into his hand. He handed the paper to Harry. "My Aunt Andromeda sent this to me in a letter at the start of term."

The shock of hearing Draco refer to Andromeda, the grandmother to his godson, in such a familiar way, left him temporarily speechless. Ginny, noticing Harry's loss for words, stepped closer to Harry, reading the paper over his shoulder. Up from the pages smiled Draco and Hermione on either side of Professor McGonagall. The headline read

FORMER DEATH-EATER AND FEMALE MEMBER OF THE GOLDEN TRIO NAMED HEAD BOY AND HEAD GIRL AT HOGWARTS

"I guess that explains how he knew that." Ginny had temporarily forgotten the fact that Draco was not originally intended to be part of this conversation. "What else do we know?"

Ron stared at her flabbergasted. "I know that if he is in, I am out. I'll catch up with you all later." Ron got up and left the group, kicking the grass as he walked away muttering to himself. Hermione felt almost tempted to follow him, but as much as she hated it, the prospect of time with Draco won out over comforting her friend.

Harry, having decided the Andromeda conversation was best suited for a more private time, decided with Ginny and included Draco in the conversation.

Hermione was not so sure. With a quick wave of he quickly wiped away the clues that had been hovering next to her this whole time. "Malfoy, thanks for the information, but you do not have to stay. We can figure this out." "So, we are back to Malfoy are we?" He couldn't help his disappointment that flooded his mind in the backward progress of their interaction.

Draco smiled at her. "I think I will stick around awhile, if that's ok." He leaned against a nearby tree indicating his unwillingness to move. Hermione, dumbfounded at his smile once again, only managed a small nod. "What are we trying to figure out anyway? And who is this 'he' you are talking about?" Draco had seen what had been written, and was concerned that someone knew a whole lot about Hermione, and that she and her friends did not seem to have any idea who it was.

"We don't know. That is actually what we are trying to figure out." Harry had already added one to their trio, and with Ron's recent abandonment, why not add another? "Hermione, show him the note." Hermione took the note from her robes yet again and passed it to Draco without looking up. Draco placed his hand on the letter but did not pull it away, this caused Hermione to look up into his eyes. She smiled meekly and blushed a deep red. "I love it when she does that", he thought.

He took a step back, opening the note and reading it. A feeling of anger spread over him like fire in his blood as he read the words. He took a deep breath, calming himself before speaking. "What does he mean 'enjoy your freedom while it lasts'? Hermione, this is a direct threat. We need to find out who sent this and stop him before he has a chance to carry out his plan."

Hermione blushed again at his outburst. Maybe he did not completely hate her after all. "Malfoy, how are we supposed to do that if we do not know who he is, where he is, or what his plans are?"

Hermione did her best to stay focused on the task at hand. "We know this." With a wave of her wand, the clues returned to the air beside her. Draco reread the words, trying his hardest to control the anger that boiled anew in his stomach.

"I think that it has to be a Death Eater. One that feels especially connected to you, Hermione. I think we need to try to get some information from the Ministry about which Death Eaters are still at large, and we can go from there. I know Ron isn't keen on being here, but Ginny can you ask your dad if he could get us some information." Harry of course had a plan.

"I am not sure I can give you as much information as the Ministry, but I can give you a list of the Death Eaters that are still out there." Draco turned to Hermione "It's the least I can do." Draco's usual smirk was replaced with a look of sadness.

"That would be great, Malfoy. Thank you. If you could get a list together of names, and any association you may know of with Hermione, we can get together in a day or two and go over it all." Harry looked from Hermione to Draco, and smiled to himself. He had Ginny now, to be there for him to talk to and now, finally, maybe Hermione had someone too. He hoped Hermione and Draco could be that for each other.

Ginny saw where Harry's eyes were, and the smile on his face. She walked over to him, leaning her head on his shoulder. Maybe, just maybe, this might work out. "I am really hungry, Harry. Can we go back to the great hall?" Ginny smiled at Hermione, giving her a wink. Ginny took Harry's hand and they began walking hand-in-hand back to the castle.

Draco stayed and waited for Hermione after the other two had left. Hermione stood, facing the lake, her arms wrapped around herself. She was lost in thought, and was startled when she felt arms around her waist. Immediately she felt the warmth spread through her veins, as her heart raced, spreading the fire throughout her body. She turned her head around, her eyes locking with Draco's. She couldn't help but think how she should pull away, but she didn't. She felt a sense of safety wrapped in his arms, and she wanted to hold on to it just a little longer.

"Is this ok?" Draco asked hesitantly. Hermione nodded. He tightened his arms around her, pressing his front against her back, and looked out over the lake with her. Neither spoke for the longest time. Then, when she started to shiver in the cool fall breeze coming off the lake, Hermione turned again towards Draco.

"Thank you, for your help with this." She did not know why he was so adamant to help, but she was grateful that he was here.

