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A/N: This took a bit longer than I'd planned - the holidays got away from me. I had to pencil time in to wallow over the fact that I graduate college this year. It's fine. I'm fine. Thank you for bearing with me. If you celebrated anything recently, Happy Holidays!


Also, I wrote a Dramione hockey oneshot AU called 'Chills.' It's on my profile if you happen to be interested in taking a look!


Betawork done by firstlovelatespring and LeilahMoon!


I appreciate you all for sticking into the new year with me. May 2021 bring everyone good vibes and good things.


xoxo, carmen




By the time her next Defence class rolled around, Hermione was completely, totally, and mentally exhausted.


She loved her coursework, she really did, but thinking about starting to prepare for end of term exams drained her. It was only two weeks until Halloween, and she had started making study plans and guides and preparing to buckle down and surrender all of her weekends, succumbing fully to her books.


Hermione was certain the stress was manifesting on her face. It showed in the slight red tinge to her eyes and the shadows underneath them, alluding to late nights and early mornings. She sighed.


Snape strode briskly into the classroom, dramatic as usual. His robes flared out behind him as he flicked his wand to spell the chalk to begin writing a list of rules. He spoke, sounding as if he’d rather be doing ballet with a herd of Acromantulas than delivering the rowdy group of sixth years their coursework. 


”Settle down. We will be practicing duelling today.” Titters broke out across the now-excited classroom. “Now, I understand that not everyone is going to be well versed in the art, save for evidently Mr. Potter and company.” Harry got the full force of Snape’s evil eye at that. Hermione saw him straighten his shoulders and caught the flash of defiance that streaked across his face. “But that is why we are here. We will be studying technique in a controlled classroom setting to analyze the problems and complications that arise.” His beady eyes flitted across the room, searching for his first victims. “Finnigan and Zabini, you’re up. I should think the rules are obvious. But since, for some of you, they are not,” he gestured behind him to the board, “here they are. Read them.”


Snape took great pleasure in pairing off the Slytherins and Gryffindors. Hermione had rarely seen him look anything besides stoic, but the very slight uptick of the corner of his mouth at the grumbles of his students gave him away, even if it lasted only for a moment.


Seamus and Blaise duelled, and it was over quickly. After that, Harry and Crabbe went up against each other. Harry bested Crabbe within three spells, to no one’s surprise. Harry looked pleased with himself, even though everyone knew that besting Vincent Crabbe was nothing to write home about.


Snape called up the next pair. “Mr. Malfoy and…” his eyes moved through the room, searching for his next victim. “Miss Granger.”


This made her uneasy, although it did make sense when you considered their class standings: her in first and Malfoy in second. It stood to reason that they both had considerable experience with duelling - whether you bought into the rumours about him or just looked at his upbringing - but it didn’t mean that she was looking forward to this. Dread, twinged with the telltale signs of the early rush of adrenaline, sunk into her blood.


The both rose from their seats rather reluctantly and stood in the middle of the classroom where the desks had been pushed to the side of the room to create space.


“Don’t worry, Malfoy. I’ll take it easy on you.” She twirled her wand casually between her fingers as she took her stance.


His lips twisted into his typical, cocky smirk. “By all means, Granger, let your guard down. It’ll be fun to beat you.”


She rolled her eyes at his weak attempt at a double entendre. They bowed, and so it commenced.


Hermione threw up her shield before they had even bowed. It was the first rule of Defence - if you were really in a duel, your opponent wouldn’t wait for a bloody timer to start to try to land one on you. And she was right - Malfoy had wordlessly sent a jinx her way before she’d straightened up. 


Deflecting it, she shot one back, starting off with stating her intention before moving on to ease into her wordless magic. “Colloshoo!” She watched as he batted that away easily and shot one right back at her. 


Hermione had an idea. She quietly said, “Incarcerous,” while wordlessly shooting the deterioration hex his way instead. It was challenging, but she had been practicing for awhile, following the battle at the Department of Mysteries. His shield had slipped just enough for it to slip through, and she watched as it took effect. Malfoy’s pupils shrunk significantly, looking wildy around for a second before realizing what was happening. 


He cancelled the hex in time and sent a retaliating Densauego her way. She felt it as she pushed it away, fury and annoyance bubbling up. “Really? That’s the best you’ve got? Feeling nostalgic for fourth year, are we?” Sweat was beginning to bead up on her forehead with her exertion but she didn’t have time to wipe it away. She didn’t want to give him an opening.


