Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter! So leave me alone!

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Story Summary: Set in seventh year. When Draco Malfoy turns up in school after a series of mysteries, lonely and looking more vicious than usual, the school is swept into rumors. Maybe it's because his mother was brutally murdered, and he was the only one left on the scene. Maybe it's the menacing sharp scar that haunts his face, cutting over his eye and cheek. Maybe it's the fact that he would do anything, ANYTHING, to get people to leave him alone, even threats or physical harm. Or maybe, just maybe… it's the fact that Hermione Granger won't leave him alone.

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Hmm, I think we'll dive right into this now, shall we?

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Forever and Always
By Darkwing731

((--Chapter One--))
September First

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Hermione Granger couldn't remember being this excited in her entire life. She was fluttering around nervously, her heart racing and her stomach alive with butterflies. She was clenching the paper in her hand tightly, creating tears and ceaseless wrinkles in the parchment, which were sure to become permanent, no matter how hard she tried to get them out.

"Calm down, Hermione," Harry said soothingly, grinning at Ron, who was smirking.

"You'll have lots of fun," Ron said to her, patting her arm reassuringly. Harry caught his eye, and Ron, like he always did, blushed and withdrew his hand.

Hermione was too excited and anxious to even notice them.

"I simply must know who Head Boy is; whoever it is, he will affect the rest of my year. If it's somebody I like, I'll be sure to have lots of fun, but if it's somebody I don't like—"

"Any Slytherin—" Ron muttered, and Harry stifled a snort.

"—then my entire year will be ruined!" she cried dramatically, flinging her arms around Ron's neck and hugging him tightly.

"And I won't have any time to see you two!" she exclaimed in a muffled voice, as she buried her head in Ron's shoulder.

"It's not like you're moving out of the country, Hermione," Harry said, as they waited to go through the barrier.

Harry then looked at Ron, and nearly exploded in laughter, though he managed to contain himself just in time. There was Hermione, clinging onto Ron for what seemed like dear life, looking like she never wanted to let go.

And then there was Ron.

He stood still, his arms hovering in midair, not sure if they should be around Hermione or hanging at his sides. His ears were clearly rivaling the color of his hair, and he was mouthing unsaid words at Harry.

Harry suddenly put his arms around himself and mimed kissing, which, when he noticed, put Ron in a right state and caused him to start. He glared at Harry, and then, making up his mind, put his arms around Hermione and hugged her back, his ears slowly returning to normal.

"Don't worry, Hermione, we'll still be here!"

Ron's cheeks were slowly returning to his normal color.

He glared at Harry who was now dancing around like a five-year-old and pointing at them. Ron gave Harry a rude gesture, to which the raven-haired boy grinned and danced harder.

Hermione lifted her head from his shoulder and looked Ron in the eyes, sighing. "Do you promise?" she whispered, her eyes round. Ron noticed how close they were, when he discovered he could feel her breath on his lips.

Bravely, he put his forehead to hers, bringing their faces, if possible, even closer. Their noses touched.

"I promise," he whispered back, his voice suddenly hoarse.

Hermione's cheeks were reddening, and she hastily drew back from him, smiling shyly, and feeling a slight jolt in the region of her stomach that she didn't think had anything to do with nerves.

She turned and then a slightly stunned silence took over her. She watched in alarm as she noticed that Harry was behaving like a mad-man, dancing about wildly.

"Harry?"

Harry stopped dancing when he heard his name, and when he turned and noticed their staring, he turned bright red.

"Let's get on the train," he muttered, aflame with embarrassment, and he grabbed his trolley and stormed through platform nine and three quarters, where Ginny the rest of the Weasley family would surely be waiting for them. Ron and Hermione looked at each other, and simultaneously snickered.

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Hermione flounced up the corridor of the train, looking pleased but extremely nervous. She was holding onto Ron's arm with her right hand, and onto Harry's with her left. With extreme difficulty, they kept up with her pace, also lugging their trunks and things.

