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Chapter 8 ~ Friends, right?



The next day, Hermione looked for Draco and watched him whenever they were in the corridors or at meals. He looked exhausted and even his friend Blaise Zabini was leaving him alone. When dinner time came, she noticed he was not there but she had a decent feeling she knew where he was. Grabbing some breadsticks and apple tarts, she wrapped them in a napkin and headed back to the dormitory. Once she reached the Gryffindor common room, she opened the door and climbed the stairs to the community room. Hermione had been right, there he was, sitting in his chair in the corner of the room watching Seren bat around a ball of crumpled paper. She approached him cautiously. He looked up at her and for a moment she thought his face brightened a bit. But then he looked away and back at the cat.

She sat in the chair opposite him, she wanted him to know that she wasn’t mad at him anymore.

“Draco, I don’t want us to be enemies. I really just want to get along. We both know things about each other that no one else does and we have to work together during the week. I don’t have the energy to keep fighting with you and you’re not a bad person. Just accept my words. We don’t even have to be friends, just get along enough to work in peace.”

He looked at her again.

“Fine. But if you decide to run away and hide, I’ll understand.”
“Remember who you’re talking to… I’m a Gryffindor.”
“Uh huh.”

She pulled out the food she’d taken from dinner and set it on the table. A smirk appeared on his face.

“I saw you weren’t at dinner, so I brought some food.”
“Keeping tabs on me?”
“Well after last night, I wasn’t sure how you were.” She said lamely.
“Thanks for the food.”

He studied her.

“Have you eaten?” She heard him ask.

She looked up at him in surprise. Her body hadn’t felt like food and she’d been eating very little again. Not responding with words, she just shook her head. He divided half of what she brought and placed it in front of her.

“Eat. You need it.”
“You barely eat and you’re very thin. Eat.”

She knew she wasn’t attractive and was too thin, but she didn’t realize he was paying attention. Reluctantly, she grabbed a breadstick and began to nibble at it. Draco on the other hand dug into his half with vigor. After he’d eaten, he looked up at her,

“So, we’re not friends… but we don’t fight anymore, right?”
“Ok, so you’re here for homework then?” He asked her, smirking again.


What was she supposed to tell him? Once again, she was here because she didn’t want to be alone. Everyone else had been busy and she doubted they really noticed her absence. Hermione looked up and saw that he was still looking at her, waiting for an answer.

“Uh, well I’m already finished with all my assignments but the potions write up. So I’ll be working on that.”

He laughed, making Seren jump.

“Of course you’re already done. Well you sit there and work on your one tiny little essay and I’ll be over here drowning in papers and books. You don’t have to interfere, unless I stop breathing… then you can decide.”

For a second she thought he was being serious, but he was smiling so she figured he was trying to be humorous.

“Alright, but I won’t make any promises.”

He chuckled again and then the two of them fell into a comfortable silence.

They stayed in their corner working until around 10pm and then Hermione decided she was going to bed. She felt absolutely exhausted and hoped she could get some sleep tonight. Gathering her things, she headed back towards the Gryffindor archway. As she stepped onto the first stair, she heard his voice,

“Night Granger.”

When she turned to look at him, he had a slight smile on his face. He nodded to her just as Seren jumped up onto his chest.

“Night Malfoy.” 

When Hermione got back to the Gryffindor area she saw Harry just getting up from sitting with Ron. He waved at her and then headed to the boys sleeping area. Ron got up and turned to see her standing there. He glared,

“Where were you?”

She ignored him and tried to walk towards the girls door.

“I said, WHERE WERE YOU? You came from that door there.”
“I was studying. Just leave me alone.”
“All you do is study. No wonder you don’t have other guys asking you out.”

That hurt. Partially because she had nothing to deny it with, it was true. No one was interested in her. She was broken and unattractive. Hermione knew she deserved better than Ron, but right now it meant she had no admirers. Ron just laughed and roughly pushed past her towards his room with Harry. Hermione suddenly felt very conscious about the scar on the left side of her neck and the slash mark on her right arm. The lovely gifts from Bellatrix.






