...in which the end finally comes.
Hermione's eyes blinked open, and she let out a short groan. A quick knock on the door had woken her, and from the light seeping through the window, she could tell it was early morning.
She rolled over. Couldn't Malfoy just let her sleep?
She had discovered, from listening to his footsteps, that his room was just across from hers, next to the bathroom. She had heard him get up earlier that morning and walk down the stairs. Hermione would normally be up relatively early, as she liked the refreshing feeling of it, but she now found herself sleeping in longer to avoid the imminent conversation she would have to force with Draco.
She sighed, before rolling back over. She couldn't sleep forever.
She slumped out of bed, trying in a futile attempt to flatten her curls down with her hand. She dragged her tired body to the door and opened it, ready to berate Draco for waking her. However, when she opened the door he wasn't there, and instead a tray of toast soldiers and soft-boiled eggs, with a big cup of tea sat at the doorway. Her throat caught. This was the breakfast her mother would make for her when she was younger. It had and always would be her favourite.
Her stomach grumbled loudly, and it was only then that she realised she hadn't eaten since she had arrived here, finding her pride to strong to take anything from the blond. It seemed that Draco hadn't forgotten that either, as the tray was rather full.
She sat on her bed and enjoyed each bite of the delicious breakfast as it filled her thankful stomach. She mused at how well Draco had made the eggs, as they were quite difficult to get right, and could only assume he'd had the help of his wand.
She finished the last piece of toast, basking in how good it felt to have a decent meal and a full stomach. She decided that maybe she wouldn't spend the whole day in her room, bored, and that perhaps she would sit outside in the sun and read a book. Draco had already made a peace offering for the day, perhaps he would leave her alone.
She showered quickly, and pulled on a light dress, leaving her feet shoeless. She stared in the bathroom mirror at her reflection. Her hair was slightly tamer, as it hung in damp curls around her neck. The skin under her eyes was slightly brighter, and she could only attribute it to the sleep she'd had last night. It was the first time she'd felt safe in a while.
Overall, Hermione felt refreshed. Something she hadn't felt in a long time.
She left the bathroom and headed downstairs with a book. She glanced around the lower portion of the house to find it empty. Maybe Malfoy was out?
She opened the front door, and breathed in the warm air deeply before stepping out into the sun.
She spotted a nice area under a nearby tree that looked like a relaxing place to read. She headed over, and sat down, leaning her back against the tree trunk.
The area surrounding the cabin was beautiful. It was a thick wood of trees, some in bloom, others dead or dying. Their leaves scattered the ground, leaving a satisfying crunch under her feet as she walked. Hermione tried to see through the trees to the area beyond, but they were far too thick. It was isolated, but not in a disturbing way. She felt quite safe here.
She opened up her book to the page where her tatty bookmark sat, and began reading.
After a few moments, she heard a rustling noise coming from the other side of the trees. Her heart raced. She had groped her hand around her wand, just in time to see a blond head of hair appear from within the woods, dragging a small tree trunk behind him.
She noted immediately that he was wearing no shirt, but tried not to focus on that aspect. Instead, she frowned curiously, watching as he pulled it a small branch behind him. When he stopped in front of the house, and picked up an axe, she realised what it was for.
It had been rather cold at night, and she hadn't really wondered what was keeping the fire ablaze.
He swung the axe up high and brought it down on the log with a force that split it half way through. Hermione cringed, as she noticed the axe went rather close to his foot. He swung it above him again, and this time the log split all the way through, though she could still hardly watch for fear that he would cut his foot in two.
She realised suddenly that she was showing far too much interest in his activities, and lowered her head back to her book trying to ignore the sound of the chopping axe and falling wood. It was only when she had read the same line at least five times over, that she heard a sharp string of curses from across the grass.
She jumped at the abrupt noise at first, before looking over toward Malfoy. He was seated on the ground, cupping his boot covered foot. Hermione's stomach lurched, as she jumped up and raced toward him.
She stood above him, panicking that maybe he had actually gone and cut his foot off.
"What's wrong?" She asked, her voice full of anxiety.
He looked up as though he just noticed her there, his face contorted into a grimace.
"My foot," He managed to say through grit teeth.
Hermione kneeled and noted with relief that there was no blood. That was a plus, atleast. His boot was still intact, meaning he hadn't cut himself.
She unlaced his boot, and began to slide it off his foot. He hissed in pain.
"What exactly happened?" Hermione asked. She had been so busy trying to ignore him, that she had missed it.
"The bloody log fell on my foot, but I'm fine," he insisted in a strained voice. She ignored him and continued removing his shoe. He grit his teeth.
"Do you have to do that so roughly?" He asked sharply.
She glared at him. "Do you want help or not?"
He looked up at her, his expression one of pain and regret. He nodded.
She managed to get his boot off, after many a string of curse words from Draco, some she'd never even heard of before.
She inspected his foot. It was already bruising, and it looked slightly warped.
"I think it's safe to say it's broken," she told him, eyeing the blue and red marks covering his foot. "Have you got any potions that will take away the pain, or heal bones?"
He shook his head. "No. This is a muggle area. They don't sell any supplies around here to make anything."
She sighed. What kind of wizard didn't keep a stock of healing potions? "Well, then it will have to heal the muggle way."
"What way is that?" He asked looking wary.
"The long way," She explained, standing.
She helped him stand, and he hopped on one foot, with her assistance, to the lounge in front of the unlit fire.
"Lay down," She ordered. He did.
She sat down on the other end of the couch, and pulled out her wand. She eyed him cautiously.
"This is going to hurt," she told him. He looked like he was trying to hide his nervousness.
"What will?" He asked, but before answering, she waved her wand, and a loud crack and crunch resounded from his foot as the boned realigned themselves. She grimaced at the noise, and he groaned in pain.
"That will." She explained, feeling sorry, but slightly amused at his reaction.
His eyes were hooded as he stared at her. "You're enjoying this, aren't you?"
She looked at his face, before shrugging. "I don't particularly enjoy being near you. But I have to admit, seeing you powerless is quite refreshing."
He didn't even flinch at her open disdain; he'd become far too used to it. Instead, he lay his head back and stared at the ceiling.
"You used to enjoy being near me." He said, in a low mumble.
Hermione wondered if he was even talking to her, or just musing to himself.
She waved her wand again, this time casting a sedation charm on him. It would relieve his pain, and maybe even the strange feeling of guilt in her stomach from her own harsh words.
After a moment, his eyed fluttered shut against his will and his head lulled back against the arm rest of the couch. Hermione sat staring at him for a moment, before catching herself and standing. This was not a time to start pitying Malfoy.
She stood abruptly and walked up stairs, only letting her breath out once the door to her room was closed, with her safely hidden behind it.
She wondered why she had helped him, why she had even cared if he hurt himself. He had hurt her countless times, and she had always thought that seeing him in pain would be the most satisfying sight to behold. She supposed under normal circumstances it would. She would probably have even cast a charm on the log to make it weigh more.
But that would be under different circumstances.
In the current moment, her curiosity for Draco was causing her to think of him more than she cared to.
She had loved him once. She had somehow managed to look past his faults, his mistakes, his actions and see something in him she had never cared to look for before.
It must have taken time, and patience, and it would have been caused by a change in him. He was different now, and she supposed that had helped, however, in some ways he was still the argumentative, stubborn git he had always been, which perplexed her.
But she couldn't ignore the feeling. That damn curiosity which had kept her here. The curiosity which had stopped her from leaving the second she set eyes on his stupid face.
She lay her head against her pillow, and stared at the ceiling. She didn't even know what she felt anymore.
"I don't like it," Weasley warned, his voice full of worry, and suspicion.
"Neither do I," Blaise responded, feeling the same, "But this is the only solid thing we have to go on."
Potter made a face, as Weasley flailed his arms.
"Solid?!" Weasley crowed. "I wouldn't trust Pansy's word, even if she were at the end of a Cruciatis curse! That witch is bad news, mate."
"She's a bloody terrible kisser too," Potter mused, staring off.
The both stared at him in disgust, before turning back to each other.
"Look," Blaise began, trying to reason, "Pansy is normally someone I wouldn't trust either, but she has something to lose. And when people have something to lose, they get desperate."
Weasley shook his head slowly, as though it made no difference. Potter sat adjusting his glasses.
"Even if it is true," he said, straightening them on his nose. "What do you suppose we could do about it? I mean, if Lucius Malfoy has Hermione's memories hidden away like some sick, perverse trophy, then we sure as hell wouldn't have any chance of finding them."
He had a point. Blaise sighed.
"Did Pansy happen to say anything about where he was keeping them?" Weasley asked.
Blaise shook his head. Pansy hadn't given him much information, just what she knew. And he had a feeling she didn't know a lot.
"So, basically, we've got nothing again," Potter sighed. Blaise understood the feeling of placing hope on something, only to have it dashed.
"It's not nothing," He insisted. "It's just a clue, a hint. Pansy wouldn't have risked coming here unless she was scared."
Potter shrugged limply, tilting his head. "I dunno, mate. For all we know, she could be working for Lucius Malfoy, trying to gain our trust in the hopes that we might know where Draco is."
Blaise rubbed his hands together, staring at the smudge of dirt on his black dragon-hide boots.
"It's a possibility," he admitted after a moment, knowing that he had already thought of it. However, to him, the chance of finding something to put Lucius away was too much of a priority to start questioning the trust of everybody. Even if he normally would.
He missed his best mate, and he felt responsible for everything. He had encouraged Draco to pursue Hermione from the beginning, knowing that she would have nothing but a beneficial influence on his stubborn attitude, and cruel intentions. He knew that Draco was reluctant due to her blood, and the trouble it would bring both of them.
But within the safe walls of Hogwarts, reality could be forgotten, and one could be forgiven for thinking that things like blood status didn't matter. But they did. A harsh reality that had come rushing back as soon as the attack on Hermione had occurred.
However, by that point it was too late. She was already a target, and Draco had come too far to pretend he didn't care.
The only thing that could bring them safety now, would be for the source of danger to disappear.
"If it is true," Weasley began, looking thoughtful, "then we know those memories would be somewhere safe, hidden away, only for Lucius' enjoyment. Where is safer then Malfoy Manor?"
