Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Warnings: Scenes of a sexual nature

Spoilers: SS/PS, CoS, PoA, GoF, OoTP

Chapter 4 Facing the Past

Hermione felt her legs tremble beneath her and give way as they buckled sending her towards the ground. 

Ron quickly stepped forward to catch her in his outstretched arms. "Hermione are you OK?"  he asked the limp women in his arms.

"I'll be fine, Ron, just get me over to the couch would you?"  Hermione replied shakily.

Ron did as Hermione requested and guided her to the corner of her office easing her into one of the overstuffed couches.  Still shaking nervously, Hermione managed to nod at Ron and give him a small smile of gratitude.

Still clutching the note in his hand Harry said, "Hermione, I thought it was over between you and Malfoy."

"It is...was...I mean, I haven't seen him or heard from him in five years," she replied.

Unconvinced by her statement Harry questioned, "Not even when Ma—"

For the first time Hermione remembered Anna standing in the doorway and cut Harry off before he could say anything more.  Surer of herself than she had been in the last few minutes Hermione confidently replied, "No, Harry, not even then."

Feeling the tension in the room Anna chirpily spoke up, "Oh...  Don't forget the package Miss, Malfoys are well known for having expensive tastes."

Hermione managed a soft small smile as she said," Of course, Anna." Anna's eyes gleamed as she handed Hermione the package, however her hopes of seeing its contents were dashed when Hermione curtly announced, "Thank you Anna, that will be all please make sure to close the door on your way out."

Anna's eyes dulled and her smile faded to a frown as she replied, "Of course Miss. I'll be at my desk should you need anything further."  Without another word Anna swept out of the room noisily shutting the door behind her.

"What do you think it is Hermione?" Ron asked tentatively.

Shaking her head, she studied the package as she said, "Knowing Malfoy, it could be anything."

In a strained and worried voice, Harry asked, "Do you really think it's safe to open it after everything that happened? Do you really think that Malfoy wouldn't try to hurt you?"

Rolling the small package back and forth in her hand, Hermione replied evenly, "Harry, I'm not sure of anything when it comes to Malfoy, but what I do know is that I've never lived my life in fear of what he may or may not do and I'll be damned if I'm about to start now."  Before either of her two best friends could register a complaint, Hermione tore open the delicately wrapped package exposing a black velvet case.  Her hands shook slightly as she lifted the lid of the case and immediately recognized the Opal Eye Dragon necklace resting on its bed of silk.

