Hermione woke the next morning disoriented. The room she was in was quite different from the one she’d woken up in for most of the past year. Slowly the realization that she was at Hogwarts came to her, leading to more hazy confusion as she looked at the silky green bed set. Am I somehow in the wrong house? That’d be a new one . . . Running the soft fabric through her fingers, she stared in fascination at the almost black fabric. As the first of the morning haze faded, she realized she wasn’t in the Gryffindor dorms – Or Slytherin thank Merlin, but instead her room in the Heads dorm. Relaxing back into the cloud of pillows, she delightedly surveyed her room. Despite being exhausted from the trip yesterday, she had taken a few minutes to personalize her room after getting ready for bed the night before.
Everything in the room had been dark wood and black leather, much like the common room downstairs. Hermione had changed the bed set and curtains to her favorite color before transforming the dresser into a large, uncarved wardrobe colored black and charming the desk to match. Pictures of her with her family and friends covered the wall above her desk and she’d hung large black and white pictures on either side of her bay window after charming the floor to look like black marble. It reminded her strongly of her room at her parents’ house – something that made her smile, despite the homesick feeling. Climbing from her bed and the vanilla colored sheets, she stretched slowly as she made her across the room and down the stairs to the kitchenette.
“Good morning,” she sort of smiled at Draco who was peering inside their fridge. She was determined to get along with him, maybe even create a tenuous friendship. They’d never gotten along at Number 12, but perhaps back at school, in territory that was familiar to them both, he could drop the defensive wall he’d perfected and let a bit of cordialness in. And maybe you could try harder to not be so judgmental. Not that she’d ever admit it to anybody, but she knew she had a tendency to judge others harshly.
He looked up, an eyebrow raised, presumably at her smile, before nodding at her. Shrugging – You can’t make him be nice, Hermione – she put the kettle on to boil before digging through the drawers, looking for a knife to cut fruit with.
“Third drawer on the left.”
Hermione looked up, shocked. She hadn’t expected him to be paying the slightest attention to what she was doing, “Thanks. Tea?”
“Please,” he responded, again surprising her, this time with his politeness.
She smiled over her shoulder at him as she cut peaches up, waiting on the kettle to boil. Maybe this nice thing will work out after all.
Draco sat down at their small table, watching Hermione cut the fruit, humming softly to herself as she did. The tune sounded familiar, but he couldn’t place it no matter how hard he tried. He was surprised by his counterpart. She was wearing her pajamas, clearly just out of bed despite it being already ten. But it was more the type of pajamas she was wearing that was unusual. While at Number 12, she’d favored flannels and robes the few time he’d glimpsed her in her night clothes. She wore almost inappropriately short shorts and a matching tee shirt that showed an inch or so of abdomen. In black silk, like the dress the other day. She stretched to reach the tea cups in the upper cabinets, and Draco forced his eyes away – coloring awkwardly at the way her shorts shifted up.
It wasn’t the first time he’d found his thoughts drifting in this direction. His year and a half at Number 12 had been filled with uncomfortable (on his part) instances with the curly haired girl. Although none of them had involved her and pajamas. They’d usually happened when they’d have to meet about whatever was going on. Once, they’d gotten trapped in a closet together on a mission to his house and he thought he might implode from all of the tension. He’d always been fascinated with her. After all, she was the only person in the year that was got better marks than him - a point that had been a source of contention with his father. Not that Draco cared too much what his father would think these days. To tell the truth, he hadn’t since he was twelve. His thoughts were interrupted when she set down a cup in front of him before padding out of the kitchen in her bare feet.
Silently summoning an apple, he ate slowly, getting a head start on his potions book. He wasn’t sure how long had passed, but he looked up from his book when Hermione walked back into the kitchen. Hhhmmm. The white tee shirt dress she wore now made her look surprisingly tan – Almost as tan as Blaise – and she tamed her wild curls into a long braid down her back. He went back to reading as she rummaged in the fridge.
He looked up, uncertain what she meant.
With a look like he’d seen her give Harry and Weasel numerous times, she elaborated, “Our meeting with McGonagall? I assumed we could walk down together since we’re both here.”
