In the Arms of Her Dragon

"Why're you crying?" Draco whispered, sitting down beside Hermione in a deserted Great Hall. Looking up at him with puffy eyes, she admitted what happened earlier at the Gryffindor Tower. Without a moment's hesitation, he wrapped an arm around her shoulders and said: "Come on, you're spending the night in the Slytherin dungeon. With me."

.xx.

Sitting in the kitchen of her quaint little home, Hermione Granger was pouring over her favourite: Hogwarts: A History, trying to find double meanings behind the words that were permanently etched into her brain. Not even a few steps away, her beloved mother Jean Granger, was preparing a filling breakfast of eggs, bacon, and hash browns.

"Mum," Hermione called out, chewing on the back of a pencil, "do you want to look over this passage for me? I think there has to be a second meaning behind it but… I'm not too sure." Leave it to Hermione Granger to look for double meanings in a text that she had read more times than there were numbers in existance.

Glancing over her shoulder, Jean hid a warm smile. Ever since her memories had been returned and she and her husband moved back from Australia, her daughter Hermione had made every attempt to bring their day-to-day life back to a norm. That involved asking her mother for intellectual help, and helping her father with hard labour around the house. In the three short weeks that she had been home, Hermione helped her father repair two toilets, and helped her mother finish a book titled Ergonomics of Ecofriendly Dentistry.

As Jean moved to put her spatula down, a familiar owl flew in threw the kitchen window, dropped a letter onto Hermione's head, and perched on Jean's shoulder. Glaring at the owl, Hermione picked up the rolled up parchment as her mother began cooing and trying to feed the owl some eggs. "You're such a cutie, Bubo Bubo," she spoke in baby-talk. "Such a cuuuuutie."

"Mum!" Hermione scolded. "That owl is a menace."

"No he isn't!" Jean defended. "This poor owl flies through London to drop you off a letter. Least we can do is give him a cracker… or eggs."

Hermione rolled his eyes. "I'm pretty sure it gets enough crackers at the Malfoy Manor."

Jean ignored her daughter and continued to feed the little owl. It was a weekly tradition that began just short of three weeks ago; Hermione had send an owl to Draco Malfoy (it had been near impossible to get a hold of an owl, but she had managed to call Harry's aunt and uncle to get a hold of Harry so he could get a hold of Ron to send her one of his spare owls). Draco had replied with his personal owl, Bubo Bubo, and the thing had taken a liking to Hermione's mother immediately.

Now-a-days it lounged around patiently until Hermione wrote her response and sent it back to the Manor. Apparently, from what Hermione had learned, the longer she waited to write the letter, the happier both her mother and the owl were. "What did he write to you this week, darling?" Jean inquired, watching her daughter scan over the parchment.

Hermione looked over at her mother. "He's telling me that he's going to Diagon Alley in a few weeks' time to get his measurements for his robes and buy new cauldrons. Hmm… never thought he was on top of things when it came to school."

Jean laughed. "You never know, dear. You never know… are you writing back to him soon?"

"Tonight, maybe." Hermione smiled and rolled her eyes. "You have your time with that flying rat; I'll go look at my textbook upstairs."

"Here!" Jean handed her daughter a plate. "Have breakfast too! And remember, we're headed into the city today. Your father really wants a new toolbox. Lord only knows why."

Laughing, Hermione kissed her mother's cheek and glared at the owl before retreating to her room upstairs. Closing the door behind her, she threw herself onto her bed and stared at the third letter she'd received from Draco Malfoy since the Wizarding War. They weren't exactly friends, but they had gotten past the stage of acquaintances. In his previous letter, he coined them to be "frenemies." Liking the term, Hermione went with it.

Granger,

I don't understand why I keep owling you, but for some unknown reason I can't stop. I don't owl just anybody; not even my fellow Slytherins so consider yourself lucky. Like I said before, numerous times, I couldn't stand by and watch Bellatrix Crucio you. Yes, we haven't been on speaking terms for the better part of seven years but I could hardly see you being put under one of the three Unforgiveable Curses. So, let us put that in the past and move on now, shall we?

