Disclaimer: The following characters, places, and situations you recognize belong to J.K. Rowling Scholastic Books, etc. I am just a fan-girl with an overactive imagination.
Summer of Insanity
"You're a bastard."
"Shut it, Mudblood."
Hermione no longer responded to the hateful word. She didn't even flinch anymore when Malfoy said it to her; it grew weaker and triter every time he used it.
"Ah, silence finally," he muttered seconds later.
"You just ruined it, prat."
It was all his fault. Well, it was Mulciber's fault that Malfoy suffered a semi-permanent sprained ankle because of a faulty leg-locker curse, but Malfoy didn't have to join the Order of the Phoenix in the most heated months of the war – though his help was needed and appreciated.
"What are you up to now, Mudblood?" Malfoy asked as Hermione walked out of the drawing room of number twelve, Grimmauld Place.
"I'm going to the library," Hermione replied, slamming the door behind her.
Draco made a rude gesture at the door and shifted his right leg in pain and frustration. When would the Muggle-born let him be?
He felt childish for constantly bickering with Granger and her friends. It was satisfying and fun for only a short while after he had left his father to join the side against him, and Draco now grew tired of the overused insults. Even Potter, who once enjoyed attempting to hex Draco in retaliation, barely gave the blond a backward glance.
What else was there to do now?
Hermione stared at the bookshelves surrounding her and groaned aloud. Not only was Malfoy an insufferable thorn in her side, but she had already read every book in Sirius' – no – Harry's library.
As Hermione ran a finger along the fabric of the armchair she was sitting on, she thought of the others who had died after Sirius. Emmeline Vance and the scores of Aurors and members of the Order. Hogwarts students and alumni on either side of the fight. Muggle bystanders caught unaware in random skirmishes. Albus Dumbledore, whose murder was not what it seemed, but was a sacrifice designed to keep Professor Snape as a spy. Unfortunately, Dumbledore's last plan had failed: Snape and Malfoy had barely escaped Voldemort and his Death Eaters, when Voldemort somehow learned of Snape's true allegiance. With the aid of Dumbledore's portrait and Professor McGonagall, Snape and Malfoy were safely housed at number twelve, Grimmauld Place. Snape spent most of his hours ensconced in a makeshift Potions lab in the basement, while Malfoy always found a way to get under Hermione's skin.
Hermione heard the library's door burst open and stood in surprise.
"Malfoy, what are you doing climbing the stairs?" she demanded, looking at his ankle.
"Contrary to popular belief, you're not the only one living here who likes to read." He limped over to the nearest bookshelf and scanned the titles.
Hermione winced at Malfoy's clumsy navigation of the room, but froze when he shot a look at her, daring her to laugh about his condition.
She rolled her eyes, grabbed the book nearest to her, and left the library.
Two days had gone by since Hermione and Malfoy had bickered alone in the drawing room. Now that most of the other Order members had arrived from their various missions, Malfoy and Hermione had fewer opportunities to snap at each other.
"Hermione dear, will you help me finish dinner?" Mrs. Weasley's voice rang up the stairs to the entrance hall, where Hermione and Draco were dusting the foul-mouthed portraits. To be more accurate, Hermione was furiously waving her wand in an attempt to Scourgify every ugly painting, while Malfoy leaned against the wall and watched her work with a smirk on his arrogant face.
"Sure," Hermione mumbled, heading for the kitchen after sending a dirty look Malfoy's way. She didn't know why Mrs. Weasley would want her help in the kitchen; her efforts at such work were foul in comparison to her academic success.
"There's not much left to do," Mrs. Weasley said, "I just need your help setting the table… and I wanted to tell you something important." She gestured toward the stack of dishes on the sink, and Hermione began to set the table.
"Arthur went to St. Mungo's earlier today and brought me some news. Draco's leg may not heal unless he goes to the hospital for therapy."
"Why are you telling me this, with all due respect?" Hermione asked.
"I was thinking that if someone could try and convince the boy to go to therapy…"
"He's not going to listen to me, honest." No one listened to Hermione; she couldn't possibly be any help.
Molly picked up on the younger girl's unspoken words. "If you want to help, then for the good of the Order, try your best with Draco. He needs to be able to defend himself with both feet working."
Hermione nodded her assent, even though her hands shook so badly that she dropped one of the plates she'd been holding.
The sound of shattered dishes and the Reparo's made afterward muffled the thump thump of an eavesdropper limping away from the kitchen doorway.
Draco slowly made his way up the stairs and wandered around the ground floor of the gloomy house, lost in thought. Almost none of it concerned the possible treatment at St. Mungo's – he simply wasn't going to do it. No, he was preoccupied with Hermione Granger: Mudblood, know-it-all, and general source of teenage angst – for Draco, in particular.
