Posted On: November 11, 2006

Revised On: September 28, 2020

Part 2

Harry and Ginny sat across from one another in the Room of Requirements enjoying their date over a candlelit dinner.

"When Lavender walked in Hermione nearly fell off of the bed in shock. It was horribly embarrassing... poor, Ron. Of course Hermione is too polite to ever mention it," Ginny said smiling and Harry let out a chuckle.

"Honestly the two of them are enough to embarrass me sometimes," Harry admitted. The lack of shame about their PDA was alarming at times. Ginny nodded in agreement, her face showing her disgust. Harry laughed.

"Actually, Gin, I was hoping you could clarify something for me. About Hermione," Harry said casually.

"Go ahead then," Ginny said easily, curious.

"Well, it's about tonight. Who she is with tonight..." he feigned relaxed and gave Ginny a piercing look. She sighed and her shoulder sunk, she looked a little impatient.

"Harry, that's really none of your business. It's hardly even my business."

"We saw her earlier, she was definitely dressed for an outing," Harry said plainly. He didn't want to beat around the bush. Ginny and him were always honest with each other.

"Harry, I don't know what to say except you need ask Hermione yourself," she said with a tone of finality.

"Is it Malfoy?" he asked bluntly. Ginny pursed her lips, looking agitated.

"Harry..." Ginny looked torn. She didn't want to lie to her boyfriend, but she couldn't betray her best friend.

Harry's eyes widened. It was Malfoy. She was with Malfoy.

"She's with Malfoy?" he said in disbelief.

"Harry, this isn't fair. You're putting me in a really tough position and... and I can't- you can't. Hermione is my best friend," Ginny's eyes narrowed. She wasn't usually one for tears - she was one for anger. Now she was upset.

Harry stared at his girlfriend and felt some of the anger he was feeling ebb away. He trusted Ginny - shit, he trusted Hermione. And they lied to him and Ron. Both of them had been lying. He felt bitter, but looking at Ginny's face he could empathize easily. She was sworn to secrecy and stuck between her friend and her boyfriend. Harry loved Ginny, and he didn't want to jeopardize her trust by over-reacting about Malfoy to her. He could save that for Hermione.

"Alright," he said. He stayed silent, using the time to calm himself. Ginny nodded, but she knew the damage had been done. The mood from before the question was gone and in its place was silent acceptance that they were going to pretend everything was okay even though it clearly wasn't. Harry looked pissed, Ginny was anxious, and Hermione was going to get an earful later.

After a few minutes they started up a small conversation, feigning normality, even though their minds weren't quite there anymore.

Draco watched as Hermione skipped to the next shop which happened to be a book store. She had already purchased a couple of clothing items (Draco had to convince her that it was okay to spend his money), all of which she insisted on modeling to Draco. He hadn't minded in the least, especially when the modeling took place in a private fitting room where he was able to sneak in a few touches - but no kissing. The rule was torture. Hermione had expressed that it was strange showing herself off to a stranger, but Draco was secretly a bit happy with the arrangement. The shyness she was showing was something he wasn't used to anymore and it was adorable.

Of course, Hermione had been correct to assume no one would notice her among the millions of others ended up not taking the potion. At this point there was only about ten minutes remaining from the Polyjuice effects.

"Oh! Draco look at this one!" she pointed to an American history book.

"Why would you buy a history book?"

"It's American history! I bet it's be fascinating. I imagine their version of the Revolutionary War is much different than what I learned in primary school." She smiled brightly and grabbed it off the shelf. Draco didn't know what war she was referring to but he shrugged it off.

Leave it to Hermione Granger to willingly read a History book.

"What's the Rev-," Draco was cut off by another 'Ooh!'. He sighed and tagged along behind her while she continued on her search. He could hardly ask a question before she spotted another book. At least she was enjoying herself. About five minutes later they were heading to the shopkeeper to purchase three books she just couldn't part with.

Once they were outside of the store the couple slid into the nearest alleyway to give themselves secrecy while Draco returned to his normal self. He was out of Polyjuice potion and miffed at the poor planning. Hermione just hugged him and reassured him that they would be safe for the remainder of the time. He tried to believe her but it was probably something he would never fully be comfortable with until the war was over.

