Hermione wandered the upper Hogwarts Halls slowly, her eyes scanning for any misbehaving students. Patrol duty was not her favourite task. She would much prefer detention supervision, or helping out Madame Pince in the Library, chasing up exceptionally late books. But she had been agreed to swap with Harry, which left her wandering the top three floors of Hogwarts while snow fell outside.
The halls were quiet and it seemed that even the most regular trouble makers were in bed on the chilly night. With a shiver, she wrapped her cloak around her tightly, grateful that Molly Weasley's jumpers were excellent at keeping out the cold.
She had divided the corridors with the Head Boy - Blaise Zabini. It worked out in Slytherin's favour as they had already lost 200 points this week, all because she'd caught four of them trying to ignite a prank bomb from George and Fred's shop, which sent sparks and dreadful smelling smoke everywhere.
It had taken three days for her to get the smell out of her hair.
After finishing her second patrol of the upper halls, Hermione decided that it was time to head back to the Gryffindor Common Room where - hopefully - Ron was waiting for her.
The only students she had caught out were a Gryffindor couple who had decided that, despite the nipping cold, an empty class room on the fifth floor was a good place to make out. Hermione had promptly deducted 20 points from them before sending them back to the common room.
One of them had called her a "grumpy old bat" and on top of the cold doing it's best - and succeeding - to turn her fingers blue, it had put Hermione in a bad mood.
Right now, all she wanted was to see Ron and curl up in front of the fire with him for awhile, just to relax. Even though things between them were strained somewhat, they were at the very least, still friends. And that friendship had remained throughout the last few months while they had stumbled through a terrible attempt at keeping together a romance.
As she approached the portrait the Fat Lady smiled sleepily.
"Duty called." Hermione motioned at her Prefect badge, and the Fat Lady nodded.
The portrait swung open and Hermione stepped softly into the tunnel. She heard giggling coming from the common room and frowned.
It sounded like the couple she had sent packing to the Gryffindor common-room had just moved their two person party. That would completely ruin any plans she had of relaxing in front of the fire if they were making out in the middle of the area, and she hardly wanted to talk to Ron while the lust-struck younger pair were learning the ins and outs of kissing.
As she rounded the corner prepared to motion Ron upstairs to the landing to say goodnight, she froze. Instead of finding the couple from earlier, she found a different pair of students. Ron, and Lavender.
Ron was lying on the couch, Lavender sprawled on top of him. She had propped herself above him on her elbows, leaning down to place kisses on his face and giggling as he ran his hand up and down her back. He leaned up and kissed her, their eyes closing as he pulled her tighter to him.
Hermione gasped, her head swimming as she felt tightness forming in her chest. She should have known she wasn't enough, that things between her and Ron wouldn't work. But she hadn't imagined that he'd do this.
Lavender smiled triumphantly before Ron quickly snatched his hands off her, sitting up.
"Hermione!" he exclaimed, pushing Lavender aside as Hermione fled, running through the portrait. The Fat Lady yelled down the corridor after Hermione about not slamming the paintings, Ron calling her name soon after.
She made it to the steps of the Astronomy Tower, her heard pounding in her chest as she rounded the corner and leaned against the wall. She heard him running towards her just before he arrived.
Hermione lunged to the side, but Ron blocked the way standing in the doorway as he panted.
"Leave me alone!" she spat, backing up against the wall as he went to take a step towards her. The light from the corridor highlighted the lipgloss marks on his cheeks, and his kiss-swollen lips.
"It isn't what it seems." Ron pleaded, his brow furrowing.
"Don't try and tell me that it's meaningless." Hermione glared.
"It was! I didn't mean it.." he looked at her with desperation. He had never meant to hurt her; she was never meant to find out. He was torn between the girl that was head-over-heels in lust with him, and the girl that confused him more than anything. Until now, he had believed he could make it work. That despite the awkwardness that had fallen between Hermione and himself, it could be fixed.
He hadn't even done anything with Lavender before tonight, brushing off her advances. He had been determined to try and make it work with Hermione, but tonight when Lavender had come down to the Common Room smelling of her old perfume and telling him how much she had missed him, something had slipped. Her hand linked in his, their legs touching - it was too intoxicating. When she had leaned forward and kissed him, he should have stopped her. The next thing he knew she was pushing him back to lie down on the couch and climbing on top, and just as they had kissed again Hermione had walked in.
