All's Fair in Love and War

Chapter 45

Draco moaned, laying his head in his palm and staring at his curly-haired-Gryffindor. She pointedly ignored his moan, her eyes glued to the text in front of her. He moaned again and received a twitch of annoyance from his girlfriend this time. However, still no verbal reaction. "Hermione…" he drawled lazily, dropping his arms onto the table and staring up at her. "It's been hours, you do realize."

"You didn't have to stay with me," she murmured absently, turning a page of her Potions book with a small sigh. "Why don't you go find Blaise or something?" she suggested.

"He's with the redhead," was Draco's bored reply, "and it's eight-thirty. Let's do something,"

Hermione sent a mild glare, "I've told you a thousand times. I need to study. If all you're going to do is complain, then you can go elsewhere."

"Wench," Draco muttered half-heartedly but he sent her an innocent smile when she glared again. "Fine, I'll go flying. But if I fall due to boredom, I'm blaming you."

She rolled her eyes, "Why on Earth would you fall? You're an excellent flyer."

"Why thank-you," he smirked as he brushed his lips against hers before throwing his discarded cloak over his shoulder and sauntering from the library. He looked back at her before exiting but she already had her head ducked down again. Well, s'pose she wouldn't be Hermione Granger if she didn't focus on studying.

When he was gone she let out a small sigh. It wasn't that she didn't want him around, goodness no, but his constant sighs or mutterings were driving her insane. She wasn't going to get any studying done with him near. She'd already promised him her weekends. He could leave her evenings to the books, thank-you-very-much. It was currently the second last week of March, only a week until Easter Break (which Draco had yet to verbally agree to muggle London but Hermione had a feeling he'd be attending). As she had vowed to Ginny a few weeks back, she really did spend most of her time studying now – much to Draco's dismay.

It was quarter-after-nine when the chair in front of her was pulled out and a dark-clothed figure sat down. "Evening Granger," Theodore Nott said fluidly.

"That boy of yours has finally written something worth reading," he hissed smoothly, his eyes narrowed on the quivering form in front of him. "So I suppose your wife can go home now. But I'll have you stay, Lucius."

"Yes my Lord," the pathetic Malfoy replied faithfully.

"He's an interesting child, isn't he?" the Dark Lord chuckled. "I know he's afraid. He's a coward like you, after-all. And yet, for some reason, he seems reluctant to obey me. Why is that, I wonder?"

Lucius was silent a moment, "I… I do not know, my Lord. I assure you that I have raised him to know better. He knows of your power and excellence. He knows of the mudblood's filth. I assure you,"

Lord Voldemort waved his irrelevant statements away, "I do not care, Lucius. All that matters is that he has finally written. The information he has given is barely substantial but it will do. Write him back and command him to send more immediately. Do remind him of the consequences of failing,"

"Y-Yes sir," Lucius tried to regain his dignity but failed. "May… May I ask why you have given such an honorable task to my son?"

"A test," was all the elegant Malfoy received in response before the Dark Lord's glare made him scurry from the room.

"So then Snape gave him a detention. Isn't that absurd?"

Hermione blinked, closing her book with a sigh. She couldn't figure it out. He had spent the last half-hour rambling about different things, not concerned in the slightest that Hermione wasn't paying any attention. She had ignored him, due to the knowledge that he was probably up to something, but all he had done was talk. And it wasn't unpleasant, merely comments or gossip. Theodore Nott had always been very quiet, compared to the other Slytherins, but it wasn't unknown of his hatred of Gryffindors and muggles. So why on Earth was he being so friendly? She'd finally had enough.

"Nott, what do you want?"

He placed his head on his palm and stared at her for a moment. "It's about Draco, actually."

"Oh?" she questioned, eyebrows lifted.

"He's been acting strange and I just wanted to see if it had anything to do with the great Hermione Granger. What is it about you that's so special to Draco? Why hasn't he been spending any time in the common room and why he's been so cold to the rest of us? You see, Draco's always hated people like…" he sent her a somewhat scathing glance, "you."

