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Draco was feeling more than a little anxious being away from Hermione, particularly because he was still staying in Harry's house. Despite the two having reached something of an understanding, there was a lot of history keeping them from being anything but semi-tolerant of each other.

Draco just kept to the room he had been given, writing Hermione the occasional letter, and sending her the daily gifts he had promised. He was having to get a bit more creative in what he bought her; the clothing and books he usually sent were fine, but he wanted each gift to have some meaning to it.

Letters in reply were filled with news of Hogwarts, and classes. Hermione had quickly caught up on her missing lessons while captive in the hospital wing, and had jumped right back into her classes in without skipping a beat. She also reported that the attention she had received upon her return had waned a bit, and things were starting to feel more normal.

Draco hoped that was the case, because he figured his return would give him a fair bit of infamy and subject him to the gossip chain for quite a while. He, Harry, and Kingsley had decided that the best thing to do was to return Draco to Hogwarts during mealtime, and give him a bit of a shakedown. They assumed that the students would overhear the commotion in the entry, and the rumors would handle the rest.

Draco was even hoping that it might restore his credibility with the Slytherins to some extent. While he no longer felt the desire to join in on most of their escapades, he did still have to live with them, and a bit of respect would make it much easier.

"You want dinner?" Came Harry's voice at the door.

"Sure." Draco said. He wasn't really hungry, but he hadn't been downstairs all day, and he didn't want Harry to think he was avoiding him.

He got up from the desk he'd been sitting at, sealing his latest letter to Hermione. "Can you send this when you go in tomorrow?"

"Sure thing." Harry said, pocketing it.

The went down to the kitchen in silence, and saw two places laid at the table.

"No Ron tonight?" Draco asked, trying not to sound relieved.

"No, he's doing stealth and concealment drills." Harry explained. "Shadowing one of the senior Aurors."

"Ah." Draco said, pulling out his chair to sit. "Isn't that a little redundant?"

"Not particularly." Harry laughed. "Hermione did all the concealment charms for us last year."

Draco perked up as Kreacher laid a platter of roast on the table. "Thanks Kreacher."

Kreacher didn't respond, just bowed and began serving them.

"I can do that," Harry said, halfheartedly.

"No Master!" Kreacher insisted, pushing his hand away from the tray. "It is Kreacher's job!"

Harry sighed, and once Kreacher was gone, he looked over at Draco. "Is there any way to get him to stop calling me Master?"

Draco chuckled. "Not that I know of."

"Bummer." Harry said, smirking and digging into his roast.

They ate in silence for several minutes, until Draco chimed in, "So is everything all set for Monday?"

"It should be." Harry said, taking a sip of pumpkin juice. "We had some of the trainees go to one of Rita Skeeter's known hangouts and 'gossip' about you being picked up in relation to Hermione's kidnapping. I'm expecting to see it in tomorrows prophet."

"Hmmm, yes she wouldn't be able to resist that one." Draco said thoughtfully.

"Then of course, Kingsley will be 'forced' to issue a statement in response explaining that you weren't actually involved, and that you're being released." Harry continued. "That should get everyone nice and stirred up by Monday."

"Seems like you've thought of everything!" Draco pointed out.

"It's going to be rough on you, for a few days when you get back." Harry pointed out.

"That's nothing new." Draco admitted. "If anything I'm hoping the Slytherins will ease up a bit if they think I was involved."

"Well, that could only be good I guess." Harry shrugged.

"Well, it'd be nice to be able to walk through my own common room without getting jinxed." Draco explained.

"That bad?" Harry asked.

"It had calmed a bit by Christmas, but yeah." Draco said, stabbing at his roast. "I spent a lot of time hiding out."

"Sorry." Harry said, not really knowing what else to say.

"It's no more than I deserve." Draco shrugged, standing up and clearing his plate. He wandered upstairs to kill more time before bed.




Hermione looked anxiously at her watch for the third time since she had sat down to breakfast.

"'Mione!" Ginny hissed across the table. "Looking at your watch won't make the time go any faster. You're going to draw attention to the fact that you're waiting for something."

Hermione immediately dropped her hand; she knew that Draco was returning today, sometime during breakfast. But she wasn't supposed to know, or react. She spooned some eggs onto her plate absently.

