Hermione roamed the corridor, peering into classrooms. She was looking for a quiet place to study. There was some club meeting in the library, so she had been forced to look elsewhere. She turned away from the window of the room she had just peeked in, embarrassed upon seeing two fourth years shirtless and feeling each other up. So far, none of the classrooms had been satisfactory; they were either too small to practice spells or full of horny teenagers. Hermione made up her mind to enter the next door she came to, regardless.
She flung open the door and groaned at the sight of none other than Draco Malfoy, relaxing on the floor with a book in his lap.
"'Just my luck," she said sarcastically, and turned to leave. "Wait," he said, and Hermione was taken aback by his lack of snide comment. He was probably just caught off guard, she reasoned.
"What, Malfoy? I'm busy. Got a lot of studying to do." She waggled her bookbag for emphasis.
"You can study in here," he offered, and scooted over to make room. Hermione snorted. "You can't be serious." She eyed him for a moment, and he simply patted the ground next to him.
Warily Hermione plopped down beside him. She told herself that the reason she agreed to study alongside Malfoy was the lack of classrooms, but she knew there was another reason. She was curious to see where this would lead.
Malfoy cleared his throat and continued reading as Hermione upacked her books. He had an amused look on his face that struck Hermione as both handsome and puzzling.
Draco had never been civil to her, much less friendly. He chuckled. "Granger, would you like a picture?" She hadn't realized she'd been staring. "Oh! I.. Uh.." she stared at the book in her lap, not focusing on it.
"Hermione," he said softly, and she turned to see his gray eyes trained on her. She gasped at the sheer beauty. "Hermione, I know I've treated you horribly in the past," he continued, "but I don't have a problem with you."
Hermione felt her mouth drop open. He never called her Hermione. It was always Granger, practically a curse. There was something sincere in his face, and Hermione thought she actually saw remorse in his stormy eyes. His affect on her was unsettling. She found herself actually feeling something for him… something that felt a lot like attraction. She had never denied his good looks, but any time she had let herself think of him in a gentle way, he'd gone and said something rude. Now he was moving closer, keeping his eyes locked on hers.
Suddenly Hermione snapped out of her daydreaming. "Wait a second!" she exclaimed triumphantly, "I know what this is! Alright, come on out, Crabbe, Goyle. You're not fooling anyone!" Surely this must be a practical joke, aimed at giving Malfoy the satisfaction of seducing her.
Draco stopped, looking hurt. "There's no one else here, Hermione," he said, a note of sadness in his voice. "I don't care that you're not a full-blood witch. My dad is the one who cares, and I always went along with what he said. Until now. I'm tired of pretending to be a ladies' man. I'm tired of pretending to hate you." He was searching her face, his eyes pleading. Hermione fought to control herself. Her instincts told her not to trust Malfoy; that he was only saying these things to screw with her. And yet another part could not deny how much she longed to believe him. He seemed honestly repentant.
"I guess I shouldn't expect you to trust me," Draco sighed. "I'll leave you alone." He got up to leave and before Hermione knew what she was doing her hand had whipped out and grabbed his. He froze at the contact.
"You're telling me you haven't slept your way through the entire Slytherin house? And that you have a secret fetish for Mudbloods?" Hermione was half joking, and still wasn't sure she believed him, but she figured it didn't hurt to get a few questions in. Even if it was a practical joke, now she was intrigued.
"Y'know," Draco said defensively, "My dad is a very powerful man. He controls me just like he controls everyone else around him. How much do you think it takes to bribe those Slytherin girls into spreading rumors about who they've been with? Not much. But I've been watching you, Hermione. You're not like other girls. You don't let people's opinions of you affect your attitude. I admire that."
Hermione felt like she was seeing Draco Malfoy for the first time. Instead of a spiteful, arrogant boy she saw a mature man who had lived under his father's thumb for too long. She rather liked this new Draco. Even if he's only pretending, she reminded herself. Even as she thought it, something in Draco's eyes told her he was being honest.
"You really are serious," she stated. He nodded yes. "I'd like to start over if that's alright with you," he said, holding out his hand. Hermione placed her hand in his, and he shook it. She giggled.
"I'm Draco Malfoy, former asshole."
Hermione definitely liked the new Draco.