Hermione wandered the upper Hogwarts Halls slowly, her eyes scanning for any misbehaving students; as was expected of the Head Girl.
The halls were quiet and it seemed that even the most regular trouble makers were in bed on the chilly night. Her breath was visible, a small stream of smoke coming out of her mouth every time she exhaled. 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; he was to take the lower part of the castle, and she would take the top. 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.
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 the fifth floor was a good place to make out. Hermione had promptly decked twenty points from Gryffindor, and given them three days detention before they were sent back to their house. One of them had called her a "grumpy old bat" and that had put her in rather 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 least friends when it came down to it. 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 apprached the portrait the Fat Lady smiled sleepily.
"Disciplining students is tiring, but someone has to do it." Hermione responded.
The portrait swung open and Hermione stepped softly into the tunnel. She heard giggling coming from the common room, and smooching noises. It sounded like the couple she had sent packing to the Gryffindor common-room had just moved their two person party. She frowned, stepping around the corner and expecting to see the two fourth years, instead finding Ron and—Lavender.
They were sitting on the couch, and Lavender was giggling, placing small kisses all over Ron's face while he groped her heavily and then kissed her. When Hermione gasped, both turned to see who the new arrival was. Lavender smiled a small smile of what seemed like triumph before Ron quickly snatched his hands off her and started to get up. Hermione fled, running through the portrait as she heard Ron coming after her. She took of down the hallway, hearing him call her and running faster. His athletic ability allowed him to catch up to her, and he lunged at her, blocking her way and trapping her between him and a wall.
Hermione looked at Ron, just to make sure. The traces were there; she hadn't imagined it. There were red lip-gloss stains all over his cheeks, lips, and on his shirt. She sobbed, taking a step back as he tried to step forward.
"Mione, please... It isn't what it seems... its nothing." he pleaded.
"Then tell me what 'it' is! Because it certainly didn't look like 'nothing'!" she spat, her voice cracking in a mix of anger and hurt.
"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 mistakenly believed that he could have both, somehow.
"You know what? I'm over this. It's not working between us, and this is just stupid. 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, and he followed quickly.
"Please, Hermione. We're meant to be together, the two odd ones out in the Golden Trio."
"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."
"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 it's fine."
"I don't want that anymore. I can't stand you having a go at me for reading, it's insulting and rude." Hermione argued, watching as he 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 stupid know-it-all. Can't you just relax? What's wrong with me, and being with me?" he backed her up against a wall, his face twisted into a sneer and she yelled in protest as he grabbed her arm. She struggled, trying to kick at him but he just tightened his grip and pushed her against the wall, giving her a small shake.
"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!"
"Hermione, it was a simple mistake. I love you. You can't leave me." he tried to explain, his face panic-stricken.
"I don't want to hear it, let me go." She tried to wrench her arm out of his grip and wriggle to the side to no avail.
"Hermione, please. We can work it out, it was all a mistake! I didn't mean it." He begged, his grip tightening as he shook her.
"Please let go of me! Just leave me alone!" Hermione cried, wishing her wand wasn't in her back pocket.
"Let go of her now, Weasel." A hiss came from just down the corridor. Hermione looked towards its source and saw Draco standing a few feet away in the hallway, his wand pointing directly at Ron as he cast a quick glance at her.
Her heart seemed to jump as he glared at Ron, his lip curling back slightly. His blonde hair moved softly in the breeze as his eyes narrowed further, a small and soft growl seeming to come from his throat.
"You bloody keep out of this, you ferret!" Ron yelled, grasping Hermione's arm even tighter, turning to challenge Draco and attempting to drag Hermione behind his own body. Hermione winced as he gripped her arm and shoved her.
"Don't make me hurt you, Weasel. You'll be very sorry. Let. Her. Go." He snarled. Ron glared.
"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 stepped forward, pressing his wand to the underside of Ron's chin.
Ron stumbled back in surprise, releasing his hold on Hermione at the same time. Hermione took the opportunity and ran for it, away from Ron, away from everything, bolting down the hall as fast as she could. She barely managed the password to the Head dormitories as the portrait swung open, allowing her in. Throwing off her cloak and robe she kicked off her shoes, stumbling towards her room in her sweater and jeans. She didn't make it, tears hitting as she was halfway up the stairs. Giving up, she curled into the wall and wrapped her arms around her body as it racked with sobs. It was all too much.
Hermione was still sobbing when the portrait opened and Draco came in, her eyes covered by her hands as she shook.
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 between sobs, and he sighed.
"Hermione, you don't have to pretend with me. It's okay."
Hermione stilled, taking a shuddering breath as she lowered her hands to look at Draco.
The beginning of the year had changed everything, especially as they'd been thrown together as the school Heads. The first night, Draco had sat down opposite her in the big chairs by the fire and extended his hand.
"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.
Things had become oddly warm between them; they called each other by their first names, studied together, and often patrolled together. Sharing a space with someone meant that not getting on wasn't an option, and Draco had tried his hardest to make sure that the witch felt comfortable, safe and respected.
After years of threats 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 your financial situations. 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, 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 and scowled.
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 after catching her un-aware and kicking her wand away, and Draco had swiftly sent him running, his back burning with three stinging hexes and covered in boils.
Draco's thoughts of the past few months disappeared as he felt Hermione lean towards him, connecting the side of her body with his as they shared a rare moment of body contact. He stiffened in alarm, but soon relaxed, allowing her to lean on him.
"Thanks for helping me." She whispered. He could feel tiny little electric shocks racing through his body as she leant against him. Though somehow, they felt good, lighting up every nerve, every piece of skin that her skin was near under the layers of fabric.
