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They didn't need to be friends.
They didn't need to study together, walk to classes together, enjoy meals together.
Sometimes, all they needed was someone to chase away the bad thoughts, the nightmares that result from living through war and seeing those closest to you have their lives snuffed out in a flash of bright green light.
It had started while they were in school, sharing the Heads' dormitory. It had been easier to slip under Hermoine Granger's covers back then, back when there was little to separate them. Hogwarts had brought Draco Malfoy and Hermoine Granger together, and graduation tore them apart. The great Malfoy heir returned to the now empty Malfoy Manor, while the greatest witch of their time set up residence in a cheap studio apartment in muggle London.
Night after night, the too big, too empty mansion felt like it was closing in on the young Slytherin. Night after night, he'd clutch the pillow next to him, thinking, hoping, praying that the image of her would pop into his head, or better yet it would turn into her. It never did. He knew it wouldn't. There were nights that he sat up, staring into darkness, debating whether or not to visit her. Hermoine had probably forgotten all about those nights spent peacefully sleeping his his arms, her hair tickling his nose as he breathed in deep the smell of peach shampoo.
On one of Draco's sleepless nights, during a thunderstorm, he heard a terrible pounding on the wooden door of the manor. The clock read 3:27 am. "Who would be banging on a door during a storm at that hour?" Draco queried to no one at all. He pushed the red silk sheets away from his half-clothed form and padded from his room to the door. He opened the door to see a rain-soaked brunette shivering as she pulled a black parka closer to her body.
"May I come in?" she asked through chattering teeth. Draco stood, staring at the figure before him. She'd come, he hadn't dreamed this. Hermoine stood on his doorstep, asking for entrance.
"What are you doing here?" he wondered, mentally kicking himself for asking such a stupid question.
Hermoine huffed. "Currently? I'm catching my death," she sassed. "Please may I come in?" Malfoy could hear the twinge of annoyance filtered through her refined voice. He felt the corners of his lips pull into a familiar smirk, one that he seemed to reserve only for her.
"Wouldn't want that now, would we." He opened the door a little wider, granting her access. "Try not to get the marble too wet," he added, a hint of the old Malfoy again returning. Hermoine's frustration grew with each utterance he made, Draco was sure of it. Still it had been a while since he'd been able to tease her as he'd done for seven years. With a flick of his wrist a fire ignited in the foyer's fireplace. An audible sigh escaped the young witch's lips.
Hermoine stood in front of the flames, allowing them to warm her chilled body. Occasionally she had to remind herself not to glance up at the portrait of the wizarding family who once occupied the house. Memories of Lucius Malfoy's taunting "mudblood" nickname and Bellatrix Lestrange's torture filtered through her mind. She twirled around so her back was to the fire and the painting, her brown eyes falling on Malfoy's form leaning against the staircase.
"So why did you come here?" he asked again, none of the previous snark in his tone.
With a sigh and a shoulder shrug, Hermoine told him, "Couldn't sleep."
"Couldn't sleep?" he reiterated.
"You know how I hate thunderstorms."
Her patience was wearing thin. "Malfoy."
"Draco," he corrected her.
"Fine, Draco," she restated, the same tone of annoyance in her voice. He watched as she wrapped her arms around her thin frame, looking for warmth.
"Cold?" he asked the obvious question.
"A bit," she conceded. Draco closed the distance between himself and the Gryffindor, wrapped an arm around her shoulders, and led the way to his room. And Hermoine allowed him to direct her to his bed.
"We should get you out of those wet clothes," he murmured suggestively against her ear, warm breath tickling it.
Hermoine shrugged her shoulder to dislodge his arm. "Don't be crass, Draco," she chided, as she slid the wet coat off. Draco handed her pajama top was that came past her knees. His eyes scanned up and down her lithe figure, admiring the way his black top looked on her. Hermoine crawled into bed next to him, noticing the soft red of the sheets. "What's with the Gryffindor colors?" she inquired. "Wishing you'd been one of us?"
She felt his shoulder lift under the weight of her head. "Just tired of green, I guess," came his mumbled reply.
Draco's arms tightened around her as his breathing slowed down. Hermoine smiled, nuzzling into the crook of his neck, knowing that this was the first night in a long time that he'd slept. She hadn't quite known what drew her to the manor that night. Maybe it was an underlying fear of thunderstorms, or maybe she realized it had been three weeks and two days since the last good night's sleep she'd had. She would be gone before he awoke, of that they were both sure. They wouldn't have tea or read the morning paper or discuss their weekend plans.
Draco and Hermoine didn't need to be friends.
They didn't need that label.
Sometimes they only needed each other.