"You're hair is about three different colors," Hermione smiled and ruffled Draco's hair. He scowled at her and she giggled innocently.

"Oh, don't make that face. And here I was about to suggest swimsuit shopping with you," she joked, a smile playing on her lips. His scowl turned into a smile in record time.

"Would that include the modeling part?" He took a few steps towards her and wrapped his arms around her waist. He didn't wait for the reply before attaching his lips to hers, kissing her deeply. Being mere inches from her for hours and not being able to kiss her had been awful. His hands gazed the nape of her neck as he held onto her sweetly, savoring the feeling of her against him. She sighed, content.

"I could possibly model those for you..." she whispered playfully and pecked him again. Draco followed her lead and kissed her again. She moved her hands up his chest and around his neck, tangling her hands into his soft, blonde hair and pulling him closer. He traced circles along the small of her back, making her smile against his lips.

"Alright, one more place." He smirked down at her and she smiled. She gave him one last kiss before picking up a few of the bags and heading out of the alley. Draco grabbed followed after her, taking the bags from her chivalrously.

"If you promise to only go into places like that, I promise to shop with you every day of my life," Draco said happily, slinging and arm around Hermione's shoulders as they walked down the avenue.

"We'd better get going soon. As much as I love being out in public with you, every minute we spend like this is a risk and I'm just-," he swallowed, looking around.

"I know. Its okay," Hermione kissed his cheek sweetly and he nodded.

"It's nice being out in the open like this, not having to worry about anyone." Draco stayed silent but did agree. The thought of Death Eaters and the Dark Lord filled him with shame. In the last two years a lot with his family had changed, from his father going to Azkaban to his mother being cursed into a comatose stated. What he once believed in so deeply was undermined and muddled up. He looked at Hermione, feeling a severe sense of protection overcome him. She was what he had to fight for now, and he was willing to.

Hermione sighed, but nodded in agreement, opened the door, and stepped into the lobby-like room. It was empty again, luckily. Draco pulled out the second Portkey he had set up that would take him back to Hogwarts. They took one last look around and shared a sweet kiss before heading back to reality.

The next thing she knew she was in her common room, the fire burning warmly, two mugs of hot chocolate out and ready waiting for them.

"Thank you. Thank you so much for today. Everything was perfect," she said this sincerely and stood on her toes, enabling her to plant a kiss on Draco's lips. He immediately responded to her, dropping the shopping bags and wrapped his arms around her waist, pulling her closer. He licked her lips and she granted him permission to move his tongue into her mouth. Their snogging session heated and Draco moved Hermione backwards so her back eventually hit the wall.

Hermione moaned into his mouth, feeling his hands moved from her waist and onto her breasts. He kneaded her sensitive breasts and she arched her back into his touch. He hiss as their hips connected and she felt his erection hard against her. He began leaving a trail of light kisses across her jaw and down her neck. Her hands tangled into his blond locks. She was panting, letting out small mews and his name and he kissed her lower, lower, lower... He moved his hands towards the back of her neck and began working on the knot holding up her halter top. He had seen her modeling those little bikinis and been imagining what was under them. He was ready to see for himself.

There were two hard knocks on the door and they frozen.

"Hermione, open up. It's us." Harry's voice could be heard from behind the portrait entrance. Draco let out a little growl of frustration and look at Hermione, gauging her reaction. If it were up to him, they would ignore the two boys and get on with their date. But Hermione clearly had different thoughts as her eyes widened and she frantically began straightening her shirt and attempted to comb her hands through her hair.

"Just leave them," Draco whined and Hermione gave him a pointed look.

"They think I'm studying. And I'm sure this won't take long," she strolled past him and to the door. Draco picked up the discarded bags and headed to her room to deposit them.

"Hi," she said with a smile. She had put her jean jacket back on, which looked a lot less revealing than the halter top, and hoped they wouldn't question her outfit again. They we usually pretty obtuse about fashion.