Waking up on Saturday morning, Draco felt better than he had in days. Granger wanted to be… well she wanted to get along. It would be much easier to help her that way and besides that, he actually kind of enjoyed being around her when they weren’t yelling at each other or throwing hexes. He wrote her another little note and then headed off to go flying. This morning, however, he decided not to jump off the Astronomy tower. He lazily flew around the lake, weaving in and out of the tentacles that reached out of the water.

As he flew over the Grounds Keeper, Hagrid’s place, he noticed that Granger was there with Potter and his Weasley girlfriend. She looked up and her hand waved slightly. He smiled. It only lasted a moment though because then Potter happened to notice him and frown. Draco shrugged and then zipped away. Potter was probably still mad at him for having a part in Granger getting in trouble. He finished his flight up at one of the corner towers and settled down in one of the walls circular openings that made great napping places. As he lay within the arch, his thoughts drifted to everything he and Granger had talked about lately. The more he thought about it all, the more he hoped that they would end up actual friends and not just supportive acquaintances. He wanted to be her friend, now more than ever.

Because his thoughts had taken over, he had not noticed the time slipping by. A gust of wind caught his hair and as he pushed it out of his eyes, he saw how dark it was. Crap! He was going to be late for detention. Grabbing his broom, he raced through the halls and until he made it to the classroom. Sure enough, he noticed the clock when he walked in. 6:11. He propped his broom by the door and tried to walk naturally and quietly towards the boxes. Draco should have known better than to sneak by Granger,

“You’re late you know… Everything ok? You weren’t at lunch or dinner. I grabbed you three rolls.”
“Yeah, just lost track of time thinking. Thanks.” He said rolling his eyes.

While he was eating he moved his chair closer to her. He decided to sit at the same table as her and see how it went. She raised an eyebrow, but didn’t make a comment. They both worked on records in silence, but it wasn’t awkward. They eventually worked their way from silence to discussing the reports together and having a good laugh at quite a few of them. They had discovered that the papers needed much more than just reorganizing. McGonagall was right when she said some of them needed to be rewritten.

Time flew by and soon the cat was chiming. He offered to stay and put everything away since he was late, but she stayed and helped. Draco grabbed his broom from the door and caught up with Hermione who was a few feet in front of him. He saw her raise her delicate eyebrows, but no words came from her. He smirked. He really wanted her to know he wanted to be friends, but wasn’t sure how she’d take it. What the hell he thought,

“So you know that agreement we made about not fighting?”
“Can I amend it?”
“How so?”
“Well I was wondering if we could be friends?”

She looked at him in surprise.

“You want to be friends? With me?”
“Yeah, I mean we’ve already started to act like it anyways… you know, when we’re not fighting.”

He watched as she stayed silent. Maybe he’d said it too soon?

“Just in secret though… I don’t think my other friends will be so accepting.”

Draco was a little disappointed but he knew she was right. He would be her secret friend, that was ok. He already felt like it anyways. Looking at her, he nodded. They made their way back to their tower and said goodnight, as friends.

When Draco tried to open his eyes on Sunday morning, his vision was obscured by something warm and fuzzy. Seren had decided she wanted to lay across his face. He stroked her and then shifted her so that she was on his chest instead of his face. She stood up and stretched and then pawed him in the face. Giving him a look, she jumped off and head towards the door. To his astonishment, she watched him closely as he got dressed and kept meowing at him. He grabbed his stuff and was headed out but Seren continued to meow at him. He followed her and noticed that she was leading him up the staircase to the community room.

“Alright fine, we’ll go study up there.”

Draco entered the room and saw that Hermione was already there with books laid out and a basket full of food. He sighed. She was brilliant. Seren bounded over to Hermione and jumped up onto her lap. Draco heard a laugh and saw that Hermione was nuzzling her face into the fur of his kitten.

“No wonder she kept wanting to come up here.”

She looked up at him and she smiled a bit.

