Title: Falling Away With You

Author: Ally (Hafthand)

Written for: The lovely Lorett!

Rating: M

Pairing: Draco/Hermione

Disclaimer: So not mine!

Summary: It's been ten years and the alumni of Hogwarts are heading back to the school many have not seen since the war. A few surprises, a few fights, and overall happiness follows.

Notes: Look below for brief!!!!!!!!!!!!

LORETT: I KNOW YOU ASKED FOR NO ANGST AND BREVITY BUT I GOT CARRIED AWAY WITH THE FIC. ALSO…NO ANGST…I JUST DON'T THINK I AM CAPABLE OF SUCH A THING!!!! LOL. I DID TRY TO NOT MAKE IT TOO ANGSTY AND YET REALISTIC. I DO SO HOPE YOU LIKE IT.

Chapter 1: I Can Remember When It Was Good

Life comes in flashbacks; moments of our lives pieced together in a seemingly endless montage played through our minds. Random memories and emotions; reckless feelings and horrible losses; great loves and even bigger mistakes; family and friends who have become more than family; enemies and those who's love grew from hate. Life. It is never too late to start over from a new beginning. It is only ever too late if you never make the choice to start over, to put your key into the lock and turn, no matter what the outcome. Could she fall away with him? Could you? Knowing what mistakes you have already made up to this point, could you throw it all away and jump into the unknown?

He sucked in the cold air, feeling it burn in his lungs. Closing his eyes he allowed the cold winter sun to wash over him. If he were asked to pinpoint one moment in his sad short existence that ranked as the most nervous he had ever felt, this one moment in time would be it. Receiving his Dark Mark, trying to kill Dumbledore, and facing up against his father and his father's Master wouldn't even come close. No, this quiet, peaceful, bloody freezing morning had to be the most nervous Draco Malfoy had ever felt. And knowing his life, well, that was saying something.

He opened his eyes again and let the breath leave his body in one big whoosh. He felt a chuckle build up within himself at his thoughts. No one in the entirety of the wizarding world would believe that Draco Malfoy would be as nervous as he was over such a tiny, silly, almost trite event.

A noise from the grounds caused his attention to divert from his current pitying state. This time he openly laughed as he gazed down from the astronomy tower onto Hagrid's current class. He couldn't make out exactly what had happened, but from his own memories he could only guess. Sure enough, a few minutes later Hagrid was loping towards the castle, a student hanging for dear life precariously from his giant shoulder.

Before he could dwell on the events quickly approaching, the bells went and Draco sighed. He had best get to his class before his students. Taking one last deep breath and steeling his mind and emotions to the trials to come, he allowed himself to believe that later tonight would not be half as bad as he feared.

'Lighten up, mate. It's just a reunion,' he whispered to the cold wind. Not getting any response back, Draco turned and made his way back into the castle, his black cloak billowing ominously behind him in a way reminiscent of a an old friend and professor.

'How can you not be ready?' Hermione found herself almost screeching to the red head in front of her.

'Will you lighten up and get off my back, 'Mione? You know I have an actual wife who is proud that her job is to nag me; I don't need you doing it as well. Merlin's beard what has you so riled up?' Ron demanded as he turned to finish packing his bag. He looked up at his friend sitting quietly in the corner on top of his own already packed luggage and huffed in annoyance when he noted Harry all ready to go: bags, jacket, hat and all.

'Don't look at me, mate, I packed last night to avoid this,' Harry muttered from his corner.

'Well at least one of you has finally learned to avoid the inevitable!' Hermione huffed before storming out of the bedroom into Ron's living room. Harry watched her breeze by and wondered at his friend's crankiness.

'She can't be nervous, can she, Ron?' Harry asked getting up to help Ron finish his packing. Ron nodded in thanks and thought about Harry's words.

Taking a deep breath he zipped up his bag and threw it onto the floor next to Harry's. The two just looked at each other as they heard Hermione shuffling and banging about in his kitchen. 'She gonna make us lunch now?' Harry asked to no one in particular.

Ron cracked a smile before exiting the room. Harry followed and they slowly approached their slightly crazy friend.

She turned towards them and took in both their faces before closing her eyes and breathing out quickly. 'I am not nervous,' she stated.

'We never said you were,' Ron said while leaning against his counter. Hermione's eyes flew open and she somehow managed to pin them both with her glare. 'Okay, we admit that perhaps, somehow, in some tiny little dark corner of our tiny brains, the thought had possibly, crossed our minds,' Ron admitted.

'But there is no reason you should be nervous, 'Mione,' Harry said softly. He approached her tiny frame and put his arm around her shoulder pulling her close.

'It's been ten years, Harry. Ten years since we left Hogwarts and now we have to go back and sit in the same seats and see the same people. And sure, normally none of that stuff would bother me, seeing as well, I see most of the people we went to school with on a weekly, if not daily basis around the ministry,' Hermione said almost too rapidly for the two to keep up with her.

'Then why are you nervous?' Ron asked with a truly confused expression on his face.

'Why am I nervous?' she asked, her voice raising an octave or two at his ignorance. 'It's been ten years, Ron! What do I have to show for it? WHAT? No husband or boyfriend or kids, and you KNOW that is the first thing people want to know about. I mean both you and Harry are safe on that point. But sad little Hermione Granger couldn't take her nose out of a book long enough to have a life!' Hermione finished out of breath.

Both Harry and Ron stared at her, their eyes wide in surprise before they both burst out laughing. 'Oh brilliant, 'Mione, thank you,' Ron said trying to catch his breath.

'Thank you?' she asked in utter confusion.

'I sometimes forget you are a girl,' Ron said while wiping his eyes. 'Imagine worrying about all that!'

Harry shook his head, his laughter dying down somewhat at Ron's insensitivity. 'You know what he means, Hermione,' he said to her softly, trying to calm her down. He understood her reasoning actually. Head girl, brightest witch at Hogwarts, record breaking test scores…she had a lot to live up to. He understood that pressure better than anyone. He was the Boy-Who-Lived…Twice, after all. But he had managed to take hold of his life and he and Ginny had created their own little corner of happiness out of the atrocities that had occurred in their childhood.

He understood what she must be feeling. To walk into halls that you had bled for, that some close to you had died to protect, to walk into those halls and be surrounded by a huge crowd of people who had expected nothing short of greatness from you…to walk into that with no one by your side must be a terrifying prospect. Plus she had to give that speech as former Head Girl, and later in the weekend the talk about her research…He sighed quietly as he watched Ron go grab their bags.

They worried about Hermione sometimes. The hours she worked didn't leave much room for a life or fun at all, but they managed to steal her away whenever possible. His own kids knew her as Aunt 'Mione and loved her fiercely, but at the end of the day she always went home alone.

'Maybe you're right and I am overreacting. I truly can't wait to see Hogwarts again. It has been far too long, and well, you know I am stressed at work and just the thought of my life going under a microscope for the next few days is making me a little antsy,' she admitted sheepishly with a heavy weariness in her voice.

'A little?' Ron replied, a smile taking the sting out of his words.

'Oh leave her alone, Ronald!' Ginny ordered her brother as she swept into the room. She always entered with such energy that it tired Hermione out. Harry's face lit up and he watched his wife slap her brother across the back of the head. 'Has Sarah taught you any manners?'

'Leave-off, Ginny, I was just trying to get her to smile. She doesn't look like she has slept in a week and she was getting nervous over a bunch of people who already know and worship her for Merlin's sake!' Ron said while rubbing his head and throwing the bags towards the middle of the room.

Hermione and Ginny shared a quite smile at Ron's attempt to show his caring side. 'Thank you, Ron,' Hermione said through her small smile.

'Yeah, yeah,' Ron mumbled, his cheeks turning the same shade as his hair. 'Shall we apparate already? We are gonna miss the train if we keep this up.' Ron walked past them and grabbed a couple of bags. Harry followed. He couldn't help but look forward to this reunion. Hogwarts was his true home. He felt horrible that he was unable to get back there as often as he would like but his job and his family happily took up most of his time. He secretly couldn't wait to see how little or how much the school had changed. Plus he and Ron planned to humiliate his eldest, who just happened to be attending his first year at Hogwarts. Harry felt his hands rubbing together…oh the possibilities!

_____________________________________________

Hermione struggled with her bags as she climbed the stairs, grumbling all the way about honour and tradition and how it could all go to hell if it meant dragging these bags any further. The train ride to Hogwarts had flown by faster than she ever remembered it and they had all managed to unwind, laugh, and catch up with various former classmates. The arrival into Hogwarts was poignant for many of them and Hagrid had cried upon seeing his favourite trio.

Entering the Great Hall…Hermione felt herself choking up again and the flashbacks that passed unbidden through her mind. She dropped her bags and placed a hand against the cold rock to steady her suddenly trembling body. The warmth of that ancient hall had suddenly enveloped her body and relaxed her. As she listened to Dumbledore's welcome and passed smiles with those around her she realized just how tired she was. She had always been a hard, diligent, and thorough worker, but even she began to realize that she was pushing herself too far.

They had all received a parchment with the weekend activities – starting Friday morning at 9 am- and their room assignments after the feast. She had been surprised to see that she was being given her old room in the Head's Room. The others had left to settle in for the night and she had initially been thrilled at the prospect of her old quarters. But then she had remembered the stairs.

Finally though, she gathered herself and made it to the familiar portrait. 'Password please,' the little pixie asked from atop her toadstool.

'Dum spiro, spero,' she read off her parchment.

'Certainly!' chirped the pixie and the picture opened.

Hermione entered and was met by a flood of memories, familiar smells, and the warmth from the fire the house elves must have lit earlier. She felt serenity seep into her very soul. She understood now what Harry meant when he said that Hogwarts was the only place that felt like his true home. Ginny had never understood how the life they had built could not compare, but Hermione suddenly got it. She looked back on the weeks preceding the end of their last year here and wondered if her life would have been very different had she accepted the job of History of Magic Professor that Dumbledore had offered her.