Her teasing had its intended effect. Malfoy scowled at her, spitting darkly, “Granger, if you saw the best I had, you’d be wishing for death.” His threat was dark and promising and it made the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. 


She felt the fringes of a dark charm brush her shield and she widened her eyes in disbelief, glancing at Snape to see if he’d caught it. But that was the opening he needed. “Flipendo,” he muttered, knocking her onto the floor. She caught Ron in her peripheral, red faced as he glared at Malfoy.


Hermione recast her shield and rose back to her feet. Casting a silencing charm into a bubble around them, Hermione spoke freely. “Dark magic, Malfoy? Probably not a smart move on your end when half the castle already suspects you of being a Death Eater.” Her tone was malicious and hard.


Her words had the opposite effect of what she’d expected - they drew a short bark of laughter from him. They continued to cast relentlessly, hoping to land a spell on the other - both knowing that neither would concede.


“They can believe what they want,” he said just a bit too flippantly for her liking, sending a Bat-Bogey hex her way. Ginny would be proud of the way she deflected it to bounce off the chalkboard. Seamus ducked. “They would rather believe the far-fetched lie than the obvious truth, and that’s not my problem.” Hermione didn’t find solace in his incredibly elusive non-answer. She decided to probe further anyway.


“What, that doesn’t bother you at all?” She knew it would bother her if she had been in his position.


“Oh no, not at all, Granger. I’m simply biding my time, keeping a list of names in the little black book up here.” He tapped two fingers to his temple. ”Do you know what the list is, Granger?” She wasn’t sure she wanted to. “They’re the people who piss me off that I’ll get to deal with if the Dark Lord ever wins.” The nasty twist to his answer sent chills down her spine, not at all like the good kind she’d experienced from that night a few weeks ago. He lightened his tone significantly, a stark contrast to his previous one. “All purely hypothetical of course. It’s just a way to bide my time and hold my grudges.”


Hermione was vaguely aware of Harry trying to get her attention, along with some of her classmates around them. She kept her silencing charm firmly in place while she battled Malfoy. The stakes felt much higher now following his disturbing insight. Even if it was a bluff, which she suspected it might very well not be, she continued to challenge him, to push him to his limits and past them. 


They were both working to their fullest extent. She suspected that Snape had paired them due to the fact that they were the top two in the class, and both had a decent amount of training. It was evident in the way they battled - they both excelled, and it showed in the fact that they were both still standing.


Hermione caught Snape staring intently at them, watching their performance. She couldn’t tell if he was planning on interfering or not, but so far, it seemed they were okay to continue. So she decided to give him the pushback he was expecting.


“Tell me, Malfoy. Have I been so lucky to make that list?” She sounded strong and confident, but her heart was pounding.


“Granger, Granger, Granger.” His eyes glittered with a potential for darkness that Hermione had little to no desire to wrap her head around. “You're too curious for your own good. One day, I suspect it’ll be the death of you.” He shook his head slowly at her, as if he knew something she didn’t. It was unsettling.


She retaliated with the fury that had been long buried since the first time she’d heard the word Mudblood fall from his lips all those years ago. “Malfoy, Malfoy, Malfoy.” Hermione made the words come out sugar coated, pushing all the sweetness into them that she could conjure up.


Hermione could feel Snape watching them, trying to figure out how best to intervene. From the outside, she knew that it didn’t look like an argument in the midst of a duel, and silencing their conversation hadn’t been against the rules. To the class it simply looked like the top two students who had held mutual grudges for years finally getting their chance to spar. For now, she decided to ignore it and press on.


“If my curiosity will be the death of me, then your ego will be the death of you. You assume that everyone is below you, you underestimate everyone, including me - especially me - just because of my status. And you know what?” She sent a rather nasty hex his way, which singed the side of his face as he dodged it. She was panting now, both with exertion and blooming anticipation over their argument.


“The people you care about will get hurt, will die, because of it. Because you couldn’t step off your imaginary damn pedestal for one fucking second to try to protect them. And I won’t feel sorry for you at all.” Hermione spat the words at him, all the sticky sweetness gone from her now. She was sporting a small cut over her eyebrow and the blood trickled down her face. She saw the split second her words hit home when she spewed them at him.


She watched as a rage she’d never seen before manifested into a dark emotion on his face. “You,” he started, his words quiet and dangerous, “are going to regret that.”


