A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed! I'm sorry I'm such a slow updater recently… I'm afraid to start and then get a writer's block or something, which often happens… I don't know if I'm contradicting myself here, but what I'm keeping from HBP is that Dumbledore was killed by Snape and Draco had his little internal conflict that he had in that scene in the book and Slughorn is the Potions teacher…
hedwigmail: Yay, someone else likes Arrested Development! Haha. I'm glad you like her sarcasm because I was thinking that I was making her a bit OOC. Thanks for reviewing!
Nova-Janna: I didn't even realize I was doing that! Sorry and thanks for catching the mistake. Draco calling Hermione by her first name sort of makes sense because he's trying to woo her, but the other way around; not so much. Don't worry; it's going somewhere. Thanks for your review!
xxlei: Hahaha. Yeah… I guess I can see what you mean… Ssssh! Thanks for reviewing.
Shan: Haha! I'm sorry I haven't given you Annie's… There's actually a lot at my dad's house!
Alenor: Yup! Thanks for reviewing!
Disclaimer: I don't own anything.
That weekend there was a trip to Hogsmeade. I went – alone, of course – and to my surprise, I found Hermione staring into the window of a newly opened robe store. She was alone, as well. Peculiar.
"So why am I always finding you by yourself?" I asked, approaching her and staring into the window.
I continued speaking, "Waiting for Potter and Weasley? They're trying on new robes, perhaps?"
"This is a witch's shop," Hermione explained, "So no."
"That was my point," I stated.
She didn't respond, but I could practically hear her rolling her eyes.
"But honestly, Granger, why are you alone?" I questioned, looking her in the eye and trying to sound at least somewhat sincere.
"And why, exactly, would it be any of your business, Malfoy?" she retorted, looking back at me.
I shrugged and turned my back to the store window. "Because I feel like we've grown closer in the past few weeks."
She scoffed. "You're disgusting," she said quietly, starting to walk down the narrow sidewalk.
"How am I disgusting?" I asked, catching up to her.
"Will you just leave me alone, Malfoy? Seriously," she said, walking faster. "Just stop bothering me. Please."
"I'm just trying to convince you that I'm not the same jerk I used to be," I replied, easily meeting her quick pace.
"You're just a different type of jerk, then?" she responded.
"No – Why can't you just trust me that I've changed?" I asked. She didn't respond. "There was a reason why I didn't kill Dumbledore that night –"
"Don't bring that into it, you –" she started.
She stopped. "Don't call me Hermione," she said sternly. She turned on her heel and marched off.
"Why not?" I called after her.
She didn't respond.
Most people would probably give up hope at that point. She had yelled at me more than once, was very annoyed at me, and clearly never wanted to see me again. But I wasn't about to let that stop me. One has to push and push and push as long as the subject is giving and believe me; Hermione was giving just as much as I needed her to.
That Monday Pansy cornered me in the common room.
"Draco, we haven't really… talked in a while," she said to me, walking forward until I fell into the lap of a chair behind me.
"That's too bad, but unfortunately I'm a bit busy –" I tried to stand up but she stopped me.
"Can I please have a conversation with you?" she asked.
I reluctantly leaned back in the chair.
"Draco…" she started in her signature whiny voice, "I miss us. I miss what we had. I think it was something special, and I wish we could go back to it."
Like I've never heard that one before.
"Pansy, you know that I'm not quite in the right condition for whatever you're gearing towards," I said.
She frowned. "Why? What did I do? Nobody wants me!"
This was getting a bit too awkward. "It's nothing personal," I told her, leaning forward in my chair. "You know that there's something up with me right now and I just need some time alone to figure things out. Don't take it personally." I stood up and patted her on the head before smiling down at her and getting out of that room as fast as possible. Why I even treaded back there is beyond me.
Without really thinking, I left the castle and began to walk around the grounds. The Sun was setting, shedding an orange glow on the snow. I walked all the way to my smoking spot before realizing that Hermione's mysterious place must be nearby. I decided to do a bit of exploring. It didn't really surprise me that I found her spot so easily, but what did surprise me was the fact that she happened to be there when I arrived. She was sitting, reading, bundled up in her winter clothes, against a tree at the edge of the forest.