Well, she supposed her life would have been different, but she wasn't the type to dwell on such things. The nostalgia of the evening was affecting her. She crossed through the common room and made for the staircase. She opened the left side door and entered her old room. The room had been magicked back to Gryffindor colours – the current Head Girl was in fact a very lovely Ravenclaw whom Hermione had met earlier in the evening and been informed that she was going to be rooming for the weekend in one of the numerous empty dorms in the castle – and the red and gold welcomed her back causing the truest smile for a long time to reach Hermione's soft lips.

She dropped her bags and turned to open the bathroom door so that she could freshen up before going to sleep. She turned the knob and entered the splendid marble room only to be met by a blast of hot, steamy air. Her eyes threatened to burst out of her head as she was met by the last sight she had expected to see.

'Granger?' asked the very wet, barely towel clad form of Draco Malfoy, his pale, glistening, muscular chest reflecting the light.

'Oh, Merlin!' Hermione shouted before turning and slamming the door behind her. 'Oh, Merlin,' she whispered to the room.

Chapter 2: Forget the Reckless Things We've Done

Hermione walked over to the bed and threw herself face first onto the soft sheets. This iwouldi happen to her. Just when she had allowed her mind, body, and soul to relax after years of constant fatigue ithisi had to happen to her. The thought that he would be here had not even crossed her mind. Of course if she was going to share the Head's Room with anyone it would be the former Head Boy – therefore Draco Malfoy – but she had not seen him at dinner or heard anything about him really for almost a decade. It was almost as though he had disappeared after the war. And now she had to share a dorm….with him…again.

She grabbed a pillow and screamed into it venting all her frustrations. She poured out her anger at the world and the fact that fate seemed amused at the cards it had dealt her and her fellow classmates at such a young age. She poured out her fatigue, her fears, her spite and her nervousness. When she finished she lay there gulping in large gasps of air through the pillow.

'Feel better?' came a tired, soft voice from behind her. She almost didn't look, knowing who it would be, but her inquisitive nature wouldn't allow her to give up the opportunity to look upon her once sworn enemy and at one time tentative, strange ally. She lifted her head and turned to meet his icy hard gaze. His silver eyes never failed to penetrate her deep brown eyes to the point where she used to feel unnerved by him when she had been very young…not that she would ever admit to such a thing even under torture.

They just stared at each other in tense silence taking in the other's appearance after so long. He of course had always been attractive and muscular, and if she were being honest, not much had changed there. He had grown into his features and his hair was no longer gelled back, but wet and messy from his shower, a towel wrapped around his neck. She didn't allow her mind to linger on his amazing abs, or the fact that that sinful towel seemed very small and appeared to be riding very low. She was able to look past most of this and see the boy she had once hated.

Draco on the other hand noticed how tired she looked as he leaned against the door frame across the room from her. He had not expected her to walk in then and he was probably just as shocked as she was by the encounter, the only difference being he had been schooled in hiding such things. Her hair had tamed, though just enough to be lovely instead of frizzy. Her robes hung around her as far as he could tell when she sat up to match his gaze. She was paler than he remembered, but lovelier too, more feminine. She had always been hunched over a book with smudges of ink everywhere that most hadn't really noticed the growing woman underneath.

He had, so very long ago on a very dark and distant night when he had observed her in the moonlight from their balcony in their last year. He had watched her watch the stars as he contemplated how to convince her and her 'pals' of his sincerity to join their fight, if only for his own selfish reasons. He blinked quickly and shook his head slightly at the invasion of such an unexpected memory. She noticed and seemed to cock her head in question and curiosity.

Finally, when it was apparent he was not going to speak, she broke the silence. 'What are you doing here, Malfoy?' she asked quietly, her head turning to glance out the window at the almost full moon.

'Is it not obvious? Head's Room – former Head Boy…really, Granger, have the years dulled you that much?' he said softly, managing to get a glare from her.

'I meant what you are doing here, at Hogwarts?' she tried again.

'Reunion, Granger, same reason as you,' he said, baiting her and knowing it.

'You haven't changed much,' she stated simply. He watched as she breathed out and lay back on the bed, this time facing up.

'Maybe not,' he agreed.

'What are you doing here, Malfoy?' she asked, and this time he didn't play games with her.

'I live here, Granger,' he answered truthfully, watching for her reaction. He saw her body stiffen and her head rise slightly so that her eyes could test his sincerity. He met her gaze and let her know that he was done playing with her.

'You live here? But I would have heard that. I haven't heard a word about you for years, Malfoy! And I know people who work here and send their kids here,' she spoke all this rather quickly for Draco's liking and he was reminded of the many teenage girls he taught.

'Nice to know you have been keeping tabs on me all these years. But, it is the truth. I teach here and have made this my home, as I no longer have anywhere else to go,' he told her.

She sat up on her elbows and asked, 'What subject? How long have you been teaching here? Do you actually live here in the Head's Dorm because I seem to recall having a conversation earlier with the current heads and was under the impression they stayed here?'

He smiled at her and she was so shocked at seeing such an expression cross his face that she gasped lightly at the change it wrought on his pristine face. 'You haven't changed much,' he shot back at her.

'Touché,' she said fighting a smile.

They stayed watching each other, each with a half smile and lidded eyes. Minutes passed and each tried to make sense of the ease that had settled over them. When they had lived here together, so many years ago, they had never really acknowledged each other, even when Draco's loyalties had been made plain to those who needed to know. But now, ten years later, the past long behind them, yet weighing heavily upon them all the same, he thought maybe they could at least be civil towards one another.

'Malfoy, go put some bloody clothes on,' she said before getting up, pushing him out of the room and shutting the door in his face.

Then again, maybe civil was too much to ask for.

She had been sitting there watching him watch her when suddenly his voice echoed through her mind. He had been a nasty child for so many years, especially to her. When he had changed sides she had purposely avoided him as much as she could. He was a sad figure, seemingly depressed all the time and she had not wanted to be brought down even more at such a tough time. But the words that echoed through her mind in that instance were the last words he had exchanged with her up until this point. 'Nothing will ever stay the same, and yet in a few years, decades, centuries, someone will make the same mistakes again and all this, all our hopes will have been forgotten.' He had said this, clutching the chain around his neck, as they all lay broken and bleeding inside Hogwarts waiting for Harry to come out of the woods…dead…or alive. At that point no one had known.

And she remembered hating and pitying Draco Malfoy in that moment more than she ever had before. In that moment, when they were full of fear and uncertainty and facing death at every corner, he had continued to spew negativity and sombreness. She had of course seen him at the funerals afterwards and at a few of the ceremonies, but she had never spoken to him, until today.

She fell asleep wondering if ten years was enough to change a person, then wondering if a person could really truly change and then why she even cared. She slept peacefully for the first time in months.

Chapter 3: And I'll Feel My World Crumbling

'Malfoy,' her voice startled him from the task at hand. His hands froze in the process of tying his laces and his head turned slightly until she came into view behind him. She looked much more rested then when she had obviously thrown him out of her room last night. Curiously he noticed that she was worrying her bottom lip as her eyes studied him. He finished tying up his boot and stood from the couch, turning to face her.

He simply stood staring at her, allowing her to control this conversation. The silence stretched between them, not uncomfortably, just present. Finally she stepped closer to him, the couch between them. 'Why weren't you at the dinner last night?' she asked.

His mouth twitched in what –on any other human being – Hermione would have believed to be a smirk. She noticed his porcelain face in the morning light shining in through the window. In another world he would have been an angel, but as memories flooded her errant thoughts she knew he could only ever be considered a demon. His sudden movements snapped her from her daze.

He began to gather the essays he had been marking and placing them into his satchel. He reached to his neck and adjusted something under his collar. Keeping his eyes on his task he finally answered her. 'If you were me would you have attended?' He heard her shuffle where she stood and he could picture her looking around the room trying to form a response. 'Seriously, if you think about it, why should I spoil everyone's fun?' He looked up as she started to make a noise of protest, but his gaze told her he intended to finish. 'Look at it this way. I have been teaching here at Hogwarts for almost 4 years and yet not one of the parents of any of my students has mentioned me. Bloody hell, Granger, Albie Potter has been my student for several months and it appears even his father hasn't mentioned my presence to his best friend.' Her eyes had grown wide and he felt a magnetic force pulling him closer to her.

For some reason that originated deep within his very soul, he felt the need to make this petite, powerful, intelligent witch understand him. He walked around the couch and approached her carefully. She stood her ground and cocked her head in challenge as he stopped a foot from her. Later in the day Draco would realize that she had freckles on her nose –freckles that did not annoy him as much as he felt they should – but now he only read the defiance in her eyes.

'Nobody mentions me, Granger. Doesn't that tell you all that you need to know about my existence these days? I didn't attend the welcome feast last night because not one of those people wanted their evening ruined by the sight of me and the memories I stir within them.'

'Malfoy-' Hermione tried to cut-in in protest but he one again cut her off, his hand snaking its way to her wrist. He ignored the flash of fire that met the contact and ignored her sharp intake of breath.

'Answer me honestly. Seeing me again…looking at me after so many years…tell me I don't send your mind reeling back. I dare you to tell me you don't see me and remember death, betrayal, and blood.' His voice had taken on a pleading tone that Hermione had never heard from him before. Her eyes threatened to fill at the image he held of himself, but she couldn't bring herself to lie to him. Her mind had been reeling since she had seen him; replaying their complicated, gruesome past.

'I…Malfoy-' she attempted to say but the words would not come.

Draco closed his eyes and sighed. His shoulders sagged as though a weight he had been carrying had fled. 'Thank you,' he whispered to her, his thumb rubbing the inside of her wrist. 'Thank you for not lying to me. I remember you never did do that to me.' And Hermione could not help the small smile that mirrored his. The memory of the bluntness they had always shared, even in its negative context, amused her all these years later.

