A/N: Well, here's another chapter for Say I. This just in….I've decided to get up off my arse and start writing again.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter….but J.K. bloody well bring Harry and Ginny back together or….else….eh nevermind.
Forgive any spelling errors, I put this up before going to school!
About a week after Draco's breakdown found Hermione reading quietly in the common room of the Heads dormitory.
In truth she wasn't reading, just looking at the text through unfocused eyes as she thought about things. She looked over at the couch to her left. Lying there asleep was Draco Malfoy.
He had been nicer since the incident but he was usually timid when it came to conversation.
'He's getting a lot better though.' She thought as she examined his smooth face and blond locks, 'I wonder if he'll consider going to the kitchens tonight. He really should get out of here.'
In fact ever since his breakdown, Draco had either been asleep or he had been trying to focus on what Hermione was teaching him. Not that he was struggling though. He just didn't like to sit in any one place for longer than a couple of minutes.
Although he was gradually learning to trust her, he still didn't like to talk about much of anything if it wasn't necessary.
This was so uncharacteristic of the Draco she was used to, that it scared her almost as much as when she'd seen him crying, so vulnerable, so…afraid.
Hermione shivered involuntarily. She wasn't used to being the only person that a person trusted. She sighed. She had promised to love him, had promised to be there for him because nobody else had, and she would do just that.
Watching him, she knew she would never have to protect him from Ron and Harry and….well….everybody else. She would have to be his anchor until people started seeing him in this new light and as the new person he was.
Glancing down at her watch, she saw it was half past ten. "Good," she whispered, "Every one should be in their dorms by now." Closing her book softly and slipping on her trainers, Hermione walked towards Draco's sleeping form.
Kneeling down she was once again transfixed by his handsome face. She reached a hand to his face and gently began to brush his blond locks out of his eyes.
'Merlin,' Hermione mentally gasped, 'I can't believe how different he looks while he's sleeping. He looks almost…happy.'
She shook herself out of her thoughts and said softly, so as not to startle him, "Draco? Draco c'mon it's time to get up."
There was a small grumble.
"Please? You've hardly eaten anything all week! And you're getting frightfully thin." She was still stroking his forehead when he answered.
"What?" It was a soft, puzzled question. He opened his eyes, felt Hermione's hand on his head and then closed them again, sighing in content. "I don't want to go to the Great Hall Hermione." Draco argued, although in a soft, almost playful tone.
"No I'm going to take you down to the kitchens alright?" Draco nodded as he slowly got up. Hermione stood, taking her hand from his forehead as he responded,
"'kay." Draco too put on his shoes and together they left their common room.
It was after curfew, so they had to be quiet. It wasn't that they weren't allowed out, being Head Boy and Girl, but they were only supposed to do so in emergencies.
They made it all the way and met no disturbances along the way. They were walking down the corridor leading to their destination when Draco asked,
"You know 'Mione, I never did ask you…how do you know where the kitchens are?"
Hermione stifled a giggle as she reached a hand out to tickle the pear.
"Well, when you're friends with Ron, Harry, Fred, George, and Ginny, it's hard not to know about these things. I mean if I needed to, I could get out of the castle and into Hogsmeade in a matter of minutes!"
Draco laughed. The pear turned into a green door handle and Hermione pulled it open.
As they walked in, Hermione immediately stopped moving as a small blur shot from the floor straight into her midriff.
"Ms. Hermione has come to visit Dobby again! I is wanting to thank you for the hats you has been making Dobby!" Hermione, after getting over the shock of having all of the air knocked rather abruptly out of her, managed a laugh,
"Dobby! I just came in yesterday and you said the same thing. You don't need to keep thanking me! You don't need to keep thanking me!"
"Oh but Dobby must miss! It is only right for a house elf to be thankful for something they is receiving!" answered the over exuberant elf.
Hermione sighed, "If you insist Dobby, if you insist." She looked over at Draco who was staring at the elf with wide, fearful eyes. She was about to ask what was wrong when Dobby said,
"And who is it that miss Hermione brings with…her.." as the elf looked at Draco, a frightened recognition sparking in his large tennis ball green eyes.
"Why…why is miss Granger…Master Malfoy!" The elf began frantically looking around, as if getting ready to bolt.