Her shield slipped for only a second, and he hit her with a hex that she had never heard of. Her silencing bubble fell as she collapsed to the floor, gasping, sweating, and bleeding.


As her consciousness quietly slipped away into nothing, Hermione vaguely caught the sounds of her classmates and Draco’s horrified expression.




Another setback. 


Another one. He turned and hurled his waste of a magazine into the castle wall, watching as it fluttered down to the ground, open and cover facing up toward the ceiling. It was a stupid, mindless Witch Weekly piece called ‘How to Woo Your Witch.’ He’d snuck it away from Pansy and had been reading it to see if there was anything really useful to help with his Granger situation. He’d never tried to woo someone before - his name was usually enough for that, but as it stood, this was clearly a different circumstance. The title stared at him, mocking him.


He had fucked up big time. Big enough that he should probably just Avada himself right now. Somehow, he’d hexed Granger so badly he made her bleed. In class. In front of everyone, Snape included. If he didn’t turn this around quickly, it would be his downfall.


Draco was slowly becoming accustomed to setbacks and he hated it. They had come in various shapes and sizes over the years, many manifesting in the forms of Hermione Granger and company. He really had never done well with failure.


Things had been progressing slowly but steadily with Granger, until the duel. He had even been cautiously optimistic that she was starting to warm up to him, at least a little bit. He was certain that she thought he was still a top shelf arsehole, but he was doing his best to change her perception, even though it was an illusion. He knew he needed to make her see him in a different light than she did in the present if he was going to make any of this work.


After all, perception was everything, wasn’t it? He knew that better than most. 


Draco wasn’t sure that he would be able to recover from this. And it made it worse that Snape had to bear witness to all of it so he couldn’t even fabricate a story. 


The regret had come first. Instantly.


It was the first thing he’d felt after the fury and bitterness that had clouded his judgement dissipated as quickly as they’d come and he realized that he had rendered Granger unconscious. 


The anger had come second. At her, for pushing him too far. At himself, for divulging so much until he snapped and lashed out at her. 


Third was the glee. The satisfaction. No matter the fact that he had started to convince himself that she wasn’t that bad — Stockholm Syndrome, he thought it was called, a coping mechanism — but there was still a deep part of him that relished seeing her like that, under his wand. He had done that. The sight of her sinking to the ground, eyes rolling back because of him would be burned on the back of his eyelids for weeks.


And then regret again. Deep down he knew she was good, and that she didn’t deserve to have someone like him anywhere near her. She didn’t deserve any of what he knew was coming for her. It made him a little queasy, the uncertainty.


He hadn't actually wanted to hurt her. He had just wanted her to shut the fuck up. And she wouldn’t. So he made her, in the best way he knew how.


Just not in quite the way he would have preferred. He would have much rather shut her up with his hand around her throat and threatening to withhold oblivion from her if she didn’t keep her fucking mouth shut.


Draco shook the thought away before it could take root and bloom. 


He begrudgingly made his way to the hospital wing. Draco knew he had to make nice with Granger, make at least some semblance of an attempt to try to rectify his mistake. She already assumed the worst of him, right? There was no way he could make it worse, only better. 


His feet moved slowly, trudging toward his destination. Flirting with Granger, even fucking Granger he could handle. But actually being nice to Granger? It went against everything he stood for, every move he had made and every thing he had said for the past six years.


And yet, here he was. On his way to be nice to Granger. The universe hated him. 


Draco pushed the door open.


As luck would have it, the hospital wing was fairly quiet. Only three people currently occupied its beds: a third year Hufflepuff, a first year Slytherin—looked to Draco like a broom accident—and of course, Granger.


Completely unsurprisingly, she was surrounded by the dumbass duo and joined by the Weaselette. He froze, not sure why he hadn’t fully anticipated this sometime during his musing, and strongly considered turning and leaving right then.


Apparently, the universe had decided that today was simply not his day. The sorry excuse for an inflamed pimple spotted him and puffed out his chest, calling, “Oi! Malfoy!” He looked ridiculous. “You’ve got some nerve, coming here.” 


Draco would never admit this out loud, not even under threat of the Cruciatus Curse, but the idiot was right—he did have some nerve. But he had no choice but to make nice with Granger, and if that included somewhat tolerating her annoying friends, then he would manage. Of course, that only meant that he would dole out his normal amount of insults, no more. It would look odd if he didn’t respond in the same fashion they were all used to by now.