Just as he opened his eyes to meet hers the portrait opened and a dark blur breezed easily into the room stopping dead before the pair. His keen eyes taking in their proximity and Draco's hand encircling Hermione's wrist. Hermione quietly withdrew her arm from Draco, ignoring the loss of a fierce heat, and stepped politely away from Draco.

'Well, well what have we here?' he asked, his eyebrows wiggling suggestively.

'Blaise, hush. We were just talking. What are you doing here?' Draco asked. With one last glance at Hermione he turned and retrieved his bag.

'Reunion, mate, reunion,' Blaise said, his face registering confusion. He turned to Hermione and gestured to indicate that it was clear that Draco had lost his mind.

She smiled softly and sighed, 'Slytherins.'

'Damn straight, woman! I knew I always liked you,' Blaise said happily, bounding over to his apparent new best friend, his arm going around Hermione's shoulder as he ushered her towards Draco.

'Blaise,' Hermione said laughing slightly, 'you have barely spoken a word to me in the entirety of our acquaintance.

'I know! That is what makes this friendship so wonderful!' Blaise replied. Draco watched as his best friend smiled and removed himself from Hermione's side to approach him. 'And you! As to your previous query, I have arrived quite suddenly to accompany you to breakfast.'

'Well, Mr. Zabini, that is very kind and thoughtful of you, but I don't buy it,' Draco said.

Blaise stared at his mate carefully for a single moment before throwing up his hands in defeat. 'Fine! You see right through me. I came to make sure you actually showed up because I thought you would chicken out and simply go to your classroom to finish grading essays.'

Silence filled the common room and it was apparent to both Hermione and Blaise that Draco had indeed intended that very thing. Hermione thought he looked very much like a deer caught in headlights.

'Blaise-' Draco started but was cut off.

'No, I don't want to hear it. We spoke about this last week. Now you get your bag sorted and let us just march down to the Great Hall and get this over with,' Blaise said matter-of-factly.

Draco turned to Hermione, his eyes pleading with her to help him. His heart fell as he saw her shake her head.

'I agree with Zabini on this one,' she said, all the while ignoring Blaise's shout of victory.

'Are you completely ignoring everything we just spoke about?' Draco asked her through clenched teeth.

'Yes,' she answered. 'People can change a lot in ten years, Malfoy. Look at you.'

'She has a point, mate,' Zabini agreed, his tone serious for the first time since his tall, tanned frame entered the room. 'People probably won't care as much as your inflated ego thinks they will.'

After several tense moments, Draco finally nodded his acceptance of the situation. He shook his head in frustration and put his bag over his shoulder before reaching over and placing his hand at the small of Hermione's back guiding her towards to portrait. No one commented on his action. Hermione was too shocked, Blaise was too amused, and Draco was too oblivious to what he had done.

'By the way, Blaise, how did you get the password to this dorm?' Draco called behind him.

As they walked towards the Great Hall and the noise of students and alumni grew louder, Hermione wondered at the absurdness of the past few hours. Why she felt compelled to convince Draco to face his past and enjoy the reunion was beyond her. The only half plausible explanation that she could come up with was that he had fought alongside them all. Whatever his reasons at the time, he had bled as they all had. And that…well that counted for something.

Blaise was regaling them with his tale of password retrieval when the three entered the Great Hall. '…and so I said to him, "Give me the bloody password or I will-"'

But Hermione never did find out what Blaise had supposedly threatened Dumbledore with for as they walked into the Great Hall all the adults turned to see who had entered. The students were alerted to the strange tension in the air when the adults sitting amongst them suddenly grew deathly quiet and a thickness crept into the air. Soon a hush had fallen over the entire hall as the young students strained to see who or what had caused such a shift in the previously excited alumni.

The students were confused when they were met with the sight of their Defence Against the Dark Arts professor accompanied by a petite woman and a tall, olive-skinned wizard.

Draco felt all eyes turn towards him and his party. He sighed heavily and turned to his two companions. 'No one will care? People change a lot it ten years?' he said tiredly to them. Feeling Hermione's gaze burning into him, he leaned in and whispered into her ear, his hot breath harsh on her neck, 'People don't change that much.'

And with that he turned and stalked down the centre aisle. He kept going until he reached his seat behind the teacher's table on top of the dais. Ignoring the silence he proceeded to shovel eggs onto his plate with extreme force.

Blaise turned to Hermione with sadness in his eyes. 'People have long memories,' he said quietly before turning and gliding to the Slytherin table. Eventually hushed whispers and then full blown conversation returned as she made her way towards where her friends were seated at the Gryffindor tables. She felt Ron's cold stare, but her own stare was drawn towards Harry. He hung his head slightly, attempting to avoid the anger and confusion creeping into her eyes. When she finally reached them she sat next to Harry and eyed the roll on her plate.

She was barely aware of Harry's son greeting her with a quiet 'Hey Aunt 'Mione!' She collected her thoughts and was more aware of a number of former classmates glancing at her curiously. She sighed softly and turned to face her best friend.

'Why didn't you tell me?' she asked Harry.

Chapter 4: Moments of Happiness Elude

'He deserved his privacy. He deserved the chance to disappear, Hermione,' Harry tried to explain as they made their way to Albie's first class. Breakfast had finished rather quickly and Harry had waited until they had left the Great Hall before answering Hermione's question. Albie was currently dragging her to the first class the Gryffindor alumni were assigned to sit in on, followed by Ron and Harry.

'But, Harry, I just can't believe you never brought it up?' Hermione found herself almost whining.

'I don't see what the big deal is,' came Albie's annoyed voice from in between them. They all paused and stared down at the tiny ten-year-old who stared at them almost accusingly.

'What?' was all Ron could manage to splutter out.

'I mean, come on, Dad, I already told you like a hundred times. Professor Malfoy is the coolest teacher, who cares that he was some sort of black hat back all those years ago when you were my age,' Albie pronounced harshly as though lecturing his elders.

Harry simply stared down at his son, an amused expression dancing in his green eyes. 'Black hat, eh? That what you kids calling it these days?' he asked his son.

'What do you mean "all those years ago"?' Ron asked with a playful smile on his face.

Hermione stared at her nephew and noticed how similar he looked to his father back when they were all his age. She felt her heart ache for those innocent years and prayed to the forces of the universe that Albie would experience nothing but happiness in this life.

Seeing that the adults were just going to stare at him in varying degrees of amusement or remembrance, Albie proceeded to turn and continue their journey to his class.

Harry gathered his thoughts as he continued down the distantly familiar halls. The red flush to Hermione's face told him that she was deep in thought. He wondered at her reaction to Draco Malfoy's presence. He hadn't told anyone about Malfoy teaching here. Dumbledore had told him four years ago and he remembered seeing Draco's broken image passing him in the hall as he left to seek out Neville for a quick bite. He didn't know why he hadn't mentioned it to anyone at the time. His gut told him that all Malfoy craved was privacy, and Harry understood that all too well.

He had been genuinely surprised when Albie's letters began to arrive raving about his "amazingly awesome" Dark Arts professor. Ginny had worried at the hero worship her son had been displaying, but they had agreed that there was no harm. Again, Harry didn't know why he chose to keep this to himself, but his wife seemed to be of the same mind. And so they had kept it from their dearest friends. But Hermione's intense hurt that shone on her face when she had asked him why he had never told her, bothered him.

'Hermione, why do you even care so much? I mean, it's Malfoy we're talking about here,' Harry asked as Albie dragged them through the door to his class.

'I…' Hermione found herself starting only to realize that no words would be forthcoming. For no reason she could fathom, a part of her cared about what had happened to Draco Malfoy…no that was not right…not Draco Malfoy specifically…but those in his position…a person forced to go against both sides of a war, inevitably fighting on both fronts. She had seen the toll such an act had taken upon him and a sparse few like him. She had always been the champion of the underdog, the little guy, the one no one else fought for. She cared about the fate of Draco Malfoy simply because no one else did.

But then she followed her boys into the classroom and met the icy, silvery stare of Malfoy. And when her gaze lingered and she found herself falling into those depths, a small part of her - buried under years of pain and hate – wondered if maybe a new reason for caring about his fate could possibly blossom. She shook her head and snapped out of her thoughts becoming aware that everyone had settled and were staring at the two staring at each other.

'You coming in, Granger, or are you just going to stand there looking lost?' Malfoy asked.

___________________________________________

Malfoy watched as she blushed prettily before gliding to an empty seat by her friends. He heaved a steadying sigh and rifled through the essays on his desk, his right hand coming up to finger the chain just visible around his neck.

'Okay, settle down. Nothing changes because we have a few alumni here,' he demanded of his youngest students. He handed the pile of essays to Albie telling him to hand them out. 'Some of the essays were poor, some were dreadfully poor. Only a select few rated decent. This is not promising for your following years here at Hogwarts.' He could see Weasley rolling his eyes in the back row.

'Today we are going to speak about fairy tales,' he said and sat on the edge of his desk. A hush fell over the class and he watched some confused expressions appear. He laughed to himself as he saw the calculating expression on Granger's face.

'Can anyone tell me why I would waste my extremely valuable time teaching you midgets about fairy tales when this is Defence Against the Dark Arts?' he asked his class.

Hermione's hand immediately shot up and Malfoy, Harry, and Ron could not fight the groans that escaped them simultaneously. Hermione shot them all death glares but her hand stayed ramrod straight in the air. Apart from her, no one else seemed to want to answer.

Draco sighed and said, 'Come on guys, does no one even want to guess? I promise I won't take points off for wrong answers this time.'

Hermione seemed to lift off her seat in her attempt to stretch her hand higher. Draco continued to ignore her. 'Anyone?' he almost pleaded with his students.

'I'm pretty sure 'Mione knows the answer, Malfoy,' Ron said while watching Hermione with amusement.