Draco however, seemed to know what was coming for he shot out a hand and managed to snag Dobby's arm just as the elf was going to throw himself in what promised to be a painful trip toward the wall.
At Draco's touch, Dobby flinched and started shaking violently, eyes closed, obviously expecting pain. Draco slowly pulled his hand away and spoke,
"Dobby?" The small elf continued to cringe. Draco looked at Hermione seeking guidance of any kind but saw only the tell tale steely glint in her eyes that told him he had to do this on his own.
He sighed, "Dobby, please look at me."
Apparently the use of the word "please" was enough to catch the elf's curiosity. Dobby turned his head and opened his eyes,
"Y-yes M-master Draco?" Draco had to stop himself from jumping back in shock at all the emotions that the small creature held in his eyes.
He took another deep breath before beginning.
"Look Dobby…I know…I know that we never…hit it off, but…well," he paused here, thinking, "I…I'm sorry Dobby. When I was younger-I was easily "influenced", for lack of a better word, and I didn't know…I didn't think…well, I was an inconsiderate, self-centered, abusing ass to put it simply."
Dobby blinked at that, never having heard his old master speak ill of himself before.
"I know saying sorry will never be enough, but…Dobby, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry!" Draco at this point was trying to restrain himself from shedding tears, "And, even if you don't forgive me, which I know you probably won't, I just want you to know that I'm different now. I'm nothing like my father. Again Dobby, I'm sorry."
During his apology Draco had gone to his knees so he would be at Dobby's eye level.
It seemed that at that moment, the entire kitchen had gone quiet, as if waiting to hear Dobby's answer.
After what seemed like ages, the elf answered. It wasn't a soft response, like one you would expect when a person accepts your apology, nor was it a firm 'Get the bloody hell out of my face,' retort like the one you would get from your worst enemy. It was a completely different that neither Draco nor Hermione expected.
Dobby's eyes filled with unshed tears and he leapt at Draco, catching the stunned wizard around the navel and knocking the air out of him, much like he had done to Hermione earlier. Needless to say, the hug was a bone crushing one.
"Oh Master Draco! Dobby knows you was never doing it just to hurt him. Dobby tried and tried to make it seem like he was hurt so you would get attention!"
Draco blinked but Hermione asked,
"You mean you used to let him beat you?" She wasn't mad at Draco in the slightest because she knew his past and what he had gone through.
Dobby pulled away slightly from Draco, "Ms. Granger do you really think Dobby and the rest of us house elves would take beatings and punish ourselves so viciously without a way to speed up our healing? Besides Master Draco only used to do that when he was very, very young so it never really hurt Dobby!"
He shook his head at her, "House elves isn't stupid miss. We have our own brand of magic we use to heal ourselves. We can take the worst beatings and be right as rain in no time! Why do you think our masters' houses is always clean?"
He rolled his eyes and said in an almost mocking tone, "And you is supposed to be the smart one miss."
Draco broke out into hysterical fits of laughter, while Hermione huffed and tried to stay angry at him and Dobby, found it a futile attempt, and joined Draco in laughing at herself.
When Draco finally finished laughing, he looked over at his former house elf,
"Dobby? Thanks. Thank you." Dobby beamed at him, "Would you consider Dobby...being my friend?"
Dobby's eyes watered again, "Master Draco," he cried clutching at Draco's shirt, "It would be an honor to be your friend."
Draco smiled at him and now returned Dobby's hug.
"The honor is mine Dobby, the honor is mine."
As Dobby let go, Draco asked, "There is one thing Dobby. I don't exactly like you calling me 'Master Draco.' Do you think you could call me something else?"
Dobby thought for awhile before responding.
"Begging your pardon sir, but nothing else sounds right, unless of course you is wanting me to call you Draco sir."
Draco chuckled, "That'll do Dobby."
Dobby smiled, "Now I knows you is coming down here to get something to eat. What is the two of you wanting this evening?"
Hermione responded, "Just a sandwich and a glass of milk for me please Dobby."
Dobby nodded as he turned to Draco.
"Anything is fine with me Dobby, as long as there's a lot of it."
Dobby nodded again as he left to retrieve the food. It came surprisingly fast, Hermione's sandwich paling in comparison to Draco's literal mountain of food.
When they were finished and their plates cleared away, Draco and Hermione sat discussing S.P.E.W.
