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"I still can't believe that you know how to dance properly." Hermione said with a smile.

"Of all the potentially shocking things about me, the fact that I know how to dance is the one you latch on to?" Draco said with a laugh.

"Do you know other dances besides the waltz?" Hermione asked.

"Sure, which one do you want to do?" Draco asked.

"I don't even know." Hermione laughed. "The tango?"

"Mmmm, that one's a bit hard with an inexperienced partner." Draco laughed. "What about swing?"

"Swing dancing?" Hermione giggled.

"Sure!" Draco said, and then quickly twisted Hermione around him, and then picked her up and swung her around his back.

Hermione shrieked and grabbed Draco around the neck as soon as he finished the complicated move.

Draco burst out laughing, "Ok maybe not swing."

"I like to keep my feet on the ground thank you." Hermione said.

"Hmmm, so what are your thoughts on flying?" Draco teased, pulling Hermione in close.

"Not favourable!" Hermione cried.

"Well then it's probably good that we can't exactly go circle the Quidditch pitch." Draco laughed, and leaned down to kiss Hermione.

Just at that moment the door to the classroom opened, and Ginny burst in.

"Busted." She said, shutting the door behind her.

"Ginny!" Hermione cried. "What are you doing here."

"Looking for you." Ginny said, with a smirk. "McGonagall is trying to find you, she wants to give you a plaque or something. I told her you turned your ankle and went to change your shoes."

"Oh." Hermione said, looking a bit like a deer in headlights. "Well, thanks?"

"I figured, better me than her." Ginny said, and then she glanced at Draco and back to Hermione. "So I guess you did like snogging him."

"Ginny!" Hermione turned bright red. "Seriously!"

"Seriously... so you two." Ginny asked, putting her hands on her hips. "What's the deal."

Draco seemed frozen. Hermione glanced up at him, and then back to Ginny. "You can't tell anyone."

"Yeah, no kidding." Ginny said, rolling her eyes. "Do you have any idea what Ron and Harry would do to him if they found out."

"Ginny please, you can't say anything. Not even to Harry." Hermione pleaded.

"I won't..." Ginny said, looking back to Draco. "For now. I'll reevaluate if needed."

"What does that mean?" Hermione snapped.

"It means, as long as he doesn't hurt you, I won't sic the Aurors on him." Ginny said. "You'd better get downstairs, before someone else comes looking."

Draco still hadn't spoken, Hermione squeezed his hand and said, "Hey! You ok?"

He looked from Ginny to Hermione, and then said softly, "I'm fine. Go get your plaque, and I'll see you later."

"Ok, where will you be?" Hermione asked.

"Our library." He said, leaning down and kissing Hermione, before stalking out the door, his dress robes billowing in a very Snapeish manner.

"Not a man of many words, is he?" Ginny pointed out.

"Well of course not." Hermione said with a scowl. "You scared him to death coming in here. How'd you find us anyway?"

Ginny pulled the Marauders Map out from behind her back. "When you disappeared I figured you were looking for something a little more... interesting?"

"But you didn't come up until now?" Hermione asked.

"Well, you said that you and Malfoy have been talking frequently, and he hasn't killed you yet." Ginny pointed out. "Plus, you were just sitting in the corner for like an hour."

"You really won't say anything?" Hermione asked.

"'Mione," Ginny sighed. "I'm not going to say that I think this is a good idea, but honestly, I think you need to do something to get yourself out of the depression you've been in. If snogging Malfoy in empty classrooms is what does the trick, who am I to judge?"

"I haven't been in a depression!" Hermione argued.

"You have." Ginny said. "And it's understandable, we all have. You just seem to be taking a bit longer to come 'round."

Hermione looked at the ground. "You might be right."

"I am right." Ginny grinned. "Now come on, McGonagall really does want to give you a plaque."

The two girls left the class and made their way back to the Great Hall. No one questioned where Hermione had disappeared to, and she quickly accepted her plaque for "Services to the School", and escaped without having to make another speech.

Ginny left with her as the rest of the students continued to enjoy the dance. "Are you going to go meet him?