Seeing the once discarded necklace for the first time in over five years, Hermione was flooded with images from that fateful day.

~~~~~~~~~ flashback~~~~~~~~~

As the young blonde entered the Leaky Caldron to meet Hermione for lunch, he was immediately surprised to see both Harry and Ron standing beside her clenching and unclenching their fists. 

Feeling the overwhelming tension between the three young men, Hermione calmly stated, "Draco, have a seat. I wanted all of us to get together so that each of us would have a chance to talk, and put the past behind us." 

Draco simply nodded as he continued to glare at Hermione's two male escorts.

Hermione knew that having the three men in her life agree to have lunch together was a monumental feat in itself and she only hoped that the three could put their differences aside for her sake.

Taking a deep breath before speaking while nervously rubbing the dragon pendant around her neck, Hermione stated, "Harry, Ron, we've been friends for a long time and though I haven't always approved of the decisions you made, I've always stood behind you.  I know the two of you are still angry with me for not saying anything sooner and I'm sorry that I never told you about Draco and me, but I'm telling you right now: that he's just as much a part of my life as the two of you are." 

All three men squirmed in their seats slightly, but continued to glaring at each other.

Ignoring the tension, Hermione continued, "We've all graduated and with Voldemort gone, we're finally free to enjoy our lives.  I have no idea what the future holds for Draco and me, but I want the opportunity to find out. I also want my best friends to support me."

Draco reached under the table and grasped Hermione's shaking hand.

After several minutes spent in silence, Ron said, "Hermione, I think I speak for both Harry and me when I say that: you're our best friend and we would never turn our backs on you, but it's Malfoy, Hermione. Look at who is father is! The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

Ron immediately stopped his banter as none other than Lucius Malfoy himself entered the pub, and sauntered over to the group saying, "Well, Well… What do we have here?  If it isn't the famous Harry Potter, his knut-less lackey and his Mudblood girlfriend. I'm intrigued, however, to find you with them, Draco. What on earth possessed you to associate yourself with them?"

Draco nervously looked from Hermione to his father before rising from his chair saying, "I was collecting information on them, Father—for you of course."

Ron shouted, "I knew it, you slimy bastard!" leaping from his seat to pummel Draco only to be pulled back by Harry.

Lucius looked hard at his son before replying, "Though I admire your scheming, it is unnecessary. Today is the last day these three shall ever see." and with those words, the pub was filled with a dozen masked Death Eaters who surrounded the table. Lucius announced to the patrons in the pub. "Unless you like to share the same fate as these three, I suggest you leave now."  Instantly the pub cleared as its patrons rushed for the nearest exit.

Lucius commanded the Death Eaters, "Crabbe, Goyle I want you to place Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley in the chains then I want everyone to surround the building and make sure we're not disturbed." 

"What about the mudblood?"  A masked Death Eater asked.

A sly grin crossed Lucius face as he replied, "She gets to die first."

Harry and Ron leapt up from their seats, brandishing their wands, as they shouted, "No! Leave Hermione alone!"

Instantly curses and hexes were flying overhead as the three took on a room full of Death eaters, while Draco moved off into the shadows.  Hermione shook with fear of the events happening around her, but steadied her voice as she came face to face with Lucius and said, "Mr. Malfoy, you'll go to Azkaban for this!  Please, just let it go. Voldemort's gone. The war is over."

With cat-like reflexes, Lucius pounced on her with his wand pointed at her throat as he said, "What makes you think I have anything left to lose, Miss Granger?  My Lord is gone, my wife is dead, and the power I once wielded is no more."

In a soft whisper, Hermione asked, "What about your son?"

A maniacal laugh escaped his lips as he replied, "My son, Miss Granger, is a spoilt, coddled, brat, who has proved time and time again to be nothing more than a disappointment to me. Now…enough small talk. I do believe it's time to rid the world of another filthy mudblood. Avada—"

Before he could utter the remainder of the killing curse, he was stuck with a full body bind, which Hermione never heard as she disapperated with a pop.

Hermione reappeared directly behind Lucius with her wand drawn as she recited, "Avada Kedavra." A burst of green light left the tip of her wand and instantaneously slammed into his back. The strength of the spell sent him flying into Draco's arms.

As he clutched onto his father's lifeless body, Draco looked up at Hermione and shouted, "What have you done?"

"You saw him Draco! He was going to kill me—not that you did anything to stop him."  She pleaded for his understanding.

"You bitch! You murdered my father!" Draco shouted.

"It was him or me Draco.  I didn't have a choice.  It was self-defence. Can't you see that?"

"I'll see you go to Azkaban for this, Granger," was Draco's cold reply.

"But is was self-defence! He was going to kill me!"  Hermione pleaded.

"No it wasn't! You broke wizarding law number 1439," Draco icily informed her.

Hermione's mind reeled as she desperately tried to remember the law Draco was referring to.

Seeing her confusion, Draco continued, "Wizarding law number 1439 is the protection of Purebloods act of 1612, in which under no circumstance is Muggle or Muggleborn permitted to cause the death of a Pureblooded member of wizarding society. In the event a Muggle or Muggleborn is responsible for aforementioned pureblood's death, the offending party forfeits its rights to a trial, ultimately resulting in an administered Dementor's kiss."

"That's not fair!"  Hermione protested.

"What's not fair is Mudbloods like you being allowed to roam free instead of being caged like the animals you are," Draco stated as he glared at Hermione.

With tears streaming down her face, Hermione tore the necklace from around her neck and tossed on the ground beside Draco. "The only animals here are you, Malfoys. And to think I was foolish enough to believe I loved you!"  Whist the pair had be fighting, they were unaware that Harry and Ron had managed to subdue the remainder of the death eaters. With her held head low Hermione crossed the room towards her two best friends and handed Harry her wand before walking to the fireplace where she stated, "I'm going to go say goodbye to my parents. Tell the ministry they can find me at home when their ready to take me to Azkaban." She tossed in a handful of floo powder and recited, "Granger home", before disappearing in a cloud of smoke.

The ministry never came though.  Harry and Ron later told Hermione that after she left the Leaky Caldron, Colin Creevey leapt out from behind the bar where he was hiding to take a picture of Draco weeping over his father's body. As the flash went off Draco snapped sending killing curse at Colin.  Dispite their loathing of the murderous ferret, they had no choice but to agree to his offer of silence about Hermione in exchange for theirs in regard to Colin's death. Having seen enough lives ruined by the war, agreed to remain silent rather than take the chance of losing Hermione to an outdated law. The three destroyed the wands and agreed to the story that Colin and Lucius had killed each other while dueling so that Colin would be hailed as a martyr and a hero while both Draco and Hermione could go free.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~END FLASHBACK~~~~~~~~~

"What is it Hermione?" Harry asked from across the room, stirring her from her thoughts.

Slightly confused by the gift, she replied, "It's the necklace Draco gave me our last day at Hogwarts."

"The day I found the two of you…" Ron replied

Closing her eyes, Hermione whispered, "Yes."