'Yes, Weasley,' Draco growled out, 'I am pretty sure iwe alil know that Granger knows the answer. The point is trying to have the students answer it.'

'But you said anyone,' Hermione said, her arm still in the air.

'Granger,' Draco ground out through clenched teeth.

'Don't "Granger" me, Malfoy. Nobody else raised their hand,' Hermione stated, her cheeks flushing in irritation.

'I cannot believe, after all these years you are still such a know-it-all,' Malfoy said, rising from the edge of his desk and approaching Hermione's seat.

She promptly stood and met him halfway, refusing to continue allowing him to look down at her. 'I cannot believe, after all these years you are still such and insufferable git!' she shouted at him, her temper flaring. Only Ron and Malfoy had ever had this effect on her. She was already embarrassed from the morning's events and at being caught unawares that when he chose to ignore her she felt a little of the goodwill she had fostered towards him snapping.

'How many times do I have to say this to you before it gets through that bushy hair of your: PEOPLE DON'T CHANGE!' Draco found himself shouting back, the little witch setting off long locked away emotions that he just didn't know how to deal with.

Meanwhile, Harry took out his wand and conjured some popcorn, passing some to Ron and several of the students sitting around them. The rest of the class was rapt with attention to the two sparring adults in the front.

Albie looked to his dad and asked, 'Is this normal?'

Ron snorted and choked on his popcorn. Harry, pounding Ron's back, laughed and nodded. 'Merlin, their fights were legendary. In third year she beat the crap out of him.'

'SHE DID NOT!' Draco suddenly roared, turning sharply away from Hermione to face the rest of the class and Harry.

'She so did, Malfoy,' Ron agreed, returning to his normal colour now that air was once more flowing through his lungs.

'I only punched him, Ronald,' Hermione said, using her lecture tone. 'And I think you should refrain from saying crap in front of the first years.'

'But you just said it,' a small brunette in the front row bravely said. Hermione just stared at the young girl.

'Yeah, and before, you called him a git!' a small boy said from the back.

'Yes, I suppose you are right. I'm sorry to have disrupted your class, Malfoy,' she said softly before returning to her seat. A sudden peace seeming to fall around her. But as Malfoy tried to control his breathing and reign in his temper, he saw the fire still blazing in her eyes. This did not bode well for him once he left the safety of an audience.

Malfoy closed his eyes and asked the universe what he had ever done to deserve this…then he remembered and went back to teaching. 'Ok, why fairy tales?'

Chapter 5: Making the Same Mistakes Again

Hermione found herself sinking into the sofa in the Head's Common Room. The crazy, hectic pace of the day was catching up with her and she couldn't believe all that had happened today. After sitting in on Malfoy's class, she had immediately fled to the library at the bell. She did some last minute research for the speech she was to give on her research before meeting up with Harry and Ron to sit it on Neville's Botany course. After lunch she had given her speech to the 6th and 7th years along with the alumni. It met a better reception that she had imagined and she had glowed with her success throughout the rest of the afternoon, her fight with Malfoy earlier disappearing from her mind.

Dinner had been an intimate affair, as the students were allowed home to their families for the weekend die to the reunion. The alumni would now have the castle to themselves until Sunday night. Hermione had wandered back to her room and was enjoying the fire, her thoughts far away and content.

That was how Draco found her later that night. He came silently into the room and watched her for several long moments. She looked so peaceful that he prayed she would forget their argument earlier. He decided not to test his theory and proceeded to creep silently across the room towards the stairs.

'There is no reason to avoid me, Malfoy,' came her soft, clear voice.

Draco stopped and turned to meet her eyes and she turned to face him. 'I was not avoiding you. Just leaving you to your thoughts,' he said. He dropped his briefcase at the foot of the stairs and removed his robe, throwing it onto the opposite side of the couch from the witch. She just continued to watch him as he walked around the couch and sat next to her.

He looked at his hands before speaking once more. 'I enjoyed your talk today,' he said softly. He could see her trying not to smile out of the corner of his eye.

'I thought you might. After that wonderful lesson you taught earlier, I had even hoped you would have some insight or questions for me afterwards.'

'Ah, well Blaise and I had a previously arranged appointment and from the looks of things you were surrounded by enough adoring fans. What is the loss of one more?' he teased her. This time she allowed the smile to bloom on her face and he found himself caught up in her good cheer. 'I mean it though, Granger, I found it fascinating. You will have to tell me where you found some of your research. I have always believed that fairy tales, especially wizarding ones, were based much more on fact than anyone realizes.'

'Thank you,' she whispered simply. 'Your praise and enthusiasm mean a lot.'

'Do they?' he suddenly found himself asking. His eyes widened as the words left his mouth unbidden. He watched as she just nodded her affirmation and he wondered when his approval had begun to matter to her. 'I'm sorry,' he blurted out.

'What?' she asked, caught off guard by his apology. Hermione tried to remember if he had ever sincerely apologized to her for anything ever!

'I'm sorry, about earlier. It was inappropriate of me to act that way in front of my students. You deserved better,' he said firmly all the while finding he was unable to pull his eyes from her stare.

'I don't know about that, Malfoy. I did my fair share of acting inappropriately as well,' she softly replied.

'We all have, over the years,' he spoke more to himself that to her as he removed his gaze to stare into the fire.

'Yes, I suppose we have,' Hermione agreed, watching the flames reflect off of his face.

'I don't know why, Granger, but I find myself wanting your approval as well.' Hermione felt as though Malfoy had just revealed a bit of himself he hadn't intended to. She watched as he slowly ran his hands through his hair and scrubbed his face as though trying to rub out the tension. He turned back to her stare and she felt her eyes sinking into his…a horrible habit these days.

She watched as his hand reached across to few feet between them and suddenly his fingers were entwined with hers. Her breath caught at the contact and heat. There was such a serious air about him that she didn't dare speak and scare him off.

'I think…I think, Granger, that you and I should start over. Wipe the slate clean,' he said, his eyes pleading with her to accept what he was offering. She found herself squeezing his hand in hers and tears rose unbidden in her eyes.

'When we were younger, I never dreamed that I would grow to respect you. You embodied everything I had been taught to hate. And hate you I did,' he admitted, his head falling slightly. But he had started this and he would finish it. He brought his head back up proudly and met her gaze with his firm one. 'When I fought beside you I found myself in awe at your resilience and loyalty. I envied you that – I still envy you that.'

'Malfoy-' she began, but he cut her off by bring a finger to her lips. Her eyes grew wide and he forgot about anything else he had been about to say once he felt the soft fullness of her lips below his finger.

Her slight whimper broke the spell and he shook his head and steered his thoughts back to the task at hand. 'Please let me finish. I don't think I would have the courage to continue if you interrupted me,' he whispered to her, allowing his arm to fall back to his side. 'I need you to know, that through all the hatred, all the blood and death, through all the destruction, you were always there, whether I wanted you to be or not. You were always still standing, fighting, loving…you were always there, in the distance, a constant presence. I didn't realize till years later how much strength your presence gave to me, to all of us…but I just need you to know that respect grew within me for you; a deep respect that survived not seeing you for ten years.

'And it is because of this respect that I find myself at ease with you in a way I can't be with anyone else. So I am offering us an opportunity to start over, to begin again with all the hateful words and deeds behind us,' he finished softly, watching for understanding in her pretty face.

'No,' she said firmly, her gaze hardening and her hand gripping his even tighter.

'Oh,' he managed to get out, his heart, for some reason alien to him, shattering into a million pieces. He attempted to extract her hand from his but she held firm and forced his gaze back to her eyes.

'No, we will not start over; we will not forget the past. It has made us who we are today. It has given us a past, a history. And with everything else I have lost in this world, I will not throw away a piece of my past just because it was painful. You hated me. Fine. Good. Well I hated you too. But like all things, we changed. I know you don't think people change but we are living proof of that. I will not forget anything, but I do forgive. I forgive you with every part of my being. And do you know why, Draco Malfoy?' she demanded of him.

He shook his head and wondered at her ability to be the better person. 'I have no idea why you would ever forgive me,' he admitted to the air between them.

'Because I respect you,' she said. Her words hit him like a ton of bricks. He felt the air leave his lungs and wondered if he had perhaps drunk a little too much with Blaise earlier.

'You respect me?' he asked her, sarcasm and disbelief dripping from his tongue.

'How could I not? You sat there bleeding with me in the night waiting for death to walk around the next corner and kill us both. You stood with me, not against me. How could you be so stupid to think that after everything you did I couldn't at least respect you?' she asked. He found himself laughing softly at the look of incredulity that graced her face.

Hermione smiled softly at the ease that had finally come over him and she found herself laughing with him. They were laughing more in relief and nervous companionship, than at anything funny. Suddenly he saw her hand rise towards him and reach up and caress his face. The laughter died in his throat at her soft touch.

'I wish I knew how to erase all the pain lying within all of us. But life is not a fairy tell. Life is cold, hard, and unrelenting with moments of happiness and joy that make up for the rest of it and allow us all a reason for living. And all we can hope for is a handful of people who will maybe come along and show us the good when everything else can seem so lost. You deserve that hope more than anyone I have ever met and I truly hope you find it, Draco Malfoy,' Hermione whispered, her eyes glinting in the fire with unshed tears.

Draco promptly rose and pulled her up with him, bringing her hand up around his neck and he leaned in and engulfed her in a tentative, yet firm hug. She found the tears flowing freely now at this unexpected show of raw emotion from this particular man and she pressed her body further against his hard, tall frame. Draco was momentarily surprised at the force of her hug but soon he found himself drowning in the feel of her tight body pressed so intimately against his. i'Focus, man!'i he shouted to his libido, trying to focus on the seriousness of the moment.

But before he knew it she was pulling away from him and stepping back. He noticed her pretty blush and wondered if maybe she had been as effected by their proximity as he had.

