So this was the first proper fanfic that I ever wrote, about a million years ago when I was fifteen.
I've revised it and added stuff, but it's pretty much the same as my original.
Also, it's kind of long so I wont have little notes like this before every single chapter.
I'm sure that'll just get annoying after a while, so... :P

But yeah. I've had this fic brewing and developing in my brain for about five years, so it's kind of my head-canon now and it's the reason why I ship Dramione so hard. Hopefully you'll all like it, Humble Readers.

If you do, tell me so in the form of some kind of review :)

And clearly I do not own Harry Potter or anything to do with it. That all belongs to Her Majesty JK Rowling. I am just a lowly Muggle-born Squib writing stories about her creations.

How Things Are Supposed To Be

Part One

Hermione woke with a start, breathing heavily. By her expression you would be forgiven for thinking that the dream she had woken from was more of a nightmare, but it wasn't. It was a pleasant dream, somewhere between a fantasy and a memory. She'd been having the same dream, or something very similar, for the past six years, and ever since she'd gotten engaged the dreams had become even more vivid and lifelike.

She turned her head, looking at her gently snoring fiancée beside her, and was filled with guilt. How could she be dreaming of another man while Ron slept right next to her? She sat up, hugging her knees and feeling terrible. She was getting married in less than a week, and although strictly speaking she was happy, she couldn't help but think that maybe she was doing the wrong thing. Maybe Ron wasn't the person she was supposed to spend the rest of her life with.

She shook herself, as if trying to shake the thoughts out of her head. Of course she was meant to be with Ron! She had known that since, well... forever! She should be dreaming of him and certainly not dreaming of Draco Malfoy! But as she shut her eyes it was only Draco that she saw. All she could think of was his sparkling grey eyes, his soft, silver blonde hair, his porcelain skin, and his tender lips against hers...

'Stop it!' she told herself. 'Stop thinking about him! You're getting married, for Merlin's sake!'

The relationship she had had with Draco happened six years ago, but she still couldn't stop thinking about it. In the short time that they were together, a year after the Second War, they had grown to care for one another and eventually fallen in love. But they both knew it could never last. Hermione was convinced that no one would accept it. Harry would surely think it was a huge, traitorous insult for his best friend to start a relationship with Draco Malfoy – his sworn enemy since the age of eleven, the young Death Eater who tried to kill Dumbledore, and the pureblood Slytherin that had once called her a Mudblood. Hermione knew all this, but she also knew the real Draco. She knew and loved the son who had been taught the wrong values and didn't know any better, the victim who was forced to do the Dark Lord's bidding with his parents' lives used as ransom, and the helpless man who was disowned by his family for finally thinking for himself. It was for that reason that Draco had come to Grimmauld Place.

He was allowed to stay at the Order headquarters until he was able to sort himself out, mainly because he was in such a bad state when he arrived. Draco's father had always been violent when it came to punishing him, but when Lucius found out that his son had become a blood traitor it had pushed him over the edge. Growing up in Malfoy Manor, Draco was taught to accept his father's beliefs as truth or suffer the consequences, and that rule didn't just apply to him, but his mother too. He had a vivid memory from when he was five years old of seeing his mother being smacked in the face so hard she fell to the floor and being told to behave more like the proud pureblood she was, rather than 'some filthy Muggle-lover'.

Draco knew never to speak out of line and too keep his doubts to himself. But one night it became all too much to handle. Lucius made a comment about Hermione Granger being named 'The Greatest Witch of Our Time' in an article in The Daily Prophet, asking contemptuously how a filthy little Mudblood like her could ever be called a great witch. The feelings Draco had been holding back for so long suddenly came pouring out of him. He called Lucius a foolish old man (amongst other, less polite, things) for still believing in all that pureblood nonsense, especially since it was Hermione Granger who had played a huge part in the fall of the Dark Lord – who, if he was still alive, probably would have killed Lucius ages ago. Draco was so brutally beaten and tortured for his outburst that if his mother hadn't of intervened he almost certainly would have bled to death on the drawing room floor.

When he was thrown out of the Manor he hadn't fully recovered from his injuries. He was covered in cuts and bruises all over his face and body, and many of his ribs were still broken, making it incredibly painful every time he tried to breath. He needed refuge, but he had no idea where to go.

As he Disapparated from the grounds of the place he had once called home, he was almost surprised to find himself standing outside Grimmauld Place. He stepped forward and saw number twelve magically appear in front of him, the Muggles in the houses next door completely unaware. Draco staggered up the steps to the front door, the searing pain making him feel lightheaded and woozy. He knocked on the door, not expecting anyone to answer. He wasn't sure why he had come here, and he wouldn't have been surprised if he had the door slammed in his face and was left to die on the cold pavement. He felt like dying anyway.

By the time someone answered the door Draco was close to fainting. He had to hold onto the doorframe to stop from falling over. It was Hermione who answered, and her first reaction was to reach for her wand.