~~~~~~~~~~FLASHBACK~~~~~~~~

"Mi, are you ok?"  Draco asked as he stepped out from behind the portrait

With puffy red eyes she said, "Ron knows that it was more than just today and I'm sure he's off to tell Harry."

"It was bound to happen sooner or later. Frankly I'm surprised it lasted this long." He replied with clenched fists.

"I know, but I'll loose them, Draco.  I could see it in Ron's eyes. He'll never forgive me and Harry will be the same.  I've lost them." Hermione sobbed; as more tears broke free cascading down her already tear-stained cheeks.

Draco wrapped his arms around her and held her close as he whispered in her ear, "I'm still here."

Dumbstruck by his comment Hermione stuttered, "But… I thought this was it.  You… me…it just wouldn't work."

Looking in her eyes he stated without regret, "I know what we agreed, Mi, but as much as I'd like to believe I could let you go, I know I can't.  Just seeing you run after Weasley confirmed it.  I'm not ready to let you disappear from my life. I love you."

Hermione was taken aback by his declaration and asked, "You love me?"

Draco looked away as he replied, "You don't have to feel the same way, Mi, but… I just wanted you to know."

Unsure what to believe Hermione said, "You said you'd never love anyone but yourself--that love was just something people said to make the person they were shagging feel good about what they were doing."

Once again gazing into her eyes he admitted, "I was wrong…"

Without another word, Draco gently lifted her up into his arms as he carried her to the door of her bedroom, where the two stopped and Hermione asked, "You want to go in the bedroom?"

With a grin he replied, "Considering we've done it everywhere else in this bloody castle, don't you think it's only fitting we do it in a bed for once?"

A blush crossed her face as she simply nodded.

Placing her gently on the bed, Draco removed his clothing before making his way to where she lay.  His lips found hers as his fingers slowly began removing the few items of clothing she'd hastily put on earlier.  Once the two of them were disrobed., they lay together, skin against skin, with Draco's lips making their way down her neck softly. He left a trail of soft kisses and sensual licks below her ear and on the sensitive base of her neck.  Craving more of her sweet taste, his lips found her nipples erect and pleading for his attention.  As his warm moist tongue descended upon her nipple, Hermione's body bucked beneath him as a moan escaped her lips. Before she had a chance to recover, his tongue found the other breast.

