Looking Out For Granger

Author's Note: I do not own Harry Potter and Draco is a bit OOC.

"What do you mean she's leaving?" Draco Malfoy demanded. Crabbe and Goyle looked to each other for the right words but of course, came up with nothing. The only thing to do would be to tell him the truth.

"Well," Crabbe began, "Her parents say that the magic world is too dangerous for her or something like that. When we were spying on her and Potter and Weasley, she said that she's planning on leaving tomorrow. They have enrolled her in a private school back home."

"Yeah and she's miserable about it," Goyle laughed induitously, "She was practically crying when she told those worms she hangs out with."

Draco wet his lips thoughtfully, turning away from his two friends, if they could even be categorized as friends. All they had done since Draco first arrived at Hogwarts was follow him around like shadows or gargoyles. They never left him alone and were constantly gushing over how "cool" it was to be friends with a Malfoy.

Draco rested an arm across the mantel of the fireplace and stared into the fire. So the mudblood was finally leaving; that would make his father happy. He thought that that Hogwarts had gone downhill since she was admitted. Draco supposed he should be happy about it too. Granger was nothing but a self-righteous pain in the arse. She even bloodied his nose a few years back and Draco was sure he'd never forgive her for that.

"Well I think it's about time," Draco scoffed into the fire, but couldn't write off the sinking feeling in his heart, or whatever the thing in his chest was because Draco doubted he had such a thing as a heart.

Crabbe and Goyle agreed with his statement and spent the rest of the evening making jokes and "celebrating" her leaving. Draco excused himself and was planning on making his way to the dining hall, really, but the sound of sobbing stopped him.

He knew he should just ignore it but it was rather annoying and he stormed over to the stairwell to shut the person up. When he reached the source of the sobbing, he was surprised to see Granger, her head in her hands, sobbing loudly and annoyingly.

"Granger?"

Hermione looked up and Draco was a bit taken back at the redness of her eyes, tearstained cheeks, and dripping nose.

"You look disgusting," he shuttered, earning himself a glare from the clearly heartbroken girl.

"And you look like a pompous ferret," Hermione bit back, "What do you want, Malfoy?"

"I was going to go get a bite to eat before I was so rudely interrupted by your incessant crying! Jeeze, I mean if you're going to sob so much, do it behind closed doors where no one will have to see or hear you. I swear, Granger, I'm going to have nightmares about that face now."

Hermione wiped her eyes and nose, glaring daggers into the annoying Slytherin, "Look, Malfoy, I am really not in the mood and I am sorry that I so rudely interrupted you but I am asking you to please, please go away."

Draco frowned, walking closer to her, and asked, "So is it true?"

"Is what true?"

"Are you really leaving?" Draco asked, his voice taking on a serious note that Hermione was not familiar hearing.

"Why? So you can just run about celebrating?"

"Just curious," Draco shrugged, "I mean, I've known you since first year and it would just be considerate of you if you would kindly inform me when you decide to run around making a bloody fool of yourself."

"What are you talking about?" Hermione asked, her voice losing the bite it once held.

"I mean, I just thought you'd let me know when you're planning to make the biggest mistake of your life. So it's true then, you really are leaving?"

"Yes," she nodded, "I am leaving."

"You are such a bloody moron!"

"Excuse me?"

"You're leaving and I think you're being an idiot."

"And here I thought you'd be so happy to hear that I'll be out of your hair forever."

"Not quite. Without you here, who is going to challenge me in school, huh? And I can't make mudblood jokes to Weasley and Potter. Without you here, I'll be bored."

"Really?" Hermione asked, a smile forming around her face, "You're going to miss me!"

"Now I didn't say that!" Draco objected.

"Uh-huh," Hermione grinned, "You will totally miss me!"

"Granger, I have got a wand and I am not afraid to curse you!" Draco threatened, "So why are you leaving?"

"My parents say that the magic world is too dangerous – especially with the Dark Magic getting more and more powerful. They worry about me being muggle-born and they fear that my life is in danger. Technically, I am leaving because of you."

"Me?"

"Yes. I see the way you hold your arm and I see the way it pains you. You are a Death Eater now and one of them. Voldemort wants the muggle-world destroyed and as a Death Eater, you must take part in that. You will be killing my family, my friends, and me if you carry out Voldemort's wishes."

Draco's face flushed, "I-I've never thought of it that way."

"I have. Ever since you got that Dark Mark, I've thought about it. Draco, you are not a killer, despite what you want everyone to believe. Look me in the eye and tell me that you have the ability and the hate to kill me right this second. I dare you!"

Draco glared at Hermione and suddenly all the memories came flooding back – when they first met, when he first called her a mudblood, when Weasley's curse backfired, when he shoved her in the hallways, when she punched him in the nose, when he made fun of her and Weasley…he couldn't do it. He couldn't kill her.

"I…I can't."

"I know," Hermione smiled, nodding knowingly.

"Granger…I don't always like you but I have never hated you and I could never kill you. Also, I-I don't want you to leave. Hogwarts will be so boring without you. I guess I could always make fun of Longbotton but it's just not as fun as making fun of you," Draco smirked and Hermione couldn't help but smile.

"I just can't, Draco."

"What if I could make sure you were safe?"

"How would you do that?"

"My father is pretty powerful, Granger. If I asked him to do this, he would. All I'd have to say is ask the Dark Lord to not harm anyone at Hogwarts, with an exception for Harry but face it, the kid beat him when he was two, he can do it again."

"Thank you, Draco. That means a lot."

"Yeah well don't let it get around," Draco sat down on the step next to her, "And I am sorry for being mean to you."

"I never thought I'd hear an apology coming from you."

"Well, I'm unpredictable. I love making fun of you and your pathetic little friends but I have been pretty cruel. I'll tone it down a bit."

"Thank you."

"Sure. Now get your stupid muggle arse up off this step and go eat something. I'll talk to my father when he comes and visits tomorrow."

Hermione rolled her eyes, "Forever the pompous ferret."

"Forever the stupid muggle."

"Not mudblood?"

Draco considered it for a moment before deciding, "No, not mudblood."

"I think I can tolerate stupid muggle."

"And I think I can tolerate pompous ferret."

"How about foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach?" Hermione asked.

"That's pushing it but I'll live. Just don't punch me in the nose again."

"Sorry about that," Hermione blushed.

"Yeah well I probably deserved it. And this is Hogwarts, Granger, you're going to be safe here. Don't doubt it for a second."

"How can you be so sure?"

"Because," Draco sighed, "Are you going to really make me say it?"

"Yes," Hermione urged.

"Fine. Because…as long as I'm here, I won't let you get yourself hurt, alright?"

"That's sweet of you, thanks."

"Ew," Draco shuttered, "Never, ever call me sweet," Draco stood up and offered her a hand, helping her up off her step.

"Sweet, sweet, sweet, sweet," Hermione giggled.

"I might not kill you, Granger, but I am not afraid to curse you," Draco threatened as they made their way to the dining hall together. Once inside, Hermione nodded a silent goodbye to Draco before hurrying over to Harry and Ron.

"Guess what!"

"What?" They asked.

"I'm not leaving! Tomorrow I will talk to my parents and let them know that Hogwarts is the safest place for me. Besides, I've got some pretty great people looking out for me."

"Sure you do!" Ron grinned.

As the trio laughed and talked, they didn't even notice the boy sitting a few tables over, his own version of something close to a smile upon his face. He couldn't explain why, but for the first time in a long time, he felt truly…happy. Damn Granger, he thought, the first person in a long time to make me feel this way and it's mud…stupid Granger! But he was too busy enjoying watching her smile with her friends, to truly be angry with her.