They finally found a somewhat empty compartment, which was only occupied by Luna and Neville. Before either Ron or Harry could say hello, however, Hermione had ordered them to drop their bags and follow her to the first compartment.

The corridors near the head of the train were cluttered with Prefects from all the houses, so Hermione left Harry and Ron, each with a kiss on the cheek, (the one she gave Ron was much longer) before disappearing into the crowd.

She nervously tried to flatten the parchment she had been clutching, and, with a trembling hand, she showed it to the wary-looking woman who was standing in front of the compartment. After a moment's hesitation, the woman moved aside and opened the Head Door.

Hermione noticed the compartment windows had drapes on them, probably to keep any nosy students out. The woman coughed, and she moved into the compartment quickly.

The compartment hardly differed from the usual ones. Of course, it was a bit larger, as were the seats, and the windows were a bit wider, but that was it, really.

Hermione turned to her right, ready to greet the Head Boy, whom she hadn't noticed until now. Upon seeing him, however, she froze.

Over the summer, Hermione had been getting the Daily Prophet, to keep up with the news of the Wizarding world. It had often supported large headlines about murders and disappearances, along with speculations about the whereabouts of You-Know-Who.

Not more than three weeks ago, one of the many brutal murders caught her eye. After three days, there was some kind of intervention, and the murderer was released, having personal evidence and sworn loyalties against his imprisonment from a reliable person.

No one actually believed he would come back to Hogwarts, everyone had thought that he would stay away, not to bother with something as petty as his education anymore. But oh, how wrong they were. How very, very wrong.

Hermione's mouth opened slightly, and she subconsciously took a step backwards, the back of her knees hitting the bench behind her.

The tall, slender form of Draco Malfoy stood in front of her, intimidating and looking murderous. He was a good foot taller than her, towering over her like a wolf over its prey, with a broad chest and pronounced, sinewy-looking shoulders, both of which were exemplified by the tight, long sleeved black shirt he had on.

He was noticeably thin and lean, as if he hadn't eaten a proper meal in days, and didn't want to. His cheeks were hollowed; deep, weary and angry dark lines slipped down at an angle from his eyes. His silvery blond hair was partly tucked behind his ears, while the rest was pulled in a bunch at the nape of his neck or falling over his gleaming eyes, making him look predator-like and ready to take a knife to the closest throat, whether it was his own or Hermione's. His shoulders stiffed and held high, his lip curling and his silver eyes narrowed, adorned with his dangerously arched eyebrows, lying low and vicious.

However, the thing that caught her attention was a thin and jagged scar that started above his pale left eyebrow, falling over his eye, and stopped in a graceful arch on his cheek. The scar, however, hadn't affected his eye; it still looked as silver and as malicious as ever.

His body was tense, his fingers fisted so harshly his knuckles were white. His jaw was forcibly clenched, a muscle twitching ungracefully on the side of his pale face, which made it seem he was trying with all his might not to open his mouth and roar at her. He chin was jutted forward slightly, giving his face a sharper, more threatening look.

"Y-You're Head Boy?" she gasped, trying to take another step backwards and promptly falling into the seat behind her. She felt as if he was closing in on her for the kill. Sitting in her seat made her feel even more frightened, and noticeably smaller than she had ever felt in her life.

"I would think that's rather obvious, Mudblood," he snarled, moving away and sitting in the seat across from her, still glowering.

Hermione gaped at him, amazed by the brutality and absent reason for such callousness. His vicious glower was only intensified by his hard, cold silver eyes, and the haunting scar that was carved into his fine features. She could hardly believe that he hadn't attacked her, or attempted to murder her on the spot, just like he had with his—

Hermione that is none of your business! she told herself firmly.

Hermione slowly and cautiously took her eyes off him and staring at her knees uncertainly. What on earth had she done to deserve this was beyond her, but she hoped someone would jump in and tell her it was an early April Fool's joke.

And suddenly, as if her silent wish was granted, the compartment door slid open, and the Transfiguration professor walked in, looking brisk and annoyed. She was muttering something about the first years, and Hermione couldn't help but smile slightly.