He didn't understand how he and her two idiot friends (not that he was putting himself in the same category as those dolts, mind) hadn't noticed before that she was a girl.
Well, Weasel did finally see that by the time Draco had come to live in Grimmauld Place, but the relationship ended not so long after his arrival in July. Granger seemed to be more interested in books, while Weasley seemed to be more interested in Loony Lovegood, though their interactions took place via owl.
But sod the weasel; Draco had his own problems. Granger did serve the purpose of mainly annoying him, but the weeks of close proximity to her was beginning to drive him mad in another way entirely.
Hermione was staring out one of the grimy windows when Draco found her.
"What are you up to, Mudblood? Going to jump out and be of service to everyone?"
"No," Granger said crossly, "I was only thinking."
Before Draco thought of something scathing to reply with, his mouth spoke for him. "Of what?" he asked.
"Only… we won't be going to Hogwarts this fall, will we?"
Draco paused and stood beside her. "I know I'm not," he said with bitterness in his voice. "But," he added, "it might be more important keeping the school around by fighting for it here, don't you think?"
"It might." Hermione faced him then, a glimmer of what could have been tears in her bright brown eyes and a huge smile accompanying it, expressing the insanity of it all.
Hermione was tense during dinner.
She watched the many faces of the Order – some ridiculously cheerful, like the Weasley twins, and others more serious in the onslaught of war.
Harry was one of them: he didn't grin the way he used to at the twins' antics, or enjoy a conversation about Quidditch with Ron and Tonks. Even though Hermione still thought the obsession over the game was silly, she couldn't stand the lack of joy that was in his dull green eyes.
After dinner, Hermione confronted Harry in Buckbeak's old room. It had once again become a place of refuge for the young wizard during the mounting status of the war.
"Harry, I'm worried about you," she breathed as she pushed through the protective spells Harry had put up around the room.
There was silence.
"Dammit, Harry, let me in!" The magical force pressing on her body melted away, and Hermione entered the room to find Harry staring at the wall in front of him.
"Are you going to talk to me, or not?" Hermione demanded. "I know that you are going through a difficult time –"
"You don't know the fucking half of it!" Harry exclaimed, his glasses askew. "Or maybe you pretend you do, as if some book that you read is going to tell me how to win this war!"
"I do want you to win, Harry, that's why I'm here… I also want you to be well while you do it."
"You want a lot of things," Harry said, "including Malfoy."
Hermione stared open-mouthed at the wizard in front of her.
"Don't put on that face now. Every time I walk into the drawing room or the kitchen I see you two together. Sometimes you blush, and Malfoy always sneers at me. So what is going on, Hermione? Is that prat what you want?"
Hermione, for once in her life, could not come back with a response. This conversation was not supposed to fabricate lies about the unstable truce between Malfoy and her – it was about making Harry better.
But wasn't it always about Harry? Hermione quashed all of the motherly feelings she had to comfort and advise her friend and tightened her shoulders.
"You've got it all wrong, Harry. You had it wrong about Sirius, wrong about Snape, and wrong about me."
She slammed the door behind her, leaving Harry and her more distraught than before.
A week later found Hermione failing on two fronts: she had stubbornly refused to reconcile with Harry, and she couldn't convince Draco to go to St. Mungo's.
Hermione was still wondering when Draco became Draco in her mind. The knowledge of his first name used to be a fact carefully catalogued in her brain, along with the larger amounts of knowledge and memories stored there. Now it was a major part of her mental vernacular.
They were in the library this time. The other Order members – save for Mrs. Weasley chaperoning Grimmauld Place – were scouting a tract of land in Wales as a possible location for a Horcrux. Now, the blond informant and the young strategist of the plan were working diligently on either side of the library's worn desk. Admittedly, Hermione was the more hard-working of the pair, studying for her N.E.W.T.s even though there was an unlikely chance she could take them the following June.
Draco voiced this idea aloud as he idly closed the book he had been "reading" to look at Hermione.
"There's a likely chance you can heal your ankle, yet you don'ttake the necessary methods to alleviate your problem."
"You think a little ache in my foot bothers me, Mudblood?"
"No, but I know the limp does," Hermione retorted, her eyes boring into his.
Draco's face went paler than usual and flickered quickly in an emotion Hermione could not catch.
Hermione's legs itched to leave the library, but her mind froze them from moving. She wasn't leaving her books behind again. She gathered her mixed thoughts and expressed them in the most logical way she could.
"I'm sorry, Draco."
He lifted his gaze from its previous position on the table, startled by the apology. He had prepared himself to see her leave the room or yell at him until her bushy hair stood on all ends.
