Hello all! This is the sequel to 'Harry Potter and the Staff of Vigor'! If you didn't read it then it this story might be a little confusing in some areas! To all those people that asked me for this! Here you are! :)
Disclaimer:If I say I own Harry Potter…I'm lying!
The Fine Line Between Love and Hate
CHAPTER 1: THE HORRIBLE GRADUATION
Hermione Granger looked in the mirror and sighed. She hated black and felt particularly loathsome of the robe she was wearing but she could not and would not change tradition. She closed her eyes guiltily thinking how selfish she was to worry about the colour of her clothes when it was such an occasion when selflessness should be a strong expression.
Parvati Patil appeared at her side, "Are you ready?"
"What do you think?" Hermione snapped, a little too harshly. Parvati closed her eyes and shook her head.
"I don't really like you Hermione. We've shared a dorm room for nearly seven years and I've seen you go through so much and I know we're in the same House," She opened her eyes and gazed at Hermione's reflection in the mirror, "But I really don't like you."
"Well I suppose that is reasonable." Hermione glared at the girl. Parvati shifted away a little and began to fix her hair in the mirror. She also wearing black but it didn't make her look hideous, which Hermione didn't think was very fair. Lavender Brown, who had been watching the display from the corner of the bathroom finally spoke up.
"It was nice of you to let us use the Head Girl bathroom Hermione." She said softly. Hermione's eyes traveled over to Lavender and her hostile attire disappeared. Lavender, she felt, was one of the people bearing the worst part of this whole ordeal.
"That's alright," Hermione smiled a little and turned around, "It's a big enough bathroom anyway. And we're all Gryffindor girls so why not help each other out?"
Lavender's bottom lip quivered, "Exactly. We should always try and be at our best. We don't know what might happen to us the next day."
"Oh Lav." Parvati made her way over to her best friend and enveloped her in a hug. Hermione remained where she was, observing Lavender with tremendous pity not knowing what say. Ginny Weasley walked into the bathroom at that moment. She glanced down at the two girls, one sobbing quietly, before turning to Hermione.
"Hermione, you got the speech ready?" She asked quietly. Hermione nodded. Ginny sighed as Lavender's sobs grew louder.
"I think I might start crying Gin. What if I do halfway through the speech?" Hermione said worriedly. Ginny smiled.
"If you do I will laugh and then encourage you to continue." She replied simply. Hermione rolled her eyes and observed Ginny's black gown with as much distaste as she had for her own. It seemed that she was not the only one that black did nothing for.
"It's mums," Ginny explained catching her stare, "It's about ten sizes too big but who cares what they look like at things like this anyway?"
"Yes, I know." Hermione agreed going a little pink. Parvati helped Lavender to her feet and Ginny smiled warmly at the girl whose tears had left stains on her cheeks.
"Oh Ginny," Lavender moaned, "He meant something to you too I know, I'm sorry if I seem like a sook."
"What?" Ginny cried alarmed, "Lavender, you're not. Here, let me help you get cleaned up."
"I'll help too." Parvati added, giving Hermione a look that urged her to leave. Hermione narrowed her eyes.
"I'll just go out and practice then. I'll see you all later."
She received a few murmurs in reply and left the bathroom feeling slightly unwanted before the feeling was replaced with guilt at her selfishness for feeling unwanted. But she couldn't focus. What McGonagall had asked her to do was ultimately a big favor and she just hoped she could get through her speech successfully.
She turned the corner and bumped into the familiar faces of Ron Weasley and Draco Malfoy that were, as usual, in a
"What was that you said?" Ron demanded angrily.
"I said that the Chudley Cannons suck Weasley, don't tell me you are deficient in hearing now as well as being brain dead." Malfoy smirked daringly. Ron's ears darkened.
"You are a prat! But I suppose you can't help thinking that, being the obnoxious git you are," Ron shot back before feigning shock, "Oh dear god Malfoy! Your hair! It's out of place!"
Malfoy's arm automatically shot up to feel his head of perfectly combed hair before Ron started chuckling quietly to himself. Malfoy glared at him.
"Wealsey..." He warned. Ron's hand went up and slapped him on the back.
"Every time," He muttered, "It gets you every time."
Hermione rolled her eyes and approached them hastily. Ron stopped laughing immediately and eyed her with caution. She hadn't been the best company lately.
"Hello Hermione." He said slowly. She smiled at him before turning to Malfoy and poking him in the chest.
"I hope you did your speech like you said you would. I am not going up there alone." She told him firmly. Malfoy sighed.
"I did," He shook his head, "What kind of Head Boy do you take me for?"
"One that does not do his duties." Hermione replied quickly. Malfoy looked taken aback.
"What is with you lately?" Ron asked, "You've been in a mood for weeks."
"Well I am female and I tend to handle the issue of death without jokes and taunting and pretending things haven't happened." Hermione blurted out, trying to keep her voice steady. Ron smiled softly and placed his arm around her. She welcomed the comfort that she wish happened more often.
"I'm sorry Malfoy. I'll be fine once this is all over." She apologized. The blonde boy shrugged.
"Apology accepted Granger," He gestured in the direction of the Great Hall, "I say we get this dinner out of the way. I'm not looking that forward to it either."