Right. Draco hadn’t realized he’d lost so much time reading. As he placed a bookmark in between the pages, he realized he was almost halfway through his text.
“Of course,” he made certain to keep his voice level.
He cleared his tea dishes and followed her to the portrait hole. He noticed she carried paper and a quill, presumably for notes. Smirking to himself, he mentally laughed at the serious bookworm. The silence was uncomfortable, but he wasn’t sure how to break it without being awkward. This was always his problem with her. He’d been trying to find a way to get on better footing with her since he had openly switched his support from the Dark Lord to The Order. He’d secretly supported them since he was thirteen, but had taken years to get enough guts to openly defy everything he’d been taught.
“Do you think,” Granger’s voice was hesitant, “that the headmistress would agree to let us host an event at the end of the year? Perhaps to celebrate the reopening of Hogwarts?”
Draco almost smiled down at her – almost. It was a splendid idea, “Why not the beginning of the year?”
Her head snapped up, meeting his gaze, “Lovely!”
Hermione stopped and he automatically followed suit, unsure of why they were stopping until he saw her turn and knock rapidly on a nondescript door only adorned with a plaque reading ‘Headmistress’. Draco found he liked this much better than Dumbledore’s ridiculous spiraling staircase. Once bid entry, he followed her inside and took the seat next to her in front of McGonagall’s desk.
“Mr. Malfoy, Mrs. Granger, I’m pleased to note your joint arrival.” She paused as they both shifted in their seats. “Our main goal this year – aside from learning, of course – is school unity. Since the founding of Hogwarts, the houses have been rivals, but it quickly grew past mere school rivalry, culminating in both Wizarding Wars. We have an opportunity to demonstrate to your peers and generations older than you that we can move past the political and social issues that have separated us – it has to start now. You will plan and host three school events with the sole purpose of house unification.”
Hermione raised her hand, Draco’s suggestion floating around in her mind.
“Yes, Ms. Granger?”
She shifted, glancing quickly at Draco, “During the walk here, we came up with the idea to host an event celebrating the reopening of Hogwarts in the near future.”
“Perhaps,” Draco began, “we could invite alumnus.”
“Excellent!” McGonagall beamed at the two of them, clearly pleased with their idea. “I expect you to meet with the prefects and organize this accordingly. I wish to meet with you again on Friday; please have a date and theme for me.”
Both Hermione and Draco understood that as their cue to leave and rose simultaneously, “Yes, headmistress.”
After shutting the door firmly behind them, Hermione turned to Draco, “When would be the best time to set a prefect meeting for you?”
They walked a few moments in silence before he answered, “I have no other commitments this year outside of classes; my schedule is open.”
“You aren’t Quidditch captain anymore?” Hermione kept her face passive, but she was confused. She knew he enjoyed the sport; he read many books on the subject and kept up with it via newspapers – even the American teams – during his stay at Number 12.
He laughed bitterly, “No, no I am not captain anymore and they made it very clear what they would try to do to me should I show up for tryouts.”
“I am more than capable of taking care of myself,” his smirk was filled with more bitterness than his laugh.
Impulsively, she stepped in front of him, “I know that, Malfoy. As do they. They only thing that this shows them is that you are unwilling to take care or standup for yourself. What you did was the right thing and I know that not all Slytherins vehemently supported Voldemort, but the ones that did have to be shown that we are not going to tolerate their blindness. If you don’t go to those auditions, they win.”
“Tryouts, Granger. Tryouts,” He stressed each syllable, sounding very much like Harry and Ron when she inadvertently misused a sports word.
“I never knew Draco Malfoy to not fight for what he wanted,” Hermione stared up at Draco, intent on getting her point across.
“I don’t have to prove anything anymore.”
“Only to yourself.”
He simply stared back until she threw her hands up, exasperated, and walked off. If he wants to spend the year not doing what he loves, so be it! I’m not his mother! I’m not even sure why I care so much . . . Hermione headed to the pitch where she knew Harry, Ginny, and the rest of the Gryffindor hopefuls were practicing drills. Their auditions – No, tryouts – were in the morning. Harry had had McGonagall send a notice out with each Gryffindor letter informing the house when they were so anybody that wanted to tryout wouldn’t be caught off guard. Settling in the stands next to Luna, she unwillingly noticed that Lavender had decided to watch Ron practice. Anytime he even came close to a ball – Harry would flip if he knew I never quite got the names of those darned things – she stood to cheer, waving her hands in the air and screaming all sorts of things.