'I…I think I am going to go to bed now,' she stammered out. He stared down at her with an almost smug expression. 'I had a good day, Malfoy,' she said and he acknowledged that she was thanking him.

'Me too…Hermione,' he tried out her name to see if it rolled from his tongue. He failed to notice the shiver that ran along the length of Hermione's body at the sound of her name from his mouth.

'Good night,' she whispered before retreating up the stairs.

Draco found himself staring after her long after she had gone. The fire crackled behind him and he found his thoughts swirling crazily and incoherently through his mind. He fingered the chain around his neck and looked towards the fire once more before gathering his bag and heading up to his room. His face lit up with a peace he had never before felt in his life. A weight felt gone from his tired shoulders and he felt a smile gracing his lips. It had been an interesting evening indeed.

Chapter 6: These Feelings Won't Go Away

Saturday dawned and Hermione couldn't fight the rising sun as much as she wished she could sleep a tiny bit longer. She rolled over pulling the duvet tight around her and attempted to bury her head into her pillow. Just as she began to believe that she had successfully forced her body back to blissful unconsciousness, the door to her room banged open. Startled, she let out a screech, her eyes flying open searching for her wand.

'Wakey, wakey sleepyhead,' Malfoy spoke, his words garbled as he chewed round a scone. She noticed that the weight he had always seemed to carry on his shoulders seemed to have lessened a great deal and he even walked towards her with a spring in his step. She watched in apathetic horror –her brain still not fully awake you see – as he flung his body onto the bed next to her, his back leaning against the headboard.

'Come on, Granger, let's get this day started,' he said almost cheerfully. She stared at him in full blown horror now. She watched as his chewing slowed as he caught the horror on her face. 'What?' he asked genuinely concerned.

'Who are you and what have you done with the surly, depressed, annoyingly good-looking when angry Draco Malfoy?' Hermione asked in a scandalized tone.

Draco continued to stare at her. Suddenly a cocky grin spread across his face. 'You think I'm good-looking?' he half asked, half stated all the while nodding his head in approval.

'What?' Hermione squeaked out, horrified. 'No, I mean, not…well I mean…you are…when you want to be….and ARG! I hate you!' She proceeded to grab the pillow from under her and beat him with it. She was unprepared for his burst of laughter and was therefore distracted enough that he was able to gain the upper hand. He grabbed the pillow from her hand, sending it flying across the room while at the same time grabbing her around the waist and turning them so he had her pinned beneath him.

Hermione felt the breath leave her body as she attempted to swallow the lump in her throat. His breath mingled with hers while his body pressed into crevices that had not been touched in longer than she cared to remember. She was suddenly self-conscious about her dishevelled morning appearance. But any thoughts of any substance flew from her head as she felt his continuing laughter vibrate through his body. She felt her eyes falling shut before she could control the action. Her breathing was now coming in pants she couldn't stop.

Draco, however, was too caught up in his genuine amusement at her quite obvious hate of mornings to notice her state of arousal. He allowed is head to fall into the crook of her neck as his laugh began to die down. 'You know, Granger, I never would have guessed you weren't a morning person,' he finally managed to say as his laughter died out. He suddenly became aware of her pulse beating rapidly against his cheek and the fact that her chest was rising in short burst, pressing her dainty breasts deliciously against him every few moments. He could feel her breath hot and rapid against his ear and fully realized that his body was pressed completely against hers.

His own breathing stopped as he lifted his head back away to stare down at her. Her eyes were closed and her face flushed. He felt his body starting to respond when she opened her eyes and met his shocked gaze with one obviously filled with lust. But as he simply continued to stare at her, he saw a sliver of fear begin to creep into her heavy eyes and he wondered at what had possessed him to literally throw himself at her. Then he really focused on how soft she felt beneath him and he began to wonder if he couldn't get used to this. Too many thoughts were racing through his mind for him to really form any coherent response to any of his questions.

Hermione, on-the-other-hand, found herself scared. Scared because of her body's reaction to a man she had only recently come back into contact with. Scared because of what her body wanted from this wizard. Scared because she hadn't felt this way about a man in years. Scared because she was feeling these things about him. But as she gazed into his silver eyes, she thought that maybe she deserved to taste a bit of that forbidden fruit. Maybe it was her turn to have someone.

A sudden pounding from downstairs sent both of them flying from each other. Hermione stood feet away from the bed and from Draco. The pounding at the portrait continued and she looked quickly at Malfoy before quickly saying, 'I'll get it,' and running out of her room.

From the minute she had stood up Draco could only stare at her obscenely scantily clad body. She had been sleeping in nothing more than a white tank top that ended just in the middle of her flat, toned stomach. The outfit had been topped off with a pair of matching skimpy white underwear. Suddenly the fact that she had gone to answer the door dressed in nothing more than underwear struck him. A pang of jealousy and a touch of ownership came over him at the thought of someone else seeing her like that. He rushed after her.

He ran down the stairs and into the common room. 'Hermione, wait!' he whisper shouted at her as he slid to a stop behind her, pressed up against her, just as she opened the door.

Draco could only watch as the inevitable stab of fate played with his already shattered life. Before them stood not only his dear, dear friend Blaise, but oddly enough so did Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley. Normally he would have appreciated the swell of her bottom pressed against him, but he was seeing his life flash before his eyes as his inevitable death was promptly forthcoming.

'Hey, guys!' Hermione said cheerfully, oblivious to her state of undress or the looks of shock and horror crossing the men in front of her.

'Uh, Granger, maybe you should go back to the bedroom,' Draco said quietly as he watched Ron turn an interesting shade of red. He thought he heard the Weasel mutter something along the lines of, 'What does he mean BACK to bed?' Though he was pretty sure there were more expletives. He was surprised when Hermione simply turned her head to regard him, her lips mere millimetres from his.

'Why?' she asked innocently. He stared down into her eyes and before he could lose himself in their depths yet again, he realized the picture they must be painting: she in her underwear gazing into the face of one Draco Malfoy who was pressed up against her, his hand somehow having found its way to the bare skin of her waist.

He cleared his throat and leaned in towards her. He heard the others gasp in shock as it appeared as though he would kiss her. Instead he leaned in till he could whisper in her ear. 'Don't freak out, but you aren't exactly dressed for company.'

Her reaction was immediate. She drew away from him, her eyes huge and her mouth forming words that weren't being spoken. Her face, and other parts of her anatomy, flushed an amazing red and her hands flew to her mouth. She suddenly threw her body behind Draco and he could hear her running up the stairs.

Left alone with his best mate and two others he'd rather not talk about, he could feel the tension and questions flowing towards him from the hallway. 'Well, chaps, that was awkward,' he somehow managed to say.

Hermione flew into her room and slammed the door behind her. That man, that incorrigible man had so flustered her this morning that she had run to get the door without a thought to her clothing…or lack there of. She wasn't embarrassed to have the guys see her in that. Hell, they had seen her in less over the summers at the beach. No, what was really eating away at her was the ideas they would obviously be forming because of Draco's presence.

She forced the embarrassment from her mind realizing that if she didn't get back downstairs now, there was no telling what would happen. She flew to the chair and threw her jeans on. She quickly grabbed a sweater and threw her arms into it before flying back down the stairs to utter carnage…ok, well no not carnage. She had expected carnage, blood, anger, maybe a few tears. Instead everyone was where she had left them. They all just stood staring at each other; though she did notice Blaise with a mischievous glint in his eye. Draco stood with his hands in his pockets trying to look anywhere but at the great red thing that was Ron, or the stunned, almost Petrified looking Harry.

She gathered her courage and walked up beside Draco giving her friends a small smile. 'Sorry bout that, I heard the door and just jumped out of bed not realizing I wasn't appropriately attired,' she said calmly, hoping to save the situation.

'Oh please, please don't apologize, Miss Granger. Feel free to answer the door dressed like that whenever the mood takes you,' Blaise said sweetly, allowing his eyes to travel over her body.

'Hey! Zabini,' Draco barked at him. 'Eyes up.' Hermione sighed; Draco was not helping the situation.

'Sorry, mate. Your property, I get it!' Blaise stated, his hands held up in defence, his eyes blazing with mirth. Hermione got the impression that he knew he was stirring things up.

'What is going on?' Harry finally managed to say.

'We're not sleeping together!' Draco suddenly shouted out.

Silence.

And then…

Laughter.

They all turned to look out into the hall as a group of alumni Hermione recognized from a mix of houses stood watching the scene before them. 'Just great,' she mumbled before she began to push or pull everyone inside the room. 'Get in here before any more people get the wrong idea.'

Finally closing the portrait behind her she leaned against it and let out a great sigh. This was turning out to be an interesting day.

Chapter 7: Tasting the Air You're Breathing In

Harry sat at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall replaying the events of the morning through his head. He would be lying if he were to say the whole thing had not amused him. Shocked him…most definitely. But in retrospect he had to laugh.

Seeing Hermione open the door dressed like that, with Malfoy pressed against her hadn't been the first thing to shock him. The look of contentment on her face was what had taken him aback momentarily. He hadn't seen her glowing like that in years. The next series of events had been comical and entertaining. When Draco had shouted out: 'We're not sleeping together!'…well Harry thought he would lose it then and there.

They had cleared it all up of course. It was all completely innocent. He had been unable to get the door and shouted for her to get it. Hermione, still half asleep and never a morning person, had simply forgotten what she had been wearing. All very innocent… 'Yeah right!' Harry scoffed to himself.

In the moments he had believed that the two of them had been caught out, he could honestly say that he had not been angry…like Ron. No, he had been pleased. Pleased for Hermione. He had thought she had finally found something and even if it was with Draco Malfoy, the look of peace on her face would be enough for Harry to bite his tongue and bear it. The fact that he knew the truth about Draco Malfoy also helped his opinion, but he would never tell another living soul those secrets.

