A/N: Oneshot. Dramione obviously. Post Hogwarts. As usual with my stories, ignore HBP and DH, for in this oneshot they did not take place. Gah. Ook, well there's also Blaise-Hermione friendship. I really like Blaise :) Aha. Not as much as Draco... but you know. Enough rambling. Hope you enjoy this. It's been on my computer for ages, finished except for the ending. Aha. I've just been to lazy to finish it and upload it. But, here it is. You know the drill. Read, enjoy and review!
Disclaimer? Right. I, uh, do NOT own Harry Potter, the world, plot or characters. Unfortunately. Otherwise, I'd be rich :) However, JKR has done a spectacular job!
We Need You
Twenty-two year old Hermione Granger sighed, stepping into the cool, autumn air. It had been a painfully long day at the Ministry and she couldn't wait to get home to her small, cozy flat. A nice hot bath sounded nice.
Instead of apparating home, she decided to walk, for it wasn't a very long walk and the night air felt good on her flushed and weary body. Keeping her wand held loosely in her hand – it was strictly habitual, the war being long over and all – she headed the twenty minute walk home.
She thought of the relief of entering her apartment, hearing Crookshanks' soft meow, and a luxurious bubble bath as she walked.
Her job as Head of the Department for Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures could sometimes be very stressful. She had to speak with different Ministers of Magic from all over the world, discussing new laws, and restrictions regarding creatures such as centaurs, or house-elves. Today, she had visited the Minister for the France ministry, regarding the laws against werewolves participating in society. This was the same law she'd been working on getting removed since she started in the Department four years ago. And yet, there was still no luck with it.
Heaving another sigh, she finished another block. Fifteen more minutes until she could have that relaxing bath.
"Evening Granger," a voice said as a cloaked figure stepped in front of her. She gasped, raising her wand immediately.
The voice wasn't familiar, but the lazy drawl was. "Who are you?"
"Ah, that's right, you don't really know me. We went to school together, but we never actually spoke," the figure said as he stepped forward, closer to her, and pulled his hood down. Hermione frowned. The man seemed vaguely familiar to her, with dark skin, high cheekbones, and slanted eyes. But she couldn't place him.
"Blaise Zabini," he said with a smirk. Ah, a Slytherin, she thought to herself as her grip on her wand tightened. "Surely, you remember me now?" He asked, noticing her white knuckles.
"What do you want?" Hermione demanded, narrowing her eyes in suspicion. He didn't have his wand out, but she wasn't about to let her guard down.
"Easy Granger," Blaise said casually. "I'm not here to fight with you."
"Well then, what do you want?" She repeated through gritted teeth.
"Your help," he said nonchalantly.
"My help? With what?" She asked, completely taken aback by the absurd request. He took a few steps closer to her.
"Y'see, my friend… he's in a bit of a mess. And I'd like you to help him," Blaise said, rather vaguely in Hermione's opinion.
"Gee, that tells me a lot; I'll certainly help you now," she said sarcastically, rolling her eyes.
Blaise took no notice of the sarcasm, as he stepped one last stride, and grabbed her arm in the same motion. Hermione gasped but had no time to pull away for she felt the familiar sense of side-along apparation, which she'd always hated.
As they reappeared in a new location, Hermione doubled over for a moment, gasping for air. "For God's sake, Zabini, what the hell…" She trailed off, realizing what had just happened. Lifting her head sharply, she took in the small, plain room. It had dark green walls and a table with a few chairs in it. There were no windows. Her brown eyes scanned the room, searching for an escape.
"Don't bother, Granger, you're not in any danger," Blaise said, seeing her wandering gaze.
"Bloody fucking hell, Zabini, what are you playing at? Granger? Why did you bring her… here?" Hermione froze in the process of lifting her wand; she knew that voice. Even though it had sounded weak at the end as the person drew his air in sharply, letting out a small cough, she knew. She knew exactly who the voice belonged to.
"Draco Malfoy," she hissed, glaring at Blaise. "That's who you wanted me to help?!" She didn't want to turn around; she couldn't.
"Sure, you recognize his voice," Blaise muttered dryly with another smirk. Hermione ignored him.
"Help? I don't need…" Draco coughed again. "I don't want her help, Blaise," he finished weakly.
"You need it mate, and you know you want it to be her," Blaise replied calmly.
Hermione took a deep breath and turned slowly, preparing herself for whatever she was about to see. However prepared she thought she was, it didn't ease the surprise at what she saw.
Draco Malfoy lay on a small cot, his arms clutching his stomach, a terrible grimace of pain on his face. He looked awful. There were blood covered tissues surrounding him, and blood on his lips. He was terribly pale, more so than normal, and his blonde hair fell limp around his face. There were deep shadows under his eyes. She gasped when he turned his eyes to meet hers. She was shocked at the pain she saw in the grey orbs.
"What happened to you?" She breathed out, horrified, forgetting who he was. She took a few steps closer to his bed unconsciously. Blaise smiled from behind her but didn't say anything.
"Blaise, take her away," Draco muttered, ignoring her question.
"You want her here, and you know she can help you," Blaise said firmly.