"It's not working between us, and this is just the final . It's over Ron."
"Hermione! You can't break up with me! Hear me out, please! I just don't know why-"
"No! Why would I want to hear any more of your excuses, Ronald Weasley? Haven't you hurt me enough in one night?" she started backing away up the stairs, and he followed quickly.
"We're meant to be together, don't you see? The two of us are the two odd ones out in the Golden Trio. Harry has Ginny, and we have each other."
"Just stop." she shook her head, a tear sliding down her cheek. He was right; they were the odd ones out, but that didn't mean that they belonged together.
"I don't want to pretend that it's fine anymore. We don't work." Hermione sniffled.
"What do you mean? We always work! You get mad because I don't pay attention, and I get mad because you always wrap yourself up in books. But we make up later, and it's back to normal again."
"I don't want that anymore. I can't stand you having a go at me for reading, it's insulting and rude."
"But what about everything that we've been through? Don't you value that?"
"I don't want to talk about it right now!" Hermione turned her head, and Ron frowned.
"So are you saying that you don't want to be with me? After everything, you can't be bothered changing to make this work?"
"You haven't even changed! Please!"
"I have changed, but you? You'll always be a stuck up know-it-all."
"That really convinces me to stay with you, doesn't it." Hermione snorted, and Ron glared.
"What's wrong with me, and being with me? Can't you just relax? Why do you have to be so serious all the time?" he backed her up against a wall, his face mixed with hurt and anger.
"You're about to ruin what was left of our friendship, Ronald. It's over, you've obviously moved on so just let me be!"
"We get over everything, Hermione. We didn't stop being friends through the toughest of times, why would we now?"
"Because I'm done! I'm so over trying and trying to make things work when it just makes me feel worse! I can never be what you wanted, now let me go before I stop talking to you forever." Hermione growled, her voice low as she looked up at Ron, the dim light in the stairs reflecting off his eyes.
"Hermione, it was a simple mistake. I love you. You can't leave me."
"I don't want to hear it, let me go." She tried to shove him and move past, but he closed the space tighter and grasped her hands in his.
"Hermione, please. We can work it out, it was all a mistake! I didn't mean it." He begged, lowering his face towards hers.
"I don't want to work it out!"
"What if I show you that I love you? A kiss might change your mind." Ron whispered, his lips bumping the top of her nose as she squirmed.
"Please let go of me! Just leave me alone!" Hermione cried, wishing her wand wasn't in her back pocket.
"Let go of her." A hiss came from above them, and Ron jerked his head up, smacking Hermione in the nose with his chin as he sneered at Malfoy who was standing up the steps from them. She whimpered in pain, blood starting to trickle out of her nose as she tried to free her hands.
Her heart seemed to jump as he glared at Ron, his lip curling back slightly.
"Keep out of this, Malfoy!" Ron spat, sneering back at the other boy.
"Considering that you've ruined my evening by bothering Granger for fifteen minutes, trying - and failing - to reconcile your relationship and making me overhear the whole thing, I do believe it is now my problem."
"Why don't you?"
"Seeing as she's my girlfriend, I think I have a right to talk to her." Ron spat. Draco raised a pale eyebrow and laughed coldly.
"I do believe she said that she didn't want to talk to you. Now as I said; let her go. I don't have any hesitation in jinxing a feral prick who won't respect a woman's requests." Draco descended the stairs quickly, pressing his wand to the underside of Ron's chin.
Ron stumbled back in surprise, releasing his hold on Hermione at the same time. She stumbled down the last few steps of the astronomy tower and ran, blood trailing down her chin as she ran for the Divination tower. She could hear a scuffle erupt behind her but pushed forward as Ron yelled her name.
She made it to the tower quickly and managed to climb a few stairs before sinking down against the wall, tears spilling down her cheeks as she bunched her cloak around her and sobbed into it. Ron would never look for her there, and she knew that she was too far down for her sobs to wake Trelawney.
