Disclaimer: Ms. Rowling owns her characters and has graciously lent them to me for the duration of this story. Random other characters (in later chapters) are my creations.
Setting/Background Information: These events begin in the middle of sixth year for Hermione and Draco. Assume that everything that happened in the first five books occurred. However, events after that are non canon compliant. The story follows Hermione and Draco through their last school years, through the war, and post Hogwarts for about 3 years. There is also an epilogue.
Chapter 1 How This Came to Be
As Hermione stood outside the doors of the Great Hall, listening to the muted sounds of the dance going on inside. She wondered how her friends were going to react to the news that she was going to share tonight. She had been secretly dating Draco Malfoy since the Christmas Holidays. This Valentine's Day Dance was going to be their debut as a couple.
Hermione thought back to how it had all started. Since Draco and she were both sixth year prefects, it was inevitable that they would be scheduled to patrol together a few times during the term. However, Dumbledore had mandated that the Head Boy and Girl try to promote inter-house unity. They took this to mean that the prefects should be permanently partnered with someone not in their own house. Hermione and Draco were placed together.
No amounts of complaining and whining on his part or quiet entreaties from her would persuade the Heads to change their decision. So the two adversaries were forced to patrol together two or three times a week. For the first two months of school, Draco and Hermione had spent their patrols either trading insults or coldly ignoring each other. The day after Halloween things had changed.
Their patrol was almost over, and Draco and Hermione were heading back towards the first floor where their ways would part for the night. They had rousted a few students, who were breaking curfew and sent them back to their dorms. Other than that, last few hours had been uneventful. Earlier, when they had met up outside the Great Hall, Draco had surprised her with his civil nod and lack of insults. They had proceeded to walk the halls without exchanging any words, though Hermione was becoming more discomfited as time passed, by the speculative looks that Draco kept casting her way.
He's staring at me again, Hermione thought. Finally, she couldn't take it any longer. "Why do you keep staring at me, Malfoy?" she demanded.
He shrugged one of his shoulders nonchalantly. "I'm just looking," he replied. Hermione waited for the cutting remark that she knew would be coming next. However, she was shocked when he continued in an odd strained tone, "You looked pretty at the Halloween Dance last night."
Now, her mouth dropped open, and a blush heated her cheeks. That was the last thing she expected to hear from Draco Malfoy. "What are you playing at, Malfoy?" she said suspiciously.
"Merlin, Granger, I was just making a comment," he said more casually with a slight smirk at her reaction. "No need to get all excited about it."
"You don't make NICE comments to me," she told him.
"Well, maybe since we're stuck together for the rest of the year, it would make patrols easier," he answered thrusting out his right hand. "Can we call a truce?"
"What's the catch?" the brown eyed girl inquired in a disbelieving tone, regarding his hand like it was a snake.
"Look. This is just between you and me during our rounds, as I don't fancy being screamed at or being bored silly by your silence for hours every patrol," he declared. "Outside of this nothing changes."
Now that Hermione finally understood what was motivating the Slytherin boy, she felt more at ease. He was just looking out for his own comfort. "I'll agree," she replied, "but you have to stop insulting me during the rest of time. If you call me a mudblood again, all deals are off!"
"I can't stop completely. I do have a reputation to maintain, you know, but I'll let up on you a bit," he conceded, "and I won't call you a mudblood." He looked at her a bit peevishly. "Deal?"
There's the Malfoy we all know and hate, she thought. Aloud she said, "All right. Deal." She took his hand and shook it firmly.
Surprisingly, their agreement worked well and patrols became easier, almost downright pleasant, as the weeks passed. When he wasn't acting like a pompous git, Hermione found Draco an interesting companion. He had a sharp brain and wicked wit, which she found she liked now that it wasn't aimed at her. Their initial conversations had centered around assignments and gradually progressed to more personal matters. They purposefully avoided any talk of their house rivalry or their affiliations in the coming war. As the Christmas holidays approached, they were quite comfortable with each other. The rest of the school would have been amazed, if they had known.
Outside of patrol times, things didn't appear too different. True to his word, Draco didn't call her a mudblood. He still insulted her in public, but his barbs were more general, and not personally wounding. No one appeared to notice the difference though, because he seemed to have stepped up his verbal attacks on anyone who was with her when their paths crossed. Numerous times, he almost came to hexes or blows with Harry and Ron. After one of these times, Hermione chided him for it when she saw him for patrol that night.
"Look," he told her, "Potty and Weaslebee get on my nerves. I'm nice to you. Take what you get."
"You're not nice to me. You called me a 'know-it-all Gryffindork' in Potions today," she reminded him swatting at his chest.
"You are a know-it-all Gryffindork, Hermione," he replied smiling at her and grabbing her hands. She looked at him in shock as that was the first time that he had ever called her by her first name. He was also still holding both of her hands. Before she could even think of how to respond to him, his mouth had crashed down upon hers in a demanding kiss. Even more startling to her was that she liked it and kissed him back. That night was the turning point in their relationship.