"Hermione, we need to talk," Harry said sounding morose. Ron was standing behind him also looking grim, his arms crossed. Her smile fell and she looked over her shoulder briefly. Draco was just walking away from her room. He must have simply dropped the bags off right inside the threshold.

"Er- well Malfoy is here..." she said uncertainly. If they wanted to talk it sounded serious and she knew they wouldn't want Draco to overhear.

"We know already," Ron said stiffly.

Hermione felt small. She wish she could shrink and disappear. Uh oh.

"We're not stupid, Hermione. We figured it out earlier," Ron said again. At this point he simply barged into the room, pushing past Hermione. She made a noise of protest, which made Draco head towards the door, as he wondered what Hermione was objecting to.

"You can't just walk in here uninvited," Draco sneered at the invading Weasley.

"Oh shove off, Malfoy. What've you done to Hermione? Did you Imperius her? Is that what's going on here?" He waved his hands wildly, gesturing to the two of them. Hermione's breath caught and her back went rim-rod straight.

"Of course I didn't, Weasley!" Draco seethed at the accusation. Ron didn't seem to care about the answer, however.

"Hermione, he's probably only being nice under someone's orders. Or he's using the fact you have a joined common room to his benefit so he can use you," Ron said maliciously. Hermione looked at him in disgust and shock.

"Ron that is disgusting and not true," Hermione's eyes narrowed and she stepped closer to Draco defensively. "He wouldn't do that and I wouldn't allow it. How dare you imply something like that."

"This doesn't make sense, Hermione!" This time it was Harry who's voice was rising. "Malfoy has done nothing but call you horrible names and wish you dead for the last seven years!"

"I-I know that's what it looks like, but-,"

"It's not how it 'looks', it's how it has been!" Ron said incredulously. He was looking at her like she had grown two heads, and maybe he actually believed she had in a sense.

"Look, a lot has changed in-,"

"Changed?! Changed in the five months you've been playing house? He is a Death Eater, Hermione! He and his entire family want you dead because you're Muggle-born!" Harry was yelling and Hermione felt a wave of shame overcome her. Because... well, he was right. Draco may have changed drastically these last few months but the last 6 years had not been like that. And from the outside looking it, everything Harry was saying was true.

"That's bullshit, Potter!" Draco yelled out, stepping in front of Hermione to block her friends from accosting her any further.

"You shut the fu-!"

"You don't know shit about me, Potter. You may have some fucking complex about being the hero, but you're not always the good guy in the story. You're yelling at her like she's stupid and she's not. She has a reason for this," he grabbed her hand, "and maybe if you let her talk without yelling at her you would be able to listen. But no, the great Harry fucking Potter doesn't have to listen, does it? He just gets to scream in people faces as if he's some righteous all-knowing messiah!"

Ron was looking at their joined hands, scandalized. Harry's eyes were narrowed, but he somehow held is tongue.

"FINE! Go ahead Hermione. What the hell is going on?" He glared at her and Hermione's shoulder shook. She felt so stricken and shocked. This was not how she intended to tell her best friends. She didn't even have time to prepare notes, or outline the conversation, or consider the different questions they may have and prepare answers. She felt like a deer in headlights.

"I-I don't know, Harry. He-we just-he's different. He's changed. I got to know him and he's... he's mine." Her voice sounded pathetic even to herself. She felt so shocked. Draco gave her hand a squeeze and she looked down, as if just realizing they were holding hands for the first time. She closed her eyes tight, trying to think.

"Hermione, this isn't right. He's not a good person and you don't deserve whatever bullshit he is threatening you with, or-or tricking you, or whatever he is going to do to you. This isn't okay," Harry shook his head, frowning. Hermione's brain was working in overdrive. Her entire relationship with Draco was flashing behind her closed eyelids.