"But honestly 'Mione, why do you insist on trying to free house elves when only about one in every million wants it?"
"I'm not trying to free them Draco! It's just not fair to them! They deserve fair wages and working conditions, just like us humans!" Hermione retorted.
"'Mione you have to think about the house elves beliefs in this. They may…well must I suppose, have a different view on what is fair and what is just." Draco said.
"But that's my point! They're not educated! They don't know what fair and unfair is! They're just doing what wizards tell them to do because they don't have enough confidence to tell them otherwise!" She shot back.
"Again I don't think you're giving them enough credit! Every living thing," Draco paused at this, recalling the words of the voice from his dream, "Well, almost every living thing has a choice. The fact of the matter is that the house elves love what they do! They CHOOSE to clean, they CHOOSE to cook, and they CHOOSE to take orders from those who they themselves have named 'master.'"
Hermione narrowed her eyes, "But they're bound to the family that their relatives were bound to! And they can't leave unless they're given clothes."
"True, but that brings you right back to their beliefs. They believe that they have to receive clothes to leave their family, when in reality they could always CHOOSE to leave at their own will!" Draco countered.
As Hermione was about to respond, they heard the giggling of the pear in the portrait and they both looked at each other in panic before silently agreeing to run and hide behind one of the large shelves where the elves stored the plates and silverware.
The voices were audible almost instantly, but there were no bodies to place them with. Hermione however knew who the voices belonged to instantly.
'Harry…and…GINNY? Oh, maybe he's finally going to tell her!'
"But honestly Ginny! Who postpones Quidditch because of a little rain?"
"Really, it's like its never been played in bad weather before!"
At that the Invisibility cloak that had covered the pair came off to reveal two pajama clad Gryffindors, one angrily muttering to himself, and the other trying to stop from giggling.
"Oh come on Harry! You know that Dumbledore is only doing it with the best interests of the students in mind."
Harry looked at her, "But it's just a bloody bit of inclement weather! It'll pass like it always does! But nooo! Let's hold off on it just so the students won't have anything to look forward to this weekend!"
Harry sighed obviously still upset, "And since Dumbledore stopped the Quidditch matches 'til the rain passes they're not even letting us fly at all. That's how I used to get away from everything, by going out and flying. I just felt so…free you know?"
Ginny nodded and Harry continued, "And now it's like they've clipped my wings. I can't do anything about the stress, when everything just becomes too much…I'll have nowhere to turn."
Ginny looked at him, "Harry…you know I'll always be there if you need me right?"
Harry chuckled, leaning against the wall as Ginny placed a hand on his shoulder reassuringly.
He grasped her hand, closing his eyes as he laced his fingers with her. He opened them again,
"Yeah Gin, I know," And without thinking he added, "That's why I love you."
Ginny seemed to falter, obviously shocked, 'No Ginny, you know he didn't mean it like that! Don't even get your hopes up.'
Meanwhile, behind the silverware cabinet Hermione was strangling Draco as she cursed at Harry, "No Harry you bloody idiot! Clarify! Clarify! Tell her how you love her as in a hell of a lot more than a friend you bespectacled moron!" She hissed.
Even though this was said in a whisper, Draco's wide eyes and struggle for breath was testimony enough as to how strong Hermione's feeling about the situation were.
Still, Draco needed air.
"…'Mione…air…vital…essential…to…life…NEED!" He managed to force out.
"What? Oh!" she released him and let him drop to the floor still focused on Harry and Ginny.
Draco shook his head, "..T-thanks." He said before greedily breathing in mouthfuls of precious pure air.
During his inhalation, he felt it. It started out as only a little tingle, but then it grew to an itch.
Harry saw Ginny's face falter and realized what he had said.
'Damn! Smooth Potter! Bloody smooth!'
'What do I do? What do I say? How do I get out of this situation….intact?'
'I don't know about you mate, but I'm going to do the one thing that all minds do in this kind of situation.'
'Which is what exactly?'
'ABANDON SHIP! ABANDON THE BLOODY SHIP! BECAUSE I DON'T WANT TO STAY HERE ANYMORE! I DON'T WANT TO BE HERE TO WATCH YOU GO DOWN IN OVER EXTRAVAGENT FLAMES!'
'..Hm…thanks for the mental support.'