“Lovey day, isn’t it? Too bad about the nargles though.”
Hermione just smiled at Luna; it was nice that some people never let society mold them into something else, “The nargles, Luna?”
“You didn’t hear?” She gestured to the Quibbler lying at her feet, “They’ve had a terrible year – infected mistletoe crops dying out, you know.”
“No, I didn’t know. How terrible,” Hermione turned her attention back to her flying peers as Luna started intently at a spot several inches above the goal posts.
The drills soon ended and the team landed, Hermione started to stand in order to meet them on the field, but Harry waved his arms and shouted a bit and the Gryffindors began trotting around the field. Harry shouted a bit more and they broke into a sprint. Rolling her eyes, Hermione bid Luna goodbye and headed back to the castle. Obviously something had not gone right during drills and Harry would be spend the next hour or so putting the team through various exercises meant to boost stamina and strength. It was something he’d been working on for the last few years, and surprisingly enough, while Draco was staying with The Order, he had joined Harry in his daily workouts. Perhaps that was why Harry hadn’t said anything negative about the blonde being made Head Boy. Maybe he knew on some level that Draco had changed.
Settling under one of the trees by the black lake, Hermione spread her parchment out and began working on a notice for the first prefect meeting. Deciding that the sooner they meet the better, she scheduled a breakfast meeting for the next morning in their dorm. Nine thirty should be late enough . . . of course, then I’ll have to get up earlier. With a sigh, she duplicated her announcement and headed to the owlry to send them. She knew she could send them by magic or even by House Elf, but this would give the birds something to do.
Harry tried to ignore the feeling that he was being watched, but couldn’t. Caving, he glanced around the castle grounds, but only saw the Gryffindors from tryouts trudging back to the caste in front of him. Checking to make sure Ginny was still talking to a third year – Katherine something, a great chaser she’d make – Harry turned and headed back toward the pitch, needing to clear his mind. Tossing his kit and broom by one of the goal posts, Harry stretched his sore muscles before breaking into a slow, easy jog. On his third lap, he saw the watcher – Draco Malfoy. He stood in the shadows by the Slytherin locker room, his broom nowhere in sight, but dressed as if he were going to be practicing. Slowing to a stop in front of the other man, Harry stared at him, waiting for a response. When none came, he shrugged and went back to jogging. Draco fell into step with him. Harry lost track of how many laps around the pitch the two completed, but when he couldn’t take anymore, he flopped down on the ground by his things.
“Checking out the competition?”
Draco smirked down at him from where he stood, hands on his head, breathing labored, “They don’t want me as captain.”
“Who cares? What your house wants is to win – Burghley offered you the captainship because he knows you can win.”
“I dunno, your team looks like it’ll be stacked either way.”
Harry couldn’t help but grin, “I know! They’re all brilliant this year – even Ron’s improved tremendously.”
Draco laughed at Harry’s obvious relief, “He needed to!”
Gathering his things, Harry started back to the castle with Draco beside him chatting amicably about Quidditch and different plays they wanted to run as captains. They’d become friends of a sort while Draco was at Number 12, although they hadn’t been very vocal about it. But, they’d had too much in common to stay enemies. Harry often wondered how different Draco’s life would have been if Harry had accepted his friendship first year or had let the hat sort him into Slytherin.
“Switching teams now, Malfoy?”
They hatred filling those words startled Harry and he stopped to see a group of Slytherins standing at the top of the stairs leading to the great hall. Harry vaguely recognized two of them, but the other four he hadn’t run into before.
“Harper,” Draco’s voice was cold, filled to the brim with haughty, Malfoy disdain for somebody less than him. Harry had heard it directed at him and his friends countless times in the past, though never to this degree of icy hate. Draco continued up the stairs, obviously not caring about the glares from his housemates. Harry ignored them as well, following behind Draco.