Ten minutes later she managed to stop sobbing, hiccuping as she wiped away the mix of tears, blood and snot from her face with her robe as more tears fell from her eyes. Footsteps on the bottom of the stairs made her hold her breath, and she hoped that who ever it was would think it a ghost and go away.
"Hermione?" Draco's voice echoed around the stairwell, and she curled tighter into herself.
"I know you're here, I could hear you crying."
"Go away." she mumbled, burying her face deeper into her cloak.
He slowly made his way up the stairs towards her hunched form, quietly settling himself on the steps next to her.
"Are you alright?"
She nodded as tears continued to trickle down her face, and his brow furrowed when she looked up at him.
"You're not. Your nose is bleeding."
"I can fix it." Hermione hiccuped again, reaching for her wand but Draco stopped her.
"Let me. It's the least I can do." he pulled out his wand, pointing it at her nose and muttering an incantation. She felt a small click, and gasped in pain as it the bone fixed.
"Ow." Hermione brought her hand up to run along the top of her nose, feeling her skin tingle as Draco cast a charm to remove the blood.
"Better?" he asked, and she nodded.
The beginning of the year had changed everything, especially as they'd been thrown together as he was a Prefect, and she the Head Girl. The first night after everyone had left and Hermione had stayed to scribble notes on to-do tasks, Draco had waited for Hermione outside.
"What are you doing?" Hermione had asked when she had come out of the Prefect's Room and found him leaning against the wall by the door.
"Please, let me attempt to start over. My name is Draco Malfoy, and I'm a git who has learned that the pressure of living on the wrong side of darkness makes you an arrogant and awful person."
Hermione had stared at him in shock for a second before reaching forward to take his hand and shake it.
It had taken two months of conversations, and Hermione asking questions before things had become oddly warm between them; they called each other by their first names, studied together, and often patrolled together. As they often shared duties and worked in a small group with the other Prefects it was imperative that they got on, and Draco had tried his hardest to make sure that the witch felt comfortable, safe and respected.
After years of consequences and excessive teasing, as well as social outcast looming should he ever mutter so much as a nice word about Granger, Draco was now able to admire the young woman for her courage, brains and kindness as they got to know each other. Though Hermione had been weary at first, Harry had admitted that Draco had reached out to apologise to him and to her surprise, the two men had started to get along with each other.
Draco had even gone so far as to write Ron a note; 'Weasley - Sorry I spent the former years of school making fun of you. Your hair is still an awful shade of red, though. -D.' Ron had blustered and fumed and burned the note up, Hermione and Harry barely managing to keep him from punching Draco in the face. Their dislike for each other would never cease, but Draco was trying with Hermione and Harry and to them that was what mattered.
She was so determined and focused on her duties as Head Girl that no matter how hard he tried to study and balance Prefect duties, Draco still felt insignificant in comparison to her. But instead of disdain he now felt admiration, thankful the girl was kind enough to lean over his shoulder and tap a wrong answer on his parchment when he got stuck as they studied in a quiet library corner with Blaise, Harry and Ginny.
Perhaps it was the Malfoy Manor event that had triggered the sense, he wasn't sure, but Draco felt compelled to keep an eye out for Hermione whenever he could. He had once come across a Sixth Year boy trying to grope her as she climbed a ladder to reach a certain book in the Library, and Draco had swiftly sent him running, his back burning with three stinging hexes.
Draco's thoughts of the past few months events disappeared as he felt Hermione lean towards him, uncurling and letting her head rest against his shoulder.
"Thanks for helping me." She whispered.
"All part of the job description." He joked. She laughed and hiccuped at the same time, and Draco laughed before he winced, his hand flying up to the cut on his cheek.
"Ron did this? What a git." she frowned, a small hand tentatively coming out to touch above the cut he had from where Weasley's fist connected with his cheekbone. Draco instinctively flinched and turned his head away.
"It's nothing, I'm fine."
"Draco, let me have a look." She reached out for him. Loudly, he huffed, annoyed but turning his head towards her anyway as she brushed the hair out of his face. She cringed when she saw the area, drawing in a breath. There was a bruise blossoming down his cheek, the skin slightly puffy and starting to darken.
"It's not that bad." He muttered darkly, not used to this amount of affection, let alone from her. She tsked softly.