Harry heard a sigh from his mind,
'Listen mate, what you have to understand is that in these situations the mind is useless. I'll just get in your way.'
'But you're the one who said I was in love with her!'
'True, but I merely related the message from your heart since you're too thick to listen to it! But right now, the only thing that I can tell you is to listen and follow your heart. I know that sounds cliché but, hell…it's true.'
With that Harry was immediately thrust back into reality where he was faced with a choice.
On the one hand, he could tell Ginny how he felt in a reasonable, calm, Weasley brother approved way. On the other hand, he could simply snog her senseless and hope that she didn't push him away in disgust and Bat-Bogey him into the next bloody dimension.
"Ginny…" he was cut off however, when she said,
"It's alright Harry. I-I know you didn't mean it like that. I…" here Ginny was cut short as Harry's lips suddenly crashed down onto her own in a very, very surprisingly intense kiss.
Ginny literally blanked out for ten whole seconds into the kiss. Harry had to wrap his arms around her waist as she melted into it. Gathering her wits again, Ginny deepened the kiss.
'Damn! For someone who's only ever been kissed by a partially psychotic Ravenclaw, he's a bloody good kisser! I could so get used to this!'
'Woah! Harry thought, 'I'm actually kissing Ginny! Ginny Weasley! Ron's sister, Mr. and Mrs. Weasley's daughter…and it feels so…right.'
'You know what else would feel right mate?'
'Oh piss off you! Not right now!'
Sadly though, all good things must come to an end. However it wasn't due to either Harry or Ginny wanting or needing air, but rather because of a loud sneeze of in the corner coming from behind a large shelf where countless sets of silverware were being stored.
'Damndamndamndamndamndamndamndamn!' Draco shouted at himself in disgust quickly clamping his hand over his face.
"Draco you bloody idiot!" hissed Hermione who had been watching the exchange before them with rapt attention, like someone who's come in halfway through a season of a soap opera and is desperately trying to catch every detail.
"It was just getting good."
Then she seemed to realize the situation they were in, 'Harry + Ginny + Me +Draco CATASTROPHIC PANDEMONIUM! Oh we're in deep shi….er…trouble.'
Hermione looked at Draco, who looked back at her, having obviously come to the same conclusion she had. So, being the polite person that she was, she nodded at him.
"Thank you Captain Obvious." Draco whispered.
Then, as Hermione was waiting for their inevitable discovery, she finally realized the full gravity of their situation.
Her brown eyes widened as she stared into Draco's now slightly guarded gray. She wasn't sure if he was ready for this kind of confrontation yet, this was after all, his first night out of their Common Room since his breakdown.
She reached out a hand to him taking his in her smaller one, "Draco?" It was a soft question.
Draco responded, giving her hand a scared squeeze that clearly said, 'Just don't leave me.'
She nodded at him giving him a reassuring squeeze in return.
They heard whispers and the tell-tale sounds of parchment being unfolded.
'Damn! He's got the bloody map! If he hurts Draco…'
'What you'll hex him into oblivion and then nurse Draco back to health while you have him unnecessarily lying half naked on the couch in the Common Room?'
'…No. I was going to say that I would never forgive Fred and George for giving him the thing in the first place…but you had some good ideas too.'
'Wait, wait, wait! You're supposed to disagree with me 'cause I'm the "bad" part of your mind!'
'No, I like your ideas.'
'I've done it! I've succeeded where it was thought impossible! I've corrupted you! I corrupted you! I win! I WIN!'
"Hermione?" That definitely wasn't Draco.
She sighed and got up, bringing Draco with her, as they were still holding hands.
"Hello Harry, Ginny. Having a bit of fun are we?" Both of the teens blushed before Harry spoke,
" 'Mione what in the bloody hell are you doing here in the middle of the night with Draco Malfoy? And why are you holding his hand?" 'I bet you he's got her under the Imperius Curse.' He thought.
Hermione immediately got angry, "First off Harry, as Head Boy and Girl we are allowed out past curfew! Second, we wanted something to eat! And thirdly because I'm afraid you're going to kill him because your thinking he has me under the Imperius Curse."
Harry could only blink in surprise. 'How in the hell did she know that?'
'You're not exactly that hard to figure out mate. You've got about three emotions in total, well..four now that you've admitted you're in love with Ginny.'
