"This doesn't have anything to do with the conversation my oh-so-tactful brother in laws sprung on you in the hospital, does it?" Audrey raised a brow at Hermione, sipping on her tea. Hermione flushed, embarrassed that she even knew about that.

"I'd be lying if I said that their concerns hadn't crossed my mind." She said casually. Audrey grinned, knowing that their concerns had probably prompted her friend into asking her for such a favor.

"I'm sure you could get a job in any department Hermione, with your name alone. Magical law though? You've never had any interest, tell me how this fits into your plan of somehow getting out of your marriage." Audrey inquired. Hermione flushed again. She'd known that Audrey could read her pretty well, and the fact that she was desperate for some sort of stability in her life was the first and foremost reason that she was there. However, gaining some footing in the magical law department could only help her with her case. Even if she didn't get any extra information, hopefully her presence could make Powell a little uneasy.

"It's the same plan. I just figured while I'm doing so much research I might as well get paid, a little stability never hurt anyone." She confessed. The other witch nodded, seeming to understand the situation.

"I heard I might actually be seeing you at George's shop for the party, with Malfoy? I'm just dying with curiosity as to how you managed that." She grinned, sensing Hermione's hesitancy and quickly changing the subject. Hermione rolled her eyes, frowning. In truth she didn't feel like she'd managed to do anything useful whatsoever. Although she had compromised with Draco in order to get him to the party, she would also have to attend the much more reserved party at the Zabini residence. She thought about feigning ill to get out of it, but she knew she would only piss off Malfoy more and have to make up the time later anyway.

"Trust me it wasn't without sacrifice." She assured Audrey. "But the bigger question is how did you manage to get your husband to agree to go?" Hermione laughed, quirking an eyebrow.

"Percy and I will probably head home before the climax of the festivities, I'd hate to spend my Sunday reaping the percussions of my husband's cardiac arrest." She replied.

"I'm hoping to make it back after my two required hours at the Zabini's, so I don't miss all the fun." Hermione sighed. "But marriage," she said the word as though is caused a bitter taste in her mouth, "as you once said is all about compromise." Hermione concluded with a defeated sigh. A comfortable silence enveloped the two of them for a few moments.

"There's nothing you can do about it, you know that right?" Audrey said smoothly, a serious tone taking over. The turn of topics surprised Hermione, catching her off guard.

"About the marriage? I'm well-aware of my odds—

"Of course you are, you're Hermione Granger." Audrey interrupted. Hermione was a bit taken aback by her forward comment and Audrey took the silence as a sign for her to continue.

"I mean I'll get you the job, I just hope you don't think this is going to dramatically change your situation. I'd encourage you to take back your former position in potions. Hermione, you deserve to be happy, at least in one aspect of your life." Audrey chastised.

Hermione desperately wanted to tell her that here was no way she could possibly be happy with Malfoy in the picture, but she couldn't bring herself to make that argument yet again. She wanted to argue with her that as long as this marriage law ran her life, she refused to be happy, but frankly she was tired of being miserable all the time. She might not be happy if she took back her old job, but she imagined she could be a little less miserable.



"I'll kill him!" Pansy's high pitched screech invaded the piercing silence of his office. Draco rolled his eyes, he wasn't in the mood to deal with her, especially not with his impending public appearance with Granger on his mind.

"May I help you?" He bit out when the door to his office flung open. He didn't even look up from his paperwork, he'd always found that the more he ignored Pansy's theatrics the sooner they would be over.

"Pansy Pucey." She elongated the sounds, slapping her hands on his desk. He grimaced, and briefly considered hexing her for interrupting his workday so violently, Granger had him on edge already and if she was really coming to complain about her match, she would have another thing coming.

"Think about how bloody ridiculous that sounds. My name will be a tongue twister! It sounds like one of those practical jokes that Weasley makes such a fortune off of." She sighed, finally withdrawing her hands from his desk. He rolled his eyes, he really didn't have patience for this right now.