“I don’t know where you think you’re going,” the one Draco addressed as Harper said, stepping in front of him. “We have some things to workout. First of all, blood traitor filth like you and your new friends don’t belong in my castle. Secondly, I-”
“Don’t be absurd, Harper. We have nothing to work out because your views are antiquated and frankly, irrelevant. As are you,” Harry tried to look as stunned as he felt; Draco’s voice had managed to drop in warmth.
Harper and his lackeys laughed, “The Rouges will prove you wrong, Malfoy. That name can’t protect you anymore. Nothing can!” Pushing past Draco and Harry, the group continued into the hall where dinner was being served.
They continued on up the stairs in silence, Harry following Draco’s lead, assuming he was headed to his dorm. Draco stopped in front of a large portrait of a beautiful witch in front of an old and dilapidated manor. Unusual choice, I must remember to ask Hermione who she is. Stepping into their dorm, Harry stopped in awe. The room was incredibly furnished and rather ornate. He only moved father into the room when Draco bumped into him. Turning to the blonde – why is he so pink? – Harry started to speak when Hermione voice floated out a room beside him. Turning he saw his friend perched on her kitchen counter, a thick sandwich on a plate beside her, half eaten.
“Malfoy, do you – Oh! Harry, I waited for a bit but drills ran long. Anyway, I scheduled the prefect meeting for tomorrow morning in our dorm at nine thirty. Do try and be down here early.” Harry shared a look with Draco; she was back in her element and surprisingly bossier than ever. “Anyway, if you two wouldn’t mind freshening up a bit, I can send for some food for the both of you.”
Draco headed upstairs, but Harry just charmed himself clean. There’s no way I’m going into a bathroom with him again. Shaking the confusing memory away, Harry sat at their small table and began to tell Hermione about the incident on the stairs.
“Don’t worry about Harper. His family was never as into the dark arts as he’d like everybody to believe.” Malfoy joined them, hair damp from a quick shower. “If he’s heard anything about the Rouges, it would have come from somebody else. I’ll ask Blaise what rumors are going around.”
Just then a small house elf appeared with a loud popping noise, two trays laden with food floating behind her. Harry stifled a laugh; the tiny creature was wearing a poorly knitted hat and matching apron – a present from Hermione no doubt.
“Trinkie,” Hermione said warmly and she hopped off the counter, grabbing the trays and putting them where she’d been sitting. “Thank you so much!”
The elf blushed furiously, “No thanks needed, Misses! Trinkie must thank the misses for the hat! And the apron!”
Hermione beamed as the house elf disappeared. She pulled plates and glasses down from the cabinets while Draco grabbed a pitcher of juice from the fridge. They carried their food and drinks into the common room, gathering around a coffee table – Hermione and Harry on the sofa, Draco across from them on the floor.
Harry laughed as he moved a potions book out of the way, “Already studying, ‘Mione? Thought you’d be focused on planning some Head Girl thing.”
“It isn’t mine, Harry. But I’m glad Malfoy has sense enough to get started on some of the reading! Merlin knows you and Ron could take a page or two out of his book!”
“Speaking of Head Girl things,” Draco interrupted when Harry made to respond. “any more ideas on the event?”
“Ball, of course,” Hermione pulled several pieces of parchment from under the table. “I think the second weekend in October so it will be before the first Quidditch match, yes? If we pick a theme and time before Friday, I can have invitations ready to send out after our meeting with McGonagall. Though I do suppose we should ask the prefects for input on the theme. I thought perhaps, since it is to support school unity, that we should require dates to be from different houses. We can create committees of sorts from the prefects to oversee decorations, food, entertainment, RSVPs, and such. If we begin with an opening ceremony and cocktails, then a plated meal, followed with dancing and s-”
Draco rushed to interrupt, “Yes, well seems you have put much thought into it.”
“I had plenty of time today after our meeting,” Hermione handed him the papers. “These are your copies of my notes. Please look over them before the meeting in the morning so we can appear united to our prefects.”
Draco nodded as he started scanning the first page. Harry smiled softly, Hermione excelled in leadership roles and would give Draco a run for his money.
