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“Draco!” Hermione gasped, as the silvery otter circled around them, before disappearing.

“I… can’t make it talk.” Draco said, watching Hermione’s reaction.

“You said you couldn’t do a Patronus charm!” Hermione exclaimed. “How did you manage it?”

“I practiced a lot!” Draco smirked. “There’s not much to do in Divination.”

“Still, that’s a difficult charm!” Hermione said, “Even I have trouble with it sometimes.”

“Well, I guess I just needed the right motivation.” Draco said, taking Hermione’s hand. “You are my happy memory.”

Hermione felt tears forming in her eyes, and she tried to blink them away. “It’s an otter?”

Draco nodded. “I didn’t want to make you cry!”

“Oh Draco, they’re happy tears!” Hermione laughed, wiping her eyes. “I told you! I knew you could do it.”

Draco gave Hermione a small smile, “Hermione, you make me question whether I believed any of it. I feel like I need to do something to make it right!”

“Well, I know the Order needs all the help it can get.” Hermione said. “It’ll take a bit of convincing, you understand.”

“I know.” Draco said, “I’ll do whatever they want me to do.”

Hermione met his Grey eyes, and all of the sudden she realized something had crept up on her, and she whispered, “’I was in the middle before I knew that I had begun’.”

Draco recognized the quote, and asked, “Hermione?”

“I love you Draco!” She breathed.

Draco could feel his heart pounding in his chest. He was shocked, and pulled Hermione into a tight hug.

“This is insane.” Draco said, as he held Hermione close. “It was one thing when it was one sided. When you could walk away, and not be hurt.”

’And yet, to say the truth, reason and love keep little company together nowadays’.” Hermione replied.

“So we’re going with the ‘Mischievous Fairy Spell?” Draco teased.

“Draco, it was never one sided.” Hermione explained. “You might have felt things a bit earlier than I did, but I think this was inevitable.”

“How was it inevitable?” Draco asked, leaning back to look Hermione in the eye. “You and I hated each other for years!”

“Hate is a strong emotion.” Hermione said simply. “You can’t feel strongly for people you care nothing about.”

“Well, from this point on, I’m going to spend the rest of my life making you happy!” Draco said, pulling Hermione back in. “Happy and safe. Whatever it takes.”

Hermione smiled to herself and relaxed into Draco’s shoulder. The reality of the morning, and the upcoming attempt to capture the remaining Death Eaters could wait.

Draco conjured a pile of pillows, and relaxed back into them, pulling Hermione down with him. She happily curled up against his chest, his arm around her. “Draco? What are you going to do if they lower your probation?”

“I hadn’t really let myself think about it.” Draco admitted. “Plus, I’m not really sure I want to leave the castle at Easter, even if I’m allowed.”

“Well, wherever you are is where I want to be.” Hermione said.

“Let’s get through tomorrow first.” Draco said. “I still want to help, but if you think I’m more valuable as a double agent, then I’ll stay back as planned.”

“I’ll talk to the others and see what they think.” Hermione said, yawning. “I don’t know how much I’ll be able to convince them of if we’re keeping our relationship a secret though.”

“I know.” Draco said, “And I don’t think we should change that. I know you believe that I’m different, and maybe I’m on the way to being a better person, but there are a lot of people who are justified in being hesitant to trust me.”

“We’ll get there.” Hermione smiled.

“You really think so?” Draco asked, his voice sounding skeptical. “You really think that people will forget about the past enough to accept you and I as a couple?”

“Well, if they don’t we’ll move to Australia.” Hermione teased.

Draco ran his fingers through Hermione’s hair. “I don’t ever want you to settle for less than what you deserve because of me!”

“I’m not settling.” Hermione insisted.

“We’ll see.” Draco said.

While it wasn’t their intention, Draco and Hermione drifted to sleep lying under the stars. Draco awoke when he felt Hermione growing restless in his arms. He glanced down at his watch and realized it was three in the morning, and they were way past curfew. Hermione was becoming more and more restless, but she hadn’t woken up.

I wonder if she’s having a nightmare? Draco thought.

He pulled her closer to try and comfort her, but it had the opposite effect, and she started struggling against him. Definitely a nightmare. Draco told himself, relaxing his arms and holding her loosely.

Hermione continued to struggle and began whimpering in her sleep, and finally Draco couldn’t take it and he gently shook her awake. Hermione woke up and cried out in fright, struggling to get away from Draco.