Hermione nodded in agreement and all three made their way to the Great Hall for what was to be a significant night in all of their lives.
* * * *
Harry Potter watched the girl pacing back and forth in his common room warily. She hadn't stopped for about fifteen minutes now and her pacing was making him quite dizzy.
"You ready yet?" He wondered. He had thought he would let her do a generous amount of pacing before he asked her such a question.
"Yes." She continued to pace.
"You want to wear a hole in that floor do you?" Harry grinned a little.
"I want to wear a hole? Why on earth would I do that?" The girl stopped and faced him looking perplexed. Harry sighed and reached out his hand to her. She gingerly took it and he pulled her down next to him.
"Ella," He said firmly, "Please calm down."
"I will not!" Ellanora Egon argued, "I'm very nervous."
"Yes well imagine how Hermione and Malfoy feel. They have to make speeches." Harry pointed out. Ella nodded.
"I know but...I'm not good with things like this." She said quietly. Harry wrapped his arm around her and she leant into him.
"I know. But there is nervous and then there is downright deranged which is what you're becoming." He told her simply. Ella smiled a little. This is why she loved him.
"Yes well. I can be if I want. Last time I checked you didn't own me." She snapped lovingly. Harry rolled his eyes and bent down to kiss her quickly on the lips. He stood up.
"We really should be going. The ceremony will start soon and I wouldn't want to be late." He said sadly. He didn't want to miss the dinner at the Great Hall but really he didn't want to go either.
"Yes I know," Ella stood up and wrapped her arms around him, "I might cry you know."
"Mind if I pretend not to know you if you do?" Harry asked, reciprocating the hug.
"Not at all. As long as I can pretend not to know you when you eat."
"What?" He took a step back and frowned. Ella smiled cheekily.
"You are the biggest grub. Hermione and I don't know who to put bibs on really, you or Ron."
"While that is very funny and I would love to stay and laugh at it," Harry drawled, "We really do have to go."
Ella dropped dejectedly back down onto the couch in front of the Gryffindor fireplace and gazed into the fire. Harry watched her before heading towards the door.
"Come on Ella." He urged gently. She sighed and stood up again.
"It will make me think of Edward Harry," She told him, making her way over to him, "And then I'll get even more upset because if I think of Edward I'll think of my parents..."
Harry opened the common room door for her.
"I'll be right across from you, just at the next table so I won't be far if you get too upset." He told her reassuringly. She coughed.
"Yeah, you know you'll be the one sobbing like a baby too." She retorted. Harry grabbed her hand and they quickened their pace as they headed towards the Great Hall.
"I don't know why we're having this ceremony," Harry moaned, "We graduate tomorrow and it's too much to pack together. And then we get our NEWT results and the independence begins..."
"You sound like Hermione," Ella noted, "But I wish they hadn't packed everything together."
"I do not sound anything like her!" Harry argued, "And don't ever say that."
"Uh huh," Ella tightened her grip on his hand, "We'll pretend you're Harry and not Hermione Potter."
"You know you aren't funny." Harry told her. She sighed.
"I know, but I can try can't I?"
They walked quietly for the next ten minutes, each growing more anxious the closer they got to the Great Hall. The voices of students could not be heard anywhere and Hogwarts castle corridors were abnormally silent.
They reached the Great Hall doors and found no one outside. Harry groaned in realization that they were in fact late and he felt Ella stiffen as they walked through the entrance doors.
"This is going to be the worst Graduation." She muttered next to him. Harry agreed.
* * * *
Draco observed Ella and Potter as they entered the Hall. They were only a little late but everyone turned to look at them as they entered nonetheless because all remaining Hogwarts students were respectively seated.
He turned to Granger, "Like to make entrances those two."
She narrowed her eyes at him.
"Malfoy, can you please reserve the humor until after the ceremony when it will be needed? I really don't think you take your Head Boy duties seriously enough. I don't think you have ever taken them seriously enough really..."
Draco tuned her out as his eyes followed Ella to her seat. They had become very good friends since the Battle that had been faced against Voldemort the other year and he was ashamed to find himself beginning to be attracted to her.
At first he had genuinely thought he had feelings for Ginny and that she also returned them but nothing had really happened and eventually they had settled on becoming excellent friends.
Ella sat down at the Hufflepuff table and gazed up at the front of the Hall. She spotted him and smiled encouragingly, knowing he was nervous about his speech. Draco tried to smile back and he angrily felt a blush creeping across his face. He hoped no one noticed. Granger did and Draco felt himself cursing at how observant the damned woman was.
"Now what is all this about?" She wondered and he was annoyed to note that she sounded amused.
"Your speech." Draco snapped. Granger raised an eyebrow.
"Don't try and change the subject-" She began. Draco pointed to the new Headmaster, Professor McGonagall, who was looking over at her expectantly. She had just announced that Granger would talk and Granger had missed it because she had been watching Ella and Draco. Draco tried not to smile as she blushed and walked over to the stand.
He was rather touched by her speech actually. She had obviously thought it though and it showed. He smiled reassuringly at her when she choked on a sob through the middle and had turned to him in panic. But even though she annoyed him, he knew she was strong and she would get through it.