It was decided then. He would take whatever shots he was given, and keep it at that.


“Just here making sure she’s not dead. Can’t imagine that would do any good for the rumors I’ve been hearing.” He kept his voice light, but he was telling a partial truth. Draco wasn’t fully sure what spell he’d hit her with, just that it had come from something he’d once read deep within the Malfoy library. That alone was enough to make him uneasy.


As it stood, Weaselbee was fuming. Potter was equally pissed, but better at hiding it, and the Weaselette was just sitting back and observing it all. 


“You have absolutely no right to come waltzing on in here and making your threats—” Weasley started.

Draco cut him off. “I don’t think you’d have any idea what proper waltzing looked like if it hit you in the face, Weasley. Don’t go blaming me for one of your endless shortcomings, I don’t deserve that.” He tried his best to keep from breaking into a grin. 


He knew he shouldn’t be prodding him to this extent, but it would look suspicious if he just turned around and suddenly started being nice to Weasley. And there was no way he was going to miss the open shots that he was being given. It would just look wrong if he didn’t take every opportunity that came his way. 


“You little—” Weasley was cut short again. 


“Ah ah, like I said, don’t go projecting your shortcomings onto me. I am most certainly not little. Ask anyone.” He smirked evilly. “Including Granger.” Ah, fuck. That shouldn’t have slipped out.


That stopped them. Every one of them froze where they stood, looking at him like he had just announced he was Merlin himself.


He looked at her, unconscious in the hospital bed, and decided not to dig himself a grave deeper than the one he already was lying in. “She’s heard the rumors too. Said it herself.” He tried for a different tone. “Speaking of, how is she?”


They relaxed. Weaselbee tried again, obviously choosing to ignore the part about Granger entirely. “Get. Out. You have no right to ask about her.”


Draco took immense pleasure in making him so angry that he couldn’t form another half-baked insult. Weasley had too many weak spots that were so much fun to exploit, but his pathetic insults were the most fun to pick on. It was even more exhilarating because Draco knew he was really trying. 


Pulling up a chair, he straddled it backwards and propped his arms up on its back. “No, thank you,” he said, the vision of pure comfort. “I think I’ll stay here and wait for Granger to wake up.”

Throwing his hands up in exasperation, the freckled fuckhead finally stormed out. Potter shared a look with the Weaslette before getting up and hesitating to follow Weasley out, looking at Draco apprehensively.


Whatever had come over him, he felt it necessary to reassure Potter that he wouldn’t try smothering her with a pillow or something of the sort. “I wouldn’t dare try anything with Pomfrey around,” he said, rolling his eyes and inclining his head towards the door. “You can follow your pet out. Nothing will happen to Granger.”


Potter shot one last uneasy look at Draco before leaving the hospital wing. It struck him as a bit odd that he didn’t have any colorful words to throw his way. 


That didn’t quite sit right. He’d have to worry about that one later.


Weaselette didn’t say much of anything, although he could tell there was something brewing that she was contemplating. Instead, she held it back, shaking her head, and followed Potter out.


He was alone with Granger. The other students were far enough away for their conversation to be kept private. That in and of itself set him on edge, but anticipating her reaction when she woke up? It was enough to send him back to gnawing his cheek.


Damn it. He thought he’d kicked the habit. He sighed.


Granger stirred, and Draco stilled. Of course, of fucking course she would wake up right as he was alone with her. 


Her eyes fluttered open, and she looked severely disoriented. “Malfoy?” she asked, slurring her speech just slightly. “What are you doing here?”


Draco repeated his answer from earlier, finding it best to keep his story consistent. “Just making sure you’re alive.”


She hummed, a small noise in the back of her throat. Her eyes shut again and she dug deeper into her bed. “Yep, I’m still here to hex you to the Veil and back once I’m on two feet again. It’s too bad for you that I’m still alive, Malfoy.”


That drew a quiet laugh from him. She was probably right - he didn’t want to be on the receiving end of her wand when she was angry. She was a fierce, foreboding witch when she wanted to be, not that he would tell her this, but she was - even when she wasn't trying.


An acidic taste rose in the back of his throat. He forced the words out before he could keep second guessing himself. “I’m sorry, Granger.” Draco couldn’t remember the last time he apologized. Her eyes snapped open in disbelief. “I shouldn’t have hit you so hard. I let my emotions get the better of me.”


