SUMMARY: He'd never learn to love her. But then, no matter how excruciating that realization would be… She loved him anyway.

Author's Note: This early, I will explain why this is entitled Compassion. It is because this depicts how compassionate Hermione is to Draco; she helps him, befriends him and loves him despite his flaws and mistakes… or something like that. If you're looking for another reason why I chose this as a title, simply because I could not think of any other title. Hehe…

Here it is… enjoy.

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COMPASSION

By Erythros

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Hermione Granger hated Draco Malfoy with a passion.

Every time she'd see that blonde head of his swelling with ego, she'd be tempted to walk up to him and pop it with a needle. Oh, how he was so good in making her despise him more than ever… Her blood boiled when she'd spot him belittling others and strutting around the castle of Hogwarts like a peacock flashing its series of feathers.

The only way she could take revenge was to punish him as Head Girl.

But then, she could not understand how she landed here, in the library, sitting on a chair, staring back at Malfoy who sat across her. A scowl formed on her face as she contemptuously looked at the boy in front of her, who was furiously scribbling down some book notes on a piece of parchment. She tapped her finger impatiently as she could no longer wait for the clock to strike eight. When that hour would come, she'd finally be free from tutoring Malfoy.

Why did I agree to do this? She wondered, rolling her eyes in an annoyed manner. She had no plans whatsoever of ever helping Malfoy in her life, and she knew that the feeling was mutual. She just knew he absolutely hated the fact that he was being helped by her. Besides, she fully knew, though she denied it, that this boy was absolutely intelligent, being included in the top five in their year… only, Arithmancy wasn't his best subject.

"Granger," he suddenly said, causing Hermione to jump, "I need… help on this." He pointed to a lesson chapter on his book.

Hermione glanced at him, surprised at such a humble act. No malice, no contempt, no negative feeling was there in his eyes. Just pure innocence, which for her, was the first time she'd ever seen in those pools of dark gray.

Her eyes softened and she slightly smiled. He was indeed, just any other annoying boy still on the verge between puberty and maturity. A childish young man… an average boy. She hated him, despised him, disliked him in every single aspect…

But then, she helped him anyway.

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And probably, from that one tutoring session stemmed a friendship that stood on solid foundation. After a series of similar sessions, they had finally established a strong connection with each other. Of course, they'd never admit that, as they felt that they were still rivals. Hermione would remain as one of the best friends of his archenemy and Draco would still be that ferret who made her life and her friends' lives a living hell.

Whenever they'd be free, they'd secretly meet and spend the rest of the day with each other, hidden in one of the towers or in the shadows near the lake. He'd humor her with jokes and stories he hardly told anyone else and she'd laugh, even if they weren't so funny.

However, the rest of the time, in front of everyone, they'd put on their usual facades, making all of them believe that they loathed each other. Sometimes Draco'd get too far in his snide remarks, and Hermione's heart would silently ache and her mind would begin doubting and wondering if he meant what he just said.

Nevertheless, she remained as his friend anyway.

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In one of their secret meetings by the lake, as Draco quietly dozed off, leaning on the trunk of a large willow tree, Hermione gazed at him and her heart began to race, for it unexpectedly felt a new emotion… a strong feeling for the boy who sat beside him.

She turned away to face the lake in front of them, with the sunshine bouncing off the surface of the water. And unconsciously, she leaned her head on his shoulder and snuggled closer. Strangely, she felt cozy near him but at the same time, it gave her a feeling of uneasiness. She felt insecure, which she hardly sensed unless…

Draco slowly lifted his eyelids sleepily and looked down at her. Hermione blushed and started to move away in embarrassment, but before she could even be an inch away from him, he placed an arm around her and pulled her even closer. Her heart thumped as he did so; she felt suddenly hot and had an urge to remove her cloak.

When they were both finally in place, he smirked drowsily and closed his eyes to sleep once again. Hermione could practically feel his heartbeat since she was so close to his chest, and a sudden rush of that new feeling she just experienced just minutes ago came back, stronger than before.

Oh, dear.

Before she knew it…

She was already in love with him.

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And so, with that realization, every time she'd set her dark brown eyes on him, there'd be butterflies in her stomach, fluttering furiously about. Her face would flush crimson, and she'd put her hand on her chest to ease the pain of her heartbeat's amazingly fast pace. Her legs would go wobbly and she'd grope on anything or anyone near her for support.

How she abhorred the fact that she was in love. It was the most horrible feeling ever…

And now, she was back again by the castle grounds, fidgeting nervously as she waited for him to come. She bit her lip as she racked her brains for something to say as a greeting.

Someone suddenly tapped her on the shoulder and she jumped. She turned around and saw Draco taking his own seat beside her. He glanced at her and smiled. "Quite jumpy today, aren't we?"

Hermione blushed and she turned away. "You're late."

"A Malfoy's never late, unless delayed by an important matter."

She pinched him on the ear, causing him to yelp. She giggled. "What's that matter then?"

Draco caressed his injured ear and sighed. He gazed at the lake in front of them and sighed again. "I… I think I found her."

Hermione's heart skipped a beat. "Her?"

He looked at her and smiled.

And then there was that jolt of pain that surged through Hermione's body. There was something different with the way he held that smile… and Hermione knew…

He was in love as well.

Though sadly…

Not with her.

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She gazed at him as he interlocked his fingers with that girl. He looked at that Ravenclaw girl, with love hidden in those gray eyes.

And she was too ignorant to miss it.

She doesn't deserve him. Hermione clenched her fists and breathed angrily.

It wasn't fair.

And now, hate and anger bubbled up inside of her, intended for the two lovers.

But most of all, for Draco.

It hurt, seeing him showering his affection for a girl who didn't know his value. It pained her so much… She wanted to cry.

He'd never see her as anything.

He'd never learn to love her.

He'd never be able to appreciate her own affection for him.

But then…

No matter how excruciating that realization would be…

She loved him anyway.

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AUTHOR'S NOTE: How'd you like it? Like always, good and bad criticisms are very welcome, just as long as their constructive criticisms. Do you think I should make it long or is it better as one-shot?

Hope you all review!

Thank you!