Before he would have liked it was his turn to speak. Draco cleared his throat and walked to the middle of the stage. All eyes of the students below gazed up at him and he felt his nervousness escalate but with all the Malfoy coolness he could muster he went ahead and spoke.
"I wrote a speech," He began looking down at his notes, "But I really don't think I need these notes anymore. What needs to be said can't be put down on paper and revised."
He heard Granger gasp and half-grinned; hoping she wouldn't think it was a personal attack. He tore his speech notes in half in front of the school and put them aside.
"We have all in some way been hurt or affected by what happened merely weeks ago. I don't doubt that most of you are grieving and by all means you should be," He sighed, "What happened to us as a community...as a group...as a body...was unfair and unforgivable. We lost some of the greatest, bravest Wizards that one could have the privilege of meeting and we will never be able to witness the unique qualities that made up those that were lost."
Granger let out a sob that distracted him for a moment. He frowned before finding his place again.
"Please stand. Stand in the memory of Dean Thomas, Martin Field, Neville Longbottom, Susan Bones, Colin Creevey, Greg...Gregory Goyle, Cynthia Stokes, Bernadette Jones and the well respected Professor Treen and of course, our wonderful Headmaster Professor Dumbledore," Draco sensed some strange vibes from the direction where Snape and the teachers were sitting, but continued nonetheless, "I think we should all praise them. They saved us all by protecting us from the evilest Wizard of all time and for that we owe them our lives. Let us remember them as they were. Happy...our friends...and alive. But also let us remember forever what they did for us. To Hogwarts!"
Draco began clapping and eventually the whole Hall erupted into cheers of thankfulness and some students burst into tears. Draco turned and grinned at Granger.
"You are such an attention seeker," She told him walking over, "But good speech. Your could have improved the articulation quite a bit..."
Draco moaned, "How does Weasley put up with you?"
Hermione wasn't supposed to hear him but she did anyway.
"Excuse me?" She demanded. Draco's eyes widened and he turned and jumped off the stage.
"I said, what is that...band...you...um, I'm going to get some food. I'll see you later." He hurried away quickly where he found Ella near the drinks, piling her plate high with biscuits.
"Nice speech." She said, greeting him. He smiled at her.
"Thanks. You didn't cry."
"Was I supposed to?" She asked mildly, continuing to pile up her plate.
"Well, no. But I thought you would," He examined her plate in amusement, "They for both you and Potter are they?"
Ella looked down, "No, just me."
"I didn't know you ate that much," He took a biscuit off her plate and stuffed it in his mouth, "You pregnant or something?"
"What?" She laughed. Draco grinned mischievously.
"Nothing...how are you doing?" He asked her quickly. She was quiet for a moment before replying.
"I'm alright. It's so horrible what happened." She turned and began to walk over to the tables. Draco followed her.
"I meant you and Potter." He told her.
"Oh. We're okay." She shrugged nonchalantly.
"Nothing serious then?" He wondered. He always asked her about them and she always gave him the same answer.
"I honestly thought that you two were pretty serious...well you've been together all year and you are a woman." He tried to keep the complimenting tone out of his voice as he observed her. Ellanora pulled a face but stopped walking.
"I'm a young woman Draco. You are really bad at conversations. You just come up to me and ask me how I am and then proceed to ask me about my...well my relationship with Harry which by the way is fine!" Ella shook her head and sighed, "Do you really read me that well?"
"As if you were myself." He told her. He knew she usually ate so much if something was bothering her.
"Well, truthfully the thing is that I want to take things further," She lowered her voice and blushed, "But he doesn't I don't think. It makes me feel very...um..."
"Strange?" He guessed.
"No, repulsive." She shrugged.
"What?" Draco exclaimed, "You are one of those most beautiful girls I know. If you were single I wouldn't have a seconds thought about asking you out!"
"No need to lie to cheer up the girl," Pansy Parkinson made an unwanted appearance, "Because she has the face the truth some day."
"And what truth is that Pansy?" Ella demanded.
"That you're ugly and stupid and Potter is only going with you to...get some." She said icily. Ella frowned and Draco noticed that she didn't understand. He glared at Pansy.
"Move along Parkinson," She shuffled a little away, "I mean right along, where we can't see you at all."
Pansy sneered and disappeared from sight. Ella turned to him and pulled a face.
"Get some what off me Draco?" She asked innocently. Draco blushed for a reason he couldn't really understand and opened his mouth to blurt out all sorts of unnecessary things when the loud wailing of a student erupted throughout the Hall.
"It's not fair!"
"Oh," Ella's expression greatly softened, "Luna! She's not been taking this very well."
"We'll go over then." Malfoy suggested. Ella nodded and they made their way over to the centre of the Hall.
* * * *
"It's just not fair," Luna Lovegood sobbed, "Not just about Neville but because of everything and everyone."
Ron smiled and rubbed her back; "It's alright. It will be fine."
"No it isn't," Luna tore away from him and wiped angrily at her tears, "We will all lose those we love one way or another. Life is like that and I hate it!"
"Oh Luna," Ginny finally spoke up, "That's not true, we're all hurting over everything. Come on, do you want to go for a walk?"