"We should search there first then," Potter agreed.
Blaise merely nodded. However, he knew that it would be difficult to get away with that after their last escapade at the Manor. Security had obviously been tightened since then, and they had some planning to do before it was possible.
However, despite the dangers, Blaise was ready to shake Lucius Malfoys hand with the hand of revenge.
Hermione jumped at the sound of creaking downstairs. She stood abruptly, leaving her open book face down on the bed, and exited the room in a hurry.
As she reached the bottom of the stairs, she found Draco sitting on the large rug, attempting to stand. She sighed loudly, feeling frustrated that he would even attempt to walk.
"What are you doing?" She asked, stomping to his side, and looking down at him.
He exhaled slowly, looking annoyed at his weakness. "I was thirsty," he admitted.
Hermione suddenly realised she had left him asleep on the lounge, with no water around.
"Oh," She said weakly. "Well, why didn't you just call me down? I would have gotten you a drink. I bet your foot hurts even more now."
Draco tried to hide his grimace behind his stern expression. "My foot's fine. And I can get my own drink."
Hermione crossed her arms. "Haven't you realised by now that stubbornness gets you nowhere?"
He turned slowly, looking up at her with a bland expression. "Really? You're going to lecture me about stubbornness, Granger? You are the most stubborn person I've met."
She stared at him in shock for a moment, before feeling her defenses kick in.
Hermione felt her cheeks growing hot. She grit her teeth. "If I were injured I would at least ask for help."
He raised a brow, "Would you ask for my help?"
She hesitated. "Well, I certainly wouldn't be proud, so yes."
He saw straight through it.
"Liar." He spat, shifting to a standing position, limping on his foot. He let out a sharp breath of pain. Hermione noticed the floor creaked worryingly beneath him as he steadied himself, but it was the least of her problems currently.
She was taken aback by the malice in his voice. It had been so long since she heard it directed toward her, that it made her begin to shake from fear, a reactions she hadn't missed, and had almost forgotten.
Instead, however, she decided to give back a little of what she had gotten over the years. She had promised herself that she would no longer be a victim, and she wouldn't.
"I see you're back to being the hate-filled little snake I always knew." She snapped. He stared at her, his expression full of what she thought was hurt.
"If you thought I was that person," he said slowly, his eyes narrowed, "Then you never knew me."
She crossed her arms, trying to keep composed.
"Lucky me," she said, "I suppose I've been looking at all of this the wrong way. Perhaps it was a blessing in disguise for me to forget you. An escape, if you will, because you clearly have a sadistic mind, you lack empathy, sympathy, any real human emotion either scares you or you are ashamed to feel it!"
She took a deep breath, annoyed that she had raised her voice, but too angry to really care.
Draco stared at her for a moment, looking shocked by her outburst, and she thought for a moment that she might have rendered him speechless. However, after a moment he spoke. It annoyed her that he didn't yell, or scream, all the things she wanted from him, but instead he spoke calmly, for once making her feel like the vicious one.
"You can judge me on my past actions if it helps refresh your hatred for me," He said, his voice low and steady. "But you are a hypocrite. I have been nothing but courteous to you, trying to make up for my past, and you still feel justified in torturing me with your cruel words, knowing they cut me deeper than any curse ever could. You are the one that is lacking empathy."
She opened her mouth to argue back, but he didn't give her a chance.
"I couldn't stand to torture you like this," he said simply. He limped past her, and she wasn't sure if the grimace on his face was because of the physical pain, or the emotional pain.
She watched as he attempted to climb the stairs, it was a poor attempt.
As much as she hated to admit it though, he was right. She was the stubborn one, the unsympathetic one, the one who would sway between being courteous, to being downright cruel. Every time she was nice, she remembered who she was talking to, and all the bitterness came rushing back.
How had she learned to forgive him in the first place?
She sighed. There was a part of her, an inane sense of curiosity, that was keeping her near him. Normally, she would have left long ago, rather then stay in his presence, but under the guise of having no where else to go, she stayed, hoping to see something that would make her understand what she had seen in him.
And she had seen many things.
His physical attributes were the most obvious. He was tall, lean and fit. His muscles could be seen, but not obnoxiously so. His face was pleasing to look at, his blond hair looked soft, and she had often wondered how many times she ran her fingers through it. More importantly, she wondered how much she had enjoyed it.
His personality was the biggest difference that she noted. He was probably right about her not knowing him that well. She never did while he was allowing people to believe he was cold and cruel. He acted up, he was angry, all for some unknown reason. And now he wasn't. He seemed to have let her in long ago, and despite how many times she told herself she didn't care, she was worried he would shut her out again before she could find the truth, but it was so hard to be nice to him.
He had shown her nothing but kindness while she was here. Leaving her in peace, and ensuring all her needs were taken care of, a kindness she knew she couldn't take for granted.
She knew she would have to put her stubbornness aside in order to get to the truth. To let her guard down, and accept that perhaps Draco wasn't the person she thought he was, and that she hadn't really known him.
He had made it up onto the second stair, and Hermione couldn't stand to watch any more. It was a serious accident waiting to happen.
She walked over hesitantly, and stood beside him. He didn't look up, but she could see his face, and the pain he was feeling.
She scooped his arm around her shoulder, and she heard him swallow deeply as his hand grazed her breast. She ignored it, and simply took as much of his weight as she could in order for him to hop up the stairs with some ease.
It took a good ten minutes, but they eventually made it to his bed, without speaking the whole time.
Hermione had never entered his room before, and noticed it was similar to hers, all except the large bed in the middle. Hers was only a single bed, and she realised that her room must have been the room Draco stayed in when his family came to holiday here.
"How often does your family visit this place?" She asked, noting the light layer of dust on the side table. All her previous anger was forgotten, and replaced with curiosity.
Draco shifted in bed, as Hermione glanced around the room. The walls were a dull black, a depressing colour. There was an expensive looking wardrobe in the corner, and a few interesting heirlooms placed around in a decorative fashion, but it still didn't make it look homely.
"We've only stayed once," Draco answered grudgingly, "When I was younger. Since then, my father only stayed here when he was doing business nearby."
"Why did you come here now, then?" She asked.
He looked out the window, at the darkening sky.
"I thought you might be here," he replied, still sounding hesitant about her questions. "But this wasn't the first place we looked."
Hermione turned to him with a frown. "How did you know your mother had helped me?"
He was silent for a moment, and she wondered if she had questioned him too much, given his current mood.
"I went back to the manor the night Blaise said you'd been killed." He replied.
She could see in his eyes that he was replaying the memory. "I walked in on my father arguing with my mother, he thought she was lying about what happened to you. I asked to see you, my mother said your body had been disposed of. It was only when the Aurors asked to question my father alone, did she tell me that you were safe, and you'd escaped with her help. I didn't stay much longer to ask questions, because I knew as soon as the Aurors left, my father would stop me from leaving. So I left to find you."
Hermione nodded, trying not to think of that horrible experience.
They fell silent, and Draco rolled over turning his back on her.
She walked slowly to the place beside his bed, knowing he could feel her close.
"I'm sorry," She said softly. It was the hardest thing to say to him, but she felt a rush of relief as she did. "I won't torture you any more. You've paid for your past, and I wont keep punishing you, for as long as you show me kindness, I'll do the same."
She swallowed thickly, "I just need one thing from you."
He turned slightly, looking at her from over his shoulder in silent questioning.
She hesitated, not because she was unsure that he would meet her request, but because she knew this was the moment when she would have to let everything go. All of the hate, anger, and resentment.
"Say you're sorry for the past few years, and I'll forget it." She knew she was asking a lot of herself, but she also knew that she was tired of feeling so much hate in his presence. Tired of feeling on guard. She knew he was different, and that he was sorry, but she needed to hear it.
He stared at her for a moment, as though he expected her to take back her offer. But after a moment, he sat up with great difficulty due to his injury.
He looked at her, his silver eyes burning into hers.
"I'm sorry," he said, his voice quiet, but the words were loud and clear. He looked down at his hands. "I've been sorry for a long time."
She nodded, knowing it was the truth.
"Thank you," She said with a relieved sigh, feeling as though a weight had been lifted. "Now, at the least, we can part on amicable terms when this is all over."
She didn't see the expression that crossed Draco's face at her words.
After a moment in the silence, she stood.
"I'll let you rest." She said, moving toward the door. "Goodnight."
As she left the room, she let out a relieved sigh, and some of the tension that had been plaguing her for a long time left with it. Now, the promise of spending a day with Draco didn't seem like such torture, because they had made their peace.
It was almost funny to think that she had gotten a genuine apology off him. Never had she ever imagined him to be the type apologise to her. They had so much stopping them from getting along in the past, and now all of that seemed to have been forgotten, for now anyway.
She slid into her bed, and lay awake listening to the gentle snores from the room over, until she fell asleep.
Blaise was not normally a morning person, and today was no exception. As he sat in the kitchens, sipping on his coffee he barely had an urge to get out of bed this morning.
They had visited Malfoy Manor last night, in an attempt to find answers, and maybe Hermione's memories. They had gone with a plan to apparate straight into the kitchens, with the help of Loccy, but the found themselves pushed back, and landing just short of the beginning path toward the large gates on the exterior of the land.
They had tried to scale the fence, but again, a spell had been placed on it so they could simply not reach the top.
Malfoy Manor had become impenetrable.
He sighed, as he sat his mug down. Loccy placed a plate of scrambled eggs in front of him, and he scooped a large portion into his mouth.
He heard steps on the stairs some moments later, and the seat beside him slid out as Potter sat down.
"I'm bloody starving," The boy said, as he had a plate of eggs handed to him. He thanked the house elf with a nod.
Blaise merely mumbled in agreement.
They sat silently for a moment, before Potter spoke.
"Bit of a bust last night," he commented, taking a large bite of toast. "Though, it didn't really surprise me that they would lock down Malfoy Manor like that."
Blaise nodded as he chewed his food, but didn't speak. Potter continued talking.
"I was thinking though, maybe we could confront Lucius at the Ministry?"
Blaise sighed, "I don't want to confront Lucius, I just want to get those damn memories so this can all be over with."