"Let me guess, you also have to pick a wedding date before the end of the week?" She drawled, undeterred by his lack of response thus far. "Well I hate to beat you to the punch, Draco, love." She smirked, "But December 2nd is officially off limits, save the date."

"And what makes you think I'll be attending the very unholy matrimony of you and my employee?" He said gruffly, but he hardly meant it. He knew he'd be there on Pansy's day, even if she was marrying one of the most incompetent Slytherins he'd ever had the displeasure of knowing. He almost felt bad for Pans, but he knew at some point they would come to terms. There was potential there, which was more than could be said for his current situation.

She frowned. "Don't be coy Drakie, who else will object if you're not around?" She teased, standing up and brushing herself off. He scoffed at the idea. He wasn't even sure what would happen if he were to do such a thing. She let the silence overtake them for a moment, and he became hopeful that she might leave so he could work in peace for the rest of the day.

"I take it you're not having much luck with our favorite female Gryffindor?" She said without malice.

"Piss off Pans, I'm trying to work." He said, sending her a glare. As much as he appreciated her concern, there was nothing anyone could do to help him survive the four hours he was required to spend with Granger each week.

"Have you tried buying her books? Merlin knows they were the only thing that got her to shut the hell up for five minutes at Hogwarts." She rolled her eyes, but Draco paused to look at her.

"What are you on about? Granger wouldn't ever accept a gift from me." He deadpanned, but he wondered if Pansy was onto something.

"Well not just any gift." She shrugged. "The only reason I'm able to stand Pucey for more than a moment at a time is because I've been taking him to quidditch matches. I've never seen him more focused than when he's watching a match, and you know I've never had trouble kicking back and enjoying a game." She winked. Draco ignored her innuendo, kicking himself for not thinking of it sooner.

"I heard Granger quit her job in potions research to study this blasted law." She began, "I'm sure you have access to some particularly rare books on those matters." Draco nodded, but then remembered who he was talking to.

"What's your angle Pansy? How is it better for you in the long run if Pucey isn't ready to kill himself?" He snapped. He'd never actually considered a future for he and Granger where she wasn't completely insufferable. She shook her head slowly before crouching down so she was face level with him.

"I know we swore to never speak of it, but you really were quite insightful that night Draco." She cooed. He tensed at her mention of the conversations that took place the night they almost wed. He was ready to throttle her if she dared to say another word about his embarrassing emotional confessions. "It's not just about us anymore. It's not about you at all." She continued. He could feel her staring at him, almost as though she were willing him to look at her, but he refused. The blood drained from his face as he tried to swallow with some difficulty.

"There's going to be a child, Draco." She paused, letting the heavy truth rest on his shoulders and he wished she hadn't. "You refused to marry Astoria because she would have been shit for a mother and you knew it. So maybe it's your lucky day because Granger is about as far from Astoria as a woman could get. She might be a wretched wife but I've heard Gryffindors have excellent maternal instincts." She smirked. Draco took in a shaky breath and closed his eyes. He knew that everything she was saying was true, but he couldn't bring himself to see how it made any difference in his situation. He never wanted a child, but if he had to have one, he knew it couldn't be with someone as cold as Astoria. He wanted a loving nurturing mother for the heir he wouldn't know how to love. Of course Granger fit those qualifications, except he couldn't bloody stand her. He was putting up with her because she was his best shot out of the marriage, and truthfully…she was his best shot at having a kid that didn't turn out like him. He glanced to his forearm and could almost feel his scar burn beneath his shirt.

"In three years, Granger is going to be a mother to the next Malfoy heir even if you hate her. If things between the two of you don't change, your kid is going to be even more fucked up than you are." She whispered. She stood up slowly, making her way towards the door before she turned once more.

"And you said it yourself, you wouldn't wish that on anyone."