"No – wait!" he said before she could hex him.

"What on Earth are you doing here, Malfoy?" Hermione said, glaring at him.

"Please," he said, finding it harder and harder to breath. "Please... help me..."

Hermione's glare faltered, but she didn't lower her wand. "What happened to you?"

"My father..." Draco gasped. "He... he tortured me... he says I'm... I'm a blood traitor... because I defended... Muggle-borns... please... I have nowhere... nowhere to go... nothing... please, help me..."

Draco looked as if he was about to keel over any second. Hermione frowned and slowly lowered a wand, her eyes lingering on his sore black eye and the nasty cut on his head.

"Fine," she said, moving aside to let him pass.

As he went inside he saw through steadily blurring vision that the house was just as bleak and eerie as it had been when he would come to visit his grandparents and great aunt and uncle as a child. He'd never really liked it. All those house elf heads gave him the creeps when he was little.

Just as the door was shut behind him the old portrait of his Great Aunt Black began to scream "FILTH! MUDBLOODS! BLOOD TRAITORS! STAINS OF DISHONOR DARING TO SET FOOT IN THE HOUSE OF MY FATHERS!"

The words made Draco wince. He hated the word Mudblood now. Great Aunt Black suddenly noticed him and stopped shouting.

"Ah, young Draco," she cooed. "It's so lovely to see you again, my darling little nephew. Have you come to get rid of the blood traitors dirtying my house? And that disgusting little Mudblood?"

Draco gave Hermione a guilty look as she hurried over to shut the velvet curtains around the foul portrait. Finally he could no longer stand the pain. The last things he remembered hearing were Hermione's shriek as he fell to the ground with a thud, footsteps rushing towards him, and a voice shouting "What the hell is he doing here?" before he fell unconscious.

Hermione explained to Harry and Ron what had happened to Draco, but they were still very sceptical and only let him stay very begrudgingly. She didn't really know why she felt so sorry for Draco, but she knew that it would be wrong not to help him. She'd never seen him looking so weak and fragile and helpless. What he had told her was convincing once she saw all his injuries, and she had seen how guilty he looked when the portrait begun to shout obscenities. Maybe he really had changed. Maybe he had finally seen the error of his ways.

Hermione spent the next three weeks nursing Draco back to health. If she hadn't let him into the house and helped him, he probably would have died from his severe injuries. Harry helped her move him into one of the bedrooms, and Hermione read every book on Healing she could find in order to treat Draco as best she could. For the first few days he was unconscious, but when he finally woke up the first thing he did was thank her.

"I don't deserve your kindness, Granger," he said, his voice sounding croaky. "I'm a terrible person."

"What you didn't deserve was what your father did to you," she replied, pouring him a cup Skele-Gro to mend his ribs. "He's the terrible person, not you."

"So you do believe me then?" he asked, trying to sit up. "You believe that I'm sorry, and that I don't think that way about Muggle-borns anymore?"

Hermione nodded, quickly helping him up and placing a fluffy pillow behind his back.

"Everyone deserves a second chance, Malfoy," she said.

"Even me?" he chuckled, before regretting it as laughing made his chest hurt.

"Yes, even you," she said, smiling.

Draco couldn't have been more appreciative, and thanked Hermione as often as possible for saving him. Once he was actually awake, Hermione was surprised at how much she enjoyed Draco's company. At first it felt strange, considering how extraordinarily nice and courteous he was being to her. He seemed to be genuinely grateful that she was there, especially considering how horribly she used to treat her. But they managed to form a very unlikely, but very close friendship.

"What are you doing?" Harry asked one morning.

Hermione was stood over a hot cauldron in the kitchen, her hair even bushier from the steam. She didn't look up from her work when she answered.

"I'm brewing a potion for Malfoy," she said, checking something in the large spell book beside her. "Something to help with the tremors he's been having. The Cruciatus Curse was used on him so much and so powerfully that his hands can't stop trembling. He can't even hold a knife and fork to feed himself. I'm hoping this Nerve-Calming Solution will help."

"That wasn't what I meant," said Harry, watching her stir the potion carefully. "I meant what are you doing with Malfoy?"

"What do you mean?" she said, still focused on her work.

"I mean, why are you looking after him?" he said. "It's Malfoy, for Merlin's sake. It's not like he'd do the same for you in this situation."

"Well, what would you have me do, Harry?" she said, suddenly glaring at him. "Would you rather I had just slammed the door in his face and let him die in the street? His own father nearly tortured him to death because he changed. He finally realised how stupid all that pureblood mania was and he stood up to his dad. He doesn't deserve to die just for finally seeing sense. And it doesn't matter what he's done to us in the past. The least we could do is show a bit of humanity, even if it is Malfoy."

She poured some of the finished potion into a goblet, Harry watching her awkwardly and suddenly wishing that he hadn't said anything.

Just before she left the room, she turned and said "I don't want to have the argument with you too, Harry. I've already had it about a hundred times with Ron."