Potter eyed him with interest, "I know. But what rush are we in? We don't even know where Draco and Hermione are."
"And what good would confronting Lucius do?" Blaise shot back.
Potter shrugged. "I guess we could ask him about the memories, we could spell an object to act as a tracking device, and follow him from that. No doubt he would head straight to where he hides the memories to check they are still there."
Blaise took a bite of egg, and chewed it, thinking about Potters suggestion.
After a moment, he shook his head. "No, we cant risk letting him know that we know about the memories. If something goes wrong, and we cant follow him, he could hide them somewhere more secret, or worse, destroy them."
Potter tilted his head to the side. "This is all on the assumption that there are memories."
Blaise knew he still didn't quite believe Pansy's information was true. But what else did they have.
"I've been thinking," Blaise said after a moment. "I think it's time to go and report Hermione as missing."
Potter turned to him with wide eyes. "I thought you wanted to keep it between us? We could get in a lot of shit for what we did at Malfoy Manor!"
Blaise sighed. "This is bigger then us, Harry. This is Hermione's life. It's obvious we don't have the skills, or the resources to find her."
"I know that," Potter replied, his tone low and serious, "but who can we trust in the Ministry that isn't working for Lucius?"
Blaise pushed his plate aside. "Anyone who is working for Lucius is already looking for her. It's about time we had someone else on her side."
Potter merely stared at him as he stood. "If they do find her it might be too late to get her memories back. The first thing Lucius will do is destroy them."
Blaise didn't say anything as he stood and left the room, leaving Potter to stare bewildered behind him.
Blaise couldn't help but wonder who they were helping here? They had continued to pursue Hermione even after she had lost her memories, and all knowledge of them. She had wanted to get on with her life, but they hadn't let her. They had kept hounding her, in the hope that she would remember, knowing that Lucius was watching their every move.
It was their fault that he had targeted her again, all because Draco, and even Blaise, couldn't let go of her. They had both come to care about her, and the thought of her not being there was just wrong. So wrong, that it had let them pursue hope that they shouldn't have held.
Hope that maybe they would be allowed to be happy. Mostly hope that Draco's life was his, not under the control of Lucius. All because of these memories, which would continue to cause damage even if they were found.
Blaise didn't know what to do. He was torn between giving up and doing what was best for them all, or fighting, and possibly putting them all in danger.
He only knew he needed advice from someone who would tell him the truth, no matter what.
Hermione had awoken early that morning, with a surprising spring in her step. She had heard faint snores from Draco's room, so had left him, and headed downstairs toward the kitchen. The fridge was looking rather bare, but she had found enough supplies to whip up a large plate of pancakes.
She was currently pouring orange juice in to two glasses for her and Draco.
It was funny how she was willing to be kind to him now, though she supposed she owed him the favour of cooking him breakfast. Besides, he was injured, he couldn't just starve to death.
She sat both the glasses on the edge of the table, but cursed when one of them slipped off and hit the rug below with a smash. She sighed, as she pulled her wand out and began cleaning the mess.
Her feet creaked on the wood below her, and she wondered if the floor were that unsteady. It was an old building, she supposed.
She rolled up the rug, expecting to see some withered floor boards beneath, but instead she saw a small square hatch in the floor.
She stood idly for a moment, wondering if she should see what was down there. She didn't want Draco to get upset at her, or to ruin their new found truce by snooping. However, curiosity got the better of her, and she grabbed the latch, pulling the door up with a creak.
It was too dark to see down, so she lit the end of her wand with Lumos, and held it above the opening. She noted a set of wooden stairs that headed down toward what she assumed was a basement.
Part of her was worried about venturing into an unknown area, but another part of her urged her to go on.
She stepped on the first part of the stair, and jumped slightly as it creaked under her feet. She sighed, before walking down into the darkness quickly.
When she reached the bottom, she was hit with a cold, damp feeling in the air.
She held her wand up toward the wall and noted they were made from rough stone. The floor was piled up with a number of trunks and boxes, which she noticed were filled with what looked like old heirlooms. She turned around and found that the other wall had a small shelf occupying it, but it was what sat upon the shelf that interested her the most.
She walked over and held up her wand in order to read them better. There were a number of potions that she recognised from her time spent in the hospital wing at Hogwarts. They were all medicinal potions.
She scanned the small vials, until she came across a large bottle. There was a picture of a bone on it. It was a potion commonly used for healing bone injuries.
"Brilliant!" She exclaimed, grabbing the potion off the shelf, and stuffing it in her pocket.
She turned to search the third and final area of the basement, just as she heard her name being called from above. It was Malfoy.
She ran up the stairs and closed the small basement door behind her, rolling the rug back over the entrance. She was breathing heavily by the time she reached the top of the stairs.
Draco was leaning back against the wall, directly beside his bedroom door. He looked like he was in unbearable pain, and Hermione felt the panic rise in her when she saw him.
"What's wrong?" She asked quickly, her voice an octave higher then normal.
He looked up at her, his brows furrowed and his pale forehead covered with a light sheen of sweat.
"I think-," he hissed in pain, "I think my foots gotten worse."
Hermione looked down at his barefoot, only now realising it was incredibly swollen, and looking more on the black side.
"Oh, Merlin," she hissed to herself. This was not good.
"My first reaction involved a lot more curse words," he commented wryly.
Hermione couldn't really see the humour in the situation, and merely stared at him, her eyes wide with panic. Suddenly she remembered what she had conveniently found only minutes before.
She reached into her pocket and pulled out the bottle. Draco recognised it immediately, as he normally would after years of playing Quidditch, and spending many nights in the hospital wing for various injuries.
He looked confused.
"Where'd you get that?" He asked, his voice slurring slightly from pain. "There's no wizarding shops 'round here."
Hermione kneeled beside him, handing him the bottle. He didn't take a swig, and she realised that he was waiting for her reply. She was hesitant.
"I found it," she said vaguely, "it was just lying around the place."
He stared at her, not in an accusing fashion, but almost as though he were waiting for the truth.
Hermione looked down at her hands, twiddling her thumbs.
"Granger." He prompted, though his voice wasn't harsh.
She looked up at him. He looked at her. She wasn't so much worried about telling him where she found it, just more of his reaction at her being nosey, as he would have put it.
"I found it in the basement," she admitted after a moment. She held her breath waiting for his beration, but it never came. Instead he stared at her with a look of confusion.
"Basement?" he asked. "I didn't even know there was a- bloody hell!"
He hissed loudly as another round of pain ebbed through his foot.
"Drink!" Hermione ordered.
He moved the bottle to his mouth with pale shaking hand and took a swig, making a face of disgust as he swallowed the potion down.
"That stuff never gets better," he said after a moment.
"Well, regardless of how it tastes, it's going to heal your foot." Hermione told him.
She suddenly felt bad for not doing more for him when he injured himself. First off, she could have prevented it, then she left him to suffer, only casting a mild charm on him to help him sleep. She should have insisted he go to the hospital, even to heal it the muggle way.
"I suppose," he said, looking thoughtful, "but now I won't get the pleasure of having you at my every beck and call."
He smirked, and Hermione found herself reddening involuntarily. She cleared her throat, to break the tension.
"Well, I certainly wont miss being stuck inside, keeping an eye out in case you fall down the stairs." She was completely serious, but he chuckled in response. It was a strange noise. Husky, with sharp undertones. Strangely nice.
She stood quickly.
"I made you breakfast," she told him, he nodded, looking slightly confused at her sudden distance. "Since, you're obviously incapacitated, I guess I'll have to bring it up to you."
"I can manage to get downstairs," he said quickly, looking rather eager at the thought.
Hermione raised her brow at his declaration, "It's not the getting down part I'm worried about. You're not exactly weightless."
Draco grinned brightly. Hermione's stared in shock at seeing that expression on him. "We could always use a weightless charm."
She furrowed her brow at his suggestion. "It was you that told me to only use magic in emergencies."
He bit his lip, "This is kind of an emergency, right?"
He gave her a strange look, a look that made her resolve melt away. She sighed quietly.
"Fine," She sighed.
The weightless charm was easy enough to perform. It was magic they learnt during their first years at Hogwarts. The hardest part for Hermione was getting him down the stairs mostly without hurting him, but also without touching him in awkward places. She kept her hand steadfastly on his back.
He, on the other hand, gripped her hip like he was accustomed to each and every curve. She realised with a rush of blood to her cheeks that he was. As much as she didn't want to delve into that aspect of the past, her curiosity was indeed...curious.
They made it down to the dining table without any more fatal injuries. Draco's hand left a cool imprint on her hip after they parted, and she rubbed it until the warmth ebbed it away.
They sat down silently, and began to plate up their breakfast, which as surprisingly still warm.
"These look nice," Draco commented, scooping one of the soft pancakes onto his plate. "You've certainly got a knack for cooking. Is that something all muggle-borns are taught?"
Hermione looked up, wondering if the remark was a racist, snide stab at her upbringing, but found he was concentrating on his breakfast, a look of peace and happiness on his face. It was strange to hear him talk so casually about her upbringing, but she supposed they probably did it countless times in the past.
"I suppose not all muggle-borns," Hermione answered. "But my mother always thought that cooking was a skill that would come in handy in the future. That was before my Hogwarts letter. After that she realised I could probably do anything with magic."
"Do you think you will?" He asked.
She thought for a moment. "I don't think so. There's something more satisfying about getting your hands dirty."
Draco smirked, and Hermione realised how strange that sounded coming out of her mouth.
She tried to hold back her smile.
"So, since we've established that you like to get your hands dirty," Draco grinned, looking devilish, "which, by the way, is something you've never told me, what exactly does that involve?"
Hermione let out a small chuckle, "If you think I'm going to admit all my secrets, you're wrong."
Draco leaned back, looking smug. "I bet I know at least some of those secrets."
Hermione eyed him, she couldn't imagine that she would have ever told him anything too important. But she was curious as to what he did know.
She sat her fork down, crossing her arms on the table. "Ok, fine, which of my secrets do you know?"
Draco looked thoughtful for a moment.
"Ok," he bit his lip, "you hate flying. So much so, that you failed your first year exam for it, and you never took the class since."
Hermione raised her brow.