Draco watched her walk out of his office, his eyes glued to the door long after she was gone. He was frozen in place, unable to think. She was right Granger was going to be the mother to his child. Pansy's unwelcome reality check forced him to realize that Granger was a mess right now. If he was honest with himself, he knew that she had absolutely no idea how to get out of the marriage. Ever since the night she'd asked him about his backup plan, subconsciously he knew. He knew that she too was facing the cold hard reality that they were going to have to get married, even if they absolutely loathed each other. She didn't have a plan. Part of him found that he was slightly irritated with her, after all she was supposed to be the brightest witch of his age or whatever. She was supposed to be the one who made a way when there was no way. He let out a short breath, deciding that there was absolutely no use in getting more irritated with her.

He was going to have to marry her. He'd have to spend his life with her. He'd have to have a family with her. He shuddered at the thought. He had to admit that Granger was much easier on the eyes than she had been in school, in fact if she kept her mouth shut for one bloody second he'd probably think she was attractive. Procreating with Granger would be the easier part. Raising a child? That was another story entirely. He tried not to imagine the child that plagued his nightmares, begging for affection from his parents. Pansy was right, unless he did something to dramatically improve his relationship with Granger his kid was going to be even more fucked up than he was.



Hermione was in a relatively good mood when she arrived home at her flat the evening of the parties. She'd just situated herself into the lowest ranking job in the magical law department, and although the work was almost insulting to her intelligence, it felt good to be out again, feeling like she was actually doing something for herself. Of course it helped knowing that she would actually be able to put some funds back into her vault as well. She hummed happily as she set down her things on the counter, letting in the owl that was incessantly tapping on her kitchen window. She paid it no attention, seeing as that it was an owl she didn't recognize and untied the envelope before giving it a treat and watching it promptly fly away.

Glancing to the time she bit her lip. She only had a little over an hour before she was meeting Malfoy in order to walk into George's party together. She decided for publicity's sake they should arrive together, and she knew there would be plenty of press there. If there was one thing George Weasley knew how to do it was get attention. She quickly got ready, deciding to wear a dress to the party so she could throw her dress robes on over it on the way to the Zabini's. She would have preferred to wear something a bit more casual, but she wouldn't look out of place either.

After checking to make sure she looked presentable once more in the mirror, she noted the time again, pleased to see that she had a few more minutes before she had to leave. Idly, she made her way back into her kitchen, and picked up the letter she'd forgotten in her haste to get ready. She scrutinized the elegant script across the front of the envelope and came to the realization that it was probably another invite to her one of classmate's weddings. Intrigued to see what couple had taken the plunge so relatively early she tore it open and scanned over the words. It was as though her eyesight snagged on his name, unable to read any further. She read it over and over, like it couldn't really be his.

Ronald Weasley.

She wasn't sure why she was so shocked, but she was physically responding to the situation. Her hands were trembling in the slightest as tears threatened to spill from her eyes. She shook her head, squeezing her eyes tightly shut, willing the feelings to disappear. There was no reason for the dull ache in her chest, absolutely none at all. Not only had she been mortified at the idea of spending the rest of her life with Ron, but she'd actually left him at the altar. She quite literally had her chance and had no real regrets about letting it go.

After feeling so devastatingly guilty about hurting him in such a way she had absolutely wished this for him. When they were sorted she prayed he would be matched with someone that he got along with, someone that he would learn to love and happily spend his life with. Based on the fact that their wedding was so soon, this March, her wishes had probably come true. She should have been elated for him. Even when they'd spoken in Diagon Alley just a few weeks ago she'd silently and verbally wished him well.

Her feelings were completely blindsiding her and she could barely make any sense of them at all. She sat down at her table numbly and wiped the few tears that had managed to escape from her cheeks. This was exactly what she had wanted for him. She reminded herself several times. With a few deep breaths she managed to calm down. She remembered the distinct look of panic in his eyes when she'd told him she couldn't go through with the wedding and it gave her strength to remember that she really didn't want to marry him. She never expected she would end up with Ron, but she'd never really thought he would end up with anyone else either. It was a selfish thought of her, she knew that, but in all honesty she just hadn't been prepared for the reality that Ron was no longer an option and she no longer had a backup plan.