"Get up. We need to get to a bathroom." She ordered, and he rolled his eyes.
"We do not."
"Yes, we do. I know one that Fred and George used to use. Come on." she waited for him to stand, and took his offered hand as he pulled her up. Re-adjusting her cloak, she started down the steps and headed out of the tower, seeking the disused bathroom. She found it in a few minutes, pulling Draco in as he stared at her.
"You're over-reacting." he sighed, and she shook her head.
"Unless you want me to stun you and float you to see Madame Pomfrey, you'll let me help you." she crossed her arms over her chest, and he sighed again but let her pull him into the bathroom and over to stand next to the sink. He watched her dig in her pockets for something, turning on the tap a second later and running whatever it was in her hand under the water.
"Look, Herm-" he started to protest, but she pressed a wet tissue to the cut, gently slapping away his hand when it came up in reaction to the stinging.
It seemed that this moment, this night had changed anything. Draco had never felt the warmth he was having towards the small, bright and curly haired girl and she had never been so sure of her actions around him.
He shivered slightly as her breath traveled across his neck as she reached up on her tip-toes to dab at the cut, one hand on a sink for balance.
She then tapped the area gently with her fingers and Draco felt the skin knitting together as the cut disappeared.
"I'm done." Hermione said. He looked at her as she spoke, his own hand coming up to briefly feel where the cut used to be.
"Why clean it if you were going to heal it with magic?"
"Cleaning the wounds generally help soothe the affected area, I've found. Besides, it's a muggle habit." she told him, studying the now smooth skin.
He looked down, coming into eye contact with Hermione before realising how close she was.
If she moved forward, his body would be against hers, their torso's pressed against each other. Seeing her pinned by Weasley had sparked a different kind of outrage, similar only to that of finding the sixth-year trying to grope Hermione and Draco was surprised at what it was. Rage, at seeing the girl he had formed completely outrageous and confusing feelings for trapped by petty boys.
"How's your nose feeling?" he asked, reaching a finger up to touch it.
"It feels okay." Hermione froze as he ran his fingers down the bridge of her nose.
"Good. Being a Quidditch player, I've had to fix my own nose several times."
"And a git."
"Well, one time, you being a git got your nose broken." Hermione smirked, and Draco snorted.
"That was a solid punch. It was so weird, being impressed, surprised and outraged at the same time.
Hermione closed her eyes as she felt Draco's cool fingers running gently over her cheek. She wondered why it felt so good to relax and finally trust him; to feel what she was feeling towards Draco. She almost doubted herself; could she really be attracted to him?
He took the opportunity to look at her and admire her features. She had never been 'normal' pretty; she didn't look like the others girls. Her hair was thick, curly and a dark brown to match her eyes. Some people would call it 'bushy' but he saw it as wondrous, full of energy and volume - like her personality. She had high cheekbones and pretty pale skin. Her cheeks were flushed pink and her lips were a soft red. She was well built, with height that was only a half a head shorter than his and skin that was warm and soft, enchanting. Almost like velvet.
His head flooded with a thousand more things that he could find that were beautiful about her. But this did not help him to think. He needed to think; to think what to do. He wanted this moment to stay, the intimacy, the-dare he say friendship? He wanted to be able to do this with her. But he wanted more.
He looked down at her and saw that she still had her eyes closed. What was she thinking about, he wondered. Were there thoughts of him swirling around in her incredible and brilliant mind of hers?
Hermione was mentally comparing her relationship with Draco and her relationship with Ron that year. Everything had seemed to be perfect with Ron.
He had liked her, and she had accepted his offer, knowing deep inside her heart that she would only see him as a best friend, a brother but thinking that they had love and it would come through to trump everything. They did, but it was the wrong kind of love; an unconditional best friend love instead of the romantic, sparks and fireworks love. But Hermione had thought that given time, their love would change. How wrong she had been, as their relationship had been so awkward. It was odd to her that their relationship had been as romantically strained as their friendship could be, but it made sense. Not all of the troubles of being bickering best friends went away when you started down the path on a romantic relationship.