"That's not a secret," she told him smugly, though chuffed that he would remember such a pointless thing. "Neville knows that."
He sighed, "Alright then, your dream, though you think you could never achieve it, is to become the Minister of Magic. You told me that once, and you said you were too embarrassed to ever tell anyone. Don't know why though, it's a pretty realistic dream for you."
Hermione blushed. That was true. It had been her dream since she knew what the Minister of Magic did.
"Ok, you got that one." She admitted. He smiled smugly.
"Alright then," he continued, looking far too interested in the game. "I was your first."
She looked confused, "First what?"
"First everything," he said simply. "First arch nemesis," he grinned for a second, "uh, first person you swore at, I remember that well..." he looked as though he were remembering a funny memory. "Oh, I was the first person you ever slapped, the first person you ever hated."
Hermione was surprised that he would bring all that up. "True."
"But," he said suddenly, his voice teasing, "I was also your first crush, the first person you loved, the first person you kissed, the first person you-,"
"That's not fair because I cant remember that," Hermione told him, desperate to turn the conversation around.
"I guess this game isn't very fair then," he grinned, seemingly satisfied with her lack of denial.
They settled into silence for a while, the only sound the clatter of knives and forks as they finished off the last of the pancakes.
The sun was shining through the window, and Hermione watched as it turned Draco's hair a sparkling shade of silver. It danced on his pale skin, and Hermione stared at it with a strange interest.
He looked up and his eyes met hers, she looked at her hands swiftly. She didn't want him to mistake her curiosity for something else. She could feel his eyes on her still.
"I might go read outside," Hermione decided, standing from her seat at the table, and still not meeting his probing eyes.
"Sounds good," Draco replied jovially, beginning to stand. Hermione realised suddenly that he had taken her excuse to leave the awkwardness, as an invitation to come with her.
"I meant...alone," She said quietly, finally meeting his eyes.
"I know," He replied, "I was going to rest by the fireplace."
Hermione suddenly felt stupid for assuming that he would want to go with her. They felt awkward enough in each others presence as it was.
It was frustrating. There was so many questions she wanted to ask him, so much she couldn't stand not knowing, but she didn't feel comfortable enough to sit down and talk about it.
She watched as he limped over toward the fireplace, making sure he didn't fall. His walking was getting better again, so she assumed he would be fine by morning.
Once he was settled, she retrieved her book from upstairs, and wandered outside to her tree, leaning her back against the rough bark.
She closed her eyes for a moment, and let the sun warm her face.
Despite the company, and the situation, she wasn't feeling all that afraid any more. Sure, there was a powerful wizard out to get her, but once that factor was removed, she could almost imagine that she'd simply gone on a relaxing holiday.
Granted, Draco would normally be the last person she would want to be with, but he was quickly becoming more and more of a comfort to her. His face had normally brought her such panic and fear. Now the crease of anger was gone from his brow, and his icey grey eyes weren't so cold any more.
She hoped she wasn't becoming emotionally attached to him because of the kindness he had shown her when no one else had, or perhaps she was just feeling emotional and missed having someone around? Normally, she would be with family, or her and Neville would meet at Diagon Alley and spend the day hiding from his grandmother.
She smiled at the memories, and wondered if it would ever go back to that.
Would she ever manage to be safe again? Would she ever remember her lost memories? Would she ever get over the things she had done and had done to her?
Every hope seemed far away, and as much as it worried her, all her hopes were stacked on a blond boy in the nearby cabin, who didn't seem like he knew what to do much more than she did.
She sighed, and opened her book to the marked page. She could worry about that later, for now she wanted to lose herself in someone else's life.
Blaise was second guessing himself as he walked down the dirt path toward the crooked house ahead of him. Maybe it was a bad idea to come here, after everything that had happened, but in all honesty, he didn't knew where else to go.
Everyone else had a motive, he needed an honest opinion, from someone he could trust with his life. From someone who innately good, even if it hurt them. There was only one person he could think of.
He walked up the front steps,and knocked. Before noticing a wooden sign, which he read with a furrowed brow.
"Keep off the dirigible plums."
He saw the orange fruit floating and swaying from side to side. He reached his hand out and plucked one.
The whole tree shook with the unexpected force, and immediately all of the fruit began to fall off the stems. The door opened just in time to see all the fruit floating up into the sky, leaving nothing but an empty vine.
"Ahhh," A small, gentle voice began, "my father wont be happy. He's tended that fruit for months. Just a day before harvest, too."
Blaises head shot from the sky, down to the door. He saw Luna standing in the door jamb, staring at the sky with wonder.
"Luna, I'm-," he found himself losing the ability to speak, "I'm sorry. I just-I didn't mean to do that."
She turned to him and smiled, her big blue eyes twinkling with amusement. "It's alright. I never liked the taste. However, my father was quite fond of the plum wine he makes from them, so I can't speak for him."
Blaise swallowed thickly. He had never met Luna's father, but he was sure he wouldn't like to now.
"I'll pay for them, I promise," He swore. She simply smiled.
"I didn't expect a visit from you," She said, and he could see behind her eyes she was still thinking of the incident with Ginny.
Blaise gave her a small smile, hoping to make her feel better. "I did mean to visit sooner, but, well, some stuff came up. Stuff I sort of got tied up in."
Luna merely nodded in understanding, never one to pry. It was something Blaise had always liked about her.
"That's actually why I'm here," he said after a moment, "I need some advice off someone who won't try to convince me to do something for the wrong reasons."
Luna nodded, "Come in then. I'm sure since I have no idea what you're talking about, I'll give the best advice."
Blaise chuckled, and wandered inside, ready to spill the whole story to the person who should have always been a part of it.
Hermione finally closed her book, when it was too dark to see the pages any more, and too cold to stay outside any longer. She stood and stretched, before walking back toward the house. As she stepped through the door she was hit by a strong smell that made her cringe.
She walked over to the couch to find Draco lounging in front of the lit fire, with a glass of something gross in his hands. She made a face of disgust just as he looked up at her.
"What is that?" She asked, eyeing the glass.
He looked down at it, before looking up at her.
"It's fire whisky," He replied, looking slightly confused as to her reaction.
"It smells like...like..." she couldn't find a comparison worthy enough, "it just smells."
Draco raised a brow, looking amused. "It's single malt, Hermione. Ridiculously expensive, and I may as well have some since it's not me paying for it."
"It still smells," she replied. That was all that mattered.
"Come sit down," he said patting the seat beside him.
Hermione narrowed her eyes at him. "Are you drunk?"
His eyes were glazed, and he was a lot more bubbly than usual, so that was a definite yes.
"No," he replied, trying to pull an honest face.
Hermione sighed before seating herself beside him, despite the strong smell of fire whisky that was in the air.
"Why would you get drunk?" She asked, trying to act pompous, although it was hard to revert back to that when in all honesty she wished she could let go for a night.
Draco shrugged, sipping the last shot of fire whisky from his glass and placing it down. "Why not? Everything around us is going to shit, so why pretend like we can do anything to stop it?"
Hermione stared at him for a moment. "Is that what you really think? That nothing will be ok?"
She hoped it was just drunk rambling, and not his honest feelings, because if Draco had no hope for being safe, then why should she?
"Well, this is good." he sighed, leaning back and watching her under hooded eyes.
"Being drunk? It wont be fun in the morning." She warned.
He smirked, and she found herself looking at him with an odd expression again. He never did answer her question.
"Granger, do you remember the day we first met?" he asked, looking at her.
She tilted her head, wondering if 'met' was the right word to use. "Yes."
"I was a git," he said. It was a statement that made Hermione turn to him with a curious expression.
"Yes, you were." She replied. Where was this going?
"But I'm not now," he said, his head back, staring at the ceiling. "because I've decided that you, Granger, are one of the few people I want to be civil to."
Hermione eyed him queerly. He was rambling, but maybe here was some truth in it.
"Why is that?" She asked after a moment.
He sat up suddenly, and she wondered how he had moved so quickly. He leant on the couch until he was facing her straight on. Hermione shifted awkwardly in her seat.
"You possess everything that I never knew I wanted in a girl. I never even had time for girls, apart from the occasional snog in the broom closet, but they were never anything more than a passing fancy."
Hermione raised her brow at his confession, wondering why it bothered her to hear that.
"My focus, my real interest and hobby you could say, had been torturing you. I would have gladly passed up 100 girls just to see that look of anger on your face. That look that sent me wild with a feeling I never even had a name for." He paused and smirked. "Later on, when I got older, I found out what it was."
Hermione understood his implication, and couldn't help but blush at the image of Draco pleasuring himself to the thought of her.
"I thought it would pass." he continued, his expression looked as though he were losing himself in the memory. "Kind of like some twisted fantasy I had. I was a git. I took pleasure in making people despise me, or fear me. It amused me to see it. But when I got older I lost interest in others and I found myself drawn in by you. I thought it was because I was so much better than you. But you soon showed me on that front. You beat me in everything school related. All I had over you was my name. And pretty soon I found myself hating the thought of you, but at the same time the thought of you made my blood run hot." He turned to look at her. "See, I'm a pervert."
She stared at him, as his mouth contorted into a smirk. He continued.
"That's when bloody whiny Zabini started hounding me. I guess I had been pushing it for too long. I would go out of my way to make sure I ran into you in the hallways. When I didn't see you, I couldn't sleep. I became even more of a git."
He sighed, and Hermione wondered if it was a sign of regret.
"It was hard to move past- the prejudice, I mean." He said softly, staring into the fireplace.
His hair was grazing his eyelids, and he pushed it away with his hand.
"I don't see why," she said, wondering how he could make out as though her blood was something bad, like he was justified in ever using it against her.
He lulled his head back on the couch, and turned it slightly so he was looking at her.
After he didn't say anything, she began fidgeting in her seat.
"What?" She snapped.
"I was just wondering when you're going to take your own advice."
Hermione sputtered with indignation. "It's hardly the same thing."
"I know, but if it helps my cause, I'm gonna stick with it," he smirked.
Hermione shook her head. He was unbelievable.
"So this 'cause' you talk about, what exactly does it involve?" She asked.
He took another sip of his fire whisky, and narrowed his eyes in thought.
"To make us both safe, from my father, and each other," he said.