Ron was a safe place to fall. He always had been. Hermione closed her eyes tightly once more and held the envelope close to her, allowing herself to feel the ache and pain of loss momentarily. She was selfish to hold onto him the way that she did. It was selfish of her to grieve the fact that he was no longer an option for her, but she really needed to. After a moment of wallowing she shed a final tear and made a decision. It was time to let go. So she opened her eyes and set the envelope back on the table, letting her fingers brush across it before leaving it behind without looking back.



Harry didn't know what to make of the couple as they mingled through the party. He was sure that it would be a cold day in hell when he saw Malfoy in George's shop, and with his arm around Hermione, it was almost surreal. From across the room, they looked natural. Hermione was introducing him to Audrey and Percy. They looked like they were in love. Of course Harry knew that Powell was responsible for the way they were behaving. There was a lot of press here and Hermione was fairly brilliant about knowing how to pick her battles, so he trusted her judgment when she explained that she'd have to play along with Powell's games for a while.

He didn't necessarily like the fact that Hermione was planning on eventually fighting back against the marriage law again. However, seeing Malfoy, with his arm wrapped around her waist made him reevaluate the situation. He found himself tense with frustration, wishing he could do anything to wipe that smirk off Malfoy's face and get him the hell away from his best friend. Although Harry had vouched for the younger Malfoy's innocence in the Wizegamot it didn't mean that he liked him. He didn't believe that Malfoy was evil but he certainly thought he was a prat.

The war changed everyone, Malfoy included, but after bullying Hermione for six years during their adolescence Harry hardly thought he deserved someone as brilliant as her. In fact it made him incredibly uneasy to see him so close to her. As he watched them from across the room he realized how complicated things had become in her life and wished for the millionth time that she would have married Ron.

"He's not going to start throwing out killing curses, if that's what you're waiting for." Ginny sniggered in his ear, snaking her arms around his waist from behind. He sighed and tried to relax at her touch. She was right, he felt like he was poising himself for attack, waiting for Malfoy to cross a line he wasn't even sure existed.

"She's a big girl Harry. She'll come to you if she needs help. In the meantime you have to let her figure this out. Your attitude towards Malfoy is probably not making it easy for her to talk to you about it either." She chastised. He turned in her embrace, confused at her comment.

"You think she actually likes him?" He asked incredulously. Ginny shrugged.

"Is that such a crime? I still hate him, but I mean he's her fiancé." She shuddered. Harry smiled in spite of himself.

"The fact that they aren't dueling right here in the open shocks me." He responded dryly. Ginny was silent for a moment.

"Me too, but I'll take it as a good sign. Hermione will figure it out how to get out of it or make it work. We should just try to relax and support her, take advantage of the fact that you don't have to step in yet." She grinned.

"Yet." Harry repeated, casting another wary glance in his friend's direction before meeting Ginny's lips with his own.



Draco eyed Nott from the corner of the room, his rage growing by the second. He couldn't remember the last time he saw him in person. Of course the prophet had shown plenty of pictures of he and Astoria together in the last few months. Deep down, he knew it bothered him. It was more than bothersome really. It hadn't even been a week since he'd called off his engagement to Astoria when she announced her engagement to Nott and at the time Draco was livid. Theo was supposed to be his friend, one of his good friends. In fact, had Draco actually planned on having groomsmen…no Theo probably wouldn't have been one, but he would have had a good seat during the ceremony.

However, Draco's anger lasted only a few days once he realized he literally didn't have time to be angry. At the time all he heard was the ticking of the clock, counting down to the ministry deadline and he needed to get over everything that happened with Astoria, immediately. So he didn't think of them again. When he received his invitation in the mail, he promptly burned it. He didn't even open it. He dodged all Theo's owls, and avoided him at all costs, keeping his anger at bay until he had time for it and right now, he definitely had the time.