"A walk?" Luna's eyes widened, "Ginny how can you be so...so normal? You've lost Dean and Colin! And we've all lost Dumbledore and is no one going to get upset? NO ONE?"
"Hey," Harry said gently, "Come on, Ginny has the right idea. I think we should go for a walk."
Luna sniffled but nodded her head, "Okay Harry. Okay."
Ron watched helplessly as Harry led Luna out of the Great Hall before he turned to observe his sister out of the corner of his eye. Luna had mentioned both Dean and Colin and Ginny hadn't taken to hearing their names too well.
"Gin..." Ron began. Ginny glared at it.
"Save it Ron, I'm going back to the common room!" She stood up and disappeared from sight, leaving him alone for a moment before Malfoy and Ella approached.
"Oh," Ella gazed after the three retreating figures, "Are they alright?"
"They will be," Ron sighed, "We all will be. I hate this. I just wish Harry would defeat Voldemort and get it over with so we don't have to go to another one of these things."
Ella sat down next to him frowning, "But Ron, what if he dies?"
"He wouldn't." Ron pulled a face.
"He could. He'd leave us all then. You, Hermione, his friends." She pointed out. Ron shuffled uncomfortably in his seat.
"He'd leave you." Malfoy said quietly. Ella glanced up at her friend and grimaced.
"Yeah, I guess he would. So I really don't want him going up against Voldemort again." She said simply. Ron shook his head. He didn't think Harry had told Ella about the prophecy that only Harry could kill Voldemort and he wasn't prepared to tell her. Because there was a chance that Harry might die and Ron didn't want that to happen as much as the next person. He spotted Hermione across the room talking to Professor McGonagall. She didn't look very good in black and he doubted she was enjoying wearing the dark robe.
"Pathetic Weasley," Commented Malfoy, "Still pining after Granger like there's no tomorrow."
Ron blushed, "Shut up."
"He's got a point Ron," Ella agreed, "Why don't you just move along in your relationship? You're taking forever and I think you should take the next step."
"Oh really? Well you wouldn't know anything about moving on and taking the next step now would you."
"Excuse me?" Ella smiled curiously. Ron blushed even more darkly upon realizing he may have blown Harry's surprise. He coughed and straightened up in his seat.
"I was talking to the git." He nodded at Malfoy.
"Sure Weasley. I'll take the next step with my invisible girlfriend." He said sarcastically. Ron pulled a face at him before his eyes traveled back over to where Hermione was.
* * * *
Hermione was listening to McGonagall with vague interest. The Professor was describing to her once more about the Graduation procedure for tomorrow but Hermione already knew it all. She cast a glance over the Professor's shoulder and caught Ron staring in her direction. They made eye contact for a moment before he quickly looked away and proceeded to talk to Ella and Malfoy. Hermione sighed.
"Why don't we just cancel the Graduation Professor?" She wondered, "I really doubt many people would feel like attending."
McGonagall looked shocked, "I realise the trauma that recent events have caused Miss Granger but you cannot expect the school to surpass a tradition as strong as Graduation?"
"No, I suppose not. It was a silly suggestion," She paused, "I am truly sorry about Professor Dumbledore. He was a wonderful Headmaster and we will all miss him. Professor Treen too."
"Yes. We have suffered quite a loss this time. Especially I feel Professor Snape, poor man. Having to raise a child all on his own." McGonagall shook her head pityingly.
Hermione nodded, remembering how strangely happy Snape had been upon announcing that Professor Treen was pregnant and they were having the child together. They were going to be married later this year but that obviously wasn't going to happen now.
"What was the baby's name? Did they pick one?" Hermione asked mildly.
"Yes, it's a lovely name. Silver. I've never heard the name been used before but I think it's rather beautiful, don't you?"
"Yes, quite lovely." Hermione agreed. She cast a look over at where Snape was sitting and decided to go and talk to him.
"Alright, but remember to be in here at lunchtime tomorrow and make sure all Seventh Years remember the ordeal." McGonagall repeated for the tenth time. Hermione nodded and walked slowly over to Snape. He looked up at her coldly and she wondered if she really should have approached him.
"Good day Professor." She began cautiously. Snape's expression remained impassive.
"Miss Granger." He replied lightly. Hermione coughed.
"It was good of you to show up," She said hurriedly, "Where is Silver? Did you leave her at home?"
She waited for him to lecture her on invading his personal life but instead his eyes lit up.
"She's asleep in one of the classrooms. I have an elf watching her," He paused, "I really wanted to bring her but I was worried she might start crying or something. She's been doing that a lot lately, crying I mean. I think she realizes that her mother..."
Hermione listened intently as Snape went on to describe every detail about his daughter and she was glad to see how he had changed. She was still afraid of him, who wouldn't be? But she felt that meeting Professor Treen had been one of the best things that could have happened to Snape and she silently cursed Voldemort for taking that away from the teacher.
The dark Wizard had simply gone too far when he had attacked the castle two weeks ago. The nearest teachers, Professor Dumbledore and Professor Treen, had immediately proceeded to battle against the numerous Deatheater's that Voldemort had gathered, as well as copious amounts of Dementors. Unforgettably the nearest students, full of Hogwarts pride, had gone to the aid of the two teachers. Once Voldemort had killed everyone in sight he had retreated and taken his servants with him. Hermione felt that the attack had been for him to display his power and he had succeeded in terrifying everyone. Hermione prayed Harry would destroy Voldemort soon, she feared that the Wizarding community could not handle anymore loss.