“I also see that you have a feast here, is there a special occasion?”
“Didn’t feel like facing people at breakfast I guess.”
“You mean Ron?”

She looked down and nodded. Draco noticed that she grabbed her right forearm and tilted her head so that her hair fell over her shoulders. He knew about her scars. He’d watched his aunt give them to her. He wondered how Ron and the scars were connected, her reaction had given him a clue that something had happened, again.

“What did he do?”
“Nothing” she muttered quietly.

He didn’t believe her, but he decided not to push. He opted to sit across from her and pull the basket of food towards himself. Everything was there; forks, butter knives, two plates and a variety of breakfast items, many of them still warm. Smiling, he started piling food onto a plate for himself. He also put some good on the second plate and handed it to Hermione. She shook her head.

“You need to eat. Here.” He said and held the plate out for her.

She took it and he was pleased to see her starting to nibble at it. He dug in and closed his eyes. The food was obviously from the kitchens. He finished off his plate, made sure she was eating and then helped himself to another plateful. The next time he looked up it was to see Hermione smirking at him. He swallowed.

“Just realizing that all men seem to eat food the same way.”
“And what exactly is that supposed to mean?”

She just smiled. It partially lit up her face, which was nice to see, but it annoyed him that he didn’t get an answer. He waved his wand and cleared away everything but her plate, then he grabbed his bag and began to remove the books he needed. Seren found a string and immediately racing around the room throwing it and then chewing on it. Draco was glad to see that Hermione had finished the food he’d given her. She pulled out what looked like a novel and flipped through the first few pages before settling on a spot and starting to read. Draco sighed quietly and began to research the information he needed for the essay on a potion he needed to write.

After about an hour, Draco took a break from the book on potions he was reading and stretched. He looked over at Hermione and noticed that she had fallen asleep. Writing her one of his little notes, he slipped it on top of her bag and conjured a blanket to wrap her in. He laid it over her and went back to his work. It was another couple of hours before she woke up and when she did, he saw her body jerk upwards. She looked around and then spotted the note. A smile came onto her lips and Draco felt a little better inside.

“Have a nice nap?”
“Sorry, I didn’t sleep much.”
“Don’t apologize, I know how that is.”

She relaxed. He watched as she scanned over the mess he’d made.

“Do you want any help?”
“No it’s alright. I was just finishing up my conclusion.”

It was only around 2pm and he could tell she didn’t want to go back near Ron. However, he also knew that she didn’t want to be seen with him either. Hopefully that would change, but he was safer this way for now. Draco suddenly had an idea,

“Mind if I ask you some questions?”
“Um… like what?”
“Oh you know, the really personal stuff like what’s your favorite animal?”

He smiled and she smiled back.

“I think I can manage that, but I warn you, if you ask what my favorite book is it’s going to be a long answer.”
“Got it, don’t ask about favorite books.”

She laughed. He was really beginning to like that sound. It was much better than the screams that ripped through his nightmares. They began asking each other all sorts of questions and soon the day was gone. The sun had set behind the mountains and they had totally forgotten about dinner. It was only when Seren jumped in front of them did they notice how late it had gotten.

“Oh, it’s late! We missed dinner, again.”
“That’s alright, we were eating what was in the basket all day.”
“True, well I should probably go.”

He nodded.

“See you tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow, I’ll make sure you get to class on time.”

She waved as she descended the stairs and Draco felt like a decent person as he lay down to sleep.




The next few weeks everything began to feel a little better to Hermione. She and Malfoy started the habit of meeting up in the community room most evenings during the week, except for Mondays’ and Wednesdays evenings when Malfoy had Quiddich practice. Detentions were becoming something they both looked forward to because now they worked together and laughed at all the ridiculous things that people had done at the school to get themselves in trouble. They had their pattern and Hermione felt better than she had in ages. Malfoy had even introduced her to his friends Blaise and Astoria. Astronomy was her second favorite time of the week. She and Malfoy worked well together and would occasionally make up their own constellations and stories to go with them. This had led to Professor Secka shushing them quite often.