Before noticing Nott, Draco had actually had a half way decent evening. While spending the first half of his night with the Weasley's was not something he would ever enjoy he was pleased to note that Hermione had not made the experience as difficult for him as she could have. In fact it looked like she was putting in almost as much effort as he was to make things effortless for them. Between her surprisingly good mood and the fact that they had to act like a couple in front of the press, he found the night almost easy to get through. He couldn't say he enjoyed the party, after all he spent most of the time pretending to laugh at something a Weasley said, but he didn't feel ready to kill himself either, so that was an unexpected plus.

He kept an arm around her waist throughout the night, feigning the attached fiancé. Although it was for publicity's sake he was pleasantly surprised to find that acting like he genuinely liked being this close to Granger wasn't as difficult of a task as he once thought it would be. He supposed that she would be stiff and incompliant. He decided she was probably not one for improvisation, seeing that she had meticulous plans for everything she did. He had very low expectations for Granger's acting abilities and thought he would probably have to do all of the work himself, but she definitely came through.

She seemed to lean into his touch and laugh or smile at all the right moments, it was almost as though she were actually flirting with him. Several times throughout the evening he'd almost forgotten the fact that they were acting. It felt far too natural for him, but he supposed that was probably a good thing, it proved that there was hope for them to live together in a semi-peaceful environment after all. Normally he would recoil from her especially good acting job, but he found that it made things a lot easier between them. When he turned off his brain and stopped analyzing the extensively thick tension that generally sat between them, the weight of their situation seemed a lot lighter, almost bearable. His job tonight was to convince the press that he and Hermione were happy together. He let out a short breath wondering if he could manage to convince himself too.

He thought being at the Zabini's would make him feel more relaxed. In fact he was sure it would be the easier part of the night, but after staring daggers at Nott for twenty minutes he wasn't so sure. He felt himself inching farther and farther away from Granger and the conversation she was trying to keep up with one of his mother's pompous associates until he was barely within hearing range of them. He was waiting for the right moment, precisely the moment when Astoria excused herself from her husband's side. He had no problems with Astoria when he thought about it. He'd done her wrong by leaving her so close to the deadline and she'd gotten him back by promptly marrying his best mate. In fact her actions towards Theo didn't surprise him, he expected it of her. She was determined to marry a wealthy young pureblood before the deadline was met, and he was right on the top of the list. What he didn't expect was Theo's complete ignorance of their friendship in starting a relationship with her.

Just as soon as Astoria excused herself from his side, Draco started a purposeful stride toward him, only to be intercepted by a small and feminine but firm grip on his elbow. He turned to see Pansy, a look of warning on her face. Somewhere in his mind he thought that he should probably listen to her silent plea, but before he could bring that thought forward he jerked out of her grasp and continued to make his way to his target.

Nott noticed him with a surprised look and purposefully excused himself from the group he was with to meet Draco halfway in one of the corners of the massive room.

"Draco." Theo said, his voice hesitant, as though unsure of which direction this conversation would go. Draco balled his hands into fists, gripping his wand with such ferocity that he was afraid it might snap. He was sure Theo could feel the rage radiating off of him in waves.

"Cut the pleasantries Nott, I think it's time you and I finally have this conversation." Draco said through gritted teeth. Theodore appraised the other man for a moment. He knew that Draco was fuming mad and he supposed he had a right to be. He let Astoria go and then got stuck with a muggleborn and not just any muggleborn, but Hermione fucking Granger, the worst of them all. Theo could see why Draco was mad, but he hardly thought he deserved the blunt end of his rage, especially not since he tried to apologize time and time again. But if it was a fight Draco wanted, he would get one.

"And what conversation would that be exactly?" Theo retorted.

"Drake…" Blaise's voice made Draco look away for a moment, noticing Blaise's safe distance from the two men, his tone implying a warning, but Draco hardly needed to be warned. He ignored his friend and turned back to Theo, giving him his full attention.