She knew she couldn't.
* * * *
Harry walked back into the Great Hall with his arm around Luna comfortingly. He spotted Ella with Ron, Malfoy and Hermione and despite the situation he felt his heart lift, as it always did when he saw her. Luna had calmed down a little and explained to Harry why she was so upset. She and Neville had planned to marry after she graduated from Hogwarts, which Harry had been a little shocked to hear.
Her news also made him angrier than ever that Voldemort had taken Neville away. Life really just didn't seem fair.
"You feeling better?" Ron asked Luna as they returned to the group. Luna nodded meekly.
"I do," She turned and kissed Harry on the cheek, "Thanks for the talk Harry."
Harry blushed a little and nodded, casting an uneasy glance at Ella. She simply smiled at him and winked suggestively. Harry grinned and made his way over to her.
"As if Ella. I love you too much." He whispered in her ear. She placed her hand in his.
Harry noticed Malfoy shuffle uncomfortably. He was standing next to Ella and had obviously heard what Harry had just said. His mood darkened a little with the knowledge that Malfoy liked Ella. He had been having misgivings about their relationship lately; thinking Malfoy might feel a little more for his girlfriend that just friendship. Malfoy was always staring at her and smiling at her and talking to her and he became uncomfortable every time Harry was around. Malfoy shuffling around awkwardly just moments before had convinced Harry now that the stupid git did indeed have feelings for Ella. He was definitely not happy.
"Come on Ella. Let's go." He told her, tightening his grip on her hand. She frowned a little.
"But Harry there's still a little bit of the ceremony left."
"But I have something to show you, kind of." He smiled secretively, remembering the surprise he had in store for her tonight. She eyed him for a moment before standing.
"Alright then. I'll see you all later. Night Ron, Draco." She smiled at the boys, whom she had always seemed to get along with. Harry had noticed that Ginny and Hermione tended to hang out together and he knew they didn't mean to, but they left Ella out quite a bit.
"Night." Came the various replies.
Harry pulled her from the group and after they left the Great Hall began pulling her down various corridors.
"Your common room is the other way..." Ella told him.
"We're not going to my common room." Harry replied.
"Oh," She paused, "Well my common room is the other way too..."
"We aren't going there either," He grinned, "I'm taking you somewhere where no one will find us."
Ella made a noise that sounded somewhat like a protest but she continued to let Harry pull her for a further ten minutes around the castle. They stopped suddenly in a long corridor where there were no doors and Ella became a little annoyed.
"For heavens sake Harry." She muttered. He bent down and kissed her and she returned it briefly before pulling away. Harry caught sight of the door and smiled, glad that his plan was so far going smoothly.
"I think I've heard about this..." Ella trailed off.
"The Room of Requirement." Harry told her, pushing the door open.
They walked into a fairly comfortable looking room. There were candles on the wall and the focus of the room was drawn to the large four-poster bed in the middle of the room. Harry chanced a glance at Ella out of the corners of his eyes and witnessed the same blush creeping across her cheeks that he had.
"I don't suppose all this is to talk then..." Ella seemed at a loss for words. Harry grinned.
"We can talk. I intend to. I wanted to ask you some things and such-" He was cut off as Ella quickly closed the distance between them and placed her lips on his. Harry wrapped his arms around her waist and began kissing her back for a few minutes before guiding her over to the bed.
They fell on it softly and Harry pulled away for a moment to look at her.
"If you aren't ready for this..." He gave her a meaningful look.
Ella rolled her eyes and pulled him back down to her, "Shut up Harry."
He grinned and continued to kiss her.
He felt her hands slide across his back as she slide off his robe. Harry blushed as he did the same to her, he'd been this far before with a girl but it was different with Ella. He shifted on top of her and she cried out quietly.
"Are you okay?" He whispered worriedly. She nodded and he saw a pained expression in her eyes.
"It will only hurt for a bit." He told her. She nodded again and they continued.
It hurt for a lot more than 'just a bit'.
* * * *
Ella woke up the next morning to find Harry still asleep. She paused thoughtfully to watch him, noting that this was the second time she had ever woken up next to him. She winced in pain as she sat up, almost regretting the previous night.
Harry stirred in his sleep and opened his eyes lazily. He looked very different without his glasses on, much more handsome than she thought he normally did. But she wasn't in love with his image, just him.
"Morning." He smiled goofily and she was a little annoyed with the knowledge that last night had been wonderful and not the least bit painful for him. Sometimes girls really did get the raw end of the deal.
"Morning." She replied, smiling a little. He sat up and the sheets slid off him, revealing the naked top half of him. She tried not to blush, rather unsuccessfully, and made sure the sheets stayed wrapped around her.
"What's the time?" Harry wondered remotely, slowly remembering they had Graduation that day and had to be in the Great Hall at precisely twelve-o clock for lunch. Ella looked at the small clock next to the bed.
"I'd say nearly twelve," Her eyes widened and she jumped out of the bed, ensuring the sheets were wrapped around her, "Oh the Graduation!"