Luckily for Hermione, Ron had been relatively okay lately. He would still find moments to glare at her or say something about how she didn’t know how to have fun. Harry never saw the really bad times, so he thought it was just the normal teasing that had always been a thing. Harry and Ginny were only in a couple of her classes so she barely saw them. It made her sad to not really have her friends this year, but she was happy that Harry was finally having a normal year. It was the end of November now and a Hogsmeade weekend was coming up. She and Malfoy had decided to meet up in the Three Broomsticks with the excuse of needing to talk about a project. It wasn’t the best story but it was safer than the truth, which was that they were friends hanging out.

The morning of the village trip, Harry came up to her in the common room,

“Hey Hermione, I feel like I never see you anymore. You want to join Gin and I for a little while? We have plans later on in the village, but we’d love to have you with us in the beginning!”

Hermione’s heart lifted. She wouldn’t have to be alone!

“Oh Harry, I would love to join you! Thank you.”
“Great! So I’ll see you in front of the doors in 10 minutes?”

She watched as he left the tower. She raced to grab her black cloak and huge, purple, knitted cowl-scarf. Hermione tucked her wand into the back pocket of her jeans and headed down to meet Harry. Malfoy happened to leave his common room at the same time and she waved at him. He looked around to see if people were around and then stepped closer,

“You’re in a good mood”
“Mhmm… Harry invited me to walk with him and Ginny for a little while when we first get to the village.”
“Oh nice” He said.

She could tell he said it a little forced and she laughed.

“You know, they are my friends and not bad people.”
“I know, but they don’t like me.”

She just rolled her eyes.

“Will the Weasel be joining you?”
“I don’t know, I hope not. I hate being around him.”
“Well, you can tell me about it when I see you later, ok?”

They reached the staircase leading down towards the hall and put some distance between each other. People were filing downwards from all directions and Hermione was jostled about. Malfoy ended up next to her again and smirked. Nudging her shoulder a bit. She smiled at him and then started looking for Harry and Ginny. When she spotted them, she struggled over to them and gave Harry a hug.

“You’d think someone famous was standing outside…”

They laughed. Filch finally made his appearance and began to check off students with a pass. He glared at everyone as usual and could be heard muttering about “ruddy students” and their privileges. Once down in Hogsmeade, Hermione, Harry and Ginny lazily walked through the various stores. Many of them had stayed open during the war but had struggled. Now they were flourishing and there were even some new shops along the streets. Students were excitedly bustling in and out of the many stores completing their holiday shopping. Hermione had gone through archives and found a beautiful photo of Harry’s parents and had it framed in a custom frame. One side had lily flowers and the other had a magnificent stag standing on the edge of a ridge. For Ginny she had bought new Quiddich gloves and a book on quick easy hairstyle spells. Ginny loved to try new things with her hair, but she needed it up and out of the way because of her dream to play Quiddich. She only had Malfoy left. For him, she was still feeling clueless. What did she give him? Yes, they were friends, but what would be a good gift?

The three of the had a good time and when Harry and Ginny left to go do their own thing, Hermione noticed that it was just about time to meet with Malfoy. She had subtly tried to get Harry’s plans out of him, but he wouldn’t tell her. She did find out that they were not planning on going to the Three Broomsticks, so she and Malfoy were safe. She stepped into the pub and felt the warmth that the place always provided. Hermione made her way to one of the furthest tables in the back behind one of the Christmas trees that had been put up. Before sitting down she had grabbed two butterbeers and now sat waiting for Malfoy to turn up.

She watched the door like a hawk and finally saw his blonde hair above everyone else’s. He stopped for a moment to say something to his friend Blaise and then spotted her. As he approached the table he spoke,

“Well you certainly found the only table that barely anyone can see.” He smiled.

She nodded at him and pushed the second mug towards him.

“Thanks, so how was your day?” He asked, taking a huge gulp.
“It was good. I’ve missed hanging out with them, but…” She stopped.

Did she want to tell him how she felt?