Not wishing to neglect any part of her body, Draco made his way, down her stomach and across each thigh as he made his way towards her mound.  There the sweet, musky scent of her juices tantalized his senses as his fulfilled his desire to taste her.  Dipping his tongue deep into her, Draco lapped up the juices that were flowing freely from her body as he stroke the growing pebble at the crown of her femininity. 

Hermione bucked and moaned as his ministrations continued to a point she could take no more and she pleaded breathily, "Draco, I need you inside me."

As his throbbing erection strained painfully for attention, he complied with her request and slowly slid himself into her allowing her to take him in fully before starting his rhythmic motion. 

The two sweating lovers panted and moaned as they worked to match each other until their passion erupted in an overpowering orgasm.       

Spent, they lay in each other's arms, basking in the warm afterglow of their lovemaking.  The two had shared numerous instances of needy, earth-shattering sex— after all, that was part of the reason their attraction had lasted so long--but this time was the first they'd actually enjoyed the pleasures of gentle lovemaking.    

Draco broke away for a moment as reached into is robes and pulled out a small black velvet box, he handed it to Hermione as he said, "I wasn't sure of the right time to give you this, but now seems as good a time as ever."

Inside the box resting on bed of silk Hermione found a necklace with dragon charm on it.  The dragon opened it eyes to reveal its pupil less glittering orbs, stunned by the gift Hermione replied, "Oh Draco. It's beautiful."

Pleased that she was obviously happy with the gift, Draco explained, "It's an Antipodean Opal eye.  Beautiful to look at, but dangerous, just like you." Draco lifted the necklace from the box and placed it around Hermione's neck.

With a bright smile across her face, she hugged him and said, "Thank you, Draco"

Draco looked deep into her glistening brown eyes as he stated, "Hermione, I can't promise you forever, hell, I can't even promise you tomorrow, but if today is all we have, then I just want you to know that I have no regrets."  After a soft kiss, he glanced at the clock and leapt out of bed, "Shit, the train! The carriages will be leaving in twenty minutes.  So what do you say, ready to face the firing squad?"

Hermione dashed around the room picking up her discarded clothing as she replied, "I'm not sure I'll ever be ready." As she watched him make his way out the door, she called out, "Draco."

He turned around with his hand on the doorknob and replied, "Yes?"

With a smile she answered, "I love you too."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The sleeping dragon looked up at her and blinked its sparkling eyes.  With a soft smile across her face as she recalled happier days, Hermione slipped her hand under the miniature dragon only to feel a tug behind her navel as she disappeared from the room.

As Harry and Ron both looked wide-eyed at the spot where Hermione had just been seated, the only thing left was a discarded velvet box. Ron reached out to the emptiness as he cried in a hoarse voice, "Hermione!"

****

Hermione landed with a whoop on large bed covered in dark green shimmering sheets that felt cool and soft beneath her, it wasn't until she heard laughter that she realized the predicament she was in.

"You always did look good in bed, Mi," commented Draco from his place on the couch.

Infuriated by having been brought to his lair, Hermione angrily responded, "Not that you'd remember. If I recall correctly, you were more of a dirty broom closet kind of guy."

His eyes narrowed as her cold words struck him, he replied, "I never heard you complaining. In fact, you seemed to take me anywhere you could get me."

"You bastard!" Hermione shouted as stood up, searching for her wand to hex him, only to remember it was back in her office resting in her jacket pocket on the back of her chair.  Instead she crossed the room like a flash of lighting and reached out to slap the smirk off his face. 

Her attempt failed as he deftly caught her hand before she was able to come in contact with him. "Temper, temper, dear.  I can't have you marring my devilishly good looks before a concert. What would all my adoring fans say?" He grinned.