Hermione began to pack up her books, having decided that it was time to return to the tower. "I haven't the faintest idea what would change him," she said impassively but the knowledge pleased her. "If you're wondering then maybe you should speak to him and not me. I'm under the impression that you dislike me as well, Nott."

His smirk didn't lower her suspicions. "You have no idea? You don't know what would change the prejudice, stuck-up and cold Draco Malfoy? Don't leave yet, Granger, I'm not finished," he stood up and blocked her path. "Do you know why Draco's with you? It's surely not because he's 'in love' with you."

"Not interested, Nott," she snapped, knowing that anything that came from his mouth would be nothing but a lie. "I'm tired, I've been studying for hours and I just want to get back to the common room. So save your lies for another time, okay?"

He laughed, "Lies? I'm not lying Granger. He's the one who's lying. Listen, I didn't come here to argue with you. I came here to warn you. Draco isn't what you think so be a little more careful of what he tells you."

She sighed shaking her head. "Okay, I'll be careful," she said patronizingly. "Get out of my way now before I hex you into next year."

"Think about what I said," Theodore said as he stepped back and out of her path. "My father is a Death Eater too just like Draco's. I know of the Dark Lord's plans, too, little mudblood. Don't brush my words of warning off so easily,"

While his words and tone made her shiver, she knew not to trust them. Theodore obviously wasn't happy with Draco's relationship with her so of course he was going to try and sabotage it. So she walked away, ignoring his warning, and continued on her way to the common room and Harry and Ron.

Theodore Nott watched with narrow, cold eyes. She may not take heed to his words but he hoped it would plant a seed of suspicion somewhere in her mind. He was going to ruin things for Draco, who was obviously forgetting his mission. Draco was getting too close to the filth and he needed to come back to what was right. Hermione Granger was a conceited little wench, thinking she can change Draco Malfoy so easily. The Slytherins wouldn't allow such traitorous behaviour.

"So, has he answered you yet?" asked Ginny sitting cross-legged on Hermione's bed.

Hermione shrugged, sighing as she finished braiding the redhead's hair. "I don't know, Gin. He's… stubborn. I can tell he's leaning towards going but… he doesn't want to admit it. I keep telling him of things I know he'll like… to make him curious… but…"

"Malfoy, Malfoy," Ginny grinned. "Blaise will figure something out if he still decides not to go."

"I think he'll come," said Hermione with a small smile. "His curiosity will get the better of him, I'm sure."

"It's only a week away. Are you getting excited?" Ginny turned to face Hermione, her braid swinging.

The brunette laughed, "Aren't you more excited? You're practically bouncing,"

Ginny merely grinned.

"Hermione," a fifth year called poking her head in. "Harry and Ron are asking for you."

Grabbing a sweater, Hermione followed the fifth year and Ginny down the stairs where her two male friends were sitting at one of the tables. "What's up?" said Ginny.

Ron smiled sweetly and held up his essay to Hermione, "Read it over?"

"Right," Hermione replied as she took it from him and sat down in the other chair. She skimmed through it as he asked and then glanced up at him with raised eyebrows. He was looking at her proudly. "Good job, Ron. You… didn't cheat, did you?"

He looked offended, "Of course I didn't! Harry might've helped a bit but you ought to have more faith in me!"

"All right," Hermione backed off. "I was just asking," she sighed. "It's good, really. Harry, let me see yours too." And while she looked over her raven-haired-friend's essay, Ron studied her with narrow eyes. She could only take so much of it before she finally snapped and sent an annoyed glare at him. "What is it?"

"Are you really going to take Malfoy to muggle London?"

She blinked, "That's the plan. What's it to you?"

"Just… Gin said you'd be staying in a hotel with him. That's… wrong, it is." Ron was firm, his arms folded across his chest and blue eyes condescending.