You mentioned your mum? So I take it you brought your mum and dad back from Australia. That's… good, I suppose. I don't have any more to say about that so please excuse my lack of emotion. My mother wants to take the three of us on vacation so I will be heading to Diagon Alley next week to get supplies for school. While I'm away on vacation, I won't be owling anybody.

Not even you.

Draco Malfoy

P.S: I don't know what the heck you're feeding my owl, but it gained at least five pounds. Stop feeding my owl!

Hermione shook her head and threw the letter onto the other two letters she had from him. Who was she kidding—why did she even decide to thank him for saving her life?! It was evident that he didn't even want to put in an effort so who was she to try. Grabbing the six letters she had in the pile of "Letters from Malfoy" Hermione flopped back down onto her bed and picked up the letter he sent her; a response to what she had written to him.

Three weeks ago, Hermione Granger wrote a letter that went something like...

Dear Malfoy;

I know this may be an unusual owl for you, I mean, I know I would be rather curious and worried if I were to be receiving an owl from you but I had to contact you. I wanted to thank you for what you did; for saving me when we were at your Manor. I couldn't say that I was expecting you to help, but to be truthfully honest; I thought you were going to stand there. Perhaps cheer Bellatrix on. Is that awful of me? But really, can you blame me?

I don't know why you did it, and neither am I going to dwell on what brought you to throw yourself in front of the Crucio, but I just wanted to let you know that I am eternally grateful and I owe you my life. Although you probably could care less about what I have to say, I am still going to say it. You aren't an evil man, Draco. You have a heart and I want to thank you for finding a place for me in there, however little that place may be, to save my life.

Forever in your debt,

Hermione Granger

His response to her had been curt. But she didn't lose heart.

Granger,

I couldn't watch you being tortured. That was it. There is no place in my heart for you, whatever that is supposed to mean. I'm sure you would've done the same for me.

Maybe.

Draco Malfoy

So she had replied to him with a tone she had hoped to make him feel slightly bad for how he wrote her his letter. It worked.

A little.

Dear Malfoy,

Whether you agree or not, I do believe that you care even if it is in the slightest. Though I don't know if I can say the same about my friends (you know who I'm speaking of), but I do know that you couldn't bear to see what was happening. I am simply thanking you for what you have done—isn't it about time that we moved past this bickering acquaintance stage and call this something a bit more? I doubt there will be any severe rivalry between us, mostly due to the fact that You-Know-Who is defeated.

Sincerely,

Hermione

Again, he had replied curtly.

Granger,

Fine. You're welcome. And no, we aren't friends. Maybe we aren't enemies but we most definitely aren't friends. I'll call it frenemies, for now, but that isn't written in stone.

And even if, by chance, there is a place for you somewhere in my heart – IF there is, it's REALLY miniscule, just so you know – there is no chance in hell that Potter and Weasley will feel the pleasures of my good graces. I'm appalled that you'd even THINK that. I thought you were the smart one.

Way to prove me wrong.

On another note, being put under the Crucio by Bellatrix wasn't that bad. Remember, I'm a Malfoy. We're invincible.

Draco Malfoy

She replied to him, which was the last letter she had sent prior to his most current response.

Malfoy,

I didn't say that Harry and Ron would be lucky enough to feel the pleasure of your good graces. Honestly, you should be more careful when you read letters, lest you read it wrong and interpret it differently. All I'm trying to convey here is that I cannot be thankful enough for what you did.

Your sarcasm won't work with me, you most certainly did not enjoy being put under the Crucio but I will humour you.

In any case, I will never forget what you did for as long as I shall live.

Apart from that, my mum loves your owl. Personally, I think it's a flying rat but who am I to judge. Everybody is under the impression that my cat is squished…

Anyway, I honestly don't know what else to write so I shall end it here.

Take care,

Hermione

She skimmed over the most recent letter he sent before throwing all the letters onto the floor. She realized how desperate she may have come across in her letters but what else was she to do? Draco Malfoy had thrown himself in front of the Unforgiveable Curse his Aunt had aimed at Hermione.

