Hermione breathed deeply and dug her feet into the grass; she loved coming to the Burrow. All the stress and tension from life seemed to stop the minute she entered the area. There was something magical in the design of the trees, the movement of the wind and of course the Burrow itself.
The summer was winding down, and exciting thing as it hailed a new year at Hogwarts. It was the reason she was sitting outside in the sun. One last moment to take in the sunshine before throwing herself into the preparations for the upcoming year. She couldn't believe it was right around the corner, as if time was slipping through her fingers and no matter how hard she clung to the moments they still faded into the past, leaving her with the uncertain future.
Well, uncertain was not a word to describe Hermione's future. She was a smart and talented witch, even with the people scowling over her human parents, nothing could argue the fact that she was going places. Even Malfoy himself couldn't change that future.
She heard Ron's voice roll across the distance. The wind made it sound so far, when he could only be a few feet away.
"Over here." she said with a wave of her hand.
"What are you doing all the way over here?" he asked, flopping down next to her. Ron's red hair had recently been cut and it already seemed to be out of control. Hermione smiled softly, the thought of her fingers running through it passing her mind briefly.
"Contemplating the next year. It's getting so close to the end of our time at Hogwarts." she pulled up a couple blades of grass and let them fly in the wind, "Who knows what were going to face in the upcoming year. What if something happens and we separate?"
Hermione sighed and lifted her knees so she could rest her chin on them. Deep down she'd been trying to hide the feelings that she was sure were making themselves noticeable by now. Time was limited and Hermione felt it even more when he was around. She wanted to tell him that she loved his company and the times they spent together but something was holding her back. There was an uncertainty to it, an uncertainty that kept her from saying a word.
"Ron..." she began, the words previously planned and carefully thought out.
"Yea?" his response was whimsical as he daydreamed into the clouds.
"I've got something I want to tell you.." Hermione tucked her knees up tighter, "Ron, if you liked someone but you were scared of what they'd think, would you tell them?"
Ron simply looked at her, a blank stare for a moment before he grinned, "I knew this was coming."
"You did?" her heart skipped a beat.
"Of course. I've seen the looks. It doesn't take a genius to see what's going on." he added with a shrug.
"and your..feelings on it?" the words seemed to whisper out of her mouth.
"Well," he ran a hand through his hair, "I don't think Ginny's going to like it."
"She'll get over it." Hermione said with a relieved chuckle, "She's your sister, it's her job to be this way."
"Yeah but when it comes to Harry..."
"Harry?" Hermione's head whipped around to look at him, "Ron what are you talking about you?"
A stumped look came over his face, " You liking...Harry."the words came out slowly.
"I..." she added, "What!"
"Isn't that what you mean?"he asked.
"No...I could never like Harry. He's like my brother." the wince that followed was too sincere to be fake. It was the oddest thought to think of Harry in that way. Impossible in fact.
"Oh never mind!" she barked in a sharp tone, her voice raising as her body did off the grass. Standing she looked down at him, "You're...so..."
"Ron! Hermione! Tea's on!" Mrs. Weasley's voice carried to them over the field.
Hermione didn't say a word. She just left, her mind strained from the conversation and her heart aching from the crushed hope. All she had to do was finish the conversation. She could have corrected him and put his name in instead of Harry's. It didn't seem right though.
"You alright dear?" Mrs Weasley asked as Hermione approached, "You look upset."
"I'm fine. I'm going to go wash up." Hermione said with a small smile before running into the house.
"Poor girl.." Mrs Weasley said quietly as she watched her retreat, "Loving a Weasley is a lot of work."
On a moonless night, the stars shine brighter than any other but, on this moonless night, Draco Malfoy couldn't give a damn. For tonight, he was lost in the middle of the woods. His wand had fallen into a pond and he'd been unable to retrieve it. He didn't have a map and this was still his home forest, technically this was his backyard. Definitely worst of all was the fact he was being chased by some large drooling wild animal.
"Bloody TREES and NATURE !" he yelled as his foot caught a stick and he fell into another bush full of thorns. His crisp robes had already been mangled by his previous prickled attacker leaving less fabric for this one to cling to. He grumbled as he stood up, a thorn piercing his palm, "OW!"
The blood mixed with the mud from the puddled he'd previously tumbled into. This was not his night and more than anything he just wanted to be at home. He wanted to be safe in his bed, with a hot supper in front of him and some beautiful witch rubbing his feet.
"When I get home…" he began to yell as he moved through the darkness, "…I am cutting this entire damn forest down!" He kicked a log, "EVERY last tree..!"
His house was nearby, that much he knew. He hadn't meant to get lost, he'd just decided to get some fresh air and a short walk in. But while lost in his thoughts he wandered just a little too far and while returning seemed to have gone further into the forest then back. He blamed his father, it was his fault that Draco was such a confused mess. His father was to blame for the state his mother was in, for the state their family was in.
Family. A foreign word as of late. His mother was hidden away in her room half the time. With Voldemort and his crones always around, it didn't even feel as if it was his home. The usual buzz with school approaching seemed dwarfed in comparison. He wasn't even interested.
