Draco was surprised to see Granger on the train back to Hogwarts. He supposed there was no one else who McGonagall would trust to share the Heads tower. Her fall from grace over the summer after the War was shockingly swift; her messy breakup from the Ginger was plastered all over the Daily Prophet, and Draco was fairly sure that Rita Skeeter had a personal grudge against the girl because every issue had an article shaming the War Heroine. His mother had whispered conspiratorially to him about Granger being 'unstable', but as Draco stared at her, Granger just stared blankly back. To him, she just seemed sad. Nothing in her face resembled the woman he had known a few months ago.
The last time he had seen Granger was at his trial, where she had defended him so viciously that Narcissa herself had sent an anonymous thank you note tucked into an original copy of Hogwarts, A History. The trial had taken place mere days after the Battle of Hogwarts, and Draco hadn't believed his advocate when the man said he had found someone willing to speak on Draco's behalf. He'd still thought the man was trying to pull some sick joke the morning of his trial.
When Draco had walked into the courtroom and seen that familiar mane of bushy hair standing next to the chair, he had nearly cried out loud. He had sat, with those blasted chains wound around him, in utter shock as Granger berated a room full of respected Wizenmagot members. She had been wearing a short-sleeved blouse and muggle jeans, and the scarred word on her left forearm was prominent on her pale skin under the harsh light of the courtroom. He remembered wondering if that was deliberate, because the minister could not stop glancing at it. Draco had no idea as to how Granger had known so much about his life to spin it into a tale of innocence and fear. He had suspected his mother, and when he asked her afterwards, Narcissa merely sipped at her tea and told him to check to see if the post had come yet. That was a solid yes as far as answers from his mother went, and Granger became an even larger enigma. She was a glorious speaker, and when she turned towards him in the middle of her defense, her eyes were as wild and angry as they had been on the battlefield. They were out of place on a face that was gaunt and tired. Draco was so shocked that Granger had freed him that he sat in the chair a good minute after the bonds had released him. It had taken the minister glaring at him at finally get Draco to move. Granger had waited for him outside the door, offered quick congratulations and made to leave.
Draco desperately wanted to thank her, but all he said was "Didn't peg you for a liar, Granger."
She had grinned at him then; a grin so feral that he feared Bellatrix had broken something in her after all. "I lie all the time, Malfoy. But not for you." And then she was gone, strutting done the corridor with a self-assurance that didn't suit her skeletal frame.
Looking over his shoulder now, Granger's eyes were dead. It seemed that shock had finally caught up to her. This girl following him to the prefect's compartment was not the same woman who had defied the Minister of Magic to keep Draco out of Azkaban.
Granger wasn't in the common room the next morning, nor was she at breakfast, in the Great Hall, and she didn't show up for first period Charms. Flitwick paused when he reached her name on the roster but there was no answer. Draco glanced around the half empty classroom. There wasn't many seventh years to begin with, but Granger's absence was the most noticeable. When Draco entered Defense Against the Dark Arts, and she wasn't there either, he resolved to look for her during lunch.
The new DADA instructor was some young wizard who had saved someone important during the Battle of Hogwarts, and had about the same teaching ability as the former Professor Lockhart. Draco hated him. The lesson was wasted on Professor Comwell's ego. He spent the first forty minutes lecturing them about the Battle of Hogwarts, and how he, had tackled a Death Eater just as he was about to kill so-and-so, and how he was there when Harry Potter vanquished the Dark Lord.
Draco stood up suddenly, and Professor Comwell broke off. The entire class was now looking at Draco, who had no idea why he was suddenly so angry.
"Only Death Eaters called V-Voldemort the Dark Lord." He was glaring at the idiot professor.
"Well, you must be Mr. Malfoy." Comwell raised an eyebrow, "Do tell us what it's like, fighting for the other side."
Draco turned to stone; the only hint that he had heard Comwell was the muscle pulsing in his jaw. "No, sir." And then he left, grabbing his bag off the floor and marching out the door.
Draco ignored him, turning right to return to his room where he thought he might wait before going to lunch.
As he passed the big, arching windows, he looked out towards the grounds. He realized that they were facing south; he could see the Black Lake. Draco was about to continue walking when he noticed a shape moving at the edge of the shore. He did a double take and looked closer. The shape of the hair and the hunched shoulders made him realize who it was.