Draco released Hermione from his arms immediately, and in her half asleep state, she scrambled away from him on the blanket, before looking around and realizing where she was.

“It’s ok Hermione,” Draco said gently, reaching out a hand. “We’re at Hogwarts, we’re in the astronomy tower.”

Hermione shook her head to clear it, and took a deep breath.

“You were having a nightmare.” Draco said. It wasn’t a question.

Hermione nodded, and crawled back to the blanket. “I’m sorry, I’m not used to waking up with someone next to me.”

Draco put his arms back around Hermione, and he could feel her heart racing. “What was your dream?” He asked, almost afraid to know.

“Just… things from last year.” Hermione said vaguely.

“Were you dreaming you were back at the manor?” Draco asked.

Hermione nodded.

“I’m sorry.” Draco said, sounding devastated. “Do you still have them often?”

“Every night.” Hermione admitted, taking a calming breath. “I put a soundproofing charm around my bed, so usually no one notices. Although I think Ginny knows.”

"You really have nightmares every night?" Draco asked quietly. "What about taking the dreamless sleep potion?"

"I don't want to become dependent on a potion Draco." Hermione said quietly. "This will pass. We won't always have nightmares."

"I hope you're right." Draco said, holding Hermione even more tightly.

Hermione nodded her agreement, and snuggled into Draco's chest. He felt his heart melt as Hermione rested up against his side.

"Are you sure you don't want to go up to your dorm, Love?" Draco asked gently.

"No, we have to be up in two hours as it is." Hermione said, "I don't want to go back to a cold bed."

"Ok." Draco breathed, and he cast a charm to wake them a few hours later.

He didn't sleep again, however, he lay on the conjured blankets with his arm wrapped around Hermione as she slept against his chest.

Draco tried to absorb every moment of their time together. He knew she thought they could make it work; that the world would eventually accept them. Draco knew better, and he felt that every moment with Hermione was stolen from someone else’s happy ending. He knew that eventually, the moment would come when he would have to step away.

“I love you Hermione.” He whispered into her hair, and then thought to himself, But do I love you enough to let you go?

That morning, when Draco’s alarm went off, he gently stroked Hermione’s cheek to wake her. “Good Morning Little Dragon.”

Hermione’s eyes fluttered open, and she realized she hadn’t had any nightmares after going back to sleep. Despite only having slept for a few hours, she felt better rested than she had in weeks.

They got up, and banished the pillows. Hermione stretched, and as they were leaving, Ginny came darting up the stairs.

“Come on, you need to change before everyone else gets here.” She said, tossing Hermione a shirt and a pair of jeans, and then turning to Draco, “You always wear black, so I doubt anyone will notice you were wearing the same thing yesterday.”

“Thanks Ginny, I hadn’t thought of that.” Hermione said, ducking out the door and hurrying to the bathroom down the stairs. She quickly tossed on the clothes that Ginny had brought her, shrinking the previous evenings clothes and sticking them in her pocket.

She hurried outside and found Draco and Ginny standing in the hallway, speaking in hushed, angry tones.

“You can’t get her in trouble!” Ginny was hissing at Draco as Hermione approached him.

“I’m not trying to get her in trouble Weaslette.” Draco snapped.

“Hey, both of you stop it!” Hermione said, stepping between them. “No one is trying to get anyone else in trouble.”

“Yes, I’m sure it was your idea to stay out all night.” Ginny said rolling her eyes.

“Ginny! It wasn’t anyone’s idea.” Hermione exclaimed. “We just fell asleep.”

Ginny looked at Hermione skeptically. “Well whatever, you guys need to be more careful if you want to keep this thing under wraps.”

“Yes,” Hermione sighed, “You’re probably right about that.”

“Should we go meet the others?” Draco asked quietly.

“Yes, we’d better get to the room of requirement.” Ginny said, consulting the Marauders Map. “Harry and Ron just got here.”

“They did?” Hermione asked. “They’re early!”

“Yeah, Auror training is whipping them into shape.” Ginny agreed.

To keep their arrival a secret, the Aurors and Order Members had flooed into McGonagall’s office, and were making their way upstairs.

Hermione got to the Room of Requirement and quickly paced back and forth, setting up their DA room. When they entered, all their plans were laid out on the table.

“Looks like a war room in here.” Hermione heard Harry call, as they arrived.