“But what?” he prompted.
“I don’t feel close to them anymore. I barely see them and I just feel so pathetic all the time.”
“Ok, first of all. You are NOT pathetic and secondly, people sometimes drift apart. I’m not saying that you’re losing them as friends, I’m just saying that your friendship might be changing a little.”

She took a second to think about his words. Maybe he was right? Harry and Ginny still seemed happy to see her and had invited her today, but they were getting serious and now that Harry was free from the heavy responsibilities of the year before… naturally they’re friendship was changing. Hermione looked at Malfoy and cocked her head,

“How do you know these things?”
“I just do, plus look at you and I. We’re now friends.”

They chatted and Hermione caught Malfoy mentioning their friendship a few times. He always spoke about it with enthusiasm and a smile. Suddenly she knew what she wanted to get him. She rummaged in her bag and found her old cell phone. Knowing she wouldn’t be needing this anymore she transformed it into a camera.

“Take a picture with me?”
“Malfoy, take a picture with me.”

Hermione levitated the camera up and took three photos. Wizarding photos were different, so they were more like videos once you developed them, but when first taken they were only a snapshot.

“Shit, how many did you take?”
“Because my eyes were close for a second.”

She laughed.

“I took three. There’s bound to be ONE of them that you look decent in.”
“What was all that for?”
“I had an idea. Don’t judge me.”
“I’m not!” He said raising his hands in surrender.

She smiled and noticed that the pub was slowly starting to empty. Deciding to wait a little longer, she sat back and put the camera in her bag.

“What are you doing for the holidays?” Malfoy asked her.
“I’ll be going to my flat. I don’t feel right going to the Burrow.”
“Where you were living during the summer?”
“Yeah, I have a flat. What are you doing?”
“I’ll be going back to my place. I want to visit my mother, even though she probably won’t recognize me or remember.”

She’d forgotten about his mother. She admired him for going and seeing her. Hermione didn’t want to stay at the castle because she didn’t want to be left alone. Of course, she’d be alone at her flat, but she had decided to go walk around London over the holidays. They eventually stood up and separately joined the crowd making its way back to the castle. He bid her a quick good night and headed off to join Blaise at the Slytherin table. What surprised her, was that 5 minutes later, Malfoy, Zabini and Astoria Greengrass all walked over to the Gryffindor table. The whole hall fell silent.

“Mind if we join you Granger?”
“Uh… Sure?” She replied dumbfounded.

Malfoy grinned at her and sat down next to her while Blaise and Astoria sat across from her. Hermione glanced around and saw the whole hall staring and then erupted into conversation. Ron looked like he was going to blow the hall apart, Harry and Ginny looked stunned and were frowning, and the professors were actually smiling. Hermione put her head on the table and then turned it to glare at him. Malfoy smiled.

“So this is how you plan on showing you are friends with Gryffindor? You couldn’t have done it a little less obnoxiously?”
“Nope, and I figured I do it before break so everyone can get used to the idea.”
“You’re an idiot.” She said turning back to the table.

Malfoy seemed to ignore her attitude.

“Anyways, this is Blaise and Astoria, the only two people left who put up with me, except for you.”




The whole walk back to the castle Draco was thinking about her and how the day had just gone. They had both become so relaxed around each other and seemed to enjoy each other’s company, Draco felt it was time to be more outgoing. He was also beginning to think of her as Hermione instead of Granger, but verbally that habit was harder to break. He and Blaise had talked about it a few times. They were both on good terms with people from all the houses, even it was only 1 or 2 people. When he and Hermione entered the hall he nodded to her and walked over to Blaise. Making what he felt might be a rash decision, he gestured to Blaise and Astoria and they made their way back towards the Gryffindor table. As they walked, the people they passed began to quiet down and when they stopped at the red and gold table the hall fell deathly silent.

“Mind if we join you Granger?” He asked.
“Uh… Sure?”

He could tell she was shocked and he smirked a bit as she laid her head down on the table. He took the seat beside her and Blaise took Astoria to the other side.