Closing her eyes, she could vividly remember the look of murder written across Bellatrix's face, the look of horror in Draco's eyes, the pang of fear when Bellatrix raised her wand, and the sense of confusion and shock when Draco threw himself in front of the wave of magic. Hermione was stunned and watched Draco fight the effects of the curse, trying to ask his to stop but the craziness that had swept over Bellatrix seemed impenetrable.

Feeling weak, Hermione had fumbled to find her wand which had fallen out of her hand at some point. She had to stop Bellatrix—she had to save Draco who had just saved her. That was when Narcissa reacted, making a move towards her sister with her wand pointing up.

"LET HIM GO, BELLA!" Narcissa had roared before casting the Expelliarmus. Bellatrix flew backwards and Draco had been released from the deadly pain. As Narcissa had gone to attack her sister for hurting her son, Hermione cradled an injured Draco in her arms.

Neither of the two wanted to admit it, but they had formed some sort of bond that night. He had saved her life… and she was there to hold him when he was hurt.

Curling up into a tight ball, Hermione let sleep consume her once more. Her breakfast that her beloved mother had handed to her grew cold in the extra few hours of sleep that Hermione had managed to sneak in.

.xx.

Lounging on the sofa with Crookshanks sleeping on her lap, Hermione had her parchment paper over one of her old textbooks with a quill pinched between her thumb and forefinger. She was trying to compose a letter to send back to Draco Malfoy but she couldn't find the right words to say.

Eventually she settled for:

Dear Malfoy,

Have fun on your vacation.

Yours truly,

Hermione

Deeming it appropriate, she glanced at Bubo Bubo sitting on her kitchen windowsill and whistled for him to come over. Within minutes, the owl was flying out of her house and back to the Manor from which it came from. Exhaling loudly, Hermione turned her attention back to her sleeping cat. Running her fingers through its mane, she tried to keep her mind off of a certain blond-haired boy.

He's still awfully mean, she told herself, no matter the fact he saved your life, he evidently doesn't care. Drop it and don't contact him anymore.

Seemed like the logical thing to do.

.xx.

Though the rest of the summer was uneventful, Hermione was glad. With all the drama that the past seven years at Hogwarts had entailed, a summer of doing absolutely nothing was refreshing. Part of her was glad that she was returning to Hogwarts, but another part of her wished that Headmistress McGonagall had just let them graduate for partaking in the Wizarding War and defeating Voldemort.

But hey, at least the 1991 first-year admits could rightfully claim the title as "The first and only 8th year students to have ever attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry." Whether that was a good title or bad was left to interpretation.

Harry had dropped by Hermione's place and even slept over for a few nights. It was relaxing, having a household full of Muggle-technology apt people. Ron had visited but it didn't work out too well.

There were three weeks remaining in the summer and Hermione had slowly begun packing her things for the school year. She was already expecting it to be boring—she had become so accustomed to dodging death for the past seven years that a school year that was normal seemed abnormal. As she was packing some of her jeans away (for weekends at Hogsmeade), there was a tapping on her window.

"Bubo?!" Hermione gasped, flying over to her window to let it open. Shooting in, the owl dropped the letter and quickly flew through Hermione's open door, obviously in search of her mother. Not bothering to follow it, Hermione picked up the letter and the small velvet bag that the owl had brought her.

Granger,

I'm back. Missed me? Good, because I definitely missed me. Before you ask, no, I have no idea why on Merlin's green earth I'm owling you but I am. Back from vacation and packing my robes when I realized that the Slytherin crest is missing from a few of them so, as angry as I am, I need to head to Diagon Alley next week. I was wondering when you'd be there.

Also, I got you something from Italy.

Draco Malfoy

Gawking at the letter, Hermione didn't know if it was a joke or if it was a joke! Draco Malfoy wanted to know when she was going to Diagon Alley and brought her something back from his vacation?! The world was going to end—as if it wasn't already ending from the time he saved her life a few months ago.

Opening the velvet pouch, Hermione saw a thin silver chain faintly glistening. Flipping the pouch upside down and dumping the contents onto her hand, she finally saw the gift in all its glory: a thin chained necklace with a small diamond studded feather pendant strewn onto it. The little note that had also been in the pouch had something scribbled onto it.

