AN: Sorry once again for the long wait!! And to a rude commenter who disables PMing, I could care less what you think. Anyway, I'm still re-editing the rest of the chapters but I wanted to get the start up tonight. Thank you all so much!
Chapter 1: A Chance Meeting
There she was again, beautiful as always in her uniform robes, walking up to him on the platform for the Hogwarts Express. He hugged her tightly and then kissed her on the cheek. He took a step back to introduce her properly to his parents, but he saw the scowls on their faces and instantly knew that they would never accept her. Disheartened, Draco would attempt to tell his parents every reason he loved this girl, but the dream would begin to fade away before he could ever begin…
Slowly waking up, Draco realized this would be another sleepless night. He decided to patrol the castle, hoping the empty corridors could clear his thoughts. He quickly threw some clothes on and grabbed his wand and his prefect badge as he headed out of his room.
Walking around the dungeons at night always calmed Draco. Most people probably believed it was the coldness of the stones that made him happy since his heart was void of any warmth, but that was just nonsense told to the first years to keep them out of his way. Draco was truly a caring person, but because of the pure wizard's blood flowing in his veins, he was forced to put on a façade of superiority and indifference. This cost him many chances at having a compassionate side and made him somewhat bitter towards the young, happy couples that Hogwart's seemed to be a breeding ground for.
But tonight Draco was having a hard time enjoying his walk, as he wondered why he kept having that same dream, when he heard footsteps ahead of him. It must have been around 3 in the morning, but nonetheless he decided to wait and see who it was before trying to catch anyone out of bed.
Hermione Granger was having one of the worst nights ever. She had a paper to write for Defense Against the Dark Arts, a chart to fill out for Ancient Runes, and she still had to find two of her ingredients for potions the next day. Normally, all of this work would be no problem for Hermione, but with the added stress of a dimwitted boyfriend, her homework had been horribly neglected. She was now staring at a stack of things to do and little time to complete it all.
"It's ok Hermione, you'll get through this," she told herself, trying to breathe calmly. "Maybe I'll just take a walk for a bit to ease my mind and get back to all of this later." Of course the common room was empty since it was 2-something in the morning, and she was talking aloud to herself, but she didn't care. That is simply Hermione. So she tidied up her stack and headed out of the portrait that hid the entrance to the Gryffindor common room.
Hermione wasn't very keen on staying up so late, which made her think of why she was up in the first place: Ronald Weasley. They had started dating at the beginning of fifth year, when Hermione tricked that slut Lavender Brown into taking a potion that would give her severe acne that even Madam Pomfrey couldn't cure. With her only rival out of the way, getting Ron to finally notice her was no problem. It was only afterward that she realized they were absolutely terrible together; it was always constant bickering or constant snogging. Hermione was wondering why she had even gone to the trouble to date him in the first place; he was clearly just Harry's sidekick and nowhere near useful in any way she could think of.
The more Hermione tried to think about it, the less promise she could find in Ron's future. There was an occasional time when he could prove useful, like wasting some free time between classes with snogging, but other than those fleeting times, Hermione was drawing a blank. She and Ronald had never done anything further than that because she had wanted to wait until it felt right, and it was dawning on her that the time would never come for him. With no possible future in sight, she decided it would be best to break up with him in the morning.
It was at this epiphany that Hermione stopped herself from walking straight into a gargoyle. Only inches away from the statue's ugly face, Hermione began to realize that she had no idea where she was. The Hogwarts castle was a wonderful place with many nooks and hidden staircases that all held their share of secrets. A place this wonderful truly amazed Hermione and she knew she would never tire of such a place, unlike her soon to be ex-boyfriend.
Feeling much better about her situation, Hermione began to take in her surroundings and noticed she had wandered into the dungeons. Oh well, it wouldn't take her long to get back to the common room and get to work. She headed off in what she thought was the right direction, with a bounce in her step. As she came up to an intersection, a figure suddenly jumped out to block her path.
"And what brings you down here so late, Granger?" Malfoy asked of Hermione, sounding a bit too anxious.
"I could ask the same of you, Malfoy," Hermione sneered back. She noticed he looked like he hadn't slept in a long time, but didn't give it a second thought.
"I'm a prefect, just like you, remember?" Malfoy almost laughed, pointing at his badge. "I was just up patrolling around when I heard you walking by."
"Well, I'm sorry to have bothered you and I'm sure you're disappointed that you aren't giving a detention tonight. I'll just get back to my common room," answered Hermione and she started to walk in the direction she had been heading.
"Alright, but if you keep heading that way you'll just come to a dead end," Draco called after her. After she stopped, he added "Let me at least show you to the Grand Staircase."
"That's too nice of you, Malfoy," Hermione answered warily as she turned back to look at him. "Are you sure this isn't a trick? You're not going to lead me to a trap door or anything?" she said quickly, looking slightly perplexed.
"Granger, it's after 3 in the morning, why would I want to do that?" he asked impatiently. "Think logically, if I were trying to trick you, it would be at a time when I wasn't so tired and would be able to take pleasure in it."