Fuck, that was not fun. The words tasted so bad coming out of his mouth - they didn’t fit, didn’t feel right. They rolled around on his tongue like a disgusting potion that had been brewed wrong, or had gone stale.


“I appreciate that,” she said, her voice low and tired. “That wasn't easy for you, was it?” She seemed genuinely curious, or like she knew his answer before he spoke it and was waiting to see if he would tell the truth. 


Draco scoffed. “No.”


Granger nodded. “I could tell.” Her eyes drifted closed again. “You should work on that.” Merlin, even in her deteriorated state she was such a bloody menace.


He rolled his eyes. “I won’t. Malfoys don’t apologize.”


“Then why did you?” She sounded quiet, like she was on the fringes of her consciousness.


Her question threw him, and he was blurting out the truth before he could think twice, or stop to filter himself. “Because you deserved it.”


The thing was, Draco wasn’t even sure if she was awake to hear his confession.




Draco was skulking alone in the bathroom on the sixth floor after leaving Granger in the hospital wing. Surprising himself, he had stayed long enough, doing his best to make nice with her until she had fallen back asleep.


He had always been exceptionally good at wallowing in self pity, and he had never shied away from doing so when he felt it was necessary. Draco still needed to figure out what kind of damage control he was going to have to do. Due to her disorientation, Hermione wasn’t quite herself. He would need to tread carefully until he pinpointed how mad she was at him.


Draco knew he couldn’t blow his mission, not so early into the year, not when he had so much left to do. He still had to somehow convince her that he loved her, and this was going to do him absolutely no favors.


As he was focusing on Occluding and pulling up his mental shields, Harry fucking Potter entered. 


Boy Wonder just waltzed into his bathroom, intruding on his fine bubble of misery and brooding. Draco knew he was a sight to behold - hands braced against the edge bathroom sink, hell-bent on focusing. The water was running in front of him, since the sound of it calmed Draco and helped him center.


It was loud enough, roaring in his ears, that he didn’t notice he had company until he heard Potter’s voice.


“I know you’re up to something, Malfoy.” Potter’s wand was trained on his back, but Draco’s head snapped up and met his eyes in the mirror. 


So this was why he’d been so quiet in the hospital wing earlier. He’d been saving all of his pent up energy for later.


Draco exaggerated the sarcasm in his voice. “Oh really? Just because Defence got out of hand, I’m obviously out for Granger’s blood, huh? Yeah, that adds up just fine, Potter.” He didn’t miss the private joke he’d slipped in there. Despite the fact that he could feel the charged atmosphere, he chuckled under his breath at his humor. “That’s why I visited her in the hospital wing, yeah? To make sure that she was going to keel over if the duel in class hadn’t done the job?” 


Clearly, Potter hadn't thought it was funny. His face was set in a stoic mask as he observed Draco. “It was obvious that you were just making sure you hadn’t killed her. I’ve known for a long time. Voldemort’s been back, and I know you’ve been waiting for your chance to make your father proud.”


Draco whipped around to face him and snarled. “Don’t you dare speak of my father.” His expression was thunderous and he wanted nothing more in that moment than to eviscerate Potter.


Potter hurled it right back to him. “You lay another hand on Hermione and anything’s fair game, including your scumbag father.” 


“Shut your mouth before I make you regret ever opening it.” It wasn’t a threat, it was a promise. 


“I’d love to see you try.” Potter’s voice was a heated challenge, and Draco definitely wasn’t about to back down.


Draco couldn’t hold himself back anymore. He shot off a Weakening hex. 


The Boy-Who-Would-Regret-Not-Dying retaliated with his go-to. “Expelliarmus!”


He’d seen it coming from a mile away—Potter was nothing if not predictable—and threw up a shield.


The colors and the sounds of spellfire echoed throughout the empty bathroom. It lit up the walls and drenched them both in color as they fought. This, Draco thought, had been a long time coming. 


Potter shot back, “Incarcerous!”

“Protego!” And then, in the heat of the moment, before he knew what he was doing, he pointed his wand and started to cast, “Cruc—”


But Potter was quicker. “Sectumsempra!”


Draco stumbled, his wand falling from his hand and clattering to the floor. A spiderweb of red split across his chest, melting through his shirt. Draco took pride in having a level head in times of crisis. But he’d never feared for his life as much as he did at this moment. “Wha— did you do—” He choked on the desperate cry that was emerging from his throat.