"Come off it Draco, it's not like you loved her or anything." Theo crossed his arms over his chest in a casual gesture, and smug smirk on his face. In less than a second Draco had Theo pinned against the wall, only a yard from where they'd been standing, his wand at the other man's throat. But he had nothing to say. He wished he could have said that of course he loved Astoria, but he didn't.

"You're dead to me Nott." Draco spat, and Theo have the nerve to let out a callous laugh that caught Draco off guard just enough for him to push him several yards back. Theo had his wand out now in an offensive stance against Draco, ready to duel if it came to that.

"Fuck off Drake. You're the one who called it off, she was fair game, and I wasn't about to let her get away either, not with the ministry breathing down our necks." Theo shrugged, still smiling, like it was all some big fucking joke.

"Her shit was still in my house, Nott. She wasn't even moved out when you started shagging her." Draco hissed in the other man's direction, keeping his tone low, his wand gripped tightly in his hand. He'd been waiting for this conversation for months.

"Well someone had to shag her and clearly you weren't up for the job." Nott spat back. Draco was seeing red. He was glad he'd waited to confront Nott because if he'd made that comment a few months back, Draco might have killed him, fortunately his problems were now much bigger than Astoria marrying one of his best mates.

"Back off Nott." Blaise warned. He knew to stay at the sidelines, he didn't want to step on Draco's toes, but if it came to hexes, he would step in.

"Piss off Zabini, this isn't your fight. Just because you pussies wouldn't shove a ring on a pretty pureblood's finger when the clock was ticking doesn't make you better than me. In fact it makes you fucking pathetic." He hissed. Draco thought he'd been mad a moment ago, but the more Nott antagonized him the more his definition of angry changed. He was enraged and fighting to keep in control. They were in public and what should have looked like a chat between old friends was quickly becoming a small spectacle. At this point though, Draco couldn't care less. His wand was at Nott's throat before he could blink and just as Draco went in for a hex he heard a small voice that brought reality crashing down upon him.

"Draco?" Hermione lost him just a minute or two ago and when she spotted him in the corner of the room she knew something was wrong. Wands were drawn and both men were poised to attack if necessary. It was almost as though something in her snapped when she saw him, her fiancé in an altercation. She felt strangely possessive of him as though no one was allowed to fight with him except for her. She nearly ran at the pair, completely focused on getting to the two of them as soon as humanly possible. When she was only a few yards away Pansy Parkinson grabbed both her wrists, physically restraining her from approaching the scene.

"Not your fight Granger." Pansy shrugged as her answer to Hermione's protests. But she relented hearing Theodore's cold laugh. Then he zeroed in on Draco, taking a step in his direction before looking him right in the eye.

"You're a fucking disgrace. Your father is probably rolling in his grave right now. You walk around with that mudblood on your arm like you're proud to be seen with her, when you should be using her to brush up on your unforgivables."

Hermione slackened in Pansy's tightening grip upon hearing the slur against her leave Theodore's lips. It wasn't that it was the worst thing she'd ever heard about herself, because it wasn't, not even close. Somewhere in the back of her mind she knew what all of these people were raised to think of her. Five years ago sentence wouldn't have even fazed her, but standing there at a party she was attending with Draco Malfoy, her fiancé, the words shook her to her core. She knew that some of these people wouldn't change. She knew that some people whispered, but to hear someone that Draco was associated with say those words like she wasn't even there terrified her, because this would be her life. She would have to spend her life with people who hoped that her husband spat on her. Her breath began to come in quick huffs as her eyes remained locked on the situation in front of her.

Hermione waited as a moment ticked by, expecting Draco to retaliate but unsure as to how. She thought that he would've sent hexes flying, but in one swift familiar motion, he shocked her. Draco drew back his fist and it met Theo's nose with a deafening crunch of bone that sent him stumbling backward in surprise, landing squarely on his back on the hard marble floor.