"Someone who would kill someone just for taking a picture seems awfully fond of the spotlight," Hermione replied as she fought to free her trapped wrist.

"Someone who is so fond of rules has a nasty habit of breaking them," Draco whispered in her ear as he took in the scent of her light floral perfume and strawberry-scented hair.

Finally managing to break away from his grip, she spotted the necklace on the floor and dashed for it, only to be blockaded from her escape when he shouted, "Finite Incantium," removing its ability to be used as a portkey.

She placed her hands firmly on her hips as she spat, "How is it that you're still walking free and not locked away where you belong in Azkaban you murderous bastard?"

Draco's grey eyes turned cold as steel as he icily replied, "Not all murderers are in Azkaban, Granger. Seems Potter thought overlooking my flaws in life was worth keeping Little Miss Perfect from going to prison herself…"

Knowing full well that he was referring to the bargain made that day in the Leaky Caldron, she calmly stated, "It was an archaic law and you know it. Just because he was a pureblood, doesn't make it wrong for me to defend myself."

Closing the distance between them, he glared down at her, growling, "You didn't defend yourself, Mi, you murdered."

Breaking the eye contact between them, she quietly replied in a shaky voice, "He would have killed me. Not that you cared to try and stop him."

Reaching out and holding her firmly by each arm, he forced her to look at him as he said, "Damn it Mi! Regardless of what you think, he was my father and I was still a boy.  I'm not that boy any longer. I'm not going to let you just walk away again without a fight."

Looking away from his gaze, she stated, "Malfoy, there is no 'us' and I'm not sure there ever was.  You need to leave the past behind. I know I have."

"Only if you say you feel nothing when I do this—'' His strong arms wrapped around her body as he pulled her body towards his.  In the same fluent motion his lips captured hers. 

The tension in her body slowly melted as she yielded to his gentle kiss. 

As he broke away with a grin on his face and a gleam in his eye, he said, "I didn't think so."  He released her before he continued to say, "When you finally realize what you want is right in front of you, I'll be waiting."

Furious that after so many years, a single kiss could stir up such strong feelings, she angrily retorted, "I'm not some naive little girl who believes in love. I'm not willing to be your dirty little secret again, Draco."

With his wand in hand, and a smirk he simply replied, "I never said you had to be," as left the room with a pop.

Hermione stomped her foot as she shouted, "AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Not wishing to stay a moment longer than she had to, she left the room and followed the sounds of the screaming fans as she made her was through the various hallways and stairs of the building.  Once she turned the final corner she could smell the overpowering aroma of smoke and alcohol. Before her multitudes of witches and wizards packed into bar swaying to and fro, listening to the anguish of the enchanting dragon on stage, who at that moment was looking directly at her. 

How the hell did we wind up like this
Why weren't we able
To see the signs that we missed
And try to turn the tables

I wish you'd unclench your fists
And unpack your suitcase
Lately there's been too much of this
Don't think its too late

Nothin's wrong
Just as long as
You know that someday I will

Someday, somehow
Gonna make it alright but not right now
I know you're wondering when
(You're the only one who knows that)
Someday, somehow
Gonna make it alright but not right now
I know you're wondering when

Well I hoped that since we're here anyway
We could end up saying
Things we've always needed to say
So we could end up staying
Now the story's played out like this
Just like a paperback novel
Lets rewrite an ending that fits
Instead of a Hollywood horror

Nothin's wrong
Just as long as
You know that someday I will

Someday, somehow
Gonna make it alright but not right now
I know you're wondering when
(You're the only one who knows that)
Someday, somehow
Gonna make it alright but not right now
I know you're wondering when
(You're the only one who knows that)(1)

As the song played on, Hermione broke eye contact and made her way out of the building into the cool night air.

******

A/N sorry for the delay but now that my new HP archive potterverse.com is up and running I should be able to update more frequently.

(1) nickleback-someday