"Granger." Draco sighed, and changed direction, heading now towards the grounds.
When he reached the start of the rocky beach, he slowed his pace. Granger had discarded her robe, her shoes, and her knee socks. They were sitting at the base of a small oak tree nearby, along with her school bag. The sleeves of her sweater were rolled up and her skirt rippled in the breeze. She stood with the water lapping at her ankles, every now and then she would snap her wrist and a rock would fly out, skipping across the surface of the lake.
Draco watched her, fascinated by this muggle sport. He had never heard of skipping rocks, save for maybe in a muggle book he had read once, but he immediately liked the idea of it. Granger appeared relaxed, maybe even happy, from the way she was standing he thought her a different person than the diffident girl he had approached on the train.
Draco put down his bag and moved closer to the waters edge. "Do you think you can teach me?" he deliberately asked softly, hoping not to scare her, but she started all the same. Granger dropped the rock she had been about to skip, and twirled facing him with her cheeks flaming red.
"Hi." Draco tried to break the silence with a friendly smile. But she was busy penetrating him with an apprehensive glare. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt, I can leave if you want, I just wanted to make sure you were okay, because you missed breakfast, and two classes." Draco cursed himself. Since when did he ramble like a fool? Embarrassed by his behavior, he started to walk away. He was almost at the tree line when she spoke.
"You noticed I was gone, and you came looking for me?" Her voice was so quiet that Draco thought he imagined it. "Why? Why are you suddenly so nice to me?"
Draco turned to face her again, at a loss for words. "I don't really know." He finally answered.
"That's not an answer." Her voice was suddenly sharp, and for a moment Draco caught a glimpse of her old self flash across her face.
Draco shrugged; he didn't want to tell her the truth, that he owed her, everything. Granger wouldn't care. She sighed, accepting his answer and turned back towards the lake. She bent down and picked up a handful of pebbles. Draco averted his eyes as the wind played with her skirt.
"Well do you want me to teach you or not?" She asked over her shoulder.
Draco smiled to himself; it was a small victory. He removed his shoes and socks, as well as his school robe, folding it neatly and placing it on top of his bag. He rolled up the bottoms of his trousers and joined Granger in the shallows.
Once she realized he was next to her, Granger suddenly pulled down the sleeve of her sweater, covering her left arm. Draco pretended not to notice, but he knew why, and suddenly a fresh wave of pity washed over him. He rolled up just his right sleeve, and bent down to pick up some pebbles.
For the next hour, Hermione taught Draco Malfoy how to skip rocks. She couldn't believe it; he was supposed to hate muggle things, yet he laughed like a little boy when he finally succeeded in getting a pebble to jump five times. Hermione found herself wondering about Malfoy, and how much he had seemingly changed. He had not called her a name, teased her about something, and done nothing to show that he resented being in her presence, if anything, Malfoy seemed to be actually enjoying himself.
Hermione studied him, noticing things that she normally would have ignored, like the way his brow furrowed as he concentrated, how his back tensed just before he brought his arm forward to flick his wrist, and most of all, how he gave her his full attention when she spoke. It was surreal, here she was, in the company of Malfoy, where she should have been miserable to be around him, she felt the happiest she had in weeks. It was like she had a friend again.
Then the bell tolled for lunch.
They left the lake, suddenly awkward as they both put back on their socks, shoes and robes. Hermione reached down for her bag to find it already in the hand of Malfoy. The smallest of smiles reassured her as he slung it over his shoulder with his bag. They headed back to the castle.
"Wait, if it's only lunch that means you skipped second period too." Hermione suddenly said.
Malfoy turned his head to answer as she struggled to keep up with his long stride. "Well Granger, I hadn't planned on skipping, but the new DADA teacher wasn't very inviting, and I saw you from the window when I left so I thought why not."
Hermione absorbed his answer. "What do you mean?"
"About Professor Comwell?" He finally noticed her half-jog she was doing to keep up and slowed down. "Well he was being a git about the war, and I couldn't listen to him anymore."
"So you hate it too." Hermione said softly. "The way everyone acts about…about what happened."
Malfoy stopped walking, and she almost ran into him. "Yes." His tone suddenly changed. "I'm sorry, I have to go." He handed back her bag and left, abandoning her in front of the big oak doors.
Hermione watched him go; feeling slightly hurt, and found herself wishing he hadn't left.