"I don't want her sodding help," Draco snapped and then lost the harshness in his face as his body convulsed in another coughing fit.
"His father cursed him," Blaise said to Hermione, ignoring Draco's glare.
"His father?" Hermione asked, unable to speak above a whisper. How could any father do this to his own son?
"We don't know what the curse is, which is why I've brought you here," Blaise continued. Hermione felt her face flush in sudden anger at his words.
"You know, you didn't have to force me here! If you had of explained what was wrong, I would have come willingly!" She exclaimed fiercely, glaring at the dark skinned man.
He shrugged. "Technically… you said, and I quote, 'I'll certainly help you now',"
"That was sarcasm, you dolt!" Hermione snapped, rolling her eyes.
He grinned innocently. "How was I to know that?"
"Idiot," Hermione muttered darkly. "I hate side-along apparation, just so you know. Anyway, what are his symptoms?" She asked, reverting to business like. She had practice in healing, as well as knowing loads about spells. She wasn't considered the brightest in her age for nothing.
Blaise lifted his shoulders again. "From what I can only assume, as he'll not tell me, he's coughing up blood, has a fever, a nasty temper – though that's not that unusual, and clutches his stomach often. Which I can only gather to mean it hurts,"
Hermione frowned. That's not very helpful. "Malfoy…" she trailed off, not knowing what to say. "Is there anything else?" She asked softly.
Draco turned his cold eyes on her, and then grimaced. "I…don't…want…help from a…mudblood," as he said the last word, his face contorted in pain and she saw him bite down on his lower lip to keep from crying out.
Had he not just had another spasm of pain, Hermione would have left without another word. As it was, she couldn't bring herself to turn her back on him when he was so obviously hurting; enemy or not. She still had to force herself to take a calming breath. He always manages to get under my skin, she thought bitterly.
"Blaise, were you there when the spell was cast?" Hermione asked, turning to the other man.
Blaise shook his head. "No, we don't know what spell it was, remember? I wasn't there, and Draco was already unconscious when his father hit him with it. Lucius left him in Malfoy Manor, and when Draco didn't show up at my house for our scheduled Quidditch game with some other mates… I went to look for him."
"So you brought him here," Hermione summed up thoughtfully. She bit her lip. "Why did you come to me, though? You're both intelligent enough to research the curse… and if Lucius Malfoy placed it upon him, then it's probably – probably Dark Magic."
Blaise just lifted an eyebrow at her. She sighed and added in an obvious tone, but shaky voice, "I don't know anything about Dark Magic!"
Draco scoffed. "Miss Know-it-all doesn't know everything after-all, does she?" He managed to snap mockingly.
"Well, I happen to have a very large library here in Zabini Manor that you're free to use for research," Blaise said, ignoring Draco's comment.
"Are you mad? I… I don't think I can help him. Do the research yourself; I don't have the time!" Hermione cried, wringing her hands nervously as she stared at Draco. She wanted to help him, if not because he was in pain than because she felt sorry for him. But she didn't want anything to do with Dark Magic. And she didn't want to learn anything about it!
Blaise stared at her hard. "You're going to admit to failure so readily, Granger? Without even trying? C'mon, that's not the bookworm I remember from Hogwarts. The very same girl who helped Harry Potter defeat the Dark Lord."
Hermione fidgeted nervously. She hated failing anything. But this was different. "I don't have the time," she whispered. "It could take… ages to find the right curse. And what if we don't have that much time? He could be dying!"
It was those last four words that convinced her. "Show me to the library," she said, taking another deep breath. Draco Malfoy or Harry Potter, he was hurt and quite possibly dying. She wouldn't walk away and live with that on her consciousness.
Blaise smiled. "I knew you'd come through,"
Draco groaned from his bed, but was unable to say anything. His eyes were half-closed and she knew he was close to unconsciousness.
"When was he hit with the curse?" She asked briskly, pacing the room slowly while worrying her lip.
"Two days ago," Blaise replied.
"How long was he left there before you found him?"
"I'm not exactly sure; he was supposed to be at my place by six o'clock. I figured he was just running late, but when eight o'clock rolled around, I went to look for him. Lucius could have hit him with the spell anytime before six…"
Hermione cursed lightly.
"We… got into the… fight right after lunch… it was around one, I… reckon," Draco murmured, surprising Hermione.
"So it could've been hours that you were left without treatment," she mused. "What've you done to help him?"
"I've done a scan with my wand to see if his lungs had been damaged – they weren't. All of his internal organs seem fine, which is why I haven't the foggiest what's wrong with him! I tried giving him a potion to stop the coughing, but it's done ruddy nothing!" She could hear the frustration in Blaise's voice.
"Okay," Hermione said, pulling out her own wand. She ran it over Draco's body, whispering the spell for scans that Healers used. Her wand remained a faint blue colour over his entire body. This meant that nothing was out of the ordinary with his body, just as Blaise said. "It could mean it's all in his head, just like with the Cruciatus curse,"
"But he's coughing up blood!" Blaise said frowning.
Hermione nodded. "It could still be a part of the mentality," she said. "Where's the library?"