As McGonagall rolled her eyes and slid the door closed behind her, Hermione caught a glimpse of prefects trying to gain a peek at the Head Boy and Girl if they hadn't already seen them. The professor sighed and withdrew a slender scroll of parchment from her robe pocket.

The teacher looked at Hermione, greeting her with a rare smile full of warmth; words could not describe how proud the Professor was of Hermione.

When she looked at Malfoy, Hermione was surprised to see the same warm smile sent his way, something she had never done before. And she was quite sure she saw a flicker of sympathy in her old brown eyes.

"Well, I'm not surprised to see either of you in here. You both have acquired the highest scores on your OWL's, and although there have been—" she paused and pursed her lips, before continuing, "—certain circumstances in which you both have caused some trouble and had points deducted, you've still received this position.

Being a Head student means having many responsibilities, even more than you both had as Prefects. You will, of course, also receive new privileges, which you are not to brag over to the other students," she added, giving Malfoy a pointed look.

"Head students at Hogwarts have their own living quarters, up in the South tower. It consists of a common-room, two separate bedrooms and bathrooms. The common room, you will find, has four portraits, each of which leads to one of the four house common rooms at Hogwarts. You are to use those of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff only in case of emergency. Understood?"

Hermione nodded, while Malfoy remained silent and looked out of the window. "Good. I will see you tonight at the sorting, then." And with that, McGonagall slid the door open, and walked out.

Without warning, a flood of prefect students came in bustling for the best seats, talking, gossiping, and chatting. Ron shoved his way through the crowd, and sat in the seat next to Hermione, while Harry and Ginny sat across from them, their hands intertwined. Hermione grinned at Ginny, who smiled in return and gave a pointed look at Ron; Hermione blushed and looked away.

For some reason, her eyes settled on Malfoy, who was snarling at Pansy Parkinson and Blaise Zabini, the seventh year Slytherin prefects. Hermione was astonished to see his face twisted in anger and revulsion, and he shoved them both away, leaving Hermione to wonder in curiosity why Malfoy would suddenly detest his old friends, who were sending him wary and alarmed looks.

Once everyone had settled, Malfoy had ended up leaning against the window, and Hermione was still sitting next to Ron. She stood as well, trying to hush everyone with great difficulty, until Ron shouted "Shut up!" and everyone was quiet with surprise. Hermione grinned at him, and he glowed scarlet.

Looking around, Hermione raised her eyebrows, looking business-like and important, before starting the Head speech.

"Hello prefects, new and old. Most of you know me; I'm Hermione Granger, Head Girl. Head Boy, as you can tell, is Draco Malfoy. This year, we're—"

"Granger, just shut up," Malfoy interrupted, cutting her off rudely with a scathing tone. Hermione gave him an angry look, while several people sniggered.

"Since I take pity on those who suffer Granger's rambling, I'll just sum it up for you idiots who haven't heard this stupid speech: you take advantage of your duties, your badge is taken away. Give out any unnecessary detentions, and your badge will be taken away. In so many words, be as much as a Gryffindor are you can," he said, and smirked triumphantly at Hermione, who looked absolutely furious, "or the same thing happens. Got it?" His voice was angry and annoyed, and he did not look very happy. Several people nodded.

Hermione took his brief silence as her cue to start talking. When she opened her mouth, but Malfoy cut it off yet again.

"And before Granger tries to go into a long-winded speech again, you've got duties to do, like help with decorations and you should help younger students around. You have access to the prefect bathrooms now, and your curfew is later, since you have to patrol on weekdays. Anything else, take it up with Granger, and I'm sure she'll tell you all about it," he finished sarcastically.

When silence was the only that that replied to him, he snarled "Well? What are you waiting for? Get out of here!"

The effect was instant; people shot out of their seats and started for the door, glad to be free of the compartment. Ron and Hermione looked at each other, both of them wearing the same expression of confusion. What had made Malfoy so angry?

The compartment was slowly emptying, Slytherins ahead, and Malfoy at the front, marching through. Most people jumped out of the way, and Hermione frowned at their timid behavior and at Malfoy's rudeness.