The week passed in a blur for Hermione. The weekend was a relief, and on Saturday she could be found lying across the Common Room couch with her Transfiguration notes over her face. Hermione kept her eyes closed, listening to the fire crackle. She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn't hear the portrait open. Hermione didn't even know that Malfoy was in the room until he lifted up her feet and sat on the couch.
"What-" Her notes went flying and she almost fell off the couch. Hands grabbed her waist just before she was about to fall off and pulled her back.
"Easy." Malfoy chuckled, "I'm sorry, I didn't think that would scare you."
Hermione frowned, and moved away from him to the other end of the couch. "Everything scares me these days."
Malfoy stopped smiling, and Hermione swore she saw pity in his eyes. "Alright, I'm sorry. I just wanted to talk to you, you've been icy towards me the past week."
She rolled her eyes, "What do you care?"
Malfoy looked at her, straight into her eyes, and Hermione stared back. Harry had once told her that you can read people by looking into their eyes, but Hermione was confused by what she saw. Malfoy looked happy and sad simultaneously, and there was something else, a certain tenderness in his gaze that made her uncomfortable. "Look Granger, I was really hoping we could put the petty schoolchildren fights behind us and start new."
"What, like friends?"
"Yes, Granger, like friends." His smirk was back.
Hermione was silent, considering, then she held out her hand. "Friends."
Malfoy shook her hand, "Friends."
The heavy thump of textbooks landing on the table made Hermione look up from her book.
"Finally, I've been looking for you all morning." Draco whispered, sitting opposite her.
"Funny, I didn't think you knew where the library was." She whispered back.
He rolled his eyes, "Really? You're going to insult my intelligence now?"
Hermione smiled in response, and returned to her book. She heard Draco sigh.
"Come on, stop being a good student, we're going outside." Her book was taken from her hands, and she was lifted up off her seat.
"Stop it!" She squeaked. Draco slung her bag over his shoulder in response, gathering their books in one hand, and grabbing Hermione's arm with the other. She had no choice but to keep up with him as he dragged her out of the library. Hermione tried to drag her feet and slow him down but he kept pulling her along. "Draco!" Her voice had a commanding bite to it that made him smirk.
"Say that again."
"I - What?"
"My name. Say it again."
He stopped walking and faced her. Hermione looked up at him, annoyed. "Draco."
Draco smiled. "Good. I like it when you say my name."
Hermione opened her mouth, and shut it again. She had no idea what to say.
"Come on then, sunshine awaits." He continued towards the Grounds. "Hermione." He said her name with relish.
Students were filing into the Great Hall, chatting and clamoring to get a seat at their respective tables. Hermione faltered at the entrance, fiddling with the strap of her bag.
"Where should we sit?" She asked Draco, peering around the hall for friendly faces.
"There." Draco nodded towards Blaise, who was waving him over to the end of the Slytherin table. Hermione frowned, hesitating. "Or you could sit at the Gryffindor table all by yourself."
She rolled her eyes, "Fine."
Grinning, Draco strode towards Blaise, Hermione in tow.
Students gasped as she bravely took a seat opposite Blaise, who raised his eyebrows but said nothing more than a respectful "Hello."
She gave him a nervous smile, "Zabini."
"Good, you two are making friends." Draco grinned, pouring himself a glass of pumpkin juice.
Blaise sneered, "I'm only being polite because I'd never hear the end of it if I was rude to your precious little friend."
Draco's grin faded. "Blaise." He said warningly. Blaise shrugged.
"No harm intended, I was the one who invited you over here anyhow."
"And here I thought you two were best friends." Hermione stated, eyebrow raised.
Blaise rolled his eyes and Draco sighed. Hermione ignored them after that, preferring to devote her attention to eating her Steak and Kidney pie. She had forgotten how good it felt to eat until stuffed. Hermione hadn't eaten a proper meal since the Battle of Hogwarts, if it weren't for Harry checking up on her, she would have let herself starve. She laid her fork down, her plate practically licked clean. Draco noticed her change, how she was looking at her hands, and how her shoulders were hunched, but didn't ask her what was wrong, not in front of Blaise.
It was only when a group of Slytherins passing the table bumped into Hermione did she jump up and run. Draco barely opened his mouth to call her back when she had gone. Draco turned to Blaise, "Why did she do that?"