Draco turned her around without releasing her, his hands still on her waist as she faced him. "Hermione, we need to talk." Hermione started to pull away but he held her firmly. "Please, this is very hard for me to say, and I may never again work up the courage to say it if I don't say it right now." Hermione stilled and looked up at him.

"Last year, when you were brought to the Manor by those snatchers, when I watched my evil aunt hurt you, something inside me changed. My whole view of the world flipped upside down. Ever since the first day I met you, I had been told that I was supposed to hate you. I tried very hard to do it too. I never could quite manage it though. You were smart, and funny, and so kind to everyone." Hermione raised an eyebrow, thoughts of her punching him in the face near Hagrid's hut floated in her brain. Draco smiled at her expression. "Ok, you were kind to those who deserved it. But anyway, you were everything that I wished I had. I realized then that I could no longer be the person they wanted me to be. I vowed to myself that day to make it up to you some day."

Hermione's face fell. Draco looked confused. "What's the matter? I am sorry to bring it up again. I am sure it is very hard for you to remember."

Hermione pulled herself free, this time he let her. She walked a few steps away, looking anywhere but at him. "Is that what this is? You feel obligated to help me?" She knew it was true, but it stung. She had allowed herself to think, for a moment, that he might actually like her. "Well, you have fulfilled your duties. Consider your debt repaid. You don't have to pretend to be friends with me anymore." She started to walk back to the castle, shivering even more than before.

"Wait!" She stopped, but did not turn around. "Is that what you think? That I feel obligated to spend time with you?" She turned to look at him, tears filling the corners of her eyes. "That could not be further from the truth. I'll admit, when I saw you walk into McGonagall's office at the beginning of term, I thought only of having to fulfil my promise to myself. What began as simply that, has turned into so much more, for me at least." He walked to where she stood, taking her hands in his. "You have become very important to me, Hermione. It is like you make the pain of all of those years less."

She stared at him in disbelief. "But last night.."

"I am so sorry. I know I hurt you. That was the last thing I wanted to do. It is the reason I did not kiss you. I know you will get hurt. Every woman I have ever loved has been hurt." His eyes were wide with fear, fear that she would not forgive him.

"Loved, did he just say loved? Focus, Hermione." She squared her shoulders and spoke with authority. "First you need to know one thing about me. I do not do the damsel in distress thing well. I appreciate your desire to protect me, it is truly flattering. Maybe you should just let me decide what I need protecting against and what I don't." She stepped closer to him, until she could feel the heat radiating from his body. His eyes joined with hers again, sparks flying between their eyes. "No one has ever made me feel the way you do. It terrifies me," Draco flinched. "not because I am scared that you will hurt me, but because I am not used to losing my hold on complete control. It is something I crave, and it is the only thing that kept me from going mad last year. When I am with you, I feel anything but controlled." She looked back down to the ground, hoping she had not been too honest.

Draco smiled at her, pulling her against his body again. "So, what you are saying is, you wouldn't have the self-control to stop be if I leaned in" Hermione felt her skin on her face reddening as he leaned his face close to hers. "and put my lips here" He gently touched her lips with his. He held her tight as their lips gently touched each other. He pulled his head back slowly, his eyes still closed. When he opened them, he saw Hermione smiling up at him.

"Yes, that is exactly what I am saying." Hermione stood on her toes, planting a small kiss on his lips, before pulling away from him and taking his hand. "So, before we try to push the limits of my control any further, let's go in and get some breakfast."

Draco walked beside her, holding her hand. He did not want to stop kissing her, but given his interruption of breakfast, he was starving.

"Hermione?” Draco said her name again. She looked up at him, still holding his hand.

“Yes, Draco?”

“Would you do me the honor of accompanying me to the Halloween Ball?” Hermione could not help the smile that spread across her face. She looked up at him.

“I would love to.”

A grin threatened to split his face in half. Everything seemed to be finally going his way.

They continued on to the Great Hall, which was mostly empty by now, given most of the students had finished with breakfast already. They made their way to their now normal spot. Draco sat beside Hermione, not letting go of her hand. They ate and chatted, enjoying each other's company until they were both full.

“So, what do you want to do with the rest of the day?” Draco asked, turning towards Hermione.

Hermione hesitated, “Do you want to see what Harry and Ginny are doing? Maybe spend some time with them?”

Draco smiled at her. “Sure, a day with Gryffindors, sounds great.” He laughed at his own joke as they both stood up and went to find their friends.

*

“So, I guess we better get used to seeing them together, huh?” Ginny said to Harry, as they walked up to the doors of the castle, turning around to see Draco put his arms around Hermione.

“So much has changed, Gin. It’s hard to believe that we will be gone from Hogwarts, and facing life in the real world less than a year from now.” Harry stared at Ginny, he knew that no matter what life beyond Hogwarts held for him, he wanted this girl there, right beside him.

Ginny looked over to find Harry staring at her, a lost look in his eyes. “What are you thinking about, Harry?”

“Just the future.” With that he took her hand, and they headed into the castle together.

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