Suddenly his mind was filled with thoughts and memories of his childhood. Whether happy or sad they were better than what he had now. He walked, lost in thought for awhile. He hadn't even noticed he'd found his home. It wasn't until he reached the door and felt the handle, he snapped back to reality.
A strange feeling came over him as he opened the door and walked inside. The air was tense and uninviting, which despite rumours of his family, wasn't the usual thing you felt upon entering. As he shut the door quietly behind his back the urge to call out for his mom caught in his throat. Slowly he walked toward his father's den and stopped outside the door. Quiet voices were heard as he pressed his ear to the door trying to hear a little more.
"Come in Draco." The hiss of the voice was one he heard in his nightmares...Voldemort was in his house!
Hermione smiled as she leaned into the plush red fabric of the sofa in her common room. The silence was beautiful. The book in her hands was impossible to put down. She looked around at the decorated room, the crackling fire and realized that in this moment her life was perfect.
It had been an honour to be named Head Girl. An expected one but an honour all the same. She'd already known months in advance, as she'd been called to Hogwarts before the start of school to discuss a few changes. Putting the book down she reached over and picked up a roll of parchment. She opened it, looking over the schedules for the prefects. All was in order, but she knew there'd be issues with it. The Prefects loved to complain.
Such noises, it was one of the reasons she loved her peace in the common room. Small moments of sanity amidst a sea of insanity. Her own peaceful piece of paradise. She looked up the stairs toward the Head Boy's dorm. Well, relatively peaceful.
As much as she wanted to admit that it was a fluke seeing Draco Malfoy's name next to hers, she had to admit it wasn't. He was a reputable wizard. Although the reputation he prided himself on wasn't one she'd brag about in public. It was such things that made their living arrangements interesting.
"GRANGER!" his voice bellowed from the top of the stairs.
She shuddered at the sound, "I'M COMING!" putting down the parchment Hermione made her way up the stairs, stopping to admire the craftsmans work before she tentatively knocked on the door, "Malfoy?"
"COME IN! IT'S NOT LIKE I CAN ANSWER THE DAMN THING"
Hermione winced at his words. Opening the door she poked her head around the corner, "You don't have to shout so much" she said quietly, "There are much better ways to communicate"
"Shut up Mudblood." he snarled.
"Hey! You know the deal! That word isn't allowed if I'm to be here.." she said, resting her back on the door.
"Deals! I don't make deals with Mudbloods."
"Then I've got no reason to be here." she said, her hand touching the handle.
"Granger wait!" he leapt off the bed to follow her but the moment his legs left the safe mattress they folded and crumpled underneath him. His body made a sickening 'thump' on the hard surface as it landed, "You know..." he balled up his fist and slammed it into the floor while resting his forehead against the cool wood. He kept his eyes down, "This...isn't easy for me"
"Being stuck together wasn't something either of us planned on, but you know that no one else, not even Pansy, is willing to come up here every morning and put up with you."
His ears twitched as her words, soft and low, sank in. She sounded so close to him and yet he had just watched her almost walk out of his room. Lifting his head, he surprisingly met her gaze. She was close. Staring him in the face, laying on the floor with her head resting in the palm of her hand.
He had to stop from staring at the eyes that were locked onto his. Pushing himself up onto his elbows he examined her delicate chin and soft lips, his eyes noticed every mark, tint and curve of her cheeks. The length of her eye lashes, and the dimple that threatened to make itself known when she smiled.
"How do you know just being around you doesn't make me feel like an invalid."
"It doesn't really matter if it does." Her chin bounced up and down on her hand that it rested on, as she spoke. "Point is, I know you're not willing to give up on classes and until they figure out what happened to you and can get you out of this mess you're in." she sat up and held out her hand, "You're going to take my hand, sit up, and get to class like you always do and tomorrow…" She shrugged a little. "…we repeat the process."
"I hate you when you're a know-it-all!" However he had to admit she was right which made him roll his eyes. Groaning he grabbed her hand and allowed her to help him get up into a semi-kneeling position. The lack of feeling in his legs made him very unsteady but lucky for Hermione, Draco Malfoy was built like a rock from the belt up. His strong arms held onto her tightly. More than once she found herself acutely away of his arms flexing against her as he kept his balance. His hands felt firm on her shoulders as she used her wand to pull his chair behind him.
"I hate this thing!" He mumbled moving his hands to the sides of the chair, slowly pulling himself d to sit into it.
She sighed, "If we kept track of everything you hated we could write a book," she grinned as he wound the straps tightly around his legs,securing them in place "and it wouldn't be a very good book at that."
"You'd read it. It's MY book after all." A tiny smirk crossed his face as he finished and motioned for her to get him going.
Hermione stared at him then shrugged. How could they go from talking like two people who hated each other to cracking jokes in an almost carefree way the next? It was a complex and confused relationship they had. Well not a relationship, that word was far too strong. This was more a temporary agreement.
"Yeah…you're probably right." She said in response to his little quip. Checking the rest of the chair she tapped it lightly with her wand and said a short spell, "Alright, you are set and ready to go. If you need me, you know what to do." she went and opened the door wider for him.