Blaise shrugged, more interested in his lamb chops. "I dunno, mate. I think I heard one of the blokes who bumped into her say something."
"Say what?" Draco was suddenly frantic. "Blaise! What did he say?"
Blaise looked at him, slightly alarmed by his sudden change, "Alright calm down, I think he said Mudbl- Oi! Where you going?"
Draco was out of his seat and chasing after Hermione before Blaise had finished talking.
Blaise put his fork down in annoyance. "Bloody loonies, the lot of 'em."
Draco decided to check the Common Room first, and was relieved to find Hermione sitting cross-legged in front of the fire. He took a few steps closer, then realized she was obsessively tracing the scar on her left forearm.
"Hermione?" He asked tentatively. She didn't answer, so Draco stepped closer. He put a hand on her shoulder, and felt her trembling. "Oh, Hermione." He breathed out and dropped to his knees, putting both his arms around her. At his touch, Hermione started sobbing. Draco didn't say a word. He sat himself more comfortably, and slowly rocked her, stroking her hair, wiping her face, just doing his best to calm her.
Hermione sank into his embrace, hiccupping as her sobs started to subside. Never before had anyone comforted her like that. Ronald had patted her back awkwardly, asking her to calm down, Harry panicked and always ran off to find Ginny, but even Ginny didn't know what she was crying about. And yet here was Draco, comforting her as though he knew exactly what she needed.
"Do you want to tell me what that was about?" He whispered to her, still stroking her hair.
Hermione sniffed, wiping her nose with the sleeve of her cardigan. "I don't know."
Draco didn't push it, only saying, "Well do you want to at least move somewhere more comfortable?"
Draco guided her into a standing position, keeping his hand on her back, than awkwardly removing it as he motioned to her bedroom. Hermione suddenly found herself not caring that he was Draco Malfoy. He had become a new person to her, after what he had said, and now how he was acting, she wanted nothing more than to spend as much time with him as she possibly could. She stepped closer to him, so she was pressed against his side. Draco raised his eyebrows in surprise, but accepted it without challenge, only wrapping his arm around her shoulders. He guided her up the stairs and over to her bed. Hermione drifted away from him, and slowly got onto her bed. She curled up on her side, hugging her knees to her chest. Draco stepped a little closer, and when Hermione didn't move, he gently removed her shoes and laid them on the floor.
"Do you need anything?" He asked softly.
Hermione didn't answer. Her gaze floated over to his face, and she stared at him for a long minute before her hand reached out to him. Draco accepted. He took off his own shoes, and loosened his tie before climbing up next to Hermione. He leaned against her pillows, facing her. Hermione shut her eyes as Draco began to comb her hair with his fingers.
"Get some sleep." He whispered.
Hermione nodded ever so slightly, then moved herself so she was inside Draco's embrace. He accepted it without a word, merely wrapping his arms around her. Hermione breathed in deeply, her nose against his chest.
She had never felt as safe as she did in Draco's arms.
Her breathing began to deepen, and Draco figured she had fallen asleep at last. He stroked her hair one last time, and after a moment's hesitation, gently kissed her forehead. He then laid his head back, and closed his eyes as well.
Hermione smiled, she had not been asleep just yet.
When Draco woke, it was dark. Hermione was no longer in his arms and he sat up, looking around the room, concerned. Then he realized he could hear the shower running and there was a soft light peeking out from under the bathroom door. He let himself fall back down onto the pillows and ran his hand through his already tousled hair.
He closed his eyes and considered his thoughts. Draco had always found Hermione mystique, and he was so pleased that they were friends now. But he was concerned with how affected she was with the aftermath of the war. Her encounter with Bellatrix had affected Hermione more than she cared to admit.
Draco sighed, he made a silent promise to keep Hermione safe, she deserved that.
The shower shut off and the darkness seemed to intensify in the silence. Draco reached over and turned on the lamp next to the bed. He squinted as the light flooded the room. Able now to see his watch, Draco noted that it was just nearing midnight. The bathroom door creaked open and Draco watched Hermione's silhouette sharpen as the steam dissipated.
"Hi." Hermione stood in the doorframe uncomfortably, gently towel drying her hair.
"Do you want me to leave?" Draco shifted, glancing over to where he had left his shoes.
Hermione stared at him with round eyes, "No, stay," She hesitated, "...please?"