“Well, it kind of is.” Hermione admitted. “Are you all ready?”

Draco hung towards the back of the room. As much as he loved Hermione, and wanted to prove himself worthy of her, he still felt uncomfortable and unwelcome in this particular group. He watched Hermione hug her friends, and begin preparations. The jeans Ginny had brought her were a pair Draco had given her as one of her daily gifts. They were magically tailored, and fit her like a glove.

Hermione caught him watching her, and she blushed. Draco winked at her, and she blushed darker before turning back to the map on the table. He wasn’t paying attention to the conversation until he heard his name.

“…Malfoy?” Harry was asking.

“Sorry,” Draco said, moving closer to the table. “What did you say?”

“I asked if you had heard anything further from the target?” Harry repeated, every inch the auror, his voice radiating authority.

“No, not since I tipped them off that this was in fact a Hogsmede weekend.” Draco replied. “To be honest, I’m surprised they didn’t ask for my assistance.”

“Yeah, I’m a little curious about that myself.” Ron said, glaring at Draco.

“Stop it Ron, he’s here to help.” Hermione snapped.

“Well, I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?” Harry said, and turning to the map, “George, are you ready with that Portable Swamp?”

“It’s all ready to go.” George said, dully. “I’ve already handed it off to Neville.”

“Ok, just a quick rundown of the timeline.” Harry said, quickly ticking off the group. “Ginny, Luna, Hermione, Neville, and Draco go to breakfast as normal. Once the students are all in the great hall, everyone but Draco leaves to get into position. Draco remains as scout at the Slytherin table. Ginny, Luna, and Hermione leave via the front doors, after which Neville deploys the swamp in the entrance hall, blocking the students either in the Great Hall, or upstairs.”

They all nodded.

“After the swamp is deployed, Neville returns here to the RoR and leaves with the remainder of the team via Arianna’s portrait. Once we are all clear, McGonagall will cancel the Hogsmede trip until the swamp can be removed. Professor Flitwick will ensure that the swamp remains in the entry hall until the entire operation is complete to keep the students out of harm.” Harry continued.

“The girls set up their charms at the front gates, while the rest of the team circles around via Hogsmede. Draco, along with Hagrid in the Great Hall will be watching for any communication outgoing from the Slytherin table. We want to know if anyone else has been contacted by the DE.” Harry finished. “Remember, if your charms activate at any point, return to Hogwarts, as the castle has been breached. Arthur will be watching the Marauders Map to ensure that the Castle remains secure.”

“Alright.” Hermione said, squaring her shoulders. “Let’s get this over with.”

Those who lived at Hogwarts, headed downstairs to breakfast, while the rest of the Order waited in the Room of Requirement.

Draco once again dropped to the back of the group, and Hermione joined him.

“What’s wrong?” Hermione whispered, once they were out of earshot of the others.

“I’m just worried about all of this.” Draco admitted, in hushed tones. “It’s a good plan, there’s just so much that can potentially go wrong. I’m worried about you, you’ll be unable to apperate from where you are.”

“I have lot’s of tricks up my sleeve.” Hermione said, with a small smile. “I’ll be fine.”

“I know, I just… I don’t want to lose you.” Draco said. “You don’t know these people like I do. They’re all evil; the ones that will be here today, they really believed the Dark… Riddle’s nonsense.”

Hermione smiled at Draco’s self correction. It was the first time he’d called Tom anything other than the Dark Lord. “I know that Draco, but I’ve been up against much worse, and we have the element of surprise.”

Draco nodded sadly. “I know, but I’m still allowed to worry.”

“Ok, but don’t let it distract you.” Hermione said gently.

“Oh, that reminds me.” Draco said, changing the subject. “I have something for you.”

“What?” Hermione asked, confused.

“Hey, I told you a gift every day.” Draco smirked. “Today is no exception.”

“I know you said that, we just have other things to worry about!” Hermione smiled.

“You might, the only thing I have to worry about is you.” Draco whispered.

Hermione blushed, and Draco slipped a tiny velvet bag into her hand. She opened the drawstrings and tipped the contents into her palm. It was a small silver charm, in the shape of a flame, encrusted with red and orange gems.

“Draco!” Hermione gasped.

“It wasn’t expensive.” Draco said, “I just wanted to give you something that you could wear every day, as the brooch isn’t exactly casual. I figured you could put it on your Order bracelet.”