"It'll be fine." Ginny insisted, "Harry planned the whole thing out. He wouldn't mess this up."

Hermione nodded, still distracted, and tried to focus on eating. After what felt like an eternity, she heard a commotion in the entry way.

"Get your hands off me Potter." Came Draco's voice, loud and angry.

"Relax Malfoy," Harry said, his voice commanding authority. "You know why we have to do this."

"Just trying to abuse your authority." Draco snapped.

Ginny was red in the face, trying not to laugh. "Drama queens much?"

"Isn't that kind of the point?" Hermione whispered.

With a bang, the doors to the Great Hall burst open, and a very angry Draco Malfoy stormed in and sat at the end of the Slytherin table.

Harry and Dawlish followed him into the room, but went up to the head table to speak with Professor McGonagall.

Voices rose to a slight roar as the students quickly exchanged information, trying to figure out where Draco had been. They were surprised to have the Aurors in their midst, and most of them hadn't seen Harry in his Uniform yet.

Hermione, in the confusion, risked a glance across to Draco who was putting on a very convincing display of sulking.

"What are you lot looking at?" Draco snapped loudly at those sitting near him on the bench.

At that moment, Professor McGonagall stood up and called for silence, and after getting no response, used a sonorus charm to shout above the din, "That's enough, cease with this gossiping and get to class!"

Of course that only meant that the gossip would spread further, as was her intent. As the students got up to leave, they all glanced at Draco curiously, and he made a great show of glaring dangerously at all of them.

As the hall slowly emptied out, Draco finally stood up and 'accidentally' crashed into Hermione in the doorway.

"You dropped this Granger." He said, handing her a crumpled bit of parchment.

"Thanks." She said, looking confused.

"Just watch where you're going next time." He snapped, stalking up the stairs.

Hermione stuck the parchment in her pocket, and once she was out of sight of most of the students she smoothed it open and saw his elegant handwriting.

Our Library, Lunch? I love you.

He hadn't signed it. Clever Hermione thought. That way if anyone is being nosy and reading over my shoulder they won't know it was from him.

She smiled to herself, knowing that after just a few short classes she would finally get to see Draco after a long week apart. She tucked the note back into her pocket and hurried to Ancient Runes.

Downstairs in the Slytherin dungeon, Draco was putting his things away, and checking over the belongings he had left behind. He still had a few minutes to spare before he had to be upstairs for Divination.

He quickly locked his things in his trunk, and looked around the mostly deserted dormitory. With the few returning Slytherins, he only shared the room with Blaise, something he was grateful for. While certainly not friendly towards Draco, Blaise was not cruel. The two roommates simply tolerated each other in silence most of the time.

So Draco was surprised when Blaise suddenly came into the room, with so little time before class.

"Where were you?" He asked.

It took Draco a moment to respond; other than one word interactions, it was the first time Blaise had spoken to him since the battle.

“The aurors picked me up when Granger went missing.” Draco explained, giving his over story. “They figured I had something to do with it.”

“Did you?” Blaise asked.

“No, I’m trying to get the bloody Ministry off my back.” Draco said, his voice cold. “Why would I bother with Granger when I just have to hold out until the end of term to get off probation?”

“Ok.” Blaise said, turning to leave.

“Blaise, wait.” Draco said, “Why the sudden curiosity?”

“I just like to know who I’m living with.” Blaise said, with no emotion in his voice.

“Blaise, you’ve known me since we were six.” Draco pointed out.

“Yes, I have.” Blaise said, leaving the room.

That was odd. Draco thought, hurrying to make it to class on time.




The rumor mill was working overtime, and by lunch it seemed the whole school knew Draco’s cover story. He ducked into the great hall to make an appearance at lunch, and quickly ate.

Hermione had already bolted down her food and left, which wasn’t really a surprise to anyone as she’d been spending all her free time in the library trying to catch up on the things she’d missed. When Ginny pointed out that she had already turned in all her missed assignments, Hermione argued that she was weeks behind on her supplemental reading.

When Draco made it up to the Room of Requirement, he wasn’t surprised to see Hermione with a quill in hand feverishly working on an essay. She dropped the quill at the sound of the door closing and sprang from her seat.

“How are you feeling?” Draco asked, as she launched herself into his arms.