She raised a brow.
"How is hiding away making us safe?" While she knew there was no other option, it was aggravating that Lucius had all the power.
Draco motioned between them. "We're not dead, so I'm going to assume that I'm succeeding."
She let out an amused snort. "I suppose you're right."
"I have to admit though," he said, his glazed eyes looking into hers, "I haven't exactly minded this arrangement."
She understood his implication, and felt her face growing hot. "Fair enough."
He lifted the glass toward her. "Sure you don't want some?"
She moved her face away from the glass, ensuring she didn't smell the sharp aroma. "I'm very sure. You better hope there's a potion in the basement that will help with your hangover in the morning."
Draco's face was starting to look rather pale already.
"Or perhaps it wont wait until the morning." She sighed. She stood and moved toward the basement entrance, lighting the end of her wand to provide her with some sight in the darkness.
She opened the door in the floor, and made her way down the stairs to the basement. The Lumos spell provided limited light, and it was freezing down there so she began searching quickly for something that would at least get rid of Draco's nausea.
While searching the vials on the shelf, she wondered why she even cared. It was self inflicted, and he had been quite happy to ignore the consequences, but at the same time, she felt like they only had each other to rely on, and that scared her more than the prospect of being covered in Draco's vomit.
She sighed. There was nothing in sight that would help him.
She moved toward the furthest wall, but noticed that the vials on the shelves there were empty. She moved her wand down toward the floor, before noticing a small crawl space in the corner of the room. She moved toward it hesitantly.
To gain access, she would have to crawl on her hands and knees, and she realised suddenly that the entrance was probably only ever used by house elves.
She got down on all fours and began to crawl, holding her wand up ahead of her.
She could see the faint glint of vials shining on shelves, and knew it was most likely where Lucius would have kept his most valuable potions. She crawled though the small entrance, which opened up into a small room.
The room surprised Hermione. Unlike the one before it, whose walls were stone, dripping with water and probably mould, this room had been cared for. The walls were clean and dry, along with the floor. There were several paintings in expensive looking frames that adorned the walls of the small room, and Hermione noticed what looked like a small sink in the corner of the room, but looking closer, she realised it was a pensieve, though it wasn't the same one Draco had.
Even the small differences between the first and second room were noticeable. The vials in this room were crystal, and seemed to be placed in some order, with small tags hanging off the lid of each. The shelves they sat on looked like silver, and Hermione could only assume it was real.
She looked around the room in awe. There must be some rare potions in here. And most likely something that could fix Draco, unless he had already passed out in his own vomit. She shuddered at the thought.
She moved toward the first shelf, and grabbed down a vial. She expected the potion name to be written in Latin, just to top off the look of the place, but instead she stood, staring at the vial in confusion. She placed it down slowly, and wondered if she should go back upstairs.
Instead she picked up the next vial, reading the tag attached. Her heart was beating rapidly, and she could feel her hands shaking. She placed the vial down.
She picked up another vial, reading the tag.
She placed it down, picking up another.
And as though it called out to her, as though she knew, she picked up another, and felt the bile rise in her throat as she read the tag.
Her hands shook as she gripped the delicate vial with dear life. She wasn't positive what was in there but she had a fair idea. She could feel her emotions seeping to the surface, and she choked on a sob. She was crying, not only for herself, but for all the people whose precious memories were sitting in a vial, in some mouldy basement.
"Who is that?" A low, grumbling voice echoed suddenly within the room. She jumped, nearly dropping the vial, and turning toward the sound. It was one of the portraits on the wall. An older man, who was posing in an ornate chair holding a pipe.
She ceased her Lumos charm, and fled from the room, feeling her way toward the small door in the wall, all the while the old man in the portrait muttered and cursed.
She raced up the stairs again, her breathing heavy from the panic and shock of her discovery, and from trying to hold back her emotions. She shut the hatch quickly and stood for a moment, staring down at the ornate bottle in her hand.
It made her angry. He had taken something from her. Something that was priceless, that couldn't be replaced, and he'd put it in a bottle. A tiny, worthless bottle.
She looked up, suddenly remembering Draco. He was sitting motionless on the lounge, deep breath's coming from his chest. He was asleep, and she was glad he couldn't see her this upset.
She stood for a moment, getting her thoughts back together. She took a deep breath, trying to calm herself enough in order to think rationally.
The first thought was clear: in this small glass vial, she was sure her stolen memories were stored.
And she didn't yet know how to put them back inside her head. The spell that had removed them was advanced magic, and putting them back was even more difficult. They were spells they didn't show you for a reason. It could ruin lives.
She looked around the room and her eyes stopped on something glinting in the corner.
She grabbed the pensieve and almost buckled under it's weight as she began up the stairs to her room. She wobbled through the door, and sat it down on the bed. She let out a deep breath of exertion, and closed the door behind her.
She sat behind the silver bowl, and removed the vial from her pocket. She stared at it nervously, watching the silver wisps float around inside. Knowing they contained everything she wanted to know, but was also hesitant about knowing.
She poured the vial into the pensive, and took a deep breath before lowering her head.
The silver wisps in front of her turned and twirled and eventually it formed a face. Then another face. She watched from a distance the interactions between her and Draco. It felt like hours within the pensieve, but in reality it was only minutes.
She watched as they changed. Her face, once cold and stoney toward him, began to warm up in his presence. She watched as Blaise and her own friendship blossomed. And how everything Blaise told her in Draco's defence turned out to be true. The things he endured, and was still enduring because he wanted to be with her.
She found herself blushing as she watched Draco and herself in the library, which resulted in a long kiss against the shelves. She watched as the dread she felt in his presence turned to excitement, and she watched as she eventually stopped fighting it.
It was odd to see Draco in this light. He was so relaxed and happy. However watching the memories wasn't the same as experiencing them. The feelings and emotions weren't able to be felt, only seen. It was like watching a movie. A display of event's, but not the same as experiencing it yourself.
Eventually the pensieve came to the part she had been most curious about but also dreading. The moment she'd given herself to him completely. She watched as he touched her intimately, and began to run his hand up her skirt-
There was a loud crash that infiltrated the memory, and it faded away. She lifted her head out of the pensieve and sat still. There was another bang, and yelling. She sat up quickly, grabbing her wand and racing to the door, only to stop quickly.
She turned around and grabbed the vial, and waved her wand. Her hands shook as the liquid floated back inside, and she placed the stopper in the top.
She turned back towards the door and raced down the stairs. As she reached the bottom step, she skidded to a halt.
She was faced with a blond head of hair, wearing a smirk, but it wasn't the one she was hoping to see.
Lucius Malfoy stood in the centre of the room, surrounded by his cronies, dressed in their usual Death Eater get-up.
Hermione scanned the room until she found Draco. He was kneeling on his knees, with one of the men standing behind him, keeping him still by grabbing a bunch of his hair. His hands were clearly bound behind his back. And much to Hermione's dismay, he was still very drunk.
"This is just too easy," Lucius chuckled, noting Draco's condition. "He's even a failure to his mud-blood."
Draco struggled against his bindings, his expression growing deathly.
"I'll kill you!" Draco shouted, only to have his head roughly pulled back by the Death Eater who had him gripped.
Lucius simply shook his head in disgust and turned to Hermione, before his eyes fell on the item in her hand. Before she could hide it, he flicked his wand and ripped it from her tight grip into his hands.
"I have eyes everywhere, filthy mudblood." Lucius seethed, scowling at the bottle. "You think you can steal from me and get away with it?"
Hermione suddenly remembered the portrait in the basement. It was guarding his trophies. She wanted to kick herself for being so stupid.
"They're mine," she shot back, trying to sound strong. "You stole them from me first."
Lucius simply looked at her. "Well, they will be nobody's now."
He opened his grip on the vial, and as if in slow motion, it fell from his hand. Hermione raced forward just in time to watch it smash into pieces on the floor. The silver wisps floated into the air, until eventually there was nothing.
"Crying wont bring back your pathetic little memories, you piece of filth." Lucius snarled.
It was only then that Hermione realised in all of her anger, that her face was wet with tears. She wiped them away quickly. She could feel her whole body shaking with an indescribable feeling of loathing, the tips of her fingers were crackling with pent up magic, and her heart was beating rapidly.
She did something that surprised even her. She smirked.
"Do you really thing destroying a few memories will stop the inevitable?" She asked Lucius, who looked shocked at her strong response.
"I'll destroy more than that." He threatened. Hermione let out a short laugh. Lucius was really just a vicious little boy deep down, like Draco had been, except Draco grew up.
She shook her head, "You can destroy the whole wizarding world and everyone in it, but you'll never be able to control him." She nodded toward Draco who was looking more alert now. He was staring at the broken vial on the floor, a million thoughts crossing through his eyes. "That's what this is all about. You want to break his spirit, make him into your clone. A heartless, evil monster. But even if you take me away from him, he'll never be that person. He's not like you, and you just need to accept that."
Lucius stared at her, his eyes full of hate and threat. But he didn't deny her claims, and Hermione knew deep down that it was all about control.
"A Malfoy never gives up." Lucius replied, ignoring her accusations. "I will never accept a disobedient, emotional fool for a son. If I have to erase every memory of you from each other, then so be it, but I will never accept weakness."
The threat hit Hermione hard. "If it's not me, it will just be someone else you don't approve of!"
Lucius laughed. "Then I will destroy her life, also."
Hermione tightened her fist, feeling the crackling bursts happening all over her body. It had been quite sometime since she'd used proper magic to her full potential and she could feel it all coming to the surface in her anger, like an overflowing well.
"If he doesn't remember you, you'll have nothing." Lucius snarled. He strolled over to where Draco kneeled, staring at the ground as though he'd given up.
"You cant erase me from his whole life!" Hermione cried, feeling more scared of that possibility then anything else. "He has people, friends, who will tell him about me!"
Lucius turned his head to look at her, a cold calculating expression on his face. "Not if he doesn't remember them either."
Hermione's voice caught in her throat, as Lucius raised his wand to Draco's temple. The blond boy looked up at her, his eyes full of fear, and what worried her most, acceptance.
She wouldn't have it. Lucius opened his mouth to speak the words that would effectively erase Draco forever.