Draco sat cross legged on his bed later that evening, Hermione’s papers scattered around him, blue ink marking his notes on her ideas. He’d been going over them for the last hour or so and she had some splendid ideas, not that he’d ever tell her that exactly. In addition to the ball, she wanted to hold an event upon returning from Christmas Break and one sometime in March. She also suggested making the final exams a few days earlier so that they could have an end of the year celebration. She’d tentatively scheduled five Hogsmead dates and outlined plans for encouraging students to support other houses at Quidditch games. Gathering the papers, he padded out his door and across the landing, knocking on hers softly.
“Come in,” she called out.
He pushed open the door and started to enter, but stopped in surprise. He wasn’t sure what he had expected, but the lavish, dark green room wasn’t it. He smiled softly at the pictures of her and her family hanging across from her bed; he knew she’d be the type to have stuff like that surrounding her. He’d never gotten to see Hermione’s room at Number 12, there had never been a reason, so he took a beat longer than necessary to observe the brilliant black and white landscape photos on her walls – Italy, Germany, is that America and France? – but stopped when he met her questioning eyes.
“I was going over your notes,” He focused on the task at hand. “And made some of my own.”
“Sit, sit,” she motioned to a spot on the bed next to her and he hesitantly acquiesced. She took the papers from him and read quickly. He took her distraction as a chance to continue checking out her room. He found he wasn’t surprised by the stacks of books under her window sill, but the fact that her desk had makeup and perfume haphazardly strewn about did surprise him. As did the stuffed lion on her window seat and the small picture of her and Ron on her night stand, obviously taken on a Muggle camera because it didn’t move. He ran his hands over the silk bedspread. Her parents must have money if she’s used to silks this nice. The furnishing would not have been amiss in any of the manors he’d grown up visiting. He always knew her family wasn’t as poor as the Weasleys’, but he had never thought they’d be wealthy.
“These are good ideas, Malfoy. I like the idea of the January and March events being more casual affairs. But why did you mark out field on my ideas about Quidditch?”
“Granger,” He couldn’t keep the exasperation from his voice, “It’s called a pitch. P-I-T-C-H. Pitch, okay? Muggles play football on a field. You golf on a green. You play Quidditch on a pitch.”
He was taken aback by her laughter. She tossed herself back into her multitude of pillows, laughter shaking her body. A minute or so later she managed to compose herself and she finally sat up, “I’ve never seen you look so upset! Your ears turned pink!”
She dissolved back into giggles at his huff. Draco found himself beginning to smile, but didn’t stop it. Her joy was contagious. She composed herself again, smiling up at him, her big brown eyes luminous in the low light. They chatted for a few more minutes, discussing how the prefects might take the idea of dates from other houses when a loud banging on the portrait hole interrupted them.
Draco instructed her to stay behind him as he advanced down the stairs, wand at the ready. There was only one reason people would be assaulting the portrait so late at night – angry Slytherins. He could hear Hermione creeping down the stairs behind him and he mentally cursed, he didn’t want her getting hurt because of him. His mind briefly flashed to the carving on her arm and he knew that ship had sailed. Flicking the portrait open with his wand, he waited for colorful streams of light to pour through.
Instead, Ginny Weasley rushed him, drawing her wand when she saw him, “What are you playing at, Malfoy?”
He opened his mouth to retort, but Hermione stepped in front of him, pushing his wand down to his side, “We thought perhaps you were an angry Slytherin.”
Ginny’s laughter held no mirth, “Angry? Yes. Green and slimy? No. Why was Harry here with you all evening? Why did he go back to see you at the pitch? I saw you waiting for him in the stands…”
Draco stepped back. This was a development. The bristling ginger clearly thought Harry and Hermione had something going on. Wonder what she’d say if she knew he had been with me? Draco didn’t get a chance to find out because Ginny strode across the room, stopping barely an inch or two from Hermione’s face.
“Stay away from him. I know it was you last year. This is my last warning.” Ginny turned on her heel, slamming the portrait behind her.
Hermione looked at him, eyes hopeless, “I don’t know where she got that idea. Harry would never cheat on her.”
Never say never, Granger.
Sighing, Hermione slowly tuned and headed up her stairs. About halfway up, she turned to face him, “Let’s meet down here at nine, okay?”
“Okay. Night, Granger.”
Draco headed up the steps to his room, feeling more confused than he had in a while.
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