Days passed, Hermione called in sick to work and devoted all her time to helping Draco. She spent most of her time in the library, pouring over numerous tomes. Blaise's library was full of books on Dark Magic. So far, though, Hermione hadn't been able to find anything regarding his mysterious curse. She had, however, learned far more about Dark Magic than she'd ever wanted to.
She'd owled Harry, Ron and Ginny to let them know that she wouldn't be around. She told them only that she was helping an old classmate from the Hogwarts days. She knew they wouldn't understand if she told them it was Draco Malfoy. While the three of them were curious, none of them pressed her to explain more.
"I can't find anything!" Hermione cried as Blaise brought her a cup of tea. She accepted it gratefully. "All of these books, and not one single thing on any of his symptoms! This is driving me mad!"
Blaise sat on the table, and put a hand on her shoulder, causing her to jump in surprise. "You're Hermione Granger. If anyone can find the curse, it'll be you."
"Is that really the only reason you contacted me?" She asked quietly, looking up at the ex-Slytherin.
Blaise hesitated. "No, but I can't tell you the other reason,"
She frowned, but decided not to press him on it.
"I really hope we find something," Blaise said worriedly. "He's my best mate, even though he can be a right prat sometimes. We've known each other since we were kids, but we only got close after the war."
Hermione smiled wearily at him. "I've always disliked Malfoy. But I don't want to see him die. Don't worry, Zabini. I won't give up,"
"Blaise," he murmured. She lifted her eyes back to him in surprise.
"Call me Blaise, and I'll call you Hermione," he said staring at her hard. She frowned but nodded.
"All right," she said and he seemed satisfied as he lifted himself from her desk and sat down across from her, pulling a tome towards him.
"Why are you so bloody focused on helping me?" Draco grumbled, as she scanned her wand over him yet again. She was perched on the edge of his bed, leaning over him.
She had brewed numerous blood-replenishing potions for him, and while he was still coughing up blood, his face wasn't as pale and he had the strength to sit up and eat.
"Because I can't let you die, Malfoy. I want to help you," she murmured absently, focusing on the colour coming out of her wand as she ran it over his body. "I don't want you to die."
He grunted. "Why are all Gryffindors so sodding…compassionate?"
"Why are Slytherins so ungrateful and callous?" Hermione retorted, rolling her eyes.
He observed her as she lifted a tissue and wiped the blood from his lips. She ignored his scowl as she did so. "Why don't you want me to help you?" Hermione whispered, not looking at his eyes as she continued dabbing the tissue around his mouth. Her hand was on the side of his face to still it, while her other one held the tissue. She ignored the flush of heat her body was sending her from the contact. Turning away, she grabbed the blood-replenishing potion and raised it to his lips.
After he'd swallowed the potion, grimacing at the taste, he muttered, "You're supposed to be my enemy. You're the mudblood, best friend of Harry Potter, Gryffindor. I can't accept your help. And I won't thank you for it,"
Hermione nodded. "Could you at least stop calling me that foul word?" She said bitterly. She hadn't expected a thank-you, for God's sake.
He stared at her for a moment, as she placed the empty vial on the bedside table. "All right," he finally whispered.
She looked at him in shock, but his eyes were now closed. She smiled wearily. "Get some rest, Malfoy,"
She left the room, heading back to the library.
Over the next few days, he was noticeably kinder to her. He still scoffed at her and grumbled whenever she touched him, but he refrained from insulting her and didn't once call her a mudblood.
He seemed to be gaining back his strength by the day. Hermione didn't know why. All she'd been doing for him was giving him the potion. Blaise said he, too, had been giving him the potion before she arrived. So why was Draco able to talk without gasping for air now? Why was he able to sit up? Was he healing on his own?
Blaise was often found in the library researching with her, or in Draco's room keeping his best mate company.
At first, Hermione had declined Blaise's offer for her to stay at his Manor. She hadn't trusted him completely and had apparated home every night. But now, it had become too bothersome to go home at one o'clock in the morning only to return a few hours later. So, she finally grabbed half of her clothes from home, owled Ginny to ask her to take care of Crookshanks, and now she either slept on the sofa in the library or in one of Blaise's guest bedrooms.
"He seems to be getting better," Blaise commented thoughtfully to her as she came into the library, her hair wet from a recent shower.
Hermione nodded in agreement. "It could be the eye of the storm," she warned softly. "Don't get your hopes up. The curse may strike back with a vengeance. We've got to keep looking."
"Well… I was thinking, Hermione. He was on the verge of death before you came. And you haven't done anything different for him than what I'd been doing…" Blaise said, staring thoughtfully at his book.
"Yeah…" Hermione said gesturing for him to continue as he'd trailed off.
"Well, he's getting better; doesn't it seem odd? That ever since you've shown up… the curse has eased up?" Blaise finished and Hermione frowned.
He had a good point. "But what could it mean?"
"A number of things, I reckon… but I don't have any solid guess as to what," Blaise replied with a shrug.
Hermione glanced at her pile of books and then went to find new ones – to find anything relating to the information Blaise just supplied her with.
Draco was sitting up in bed with Hermione giving him another blood-replenishing potion when Blaise ran into the room.