Harry jumped up and they hurriedly got dressed. Getting ready took longer than usual because Ella had insisted on having a shower.
"It would have saved us time if you hadn't." Harry reprimanded her gently as she exited the small bathroom that had been conjured for requirement. Ella gave him a withering look.
"Well sorry for being hygienic. Honestly Harry I'd think you'd smell awful...after last night. Or is it just a new word for you? Say it with me: Hygiene." She emphasized the word and Harry tried not to grin.
"I wanted to ask you something last night," Harry told her suddenly nervous, "And it's very important."
Ella stopped drying her hair with her towel, "Alright then."
"Well, I was thinking that after we leave school...well you said you were just going to stay at home didn't you?" He said quietly.
"Yes," She paused, "I don't really know what Magical Institution I want to go to so I guess it would just be best...why?"
"Well I thought that, because we've been together for so long and everything..." He trailed off.
"What Harry? Just say it!" Ella demanded.
"Weshouldmoveintogether." He said hurriedly. He looked up at Ella awkwardly, she was examining him carefully. With Harry it had usually seemed like he always wanted things to stay the same but this request proved otherwise. Ella went over her options and decided that she would love to more in with him, granted he was taught a little about hygiene.
"That'd be nice Harry," She smiled when his shoulders slumped in relief, "And while we should stay and...celebrate...I'd rather not experience my last day at school under McGonagall's wrath."
"Agreed." Harry nodded vigorously and pulled her from the room.
* * * *
Ron shook his head. If Harry and Ella were late, then McGonagall would most likely go off her nut. He glanced up at Hermione who was biting her lip worriedly.
"They said that they'd be on time didn't they?" She asked.
"I've already told you they did." Ron sighed.
"And you swear Harry didn't come back to the Gryffindor tower last night?"
"I've already told you that too. No." Ron was getting annoyed. Why did everything with Hermione have to work out and be perfect? It annoyed him because that's what she focused on in life and it's something he wasn't ever going to be.
"Then where on earth could they be!" She exclaimed throwing her arms up in the air. Malfoy, who had been watching her warily, raised an eyebrow.
"What do you think Granger? Two people such as themselves...disappearing for the night and not returning." He said plainly. Ron grinned as Hermione blushed and became flustered.
"I honestly didn't think...well it seemed unlikely," She frowned, "That's a justifiable reason! Oh honestly, they're going to be so late!"
Luckily for Ella and Harry, Ron thought, they made their appearance at that time. Harry caught sight of them and made his way over to the group.
"Have a nice night?" Malfoy asked, his tone strange. Ron frowned in confusion as he and Harry stared at each other momentarily, almost in anger.
"We're moving in together." Harry told them. Ron gaped and Hermione let out a cry of joy why Malfoy's expression remained impassive. Ella rolled her eyes.
"Really," She shook her head, "He just has to have the limelight doesn't he?"
Ron sniggered but stopped abruptly as Harry glared at him.
"What was that about?" Harry asked, turning to his girlfriend.
"You haven't heard of subtlety?" She pulled a face, "We could have told them later...I doubt it is the time and place."
Ron looked around the Hall and agreed that it probably wasn't. The Seventh Year students were in small groups all around the Hall, looking nervously at the front where McGonagall was standing. It wasn't the kind of thing for any of the students to go through as far as he was concerned. The Battle ordeal that had occurred a few weeks ago had left everyone ultimately shocked. There had been much grieving at first, especially over the loss of the Headmaster, but it had eventually quieted down. Ron's friends in particular seemed to avoid the subject. They all tended to joke around and talk about other things and the affliction of the loss was only evident when someone mentioned something remotely connected to the incident. If that happened, the group would become silent until someone lightened the mood again.
Ron looked over at Malfoy urging him to say something. He'd grown rather fond of the guy even though he still freshly remembered what he had been like only a few years ago. Malfoy returned the look before smirking.
"So Weasley," He began, "Ready to get up there and receive a NEWT?"
"Malfoy! He'll get more than one!" Hermione snapped. The group began arguing and discussing their NEWTs and what they hoped to achieve, pushing aside any thoughts of the Battle. Ron caught Malfoy's eyes and gave him a thankful smile, which in return Malfoy pretended not to see.
McGonagall went hurriedly through the ceremony and everyone received more or less the amount of NEWTs they had wanted. Malfoy and Hermione were amoung the students who received the most while Harry received quite a few and he and Ella received only some.
"I don't understand," Ron frowned at Ella, "You're in most of Hermione's classes and you've always been good at stuff."
"Grades mean nothing to me really Ron, shouldn't to you either," Ella grinned back, "We're those unique people who don't have to impress others with intelligence. Especially you."
He blushed a little, "To some people intelligence is everything."
"You mean Granger?" Malfoy wondered. He had obviously been eavesdropping.
"Go away you git." Ron said happily before turning back to Ella and talking more about the importance of not receiving good grades.
* * * *
Draco pulled a face behind Ron's back and replaced it with a grin as he saw Ella smile over the redhead's shoulder at him.