She had thought that maybe he could make her feel safe, wanted. But Ron was desperately seeking someone who looked up to him the same way that he looked up to Hermione, and unfortunately Hermione didn't. Their relationship had ended messily, and she wished that she could take back everything; the trusting and the confessions, and all the false declarations of feeling that she had thought she'd felt, as well as the mess they'd made of their friendship.
Draco stared at Hermione, realising that he could never grow sick of looking at her face. She looked so beautiful when her lips pursed together softly as she considered something, her eyes still closed as her brow furrowed into a small frown. He felt the need to reach down, smoothing the frown off her face and stealing a kiss to make her smile again; fill her eyes with warmth.
"Are you alright?" he tilted his head, his fingers still stroking her cheek. He realised suddenly that she was looking at him, smiling, her big brown chocolate eyes searching his own. He smiled at her and squeezed her hand. She held it tighter, watching as he lifted it, slowly towards his mouth.
He kissed her hand gently, his lips soft and warm against her skin and she felt a shiver ripple through her and light up all of her nerves.
"I don't know what happened between us, and when we got like this... But this is really nice." She admitted sheepishly, averting her eyes and waiting for him to pull his hand from hers and leave.
After a bit of silence, she shuffled nervously, looking up at him and biting her lip. Hermione felt herself taking a deep breath in anticipation as he took his hand and placed it on her lower back, pulling her towards him at the same time that he leaned forward carefully and captured her soft lips with his. His whole body relaxed as she tilted her face upwards to meet his better, wrapping her hand around the back of his pulled away for a second, Hermione's breathing shaky as they stood nose-to-nose.
After a minute of silence, Hermione took a small step closer to Draco and their bodies melded together, his lips finding hers again, his hands sliding down her back to pull her even closer as her arms slid around his neck. He pulled back, looking at her with eyes guarded as he kissed her nose, her forehead, her cheeks. She scowled when he began to pull away.
"Oh, no you don't." she protested as she leaned up on her tip-toes, capturing his lips with a giggle.
She felt her whole body tingling as they kissed slowly, not willing to rush a single second of this moment. When he pulled back, she kept her arms twined around his neck as he hummed.
"I never thought I'd kiss you. Especially not in a disused bathroom." Hermione laughed as Draco wrapped one of her curls around his finger and twirled it.
"Well, first impressions have to be done right." he smirked, and Hermione snorted.
"We should go now. It's late."
"I don't intend this to be a once-off, Hermione."
"Neither do I. But we should sleep on this, and I would very much like to curl up with Crookshanks." she smiled, leaning forward to meet him as they kissed again, his hands coming up to cup her face.
"I'll see you at our regular study time tomorrow, I assume?" he smiled, and she nodded.
"The only time I don't study is when I'm sleeping."
"See you then."
"Perfect." she pulled away from him, finding her wand and casting Lumos.
"Goodnight, Hermione Granger." Draco said as they walked out of the bathroom door and into the hallway.
"Goodnight, Draco Malfoy." she squeezed his hand and let go, turning and walking down the corridor as he watched her go.
"Nicely done, Draco." Blaise commented from further down the hall, causing the blonde to spin around.
"Damn it Blaise, how are you so good at skulking? You're Head Boy."
"Because I'm a Slytherin."
"Did you two have a 'moment', or did you finally act on the simmering feelings that I've had to witness in study sessions and Prefect meetings?"
"Oh shut up." Draco shoved Blaise as they walked down the corridor together.
"Ah, so you acted on the feelings. About time. Does it have anything to do with Ron Weasley, per chance? I found him stalking the corridors looking exceptionally angry with a black eye."
"It might." Draco smirked.
"You cheeky git."
"I swear to Merlin, I will spike your morning juice with Veritaserum."
"You would too." Blaise laughed as they started on the stairs down to the dungeon, a small smile on Draco's lips.
A couple of days later after explaining to Harry and Ginny, Hermione walked into the Great Hall with Draco, hand in hand.
Collective gasps could be heard throughout the student body as Ron leapt up from his seat, his face red with anger.
But Hermione didn't care as she looked past him at the smiling faces of Ginny, Harry and Luna. Taking a deep breath, she felt Draco squeeze her hand in reassurance as they took a step forward together. And they never looked back.
Thanks for reading, I really hope you enjoyed it! If you did, let me know.