This was three hundred and sixty five days ago.
I looked up, unable to concentrate on my work. The silence seemed oppressive somehow, unnatural. Shouldn't he have insulted me already? Or was he biding his time, waiting till I was deeply engrossed in my work before he did? I shifted uneasily in my seat, studying his profile. Even in the recesses of my own mind, I couldn't deny that the git had grown to be a very attractive man. Age had matured his features, rounding them out and erasing that pointy look he had throughout school. I shook my head to get rid of the inappropriate thoughts. Finally, I couldn't stand it anymore and decided that I should start the game for once, and that fact would hopefully give me an advantage. He remained unresponsive to my taunts, however, and frustrated, I pulled out my trump card.
"What is it, Malfoy? Upset that a Mudblood is in a higher position than you? Or are you bothered by not living up to your parents' expectation?" The last sentence was a low blow, and I knew it. Nevertheless, I finally achieved the effect I wanted – it provoked a reaction from him. I could hear the barely controlled fury and bitterness in his voice.
"You know, out of all the people, you're the one whom I least expected to be like this. You've never thought about it, never gotten over those prejudices, have you? You still treat me like I haven't changed without even giving me a chance to show you that I have. I thought we could at least work together civilly, but I guess I was wrong. And my parents, as you very well know, have…passed on."
I was gaping unattractively, unable to come up with any smart retort, for I realised that what he said was true. I saw the raw emotion on his face as he uttered the last sentence, and was stricken by my unintentional cruelty. I never knew about his parents' death – if I had, I would certainly never have used them in my attempt to rile him. My little speech had probably poured salt into wounds that were still way too fresh. I opened my mouth, but before I managed to get out anything, to apologize, to explain, the door slammed, and he was gone.
This was three hundred and sixty four days ago. I knew that whatever I said, I could not erase the hurt my words had invoked. However, I at least wanted him to know that I was sorry and that I hadn't meant to hurt him like that. I hoped that he could give me a second chance. Steeling myself, I marched up to his desk and waited for him to look up. It was impossible that he had not noticed me, for my shadow was falling over the parchment he was writing on, yet he continued his work calmly, seemingly oblivious to my presence. It didn't bode well, but I tried to look on the bright side as I told myself that it would probably be easier if I carried this out without eye contact anyway.
"Malfoy, I want to apologize for yesterday – I didn't know about – I swear, if I had, I wouldn't have-" I paused and bit down hard on my lip to stop myself from continuing to babble. My nerves had apparently gathered in a bundle at my throat, clogging it up and spoiling the eloquent speech I had prepared. Whatever it was, it didn't appear to have had any effect on him and desperate, I decided to do it Harry-style for once – meaning to do something on impulse without having thought of the consequences. I stuck my hand out under his nose so that he couldn't pretend he didn't see it this time.
"Nice to meet you. I'm Hermione Granger."
He finally looked up, with an eyebrow raised. My heart was thumping so hard in my chest that I felt certain he could hear it. He remained motionless, and my heart sank with each second that passed. Just as I was about to drop my hand, he reached out, clasped it in his own, and gave it a brief shake before letting go.
"Likewise. Draco Malfoy."
His eyes were unreadable, and I stood there awkwardly for a few moments before I announced brightly, "Well, lets get to work then!"
A few hours later, as I was rifling through the cabinet in the hope of finding reference material in the form of previous similar cases, I happened to glance over at Malfoy. His palm was pressed against his abdomen, and having seen the exact same gesture on my mum for many years, I knew its significance. It was lunch hour, but he didn't appear to have any intention to budge from his seat anytime soon. I told him that I was going to get lunch, and then Apparated to my favourite café to get us both a sandwich and an iced coffee. I dropped the brown paper bag on his desk as I got back, and when he shot me a quizzical look, I elaborated somewhat unnecessarily, "Lunch. For you."
I headed back to my seat, and when I saw him eyeing the sandwich cautiously, I rolled my eyes and took a bite of mine to show him that I hadn't poisoned it.
This was three hundred and sixty one days ago. I finally managed to persuade Malfoy to go out for lunch together with me, and he insisted on picking up the tab. Conversation started off slightly strained, but we discovered we had many common interests. I grinned in surprise as he asked about SPEW, and later in pleasure as he showed that he not only listened intently but was able to raise some interesting points about it, and we ended up having a heated debate. Slowly but surely, we grew closer, bonding over shared lunches. I even introduced him to movies.
This was three hundred and ten days ago. I got Draco to meet Harry and Ron, after I explained matters and extracted a promise from them not to hex him. It went better than I expected, as they started a passionate discussion about Quidditch.
This was two hundred and seventy days ago. Draco opened up to me for the first time. When I came in to work that morning, he appeared to be unusually morose. I teased him about it, and unexpectedly, he snapped back at me. The morning continued in a tense silence, but at lunch, when I handed him his usual sandwich, he pulled at my sleeve before I turned away.
"Hermione, I…I'm sorry. About this morning. I was just…it's my birthday today." He spoke in a low voice, not meeting my eyes, with his gaze firmly fixed on the floor. Guilt tugged at me, and I immediately softened. Here I was, thinking that Draco was inconsiderate for having snapped at me like that this morning – when in fact I was the inconsiderate one – I should have tried to find out the reason behind it, since I knew him well enough to know that he kept a tight rein on his emotions at all times, and his moodiness couldn't have stemmed from a small matter. Besides, what kind of friend was I, to not even know such a basic fact about him like when his birthday was? I saw why he was upset now. He didn't have any family and had barely any friends to celebrate it with him. I couldn't imagine spending a day like that alone. Despite the fact that I was an only child, my parents had always ensured that I knew how much they loved me on my birthdays, sometimes even going as far as to have invited all my relatives and cousins over. I squeezed Draco's hand lightly.
"No, I'm sorry." Later at my insistence, he finally agreed to my idea of a celebration. I took him out to a restaurant, at which I had secretly arranged for the waiter to come out with a birthday cake and serenade him with the birthday song, and I managed to get a smile out of him.
This was two hundred and one days ago. I went over to his house when he was sick, taking with me a container of mushroom soup. I had never been the domestic type, and it was the only kind I knew how to make, actually, because my mum made it for me too when I was sick. He was a good patient, when he finally stopped his protests about it – he told me that he didn't want to bother me and that I didn't need to do this. I just kept repeating that I knew that and that I wanted to take care of him, and eventually he shut up.
This was one hundred and eighty three days ago. He finally asked me out. After work, he presented me a rose – it was cliché but still a sweet gesture – and asked if I would have dinner with him not just in the capacity of a friend. His nervousness was tangible, and it was endearing to see him like that, so unlike his normal composed self. I was speechless with shock, but when he started babbling about how he would understand if I didn't want to since he was once a Death Eater after all, I drew him in and kissed him fully on the lips.
"Of course I will, you idiot."
This was forty two days ago. I found myself at his parents' graveside with my arms around him as he sobbed silently, trying to offer what little comfort I could.
And this is today. He shoots me a predatory glance.
"You do realise today is a year since we first met each other again, don't you? How about we do something to…celebrate the occasion? Don't you think this office holds a lot of memories for us?"
I catch on to his hint at once, and consider his idea. I smirk, remembering what had happened the last time. At least now he knows well enough not to act without my permission. It doesn't hurt to break some rules once in a while…
"Bring it on, then."
I just remember to cast Silencing and Locking charms at the door in time as he pounces on me.