“I’m fine Draco, how are you feeling?” Hermione asked, pulling back so she could meet his eyes.

“I’m just fine.” Draco said, with a smirk. He leaned down and kissed Hermione’s forehead. “I’m happy to have the last few weeks behind us."

"Me too." Hermione agreed, leading Draco to the sofa. She was very aware of his gaze watching her carefully as they crossed the room.

"Inventory complete?" She teased, as they sat down.

"I'm just making sure!" Draco admitted with a smirk. "It wouldn't be the first time you said you where fine when you really weren't."

"Fair enough," Hermione sighed, "But I really am fine. Madame Pomfrey has been keeping a close eye on me, and if she wasn't then Ginny would be."

"Ok, ok." Draco grinned. "I'll lay off the overprotective boyfriend bit."

"Thank you." Hermione smiled. "Now catch me up on the past week, we only have about twenty minutes before we need to be in Defense."

"Ah yes, Defense Against the Dark Arts, the class I always feel the most uncomfortable in. And a double period to boot!" Draco teased.

"You shouldn't feel uncomfortable in DADA." Hermione exclaimed. "You probably have a better understanding of the topic than anyone else in the room. I know you're holding back."

"On some things." Draco admitted. "Others, the Patronus Charm for example, I'm just not built for."

"Hey, you can do a Patronus." Hermione argued.

"Just an example Little Dragon." Draco chuckled.

"Actually," Hermione said, "I've been meaning to talk to you about that."

"About what?" Draco asked, toying with the end of Hermione's braid.

"The Dark Arts." Hermione said. "I want you to teach me some of them."

"Absolutely not." Draco said firmly, coldly.

"Hear me out..." Hermione started.

"I will not." Draco said, cutting her off. "I can't do those spells and I won't let you."

"Draco, just let me explain." Hermione huffed, rolling her eyes. "I want to rewrite the DADA text."

"You... what?" Draco asked, whatever he had been expecting, it hadn't been that.

"Everything we are taught in DADA is useful, but we're only seeing half of the theory. I think people need to better understand the spells they are fighting." Hermione explained. "If students were more knowledgeable about what the Dark spells consist of, they might more readily understand why defense is so important."

Draco had a stony expression that Hermione couldn't read.

"Draco?" Hermione coaxed after a moment.

"You don't think that would just draw curious students to test out dark spells?" Draco asked softly.

"I'm not necessarily suggesting that we include the steps of the spell itself," Hermione elaborated. "More the... effects and general feel behind the spell. But in a more detailed way."

"I still can't do the spells." Draco pointed out, after a moment.

"I'm not asking you to." Hermione said firmly. "I'm asking you to go through them with me, detail everything you know that's outside of the texts. There's not exactly a plethora of dark magic information available at Hogwarts, and I really don't want to wait until I have access to Harry's library. Plus I'd rather have the firsthand descriptions."

Draco sighed. "I'll consider it."

Hermione grinned, and threw her arms around him. "Oh thank you Draco! I just know that we can expand on what is currently being taught!

"Easy there Little Dragon, I said I'd think about it." Draco said, "Why don't you take a breath and get back into the swing of school before you start trying to revolutionize DADA?"

"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world." Hermione responded with a grin.

"Anne Frank again?" Draco asked. "I'm starting to see why you relate to that book."

"She's not wrong." Hermione pointed out.

"Neither am I." Draco responded.

"Touché." Hermione laughed.

All the reading she had done had given her a view of life that they had never seen.” Draco muttered.

"Matilda?" Hermione asked, questioningly.

Draco nodded.

"I hated that book." Hermione said suddenly.

"Really?" Draco asked, sounding surprised. "I would think you'd relate to it a bit. Brilliant girl who can move things with magic?"

"Well that's just it." Hermione explained. "Muggles don't respond too well to things like that. Let's just say I had a very different experience in school."

"I'll take your word for it." Draco said with a smile. "We should get to class."

"You're right." Hermione said, hopping up. "It's dueling in DADA today!"

"Come on Little Dragon." Draco chuckled, pulling Hermione in for a kiss. "Let's go destroy the rest of the class in dueling."




Author's Note:

The books quoted in this chapter are The Diary of a Young Girl, by Anne Frank and Matilda, by Roald Dahl.

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