Draco nodded, amazed at how timid she was. "Of course."
Hermione turned slightly, and dropped her towel into the clothes hamper just inside the bathroom door. Her pajamas were very simple, plaid sweatpants and a baggy t-shirt that had the Kenmare Kestrels team logo on it.
"Never had you pegged for a Quidditch fan." Draco relaxed back against his pillow, turning his head to watch her as she crossed back over to the bed.
"It was Harry's. I don't think he knows I borrowed it from him."
"That's not borrowing, love, that's robbery."
Hermione's cheeks tinged pink, "I'm his friend, besides, I think he's more a fan of the Chudley Cannons. Ron rubbed off on him."
Draco smirked, "Of course."
Hermione hopped up next to him, and sat cross-legged. "You called me love."
"I - well, yeah." Draco fumbled his words, "Force of habit, I say that to a lot of friends."
She grinned, "Right, that explains why I heard you call Blaise 'honeybunny' the other day."
"Don't take the piss."
Hermione laughed. "Just admit it, you're hopelessly in love with me."
Draco was astonished at the sudden change in character. She was suddenly lively, and it was endearing to realize that she was behaving in the same way she would around Ginny or Harry.
He sat up straighter, and caught Hermione's gaze. "I am hopelessly in love with you."
Hermione reached out and playfully smacked his arm. "Now who's taking the piss."
"I'm being completely serious." Draco moved closer to her. "Have been for awhile."
She stared at him, unbelieving. "I don't know what to say."
Draco leaned back and sighed, "You don't have to say anything. But if you don't mind I might go back to sleep." He reached over and turned the lamp off, and let the room drown in darkness again.
Hermione sat still, her heart and mind racing. She didn't know what to think, or what to do. She could not lie to herself, she had been craving a man's touch in Ron's absence, and Draco was making her feel alive again.
Hermione unfolded her legs, and crawled over to where Draco was laying on his side, facing away from her. She could only see the dark outline of his form, and her hand reached out, searching for him. She found his arm, and she let her hand run up until she reached his shoulder. Draco had gone very still. He let her caress the lines of his jaw, and closed his eyes as her porcelain fingers brushed over his lips. He turned so he was on his back; the moonlight filtering through the slit between the curtains let him see a sliver of Hermione's face. He could not tell what she was thinking.
Hermione pressed closer to him, let herself lay next to him, their legs touching. Draco suddenly hugged her to him, his arms wrapping around her, his face buried in her hair. Hermione hugged back fiercely, squeezing her eyes shut against the tears that threatened there.
She pulled back a little, and Draco loosened his arms, squinting to make out her face in the shadow.
Hermione leaned forward again, and found his lips in the darkness.
Theo found Draco and Blaise in the library, arguing in terse whispers over a DADA essay.
"What are you two up to?"
Blaise moved his bag off the remaining chair for Theo before answering. "How do you feel about our current administration?"
"And here I thought that you were struggling with the theory behind Unforgivable Curses."
"Theo, shut up." Draco rolled his eyes. "We're being serious."
Theo leaned back against his chair and crossed his arms. "I find the ministry rather unforgiving. The only reason you and your mother were spared from prison was the good grace of Hermione and Potter."
"And Theo and I were not involved at all except for familial ties, and all of our assets were seized." Blaise leaned forward, "We're discriminated against, Draco. Don't you want that to change?"
Draco ran his hands over his face. "You're talking about another war, Blaise. That's ridiculously stupid."
"Not a war, a coup." Theo looked thoughtful. "I'm interested."
"Coups aren't bloodless, Theo!"
"But if we have the right person spearheading the movement…" Blaise picked up his quill and twirled it around his fingers.
Draco cottoned on quickly. "No. No way. She practically put them into power. She would never agree."
Theo surveyed Blaise thoughtfully. "What's the harm in asking?"
December changed to January and Hermione returned to Hogwarts a different person. She came back from the Weasley's with a snarl on her lip and a fire in her eyes. Draco was a little shell-shocked when she rounded on him after he asked about her Christmas, screaming obscenities about being a scarlet woman and how she should settle down with a nice man and be popping out imbecilic ginger twats. Blaise had laughed about it for days, and Theo would smirk every time Draco would rush to pull out Hermione's chair or to hold doors open, but it was Luna who clarified.
"I heard Mrs. Weasley gently tried to get Hermione to marry Ron again."