"Are you questioning my morals? Obviously I won't be sharing a room with Draco. Ginny and I will be together while Draco and Blaise will share a room," she said matter-of-factly, showing only a hint of irritation. "Besides, that's not even concrete yet. We may stay with my parents."

Ron nodded, "That's a brilliant idea. I'm sure your parents have missed you, after-all."

Hermione's eyes narrowed and she grit out, "What I do with Draco is none of your concern, Ron. And I already told you, I have morals. How many times must we have this conversation?"

"That's not what I'm saying!" Ron exclaimed immediately, innocently. "Right Harry? I just don't trust the – Malfoy. What if he's really planning to hurt you? June is coming fast, Hermione. He'll be a - ow!"

Ginny looked away while her brother glared at her.

"I'm well aware of how far away June is," said Hermione solemnly. "But Draco won't hurt me, thank you for your concern though. It's only going to be a weekend in London. We'll show him some muggle stuff, like movies or computers." Ron blinked in confusion but Hermione went on, "We're hoping that if he sees more of the muggle world, he'll overcome his prejudice."

"I reckon he has already though," Ginny put in thoughtfully. "I mean, he can't really claim disgust of them when he so easily kisses you, Hermione."

The brunette nodded. "He does seem interested whenever I mention some of the muggle technology, whereas before he would have scowled or made a rude comment."

Ron and Harry gave brief grimaces before Harry spoke, "He has been… different lately. He doesn't insult us, even if Hermione isn't around. He doesn't speak to us but he doesn't start any rows either."

Ginny beamed while Hermione smiled wanly. "I don't want to get my hopes up," she said slowly, "but I can't help but think things will turn out, after-all. That I didn't walk into a doomed relationship from the start."

"If that's what you thought in the beginning then why did you agree to date him?" grumbled Ron glaring at the table.

Hermione ignored him, absently passing Harry his essay back. "Oh yeah, what are you two doing for the break?" she asked, blatantly changing the subject. The boys allowed it.

"Going to the Burrow, of course," Ron replied with a grin and sudden mood lift. "Mum's promised a feast."

"That sounds wonderful. You'll have to give her my love," Hermione murmured before yawning and covering it. "Well, I'm going to bed. G'night," she received mumbled replies from Harry and Ron who were now discussing what to do for Easter weekend while Ginny followed her to the stairs.

"You're spending this weekend with Draco, right?" asked the redhead as they separated at the sixth year dorm.

Hermione nodded with a smile, "As promised."

"Then," Ginny smirked, "convince him to confirm to going. I want to know for sure!" The younger girl gave a wink before saying good night and entering her own dorm. Hermione smiled and continued to hers, yawning again.

"Draco isn't what you think so be a little more careful of what he tells you."

Blaise sighed, exiting Professor Dumbledore's office silently and heading to the Great Hall for breakfast. He had just given the Headmaster an update on Draco's situation. Narcissa Malfoy had been released from the Dark Lord's clutches for now but Lucius was still awaiting punishment. The Dark Lord was satisfied with the information given to him by Draco for now but he was expecting more and something more helpful this time. Draco had been a mess when he received the letter. He was glad his mother was safe but he wasn't out of danger yet. Dumbledore advised Blaise to keep supporting Draco by offering advice or any harmless information. The elderly headmaster confessed that a few sacrifices might need to be made in order to ensure the safety of Draco's family. Hermione was well-protected at Hogwarts so the intelligence released to the Dark Lord shouldn't do much damage.

He was almost to the Great Hall when he heard raised, familiar voices.

"You're still saying that?" it was Hermione and, feeling guilty but knowing it was necessary, Blaise quickly hid so he could listen.

"Of course I am! You can't expect my views to just change!" Draco sounded annoyed.

Hermione scoffed, "No but after months of us dating I would have thought you'd have gotten over your hatred of muggles! Honestly, Draco, what's wrong with them? Why can't you just give them a chance? I can assure you they're not going to harm you."