Healer Pendant. Has the feather of a phoenix in it; contains healing properties. Reminded me of you.

She didn't know what to be worried of more: the fact Draco Malfoy had gotten her something.

Or the fact that her heart was beginning to pound in her chest.

.xx.

Dear Malfoy;

I was going to head to Diagon Alley in a few days, actually. I had already booked my room at the Leakey Cauldron. If you're there and wish to meet up, look me up.

By the way, I adore the necklace but I'm trying to figure what hex you put on it.

Yours truly,

Hermione

Shaking his head at the letter, Draco scanned over it twice over before throwing it onto the base of his bed. Lying back down, he stared at his ceiling, at the intricate tree branch pattern that had crawled into his room from the family tree downstairs. The many faces of his family glowered at him but he only glowered back in return.

He didn't know what had possessed him to buy the Healer Pendant in Italy. He had to lie through his perfect teeth to his parents and his mate, Blaise Zabini to buy that necklace and owl it over to Hermione Granger. It had reminded him of her, but he didn't need to buy the stupid thing.

Just like how he didn't need to throw himself in front of Bellatrix's Crucio earlier that summer. Memories of the pain haunted him—he was sure the mental trauma of that was permanent. But Granger… something about her. He didn't like her, but he sure as hell didn't hate her like he did her friends.

She was just there, the bushy haired, buck teethed little girl that tagged along with the Boy Who Lived.

A bushy haired, buck teethed little caterpillar that grew up to be a gorgeous butterfly… Draco paused. Oh Merlin, all this owling Granger is making me go insane. Caterpillars and butterflies?! Draco rubbed his hands over his face and counted backwards from one hundred. He couldn't explain it. There was a feeling of deep contempt for his aunt when he saw her raise her wand and move to curse Granger. The second Bellatrix flicked her wand and the wave of magic that was the Crucio shot out, Draco knew what he had to do.

He had to protect Hermione Granger.

The feeling; the desire to protect, was still a foreign concept to him. He had bickered with her for seven years and just the thought of her being hurt, the thought of her potentially dying scared him. He couldn't do it; he could not let her die.

And as a result, he threw himself in front of the Crucio to protect her. The pain, the rush of the blood in his ears, the pounding in his head, they were feelings he would never forget. He faintly could remember his mother screaming before disarming Bellatrix.

Before he succumbed to unconsciousness, Draco vividly remembered Hermione cradling his head, tears streaking down her cheeks.

"MALFOY!" She had called for him.

Why was she crying for me? He thought but already knew the answer…

The same reason you threw yourself in front of the Crucio for her.

.xx.

Granger,

Aren't you charming? (Hermione could practically hear his sneer) A simple 'thank you' would've sufficed for all the trouble I went through to get the stupid thing for you. It is not hexed, but if it is any consolation, I'll parade around in it for a day to prove you wrong.

I'll see you in Flourish and Blotts next Monday- I know you'll be stuck in there for the better half of your time in Diagon Alley anyway.

Draco Malfoy

He was serious! He really wanted to meet up with her at Diagon Alley. Hermione could not believe her eyes. Folding the letter and tucking it into her pocket, she ushered Bubo to follow her – he had been perched on her windowsill since her mother wasn't home.

"Hungry, Bubo?" She asked and the owl hooted. Even though it looked like a ginormous flying rat, it had been flying back and forth through London for the sake of her and Draco Malfoy. The least she could do was feed it.

I sound like Mum. She laughed to herself. Finding some granola, she poured it into a bowl and set it down for Bubo to feast on. The owl immediately gorged on crunchy nuts and honey. The front door unlocked and Hermione looked up to see her mum and dad return from grocery shopping.

"Hi, darling," John greeted her as she placed a kiss on his cheek. She grinned at her mum and kissed her before grabbing a few bags and hauling them into the kitchen. "And I see the owl has returned."