Hermione had to accept that he made a good point. "I suppose I'll follow you then," she said, still uneasy of the sudden gesture of kindness Malfoy was showing. She was feeling much better about running into him, however and was starting to think he might not be as terrible as she had initially thought.
"This way then," Draco said as he started back the way he came. He started off so fast that she had to run a few paces to catch up. Draco tried to hide the smirk that came across his face, but it just wouldn't die down.
As they wound around the corridors, Hermione really began wondering how she got down there. "Where exactly are we?" she asked a little timidly, afraid that Draco's kindness might run out. This just made his smirk even bigger.
"I have no idea how you got here, but we're almost under the lake. It's a surprise that you could have gotten so lost on your own," he replied with a slight laugh. "What made you come down here anyway, another fight with the Weasel?"
"Ron is not a weasel!" Hermione stopped walking and yelled at him. "And that's not why I came down here, anyway," she added timidly and turned to look at the wall.
"Oh, seems like I touched a nerve," Draco laughed as he stopped and turned to face her, full arrogant Slytherin in play.
"Well I'm glad it's so funny for you, but for your information I won't be seeing Ron anymore," Hermione declared pointedly to a painting of Salazar Slytherin. She knew that looking at Draco's mocking face right now would be too hard for her to handle.
"Wait," Draco laughed and took a step forward, "did you just say you're breaking up with the weasel?"
"For the second time, he is not a weasel" was her cool reply. "But yes, I did say that I am breaking up with him."
"This is almost too good to be true!" Draco couldn't stop from bursting out. "The dream trio is falling apart. Maybe now it will be less annoying around here."
Hermione had heard enough from Draco. "Thank you for your help, but I think I'll find my own way back," she said and started to take off, but when she got next to him he grabbed her arm and held her there. "Malfoy, let go of me!" she screamed as she struggled to get her arm free.
His grip was tight on her bicep, but he was hardly aware that he was hurting her. "Hermione, you deserve much better than that weasel," he started. "You should be treated like a princess, not any ordinary girl. Don't let anyone let you think less of yourself." At this he let her go and she stared at him for a few moments, trying to figure out exactly what his intentions were.
"Th-thank you, Malfoy," was all she could respond with, and she started to rub the sore spot on her arm where he had been holding her.
"Yeah, let's just hurry so I can get back to sleep," he said, trying to brush off the intense kindness he had just shown her. He did not want to ruin his reputation in the school, but he also wanted her to think well of him. It was probably all ruined by now anyway, but he needed to at least feel like he could salvage his reputation and let her know he was a kind person.
She nodded and they began walking in silence again, Draco a little in front. After a few minutes, Hermione began recognizing her surroundings, and after one more turn and a short flight of stairs, they were at the bottom of the Grand Staircase.
"Thank you again, Malfoy," Hermione said as she took a few timid steps towards the stairs.
"It's not a big deal, don't worry about it," was his response, but he did not want to see her go so soon.
"I guess I'll see you around then," she said. "Good night," she added instinctively. She did not know if her tiding would go well, and in a semi shock she waited for him to yell at her.
"Yeah, good night," he said, and headed back down the stairs.
After this incident, he knew he would never sleep again.
Chapter 2: Stress and Drama
The Great Hall the next morning was a spectacle to behold. Anyone walking through the large double-doors, or just passing through the Entrance Hall for that matter, was immediately drawn to the scene taking place at the Gryffindor table, where Ron and Hermione were in the middle of an intense fight.
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN I'M GOOD FOR NOTHING?"
"I MEAN THAT YOU'RE NOT GOING ANYWHERE IN YOUR LIFE, RON. THE ONLY THING YOU CAN DO WELL IS TAG ALONG WITH HARRY! EVERYTHING ELSE YOU DO ENDS UP IN SHAMBLES!"
"I CANNOT BELIEVE YOU, HERMIONE. THIS IS THE KIND OF BULLOCKS I WOULD EXPECT FROM ANY SLYTHERIN, NOT FROM YOU!"
"WELL MAYBE IF YOU HAD ANY BRAINS IN THAT THICK SKULL OF YOURS, YOU WOULD KNOW ME BETTER! HONESTLY," and by this point, Hermione was getting tired of shouting, "all you do is spend time with that stupid Wizard's Chess or with Quidditch practice. You never do any of your own work anymore, and you've never done anything remotely sweet or romantic for me. If I didn't know any better, I would say you just wanted me to get tired of you; maybe you were even counting down the days until I did. Now, if you don't mind, I have to get to Ancient Runes ahead of time to try and finish up the work I couldn't do last night!"
At this, Hermione quickly grabbed her forgotten bag from the floor next to her and took off to the Entrance Hall without a backward glance. It was just her luck that she ran straight into a hard-bodied male right on the other side.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," she began, until she had time to look up and see exactly who she had run into. When she finally did recognize Draco, she scoffed and added, "I don't have time for any bickering right now, sorry to disappoint."
Draco was not completely unaware of all the shouting coming from the Great Hall as he had approached it, and he really didn't want her to get away without a little bit of teasing.
"So, you went all out with the theatrics, did you? Couldn't just let the weasel back out into the wilderness, I'm slightly impressed, Granger," Draco laughed as he saw her reaction, a mixture of anger and pure hatred with just a touch of shock.