“So this is how you plan on showing you are friends with Gryffindor? You couldn’t have done it a little less obnoxiously?” she said through her teeth as she glared at him.
“Nope, and I figured I do it before break so everyone can get used to the idea.”
“You’re an idiot.” She said turning back to the table.

He ignored her comment.

“Anyways, Blaise and Astoria are the only two people left who put up with me, except for you.”

She continued to ignore him. He smirked a little and then noticed that Potter was walking towards him.

“What do you think you’re doing Malfoy?”
“Well I’m sitting here trying to eat dinner. Is that ok, Potter?”
“No its not. Since when have you been friends with anyone in Gryffindor?”
“Since about… three weeks ago. You see, Potter, Hermione and I have become friends during our oh so lovely detentions.”

Draco watched as Harry Potter’s mouth dropped and he looked at Hermione for confirmation. Looking at Hermione, Draco was met with such a glare that his blood cooled significantly. She was going to kill him later. He shrugged.

“Hermione, is this true?”
“I… well… Yes, but after today a certain Slytherin might not still be breathing.” She hissed at him. “I’m sorry Harry, I was going to tell you.”
“Save it. We’ll talk about it later.”

Draco was surprised at just how cold Potter had gotten. He knew that Potter hated him, but why take it out on Hermione? The war hero turned to look at him again.

“If you sit here, there will likely be problems… so watch yourself. No one here is going to take your crap Malfoy.”

Potter than joined the rest of his classmates who had all moved a little further down the table. Ginny Weasley was glaring at him. Maybe this hadn’t been the best idea? But as he continued to think about it, there was no “good” time to do this. Hatred between Gryffindor and Slytherin ran deep. He looked at Hermione.

“I’m sorry. I guess maybe I should have told you?”
“Maybe? Yeah you should have? What did you think was going to happen?”

He had expected her to be angry, but she just sounded drained. This worried him even more than her anger.

“Do you think their reaction would have been any different if I’d waited or you told them?”

There was silence.

Draco glanced at Blaise who was tucking into the food and who shrugged. Astoria was looking at Hermione sadly.

“No.” Came a whisper from his side.
“No, you’re right. I don’t think they would react any better, no matter how long we wait or how they found out. I’ll deal with them.”

He nudged her should with his.

“Want to go sit with us at Slytherin?” He joked.
“Uh no thanks, I’ll take the lesser of two evils at the moment.”

He chuckled as both he and Blaise pretended to clutch their chests in pain and Astoria just rolled her eyes at them. Hermione smiled a bit and picked at the roll she had on her plate. He spooned a little broccoli & cheddar soup in a bowl and pushed it towards her. She opened her mouth, but he gave her a look. She didn’t say anything, instead she reluctantly took the bowl and stuck her tongue out at him. He shook his head and looked back at the food in front of him.

About halfway through dinner, to everyone’s surprise, Luna Lovegood came over to the Gryffindor table. The fact she was at the table wasn’t the surprise, it was the fact that she opted to sit on Hermione’s other side instead of down with Potter and Weaslette friend. Luna patted Hermione on the back and pulled an empty plate towards herself.

“I think it’s just lovely that there are Slytherin’s at this table! It really shows just how much people can change.”

Lune turned to look at him.

“You should know, Harry will not be forgiving if you have a trick in mind. Harry’s very good at finding out when people are planning something bad. Maybe that’s why Voldemort saw him as such a threat?... Pudding?”

Draco just stared at her. She was so blunt and random. This was a much better side then he had experienced last year when she was held captive in the cellar at the manor. He just nodded. He hadn’t really wanted pudding, but somehow he felt it would be rude not to take it now. Luna had turned back to Hermione and was asking her how her day in Hogsmeade had gone. Draco glanced at Blaise and saw that his friend was watching Luna with a look of confusion on his face. This made Draco laugh.

As dinner was ending, Luna drifted off telling no one in particular that she had study plans with some of her friends. He was just getting up when he saw Potter approaching.

“I’ll see you later, ok?” He said to Hermione quickly and then left with Blaise and Astoria.