Jean squealed and Hermione and her father exchanged glances. It always amused them when Jean became excited with the little owl flew into their home. Helping her mum and dad (after Jean got over her initial excitement of seeing Bubo Bubo), Hermione promptly informed them that she would be taking the Knight Bus in a few days' time to head to Diagon Alley.

Jean had asked if Hermione needed help packing. Without warning, tears swarmed the witch's eyes; she loved her parents so much…

After a nice family lunch (complete with Crookshanks and Bubo Bubo), Hermione helped Jean with the dishes before heading up to her father's study to write three letters: one for Draco Malfoy, one for Harry Potter, and one for the Weasley family. She glanced up at Bubo Bubo. "Hey, would you mind making a detour before heading back to Malfoy?"

The owl hooted and bobbed its head. Hermione took that to be a yes and proceeded to pen her three letters.

Number one:

Dear Malfoy,

Can you blame me for being a little sceptical? And I resent the fact that you seem to be under the impression that I spend all my time at bookstores. Let's see if you can catch me while I'm in Flourish and Blotts.

Yours,

Hermione

Number two:

Hi Harry,

The strangest thing has been happening all summer. I know we've spoken on the phone a couple of times and you came and slept over but I thought it was a onetime thing. I'll explain everything to you at Diagon Alley—we're all headed to Platform Nine-and-three-quarters together, right? I'm not sure when Ron and Ginny are going to Diagon Alley though.

I have a room at the Leakey Cauldron so look me up whenever you get there.

Love,

Hermione

Number three:

Dear Weasley Family;

How're you all? Summer is over and we're all headed back to Hogwarts… fun! I wanted to let you all know that (I also sent an owl Harry) I'll be headed to Diagon Alley in a few days via Knight Bus. I already have a room rented at the Leakey Cauldron so when Ron and Ginny drop by for their robes and school supplies, I should already be there.

See you all soon and for the ones I don't get to see, have a safe year!

Love,

Hermione

Attaching the three letters to Bubo Bubo, she sent the owl flying out of her window and watched it disappear into the horizon. She couldn't very well tell Harry in her letter that she had been I contact with Draco Malfoy briefly (before he stopped and he restarted). What if Bubo was a faithful owl and took all three letters back to Malfoy Manor?

It was a Malfoy owl—she wasn't going to risk it.

.xx.

"Are you sure about staying in Knockturn Alley?" Narcissa poured over her son: straightening his robes, brushing back his hair, rubbing the nonexistent smudge off of his face. Standing on front of their fireplace, Draco tried to pull away from his overbearing mother.

"I'm positive—" Unless you want to know that I'm going to visit the Muggle-born Bellatrix tried to curse.

Narcissa seemed saddened that her baby boy was leaving a bit earlier than he had originally intended to but she was in no position to say anything. Besides, Narcissa was unsure of how long it would take Madam Malkin to put the Slytherin crests on Draco's robes.

Kissing his cheek, Narcissa said a few last words of endearment before Draco turned to bid his father farewell. Lucius studied his son for a brief moment: tall, just shy of six feet two inches, moderate length hair that Draco had become fond of leaving naturally tousled, a faint trace of stubble that flitted across his jawline, and the ever piercing icy grey eyes.

"Be safe," was all Lucius said as he clutched onto his serpent cane. "You don't know who still believes the Dark Lord will rise again."

Draco nodded at his father before grabbing a handful of Floo Powder. If there's one thing he came to appreciate, it was most definitely the Floo Network. With one last glance to his parents, he stepped into flame and threw the powder into their fireplace, causing the flame to turn a bright emerald green. In a strong voice, he roared out "KNOCKTURN ALLEY" before a whirlpool of smoke erupted, quickly transporting him to meet his fate...

Here I come, Granger.

.xx.

Hermione kissed her parents farewell and hauled her trunk out to the curb late into the night. Jean had insisted on staying up and waiting with Hermione but she said that the Knight Bus was more likely to come if Jean weren't watching. Understanding the illogic of the magical world, Jean reluctantly retreated to the house just shy of midnight.

And Hermione was alone.

Sitting down on the curb, she stared her wand, which she had lit up like a flashlight, wondered if the Knight Bus knew that she was waiting for it…

Of course it did.