As Draco moved past her she marvelled at the ingenuity of the Wizarding World. The chair was taken from the basic muggle wheelchair but enchanted so the user didn't have to worry about stairs or any other obstacles. Malfoy could easily move, climb and virtually head anywhere in the castle all by himself.
The only problem was getting in and out of the blasted thing. That was Hermione's job. That was the reason she'd had to come early to Hogwarts. He could easily run it himself but for some reason Dumbledore decided that it required two people to get it going. Perhaps to stop Malfoy from running off at night or drowning himself in the lake.
"See you tonight, Malfoy."
Hermione rolled her eyes and headed on her way to breakfast.
"Hermione! Did you see the mess that..." Ron leaned close to her and muffled his laughter.
She put her finger to her lips and motioned for him to be silent. The end of the day was at hand and the two Heads sat at the front of the table. The Prefects nervously awaited what was expected to be quite the reprimand. The schedules Hermione had spent hours planning were a mess and three times Filch had to come tell her that he had caught a couple of the pairs being rather inappropriate behind a statue.
"I believe we are all here" she said quickly. She felt like the evil mother about to beat the children. She looked over at Draco, his smug smile giving little encouragement. This was how the meetings seemed to go. She was the evil lad and he was the daddy stood in the corner with lollipops and hugs for afterwards.
Draco's little smirk wasn't helping the situation.
Hermione had always thought that the three things that made up Draco Malfoy were his arrogant smirk, overconfident attitude and swaggering walk. Naturally his impediment would dim that effect and yet he'd simply shifted into a whole different world of cocky. His walk was replaced with a n impossible race car attitude. He wheeled up and down the corridors with an ease that made the teachers jump out of the way and the girls wish to get a ride. It made Hermione want to throw up.
"As you all know"she began regardless of whether people noticed, "There have been numerous problems with the Prefect's schedule..."
All the heads turned to a quiet snickering from the back of the room. Hermione's eyes flared at the interruption but she ignored it. The silence continued and she looked about the room.
"We have had, several warning from Filch regarding the behaviour of the Prefects while on patrol. I am only going to issue this warning once more. Patrol is not a time for snuggles or to catch up on what you missed out on while in class. If Filch catches anyone else there will be serious consequences."
"How serious?" a brunette short hair boy from Hufflepuff asked.
"Dumbledore will be in the meeting, that's how serious," Draco added, his voice causing Hermione to jump. The room whispered for a moment. Some faces turning pale, others a little flushed. It was obvious the point had been made.
"Also, once the schedule is set there is no changing it without Malfoy's or my permission. You cannot randomly swap shifts if you decide you need out of of it." she picked up the parchment, "Unless Malfoy and I sign the changes, if you don't show up it will be counted as an absence and dealt with as such."
A blond haired girl who Hermione didn't recognize but knew was from Slytherin gulped rather noticeably while raising her hand, "I...well. I ..." her cheeks turned a bright red colour.
"Yes?." Hermione asked with a raised brow.
"Well, I did go to see Drac-... I mean Malfoy about my schedule change but..." she blushed and stopped talking.
"I forgot to sign it," Draco interrupted, a sudden glare in his eye at the blonde girl, "My mistake. It won't happen again."
The girls around the blonde Slytherin giggled and Hermione had an idea as to why he'd forgotten, "That's no excuse".
"Oh, come now Granger!" came Draco's annoyingly calm voice from beside her, "It was a simple mistake. "
Hermione looked back at Draco, "If I forgave all of your mistakes and looked at them as a one off, we'd barely get anything done around here."
Some small giggles erupted and Hermione shushed them before getting back to business. The rest of the meeting was dull in comparison to the beginning but Hermione felt they'd gotten a lot done. It was going to take time to make a routine that pleased everyone but Hermione had the time and she wasn't going to let her last year go down in flames.
"Do you intend to use your position as Head boy to get in a shag whenever you want?" she asked curiously.
"Of course not but you've gotta admit that she was quite pretty to look at. Not the brightest I admit but I can't complain. Nor can she." he grinned.
"So that's the kind of women Draco Malfoy goes for." Hermione packed up her belongings, "Not surprising."
He chuckled and wheeled toward her, "You talk pretty big for a girl who's never had any man go near her."
"I have to!" she flushed, the retort shot back before she'd really thought about it.
"Oh yes, we all know about Victor Krum…but you broke up with him before his pretty little hands could get anywhere near that brainy body of yours. Unless he dumped you for being damn boring"
Hermione had to bite back her tears. It wasn't fair that he could hurt her and she couldn't say anything in return that would even make a dent in the cold exterior of his. Victor was a sensitive subject. Dating a famous quidditch player put her in a place that she hadn't enjoyed…reputation wise and otherwise.
"You…" she couldn't think of the words or a come back. Turning she picked up her books of the couch, "I'll see you in the common room!"
Draco waved, watching her walk out on him once again, "Maybe you'll find a retort in one of your books there." he mumbled after her.