No, Harry had not been angry. As he glanced to his left and watched Hermione chatting to a few former Ravenclaws about her lecture yesterday, he couldn't help but wonder if the two were set on a collision course for each other. Her actions in the past 2 days were so unlike her. He glanced towards the Slytherin table and was not surprised to see Malfoy watching Hermione with a look of unguarded appreciation.

He noticed too, that the man seemed…lighter. Whatever was going on between the two of them seemed to have a positive effect. That was enough for Harry.

'Your hypothesis regarding the 'Wizarding Globe', 'Three Keys', and 'Wolf's Revenge' fairy tales is interesting, but very controversial,' Michael Corner said.

'I agree, but I think if you look again at Sniffle Landry's work with-' Hermione suddenly cut off as she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Someone was watching her. She glanced around until she caught the culprit. She threw Draco a quick smile and a wink before turning back to the conversation. 'You know, Michael, if you are as interested in this subject as I think you are, you really should talk to Malfoy over there. I hear he has first edition copies of most of these works.'

Michael Corner actually gasped. 'But they would be centuries old!' he whispered, awe and disbelief filling his tone.

'I know! If you're lucky maybe he has them in his collection here in the school,' she encouraged, secretly delighted at the fact that Malfoy was the one who owned the books didn't even seem to bother Michael. Get the right hook and everyone's preconceptions could be forgotten.

'I'm doing it. I am going over there,' Michael said more to himself than to her. He stood suddenly and marched purposely up to Draco Malfoy. Hermione watched in amusement as Draco looked up, stunned at the flow of words directed at him. She watched as his eyes grew wide, then narrowed. He turned discreetly and sent a glare at Hermione. She simply smiled at him.

She watched as he turned back to Michael, seemingly considering his request. Then much to Michael's obvious surprise, Draco nodded. He stood and indicated that Michael should follow him. The two left the Great Hall and Hermione congratulated herself on a job well done. Small changes, almost insignificant steps could start the flow towards greater shifts. Slowly, Draco Malfoy would come to be accepted by the society that he shunned and shunned him. She would see to it if it took her entire lifetime!

________________________________________

'You owe me for earlier, missy,' Draco said, suddenly appearing out of thin air. Hermione was expecting this so was not surprised when he snuck up on her later that afternoon.

She turned to him smiling. 'Are you really going to be mad at me for encouraging scholarly argument with one of your peers?'

He smiled devilishly at her before backing her slowly into the stone wall behind her. Looming over her he said, 'I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed myself arguing with Corner. Then again he did date the Weasley so he had to have some fire in those bones of his.' He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

'Stop it. That is my friend. The mother of one of your students,' Hermione admonished him, but her heart wasn't really in it. She was more than pleased that he had enjoyed his afternoon with someone other than himself or Blaise.

'Yeah, about that,' Draco said, tilting his head to one side, a look of intense curiosity coming over him, 'you see, I have always wanted to ask this. We are here at our ten year reunion and yet so is their oldest? Were the rumours true then? Did good old Potter knock up the littlest Weasley before she was eighteen and married?' Draco now had a scandalized look on his face.

'Oh shut up, Malfoy. You already know that's what happened, so stop teasing me and my friends.'

'But, Hermione, you know how much I love teasing you!'

Hermione found herself laughing at his whining and she brought up her hand to playfully slap him.

'You were saying something about me owing you?' Hermione brought his focus back to why he had backed her into a wall in the first place.

'Oh yes, thank you,' he said seriously and cleared his throat. 'Come flying with me tonight,' he said, his eyes pleading with her to grant him this simple request.

'What?!' she managed to splutter out.

'Come flying with me tonight. You owe me for foisting your adoring fans off on me and for putting my life in danger by prancing about in your underwear. Let me take you flying,' he said softly leaning in towards her. She could feel the excitement coming from him.

'I…I don't like to fly, Malfoy,' she admitted.

'What are you afraid of?' he asked honestly.

'Falling.' Her voice was small and she let her head fall, avoiding his gaze. She felt his finger hook under her chin and push her head up until she was looking straight at him.

'I would never let you fall,' he stated with a fierce intensity. 'Besides, you owe me and this is what I want.' She couldn't help the smile that came to her lips as she looked at the smug expression on his face. Her fear of brooms was deep and very acute. But if she could prove that she trusted him to keep her safe…well, maybe he would see that there was one person who would risk falling with him, no matter the cost.

'Fine,' she whispered.

'Yes!!' he shouted, pumping his fist in the air. He swooped in and placed a kiss on her cheek before turning and dashing down the hall. 'Meet me at 8 down at the pitch,' he shouted as he disappeared around the corner.

Hermione's hand reached up to touch where his lips had lingered. She started to dreamily walk down the hall when suddenly a door closing in the distance made reality rush in. She froze, her face filling with horror.

'What did I just agree to do?' she asked the halls, her voice trembling at the prospect of being airborne. 'Merlin, Hermione, you've got it bad,' she whispered before hurrying towards the library in hopes of finding some book that could hypnotize her, take her out of her body, turn her into a bat…anything that would help her to get on that broom without passing out.

______________________________________________________________________

The air rushed by them, whipping her robes around her as she clung for dear life to his body. Her eyes were squeezed shut so tightly, tears were leaking out from the pressure. She had spent the rest of the day psyching herself up for this moment and she didn't know how she had managed to get down to the pitch. When she had arrived, the smile lighting up his face made her heart clench. She had to go through with this, even if it killed her.

So now they were flying a death-trap of a broom –a broom which probably cost more that her flat – over the great expanse of the Forbidden Forrest. Her fingers were digging into the hard muscles of his abdomen and she honestly felt like screaming.

'Check out that sunset and then tell me this wasn't worth it,' Draco shouted into the wind. He felt her shake her head from the confines of his back and he chuckled at her behaviour. 'C'mon, Granger, you can fight wizards 3 times your age with infinitely more knowledge and experience than you and yet a little broom scares you!?'

'Hey! They most certainly did NOT have more knowledge than me,' Hermione shouted back, her head rising from his back, her eyes flying open and glaring at him. He turned his head slightly and noticed her glare. He slowed their speed and smiled at her.

'Well, now that those pretty eyes are open, how about checking out that aforementioned beautiful sunset.'

Her eyes widened as she realized that she could see the ground below…very, very, very far below. As her gaze snapped back up, she focused on the sunset and realized just how right Draco was. The colours were striking and the size of the sun seemed to take up the whole horizon. 'Wow,' she whispered, allowing her fear to recede slightly in order to take in the beauty of the grounds from this perspective.

'I told you,' Draco responded, pride swelling his chest. The serene smile gracing her face caused his heart to flutter. The fact that she trusted him with her safety in something that so obviously frightened her astounded him. 'I swore I would never let you fall,' he whispered in her ear.

She turned her head slightly to meet his gaze, bringing their faces closer together. He stared down into her eyes and watched the wind blow her hair gently across her face. 'Thank you,' Hermione whispered, her breath sending warm puffs across his lips. His tongue darted out to wet them as he felt his throat go dry. He had never seen her look more beautiful than she did in the fading sunlight.

'Hermione,' he growled out, his eyes blazing fire as his body responded in a primal way.

She stared up at him and he watched as she bit her lower lip. Suddenly her eyes lowered and she turned her head away from him slightly, the wind whipping her hair between them. He groaned inwardly and turned back to face front. Obviously he was coming on way too strong. Maybe she didn't feel the same electricity he felt when they were near each other. But Malfoy knew those were all lies. He saw how her body responded to his, so he couldn't understand why she would pull away.

'Thank you for this, Malfoy, but could you take me back down now? I think I have ignored the fear for too long,' she whispered into his ear. He ignored the shivers her breath caused and began their decent.

Their feet touched down on the soft earth and he expected her to jump from the broom. Instead she stayed pressed against him her arms still wrapped tightly around his chest. 'I never thought I would fly like that,' she wondered aloud. 'That I finally did and that it was with you…' she trailed off as she squeezed him tightly once before finally pulling away and sliding off the broom.

He turned to face her, still straddling the broom. The sun was dipping below the horizon now and it's glow surrounded them both. He watched her watch him and he wondered what was racing through that tireless mind of hers. She smiled sweetly at him and nodded once before turning and walking back up to the castle.

Draco simply sat there and watched her go, long after she and the sun had left.

Hermione rushed through the halls, her hair even wilder that normal from the wind. Her heart was racing and she felt it pounding nervously in her chest as though it were a drum. She stopped and turned to place her hands on the cool stones of the halls. She let her forehead come to rest on the rocks and allowed herself to take deep calming breaths.

In that moment, in the air, when he had been about to kiss her, Hermione had wanted nothing more in the world than to succumb and lose herself in him. The intensity of her desire had frightened and warned her. She knew she was falling for the pale angel and the reality of what that would mean had come crashing down on her. Would he want her? It was obvious he was attracted to her, but she knew she craved more. He stimulated her not only physically but mentally as well. She enjoyed their arguments and was not afraid to admit that they turned her on. But more than that, she found herself at peace in his company.

And that is what scared her more than anything: that a man who had always been a stranger to her could hold such power over her emotions.

'You were never one to back down from a fight.' The voice startled her and she turned to face the intruder of her contemplating.

Ron stood in front of her, his hands in his pockets, his eyes watching her carefully.

'What?' she asked, genuinely confused by his statement.

Ron stepped towards her and slowly brushed the stray hairs from her face. 'You are the strongest, most stubborn, most single minded person I have ever met. I might not get why you feel something with him, but I never knew you to run from a fight, even if you were afraid; especially if you were afraid.'

Hermione could only stare at him. His hands finished their task and fell away from her. He sighed heavily. 'It's your turn to be happy, 'Mione. Don't throw it away without at least trying. He won't run from you,' Ron said softly. He smiled at her and placed a chaste kiss on her cheek before turning and leaving the window it was now apparent he had been watching them from.