The whole way back to the tower he wondered what was happening between Potter and Hermione? He really hoped that his whole dinner idea wasn’t causing her too much trouble.



After Malfoy had left, Hermione waited for Harry to catch up with her. He gestured for her to follow him, but he didn’t say anything. Great, he was pissed. He led her to an empty classroom a little ways from the Great Hall. Once the door was shut and he waved his wand, he turned to face her.

“Hermione, why?”

That was it. No yelling, no insults, just “why.” Hermione looked at the floor. How was she supposed to tell him without hurting him. How was she supposed to say that he wasn’t around for her, but Malfoy was? How was she supposed to tell the war hero that she was friends with the one person who had always tormented them? She took a deep breath,

“We’ve been spending a lot of time around each other and he’s really different this year. I have to work with him in two classes and then also in detention twice a week.”
“But Hermione he was so horrible to you.”
“He’s not anymore… We’ve talked about a lot.”
“So you talk to him, but not me?” He said looking hurt.

Hermione now had tears in her eyes. What she planned on saying calming burst out of her in a rush of words and tears,

“You and Ginny haven’t been around. You’ve both been spending time together and you have different schedules than I do. But also for the first time, you are happy. You have a chance at having a normal year without constant worry and pain. I didn’t want to put my problems on you…  I didn’t want you to have to worry about me and take time away from Ginny just to talk to me. I didn’t want to bother you.”

He stared at her.

“Hermione, I always will make time for you. I just didn’t know you needed me that much. I’m sorry. I know I don’t see you very much because of our class schedules, but don’t think that means I won’t make time to talk to you. You’re one of my best friends Hermione, don’t just go running off to talk to someone you don’t trust just because I’m busy.”
“I just started to trust him. He and George are the only two who have really been talking to me this year.”
“You talk to George?”
“Well he sends me letters and I reply.”

Harry stepped towards her and gave her a hug. More tears flowed down her face.

“I’m here Hermione. But more seriously… are you really hanging out with Malfoy?”
“Is it your own choice?”
“I don’t like it. I don’t trust him. I don’t care if he supposedly is one of the good guys who was trapped. I’d prefer it if you didn’t hang out with him.”
“Harry – “
“I know, I know… You’re going to do what you want, no matter what I say. Just be careful and don’t expect me to hang out with him too. Ginny and Ron are going to flip when I tell them.”

Hermione thought about telling him not to, but knew she had no right. Everyone in the whole school had seen what happened at dinner. He looked at her and she saw disappointment in his eyes. She knew she couldn’t have just gone on living in her illusion, but it was so much easier and she had been feeling better. The nightmares had become less frequent and for the most part she was eating a little more. Of course, it helped that she and Malfoy took turns bringing food to the community room and detentions.  

Harry put his arm around her and steered her back towards their tower more forcefully than Hermione thought was necessary. They walked in silence and she found herself wishing that she was walking with Malfoy instead. She had told George about being friends with Malfoy and he had flipped a bit, but seeing as she had been giving him consistent updates on his behavior, George had come around. He had also said he saw it coming. Hermione remembered he had also suggested the craziest thing after that… he had voiced the thought of them being more than friends, but she set him straight. She didn’t think she would ever like him like that and he certainly didn’t. He was just a friend.

They arrived at the tower and Harry gave her one last meaningful look before stepping into the bubble and speaking their password. Hermione split away from him as they entered. Harry went to go sit with Ginny and Hermione raced past them muttering about going to bed. Before she got to the staircase to her bed, she was faced with the sight of Ron and Parvati snogging each other. Guess they’re together again. She thought to herself. The sight made her want to puke. Luckily the door to the community room wasn’t in an obvious spot, so once she had grabbed what she wanted from her room and changed into more comfortable clothes, Hermione made her way quietly up the stairs to the magnificent room. She didn’t care whether Malfoy showed up or not, she just didn’t want to be around anyone who disapproved of her in some way.