"Of course." Hermione said, then looked down at her gown. "Do you think I should change first?"

Ginny laughed, "No Hermione. I guarantee he likes the way you look."

"Ok." Hermione said uncertainly.

"Just go 'Mione." Ginny said, rolling her eyes. "But please be careful. Send a patronus if you need... anything."

"You mean if Draco tries to kill me?" Hermione scoffed.

"Yes, exactly." Ginny said, and headed back into the Hall.

Hermione was about to head to the Library, when she remembered that Draco had specified that he was going to their library. She changed directions, and headed to the room of requirement.

She found Draco sitting on the leather sofa, his robe discarded on a coat rack he must have summoned, and he had loosened his tie and rolled up his sleeves.

"You look much more comfortable." Hermione said, as she slipped into the room.

Draco looked up and smiled, closing the book he was reading. "Well, they may look nice, but dress robes aren't the most comfortable."

"Too bad, because they do make you look quite dashing." Hermione agreed. "I haven't seen you roll your sleeves like that in a few years."

Draco looked down at his partially visible Dark Mark. "Does it bother you?"

"No." Hermione said, with a small smile. "Actually, I'm glad that you feel comfortable enough around me to not worry so much about it."

Draco looked at Hermione for a moment, appraising her, and then said, "Are we going to have trouble with Weaslette?"

"Ginny." Hermione corrected. "And no, she promised not to say anything. She thinks I'm going through some sort of Post Traumatic Reaction."

"That would explain a lot." Draco said thoughtfully.

"Draco." Hermione sighed.

"I know, I know... you know what you're doing." Draco said, holding his hands up in truce.

"Thank you." Hermione said, smiling smugly. "What do you want to do now?"

"Well, we could finish our game of 20 questions?" Draco suggested. "I was rather enjoying the last one, and we only made it through about 4 questions."

"Ok!" Hermione said, sitting next to Draco on the sofa.

"Are you comfortable in this thing?" Draco asked, tugging on her skirts. "I mean, don't get me wrong, I could stare at you all day dressed like that, but it looks uncomfortable."

"Well, I'm a bit chilly, but other than that I'm fine." Hermione said, and then moved to kick off her shoes and unpin her Order of Merlin sash. "Well, actually, once I take off these I'll be fine."

As she took off her shoes, Draco summoned his robe from the coatrack, and draped it over Hermione's shoulders.

"Thanks." She said, tucking her feet up under the giant skirt and snuggling into Draco's robe.

"Sure." Draco said, with an odd look in his eye.

"What?" Hermione asked.

"Sorry, I just... I'm having trouble believing this is real." Draco said honestly, "That you're sitting here with me, wearing my robe, and you seem completely content."

"I am content." Hermione said with a smile, and leaned into Draco's shoulder. "I think it's your turn to ask a question."

"What happens after Hogwarts?" Draco asked.

"That's your question?" Hermione asked.

"Yes. I mean, seeing each other while we're here is one thing. You're essentially just down the hall." Draco said. "But what about after we leave school?"

"I don't know." Hermione said honestly. "I don't know what I want to do with my life, and I'd imagine that will dictate a lot, like where I would live."

"You know, at some point, we're going to have to make a choice." Draco said. "Either to go our separate ways, or go public."

"I know." Hermione said." Turning her head to meet Draco's eye. "What do you want to happen after Hogwarts?"

Draco laughed. "I want to not go back to Azkaban."

"Ok, but seriously, think beyond that." Hermione said. "Say you complete your probation successfully, what do you want to do?"

"I've honestly never thought about a career." Draco said. "Malfoys don't work."

"Oh, right." Hermione said. "Silly question."

"No, not silly." Draco said. "And something I should probably consider. The ministry froze all of my parent's assets, and I don't know if they'll ever release to me."

"Well then how did you pay for that brooch? And the dress!?" Hermione cried.

"My trust fund." Draco replied, and then laughed. "Which would be more than enough to live on for the rest of my life, if I'm not trying to maintain Malfoy Manor, and bribe public officials."

"What will happen to the Manor?" Hermione asked softly. "Will you go home after you leave school?"