It went to Harry during their third year, didn't it? And I'm pretty sure Ron told me that I needed to have my wand out for it to know I'm waiting for it.

Hermione exhaled loudly. What if the Knight Bus didn't come? She'd have to telephone Harry who'd have to owl Ron and both somehow work to get her to Diagon Alley… and she most definitely did not want them there if she and Draco Malfoy were to bump into each other. Sure they both know he saved my life… but that doesn't mean they still like him. Hermione thought ruefully. Ron is under the impression he had an ulterior motive when he jumped in front of the Crucio. Who on earth would have an ulterior motive amazing enough to want to throw themselves in front of an Unforgiveable Curse? Hermione was baffled by Ron's theory.

It made no sense.

A loud banging sound broke her out of her reverie and she jumped up, seeing a giant triple-decker bus zooming in from nowhere. Eyes widening, she looked in all directions to see if any of the Muggles had heard but—apparently not.

Abruptly, the midnight blue bus came to a halt in front of her and the door flew wide open.

"Aboard the Knight Bus! What's your destination?"

Hermione stared at the shrunken head for a moment before looking back at the bus driver. "Leakey Cauldron…"

"ALL ABOARD!" He roared as he threw himself off the seat and pulled Hermione's trunk, thunking it on each step. Quickly finding a seat, Hermione studied all the passengers on the bus before looking back at the bus driver.

"Are they all headed to the Leakey Cauldron?" She inquired. Instead of the bus driver speaking, the shrunken head did.

"No, mon!" He cackled. "They be headed to all de places in de warld!"

Hermione didn't say anymore but merely gripped her wand tighter. She was aware, just then, that her wand was still lit. "Nox," she murmured, countering the Lumos she had cast earlier. Her heart screeched to a halt when the bus took off and started weaving like a drunk driver. Eyes bugged, she saw the bus go left. Then right. Then left again. And without warning, it squeezed paper thin and managed to go past two busses that were millimeters from each other.

Harry was definitely not kidding when he said that this bus was the farthest thing from safe. Hermione thought wildly to herself. She only hoped she'd make it to Diagon Alley alive. Hermione almost screamed when the bus went spinning wildly, out of control. The shrunken head was laughing and she was about to throw up—

Finally.

"THE LEAKEY CAULDRON! PASSENGERS PLEASE DISEMBARK!"

Quickly gathering her trunk, Hermione got off the bus. The driver tipped his hat and zoomed off into the distance, leaving a safe and alive Hermione at the doorstep of the magical inn. Pushing the door open, she entered the inn and made it to the counter.

"I have a room booked," she said, "Hermione Granger?"

Tom, the man behind the counter beamed. "THE 'ERMIONE GRANGER? BLIMEY!"

Hermione blushed. She had been getting that a lot from witches and wizards. After the initial shock and the typical Your room is on the house and Hermione arguing against it, she was showed to her room with the bill being at half price.

And any meals eaten at the Leakey Cauldron to be on the house.

Not planning on eating here anytime soon. Hermione decided. Unwinding and opening her trunk to find her pyjamas, Hermione could not wait until she fell asleep.

And as much as she hated it, she was kind of excited to see Draco Malfoy.

.xx.

Lying on a rather spectacular bed in a newly built Inn at Knockturn Alley, Draco Malfoy could do nothing but stare at his ceiling and think about what the hell he was doing. He left his manor, a few days early, so he could possibly run into that Mudblood tagalong? Was he fucking insane?!

I must be. Bella's Crucio must've done a number on my head. He groaned, rubbing his forehead. Turning left, then right, Draco couldn't even being to feel the sign of falling asleep. Maybe if I went for a walk… Grabbing his Malfoy robes and wand, he pulled on his slippers before exiting his room. There was a balcony situated at the far east corner of the Inn that Draco had decided to take over for a short time.

It was just past four in the morning and Draco Malfoy was annoyed. Why can I not sleep tonight?! Maybe if he took a potion? Or a hot shower? Shaking his head, Draco leaned over the railing of the balcony and watched the deserted alleyway beneath him. Borgin and Burkes was just up the street and Diagon Alley not too far from there.