The Graduation overall was pretty plain. They simply went up, collected their awards, then ate lunch that was shortly to be followed by visits from family members. It was nothing special and Draco really didn't see why the Headmistress couldn't have let the celebration cease just this once. But McGonagall was such a stickler for tradition.
He eyed his awards, certifying that he had achieved NEWT level success. It was quite a collection and he was sure his mother would be proud. He happily made his way over to her as soon as the family members were permitted into the Hall.
She smiled when she saw him and Draco wondered briefly if he would be seeing that smile if his father were here. He doubted it.
"Hello Darling," She looked down at his awards, "Oh aren't they wonderful! I'm so proud of you!"
Draco bent down and kissed her on the cheek.
"Thank you mother. I'm glad." He said formally. His mother uncharacteristically took a step towards him and enveloped him in a hug.
"I've missed you darling." She told him pulling away.
"You too mother." He replied awkwardly, unused to this kind of open affection from the woman. She seemed to sense his uneasiness and thankfully didn't proceed to hug him for the rest of the afternoon. After they had updated each other on all sorts of news and events Draco looked around the hall and briefly thought about introducing her to his friends. He laughed quietly, friends.
It had been quite a shock when the Golden Trio had taken him in as a companion. He expected it had probably taken a lot of convincing from Ella and Ginny before they had even remotely considered the possibility of him being one of them. But he was and he did honestly like it.
Potter was with his Aunt, Granger and Weasley were with their families and Ella was sitting down at the table helping herself to some more food.
"Oh! Arthur!" His mother waved her hand elegantly and Ron's father made his way over to them, "It's wonderful to see you. Congratulations on getting that new job."
Mr Wealsey smiled, "Thank you Narcissa."
"You are going to do a much better job than my husband," Her demeanor darkened, "I don't doubt that for a second."
"Well," Replied Mr Weasley carefully, "I'm going to try and do what I can to improve the situation of this impending war. I can say that much."
"I have some information actually that might help you out a little." His mother lowered her voice and cast Draco a meaningful look. He sighed and excused himself, making his way over to Ella who was still sitting at the table alone.
"Hey," He frowned down at her, "Where's your family?"
"Oh," Ella said loftily picking at her food, "You mean the one I haven't got?"
"No. Sue and Michael." Draco said softly. She shrugged. He sighed and pulled out a chair from beside her, sitting down. Her eyes flickered up to him briefly before returning to her plate of food.
"Come on. What's the matter?" He asked. She smiled a little.
"You caring about people is still a shock to me you know."
"Yeah?" He raised an eyebrow, "Don't change the subject. Where are Sue and Michael?"
"I didn't want them to come," She lowered her voice, "It wouldn't feel the same unless my parents were here. They aren't my parents and therefore I didn't want them to come."
"Alright. That's okay.," He hesitantly put an arm around her, "You can do what you want."
"I suppose," She glanced around the Hall, "It just feels selfish that I didn't tell them about it. They really do try with me you know."
"Things like this will probably always be hard. Just try not to worry about it." He told her, standing up as he saw Potter making his way over.
"What's wrong?" She asked, noticing him stiffen.
"Nothing, I'll talk to you later." He bid her goodbye and went back to his mother, knowing that Potter would not have appreciated his arm around his girlfriend.
* * * *
Harry stopped mid stride as he saw Malfoy leave Ella's side. He knew he shouldn't be so worried. Ella was with him and Malfoy, as good looking as he was, wasn't a threat to them. But he couldn't help the uneasiness that overcame him when Malfoy was around.
"Ella?" She looked up at him and smiled but he could tell she wasn't happy.
"Am I meeting your Aunt now?" She asked him. Harry crouched down next to her.
"Are you alright?"
"Because it'd be nice to meet her since you've told me so much about her." Ella continued quietly. He reached out and grabbed both her hands in his.
"Do you want to talk about it?" She shook her head, "Okay. We'll go and meet my Aunt Petunia. But I warn you, she's a handful."
"I'll be fine. I handle you everyday." Ella pointed out mildly, standing up. Harry rolled his eyes and, placing her hand in his, pulled her over to where his Aunt was standing. She still looked out of place in the Wizarding world but Harry was glad she'd come. His Aunt spotted him returning and the relief was so evident on her face that Harry couldn't help but smile.
"Harry, is this her?" She demanded as soon as he was in earshot.
"Yeah, this is Ella-" He began.
"-nora Egon. Pleased to meet you Mrs Dursley." Ella smiled politely. Harry raised an eyebrow and his Aunt smiled approvingly.
"Yes it is. Did you do well this year?" She wondered stiffly, "I mean were your grades sufficient?"
"Um," Ella bit her bottom lip, "They were exceedingly to my liking."
"And how about your family?"
Harry mouthed a 'no' to his Aunt and reprimanded himself for not telling her before to not mention Ella's family. He felt her grip tighten on him but other than that her attire remained the same.
"They're," She paused and lowered her eyes, "They actually couldn't make it Mrs Dursley."
"Oh heavens why not?" Aunt Petunia frowned. Ella sighed and Harry knew she was just going to be honest.
"They're dead Mrs Dursley."
He couldn't remember his Aunt ever looking so contrite. She nodded her head sympathetically and thankfully changed the subject.
"Harry tells me you are both moving in together," Aunt Petunia sniffed, "I suppose you are financially suited for that?"