Draco put an arm around Hermione and squeezed, "If I do, I promise I'll never make you come with me."

Hermione nodded. "Thank you."

Draco kissed the top of her head, and said, "Tell me something about yourself that no one would believe!"

"Hmmm, besides the fact that I'm seeing Draco Malfoy, Prince of Darkness?" Hermione teased.

"Yes, besides that." Draco laughed.

"I want to get a tattoo." Hermione admitted.

"Really?" Draco was surprised. "Of what?"

"I can't decide." Hermione said, "But I want it to mean something. Of course, I'm rather scared of needles, so I don't know if I'll ever work up the courage to do it."

"I wouldn't have guessed that!" Draco said honestly.

"No? Hermione asked. "Why not?"

"Well, now that I think about it, I really don't know." Draco chuckled, "Because the more I learn about you the more that I realize that you're kind of a bad ass."

"Not in those shoes." Hermione joked, pointing at the extra girly stilettos.

"Especially in those shoes." Draco said seriously. "You're quite intimidating in that getup. Gorgeous, but intimidating."

Hermione rolled her eyes, "There's nothing intimidating about me."

"On the contrary Your Highness, you are exceedingly intimidating." Draco said.

"Well you would know, you picked the whole outfit." Hermione teased. "I should let you pick my clothes out from now on."

"I would be ok with that." Draco teased. "I'll buy you a whole new wardrobe."

"There's nothing wrong with my wardrobe!" Hermione insisted.

"Ok, can I still buy you one?" Draco asked.

"Do not spend all your money on me!" Hermione cried.

Draco chuckled. "Well, at least I know you're not dating me for my money."

"Of course I wouldn't do that!" Hermione snapped.

"Easy there Little Dragon, I know that." Draco laughed. "I meant that by saying that you truly don't understand that money isn't an issue."

"Little Dragon?" Hermione asked.

"Yes." Draco said, sounding satisfied. "I think it suits you: beautiful and powerful, with the potential to spit fire."

"Spit fire?" Hermione cried.

"Yep." Draco said with a grin. "It's not a bad thing, even the prophet compares you to dragons occasionally."

"Yes, Ginny pointed that out to me." Hermione said, dryly. "This is why I don't read the prophet anymore."

Draco chuckled, and kissed Hermione again. "Ok Little Dragon, it's your turn."

Hermione rolled her eyes, realizing that Draco wasn't going to drop the nickname. "What is your favorite book?"

Draco thought for a moment and then replied, "'The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human characters'.”

"You're telling me that your favorite book is Pride and Prejudice?" Hermione asked, surprised.

"Sure! Handsome, rich guy falls for the pretty, clever girl... but only after they both drive each other nearly crazy?" Draco laughed. "Seems rather lifelike to me."

"You left off the part of that quote though." Hermione pointed out.

"I did." Draco agreed, “'There are few people whom I really love and still fewer of whom I think well'.”

"Is that true?" Hermione queried.

"There is one person in the world that I love." Draco said.

"Who is that?" Hermione asked?

"I'll tell you sometime." Draco said, and then thought, when I'm not being such a chicken.

"Not now?" Hermione asked?

"Well, it's a rather long story, and I'm assuming you don't want to be out past curfew?" Draco asked.

"It's not curfew yet?" Hermione asked, and then grabbed Draco's hand to check his watch. "Merlin, how is it already midnight?!"

She jumped up and starting putting on her shoes. Draco laughed, and rolled his sleeves back down. "Come on Little Dragon, you'll be fine. The ball just ended, which means everyone is just loitering in the hall."

Hermione untangled herself from Draco's robes, and handed them back. He slipped back into them, and then took Hermione's Order of Merlin sash, which she had bunched up and was going to carry back to the tower.

"No Hermione," Draco said, smoothing the riband and gently draping it over her head, before carefully pinning it to her shoulder with the brooch he had bought her. "Be proud of this."

Hermione smiled sadly, and hugged Draco. "Back to reality?"

"Back to reality." He nodded.






Author's note:

The book quoted in this chapter is Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.

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