Living together. Studying together. Talking briefly. Helping him study. Learning advanced charms. Listening to him cry behind the door. Talking to him about his family. Bringing him dinner when he was too upset to leave his room. Him telling her she deserved more than an A when she nearly cried over her Herbology essay. Him giving her advice on how to protect her parents. Him learning about World War II when she brought him a book to read. Falling asleep on the opposite sofas. Laughing over a bottle of firewhiskey. Visiting her in the hospital wing when she passed out from exhaustion. Kissing him under charmed mistletoe. Sharing a bottle of red wine. Hugging him after nightmares. Listening to him talk about his changing views about Muggle-borns.

"Enough!" Hermione shouted above whoever was talking.

"Ron, Harry, I'm sorry I lied. I'm so sorry I didn't feel comfortable telling you. I was - I am - scared you would hate me. I am scared you wouldn't trust me anymore to help you do what needs to be done. But I'm still me. I need you two to trust me. And I trust Draco. I can't sit here and explain every detail to you but I can tell you what happened - I will tell you how this happened. But not today. Not now. You're mad, I'm mad, I'm nervous... I need time to think and then I can present you all the evidence."

"This isn't a science experiment, Hermione, this is you being manipulated and tricked-,"

"STOP IT!" Hermione yelled, covering her face in distressed.

Everyone stopped talking.

"I chose to spend my time with Draco. I chose this on my own. I'm not being manipulated, this is my choice. I choose him."

"I don't know if I can watch this happen to you, Hermione," Harry said bitterly. His face was a wall of disgust and disappointment.

"Look, mate, why don't we talk tomorrow..." Ron grabbed Harry's shoulder and gave him a reassuring pat. He gave Draco a weary look but seemed much more concerned about the anger erupting from his best friend. Hermione's eyes softened as she looked at Ron.

"Thank you, Ron," she said softly. He pursed his lips but nodded.

"We can talk tomorrow," he repeated again and Harry huffed, turning on the spot and storming out of the common room his eyes saying one thing: Traitor. Ron looked at Hermione and Draco, bewildered.

"I'll try to calm him down. Look, er, I'm not sure what's happening but... I'm willing to hear you out, Hermione." He looked only at Hermione, never sparing at glace at Draco. Hermione nodded gratefully.

"Okay. I promise I'll explain tomorrow," she said with earnest. Ron nodded stiffly and walked out of the door after Harry.

When the door snapped shut Hermione let out a breath she didn't know she had been holding in, her shoulders slumping.

"I'm sorry," Draco said in a low voice. Hermione turned to him and fell into his arms, he held on to her tight and she clutched him just as desperately.

"They were bound to find out sometime," Hermione said into his chest. She felt tears prickle the side of her eyes and she squeeze them shut. "I'm sorry. Today was going so perfect and now I'm crying."

Draco hugged her tighter and kissed the top of her head trying to reassure her. "Don't apologize for those gits."

"I lied to them, they have a right to be mad."

"But they should hear you out before going off like that," Draco reasoned. Hermione nodded against his chest. She was right, but he was right, too.

"Let's try to forget what just happened," Hermione said with a sniffle. Draco pulled away so he could look at her face. She seemed to genuinely mean that as she wiped a few stray tears from her face and looked up at him with renewed strength.

"I want to be here with you, and I want to enjoy this night together. Things can fall apart tomorrow - but for now I want to be happy with you."

"Okay. I can do that," Draco said softly, leaning forward and closing the gap between them once again. Hermione fell into the kiss easily and it was the perfect distraction - exactly what she needed. Her hands once again made their way into his hair and Draco's made their way up and and down her body, feeling her curves. This is what she needed tonight.

"Hermione," Draco pulled away, surprising her. "I know I used to be a prat but... I really care about you now and I'm willing to prove it to you in whatever way I can. I know those two bumbling idiots mean a lot to you, so whatever they need... I'll do my best."

Hermione felt her heart swell again and she was impressed with him all over again. She was going to convince her friends, kicking and screaming, or to her grave. Whether or not they worked out in the long term it didn't matter - Draco Malfoy was a changed man and he deserved this chance and she was going to give it to him.

"I'll do whatever I can to keep you," he said it so severely she knew he meant it.

She kissed him again without abandon.

"Please, let me keep you," he pleaded.

"I'll let you keep me for as long as you'll have me." She sealed it with a kiss.