"Oh, yes quite. Between us I think we have a bit." Ella perked up a little. Harry was glad she seemed excited at the prospect of them living together.
"That's good...yes...good," His Aunt paused before adding hastily, "I suppose it wouldn't matter if I said that you are both too young for such a commitment."
"Not really." Harry grinned and his Aunt sighed.
"Very well then," She paused again, "You will be visiting every now and then won't you?"
Harry's grin widened, "Of course Aunt Petunia."
She smiled in return and nodded her head at him.
"I best be off then, the other families are leaving you see. I'm not looking to forward to getting back, you'll have no idea how they got me here!" Aunt Petunia said dismally.
"How?" Harry wondered.
"Through...a...a...fireplace!" His Aunt spluttered, "I'll see you both later then. It was nice to meet you Ellanora. A fireplace? Really, and they call themselves magical people!"
His Aunt went away muttering to herself and Harry turned to Ella gingerly. She shook her head.
"Like birds of a feather." She mumbled, intentionally loud enough for Harry to hear her. He hit her gently on the arm and walked a little behind her as they made their way to their group of friends.
* * * *
No one moved or said a word and Hermione found it rather ridiculous. They were all grown up now and still everyone acted like children.
"Honestly." She mumbled under her breath. Malfoy, Ron, Harry, Ella and herself were standing on Platform nine and three quarters and each one was very reluctant to leave, even Hermione though she wouldn't admit it. Malfoy seemed to find it ridiculous too as he rolled his eyes.
"Can we hurry this up? Places to go...people to see." He told them. Everyone glared at him while Hermione remained thankful he had spoken up.
"Exactly. I'll miss you all but really we can't be so attached to each that we can't go our separate ways for a few weeks?" She exclaimed. Ella glowered briefly before stepping forward and hugging Hermione, Malfoy and Ron. Hermione was a little surprised at the gesture because her and Ella had never personally gotten along but she appreciated the hug.
"You'll have to come and visit me at our place." Harry told her, hugging her tightly. Hermione felt a sob in her throat and nodded her head.
"Of course. Did you find somewhere yet?" She asked him.
"Yeah," He lowered his voice, "I'd actually been looking for months before I asked to live with me, but don't let her know that. She'll go nuts at me for assuming things about her."
Hermione smiled and turned to Malfoy who extended his hand to her. To her amusement she shook it.
"I don't suppose I'll be seeing much of you over the next few weeks...months...or years?" She wondered. Malfoy sneered at her.
"You wish Granger," He drawled before adding more gently, "Really? I think all of us might be seeing some of each other."
"Think or hope?" Hermione teased. Malfoy shrugged and picked up his bags before walking away. Hermione turned to Ron now who was gazing at her intently from where he was standing. Her body stiffened under his gaze and a slow blush crept up her cheeks.
"I'll miss you Ron." She said softly, unwilling tears forming in her eyes. Ron grinned cheekily.
"What happened to the nonsense about wanting to go our separate ways?" Ron wondered. Hermione sighed. She'd never be able to tell him that she never wanted to go separate ways where he was concerned. Instead she placed her hands on her hips stubbornly.
"It doesn't mean I won't miss you Ronald Weasley. Don't be a prat." She snapped. He rolled his eyes and opened his arms, which she gladly walked in to.
"I'll miss you too Hermione." He told her, wrapping his arms around her tightly. She could smell him and enjoyed the pleasantness being in his arms brought her. He smelt like Ron and she loved it.
Unwillingly they came apart and Hermione found her face only inches from his. She blushed and took a step back quickly, tripping over one of her bags behind her.
"Oh!" She exclaimed, not looking forward to what would be a hard fall. Ron reached down quickly and grabbed her hand, pulling her to her feet.
"Really Hermione," He shook his head, "You're supposed to be smart."
She didn't appreciate the comment but was a little too distracted by the grip Ron had on her hand to really care. He let go and she took a step back from him again, watching where she was going this time. Ron smiled at her before he walked away and she found herself alone, the last of the group.
"Well." She gazed down at her bags and then at the lack of people around her and tears formed in her eyes again as she chided herself for willing her friends to leave her only minutes before.
It had been quite a year and when she reflected back on all her days at Hogwarts everything had seemed to change over time.
Voldemort still wasn't dead and he was still gaining power but Hermione didn't doubt for a minute that Harry would put an end to that soon. Malfoy, the stupid, selfish, conceited git he used to be (and still was at times) was now part of their group. Harry had put aside most of his loss and he was now moving in with Ella who had lost her entire family. The Headmaster had died, Snape shocked them all by revealing his hidden heart and student upon student upon student had been killed uncaringly at the hand of Voldemort.
Then there was Ron. Immature, never serious, sometimes self-absorbed Ron…who she loved. And, Hermione thought bitterly, who wouldn't love her back. She was a bossy bookworm and definitely not the type of girl Ron would like to associate with romantically. But even with this revelation she continued to love him.
Yes, many things had changed and now they were all grown up.
Little did Hermione know that there was a lot more growing up amongst them to do.
A/N:I hope that wasn't too confusing to anyone! And I really hope that SOMEONE out there likes it!
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