"Aha! I know what we have to do! Hermione – kiss Draco!" Blaise declared, his dark eyes flashing wildly.
"What?" Hermione and Draco both exclaimed together, looking at the dark skinned man in shock.
"You heard me! I reckon it'll work! Just do it!" Blaise insisted.
Hermione laughed. "Blaise, you're out of your mind. This isn't some fairy tale, where they kiss and everything's better,"
Blaise visibly deflated. "It's worth a try," he mumbled.
"It won't do anything except embarrass the both of us," Hermione replied logically, turning back to face Draco. She raised the vial back to his lips and he swallowed the potion. She noticed his cheeks were tinged light pink but she didn't comment.
"Hermione, please try it?" Blaise pressed after a short silence. Hermione sighed.
"It's not going to help," she said wearily.
"Don't look at me like that Blaise Zabini. I'm not doing it," Hermione said sternly, focusing on placing the empty vial back on the nightstand and ignoring Blaise.
"Just do it Granger," Draco mumbled. "It'll shut him up."
Hermione whipped her head around to face him, eyes wide. She stared at his face, trying to see if he was serious. His cheeks were still flushed, but his grey eyes were staring at her with intensity. "But it won't help," she protested weakly. Draco only shrugged. She closed her eyes momentarily, taking a deep breath, and then she leaned forward and lightly pressed her lips to his.
It was only brief; she pulled back just as suddenly as she'd done it, her own cheeks aflame. "See? Nothing," she muttered and hurriedly left the room.
"Satisfied, Zabini?" She heard Draco say to Blaise as she leaned outside the door. Her breathing was heavy, her heart pounding. She had just kissed Draco Malfoy. Willingly.
She heard Draco let out a cough, and squeezed her eyes shut. Back to the library, Hermione.
"Look for a book on muggleborn curses," Blaise instructed a few minutes later as he came into the library. Hermione refused to look at him, sure that her cheeks were still red.
"Why?" She mumbled, keeping her eyes on her book.
"Because I have a theory," Blaise said, "that involves muggleborns, curses, and kisses. Just do it!"
He added the last bit when Hermione forgot her resolve to not look at him and snapped her head up to pierce him with a skeptical gaze.
She sighed and went into the stacks of books. Fifteen minutes later, she returned with a handful of large tomes. Setting them on the table, she sat down and opened the first one.
After another few hours of reading, Hermione found something. "What's this?" She said, and read aloud the passage.
"'The Mudblood Curse is effective on anyone. It has been famous for punishing blood traitors, or purebloods who have forgotten where muggles and mudbloods alike belong in society. It has been rumoured to have been created by Salazar Slytherin himself, a known muggle hater. The curse isn't used very often, for the results can be fatal. If the victim of the curse is not in the presence of a muggleborn within a limited time after being hit with the curse - the curse becomes lethal.
'Once in the presence of a mudblood, the curse will appear to slowly disappear. The victim will cease coughing and breathe easier. However, there is still a potion needed in order to completely heal the victim. To see this potion, turn to page 396.'"
"This is excellent! This is it! It's just as I suspected! Lucius must have put this curse on Draco, for whatever reason, knowing that Draco would never be in the presence of a muggleborn, because Draco didn't know what curse had been put on him!" Blaise exclaimed in excitement. "But because you're here, it's helping Draco get better!"
Hermione furrowed her brow, reading over the paragraph again. "So as long as he's around muggleborns, he'll be all right until we brew the potion?"
"Yes! And… oh, come on!" Blaise said and suddenly grabbed her arm pulling her out of the library. Hermione gasped but stumbled along after him, managing not to fall or drop the book.
They burst into Draco's room and Blaise let out a cry of triumph. "I knew it!" He yelled.
Hermione stepped around from behind Blaise, who was blocking her view and gasped again. "Oh my…"
Draco was standing up – shakily, but he was on his feet nonetheless. He looked up at them and grinned, making Hermione's heart flutter in a strangely unfamiliar way.
"Hey," he said calmly. "I dunno why, but I suddenly feel a lot stronger."
"I told you!" Blaise said smugly. "You kissed him and look what happened!"
"Blaise…" Hermione trailed off, not knowing what to say. She continued to stare at Draco, who was still smiling. "This is great. Maybe you're right; let's look at the potion,"
She sat on Draco's bed, and opened the book. Draco seemed confused but ignored them both as he continued to walk around his room, wearing a goofy smile. Blaise sat beside her and they read the ingredients needed for the potion.
"Do you have any of this stuff?" Hermione asked Blaise.
He nodded. "I have most of it, and the other stuff isn't hard to get. I'll go to Diagon Alley right now, in fact, and get it all."
"Brilliant, we'll start brewing as soon as you get back," Hermione said and Blaise nodded and hurried from the room. Draco was now leaning against the wall, apparently tired out.
"So, what's wrong with me? I'm assuming you figured it out," he said calmly, staring at her.
"Blaise figured most of it out, actually. I just found the book," Hermione replied with a shrug. "But we reckon you have the Mudblood Curse - which isn't a very original name, if you ask me. Have you heard of it?"
Draco frowned, shaking his head.
