This one is for In Dreams! Happy Anniversary of the day you broke your foot!
Kidding of course :) This is for your Birthday, friend. But of course, as is now our own little tradition, I am posting 1 day early. I hope you are having a wonderful weekend away and that this little tiny one shot puts a smile on your face.
Super big big love to Mcal and LightofEvolution who were complete ROCKSTARS and did a quick alpha/beta on this with like ZERO notice. You ladies are amazing and I adore you.
Happy Birthday to Gemini's everywhere! One of my very favorite and most compatible signs.
And of course, a big thank you, Readers, for opening up this little link to give it a read :)
One might think, coming from a family with a tradition around constellations, a name the very stuff of astral legend, that Draco Malfoy might like looking at the stars.
One might be really fucking wrong, then, because Draco, he would just like you to know, hates the fucking stars.
Perhaps not the stars themselves. It's only that he hates astrology, having it pounded into his head from a young age. And Divination. And meaningless old legends and myths. And horoscopes.
And the fucking Astronomy Tower.
Yet, here he stands, scowl on his face and hands in his pockets, listening to their instructor drone on and on about moon dust and Venus rising and orbits, and he could not possibly give fewer fucks. The only thing the stars are good for is offering a little light in a dark sky. No more special than the moon or sun or a Merlin-be-damned candle. Well done, stars. Way to go.
What? He missed the question. Rather than blurt out his lack of attention, he politely (read: brown-nose) begs her pardon. "Apologies, Professor. I was quite taken with the night sky and missed your question."
She smiles, indulgent. Draco might hate Astronomy, but he adores this professor. Mainly because she's new, recently relocated from Italy, and she doesn't know much about the war that happened here just last year. She's been more kind to him than any other faculty member in years.
In her accented English, she repeats, "The planet with the highest number of named moons in our Solar System, if you please."
"Jupiter, professor, with seventeen named."
He might hate astronomy, but he knows just about fucking everything, thanks.
"Excellent, Mister Malfoy. Ten points to Slytherin."
A ripple of dissent travels the red and gold half of the class while the green and silver glance at him with grudging appreciation. He's no one's favourite son these days. A traitor to both sides, it seems his late-war hesitations and regrets inconveniently carry a lot of weight with snakes, and very, very little with lions.
He resumes his daydreaming, which is little more than silently pouting that he must be here at all, until the Professor calls an end to their evening lesson and he is allowed to retreat from a place that makes his skin crawl and his hands shake. Draco thinks he does a pretty fair job of hiding all of this, but he can't leave soon enough.
As students branch off to their houses or The Great Hall for a late dinner, he weaves away from the beaten path, taking odd corridors to ensure solitude. He's not interested in the whispered opinions of his House, nor the bold taunts of Gryffindor. A quiet evening in his dorm is all he desires, and he thinks he's almost made it when a throat clears.
He looks back and double-takes. Hermione Granger is a few paces behind him, chewing her lip in that anxious way she has. Either she had cast a Disillusionment on herself, or Draco was too far into his thoughts for his own safety. It doesn't do to let the enemy sneak up.
Perhaps enemy is a little strong, but really, what are words but labels of your own perspective? It might not be the word best suited to his own thoughts, but he is positive a large number in this castle would nod their heads in agreement: Draco Malfoy is the enemy of Hermione Granger. It's strange to no longer be of the opinion but know it to be true to the world.
"Malfoy, do you have a moment?"
The shake of his hands having subsided, it's fairly easy for Draco to look unaffected, to settle a cool expression on his face. "Just a moment, Granger. I have places to be."
"Right. Of course. I only wanted to ask... Would-you-like-to-join-my-study-group-tomorrow-night-for-Astronomy?" She blurts out her question so fast, he almost misses it. Then Draco is just staring, wondering if he heard correctly. Surely not...
She must take his quiet for a response in itself, growing visibly more nervous and tripping over her proverbial feet to backtrack. "I'm sorry, of course you likely have your own study group, and really, I don't have a group per se, more just that I wanted to have one, and you seem to be doing so well, and it's fine, I understand you are busy with Quidditch and your own House and other classes and-"
"Granger. Merlin, just stop. Why the fuck would you want me in your group? Your group of one, if I'm understanding."
The witch glances away and huffs a breath. "Never mind. It's fine." She turns to leave, but Draco is a mix of intrigued and irritated by her sudden refusal to speak. Irritation wins.
"Huh uh, no way, Granger. What is this? Pity the Death Eater charity? Do you have a new acronym for this one? Or are you just recycling 'spew'? Save the Pathetic, Evil, Warmongers?"
She blinks, but then her eyes narrow and her mouth twists into a grimace. "You know, it's a shame you can be so clever only when being such a prick. And no, this isn't a cause; I was actually looking for help, but it was obviously stupid of me to look here for it here, so I'll just go about my business elsewhere."
He scoffs at that nonsense. "You expect me to believe you were looking for my help? You? Top of her class, all around Witch of the fucking Year?"
"Yes, well, even I have my struggles."