"From who?" Theo looked up from his book.
"Ginny." She leaned back against Blaise, and his arm automatically wrapped around her. "When Hermione tried to explain that she was with Draco, Ron went nuts, and his mum took his side." Luna twisted a lock of hair around her finger and admired the colour in the firelight. "It's not her fault of course, the Nargles are very excitable around Christmas."
Theo rolled his eyes and Draco snorted, taking a gulp from his bottle of firewhiskey.
Blaise lay his chin on Luna's shoulder, " Does anyone know where Granger is? I haven't seen her."
Draco pointed up towards her dorm. "She put up a silencing charm an hour ago. Hermione doesn't deal with rage very well."
"You're just saying that because she only takes it out on you."
"Shut up, Theo."
Theo turned back to Luna, "But it has been a week."
She stared at him, her dreamy eyes piercing. "I think a week is perfectly acceptable to still be angry about being called a death eaters whore by an ex boyfriend."
Draco froze in his chair, bottle half way to his mouth. "Are you sure he said that?"
"Well forgive me if I don't take Red's word as law." Draco snapped. Blaise tensed behind Luna, glaring defensively as Draco stood up and began to pace the length of the room. "If he's so hell bent on marrying her, what the fuck would he gain by insulting her?"
"Beats me, mate." Theo shrugged, "He's always been an idiot."
"Why didn't she tell me?"
"Again, I don't know."
"Shut up, Theo. These are rhetorical questions."
"So then go up there and talk to your girlfriend instead of moping around in the bottom of a bottle." Theo glared at Draco until the blond backed down.
"Alright, I'm going."
"No need to be so petulant, she's your girlfriend."
"Both of you shut up." Blaise interjected. "Draco, you're drunk. Theo, you're a prat. Between the two of you, Hermione will throw a fit."
Draco threw his arms up in the air, and stalked off to Hermione's room.
Theo and Blaise had had enough. The constant mutterings of their classmates was driving Blaise up the wall, and even Luna had begun to lose her usual serene passiveness. Theo pushed upon the portrait after muttering the password and stopped short at the sight of Hermione in nothing but what looked like one of Draco's dress shirts. Blaise swore as he collided with Theo.
"Merlin, give a man some warning."
Hermione turned from where she was browsing the shelves for a new book. "Oh, hello Theo, Blaise. Draco is still asleep, but feel free to wake him up." The grimace that spread across her face suggested she had already tried and been treated to a brought of morning grumpiness.
Theo wrenched his eyes from her legs, and stared pointedly at the table, focusing instead on the teakettle that was shimmering under a Stasis charm. "Thanks, uh yeah, we're gonna do that…now."
Blaise however, smirked and raised an eyebrow at Hermione. "Nice hair."
Her wicked grin was answer enough. "How's Luna? I heard she had to visit Madam Promfrey last week."
Blaise's smirk fell slightly and Theo snickered. "You were sorted into the wrong house, viper."
"Yes, I do look rather good in green." She responded idly, turning back to her bookshelves. "I'm sure Draco would agree."
"Agree with what?" A sleep tousled Draco padded into the common room, shirtless and wearing an irritable frown. He took the cup of tea that Hermione handed him, and raised an eyebrow at Theo's determined avoidance of his gaze.
"How well the colour green suits me."
"If the emerald thong hanging over the chair is any indication than yes, Draco does think green looks good on you."
Draco rolled his eyes. "It's too early for this shite."
"Actually its half 11."
"Blaise." It was Hermione who interjected, her voice soft. "Enough." There was just enough malice underneath the word to make Blaise realize just how much she was learning from Narcissa. "I'm sure you two have a reason for disturbing our Easter Sunday."
Blaise looked over at Theo, who finally gave up his staring contest with the teakettle. "People have been asking us why a certain Weasley is in Hogsmeade, telling anyone who will listen that you're under Draco's Imperious."
Hermione laughed out loud. "Are you joking?"
She rolled her eyes. "Get dressed Draco, we're going out."
He stared at her incredulously. "It's not a Hogsmeade weekend. We can't just walk out the gates."
"No, I suppose we can't." Blaise's grin was back as he watched Hermione's musing smirk. "Theo, Blaise, you two can come along."
"Oh goodie, a field trip."
"Could you be any more of a prat?" Draco snapped.