"NO!" She cried so loudly that it shocked even her. The cry echoed through the small cabin, and in that moment, she found that the small crackles of magic turned into a tidal wave of emotion ebbing from her body.
Her eyes were closed tight, but she could hear the sound of loud crashes and breaking glass around her, as though she were stuck in the middle of a tornado. As though she were the tornado. Her body was shaking uncontrollably as explosion after explosion of power poured out of her skin.
After a few seconds, the bangs and crashes ebbed away to silence, and the last crackle of magic left her. She opened her eyes slowly, and gasped at what she saw in front of her.
The room was effectively destroyed. The windows were shattered, the furniture was strewn around the room, and the table was broken into pieces, along with numerous plates and what had been expensive looking vases and heirlooms, crushed on the floor.
Lucius Malfoy was unconscious against the opposite wall, his porcelain skin covered in cuts. The other Death Eaters had been thrown around in a similar fashion. One was laying against the remains of the kitchen table, his leg was twisted in an unhealthy direction. Another was hanging out one of the shattered windows.
Hermione searched the room until she found who she was looking for.
Draco was curled up beside the lounge, he had a few cuts on his face, but was still concious. He was staring at her as though he'd never seen her before. The binding spell on his wrists had been broken, and his arms were free again.
She knew their time was limited before the Death Eaters started regaining conciousness. She checked that her wand was still in her back pocket, before grabbing Draco around the waist and lifting her with all her might.
He stood unsteadily.
"How's your foot?" She asked quickly, "Can you run?"
Draco looked around the room. His eyes settled on his father, and he scowled. "I can run."
They gripped each other's hands without thinking and they raced out what was left of the front door. It was dark outside, but Hermione didn't light her wand for fear of being followed. They felt their way through the chaos of trees and branches, getting covered in scratches and cuts as they went, but they never stopped. The adrenaline kept them going, and the hope that they could escape was enough to work through the exhaustion.
After twenty minutes of sprinting through the trees, they came to the edge, where the landscape sprawled out into bare fields.
They looked at each other, both thinking the same thing. There would be nowhere to hide.
"We can make it," Hermione told him, feeling hopeful that they'd come this far. They were covered in cuts and bruises, but they were still alive. She looked across the vast landscape, trying to figure out where the closest village would be. They needed to get to somewhere they could at least hide when daylight hit in a few hours.
"Where is the closest town?" Hermione asked, figuring he would know better that she would. She turned to him, and found him staring into the trees intently.
He held up his hand, silencing her.
"I think I see someone," he whispered, still scanning through the trees.
She turned quickly, glancing through the darkness of the tree trunks, and sure enough, there were small blue lights floating about. Wands lit up.
"Run," Draco told her. They turned and took off into the night.
They didn't stop running for another half an hour, before pure exhaustion took over them. They took shelter next to a stone wall that split one field from the other. It was still dark around, and they sat in silence, their heavy breaths the only thing filling the air.
They didn't say anything, but Hermione felt a warm hand on hers. She didn't move it away, and instead embraced the feeling of having someone on her side. Someone she never thought would be.
"What happened back there?" He whispered. "I've never seen anything like that before."
She shrugged, though she too was curious. "I don't know. I was always prone to accidental magical outbursts when I was younger, but never at Hogwarts. I guess I just had a build up, and kind of exploded when your father tried to hurt you."
She saw him open his mouth, and she knew he was going to ask why she cared, but he closed it again. Instead they sat in silence.
Hermione felt herself drifting off some moments later, and it wasn't long after that her head lulled onto Draco's shoulder and she was able to forget for a moment what was happening an where they were.
She was woken abruptly by Draco nudging her.
"Wake up," he whispered, his voice full of concern. She sat up, and blinked a few times, gaining her bearings. Oh right, they were running from murderous, angry Death Eaters.
"There's someone flying above us on a broom," Draco hissed, looking to the sky. Hermione looked up, and sure enough, in the darkness she could make out the figure of someone on a broom, scanning the ground. They were lucky that they hadn't been spotted. But any second the sun would be rising.
"We should never have stopped," Hermione hissed, angry at herself for her physical weakness. It had allowed the Death Eaters to gain on them.
"You would have collapsed from exhaustion," Draco said plainly, "we both would have."
She knew he was right.
They watched the broom fly back and forth, come dangerously close, and fly far away, obviously searching for their whereabouts.
Eventually, the Death Eater flew back towards where they had come from, probably reporting back to the others.
"Do you think he saw us?" Hermione asked in a quiet whisper.
"I think we would be dead if he did," Draco answered honestly. "But we should make a break for it while we've got a chance. We might be able to find some shelter before they catch up."
They stood and began running again. Hermione's legs ached beneath her, and on every step she thought she would collapse under her own weight, but watching Draco push through his own pain, helped her keep going.
They stopped running when they saw a cluster of trees ahead. They leaned over, catching their breath.
"We should...head over there," Draco said in between gasps, "There could be a town on the other side...or if not, we can hide in the tree...'til it gets dark again."
The sun was rising, leaving the landscape around them with a light blue tinge. They were visible now.
They began walking toward the tree's, both unable to run any longer. Hermione was trying to push through the physical pain, and she could see Draco was suffering just as much.
"If we do make it to a town, what then?" She asked Draco. Even if they did escape, what was to stop Lucius from coming after the both of them, not to mention the people she loved.
"I know someone who can help us," Draco replied. "He's an old acquaintance from school."
"A Slytherin?" Hermione asked, not confident in Draco's plan.
"Yes," Draco replied. "He works for the Ministry, in the Department of Magical Accidents & Catastrophes. He's a genius. Always has been. He's the only person who knew where I was, besides Nott. That's who helped Nott get an internship into the Ministry."
Hermione was confused, how was this so called genius supposed to help them?
"The job of that department is to investigate accidents, and incidents that happen, that cant be solved by the Auror office." Draco continued explaining. "The cases that remain unsolved. Like the multiple attacks carried out by Death Eaters."
Hermione turned to him as they walked along. "Would the attack on myself be in there?"
"My father donates a large number of Galleons to each Department, in order to stay on every bodies good side," Draco sneered. "However, he personally visited the Department of Magical Accidents and donated a higher percentage than anywhere else, in exchange for them to close the cases that would cause 'tension in the magical world'."
Hermione furrowed her brow, "He was trying to bribe them? Did they take it?"
"They took it. But they used it all on investigating those cases specifically. My father has stopped all form of donation to that department, from anyone, and my friend isn't happy about that. He doesn't take well to being black-mailed."
"So why is he helping you?"Hermione asked, still not quite understanding.
"Because all those cases they investigated implicated my father. If my father goes to prison, I take over the fortune, and I've promised him a lot of funding if he makes sure it's a life sentence."
Hermione stopped walking and stared at him. "You would do that?"
Despite knowing Draco's feelings toward his father, she didn't think he would turn against him to that degree.
"In a heart beat," he replied. He didn't stop walking.
Hermione walked a few steps behind him, wondering if he would really go through with it. She knew he was a Slytherin, and they were good at detaching their emotion, but to want your own father to suffer for the rest of his life meant that Draco had so much hatred for the man it was unimaginable.
There was a loud rush of air above them, and they both looked up suddenly to see a figure on a broom flying above them.
"They're over here!" A voice crowed above them, circling like a hawk circles it's prey.
They didn't have time to think, and instead they both began sprinting toward the trees.
They could hear voices yelling from behind them.
Hermione focused only on her breathing, and the sound of Draco's footfalls beside her. But when they stopped, and she heard a loud grunt and a thud behind her, she skidded to a stop and turned back.
They had spelled his legs together with rope, and he was writhing around trying to get out.
She raced back to him, and fumbled quickly at the ropes.
"Keep running," he ordered. "Don't let them get you."
She shook her head quickly, trying to focus on keeping her hands still to remove the rope. It was hopeless though, every time she loosened it, it tightened more.
"Just go!" Draco yelled, trying to push her away.
"No!" She shot back. "I'm not letting them get you."
They could hear running footsteps in the distance, getting closer.
Draco sighed, as though he were angry and touched by her stubbornness.
"They'll kill you this time, Hermione." He said.
She knew it was a possibility, but it was wrong to leave him to save herself. She would either die here, or be unable to live with herself.
"How many times have you fought for me? I don't even remember them all, but I know you have. You still would, and you're still trying to. It's my turn to fight for you, and I'll make it hard on them." She grabbed her wand out, ready for their approach.
Draco stared at her in awe for a moment, before grabbing her face and pulling it against his. He kissed her with such a ferocity that Hermione almost forget where she was. His warm lips moulded perfectly with her's and she felt herself gripping his collar in order to pull him closer. Any thoughts of pushing him away left her mind, and she suddenly understood what it felt like to be close to him.
It was like she had never forgotten.
They kept their faces close, as they heard the Death Eater land nearby.
"If I don't remember you, I'm sorry," Draco told her.
The footsteps came to a stop beside them.
Hermione simply shook her head. "Don't ever be sorry."
She shot up quickly, surprised her legs would hold her weight, and in a second she had her whipped her wand up and pointed it directly at the nose of the Death Eater.
They stared at each other for a moment, before her wand hand faltered.
The harsh-lined face of hate and death that she thought she'd be staring at, was actually a youthful face with round spectacles and a lightning shaped scar on his forehead.
"You're not a death eater..." She said, dumbfounded. Potter looked at her as though she were mad.
Potter smirked. "Well, I wouldn't expect you to notice, since you were too busy eating each others faces."
She narrowed her eyes at him, feeling her face grow hot with anger. "Why didn't you say something? We thought we were going to die!"
Potter shrugged. "It was funny watching you run, I've never actually seen you run that fast, Granger."
She pulled her hand back and punched him square in the nose. He fell back in shock and she continued waling on him repeatedly as he begged her to stop.
"Hermione! What are you doing?" A familiar voice rang out. She saw a group of people walking towards her. She recognised Blaise, who was running toward the fight. Luna, who was staring dreamily. Weasley, who was laughing wildly. Nott, who was also looking amused. And several other wizards who she hadn't met, but looked as though they worked for the Ministry, if their uniform was anything to go by.
She turned back to Potter, "You. Complete. Ass!" She cried in between punches. "I'll never forgive you!"