Hermione explained it to him and his face slowly lost the little colour it had. "So, we gather your father wouldn't expect Blaise to come to me. So Lucius must be assuming you'll die from the curse."
Draco nodded, not saying anything.
Hermione stared at him thoughtfully. The question had been nagging at her since she'd started helping him, but she didn't want to ask him when he was so sick. Now though… "Why were you fighting with your father?"
His eyes widened and he folded his arms across his chest. "Just… a stupid fight. It didn't mean anything,"
Hermione lifted an eyebrow and walked over to stand in front of him. "He placed a fatal curse on you, just because he was angry?" She asked softly.
Draco swallowed and nodded. "It's not that hard to believe, Granger,"
"No… but I never thought… I'm sorry Draco," Hermione whispered, ripping her gaze away from his.
"What for?" He asked and she heard the confusion in his tone.
"I just… I never knew and I've thought such horrid thoughts about you. I never realized – or I would have tried to…" Hermione couldn't find her words. She felt sorry for him. To have his own father try to kill him… how awful.
"I don't want your pity, Granger," he snapped, disgust laced in his voice.
She shook her head. "Well you have it anyway!" She cried, aware that her eyes were watering in horror. "I can't believe he would do this to his own son. You could've died!" She finally lifted her gaze back to meet his.
He swallowed hard. "And you would have cared?"
"Of course!" Hermione said frowning. "I'm not… just because I disliked you doesn't mean I'd want you dead!"
His grey eyes pierced through her intensely, and she almost wanted to look away. She couldn't though. He held her in place just with his gaze.
"So, as long as I'm around you, I'll be all right? I'll have my strength back?" He asked, still staring at her hard.
She nodded, hearing her own heart thudding loudly in her chest. She felt him take her hand in his and inhaled sharply. Her eyes flickered down to their joined hands and then back to his face. "What are you doing?" She whispered.
"Getting better," he said with his signature smirk that she hadn't seen in years. Before she could reply, he raised his other hand to her face and bent his head to press his lips against hers.
Her senses were immediately heightened by the kiss; his hand was burning on her cheek. She let her eyes fall closed and lifted her free hand to his chest hesitantly. She had the thought that he was only doing this because it made him feel better, but she was enjoying the kiss so much that she found she didn't care. She kissed him back.
He moaned when she responded and released her hand so that he could grip her hip. She raised her hands so that she could link them behind his neck, pulling herself closer to his body in the process.
His hand moved from her face to bury in her curls. His tongue slid along her bottom lip and she happily parted her lips for him, granting him entrance to her mouth.
"My father would expect this of me," he said hoarsely as he pulled away, both of them desperately needing air. His cheek was pressed to hers and she shivered as his breath hit her neck and ear.
"He would?" She breathed in confusion. She was trying to calm her pounding heart by taking deep breaths.
"That's why we were dueling," Draco whispered, not releasing her from his grasp. His left hand had slid out of her hair to hold her right hip, while his right hand had wrapped around her waist. "He found out I… held respect for you,"
"You do?" Hermione said stupidly, pulling her face away from him to look at him. His eyes were closed and she knew he didn't want to see her face. "Why?"
"I always have," Draco said with a sigh, as he finally opened his eyes. "It awes me that you're a muggleborn, and yet so brilliant, that you can take all of the prejudiced rubbish that you used to put up with in school. I respected that you were intelligent enough to leave me speechless in a row… Er… yeah,"
He looked away from her, his cheeks flushing again.
Hermione smiled for a moment and then lost it. "And that's why your father did this to you?"
"He knows me well. He knows I wouldn't want to go to you or any muggleborn for help – even if I did know what the curse was. He obviously didn't count on me having a stubborn best mate who isn't too prideful to ask you for help. He didn't count on us figuring the hex out. He expected me to die," Draco said tonelessly. Hermione rested her head on his chest, pressing herself against him as best she could.
"Well, he was wrong. We figured it out, and you're going to be fine," she murmured, blinking back tears.
He laid his chin on top of her head, and wrapped his arms around her small waist. "Yeah, I know. If anyone could've figured it out, it would have been you. Hermione Granger,"
Hermione smiled weakly. They were silent for the next few minutes, and then the door flew open again and Blaise rushed in.
Hermione stepped out of Draco's arms, leaned up to kiss his cheek lightly, and then turned to greet Blaise.
The dark skinned man raised an eyebrow curiously at them before his excitement took over. He dumped the bag of ingredients on the table, along with a cauldron.
She checked over the ingredients briefly before nodding in satisfaction. "The book says the potion should only take three days to make. It doesn't seem too complicated either,"
Both men nodded and Hermione turned back to Draco. "You need to rest. Back in bed," she ordered, pointing at his bed.
He scowled unhappily but didn't complain as he slowly walked back to the bed, climbing under the covers again. Hermione smiled and began giving instructions to Blaise as she set a fire under the cauldron.
"Hermione?" She turned at the sound of Draco's voice. It startled her to hear her first name come from his lips. He gestured for her to come to him.
"What is it?" She asked curiously, as he took her hand.