This sincere admission of wrong doing (which was easy to discern – she was a Gryffindor) was so unexpected, so readily received by the neglected recesses of Draco's heart that he felt inclined to do what Lucius had deemed the unthinkable.
He would expose a part of himself to a Mudblood.
"I have to work it out on my own, do you understand? I lived under Lucius' shadow for so many years, convinced that what he did was right and noble. All of my actions were either motivated by him or done to please him. Even when he was locked up in Azkaban for blindly following the Dark Lord, I thought I had to restore the Malfoy honor. Watching a good man die changes things."
As Draco spoke, Hermione's fingers traveled from her book and across the table to hold on to Draco's shaking hands. He stared at their hands when he finished, pale fingers intertwined with ink-stained ones.
"We'll go tomorrow," he said, bringing his hands away from hers and picking up his book to distract himself within its yellowed pages.
Mrs. Weasley, Hermione, and a glamoured Draco stood in front of one of the fireplaces of St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Mrs. Weasley took a handful of Floo powder and threw it into the crackling flames.
"Go ahead you two, I'll be following you in shortly after," she said, pushing the teenagers in.
"Padfoot's Place," Hermione whispered, using the new code Mr. Weasley was able to secretly establish with the Ministry's Floo Network.
They stumbled together out of the fireplace of number twelve, Grimmauld Place, Draco bumping into the low table of the drawing room. Hermione reached out a hand to help him, but he sneered at it and lifted himself up with the new cane he had been given at St. Mungo's.
"I can't believe I have to walk with this bloody thing," he muttered, settling himself into an armchair.
"It's not that bad, Draco. It's only until your ankle heals. And Healer Burke is sure that you'll recover soon."
"No. Healer Burke," Draco spat, "was sure David Miller would recover soon." He pulled out his wand and pointed it at himself, making his short brown hair lengthen and lighten, his rounded face thin, and his eyes change to a harsh silver-gray. "Do tell me, do you think he or anyone else would tend to me as I am? The son of a mental Lucius Malfoy? Hell, I even have the cane to match."
"At least be thankful you're getting better. If you want to wallow in your own self pity, feel free to do so here. If you want to conduct yourself as the man I think you are when your head isn't up your arse, you can join me in the library."
As Draco watched Hermione's figure retreat into the semidarkness of the house, he heard the whoosh of green flames and Mrs. Weasley's entering the room.
He could've sworn he heard her mutter "tsk tsk" as she walked to the kitchen to prepare lunch.
After another tense dinner at number twelve, Grimmauld Place, Hermione occupied her evening in the library when she heard a knock on the door.
"Come in," she said, yet gulped as Harry walked in.
"Well that was silly," she said stiffly, "knocking on a door in your own house."
"Since you spend so much time here, I think that this room is yours," Harry replied with a nervous grin.
Hermione smiled back. The feelings of anger she'd been harboring toward Harry began to dissipate at the sight of his smile. As Harry began to apologize for the harsh words exchanged earlier, Hermione thought of the maudlin and angry emotions she had been harboring for some time: jealousy at Harry and Ron for going out to search for the Horcruxes while she stayed behind, frustrated concern for Harry's well-being, and some unnamed feeling she felt concerning Draco that she couldn't ponder because Harry was here.
"Forget it," Hermione said, standing from her armchair.
"Forget it?" Harry asked warily.
"Forget it," Hermione repeated, reaching for Harry and pulling him into a hug. He may have expected Hermione to go into a long discussion about the past and feelings, but she knew better.
"Now get out of here and go spend some time with Ginny," Hermione said with a wink.
Harry blushed and shut the door behind him saying, "By the way, if you really do like Malfoy, then it's none of my business."
Hermione sighed and plopped back into the arm chair. Boys. With all of the experience she had with Harry and Ron in the past, she was able to get through to one of them. But with Harry's parting words, Hermione realized that she had little to go by in dealing with a certain Slytherin.
Hermione strode out of number twelve, Grimmauld Place's fireplace in a huff, settling herself on the couch, even though Mrs. Weasley wasn't at St. Mungo's to help Draco. The red-headed matron needed to buy groceries and trusted the pair to conduct themselves properly at the hospital, as they had been doing so regularly for several weeks.
Draco stepped into the sitting room hearth soon after Hermione's entrance and sat on the opposite end of the couch.
"What's the matter?" the puzzled wizard asked as he removed his glamours.
"Making eyes at Healer Burke, I see," she muttered, staring at her nails.
"What do you mean?" Draco said in abject horror.
"I'm saying that you've gotten awfully nicer to him lately, that's all."
"You were right about him. He isn't that bad as a Healer, and my ankle is getting better."