She felt herself being dragged away from Potter, who looked dishevelled and nervous, but relatively uninjured.
She shook herself out of the grip, and turned to find herself face to face with Blaise.
"What's going on?" He asked her, though his eyes settled on Draco, who was still on the ground.
"He's a git, that's what happened." Draco responded, coldly. Blaise looked hurt, but it quickly turned to anger.
"How is Potter the git when he didn't run off for weeks, leaving all his friends to think he was dead?"
Draco glared. "I had my reason's, Zabini."
Blaise tossed his hands in the air. "Oh, well, that makes it ok, doesn't it?" He shouted sarcastically.
Hermione sighed. "He was looking for me, Blaise. If it wasn't for him, I'd be dead long ago."
Blaise turned to Hermione, as though he were going to argue, but as he saw the cuts and bruises, his eyes turned sad. He moved forward and hugged her.
"I'm glad you're alive. Knowing it for sure, is better than only hoping." He said. He held her for a moment, and Hermione watched as Draco's eyes fell to the ground.
"Ok, ok. The reunion is very heart warming, but let's get out of here and talk business." Hermione saw a dark-haired wizard approaching Draco. He held his hand out to the blond boy and Draco took it with a smirk, standing.
"Hermione, this is Marcus Romley, the wizard who's going to make us safe again."
They made their way back to Blaise's home, where the house elves brought out tea and sandwiches, and they sat giving first-hand accounts to Marcus Romley, and the two other wizards who turned out to be Aurors.
Blaise and Luna had visited the Ministry that day, their intention to report Hermione and Draco as missing persons. However, on their way to the Auror office, they had bumped into a familiar face: Nott.
When they explained their intentions to Nott, he had advised them against it, stating that against their best judgement, that they should trust him. However, as they were leaving a wizard who introduced himself as Marcus Romley had explained that Draco and Hermione were no longer safe, and that Lucius had somehow discovered the location and was heading there right that second.
They set off with back up, and what they came upon was a destroyed cabin full of unconscious and injured wizards. Romley already had enough evidence to lock Lucius up, and immediately arrested them, then set out searching for Draco and Hermione.
After a nice meal, Romley stood. "I'll take Miss Granger back to her home. Malfoy, I suggest you stay here until the trial at the Ministry. It won't take much time. We have enough evidence to put him away in as little as five minutes."
Malfoy nodded, but his eyes didn't leave Hermione's.
They disapparated, and landed outside her home. It was the same as she remembered.
"Will we be safe?" She asked. She didn't want a group of Death Eaters breaking in through the night.
Romley nodded. "Yes. We've got wards up. Only someone who shares blood with a Granger can cross them."
She thanked him, and he turned to walk away before stopping.
"One question," he asked, his expression curious, "What happened to that cabin?"
Hermione didn't know herself, but she knew why. "I was sick of being a victim."
He stared at her curiously, before smirking. "That's the way."
He disappeared with a crack, and Hermione walked inside to the greeting of her parents. Something she had missed so much it didn't hit her until that moment.
Blaise sat back on the couch, hot chocolate in hand. Draco sat across from his, staring at the wall above his head, a sour expression on his face. Weasley had gone back to the burrow, and Potter had retired to his bedroom for some much needed sleep.
Blaise sipped his hot drink, before sitting it on the table in front of him.
"Are you sure you don't want one?" Blaise asked, referring to the drink in front of him.
"Positive," Draco replied, his response was short and snippy.
"I don't understand how we can go from being best mates, to you hating me," he said, feeling frustrated at Draco's behaviour. "You left without telling any of us where you were. We should be mad at you, but even I'm trying to understand that you did what you felt you had to. It kept Hermione safe, and I'm glad about that."
Draco eyed Blaise. "You'd already accepted she was dead. I wanted help from people who weren't going to question my sanity every two minutes."
Blaise scoffed, although Draco had a point. They would have tried to stop him for his own sake.
"So you trust Nott? And some guy who you knew from school years ago?" Blaise was hurt more than anything.
"Sometimes the people you can trust the most are the ones you can buy." Draco said simply.
Blaise sighed in frustration, before sitting back. He ran his hands through his hair, wondering how this short amount of time had caused so much damage.
"I don't understand why you're so pissed at me!" He snapped.
Draco shook his head, as though Blaise were an ignorant fool.
"The whole time I was a git, and quite fine with being a git, to everyone, but especially Hermione," Draco explained, "you pushed and pushed until I eventually admitted that I was attracted to her."
"Then after that you pushed and pushed until I told her, and kept telling her until she looked at me with something other than disgust. You pushed me into something with the possibility that it could all go to shit."
"What's wrong with that?" Blaise asked, "You deserved hope, it was always possible."
"The one moment I needed you to be on my side, you tell me to give up with no proof and no confirmation. You told me to give up on her being alive. Where was the possibility of hope then?"
Blaise opened his mouth to argue back, but closed it again. He didn't think of that, he had never thought of it. He should have been the one encouraging Draco in his crazy schemes, not stopping him.
"I should have come with you when you left. It should have been me helping you find her." Blaise said softly.
Draco stood, his anger visible. "Exactly! And instead I'm left with Nott for help. Of all people!"
Blaise sighed, before speaking. "Why does it matter now? She's ok. She's alive. And from what I saw in that field, you might still have a chance with her."
Draco looked down at his feet, and Blaise wasn't sure if it was anger or embarrassment turning his cheeks a shade of red.
"Her memories of me were right there, within reach, and now they're gone for good." Draco sighed.
"If you only had a chance with her because of one particular set of memories, then it wasn't meant to happen," Blaise told him, "but I know that what I saw was you both rekindling something you thought was lost with her memories of you."
"It still doesn't change the fact that with your help, she could have kept the memories. If you'd been there. I guess I'll have to find a way to forgive you," Draco continued.
Blaise was thankful he was at least going to try. He looked down at his intertwined fingers.
"You know the true test of friendship?" Draco asked, rhetorically. "Giving up something you truly care about."
Blaise looked up curiously. What was he getting at?
"For example," Draco began innocently, "a Platinum model Lightning Bolt."
"You slimy little-!" Blaise shot up, glaring at the blond., who looked back with a look that was just daring him to finish his sentence.
"It's a small sacrifice," Draco told him.
"You're a git," Blaise replied.
"What's more important to you monetary items, or friendship?" Draco asked. Blaise snorted in disbelief. The nerve of him.
"My mother gave me that broom," Blaise reminded him, hoping he might feel bad for his blackmail.
"I'll make sure I polish it everyday," Draco replied brightly, not budging. Blaise wanted to kick himself for falling into this trap.
"Bloody fine!" He gave in, throwing his hands up. "Have the damn broom."
"It's a small price to pay for forgiveness." Draco said, looking far too pleased with himself.
Blaise threw a cushion at his face, and grinned when it hit him square in the nose.
Two days after she returned home, Hermione was trying to adjust back into normality. It was strange how living without a large chunk of her memories had become normal for her. When she had told everyone what happened to them, they had all stared at her with pity. She'd hated it.
It wasn't as though she was missing something. How can you miss something if you cant remember?
The issue was now she had replaced those memories with new ones.
There was no more love story of opposites attracting in her head. It was a dangerous story of two people running, and who happened to have circumstances keeping them apart.
She picked up the Daily Prophet, and read over the front article again.
Malfoy Patriarch Sentenced to Life in Azkaban
The newspaper was buzzing with reports of the story. Other Death Eaters had been arrested over their crimes, facing similar sentences, and there had been a page with a large photo of Draco. He was leaving the Ministry, his pale skin marred by dark lines. His mother was walking behind him, her head turned to the ground. Despite their close proximity, they looked as though they barely knew each other.
The article read: Malfoys only son takes over family fortune.
Hermione put the paper down and drank the last of her tea, before walking upstairs to her room.
It had been quite dusty when she returned, but she felt quite at ease in no time. He parents, unaware of her trauma, had left for work early this morning, leaving her home alone. She had thought of studying, but there was far too much going on to concentrate.
Instead she found herself dressing in a nice white dress that matched the weather outside. She left her hair out in waves, and pulled her small beaded bag over her shoulder. She gathered all of the Galleons she had sitting in her money box, and put them in her purse.
She arrived in Diagon Alley during peak hour. Wizards were racing around running there morning errands and heading to work, others were standing around discussing the name on everybodies lips: Malfoy.
She was glad her name had been left out of the paper, and she was able to walk the the crowds without stares, but Hermione knew the time had come for her to make decision. She made it through the sea of people, and down the dark alley to Borgin & Burkes.
The bell chimed as she entered the shop, and the old dirty looking wizard behind the counter looked up at her with a snarling expression.
"Hello," she said, nervously. He didn't reply.
She hesitantly began browsing the cabinets under his glare, until her eyes fell on one particular item and she smiled to herself.
"I'll take that."
It was late afternoon at the Zabini manor, and all four boys were playing Quidditch in the sun. Despite the events of that morning, and how quiet he'd been during the trial at the Ministry, Draco seemed to have perked up more. Blaise pinned it down to his new broom that he was racing around on.
Potter and Weasley were tossing a quaffle between them, and Blaise was hovering high above them, contemplating everything that had just happened. He was staring into the distance when a small figure popped into the horizon, just at the end of the path towards his house.
He recognised the frizzy hair immediately.
He aimed his broom downward and zoomed toward her, finally landing a few feet ahead, a curious expression on his face.
Hermione jumped as a figure landed in front of her, and her hand flew to her heart, which was already thumping with nerves. When she recognised Blaise's face, she let out a breath.
"You scared me," she said, smiling slightly, though her stomach was tight with knots.
He smiled at her. "I'm sorry, you're just an unexpected visitor."
She nodded, looking at her feet. "I know."
There were three more thuds, and she looked up quickly to see Potter, Weasley and Draco standing behind Blaise.
Her eyes focused on the grey ones as he moved forward.
His hair was messy today, it must have been from flying, as he had his broom in hand. He was dressed in his Quidditch uniform, leaving Hermione with an uncomfortably nice view of his muscles.
She swallowed thickly, as he continued to stare at her, his expression a mixture of awe, shock, and expectation.
