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“So, explain me how you ended up being carried around the castle by Malfoy?” Ginny asked. 

They were sitting in the hospital wing, eating dinner off trays. Madame Pomfrey had insisted that Hermione remain there until bedtime to ensure she didn’t re-injure her newly healed ankle, and she had begged that Ginny be allowed to stay with her.

“Well, I fell off that ladder in the Room of Requirement, getting down from Ariana’s portrait.” Hermione explained, “I was trying to make my way downstairs, but I only managed to make it a little ways into the hall, and Draco found me sitting at the foot of that statue of a knight near the entrance.”

“Yeah, that part I understand.” Ginny said with a smirk, “What I don’t understand is the timeline. We wandered around Hogsmede for quite a while after you left. I even bought you a new quill.”

“Well I don’t know how long I was sitting there before Malfoy found me.” Hermione said.

“‘Mione, you’re wearing a watch.” Ginny pointed out.

Hermione took an overly large bite of her Shepard’s Pie to avoid responding.

Ginny just waited patiently, and when Hermione had finished her pie, she asked again. “Really Hermione, what happened? You’ve been so distant this year. I feel like you’re always hiding somewhere.”

Hermione mumbled something. 

“What was that?” Ginny pressed.

“I said we were talking.” Hermione hissed.

“You and Malfoy?” 

“Yes, he… he smelled the fire whiskey on my breath, and knew he couldn’t bring me straight here.” She explained.  

“So, you just had a friendly chat for a few hours, with a Death Eater?” Ginny asked, incredulous. 

“Well, it’s not really the first time we’ve talked.” Hermione admitted, staring at her empty tray.

“Oh no?” Ginny asked, “When have you been talking to Malfoy? And for Merlin’s Sake, what about?” 

“It’s been… weird.” Hermione admitted. “I keep running into him in random places, and we have these very intense conversations, that usually consist of a lot of quotes from books. And he’s even somewhat nice to me, and then all of the sudden he’ll clam up and slink off.” 

“Hermione, he’s a Death Eater.” Ginny pointed out gently.

“I… I know that.” Hermione replied, “He reminds me of that, quite frequently actually.”

“He reminds you that he’s a Death Eater?” Ginny asked, “What, does he think you could forget?”

“No, it’s more like he’s reminding himself.” Hermione admitted. “He’ll say something particularly nice to me, and follow it up with some horrific story about his past.”

Ginny didn’t know what to say to that, so she just nodded.

“He told me he think’s I’m brave.” Hermione whispered.

"He said that?" Ginny asked? "In what context?"

"Um, we were talking about the war. We usually talk about the war." Hermione said, still speaking softly so that Madame Pomfrey wouldn't overhear. "He actually apologized for everything that happened at his house, for what Bellatrix did to me. And then he said he thought I was brave." 

Ginny's eyes bugged out. "He apologized to you?"

"I know, I was surprised too." Hermione said, "and then of course, after he said that clammed up again. He quoted Dracula, and then disappeared."

"He quoted Dracula... you mean that muggle vampire book?" Ginny asked. "What on earth did that have to do with anything?"

"He just, quoted the book." Hermione said, cagily. 

"'Mione, what did he say?" Ginny pressed.

"He said that I'm the light in the darkness." Hermione said, blushing.

"Merlin!" Ginny gushed, "'Mione, I think he actually does have feelings for you. I was just teasing you earlier today, but I think I might be right!" 

Hermione didn't say anything, instead she busied herself with hovering her dinner tray over to a table out of the way.

"Hermione Granger!" Ginny exclaimed. "What aren't you telling me? What else have you talked about?”

“Um, we talked about life after Hogwarts, and a lot about the war. He explained about his probation, and we compared arm decor.” Hermione said, rubbing her arm sadly.

“Arm decor? You mean your scar?” Ginny pressed. “Did he actually show you his Dark Mark?”

“Yes, he did.” Hermione said, “We actually talked about it for a while.”

“How’d you get on that subject?” Ginny was shell shocked.

“Um, well, I… Ginny, you have to take this to the grave!” Hermione demanded. “I mean it, no telling Luna or Neville or Harry… especially not Harry!”

“Ok, I won’t tell.” Ginny said. “I promise.”

“He kissed me.” Hermione whispered.

“WHAT!?” Ginny shrieked. 

“Shhhhh, you promised!” 