Hermione ended up staying at the castle for the duration of the holiday break. Harry had gone to the Burrow with the Weasley siblings, but she had declined the invitation saying that she had special projects she was working on at school. Her parents had been offered places on a trip to a third world country with Smiles for All, the dental offshoot of Doctors without Borders. She knew they had always wanted to be more than just financial backers of that organization, so she didn't complain that she couldn't return home.
Most importantly, Draco was going to be at Hogwarts since his parents were off to places unknown. The two sixth years were actually the only students from Slytherin and Gryffindor houses remaining at school. There were four Hufflepuffs and three Ravenclaws also staying, but they were all below fourth year. As the only upperclassmen, Draco and Hermione were pretty much left to their own devices.
Without the interference of anyone who might object, Hermione was able to explore the new direction that this relationship was taking. She spent each day with Draco getting to know him and talking about everything. Their romance blossomed. They took walks, went shopping in Hogsmeade, and spent their time getting closer physically, though they hadn't moved the relationship to the next level yet. Hermione found herself happier than she had ever been. She did worry about what the other Gryffindor reactions would be, but knew that Draco was the right person for her. He seemed tailor made for her. He always knew the right thing to say and do. He was romantic, sweet, and everything that a sixteen year old girl could want in a boyfriend. The spoiled, condescending boy that she had known since she was eleven seemed to have disappeared.
Christmas morning dawned and Hermione found a pile of presents at the foot of her bed. She had already sent her gifts out via owl the day before. She still had her parents gifts, but they had told her to save them for when she saw them next. They had sent her some clothes, muggle books, and a fantastic pair of boots that she had seen on her last trip to London. Harry had given her a clever collapsible cauldron. Ron had sent her an assortment of candy from Honeydukes with a funny note saying that he was sure her parents wouldn't get her any because they were "denters". She received the usual "Weasley sweater" from Molly and Aurthur along with some lovely homemade cookies. Ginny and she hadn't exchanged gifts, saying they were going to treat themselves to a special Girls' Day Out together in Hogsmeade after the New Year. Her roommates, Lavender and Parvati, had sent her a subscription to Teen Witch Weekly, and a book of make-up spells. She rolled her eyes, knowing when they returned that they would get more use out of the gifts than she would, since she didn't typically go for that kind of thing.
The last present was a small silver box tied with a green bow. She smiled looking at the Slytherin colors, knowing it was from her boyfriend. When she opened it, she found a bracelet with three small charms on it: a griffin, a dragon, and a heart. The parchment that accompanied it was simple.
This is how it's supposed to be.
Back in the present, Hermione looked at the bracelet on her wrist. She played with the charms as she started worrying about her friends' reactions again.Thank God for Ginny, she thought. Only Ginny knew about the older witch's relationship with Draco, since she had accidentally come across them kissing in the back of the library a few weeks ago. The fifth year had been helping the two ever since, by covering for Hermione when people wondered where she was. The clandestine romance touched her romantic heart and she didn't blame Hermione one little bit. During the past summer, Ron and Hermione had tried and failed at going out. While it was technically a mutual break-up, their friendship had been strained ever since. Ginny thought her brother was stupid and had been genuinely happy that her best girlfriend had found someone new, even if it had to be Draco Malfoy.
Hermione had continued to see Draco in secret once the new term started and the rest of the students returned. She looked forward to their rounds and met up with him whenever she had a free moment. This was a year of heavy responsibility for her. She took more classes than anyone, yet she still managed to handle her prefect duties, run study groups for her friends, tutor the younger years referred to her by the professors, and knit hats for house elves (though none, except Dobby, would dream of accepting one.)
Her house mates watched her rushing from activity to activity and shook their heads in amusement thinking: There she goes again. They didn't really mind, though, because she had proven in the past that she would always make time for anyone who really needed her. She walked around happily, even singing to herself on occasion. Everyone thought her new found joy was just part of "being Hermione".
The sixteen year old looked at the blond boy standing next to her. He stood tall and handsome in his elegant black dress robes. Merlin, he looks good, she thought. Then she blushed as she thought of the night before. She had finally felt ready to become intimate with Draco and he had readily complied. It had been an amazing experience for her contrary to what books said about the first time. Draco had guided her through her first sexual experience with a particular sweetness. His excitement and lust she had been prepared for, but his gentleness and care were unexpected gifts.
Last night was also the first time that they had declared their love for each other aloud. She knew it was the right time to share her happiness with the world. Draco looked at her with his piercing silver eyes for a long moment. She saw a hint of trepidation and something else that she couldn't quite decipher pass through his eyes. She smiled at him, but his face remained serious.
"Ready?" he asked. When she nodded, he leaned down and gave her a long slow kiss. Then he grabbed her hand and took a deep breath. "Let's go," he said opening the door and pulling her into the Great Hall.