"That's not really the issue," Draco stressed. "It's just… I'll feel out of place. I don't know anything about their world and I don't like that."

"So if you come with me to muggle London, you'll learn!" she argued, frustration evident in her tone. "I'm not going to make you feel like an idiot Draco. I just want you to enjoy yourself,"

"I can do that perfectly well here at Hogwarts," he sniffed and Blaise had a feeling he was pouting.

Hermione huffed, "You know what? Fine! Stay here! I'll go to muggle London with Ginny and Blaise and have fun without you! I don't care anymore!"

"What's that supposed to mean?" he snapped indignantly.

"Figure it out!" the doors opened and Hermione stormed into the Great Hall on her own. Blaise waited a few seconds and then approached Draco, who was standing alone with a furious expression.

"It won't hurt to go, will it?" Blaise asked softly, startling the blond.

"Eavesdropping, Zabini?" drawled Draco bitterly. But then he sighed, "I don't want to be surrounded by muggles all weekend."

"You'll have a good time," the other Slytherin said reassuringly. "I won't have any idea what anything is either, mate. But I'm still looking forward to going, to learning about what I don't know. You can't tell me you've never been curious? Yes, we're superior to them," Blaise said when Draco opened his mouth to speak, "but they still have a lot of stuff we don't. I want to see what it's like to live without magic. Only then can we truly claim superiority over the muggles."

Draco adopted an annoyed expression but Blaise knew he had gotten through to him. He clapped his friend on the back, "I'm going for breakfast. You ought to think about telling Hermione you'll be coming."

"O-oi!" the blond protested but Blaise entered the hall, keeping his back turned purposefully to hide his smirk. I won this one, Draco. Hermione, you can thank me later.

Draco scowled, sitting against the wall outside of Hermione's Ancient Runes class. He didn't want to go to London. He didn't want to be surrounded by muggles and muggle things, ignorant of what it would all mean or what their weird contraptions do. He didn't want to admit - to himself or others - that he had no hatred per se of the lower race, merely that he knew wizards and witches were better. He didn't want to admit that he was curious to find out what made muggles different and how it felt to live their lives without magic.

Unfortunately, when it came to his stubborn girlfriend and annoying best friend he was going to have to lower his pride and throw away his preconceived judgment of the muggles. Thus, he was waiting for said girlfriend to finish her class so he could make her day by telling her that she had won the argument. Merlin… it's for the mission, he told himself but he knew that was a lie. He refused to ponder on it however.

When he spotted the curly-haired-Gryffindor coming out with the small throng of students, he snuck up behind her and covered her eyes. Pulling her away from the crowd, he whispered, "All right. I'll go but if I feel uncomfortable even once then I'm leaving. Understand?"

He almost felt her mood lift as she spun, pushing his hands off her eyes, and threw her arms around him. "I understand. Thank you, Draco!" she cried before kissing him, smiling while doing so.

"Yeah yeah," he muttered once his lips were free. But he smiled, "I suppose it won't be so bad. You mentioned something about a hotel right? That's like the Leaky Cauldron?"

She nodded and then gained a wary expression when he smirked suggestively. "So how about rooming together?" he barely got the words out before he had to wince as she hit him. Herm

He took her hand and led her towards her common room so she could drop off her books. Ancient Runes was her last class of the day and his classes had already finished. They were planning to spend the evening out by the lake. "Easter is next weekend, isn't it? It's late March this year,"

Hermione gave a small nod, allowing him to swing their joined hands, "I thought it would be in April but it's actually the last weekend of March. Are you excited?" she teased looking up at him with a smile.

He snorted, "Hardly." But when she squeezed his hand slightly he amended, "A bit."

She laughed, leaning into him. "I'm excited. I know you'll enjoy it. And I'm looking forward to a weekend away from Hogwarts with you."

Draco couldn't hold in his own smile at her last words. The idea did sound appealing - an entire weekend with her, without teachers or classes or other students to bother them. "Me too," he murmured squeezing her hand lightly.