"Are you sure that's all, Draco? Something you're not telling me about yourself?"
"What are you talking about?" Realization slowly dawned on Draco's face. "Are you accusing me of being gay?"
"Are you then?" Hermione asked. She didn't quite know why she'd be upset if that were the case, but she couldn't stand the way Draco hung on to every word Healer Burke said during the therapy session that day.
"No," Draco said vehemently.
"Are you engaged then? One of those arranged marriages to some 'Pureblood Princess?'" Hermione thought of that Parkinson pig.
"No, again," Draco stated. A smile then spread across his face, a feral smile that threw Hermione off of her interrogation.
Before she could respond, her sense of balance was disrupted when Draco grabbed her and sent them tumbling to the floor.
Their breathing quickened as they lay there, Draco on top of Hermione with that insufferable… no, sexy smirk on his face. Her eyes widened at the current situation she was in. No, Draco Malfoy wasn't gay, no, Draco Malfoy didn't have obligations toward another, and yes, Draco Malfoy's lips were mere inches away from hers.
"Do you think I'm gay now, Hermione?" he whispered, leaning in closer.
Hermione flipped them over so that she was on top of them and angled her head to put her mouth next to his left ear and said, "No, I just think you're a git."
She stood and left a confused Draco lying on the floor.
"What are you doing down there, Draco?" Mrs. Weasley stood above him, a large bag of groceries resting on her hip with several more of them on the floor behind her.
Draco sat up and slowly got to his feet. "Nothing that would concern you."
His words didn't seem to have an effect on the mother of seven. "There's nothing that you can say that I haven't heard before," she said nonchalantly, giving the bag she was holding to Draco and picking up another one on her trip to the kitchen.
"Hermione's right, you know. If you don't go after her, you will be a git of sorts."
He almost dropped the bag in his hands. "You heard our conversation?"
"Just because I was a Gryffindor doesn't mean that I haven't done my share of eavesdropping in my lifetime." Mrs. Weasley took the bag from Draco's hands and set it on the table. "Now, you listen to me before your brain leaks out of your ears. Hermione fancies you, and you fancy her. Now you've got to go and let her know how you feel."
Mrs. Weasley walked over to Draco and smoothed back his hair. "I used to think that Hermione would be with either Harry or Ron – stop frowning Draco, it's unbecoming – but I think now that you are a good one for her." She patted the shocked wizard's cheek. "Now go on, get out of here, I've got meals to cook."
Draco obliged, his destination the library.
Hermione knew leaving Draco there was a cowardly thing to do, but every mite of her Gryffindor courage faded away when she was pinned underneath Draco's body.
The library was her only escape, the stacks and rows of books relieving her even though she didn't have the capacity just then to read anything.
She caught her breath when Draco opened the library's door.
"I didn't mean to scare you back there," Draco said.
"Good. Because you didn't." Hermione shifted in her seat.
"Now I find that highly unlikely. You bolted as soon as my face was on yours."
"No, I left as soon as I put you in your place." She pushed her chair back as Draco advanced on her.
"Ah, so my place is to be entangled with you? My heart beating so close to yours? Our eyes meeting? Our arms wrapped around each other?"
"Our arms weren't wrapped around each other," Hermione stated, her breath coming out in short gasps.
Draco seized her wrists and pulled her out of her chair. "They are now," he said, tilting her head up to kiss her.
Hermione put up a hand between the two of them, but instead of pushing him away, she grabbed a fistful of his shirt and pulled him closer to her. He parted his lips and traced his tongue along her bottom lip as she wrapped her arms around his neck.
A breathless Hermione pulled away from Draco some minutes later.
"This changes things, doesn't it?"
"For such an intelligent girl, you say the most obvious things," Draco said before kissing her again.
The evening of the 31st of August was one of celebration. Magical and Muggle fireworks blasted in the sky, the adult members of the Order got drunk on victory and firewhisky, and everyone – including Snape – was smiling again.
While the rest of the festivities took place on the street of Grimmauld Place – Muggles be damned – two figures remained in the old Black house, watching the celebration below from the drawing room window.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" Hermione said as leaned back into Draco.
She didn't receive a response.
"Draco?" Hermione was reassured when he wrapped his arms around her.
"We're going back tomorrow," he said.
She kissed him and ran down the stairs to open the door of the no longer Unplottable house.
Draco ran after her to return the kiss, leaving behind his cane to roll in with the burning logs of the fireplace.
Author's Note: Special thanks to Remy Davis and LPG for their critiques, support, and gentle convincing into the DM/HG fandom. Also thanks again for Ms. Davis, who inspired me to write this fic through a Korean television show.