"For your information, Malfoy, I calmly told Ronald that I thought we would be better as just friends. He's the one who exploded and started the screaming match. And why would you care anyhow, it's not like this concerns you!" she defended looking slightly accosted.
"No, it doesn't concern me directly," Draco said, looking as if he was thinking pretty hard, "but seeing as this will be the only thing anyone will talk about for at least a week, I could stay ahead on my gossip by hearing it straight from the source. If you don't feel up to it though, I could just go eat and hear it from the rest of the school. Thanks for the entertainment, Granger," he finished with a genuine smile. He knew he had sufficiently pissed her off, so he headed into the Great Hall leaving Hermione alone with her thoughts.
Hermione was in such a state of shock that she almost forgot about her plans to get to class early. After a few seconds of staring at Draco's retreating back, she suddenly remembered her unfinished homework and rushed off into the castle.
Hours had passed since the fiasco that morning, but Hermione still could not believe it was all true. A life with no Ron, well, with Ron a less important part of her life, they were still both great friends with Harry after all. She had made sure to find Harry in between classes to talk to him about the situation, but he agreed with her and was happy for her liberation. Harry had been such a great friend for her that day, and promised to help her keep the awkwardness at bay.
It was mid-afternoon and Hermione had the uncommon free period, so she headed to her favorite place to relax and catch up on some of her work, the Library. After settling in at one of the back tables, Hermione felt all of the pressure of the day crash down on her. She started sobbing quietly, trying not to disturb anyone around her and, more importantly, not let anyone see her breakdown. It felt good to be letting it all out, and she felt immense amounts of anxiety melting away the longer she sat there.
Just as she was beginning to feel calm enough to do some work, Hermione heard a familiar voice from behind her say, "Well well, the waterworks had to start eventually, didn't they?"
Hermione turned around and was surprised to see Draco leaning against a bookshelf behind her and to a side. "I'm amazed to see you here, Malfoy. Do you even know what this big room filled with books is called?" she chided back, wiping away the last of her pesky tears.
"Very funny, but I'll have you know that the library in my house is at least twice the size of this one, Mudblood." He knew his words had stung her when he looked into her eyes, but he quickly looked away so she wouldn't have to see the pain he caused.
Giving up, Hermione asked in a defeated voice, "What do you want from me, Malfoy? Was this morning's display not entertaining enough for you? I'm sure we could go reenact it for you if you want to see it firsthand."
"That's not what I want," Draco stated almost too quickly. He had a feeling this conversation was leading him somewhere he didn't want to go, but he had to get something off his chest. He sighed and said, "Look, I meant what I said last night. You deserve better than that muggle-loving, disgrace of a pureblood. I only hope you find someone who isn't so completely repulsing next time."
"What do you care about who I date?" was all she could think of to reply with. And thoughts finally catching up with her, she added, "It's not like it's a supreme delight to see you snogging Pansy Parkinson every time I turn a corner. I bet you couldn't keep the PDA to a minimum if you tried."
"Yeah, is that what you think, Granger? I guess that puts some things in perspective then, like why no one ever saw anything more than a hug between you and Ron. But I guess that's just because you're such a prude."
"A prude!" she whispered loudly, remembering where they were and looking around for eavesdroppers. "Just because I never flaunted my relationship to the entire school does not make me a prude!"
"No, you've never flaunted anything," Draco said, "except for that night of the Yule Ball." Draco laughed again remembering. "If my memory serves me right, you did look quite stunning in that dress. But I guess the world will never see anything like that again, now that your only suitor has been released of his post." He didn't know what it was about the rage seeping through her eyes, but it enticed him all the more.
Hermione was too livid to formulate any of her thoughts into a sentence, but she didn't need to. Madame Pince was heading their direction and Draco quickly said, "Guess I'll be seeing you around then," before ducking behind some shelves, leaving Hermione alone to apologize to the librarian.
Slipping into the nearest empty classroom he could find, Draco slammed the door shut and threw himself into the closest desk and lay his head down. He had known that he had feelings for Hermione for quite a while. They had actually started around the time she punched him in their third year, as he found a new kind of respect for her then. What shocked him were all these encounters with her within the last twenty-four hours.
Finding her in the library crying about the Weaselby nearly tore him apart. That idiot was all wrong for her and she knew it, yet she still felt strongly enough for him to cry over their breakup. What was wrong with her? And, for that matter, what was wrong with him for caring so much? His father would beat him senseless if he knew his son was seriously considering a relationship with a Mudblood, and for a long time, Draco had felt the same way. But these constantly repeating dreams he was having had to mean something, didn't they? Maybe the time and place would change, but the general gist of him introducing Hermione to his parents as his true love was always the same.
Or, he could just be reading way to into everything, and hoping for some kind of deeper connection. Either way, his head was really starting to hurt, and realizing it was almost time for dinner, he gathered up his belongings and left for his dormitory to clean up a bit.
On his way down, Draco had a brilliant idea that made the night ahead seem a million times better. He put some extra pep in his step and wished that dinner would go as he wanted.