Potter looked like he’d just seen a ghost. His eyes were blown wide as they looked at him bleeding out on the bathroom floor, and he didn’t know what to do. He gaped like a fish out of water and looked as though he might pass out. Unfortunately for him, Draco’s matter was slightly more pressing than Potter’s imminent panic attack.


He faded in and out momentarily, his vision blurring around the edges, giving way to imminent darkness as his consciousness faltered. He could hear the sounds of running water, a broken testament to their impulsive foolishness. Draco fought to stay awake, knowing what succumbing to the quiet would mean. 


He considered what would happen if he did. It would mean that Granger would be safe from him. It would mean that he wouldn’t have to pretend anymore, to put up a front that he was constantly scared someone would see through. It would mean that finally, he could rest. The weight of the world wouldn't be resting on his tired shoulders, and she would be safe - at least for now, from him. Because as much as he hated her, seeing her dead or enslaved due to his own actions would be something that was completely out of the question. Draco didn’t particularly like her, but he didn’t want that. She didn’t deserve that. 


It would also mean death for his mother, or a fate worse than death. He would deal with, could put up with, anything that was thrown his way. Any amount of torture, enslavement, or imprisonment, if it meant his mother was safe. 


He would fight. He would fight like hell to see another day. He’d fight to save his mother.


And he would fight to see that stupid fucking flash of anger in Granger’s eyes when he pissed her off. He would fight to make his dream of her from the other night a reality. He’d be fucking damned if he didn't feel her around him one more time.


All at once, the bathroom door blew open, and Snape entered, heading straight for Draco with an urgency he’d never seen. He’d never been more grateful to see his godfather in his life. “Mr. Potter, you are dismissed. Immediately. Detention with me for the rest of term.” He knelt down next to Draco, who felt his consciousness slipping away. His eyelids grew heavy, and he was so tired. The countercurse Snape was casting sounded almost like a lullaby.


“Vulnera Sanentur...Vulnera Sanentur...Vulnera Sanentur…”


And then, finally, darkness.




Two days later, Hermione stormed up to Harry, eyes blazing, who was standing near the entrance to the hospital wing. “Harry James Potter, how dare you.” She had made a full recovery and had just found out about the stunt her idiotic best friend had pulled - and subsequently, hid from her because she was too ‘fragile.’ Needless to say, she was absolutely livid.


He couldn’t meet her eyes. That was good, at least he understood why she was so pissed off at him. She didn’t want to have to explain again—she didn’t think she could manage. Ron hadn’t understood, and she nearly took his head off while trying to explain the concept of basic human decency—something he was apparently incapable of when it came to Malfoy.


He winced before trying to placate her. “Hermione, I’m sorry, I just—”


She wouldn’t be tolerating any of that today. “You what? You were so desperate to play hero because you thought, for whatever reason, that I couldn’t defend myself?” Her tone was viciously sarcastic. Hermione hated the bloody damsel-in-distress trope and she made sure everyone knew it. She could handle herself just fine, thank you. 


Harry blushed. “No, I—”


She cut him off sharply with a glare that could vaporize steel. “No, Harry! You will let me finish without interrupting! How could you use a spell—no, not just a spell, but a curse—without knowing the impact it would have? The damage it could cause? I get it, I know you can’t stand Malfoy, and I know what you think of him, but that was just cruel.” She sighed in resignation. “I understand that what you think he did was wrong - and it was. But Harry, look in the mirror,” Hermione begged him to see reason. “You did the exact same thing that he did.”


The realization of that truth set in on his face, and Hermione watched it sink in.


Her brows furrowed in a mix of sadness and disappointment. “I never would have expected something like that from you, and I am so disappointed in you right now.”


Harry, at least, had the decency to look remorseful. “Hermione, I’m so sorry. It wasn’t intentional, it’s just, I was so mad at him for pushing you too far, and—”


Hermione threw her hands up in exasperation. “That’s exactly the problem! I can handle myself when it comes to Malfoy—in case you haven’t noticed, I have for years!” She sighed and rubbed at her face in surrender. “I can’t believe you would do something like this and I just—I need a break from you.”


He paled. “What? No, Hermione, please—” His tone was pleading, begging, but she cut him off once more.


“No, Harry. I need space from you right now before I say something I’ll really regret.” Her eyes looked to the hospital wing door before moving back to him. “And for the record? It’s not me you should be apologizing to.” 


She refused to look back at him as she turned on her heel and headed into the hospital wing to check on Malfoy.


It didn’t mean anything - she was just returning a favor.


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