They stare at each other for a moment, neither seeming to know what to say. Finally, Draco relaxes his defensive stance. "Alright, then, I'll bite. Why do you need help?"
There's some internal struggling happening before his eyes. Accustomed to the Slytherin mentality of showing no weakness, of hiding all misgivings behind confidence, whether it be faux or earned, it's fascinating to watch. He waits, uncharacteristically patient, for her to win the battle with herself.
"You might know, I'm pants at Divination-"
He snorts, interjecting, "Because you've made your distaste for it known, not because you're incapable."
"Regardless, it's not something in my usual field of study, so my knowledge base is lacking. Not to mention, my parents are staunchly scientific. So I do well enough with information about the Solar System, but when it comes to marrying astronomy with astrology... I have difficulties." She stops then, waiting for judgment. Draco feels like she has given him an inordinate amount of power. When does Hermione Granger ever admit to not knowing something? Maybe she doesn't see him as the enemy after all.
"And you think I can help you?" he asks to clarify.
Granger nods, eagerly. "I know from Andromeda how much the Blacks value astrological tradition. When I mentioned to her this was my weakest subject, she suggested I speak to you-"
"My aunt suggested? The one that hates my family and everything her sister chose in life? That aunt?"
"She doesn't hate you, Malfoy." Granger tilts her head, considering his words. They strike a place deep within that always wished for more family. To belong to something larger than his parents and himself. "She's mostly sad about you. And your mother. I think she wishes you could have known her daughter."
"Right," he says, looking away and swallowing the word "daughter" down his throat. He wishes he had known her as well. One moment she was a vivacious witch from afar, a cousin he thought maybe he would someday know; the next she was a corpse, fingers held lightly in the rough dead hand of his former professor.
She gives him a moment before prodding lightly. "So?"
When he finds her gaze again, she looks softer than before, more vulnerable by half. "Will you help me?"
Draco considers her long enough that they are both uncomfortable. The conversation has been half silences pillowed between disjointed, agitated words. Finally, he bows his head in some sort of defeat, conceding victory to a battle she probably didn't know she was fighting. "Sure. I'll help you. But you said you don't have a group, and I'd like to keep it that way thanks. I'm not going to be outnumbered in a den of heroes and zealots of goodness. Just you and me, Granger. My dorm or yours."
If she's surprised, she hides it behind a sunny smile that does something uncomfortable to Draco's insides. Has she ever looked so pleased in his direction? She's looking at him like she looks at Potter when he catches the Snitch. He clears his throat and can't meet her gaze.
She doesn't seem to notice, answering, "That sounds perfect. Come to my dorm at seven. I have my charts color coded and my parchments in files, so it's much easier if you come to me rather than move all my things. I'm so pleased! If there's anything I can do for you in turn, just say it, and I'll help you."
Draco watches her spin on her heel and start to leave when he calls for her instead. "Granger?"
She stops immediately, turning with that damn smile still stretching her lips, expectant and open.
"Maybe you could mention to Andromeda that I'm curious about her?"
That smile grows impossibly just a bit wider. "I'll do you one better. Come with me to Hogsmeade tomorrow. I'll arrange tea, and maybe she can bring Teddy along as well. He's quite into dragons right now, and I think he'd love knowing he has a cousin named for one."
"I... alright," he agrees, hesitant.
"It's a date, then. I'll meet you after lunch by the Great Hall and we can walk together. I can't wait for you to meet her; she's wonderful."
With that, she turns again and walks away, her heels clicking on the stone. He wonders again that she had managed to sneak up on him at all and assumes it had been a spell.
At one in the afternoon, Draco Malfoy offers his elbow to Hermione Granger, years of breeding making sure he didn't think twice about it. He certainly thinks twice when she takes it, though. And a third and fourth time as well, her hand a weight on his forearm that makes him feel like he can't get a deep breath. She looks up and smiles at him, chattering and apparently oblivious to the effect she's having.
Has he known kindness like this? Sincerity? Has it only been hours since his world was a pinpoint on himself and his parents? The only star in his own sky?
He pulls up short, nearly sending the witch stumbling, but holds onto her hand so she might right herself.
"Granger, wait, I…". He what? What can he possibly say?
"Are you nervous?" she asks softly, understanding lighting her eyes.
Is he? No.
"No, surprisingly not. I'm shocked to say that I trust you not to lead me astray." She beams at that, and he swallows, studying the feminine features of her face. "I wanted to say thank you. Regardless of how this goes…Thank you."
Her face cocks to one side, neck stretched and sunlight highlighting the petite slope of her nose. Her lips meet his cheek and linger barely a beat of his heart, but it's enough that the whole world tilts.
"You're welcome," she says, then grins. "Don't worry, you're paying me back. If Teddy gets food in my hair, you owe me at least three study sessions per week."
His own mouth stretches into a grin to match hers, and he reclaims her arm, settling into the crook of his, hand laying over hers.
He thinks he will find a way to be sure at least one biscuit ends up in that beautiful nest of hers, even if he has to put it there himself.