"This is going to be hard for me to say, as I don't reckon I've ever said it before but," he paused, licking his lips, "th - thank you. For helping me despite who I was,"
Hermione smiled down at him. "You couldn't have expected me not to. And I thought you weren't going to thank me?" She teased.
He made a face. "Right well, things change," he muttered. She laughed lightly and brushed her lips against his forehead.
"Sleep Draco, you need to get better," she whispered, pulling back. He nodded and leaned up to kiss her before closing his eyes and obeying her.
"So," Blaise said a while later, when they heard Draco's breathing change. "Care to explain what happened when I was gone?"
Hermione flushed a brilliant red in embarrassment. "We…talked," she finally replied.
"Talked…" Blaise repeated suspiciously.
"Yes," Hermione said shortly, avoiding his dark eyes.
"Rubbish, Granger and you know it," Blaise said teasingly. "I saw you two just now. I've always known about Draco's feelings towards you… but what's going on in that brilliant mind of yours?"
Hermione lifted a shoulder. "He told me how he feels, and that it was the reason his father cursed him and that was all Blaise. I don't know how I feel about him. I never really hated him, like Harry and Ron did. But I didn't exactly like him. Helping him, though, has made me see him differently. And learning what his father did to him… I can't help but feel terrible for him."
"And…?" Blaise pressed with a smirk.
"Oh all right! We kissed!" Hermione exclaimed in exasperation.
"I knew it!" He said excitedly, wearing a smug grin.
"Knew what?" Hermione asked; her question came out as more of a sigh.
"That bringing you here would be a brilliant idea! Not only did we find a cure to Draco, but he's getting what he's always wanted. Everyone's going to be happy now," Blaise said cheerfully. Hermione rolled her eyes.
"What about his father? What do we do about him?" Hermione asked thoughtfully. "I could get Aurors in, but with how rich the Malfoys' are, there isn't much the Ministry can do against him. Even after the war, where Lucius had to pay all the charities in redemption for his part in the war, he's still filthy rich."
Blaise nodded. "In the wizarding world, abuse towards your child doesn't have a repercussion. It happens so often that the ministry overlooks it."
"That's awful," Hermione murmured. "There must be something we can do! Lucius will be furious when he finds out Draco wasn't killed! He may come after him again,"
"I know; Draco may have to lay low for awhile. He could stay here with me. My mum's gone; she was killed in the war. So no one would know he was here. Once his father cools down a little, Draco can move out of the Manor and get a place on his own – where his father can't control him." Blaise explained.
Hermione nodded. "Hopefully," she whispered, adding in the last ingredient and stirring the potion with her wand.
Hermione spent the next three days keeping an eye on the potion and spending time with Blaise and Draco. She had come to like Blaise a lot. He was excellent company, and Hermione could see him becoming a great friend. As for Draco… well, she wasn't sure how she felt about him. They'd certainly grown closer, and he was growing stronger by the day. She realized that as he grew stronger, so did her feelings for him.
By the third day, she was sure she'd continue to be with him, even once he was cured.
"Hermione? The potion is ready," Blaise said as he stood at the table. Hermione rose from Draco's bed, releasing his hand, and walked over to stand with Blaise.
"It looks perfect," she said in excitement. "Just like it's supposed to. Scoop it into a vial,"
Blaise did as she ordered and then handed it to her. She walked back over to Draco, who was currently sleeping, and lightly shook his shoulder. He awoke instantly.
"What is it?" He asked sleepily.
Hermione smiled, waiting for his grey eyes to clear. "Drink," she murmured.
He glanced at the vial of red liquid almost nervously, and she took his hand again. He took a deep breath, tipped the vial, and downed the potion.
Wiping his mouth with his free hand, he passed the vial to Blaise who set it on the bedside table.
His eyes fluttered closed once more, and they heard his breathing become slow and even.
"When he wakes, he should be as good as new," Hermione said with a faint smile as she gazed at the sleeping man. She was a bit nervous as to where their relationship would go now. She couldn't help but think that maybe he was only... interested in her because it was making him feel better. She dismissed the thought immediately, though it still lurked at the back of her mind.
"Thank you," Blaise said in a low voice. "After the war… Draco's all I have left,"
Hermione felt her eyes watering, and cursed how easily she cried.
"If he were to die…" Blaise shook his head, bitterly. "He wouldn't let me take him to St. Mungo's, or bring a healer to him. I knew it had to be you."
"He's very stubborn," Hermione said in agreement with Blaise's second statement.
"So," Blaise cleared his throat. "What happened with you and Weasley? Thought you two were s'posed to get married and all that perfect rubbish?"
Hermione chuckled, shaking her head. "We were young. We thought we knew was love was. But it wasn't meant to be between us,"
"I'm sorry," Blaise murmured.
"Don't be. It was my decision to break it off," Hermione said with a small smile.
"Well, I think you and Draco would be perfect. You compliment each other, y'know?" Blaise said and Hermione frowned, shaking her head, so Blaise continued. "You're both stubborn, but I know you'll win most arguments. You're both intelligent, in different ways. You're clever with books and knowledge. He's smart in that he can judge a character perfectly, and is very perceptive. While you're kind and caring, he can be a bit selfish and nothing matters to him except people close to him. But you'll bring out the best in him, I know."