"If I'm the reason that my father is rolling in his grave then so be it. It serves him right, I'm glad to know that bastard won't get a single moment of peace, even in death." Draco spat at the ground before adjusting his robes casually. Hermione watched in absolute awe as Draco turned to Blaise, his face an emotionless mask. It was almost as though the altercation hadn't even occurred.

"Thank your Mother for the evening for us, will you?" Draco asked dryly, but before he would take a step Blaise caught his arm.

"You punched him." He stated, clearly in surprise. "You're the best dueler I know, and you punched him." He said, mirroring the same confusion that had rendered Hermione immobile. Draco cast his gaze downward and shrugged before looking up at his friend,

"I wanted to do it the muggle way." Draco immediately turned his head, his eyes catching Granger's for a split second.

Hermione's heart surged, she felt like her head was exploding with emotions and ideas that verged on an epiphany. If Pansy hadn't still had a grip on her she may have fallen in shock. Though nothing about it seemed logical at all, Draco had just defended her. Though the confrontation had much more to do with what an insufferable git Theodore was, in a way Draco had most certainly stood up for her, the muggle way. Her horror subsided as quickly as it had come and was replaced with a tight ball of warmth in her gut that she didn't recognize.

She was right, some people hadn't changed their ideals, in fact many of them were inwardly if not outwardly repulsed by the idea that she was with someone like Draco, whether or not she'd chosen to be. She was right in her understanding that as long as she was forced to marry Draco she would be somewhat forced to be submersed in his world, where there were undoubtedly vile human beings lurking around many corners. But she was wrong about Draco. She knew that he wasn't the same boy who's mercilessly teased her in school, the war had changed everyone, but tonight his change was so glaringly obvious that she couldn't believe she hadn't seen it before. Draco was a far cry from the racist parents who'd raised him. He could have ignored Theo's comment towards her, or reacted passively or with magical retaliation. But the fact that Draco let his wand clatter to the floor changed her perception of him. Suddenly she didn't feel like she'd been placed in the worst situation. No, she didn't want to be married to Malfoy, but now she was almost grateful. Draco wasn't going to tear her down, much less practice unforgivables on her, as Theodore had so kindly suggested.

Draco didn't belong here either. Just as Hermione had felt so out of place and disconnected only hours before, in what was supposed to be her element, Draco didn't quite fit here. The war had changed who they were and for the first time since this whole thing had started, she decided that maybe they had much more in common than she was ever going to be willing to admit. Before she could think herself into a haze Draco walked past her briskly and paused

"Let's go Granger." He said gruffly, not allowing himself to look at her. She swallowed thickly as Pansy immediately let her go, causing her to stumble slightly. She could have sworn Draco twitched when she did, but it might have been her mind getting carried away. She nodded twice, attempting to straighten her robes as she fell into pace with him, unsure of what to think or where to go from here. Her perception of him had changed unequivocally, but she still wasn't sure what that even meant.

His hand wrapped around her waist, as it had all evening, but this time she felt a small tingle there. It not only felt natural but almost comforting. She stole a glance up at him through her lashes, noting the tension in his jaw as they walked in silence. She let her gaze linger for a moment before she shook herself out of it, flushing slightly. It was like she was looking at a different person, a person who she was sure was good. She knew Malfoy had changed, but to what extent she'd never known. Tonight she was sure he was good, and she had absolutely no idea what to do with that information.


a/n Hey guys I hope this quick update makes up a little bit for keeping you waiting so long! Also this chapter will help pick up the pace of the story a little bit for those of you who were dying from the slowness. I've just been trying to really capture the state of mind that Hermione and Draco are in right now so it can set up for the way they end up coming together, so bear with me. I hope you liked it! Thanks for all the reviews, they made my day! Please let me know what you think!

I'm starting classes again in the next couple of weeks, so I'm going to try and post at least bi-weekly, but I'll have to see how busy my schedule is. Thanks for your patience.

Please read and review! It always makes me write faster! Thanks