As he disappeared around the corner, Hermione felt a single tear fall from her eye. The smile grew slowly before blooming fully on her face. Ron was right. It was her turn.

___________________________________________________________

Chapter 8: Falling Away With You

He sat on the sofa staring into the fire, the ice in his glass clinking softly in the silent room. It wasn't easy, this new found awareness that had crept upon him with regards to a certain witch. He found himself debating with himself about her actions earlier. He sat there, his shirt unbuttoned, hanging around him as the fire washed over his chest. His hand reached up and he fingered the chain hanging from his neck.

He had not expected the witch to practically move in and take up residence in his head. Yet over the past two days that was exactly what she had done! He downed the rest of the liquor and placed the glass on the side table. He dragged his hand through his hair, mussing it further and not caring.

'What are those?' her soft voice filled the silence and he felt that perhaps he should have been surprised at her sudden presence, but instead he felt acceptance and a feeling deep inside of him knew she would appear now, at this moment.

'What?' his voice, hoarse from his hours of silent reflection, asked her. He sensed her approaching him from behind and suddenly she was in front of him. The fire cast an eerie glow around her and he was reminded of a portrait of an angel he had seen once on a trip to Rome.

'What are those?' she repeated, her eyes staring just below him. He rolled his eyes, and felt the alcohol fuzz his head slightly. He felt himself standing before he knew he was. He stood towering over her staring down into her brown eyes. The heat of the room pressed in on them.

'Sorry, Granger, but you are going to have to be a bit more specific,' he said softly.

Suddenly her fingers reached out and trailed a searing hot line from his stomach all the way up past his pecs until they came to rest lightly on the chain hanging from his neck. His jaw had clenched the moment she had touched him and his eyes shut as his breathing came in sudden, short bursts.

'These, Malfoy, what are these?' she asked, all the while her fingers reeking havoc with his body as they toyed slightly with the necklace against his skin. He opened his eyes and watched her as she seemed entranced with his keepsake.

Slowly, drawing on some great inner courage, his hand rose up from his side and hesitantly, he allowed his fingers to wrap lightly around her delicate wrist. Her eyes shot up to his at the contact and her own breathing faltered at the heat from his proximity.

'It's just a necklace,' he managed to say, his voice deep and primal. He saw the flash of disbelief in her eyes and he was struck with the possibility that she wasn't just asking after a pretty keepsake. 'It's just three keys,' he whispered waiting for her response to his words. He heard the intake of her breath and saw the widening of her eyes. His hand tightened on hers in fear that she would run.

'Malfoy...' she began but her thoughts would not continue.

He looked at her curiously and asked, 'If you knew what they were, then why did you ask?'

He was surprised when her other hand came up and softly, yet firmly, removed his hand. They both watched as the fire glinted off and around the three keys hanging heavily from the thick silver chain. Her finger came back up and slowly traced the outline of the key with the emerald embedded within it. He thought his heart might burst at the action.

'It's just a fairy-tale, Malfoy, why would I have any reason to believe they actually existed,' she said, awe filling her voice as she studied the three tiny keys around his neck. All three were identical except for the gem embedded in each. The first key held an endlessly green emerald, said to be the key of healing. The second held a deep black obsidian gem. This key was known as the key of truth. And the third key held a sparkling red ruby, considered to be the most powerful gem in the universe. The third key was known as the key of love. Each was deep silver, intricately worked and only 2 inches long.

She couldn't believe that the stories she had come across in her research with regards to their power were actually true. Yet something about the way the light bent around the keys, almost as though the keys seemed to exist in their own right and were not simply hanging on the chain, but that the chain seemed to be hanging from them… She shook her head and once more met his gaze.

'Was this…was this it? The reason you came to our side?' she asked, her voice full of urgency.

He smiled down at her and brought his fingers up to brush her hair from her face. 'They couldn't fall into his hands; even someone in as deep as I was knew that. Even my parents knew that,' he whispered. He ignored her gasp and her pleading eyes and continued to tell her the truth. 'My mother woke me in the middle of the night and put this burden quite literally around my neck. They had been in her family for centuries. She knew - hell we all bloody knew - if Voldemort got a hold of them there would be nothing left. Nothing.

'So she gave me her legacy and told me in no uncertain terms, "Keep them safe. Give your life if you have to." Nothing more; just that. The course I chose I decided on myself. I think my father was disappointed when he figured out the path I had chosen, but he knew as well as I that these precious little things would spell utter destruction in the wrong hands. And even though the Deatheaters were all about destruction, there still had to be something around to destroy.'

The silence stretched between them, both hyper aware of their closeness and the importance of this revelation. 'Does Dumbledore know?' she asked quietly and cautiously.

'Yes,' he answered. The one word seemed to be enough. They both knew the depths of Dumbledore's knowledge and nothing else needed to be said. 'So does Harry.'

Hermione momentarily reeled back at that crumb of information. As her brain processed it though, she began to realize that it wasn't too much of a shock. Certain comments and actions of the last 11 years seemed to connect up in her mind and she nodded at the sense of it all.

Draco heaved a great sigh. 'Look, it is what it is. Yes, under the correct circumstances they pose a massive threat or an unrivalled hope. But until that moment, they are just keys. Keys hanging from a chain around a broken man's neck,' he told her.

She looked up at him harshly then. 'Is that what you think? That you are nothing but a broken man?' she asked him, her eyes glistening.

'Isn't that what everyone sees when they look at me?' he honestly wanted to know.

'Any man who's burden it is to watch over these-' she paused to once more lightly finger the keys, 'any man who chose to go against his entire upbringing in order to protect EVERYTHING…that man is far from broken.'

He closed his eyes at her words and felt his head fall forward until it met the soft skin of her forehead. She soon lost herself to the sensation of the contact and breathed out softly while closing her eyes. Her breath swept across his chest and he felt himself falling into the abyss of warmth that seemed to surround her whenever she was near him.

'Hermione,' he whispered her name lightly, 'you can't tell anyone about the keys.'

'You don't have to worry about that. After all, like you said, until the right circumstances come along, they are just decorative,' she said, and he could sense her smile.

She pulled slightly back from him and made sure his eyes met hers. She had a look of determination about her and she took a deep breath before saying, 'I am sorry for earlier.'

He stared at her, not believing that he understood her meaning. 'What do you mean?' he asked.

She glared at him as though she knew he was toying with her and she didn't like it. 'On the broom. I pulled away from you. I didn't mean to hurt you,' she whispered, her eyes boring into his.

He gulped and took a step forwards bringing most of his body into contact with hers. He knew he was looming, and he knew the effect it would have, and he knew this time he wouldn't let her run. 'What makes you think you hurt me?' he asked slyly, allowing his hands to find their way to her waist. He saw her shudder and she swayed slightly into him.

'Don't. Don't torture me like this. I didn't mean to run from you. Merlin, all I wanted to do was drown in you, but the intensity of that scared me…still scares me,' she admitted.

'Then what changed?' he asked, his head creeping closer down to hers, his eyes glazed with lust and emotion.

'I have never run from a thing in my life Draco Malfoy, I am not going to start with you,' she said harshly, her warm breath washing over him. The ferocity of her words were reflected in her eyes and he had had enough.

He closed the rest off the space between them and captured her mouth in a searing kiss. He felt her instantly respond and her hands came up to grasp the sides of his shirt. His own hands wound their way under her shirt in a mission to feel her soft skin. His lips burned against hers and he moaned into her mouth when her lips parted, granting him access.

Their tongues met halfway and he thought he would literally drown in the taste of her. He backed her towards the couch and when her legs met the edge he pushed them over. They never broke their kiss as they fell gracelessly, his body fitting perfectly into hers. This time she moaned as she felt the pressure of his hard body pushing down on hers.

Finally the need for air forced them to part, and he lay above her panting, their breath mingling. She was glowing from the fire and their kiss and he felt a surge of arousal flare through his already humming body. He felt his erection grow and knew she felt it too. He watched as her mouth opened and her head fell back exposing her neck as a moan escaped her. 'Merlin, you are beautiful,' he whispered, the words coming unbidden from him.

Her eyes rolled forwards to meet his and he felt her hands making their way up his naked torso. She dragged them upwards until she reached his shoulders. She pushed his shirt down over his arms and gathered it in her hands before throwing it across the room.

'Shut up and kiss me, Draco,' Hermione whispered huskily, her lips turning up in a sexy smile. Draco needed no further prompting. He lowered his head and captured her lips roughly. This time, however, the kiss was slow and sensual. His hands found the hem of her shirt before he tugged it roughly up and over her head, breaking their kiss only to let the shirt pass.

His hands flew back to her bare stomach and he slowly trailed them up till they met the edge of her bra. He pulled away from their kiss and took in the black lacy material covering the swell of her breasts. His hands slid up to caress them and she moaned at the contact.

Looking directly into his eyes, Hermione lifted slightly and brought her hands up behind her undoing the clasp. Her bra fell away and she dropped it to the floor. The glow from the fire played across her nipples and Draco watched as they puckered deliciously just below his eager lips. He brought his fiery gaze up to meet hers for a moment before turning it back to her pert, heavy breast. He lowered his head and as his breath grazed her right nipple. She arched against him, pushing deliciously against his throbbing erection.

Bringing his lips down to finally taste her, his tongue slowly drew circles around her nipple before he slowly, teasingly sucked it into his mouth. His tongue played with it relentlessly within his mouth as he continued to suck on it. 'Oh, Merlin,' Hermione moaned deeply, her hands flying to rake her nails down his muscular back.

Her hips bucked against his and he ground down against her pushing himself against her core. Caught completely in the heat and emotion between them he brought his head away from her breast. He slid slowly down her body and began to unfasten her trousers. He looked up briefly to make sure this was all right and she smiled shyly at him. He smiled back and then proceeded to pull her underwear and pants down in one slow agonizing journey.