And we all thought I was the crazy one.
"So, why would you choose sitting in the snow when the sun is about to go down, of all places, to read?" I questioned.
She dropped her book. "What is with you and sneaking up on me?" she snapped, picking the brown hardcover off the ground and brushing it off with a gloved hand.
"You look cold," I said, ignoring her question as she did mine.
I magically generated some hot chocolate – a skill I still possessed from my peak as a Sex God – and offered it to her.
She looked even more surprised than when I had scared her for the third time.
"What is this, some sort of peace offering?" she asked snidely.
I shrugged. "Or you can just swallow your pride and take it," I suggested.
She hesitated before taking the steaming mug from my hand. She waited a minute before actually drinking from it. "I don't understand you," she finally said after a few minutes' awkward silence.
"You don't have to," I said. "But you should probably go inside because when the sun goes down, you most likely will freeze out here."
"Fine," she said unhappily, standing up.
"Would you like me to go ahead of you so we don't have to be seen together?" I asked sarcastically.
She stared down at her hot chocolate, for some reason not responding to that of all statements.
I took that as a yes and headed back toward the castle.
I was starting to win.
The week went by slowly. I was bored Thursday afternoon, so I decided to actually do my homework. I wasn't going to do it in the common room, we all knew that the prefect's dormitory was no longer totally my hideout, and I wasn't about to go back to my room in the Slytherin dormitories. So I settled with the library.
I made myself comfortable toward the back of the massive room, spreading my books across a circular table. I worked for around an hour when I received a pleasant interruption.
She didn't say anything at first; I just noticed her standing above me.
"Um… What are you doing here… alone…?" Hermione asked, trying to sound obnoxious.
"My homework," I responded simply.
"Since when do you do homework?" she questioned.
"Occasionally," was my answer.
She didn't say anything for a minute, although she looked like she quite desperately wanted to speak.
"Was there something else you wanted to say to me?" I wondered aloud.
She chewed on the inside of her lip. "Thanks for the hot chocolate," she finally said, narrowing her eyes as though trying to sound menacing while thanking me. She paused. "I guess," she added. She turned and left as quietly as she had arrived.
What did I say? Progress, progress, progress.
I picked lightly at my food during lunch the next day. As I've said, I didn't have much of an appetite throughout this whole ordeal. I was sitting close to the end of the table and Blaise happened to be sitting next to me.
"I haven't seen you in a while," he said, chewing on a small piece of chicken.
I shrugged. "Guess not."
"What've you been up to? You don't even sleep in the dorm anymore, do you?" he asked.
"No," I said quietly, shaking my head. "I've just been around, you know."
"No, I know what that normally would mean," Blaise replied. "But lately something's been up. You can't just constantly mope around like this."
"I can't help it," I said.
"Yes you can," Blaise retorted. "You have to try. Oh – I have an idea; how about we throw you like… a bachelor party! Except you're not getting married but, you know, something like it."
I forced a laugh. "Unfortunately I don't think that's going to help me, but if you need an excuse to hire a stripper go right ahead."
Of course they have strippers in the wizard world, you oaf.
"Seriously," Blaise continued. "We need to do something. And until you or I think of anything, I'm getting ready for that stripper." He stood up. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a class to get to." He left the Dining Hall.
I sighed. Blaise loved to plan random events like that. And he would never, ever deny himself a stripper. But I knew that would do nothing for my situation. I knew that she was my one and only hope. A stripper is just there to look at for a while, and unhappily for me, that wasn't going to be enough. Anyway, when a Malfoy sets his mind to something, he doesn't give up, and my mind was set to Hermione.
A/N: This chapter was kind of cheesy. And I feel like I'm rushing with the Draco-Hermione business so I added the stuff with Blaise and Pansy, although they don't work well with the storyline, as it turned out… Ugh. Oh well, please review this crap chapter anyway. Thanks a lot! I'll give you some Lindt chocolate truffles because they're very good.