Hermione hugged him. "I'm glad you came to me, Blaise. I wouldn't have wanted Draco to die either. But in a way, his curse was good wasn't it? I mean, it brought him and me closer, as well as you and me. I'd have never become friends with you if this hadn't have happened."
"I'm glad this brought you to Draco and me as well, Hermione. You're an amazing person, and anybody's lucky to have you as a friend," Blaise said.
"The same to you," Hermione whispered.
Three Months Later
"All right, I've received word from Harry, who heard from the Minister himself that your father is going on a business trip to Italy this weekend," Hermione told Draco, walking over to sit beside him on her couch in her flat.
Draco had been staying with her for the last month, as they moved forward in their relationship and Draco had intruded on Blaise long enough.
"So you're saying it'll be safe to go home and get my stuff this weekend, so that I can move out of the Manor?" Draco confirmed, wrapping his arm around her.
"Right," Hermione said nodding and relaxing into Draco's side. She curled her legs up beside her. "What about your mother?"
"She won't be a problem," Draco said dismissively. "She'll be so busy mourning father's absence that she won't even know I'm there."
Hermione bit her lip. "You'd best be careful, regardless, Draco. We don't want your father finding out you're there."
"You worry way too much. Everything will go smoothly," said Draco reassuringly. He kissed her hair.
"Yes, yes of course," Hermione replied. "Should we maybe send a couple of Aurors with you? Just in case? I bet Harry could –"
Draco scoffed, "Honestly, Granger, if I didn't know any better, I would think you doubted my ability to defend myself,"
"Oh, don't be ridiculous. You know that isn't the case at all," Hermione said reproachfully. "I'm just… I'm scared for you, is all,"
He couldn't help the smile that softened his sharp features. He wasn't used to being worried about. He wasn't used to someone… actually caring for him. He put a finger under her chin and lifted her head from his chest, tilting it so that he could kiss her lips. "I know you are. But relax – father's the only one I'll need to worry about and he's gone. And just so you know, you're not coming with me,"
She opened her mouth to protest and he immediately cut her off. "No. I don't want to take any chances. You are staying here. I'll even have Potter and Weasley stay with you; just to be sure you won't follow."
Hermione huffed, her features changing into a pout. "Will you at least take Blaise with you? Please, Draco? It'll make me worry less,"
He sighed. "Very well, but only if you agree to stay here,"
"Yes, yes I agree," she said impatiently.
Draco smiled again and kissed her. "That's my girl," he murmured and she granted him a weak smile.
The following weekend, despite Hermione's protests, Draco had Harry and Ron stay at her apartment with her. It wasn't that he didn't trust her to keep her word; he just knew the presence of her best friends would help ease her nerves. He was right, of course, and Hermione knew it but she still made a fuss.
Harry and Ron were uneasy with their best friend's relationship. They didn't really consider Draco an enemy any longer – both boys were past the immature bickering from the Hogwarts days. And they could see how happy he was making Hermione so far, something that no other bloke had managed to do. So they were glad for him, but neither could say that they completely trusted him yet. However, they kept these opinions to themselves for both knew how much of a temper their female companion could sometimes have.
"Er… thanks for coming," Draco said awkwardly as he prepared to leave. Hermione stood in front of him, her arms folded across her chest and a scowl on her face. Harry was sitting in the armchair while Ron was sprawled on the couch.
"Of course," Harry replied formally. Ron just nodded.
"And you - be good please?" Draco said, turning to his girlfriend with a small smile. She continued to scowl.
He shook his head, kissed her forehead and stepped towards the fireplace. He had to go now; Blaise would be waiting for him. She grabbed his hand and pulled him back to her to kiss him. He smiled against her lips, pleased that she wasn't angry enough with him to let him leave without a kiss, and held her to him.
"Be safe," she whispered brokenly as she pulled back an inch. The next three words she spoke nearly made him toss the whole plan out the window so he could stay there with her forever. "I love you,"
His face broke into a grin and he kissed her fiercely. "I love you too," he whispered back and then stepped into the fireplace, calling out Malfoy Manor.
Hermione blinked repeatedly to clear her suddenly tear-blurred eyes and then turned to look at Harry and Ron. Both boys had pointedly pretended not to see or hear the conversation between Hermione and Draco.
"Well," she said with a dry smile at their actions, "are you hungry?"
Ron looked up at her with a rogue grin. "D'you have to ask?" He retorted and she laughed.
"Eggs?" She called from the kitchen and received two grunts in reply. She heard the sound of the television being turned on and the muggle news reporter's voice entered the room.
She fried up some eggs and placed a couple pieces of toast on each plate and then levitated the plates back to the living room. Harry was flicking through the channels, seemingly bored, and Ron was now eying her eagerly as she came in with the food.
She laughed again as she gave the boys their food and Ron dug in immediately. "Mmm… very good, 'Mione," Ron mumbled while Hermione pushed his legs off of the sofa and sat beside him.
"Thanks," she murmured absently, as she nibbled on her toast. Harry nudged her leg with his foot.