"All part of the job description." He said, grinning. 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 gasped, a small hand tentatively coming out to touch above the cut he had from where Weasley's fist connected with his fine cheekbone. Draco instinctively flinched and turned his head away.
"It's nothing, I'm fine. I don't need your help."She paused and sighed, exasperated.
"Draco, let me have a look." She said, her own hand reaching 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 it, drawing in a breath.
"It's not that bad-I'm fine." He muttered darkly, not used to this amount of affection, let alone from her. She tsked softly.
"Get up." She ordered, pulling her self up using the stair railing. He got up, but not without another roll of his eyes, and she grabbed the side of his shirt, pulling Draco into her bathroom. She bossily placed him by the counter, fussing and searching for things in the bathroom as he stood there nervously, shuffling and looking at his reflection in the mirror.
"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 before felt anything like this feeling of warmth he was having towards the small, bright and curly haired girl and she had never been so sure of her actions around him. But it all seemed to fit into place and work. All of their friendliness and normal interaction had been leading up to this, it seemed.
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 the counter 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.
Draco swayed lost in thought, a yelp of surprise escaping his mouth as he started and promptly fell backwards, swinging a hand out and grabbing Hermione's arm for balance without thinking about it. She gave a cry of pain as his fingers landed on the same spot that Ron had been gripping, yanking her arm back suddenly as it throbbed.
Draco stared at her, alarmed and guilty as he realised what he'd done. She huddled against the sink, hand wrapped loosely around her forearm as she bit her bottom lip with her eyes scrunched closed. He reached out tenderly, opening his palm and putting it underneath her hand.
"Let me see."
"It's nothing, I can fix it with my wand." she protested weakly, shaking her head. He raised his hand and cupped her chin, letting his finger stroke her cheek and wipe away a tear-trail as she opened her eyes and looked up at him. He captured her brown eyes with his own grey ones, looking down at her in concern.
"Let me see, please." He asked again, gently taking the hand off her wounded arm. She relaxed, letting her arm slide forward as he pulled it softly, turning it to reveal the underside and gently pushing her sleeve up. She felt her whole hand tingle, with what seemed like electricity as he kept a hold of her hand. She closed her eyes when she felt the fabric slide past the marks, cringing and hearing his sharp intake of breath and small growl-of what, she wondered; anger?
"That bastard. How could he do this? To you especially. You're meant to be his best friend!" He snapped, frowning in disapproval.
Hermione kept her eyes closed as she felt Draco's cool fingers running gently over the marks, soothing them and giving a quick relief to the pain that was burning through her arm. 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?
"You don't deserve this. He doesn't deserve you." Draco muttered, pulling out his wand and tapping the bruises, watching as they faded instantly.
His hand still traced soothing patterns over her skin as she stood there with her eyes closed, her breathing deep and slow as she leaned heavily against the sink.
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 turned into a mess of lies, disaster, and in the end cheating and pain.
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 whispered, his fingers still tracing her arm. 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 strong and defined hers soft and curvy as his lips found 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 growled softly 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 think we should go to bed, it's been a long night and I want you to sleep on this." Draco whispered, and Hermione nodded.
"Only if you come to bed with me. I don't want to stop being near you now." she laughed shakily, and he grinned.
They quickly parted to get ready for bed, Hermione's heart skipping as Draco appeared in her bedroom doorway.
"Do you still want me to come in?" he asked, and she nodded.
"Yes. Please." she sat up from the position she'd settled into in her bed, moving over to make room for him to lie down.
He set his wand on the beside table and gazed her for a second before he lay down, placing a gentle kiss on her nose as he wrapped his body around hers.
Their legs were soon entwined, and her curls scattered over the pillow as one of his hands ran idly through her hair, his elbow propping him up slightly. She bit her lip, looking at him and blushing.
"What is it?" he asked, tilting his head to the side, questioningly, piercing her with his grey eyes.
"This feels so weird. But yet so right. If someone had told me at the beginning of the year that I'd break up with Ron and find out that I had feelings for you, I'd probably have said that they were even more loopy than Trelawney." she admitted with a pretty blush.
"I do believe I would have said exactly the same thing." He mused as he kissed her softly on her pink stained cheeks, then brushing her lips with his.
"But despite that, and our past I like you, Hermione Granger. Of all people, you are beyond perfect." He shook his head as he smirked. She looked at him, again searching his eyes.
"Thank Merlin. Otherwise I may have had to resort to sneaky methods to get your attention." She laughed. He raised an eyebrow and gave her a wicked look.
"I'd like to see what those," he paused to smirk "Methods are, I'm sure they're very entertaining." he grinned, capturing her lips with his own.
"But aren't you scared of people finding out that you're with Hermione Granger, top bookworm of the universe, and know-it-all component of the Golden Trio?" she asked.
"No. It's my choice and no-one has any right to tell me different. And if they have a problem with it, well, I'm sure they'll just have to deal with it... Or have house points deducted and a boil hex sent their way." He told her with a smile. She giggled as she toyed with his fingers, entwining them with her own.
"I regret calling you names." He whispered. "But the only thing it did was got me your attention, even if it was angry retorts or returned insults. Besides, you were the only one in our year who could keep up in a verbal sparring match with me. I had to keep that up, or I would have died of boredom." She laughed, burying her head into his neck.
"Well, be glad now that you can have my attention anytime, all the time. Without even having to insult me." She whispered into his ear as he wrapped an arm around her.
She felt him smile against her skin and closed her eyes as sleep came over her, cuddling closer to Draco as she dimmed the lights with a flick of her wand and pulled them under the covers.
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.