“I know I promised, but Hermione, he kissed you?” Ginny hissed, “He’s a Death Eater!” 

“I know that! Besides, he stopped kissing me before it went very far.” Hermione pointed out, “He said he could taste the Fire Whiskey I drank this afternoon, and he said he doesn’t take advantage of inebriated women, so he stopped.”

“He could taste the Fire Whiskey?” Ginny said, raising her eyebrows.

“That's what he said.” Hermione exclaimed. “He quoted Little Women, and Shakespeare, and he kissed me.”

“If he could taste Fire Whiskey, he must have had his tongue in your mouth.” Ginny said, matter of factly.

“I am done with this conversation.” Hermione said, crossing her arms. 

“Oh no you’re not!” Ginny cried. “You snogged Malfoy, and I think you liked it!” 

Just then, Madame Pomfrey came over to released Hermione, with strict instructions not to do any climbing in the near future.

The two girls hurried out of the Hospital Wing and back towards Gryffindor Tower.

“So, did you like it?!” Ginny demanded, as they made their way up the stairs. 

“Yes, I bloody liked it.” Hermione snapped. “But it doesn’t matter, I don’t think he’ll do it again. Before we came back downstairs, he said that he’s evil and I shouldn’t spend time with him.” 

“Merlin’s Saggy Boxers, you’re not kidding?” Ginny’s eyes were bugging out of her head. “Is Malfoy a good kisser?”

“Well I don’t exactly have much to compare it to.” Hermione pointed out.

“Not true, you’ve snogged Viktor.” Ginny said, and then got an evil look in her eye. “And you snogged my brother.”

“How did you know?” Hermione cried. 

“Ron told Harry, Harry told me.” Ginny said, with a shrug.

“Good lord, no bloody privacy anywhere in the Wizarding World is there?” Hermione said, rolling her eyes. “Funny Ron was able to discuss it with Harry, but hasn’t mentioned it to me.” 

“Oh you know Ron,” Ginny said, “He’s crap when it comes to emotional stuff.”

“Yeah, I know.” Hermione sighed. “I think we both just got caught up in the whole ‘what if we die tonight’ situation during the battle. And I never snogged Viktor, who said I snogged Victor?”

“Um, everyone?” Ginny pointed out.

“Ugh, no, we never had that kind of relationship.” Hermione insisted. 

“Hold up,” Ginny said, “So you’re telling me that your first kiss was my brother, in the middle of the Battle of Hogwarts.”

“Yes,” Hermione said, shrugging.

“Well that makes him a bigger Git then!” Ginny said angrily.

“Oh Ginny, it doesn’t really matter.” Hermione said. “Honestly, I’m just ready for the awkwardness between us to go away.”

“So what are you going to do about Malfoy?” Ginny gently pressed.

“I don’t know.” Hermione shook her head. “Probably nothing, he’s so… sure he’s not good enough for me. I don’t know if I’ll even get him to talk to me again.”

“Well he’s right,” Ginny said. “He’s not good enough for you.”

“Ok, but isn’t the fact that he’s the one insisting that he’s not good enough kind of a sign that he’s changed?” Hermione pointed out.

“Yeah, I guess so.” Ginny replied, thoughtfully. “But honestly Hermione, if you are interested in him, how do you see that working? I mean, he’s a Death Eater, and you’re Hermione Granger, Princess of Light? Everyone would freak!”

“Ugh, don’t call me that!” Hermione groaned. “Seriously, I should write the Prophet and demand a retraction!”

“Ok, yes it’s a stupid nickname, but you see my point?” Ginny replied.

“Yes, Ginny… I get it.” Hermione snapped. “Good guys and bad guys can’t be friends.”

“I’m just trying to be the voice of reason here,” Ginny said, “Do you really want to be the one everyone stares at because you’re dating the enemy?”

“No, I want people to let me live my life in peace.” Hermione rolled her eyes. “Honestly, I would love to open the Prophet without seeing my name plastered all over it.”

"'Mione, that's not going to happen anytime soon." Ginny grinned. "Just embrace it. You know they're talking about fiving oyu three an Order of Merlin."

 “Yes, I’m aware.” Hermione sighed. “Well, Dumbledore seemed to be able to do his own thing eventually after the whole Grindelwald fiasco, so maybe there’s hope for the future.” 

 “I think that’s the one thing we can count on.” Ginny smiled. “Hope for the future.”




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