Ron's yelling brought her out of her thoughts with a snap. "Oi! Don't do that!" Hermione followed Ron's gaze to see Harry and Ginny merely conversing, their heads close together, simply ignored Ron.

Some of the Hufflepuffs lolled around and laughed, most of them sitting down. Ron turned and engaged Justin Flinch-Fletchley in a heated conversation about Quidditch, while Hermione stood and decided to follow the end of the crowd in search of their compartment, since all of her books were there.

She waited at the back of the crowd and traipsed down the train, stopping sometimes while people pulled open compartment doors. Hermione smiled faintly as she thought of Ron and all of her not-so-platonic feelings for him that triggered her thinking of him.

She was alone now, almost towards the end of the train, where compartments were thinning out and fewer people occupied them. She hummed absently to herself, glancing in compartments every now and then to check on students, and without warning, her mind wandered to Malfoy.

Why had he been so sullen, so angry, so different during the meeting? He had gotten off innocent after Dumbledore had risen to the defense, so he should be happy, which meant he should be smug and arrogant and down-right annoying. But instead he was extremely mean.

She smirked to herself as possibilities filled her mind for the cause of his anger. Suddenly, all she wanted to know was what happened. And she silently agreed with herself that it would become this year's project for herself. She wouldn't tell Ron, Harry or Ginny (and boy, she told Ginny almost everything) and no one would catch on to her little game.

Hermione sighed suddenly and almost laughed at her foolishness. Why would she spend perfectly good time wasting it on a boy, Malfoy none the less?

Hermione came to a compartment she thought might be her own, expecting to see Neville and Luna grinning back up at her as she entered. But she didn't.

Malfoy was looking rather cross with the two Slytherin's sitting across from him. Pansy and Blaise were both talking rapidly, and he was replying in a vicious way. Suddenly, his face twisted in a scowl, and Hermione watched in surprise as he flung himself to the door and opened it.

Before she had any time to duck, or run, he was standing in front of her, silver eyes angry and mouth set in a firm line.

The first thought that crossed her mind was that he wouldn't look so bad if he wasn't sneering or angry all the time. The scar over his left eye and cheek wasn't too bad; actually, it was only something she would get used to. She suddenly envied his beautiful hair; it looked natural being pulled in a bunch at the nape of his neck, while the rest of it fell lazily around his face and brushed his jaw line. She didn't know any other boy who could pull off that look and appear appealing at the same time.

But the moment passed as soon as it came, and a deep hatred filled his eyes, which were suddenly narrowed with contempt and disgust. His lip curled and his hollowed, thin face was twisted in his angry scowl again.

Hermione would've moved, but the next moment he shoved her forcefully to the side, sending her flying and sprawling out on the ground with a shriek before she could even move out of the way. He thundered down the hallway silently, brooding and raging mad, while his thin figure pulsed with anger.

Pansy and Blaise stuck their heads out of the compartment and looked at Draco's retreating figure with surprise. Then Pansy spotted Hermione, and her eyes narrowed.

"Hello, Mudblood," Pansy sneered as soon as she laid eyes on Hermione. Blaise Zabini smirked with a dark sort of delight.

"Cow," Hermione spat back. She stood, brushed herself up, and sent Pansy a venomous look before walking away.

She reached the last compartment and when she looked through the window; she recognized it to be theirs. Luna was reading the Quibbler, and Neville was staring out of window. She slid the door open and greeted them, sat down, rummaged through her things and pulled out The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 7.

She was deeply engrossed in Chapter Two when Ron, Harry and Ginny came in, quickly followed by Seamus and Dean. It was a bit of a squeeze, but eventually, everyone managed to get a seat.

Ron, strangely enough, ended up next to Hermione and he gazed at her with a smile on his face. She was absorbed in reading, once again. She looked up, and both of them were aware at how close they were. She smiled back at him and went back to her book.