When he had divested her of her shoes and the rest of her clothing, he looked down at her naked form below him and wondered at the twist of fate that had brought such a creature to him. His hand slid slowly up her leg reaching her inner thigh before hesitantly brushing up against her heat. Draco let out a gasp at how wet she was and he dragged his finger across her slit. She moaned and he could restrain himself no longer.

He lowered his head and tentatively reached out his tongue. He slowly imitated his previous actions with her nipple, on her clit. She writhed against him and he hooked his arms under her knees, bringing her legs up over his shoulders. He licked slowly further down and thought the musky scent of her would drive him insane.

Humming softly as he feasted on her, his tongue plunged into her depths, his nose rubbing against her clit and he felt her thighs clamp tightly around his head. He opened his mouth wide and allowed his tongue to swipe hungrily from her anus all the way up to her pulsing bud and then back down again. At her frantic moans he brought his mouth hungrily back to her centre before biting softly against her clit. She bucked against him and he felt her juices flow across his chin.

He brought his hand up and as he sucked her clit into his mouth, he slid two fingers into her centre. He wanted her to enjoy this. If this was the only night he would get with her, then he was going to show her what she meant to him.

Hermione screamed at the sensation and felt she was about to explode from his ministrations. 'Stop! STOP!' she gasped out. 'I want you inside me when I cum,' she shyly said. He saw her blush and look away and he felt such a surge of protectiveness over her sweep up in him. He nodded and released her legs. She sat up and pushed him back against the couch. She stood and knelt in front of him, releasing his belt and coaxing his pants and boxers off of him.

He sat there, his erection standing proudly between them. He watched as she leant forward and ran the tip of her tongue around the pulsing head of his cock. His head fell back and his hand found its way into her wild hair as she took him fully into her mouth. She slowly sucked up and down his length. When she reached the tip again she released his head with a pop. He watched as she licked her lips and stared deeply into his eyes.

She stood and threw her legs on either side of him. She brought his head up to hers and placed a sensual kiss on his lips. They both tasted themselves on each other and could not break eye contact. He thought he would burst from the anticipation, but as she slowly lowered herself onto him he knew this witch would be the death of him.

She slid slowly down him and finally he was sheathed completely within her. She rested her forehead on his and breathed deeply, trying to steady herself. 'My god, Draco,' she gasped out.

'Hermione, I have to warn you. It has been a very long time, so if you keep teasing me like this, this is not going to last very long,' Draco admitted, while fighting back the surge of pleasure that rose in him as she rocked slowly against him.

'It's been forever for me as well, so we'll chalk this one up to time. Next time, we make the most of it,' she managed to get out, her body picking up speed without her having to direct it.

Draco froze at her words and placed his hands firmly on her hips, stilling her delicious movements. 'Next time?' he asked, hope flooding his gaze.

She looked down on him then and brought her hand to caress his cheek. She saw the pain and uncertainty in his eyes coupled with a burning hope. 'For you, there will always be a next time. This,' and she gestured between them, 'this would never be enough. Besides I don't do one night stands. So unless you feel otherwise, you are stuck with me.'

She watched as a huge grin spread across his face, his eyes lighting up as though he got exactly what he had asked for for Christmas. 'I think I can handle being stuck with you, Hermione Granger,' he whispered to her before capturing her mouth in a crushing kiss. He turned and flipped them so that he was once more lying on top of her. He pulled away from her lips and stared deeply into her eyes as he began to slide in and out of her at a faster pace.

As the pressure began to build within her each time he slid into her, her eyes began to flutter closed. 'No!' he whispered urgently to her. 'Keep them open.'

They moved against and with each other. He increased the pace and angled his body so that his pelvic bone brushed against her clit each time his slid into her again. Her cries grew louder and he felt himself on the edge. Suddenly he felt her internal muscles spasm tightly against him. He watched her eyes widen and her pupils dilate as her mouth opened in a silent scream. He watched her and felt her cum around him. He had never seen such an arousing sight in his life. As her orgasm swept over her he felt himself growing closer as her tight pussy pulsed around his cock. As she was coming down she sighed and her eyes met his with a smile.

Not being able to hold on any longer, Draco let himself go. He stiffened and buried himself deep within her warm heat as he threw his head back in orgasm.

He allowed himself a moment to gather his thoughts, and his breath before he let his head fall onto her soft breast. She reached up and drew her fingers lazily through his sweaty locks. Once he had returned back to earth, he felt a chuckle rising within him and he let it out laughing against her breast.

She looked down at his quizzically and asked, 'What could you possibly be laughing about?'

He lifted his head and looked into her eyes. He cleared his throat and through his laughter said, 'This is so not how I expected this reunion to go.'

She laughed softly with him and allowed her fingers to reach up and caress the keys hanging down between them. 'Well, my keeper of the keys, where do we go from here?' she asked, her face full of peace and her body sated in a way it had not been in a very long time.

'Wherever you want, Hermione. You most definitely have me under your spell. You little witch,' he said to her, a twinkle in his eye.

She lifted her head to kiss him when a sudden banging on the door made them both freeze. They turned their heads to regard the portrait and Hermione sighed in frustration. 'Every fricken time!' she mumbled before rising up and grabbing the blanket on the back of the couch. She draped it loosely in front of her and threw him a cushion to cover up with. She walked to the door and proudly threw it open.

Draco groaned. As luck would have it, there stood the same three stooges just as they had earlier. Only this time, there was no mistaking the scene before them. Hermione, looking tussled and rumpled, her hair flying everywhere, the blanket hanging obscenely from her, barely covering what needed to be covered; and Draco sitting up on the couch behind her, naked except for a cushion, strategically placed.

'So. Hermione,' Blaise sing-songed, 'enjoying the reunion?' He had a look of pure evil on his face, while Harry seemed to be smiling in silent approval. Surely that couldn't be right. Even Ron seemed to be attempting to fight a smirk. Perhaps Draco had died and this was hell, or maybe he was currently dreaming.

'I was till you three interrupted. Now if you will excuse me, I have important things to get back to. We will see you at breakfast in the morning.' And with that she slammed the door shut. For several long, silent moments afterwards, Draco and Hermione stared at each other. Suddenly laughter from outside broke through the silence and Draco couldn't believe he was hearing it. Blaise's laugh was prominent, but so too were Harry and Ron's!

'We can hear you!' Hermione shouted to the wall.

'Sorry!' came three voices before they heard the laughter gradually dissipate as they left the hallway.

'Well, bed?' Hermione asked, her eyebrow cocked and a mischievous look on her face.

'I had no idea that by next time you meant right away!' Draco said, enthusiastically jumping up and scooping her in his arms as he made his way towards the stairs.

Epilogue: These Feelings Won't Go Away

He sucked in the cold air, feeling it burn in his lungs. Closing his eyes he allowed the cold winter sun to wash over him. If he were asked to pinpoint one moment in his sad short existence that ranked as the happiest he had ever felt, this one moment in time would be it. He stood once more on top of the tower staring down onto Hogwart's grounds. A group of adults were this time leaving the castle.

He had managed to say goodbye to Blaise with minimal teasing and torture and was looking forward to getting back to his classes on Monday. He watched as the stream of alumni made there way to the carriages. Most of them could see the drivers of them now. A sad truth about his generation.

But before his mind could slip into the familiar world of self-doubt and depression, a pair of arms snaked their way around his chest. He smiled and turned in her arms to kiss her sweet, sweet mouth.

'You are going to miss your ride?' Draco mumbled against her lips.

'I know,' she said. Her eyes met his and he was blown away by the utter joy he found there. It still had not sunk in that that joy was because of him. He brought his hands up to cradle her face and kissed her once more. 'I thought, well seeing as I only just found you – well I thought I would maybe keep you to myself for one more night before returning to the real world.'

Draco smiled down at her and nodded agreement. 'Just as long as we are still on for dinner Wednesday,' Draco stated.

Hermione shook her head in amusement. 'I told you, you are stuck with me. You may be the big, bad keeper of the three keys, but more importantly you are the keeper of my heart. So tough!' she said firmly, sticking her tongue out at him.

Draco laughed lightly before gathering him to her side and turning to once more watch his former classmates leave. 'It was an interesting weekend,' he whispered to the air around them.

Hermione watched his expression from the corner of her eye. Satisfied that he as not slipping into feeling sorry for himself, she snuggled closer to his warmth and watched her friends leave. 'It was good to come back here after all this time. It was nice to have some good new memories to wash away the old painful ones,' she sad softly.

'Maybe you're right, Hermione. Maybe people can change after all this time,' Draco said, his arm squeezing her closer.

Hermione let the cool breeze wash over them and thought about the future for the first time in a long while. Both had lived so long in the past, but had finally found something to live for in the present. She would gladly fall away with him any time.

_______________________________ END_________________________

AH What do you think??? I know you said no angst, and no Ron, but I tried to keep both down. As for the keys…well I changed that around a bit, but I hope it worked.

Pen name and Group Username:Lorett - always Lorett...Pairing 1:Draco / Hermione
Reunion - idealReading Ratings:Anything and everything baby...I PREFER, naturally,
M - YIPPEE FOR SMUTTY, SMUT SMUT!What do you want in your fic?: I want romance...lots of romance and hot, steamy
lurvvee making. How's that for brief?One specific item that MUST be included!:Keys. Three of them - The key to my heart. The key
to my soul. AND, the key to my classroom... This
doesn't have to come from the main pairing...be
creative and surprise me. What don't you want in your fic? Not too much angst. Every love story needs an eensie
touch though to make it romantic-like. Not too much fluff either, thank you. NO rape, no child abuse. Nothing too dark, please.
And, let's keep everyone who starts out alive, ending out alive in the main pairings, if you'd be so kind. And, God, please - not too much Ron, if you don't mind.

WELL THAT IS WHAT SHE ASKED FOR! Happy to be back in the world of fanfic folks. Look for an update to 'A Reason' in the next few weeks. I have NOT abandoned it!

Love, Ally