Theo snorted, "Go put a shirt on."
"This is your grand plan? Disillusionment Charms?" Draco waved his hand in front of his transparent face. "Weird."
Hermione tapped her wand on Theo and rendered him a chameleon. "It's just temporary until we get to the Willow."
"Remind me why we're creeping through dirt tunnels and into a haunted shack again?" Draco watched as Blaise then Hermione herself disappeared.
"Why Draco, we have a weasel infestation to take care of."
Graduation was a dull affair. Hermione and Draco gave a combined Head Boy and Girl speech that was oddly stilted and had their graduating class giving each other odd looks. It praised the capabilities of the students as accomplishments of the new ministry regime, and how proud they were to be harbingers of a new age.
Afterwards, clutching his diploma, Blaise laughed himself sick. "That might have been a tad heavy handed."
Hermione allowed him a shit-eating grin. "Have to sow the seeds somewhere."
"McGonagall wasn't happy." Theo mused, reclining back into the seat of the train compartment.
Draco shrugged out of his dress robes. "Who cares? It's not her future anymore."
Luna tucked her wand behind her ear. "No need to be so catty, Draco."
Harry was the only obstacle that Hermione was worried about. When he arrived through her fireplace, she was waiting with a glass of firewhiskey in hand.
"Hey, Mione." He grinned that lopsided of his as he hugged her.
"How was the wedding?" She brushed some soot off his shoulder.
"Fantastic. Ginny apologized that you weren't on the list, but she thought it would be for the best."
Hermione grimaced, "Yes, I'm glad to have avoided Molly's wrath." She guided him into the library, and gently closed the double doors.
"Where's your ferret?" Harry walked over to an armchair and sank into it gratefully. "Is he housetrained yet?"
She smiled at him indulgently. Harry missed the malice behind the look, but it would have made Theo proud. "He's currently at the ministry, talking to several department heads if I recall correctly."
Harry frowned, "Hermione, I'm really worried he's using you. I don't understand why you're going along with him and those Slytherins."
Hermione's smile never wavered. "Now, Harry. Surely you aren't implying I can't take care of myself."
He stayed quiet, watching her as one would watch a tiger pacing dangerously close to the edge of its cage.
She took a dainty sip from her glass, and traced the rim with her finger. "Are you with me or against me?"
"Hermione." Harry said helplessly.
"Yes or no, Harry."
He looked at her for a long time before standing up. "Yes."
"Now, now Minister, no need to stand up." Kingsley found himself staring down the vinewood wand into the cold, calculating eyes of Hermione Granger. "Hands on your desk, palms flat."
Draco slipped into the room, not even raising an eyebrow at the minister's predicament. "Theo and Blaise are organizing the workers, and Potter is subduing the aurors."
Hermione didn't look away from Kingsley. "Luna?"
"I'm not entirely sure. I think she's down in the Department of Mysteries."
"Hermione." Kingsley said weakly.
"Please, you don't have to do this."
She raised an eyebrow, "I'm not going to do anything. You are."
Blaise picked up the Prophet from Hermione's dining table before seating himself next to Luna. She handed him a piece of buttered toast, and he took it with a grateful smile. Hermione set a cup of tea in front of him, and another in front of Theo, who was enjoying his eggs and bacon.
"Hermione darling, when do I have to be in to the ministry?" Draco's voice echoed down the stairs.
"In an hour." She yelled back up. "Anything good?"
Blaise ruffled the paper. "No complaints. Just some minor editorials about some of the new legislation in the works."
"Excellent. If you excuse me, I have to make sure Draco has all the paperwork we need."
Theo looked up from his breakfast. "You and Draco are actually going to be involved in the politics?
Hermione paused in the doorway of her kitchen to look at her Advisor to the Minister of Magic. "No rest for the wicked, Theo." And she gave him a grin before disappearing.
- So this is my first published work on this site, and I am quite proud of it. This monster was influenced by Colubrina's Lady of the Lake, and I hope people enjoy this as much as I enjoy her work.
Thanks so much for reading and please leave a review!
- So I'm pretty sure I fixed the spacing issue, I would have done it sooner but I was away from my computer. Thanks so much to all of you that have already reviewed, its so awesome to see what you guys think!
I can't believe Colubrina gave me a shoutout, that's freaking unbelievable! If you haven't read any of her stuff you definitely should, she's awesome.