"He'll be fine," he said quietly. "Lucius is gone for the entire weekend. He's all the way in Germany,"
Hermione nodded. "I know," she said but continued to stare at the T.V. blankly.
Harry sighed and put the news back on, finding nothing else to watch.
Hermione wasn't able to finish her breakfast, for her stomach was rolling uncomfortably with anxiety. She eventually gave up trying to sit still and got up to do the dishes the muggle way, just to keep her hands occupied.
But the dishes didn't take long to finish, so she moved on to the laundry. Then she swept the floors. Harry frequently sent her worried glances and Ron repeatedly told her to sit down. She ignored them both.
Was he taking too long? He never said how long it would take… What if his mother saw him and floo'd his father? What if Lucius had already killed him? Her breathing increased and her heart stuttered as she thought of the possibilities. She squeezed her eyes shut, plopping onto her bed. She curled her legs to her chest and tightened her arms around her knees. He's fine… Blaise is with him… he's fine.
She eventually laid down and she must have fallen asleep. She awoke vaguely when Harry moved her so she was under the blankets. "He'll be back soon," he whispered to her and then quietly left the room. She was back in the realm of unconsciousness within moments.
She awoke again to the sound of Ron's loud voice cheering. Blearily, she blinked at her clock and saw that it was nearly five o'clock. Draco had left around nine that morning. Did it really take this long to get his stuff? She bit her lip as she sat up and headed out of her room, absently tying her hair up as she went.
Again, she wished he would have let her come. She would so much rather to be there, then to be stuck here worrying. She went into the kitchen and made herself a tea, smiling when she saw the box of pizza sitting on the table. The boys must have gotten hungry and didn't want to wake her.
She heard the sound of a muggle football game playing on the television and knew why Ron was cheering. He didn't understand the game at all, but he still got so excited watching it. She laughed quietly and then took a deep breath and headed into the living room.
Keeping her eyes on the ground so that she wouldn't have to look at Harry's worried face she made her way to the sofa and sat at the end, curling into herself and holding tightly to her cup of tea. She glanced up every few seconds at the fireplace across the room and then back at her cup.
"WOO! Go England!" Ron shouted loudly making Hermione wince. Absently, she heard the sound of the bathroom door open but paid it no mind.
Draco sighed quietly, walking up behind her. She was so absorbed in her worrying, that she hadn't realized he and Blaise were back. Blaise was sitting beside her on the sodding sofa, and she'd had yet to realize. He shook his head in wonder at her ability to shut the world around her off. He'd have to remember that in case of anymore future crisis'.
He crept up behind her, not worrying about being silent for he knew she wouldn't hear him anyway and then placed his hands on her eyes. "You know, all this worrying can't be good for you," he murmured in her ear.
She stiffened and Blaise snickered beside her. Slowly, as if she thought she was imagining things, she turned her head and met his amused gaze. Her face was shocked for only a moment before she broke into an elated grin.
Hermione leapt up from the sofa, nearly dropping her tea. Blaise took it from her hands and set it on the coffee table. She sent him a smile and then hurried around the couch to launch herself at Draco, wrapping her arms around his neck tightly.
He smiled as he held her just as tightly, kissing under her ear lightly.
"I'm so glad you're all right," she whispered. "Did your mother see you? Did you get all your stuff? You don't ever have to go back, do you?"
Draco chuckled. "One question at a time, love," he teased, pulling back to look at her. "Mother heard me, which is why it took us a little longer to be done. I had to convince her to go lay down; I told her she was seeing things. She's been so… depressed lately, that she believed me. I got all my stuff, and I'll never have to see my father again."
She let out a breath of relief and then stepped back into his arms, pressing her cheek against his chest. "I'm so glad," she repeated, closing her eyes and relishing in his familiar scent.
"Me too," he whispered. "I love you,"
"I love you too," she said happily, leaning up to kiss him. He led her back to the sofa and sat down, pulling her into his lap. She curled against his chest and ignored the others in the room as they watched the game.
"You know," Blaise said slowly. "I think you both owe me."
"For what?" Hermione asked curiously, lifting her head from Draco's shoulder to stare at the dark skinned boy.
"Well, if it weren't for my extraordinary thinking, you two never would've gotten together." Blaise smirked smugly.
"I'd rearrange that mate. If it weren't for your unbelievable stubbornness, we'd have never gotten together," Draco teased, playing with a strand of Hermione's hair.
Blaise frowned thoughtfully and then shrugged. "Either way," he said.
Hermione laughed. "We've already thanked you. What do you want?"
The other Slytherin continued to frown in thought and then said, "Well… you could return the favor. Y'know, find me someone to settle down with?" He sent them a wink.
"That… I'll work on," Hermione agreed with a grin. Blaise grinned too.
"Think you can find someone for him?" Draco whispered in her ear, smiling when she shivered.
"Absolutely," Hermione replied, laying her head back on his chest.
"Good, I don't want to hear anymore of his complaints every time you and I are together," he said with a chuckle and then turned his eyes to the game, still playing with her hair.
Hermione sighed happily, closing her eyes. She couldn't remember ever being this happy. Who knew she could find it in Draco Malfoy? She chuckled at her thoughts. Nothing is impossible…