Diagon Alley…

Flourish and Blotts… Hermione fucking Granger. You need to get out of my damned head!

Why did she have to send him a thank you letter? Why couldn't she just have accepted his good deed and left it at that?

Why the hell did he have to write back to her after he came back from Italy?

Better yet, why the hell did he even get her something from there?!

He banged his head lightly against the railing. You've lost it, Draco. Officially lost it.

.xx.

Hermione didn't know what possessed her to wear the Healer Pendant Draco had gotten for her as she carried her enchanted mug out of the Leakey Cauldron and into Diagon Alley. Sipping her morning coffee, she spotted many tiny children running about with the look of excitement evident across their face.

First years, she thought warmly. How long ago that was. She had decided to make a quick stop to Flourish and Blotts (Come on Hermione, Malfoy shouldn't be in Diagon Alley this early… but the idiot is right, I do spend a lot of time there) to see if the latest edition of Hogwarts: A History had been released yet.

Dodging a few running children and a chicken – a chicken?! – Hermione managed to enter the safety of the bookstore.

Finally.

"Miss Granger!"

Hermione smiled at the shopkeeper. With such a warm welcome, she practically almost felt at home. Almost. "Would the newest edition of Hogwarts: A History be available yet?"

"'fraid not love," the shopkeeper smiled sadly. "It ain't 'pose to be out till Set'ember."

Hermione nodded. "Why thank you. I'll just keep looking around."

Sipping from her mug once more, Hermione headed over to the section on Dragons—a topic she had been recently interested in. She realized she knew close to nothing about dragons, except when she had briefly studied the Hungarian Horntail during their fourth year at Hogwarts. And that was primarily for Harry as well.

To engrossed with what she was doing, she missed the flash of blond—

"I knew I'd find you here." The voice was familiar; almost a sneer, but could be a smile.

Hermione turned around slowly. "Malfoy!? But… you weren't supposed to come here for another few days!"

He didn't miss the glistening of the pendant around her neck. A surge of pride shot through him—she wore it, which meant she believed, even if it was a little bit, that the pendant wasn't hexed. "I had things to do. I happened to walk by when I saw you come in. Isn't that convenient?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Hardly."

Draco rolled his eyes in return. "Well, it is convenient. Nice pendant by the way, suits you."

Instinctively, Hermione raised her hand and gripped the pendant around her neck. What if it is hexed!? I can't believe I was stupid enough to believ—

He cut her trail of thought off; he obviously knew what she was thinking. "If you're that scared, I'll wear the damn thing for you all day." Hermione stared at him before doing exactly what he thought she wasn't going to do: unhook the pendant.

"Fine. It'll add a touch of feminism to you," she teased him. She actually teased him! Draco scowled as he snatched the pendant and fumbled with it, finally managing to clip the hook. Allowing it to rest against his chest, Hermione couldn't help but notice the feather pendant perhaps made him look manlier than before.

If possible.

"I was headed to Madam Malkin's. Care to join me?"

Hermione gawked. "But… you… us… walking together?!"

Draco snorted. "Come on Granger; people always talk rubbish, let's give them something to talk about. Besides, you have to keep an eye on this stupid thing, in case I start vomiting slugs."

Narrowing her eyes, Hermione put the book she had grabbed earlier back on the shelf and took a step towards him. "Alright, fine, let's go. I need my measurements for my robes as well."

Smirking, he turned around and led them out of Flourish and Blotts. Hermione simply stared at the back of his head and tried to figure out what was happening. I hope I'm not walking straight into a death trap…

If that were the case, he would've let Bellatrix Crucio her.

Could he really have had that much of a change of heart? Hermione hoped she'd find out the answer soon. Whatever the answer may be.

.xx.

This is a very, very special project I'm working on with my best friend, CherryWolf-chan. We're trying to write a story that will be no less than 100 chapters with each chapter being no less than 15 pages.

I have NO idea what the heck we've signed up for but… I hope we can do it!

Page count: 16
Word count: 5, 695 (not including authors notes)

Hope you enjoy this long story!