They were all going to floo to Hermione's parent's house but they had to go by separate fireplaces due to house rules. Draco and Blaise were flooing by Snape's fireplace while Hermione and Ginny had to take McGonagall's. Thankfully, the two girls arrived first. Hermione was enveloped in a hug by her mother immediately and she took the chance to once again go over the ground rules with her parents before Draco and Blaise got there. "So, please, don't embarrass me. Don't examine his teeth for I assure you they're taken care of well. Yes, by magic probably but he is a pureblooded wizard. So don't mention anything about that. He's sensitive about his lack of knowledge of the muggle world so be careful when you're showing him how to use something, like the television, okay?"

"Hermione, you've told us this already. My, you really like this boy don't you?" Jane Granger smiled at her only daughter, brushing the curls in Hermione's face away. "Don't worry, we'll behave," she added as Hermione flushed.

"Oh, don't talk about his parents either. That's another sensitive topic," Hermione spoke as though Jane had never said anything. "His dad works in the ministry and his family's really rich. That's all you need to know so don't –"

"We know," said Ted Granger with a sigh. "Relax, princess. We'll be good,"

Ginny giggled and then both girls stepped away from the fireplace as first Draco came in followed by Blaise. Hermione momentarily envied how graceful both boys seemed to floo. They stepped from the fireplace smoothly, brushing the soot from their clothes as if it were an everyday occurrence. Which it probably is, she scolded herself with an inward smile. She greeted her boyfriend and best friend's boyfriend with a soft smile before starting the introductions.

"A pleasure to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Granger," Draco said charmingly. "You've raised a wonderful girl."

Ted beamed, "Well. Call me Ted, son. Any friend of our daughter doesn't need to be so formal."

"Oh, you've certainly picked a handsome one, Hermione." Jane hugged Draco, surprising the blond, before also hugging Blaise.

"Mom," Hermione flushed and Draco hid a smirk. "Anyway, let's go. I'll show you around. We're going to have supper here tonight and then head out for a movie at six. Is that all right, mom?"

"Of course," Jane smiled. "Everyone likes fish?"

They gave polite nods before following Hermione to the doorway leading to a set of stairs. "Your parents are entertaining," Draco teased from behind Hermione.

She blushed but Draco couldn't see it. "T-they've heard a lot about you. I've told them not to embarrass me though," she grumbled.

Blaise laughed, Ginny's hand in his as they followed Hermione into an average sized bedroom. "They seem friendly, Hermione," he said with a smile.

"Thanks," Hermione murmured. She swept her arm out, "My bedroom. Small, simple but cozy."

The walls were a faint green, the carpet a dark blue. Her bed covered one wall, a large queen-size with a cat-printed quilt. A bookshelf covered another wall, typically, and it was loaded with books of all different sizes. Her bureau was located across from the bookshelf, beside a door with led to a bathroom. Draco absently noted that while it was small – half the size of his – it really did emit an aura of comfort. He could almost imagine Hermione living here. It seemed to suit her.

"So, what's a movie again?" asked Draco and Hermione turned to him with a smile.

"It's a surprise," she grinned. "I wonder what we should see though? A chick-flick, action or even a thriller? Do you still get scared easily, Draco?" she teased and he glared.

"What's that to mean?" he muttered but she gave an innocent shrug and continued the tour. Draco felt a sense of dread. Why did I agree to this? Merlin… But it was too late to back out now and he had a feeling that having a smiling and beaming girlfriend was better than having her angry with him. Even if he did have to suffer through his ignorance of the muggle world. It won't be that bad.

A/N: *Cough* I'm alive? There's no point in apologizing, though I do feel guilty. Hopefully, you're all just happy that I finally updated? Yeeah. Anyway. You've no idea how much I struggled writing this. Ohmygosh. BUT. It's muggle london time! Ahahahaa. Any suggestions for what I should have them do?

Hope you enjoyed the super-duper late update. Eheh.