Harry growled, 'I thought I told you to piss off!'
Harry once again came back to reality, but this time he was faced with an angry Hermione Granger.
"Um..uh…aren't you under the Imperius?"
'Well that was brilliant.'
Hermione seemed to grow even redder, "Of course I'm not you idiot! I can't believe you! You and Ron are just the same! Always jumping to conclusions!"
Ginny interrupted here, "Hang on their 'Mione. Harry is NOT like Ron! Harry's…sexy. And he's a great kisser."
Needless to say this caused Harry to blush six shades of red, jump to an interesting shade of indigo, and then back to red again before he spoke,
"That's not the point Hermione! The point is that he's a bloody supporter of Voldemort! His father's a Death Eater in the psycho's Inner bloody Circle! AND he's probably right behind his father, just waiting for an opportunity to get you!"
The resounding SMACK that went from one end of the vast kitchen to the other and back again was enough to silence the room at once.
Ginny's eyes widened while Draco's were now downcast and tearing up, though he was making a weak attempt to hide it.
"Hermione! What in the hell was that for?" Harry managed to choke out as he rubbed his cheek furiously trying to ease the pain.
"You Harry, that's what! You're what's wrong with me!" Hermione shouted angrily, "You of all people…you're such a hypocrite! You should know never to talk of things you know nothing about."
Harry rolled his eyes in exasperation, "What's there to know? He's a no good, low down, self-obsessed git who probably helps his father torture muggles during the summer for sport! He's a Death Eater in training for Merlin's sake!"
"You're just assuming Harry! And do you know what happens when you assume Harry? You make an ass out of you and me!"
Despite the seriousness of the situation, this remark caused Ginny to giggle, which in turn set Harry off as well.
Hermione couldn't help it, and judging by Draco's shaking shoulders, neither could he.
If anyone had walked into the kitchens right then, they would have seen what appeared to be four psychotic teenagers rolling on the ground in gales of unrestrained and friendly laughter.
They would have thought that one of them had just told a very funny joke and that all four were very close friends.
They would of course, be sorely mistaken.
What anger that had been coursing through Harry and Hermione towards each other was gone, completely evaporated by Hermione's choice of insult.
When all the teens were once again stable, both mentally and physically, their conversation ensued, albeit in a much calmer manner.
"Hermione, I just don't understand why you're with him, here, ALONE!" Ginny asked.
"Well I am his tutor!" Hermione responded.
"OH! So that's where you've been all week!" Harry said, "That still doesn't give us any reason as to why you're here at," he glanced at his watch, "Twelve in the bloody morning with him! I mean, I'm sure he could've gotten food for himself, couldn't you Malfoy?"
"Harry…" Hermione pleaded, "You don't understand! Draco he…he need me right now. He needs someone to be there for him, someone to lean on if you will."
Harry and Ginny looked at each other, then back at Hermione, "Why?"
Hermione seemed to stumble here, "Because…I..I can't tell you! I can't…I won't do that to him!"
"Do what to him 'Mione?" Harry asked.
Hermione shook her head, "I'm not saying anything!"
Immediately all eyes turned to Draco, two pairs which were expecting an answer, and one with a worried look in them.
Draco glanced up and saw everyone looking at him and he sighed, "Look Weasley, Potter…I don't really feel like explaining everything…"
"But since you Potter can "read minds", you can go ahead and have at mine, and then tell your newly acquired girlfriend about it later."
Harry, Ginny and Hermione stared at Draco astonished at the offer.
"Draco, you realize what you're doing?" Hermione questioned worriedly.
Draco nodded, "It's the only way 'Mione," he looked at Harry and Ginny, locking eyes with both of them at the same time, "Just think of this as my turning over a new leaf. All I want is the chance to start over with all of you. Hermione already has, but will you?"
He said this with such an intense sincerity that Harry almost forgave him on the spot. Instead he replied,
"That depends on what you show us Malfoy. Then, and only then, can we decide to trust you and try to forgive you."
Draco nodded in understanding, "Whenever you're ready Potter, I've got nothing to hide. Probe away!"
Hermione stifled a giggle. Then as Harry and Draco locked eyes, Hermione felt Draco stiffen next to her and all humor left.
A/N: Well there you have it. Chapter Five of Say I. Please R&R! Hope you enjoyed it!