She set her foot on the last step and a wave of emotion hit her like a huge gust of wind. Tears cascaded down her face and she bit her lip so hard that it bled into her mouth. Harry was irritated and disappointed with her. Ginny was bound to chew her a bit once she knew. And Ron, well Ron already sort of knew but it would just give him something else to spit out at her in the hallways out of Harry’s earshot. Hermione didn’t notice that she’d dropped her bag. She didn’t care, how could things get better? She should have just stayed in her flat and never returned to this world. Her should was leaning against the archway and her body was beginning to slid down when a pair of arms grabbed hold of her.

Hermione looked up into the face of Malfoy and found it almost funny that he was the best friend she had. He was the one she opened up to about her parents and pain. He was the one who willingly spent time with her and yet he had been the one who had treated her the worst. She felt his hand wiping away her tears and it made her realize just how much he seemed to care. Not romantically, not even close, but in friendship he cared a lot.

“Hey, what happened? Are you ok?”

She just shook her head. To her surprise, Draco scooped her up in his arms and carried her over to her huge comfy chair she always sat in. Setting her down, he then went back over and picked up her bag to bring it to her. When he dropped it, she noticed a piece of paper inside one of the pockets. Life puts more weight on the shoulders of the strong – You are Strong She traced the words and wished she could believe them, but she didn’t right now.

“What’s that? Another note?”

She nodded her head. For some reason she wanted to share this with him. She held out the paper to him. He looked at her quizzically before taking the note.

“Go on, read it.” She urged.
“Ok… ‘Life puts more weight on the shoulders of the strong – You are Strong.’”

It sounded right coming from his mouth. She closed her eyes and shifted back into the chair more. They stayed in the room for a while, but then they remembered they had missed detention. Of course, just as they noticed a note appeared with a hiss in front of each of them informing them that their detentions had now been extended into February. Hermione laughed. If only the professor knew that the reason they missed detention was because they were spending time together. Both of them just sat and talked, asking each other questions and discussing punishment records they thought were funny. Hermione didn’t give a second thought to what Harry had said about not being around Malfoy. She enjoyed her time with him.

Sunday morning brought the onslaught of Ron. Hermione had woken up refreshed, for once, and made her way down the stairs to cross the common room and head to breakfast. A certain ginger however, had other ideas.

“So now you’re spending time with the Death Eater outside of detention? What the hell is wrong with you Hermione? I thought you had better taste in friends. I guess you’ve joined his side now, judging by how dinner went last night.”

He didn’t even let her respond before he walked past her and muttered,

“You make me sick, traitor.”

They had not been friends for a while now, but it still hurt Hermione that he was so venomous to her. Harry was disappointed but didn’t let it come between them and Ginny… well Hermione wasn’t sure about her. No longer having any sort of appetite, Hermione debated on skipping breakfast but she knew that Malfoy would track her down and make her eat. When she reached the hall she sat at the very end of the table and numbly pulled a sausage plater towards her plate. A lively blonde sat down next to her as she forced herself to take a bite. She turned her gaze on him and his demeanor changed,

“What’s wrong? Did you have nightmares again?”
“No, Ron happened.”

Malfoy’s face darkened and he glared down the table searching for the red head.

“What’d he do?” He leaned in closer, “Did he hit you again?”
“No, just said a couple things.”

He didn’t say anything else, but she noticed he was a bit quieter. About halfway through his second plate and her hundredth eye-roll, he looked at her and spoke,

“Hey, I had an idea. Remember how you said you always wanted to learn how to fly?”
“SSHhhhhh… How do you even remember that? That was weeks ago.”
“Just do… well anyways, why don’t we go to the pitch and I’ll teach you.”

There was excitement in his voice. She thought about it. Was she really serious about this? Yes. Plus is meant more time with him and away from people not liking her. She nodded, but as his face lit up she held up her hand.

“But not the pitch, there’s too many people around. How about the ridge on the other side of the lake? It’s not as easily seen and we’ll still have plenty of space.”
“Fine. Meet you in… 2 hours?”

She nodded and felt excited and anxious. She was going to probably learn how to fly.


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