Hermione nodded, and linked the charm next to the Dragon on her bracelet. She checked that everyone was walking ahead of them, before quickly giving Draco a hug.

“It’s beautiful!” Hermione gushed quietly. “But you really need to stop spending all your money on me!”

“I can’t think of a single better reason to spend money.” Draco shrugged, and then smirked. “Besides, those jeans fit you like a glove, and I enjoy the view!”

Hermione blushed bright red, and hurried to catch up with Ginny. As they made their way to the Gryffindor table, she glanced back at Draco who waggled his eyebrows at her.

“What’s got you all hot and bothered?” Ginny asked Hermione, who was still beet red from Draco’s comment.

“Draco got me a present.” Hermione said, showing Ginny the charm.

“Wow, that’s pretty ‘Mione.” Ginny said, examining the bracelet. “Is this your Order charm?”

Hermione nodded. “He said he wanted me to have something that I could wear every day, so he picked a charm that would match.”

“I’ve got to give him credit, he does give you amazing gifts.” Ginny said, raising her eyebrows. “Especially considering the fact that you are so not dating him for his money.”

“I think that’s why he likes buying me things.” Hermione admitted. “I just wish I could reciprocate.”

“Didn’t you reciprocate last night?” Ginny asked, prodding Hermione with her elbow.

“What?” Hermione asked, and then figured out what Ginny was saying. “No! Ginny, for Merlin’s sake, we fell asleep. That’s it.”

“Well I’ll believe it, but many wouldn’t.” Ginny smirked. “Come on, that’s the signal.”

Hagrid had “accidentally” tipped over the head table, drawing the attention of the students, and letting the girls and Neville slip out of the Great Hall. Draco watched them leave looking worried.

“Ok, off you go.” Neville said, pulling the Portable Swamp out of his bag.

“See you on the other side.” Luna said, as the girls disillusioned themselves, and slipped out the front door.

As they left, they heard Neville yell as he set off the swamp.

Hermione picked her way carefully down the hill. Fortunately, as they approached spring, most of the snow had melted from the grounds and they were able to move without leaving many footprints.

They set up camp by the front gates, and Hermione threw up all her usual protective enchantments, as well as anti-apperation spells.

They were expecting the Aurors and the rest of the Order to circle around through Hogsmede and drive and Death Eaters who weren't already there, towards the front of the castle.

After what seemed like an eternity, they saw a group running through the trees. As they got closer, the girls saw the Order in hot pursuit.

“Here we go!” Ginny said, bouncing up and down, wand in hand.

They pushed the gates open, and burst out to cut off the wizard’s escape. There were six men in the small clearing, and they were surrounded.

“There’s no point in trying anything.” Harry called to the group. “We’ve got you surrounded and outnumbered.”

“Piss off Potter!” Hissed a man with a long dark beard.

Spells flew in every direction. Hermione ran around the side of the group, trying to dodge curses.

Slowly, but surely, they had managed to disarm most of the men.

As they closed in on the last two, one of them hit Kingsley with the Sectrasumpra curse and he went down.

“Kingsley!” Hermione cried, and hurried over to him, throwing spells behind her as she ran.

All hell broke loose, as spells suddenly came at them from the bushes, and trees where they weren’t expecting them.

“There’s more of them in the trees!” Ron yelled.

“Someone cover Hermione!” Ginny yelled from across the clearing.

“I’ve got her!” Luna cried from somewhere behind her.

It was complete chaos, as Hermione threw herself on the ground next to Kingsley. Keeping her body low, she tried repeated charms to heal the multitude of cuts that had opened on Kingsley’s body.

“‘Mione!” Harry yelled as he passed her. “Vulnera Sanentur!”

Hermione nodded and copied the incantation. She breathed a quick sigh of relief as she saw the blood stop pouring out of Kingsley’s body. She repeated the incantation, and saw the gashes close themselves. “Kingsley?” She asked quickly.

“Good as new Hermione!” Kingsley said, trying to sit up.

“Not a chance!” Hermione said, and she quickly charmed a knut that was in her pocket into a portkey. “You’re going to Mungos!” She pressed the portkey into Kingsley’s hand, and he disappeared.

Hermione jumped up, and got her bearings. “Stupefy!” She shouted as a Death Eater crossed her path.

She quickly muttered the charm to bind him in ropes, but as she turned around, she was hit with a stunner herself and blacked out.

Authors note:

The books quoted in this chapter are A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare and Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin.

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