Seamus, Dean and Harry immediately started up in Quidditch, and Ron joined in almost instantly, Neville taking his cue and joining also. Ginny and Luna looked at each other and leaned forward to talk to Hermione, Luna casting the Quibbler aside.

"Well?" Ginny asked expectantly as Hermione marked her place with an exasperated sigh and placed the book beside her.

"Well, what?" Hermione asked cautiously.

"You and—" and she gave a jerk of her head towards Ron.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Hermione's voice betrayed her immediately, and she winced at the squeak that came out of her own mouth.

"Please," Luna scoffed, sounding unlike her usual mystical self. "And I don't like Neville."

"You like Neville?" Hermione questioned curiously. Luna nodded proudly.

"And he knows it, too." Hermione smiled widely at Luna.

"That's nice."

"Yes, yes, don't change the subject now, Hermione," Ginny said hastily. "You must do something about it! If you and Ron went out it would perfect!" Ginny said in a knowing tone, and Luna agreed with an exuberant nod, before going back to her reading.

"Who'd be perfect, now?" Harry asked suddenly, leaning over and looking between the girls with interest.

Hermione opened her mouth to say something about him but Ginny beat her too it.

"Ron and Hermione," Ginny said loudly, causing Ron to look over at the mention of his name, despite the loud talk of Quidditch. The boys slowly stopped talking and looked at Ron and Hermione, grinning.

"What about me?" Ron asked, completely oblivious.

"Don't forget Hermione," Harry said with a wink. Seamus, Dean and Neville all laughed, and both Ron and Hermione looked very uncomfortable.

"Harry, shut up," Ron said, looking away, causing more laughter to ensue.

"Really Ronald, why haven't you asked Hermione to be your girlfriend yet?" Luna asked. She sounded serious and business-like, causing everyone else to snort with laughter and roll around in their seats.

Ron gaped at her.

Hermione sat there, her face slowly becoming hotter, humiliation burning in her eyes and her mind buzzing for some excuse, any excuse to get out of the compartment.

"Err, I've got to patrol; be right back," she said hastily, wrenching open the compartment door and speeding down the hallway, her heart pounding in her throat.

Ginny was sporting a smile when she finally caught up with Hermione, who looked away.

"Leave me alone, Ginny," she mumbled.

"Oh, Hermione, you two are perfect for each other, I've only told you a dozen times now," Ginny said, almost as casually as explaining the weather, leaning against the wall. Hermione continued to walk.

"Yes, but still," Hermione muttered, still blushing as Ginny caught up behind her. "That was extremely mortifying."

"Well," Ginny sighed. "I still think you should go out with him. Perhaps then we could double-date!" Ginny said enthusiastically, before rolling her eyes and sighing. "Never mind; Ron would be watching Harry and I the entire time," she said darkly. "And then, he wouldn't pay any attention to you!"

Hermione laughed.

Ginny smiled back, and together they went back to their compartment. Hermione was very nervous. How was she supposed to face Ron after this?

Far too quickly for her liking, they found their compartment again. Ginny slid the door open, gave Hermione a reassuring smile and went in. Hermione calmed her racing heart down with a few deep breaths and went in after her, hoping that she looked confident.

The boys were talking animatedly about Quidditch again, and as she sat down, Ron gave her a nervous smile before turning back to his conversation.

It'll be alright, she told herself again. She'd be able to get through the year, maybe with some difficulties, perhaps some awkward moments, but she'd pull through.

Her eyes widened in shock as she felt a tentative hand place itself over her own on the seat. She followed the arm to its owner, and found herself looking at an anxious and nervous Ron. She smiled at him, pleased yet nervous, and he grinned back.

Smiling to herself, she intertwined her fingers in Ron's, catching Harry and Ginny's looks and feeling quite content.

Maybe this year won't be so bad after all.

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A/N: Well, that's the new first chapter! I know that this story will slow down a lot of things, which will be bad, but I really wanted to get this out, because I had a plot bunny in my head and I needed to get it out!

I had this re-beta'd by the wonderful A ROSESINNOCENCE, and thanks so much for this!

Anyways, please review!