"I wanted to talk to you," she said, looking directly at him. The other boys watched him to gauge his reaction, but he didn't say or do anything other than nod once. He turned, handed his broom to Blaise, and began walking toward the house.
Hermione stared dumbly for a second, before walking quickly after him, smiling nervously at Blaise at she went.
The three boys watched with confused expressions, as they entered the front door.
"What's wrong with him?" Potter asked, referring to Draco's odd behaviour.
Blaise stared at the closing door. "I think he's just afraid."
Weasley raised a brow. "Afraid of what?"
Blaise sighed, hoping they would both be wrong.
"That she'll leave him again."
Hermione looked around the large house in awe, before she heard Draco close he door behind them. He continued walking through different rooms, until they came into a large sitting room. It was like Hermione had never seen. Her awe was broken by him sitting loudly on the lounge, his eyes not meeting hers.
"Do you want something to drink?" He offered, in an overly polite tone.
She declined, before sitting on the lounge opposite him. They were silent for a moment.
"I saw the Daily Prophet." She began, "I'm glad you'll be able to live the life you want now."
He looked up at her, but didn't say anything.
"What will your mother do?" The Malfoy Matriarch had always seemed to be overthrown by her vicious husband, now maybe she would be able to enjoy life.
Draco sighed. "She was upset. She cried when the Wizengamot read out the verdict. Despite what a monster my father is, loving him and being loyal to him is all she's ever known. She hasn't realised it yet, but she'll be better off without him. Everyone will." There was a bitterness in his voice as he spoke.
Hermione nodded. "Will you stay with her?"
Draco shook his head. "No. Zabini has invited me to stay here. My mother will remain at the manor. Even though she helped me in the end, there's just too much I cant forgive."
"She saved my life," Hermione said, feeling bad that he would condemn a woman who was also a victim.
Draco frowned at her words. "She saved your life through her silence, and she destroyed mine in the same way." He looked toward his feet. "Maybe one day I will learn to forgive her, but not yet."
Hermione gave him a small smile. "I'm glad."
There was another moment of silence, before Draco spoke.
"I'm sorry about your memories. I didn't know they were there. I didn't even know my father had kept them," his expression turned dark as he spoke.
Hermione swallowed thickly.
"It was upsetting to find them," She admitted, "and even more upsetting to lose them straight away. But I feel like that part of my life isn't valid now. I've changed so much, they wouldn't even feel like my memories any more."
She didn't realise the effect her words were having on Draco, until he suddenly stood and walked swiftly out of the room. She sat there stunned, before standing and racing after him.
She found him in an adjacent room that looked as though it merely existed to display expensive antiques. He was leaning against the wall, his hands were shaking and Hermione walked quickly to his side.
He didn't meet her eye, no matter how many times she tried.
"I cant do this any more," he said, his voice thick, "I can't keep chasing you, and getting so close to having you, then have you pull away with some cruel words."
Hermione was shocked by how much her stomach lurched at his words.
"But I didn't mean that," she said quickly, suddenly feeling like the positions were reversed. "I only meant that what we experienced feels like the real way we got to know each other."
He looked up, his brows furrowed in silent question.
"I've spent this whole time hating you because of how you used to treat me, instead of forgiving me for how you treat me now. You never stopped fighting for me, and I still didn't see it. I would be stupid to push something like that out of my life." He stared at her as though he were hanging off her every word. "But you still have all those memories that I lost, I'm months behind, you're months ahead. We aren't on the same page. You know me, and I'm just getting to know you. I'm still at the beginning, but...I want to catch up. I just- I cant just skip hundreds of pages to get to where you are. I need you to wait for me," she looked up quickly, "only if you want to."
Draco stared at her, his eyes wide with shock.
"Please say something," she said, feeling the nerves creep in.
"Are you really making a book metaphor?" He asked, and began guffawing loudly.
She stuck her nose up in the air, offended. "It was appropriate!"
After a moment, he stopped laughing his eyes full of mirth. It was the happiest she'd seen him in a long time. After a moment, he answered her. "You don't even have to ask."
She reached into her pocket and pulled out a velvet pouch. Draco watched her curiously. She handed it to him, watching nervously at he opened it.
He pulled out a silver fog watch, with a single shell engraved on the front. It matched her necklace.
"I cant give you what you want right now, but whenever I think or talk about you, this will grow warm. I want you to keep it so you don't feel alone, because I know you have for a long time."
He didn't say anything, but simply stared at the watch as it began to warm up in his fingers. Strangely enough, it provided him with comfort, but he would never tell anyone that.
"It will be good for timing how long you make me wait, too," he joked, but there was a twinkle in his eye that didn't go away.
They walked out shortly after, and found the three boys flying through the air again, they stopped and watched the two. They walked to the end of the path and stopped to say their goodbyes.
"I'll owl you," Hermione promised, excited at the prospect of letting the past go and starting fresh.
Draco nodded. "Oh, Granger, one last thing."
Draco grabbed her face and planted a passionate kiss right on her lips. She felt her head spinning, and after a moment he let go. The sound of wolf whistles and cheering could be heard from above them.
She stared at him in shock, her cheeks red. "That was like skipping from page one to the last page" she said, breathless.
He shrugged innocently, "Sometimes I like to read the last page first so I know how it ends."
She simply shook her head, and disappeared with a crack
Draco turned and began to walk up the path again. His expression turned to a pleased smirk when he felt the watch in his pocket grow hot.
And he never once let go of that watch. It always stayed with him. As school returned and the months went on, he was pleased to find it went from growing hot two or three times a day, to nine of ten. Eventually, it never went cold again. And that was when he knew.
He paced in his dorm one night, just days before graduation. Potter and Weasley sat on their beds watching him curiously. Hermione and himself had been seeing each other since the middle of their 7th year, and they still hadn't announced to anyone outside of their close friends. They had spoken about waiting until after they graduated, so they wouldn't have to put up with people's comments. However, Draco had grown restless, and he wanted to give everyone a big middle-finger before they left.
Finally, Blaise entered the dorm and noticed Draco's demeanour. He sighed.
"Don't ask me for my opinion again, I already said just do it." Blaise said, as he went and flopped onto his bed.
"You're hardly helpful, Zabini! Stop snogging Loony and actually give me some advice!"
Blaise growled into his pillow, "My advice is just bloody do it!"
Weasley and Potter shared a look. This same argument had happened every day for the past week.
"Well, my opinion is that you're both too young," Potter chimed in, "Live a little!"
Draco ignored him. "Fine! I'll bloody do it."
And this time he actually meant it.
On the day of their graduation, the students piled into the hall. The 7th year students were dressed in their gowns, as the final speech by Dumbledore was about to be made.
The hall was silent, and Dumbledore had just opened his mouth to speak before Draco shot up in his seat.
"Excuse me, sir!" He shouted, and his voice echoed around the large hall.
Blaise sunk in his seat next to him. He didn't think he would actually do it. Hundreds of eyes around the hall turned to stare at Draco, including those of the teachers, and Dumbledore. Hermione was staring at him with a curious, and slightly horrified expression.
Dumbledore fixed his glasses on his nose, as if to see who was speaking. "Ah, Mr Malfoy, what is so important that it has to be said in front of the whole assembly?"
Draco stepped over his seat, and began to walk up to where Dumbledore was standing, addressing the students.
"I'll just be a moment," Draco advised him, oblivious to the looks of horror on his friends faces.
Dumbledore, looking amused, allowed him to stand behind the podium.
Draco cleared his throat once, before he began talking.
"Now, many of you may remember a buck-toothed, frizzy-haired girl named Hermione Granger who started school in the same year I did." The hall turned to stare at Hermione's horrified expression, and many began guffawing, mostly from the Slytherin table. "She was a book-worm, and a know-it-all, well, she kind of still is. But the point is, I hated her-,"
"Mr Malfoy, if this is your speech it leaves much to be desired."
The hall was laughing loudly, and Hermione's face, much to Draco's ignorance, was a lovely shade of purple, she stood and stormed toward the hall doors.
"But I'm not finished-," Draco began, before noticing Hermione walking out.
"Hermione! Wait!" He cried above the noise. She stopped hesitantly, but the crowd was still laughing and chattering at his speech.
"Shut up, you idiots!" Draco cried in anger, "I'm trying to propose!"
"Wait, wait, wait!" Draco interrupted Blaises retelling of the story, as the group fell into guffaws. "That's not how it happened."
The blond was looking thoroughly embarrassed.
Hermione chuckled, "I recall it went something very much like that."
Draco shrugged. "It was years ago, memories are bound to get foggy."
Weasley and Emily were seated on the opposite chair chuckling. Ginny, potter and Neville were all seated on the carpet it front of the fire. Luna and Blaise were tucked in each others embrace, and Draco and Hermione sat in the large chair near the coffee table, their hands entwined.
"More tea, anyone?" Luna offered, standing and grabbing the pot from the table. Blaise smiled at the engagement ring on her finger. They had all come to Zabini manor to celebrate.
Everyone declined, having already had two pots full.
"I will have more biscuits though," Hermione said, smiling sheepishly.
"I swear, Hermione," Potter began in awe, "you're appetite is putting Weasleys to shame lately. I predict you've got a strong future Quidditch captain growing in there." He nodded toward her protruding stomach.
Draco grinned from ear to ear at Potter's comment. He had been saying the same thing for months.
Later that night as they lay in bed, Draco rolled over and placed his hand on Hermione's stomach.
She could see by his expression, that something was on his mind.
"What is it?" She asked, placing her hand on his.
"I just want him to like me more than I liked my own father," Draco admitted.
Hermione frowned. "He'll love you, just like I love you."
Draco looked up at her. "It took you a long time to love me."
"Because you were an ass," She chuckled. He smirked, but she could see he was worried.
"What if I have to be like that to him sometimes?"
"He'll forgive you, and even if he says cruel things, you'll know they aren't true."
"How do you know?" He asked, looking worried.
"Because I know there's a fine line between love and hate, and sometimes people get confused."
He knew that, and it helped ease his doubts, if only for a moment.
A/N: Thanks everyone for reading this story, and leaving heaps of positive reviews. I had a lot of fun writing it. I hope you enjoyed it. :)