Title: In the Arms of her Dragon
Category: Books » Harry Potter
Author: Wolf Blossom
Language: English, Rating: Rated: M
Genre: Romance/Fantasy
Published: 08-23-12, Updated: 04-25-21
Chapters: 33, Words: 146,353

Chapter 1: Letters that Began Everything

Sitting in the kitchen of her quaint little home, Hermione Granger was rereading her favourite book of all time, Hogwarts: A History. For the umpteenth time, Hermione was trying to read between the lines to find other meanings to the sentences that were permanently engrained in her brain. Just a few steps away her beloved mother, Jean, was preparing breakfast: eggs, bacon, hash brown, and orange juice. An All American classic; ironic, seeing as they were English.

"Hmmmm…" Hermione hummed as her eyes flicked from one side of the page to another.

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. Normalcy 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 business-oriented dentistry book.

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. The 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… I never would've thought he was one to be on top of things."

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 book upstairs."

"Here!" Jean handed her daughter a plate. "Have breakfast too! And remember, we're headed in to 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.


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 you 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 three letters she had in the box called Letters from Malfoy, Hermione flopped back down onto her bed and picked up the first 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 was to be receiving an owl from you (as you have been a formidable enemy for the better part of six years) 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. 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, but I am not going to dwell on what brought you to throw yourself in front of the Crucio. I just wanted to let you know that I am eternally grateful and I owe you my life. Although you probably couldn't 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. She knew he wasn't a man that was thanked much during his lifetime, so she wasn't going to let that sour her mood.


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.


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 rivalry between us, mostly due to the fact that Voldemort is defeated.



Again, he had replied curtly, much to her disdain.


Fine. You are 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 weasel their way in to the far dark corners of my heart… or any part of me, for that matter. I am genuinely appalled that you'd even entertain such thought. I presumed you to be the smart one of the three.

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.


I didn't say that Harry and Ron would be lucky enough to 'weasel' (I see what you did there, not funny, Malfoy) their way in to your heart. Honestly, you should be more careful when you read letters, lest you read it wrong and interpret it differently. All I'm trying to say 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,


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 aunt to stop. The craziness that had swept over Bellatrix, however, 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, BELLATRIX!" 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.


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,


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 most logical thing to do.


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 because they partook in the Wizarding War and defeating Voldemort.

At least the 1991 first-year admits could rightfully claim the title as "The first and only 8th year students to have ever attended 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 (the owl practically knew her house inside-out), Hermione picked up the letter and the small velvet bag that the owl had brought her.


I'm back. Missed me? Good, because I definitely missed me. Don't ask why I am writing to you… it'll do us both good if you don't.

Anyway, I'm 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 as early as 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.


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,


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 (it was a new addition to the manor. His mother's idea). 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 toothed little girl that tagged along with the Boy-Who-Lived.

A bushy haired, buck toothed 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.

"DRACO!" She had called for him. It was the first time she used his first name.

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.

But what was that reason



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! Draco really wanted to meet up with her at Diagon Alley. Hermione couldn't believe her eyes as she scanned over the letter a few more times, making sure that she read his intentions correctly. 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 honey covered nuts and bran. 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… and had missed them terribly when their memory had been wiped due to their knowledge of her kinds' existence.

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.

Letter number one:

Dear Malfoy,

Can you blame me for being a little skeptical? 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.



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 9¾ 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.



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!



Attaching the three letters to Bubo Bubo's leg, 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.


"Are you sure about staying in Knockturn Alley?" Narcissa was smothering 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, which Draco had become fond of leaving naturally tousled, a faint trace of stubble 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.


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—



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' following by 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 was going 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.


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.


Hermione didn't know what possessed her to wear the Healer Pendant Draco had gotten for her as she carried her enchanted coffee 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.


"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 la'e 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 naturally tousled 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 believe—

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.

Chapter 2: A Chase, Down Diagon Alley

And attention they drew.

Heads turned, jaws dropped, gasps sounded; Diagon Alley was in complete and utter shock as they witnessed the unthinkable, with their own eyes. Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger were walking in tandem… civilly! Hermione was casting nervous glances to the people watching them but Draco seemed not to care at all. He donned his usual superior smirk and strut his usual superior strut.

"I'm still not vomiting slugs, Granger," Draco commented idly as he brushed past two evidently shocked witches. One of them dropped her cauldron filled with textbooks. Hermione smiled faintly at her before turning her attention back to her companion.

"No, but you're definitely attracting unwanted attention."

"Correction," he smirked, looking over at her, "we are drawing attention."

Hermione groaned but continued to walk with him with her head held high. Apparently unwanted attention didn't faze Draco Malfoy... come to think of it, unwanted attention shouldn't bother me either, Hermione though sarcastically, I am best friends with the Boy-Who-Lived. "How was Italy?" She asked rather suddenly and Draco was caught fairly off guard.

"… fun…" He responded, slowly. They took a left, dodging a few playing children (and chicken), and continued their trek to Madam Malkin's. The unwanted attention, however, never wavered. "Saw that monument that muggles love so much; the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Did you know that a handful of muggle men built that tower to prove their masculinity to a clan of Veelas?"

Hermione's eyebrows shot up and Draco snickered, loving how he knew something that know-it-all Granger didn't. "Surprised? Why do you think its leaning? It's because the Veelas left and the muggles' inspiration was gone."

Hermione rolled her eyes and sucker-punched Draco. "You're full of rubbish." She muttered, actually believing him for a split-second. Hermione had never felt stupider.

Draco chuckled, his voice a low baritone and the sound of it made Hermione's hair stand on end. It wasn't a feeling she was much familiar with and resented feeling it because of Draco Malfoy's laughter.

"It's not my fault you're utterly gullible, Granger." Draco said that as he lifted the Healer Pendant and plopped it into his mouth, subconsciously sucking on it. Hermione, who had been watching the shops as they trekked to Madam Malkin's, looked over at him to retort but stopped dead. Draco glanced at her and raised an eyebrow. "Hello? We aren't at Malkin's yet... keep walking, Granger."

Hermione's eyes narrowed. "Get my pendant out of your disgusting mouth."

Draco shot both eyebrows up and crossed his eyes, looking at the pendant in his mouth. Smirking (with it still in his mouth), he looked at Hermione. "But you didn't believe me when I said it wasn't hexed. I guess it's mine now... I'm wearing it."

Hermione's eyes narrowed further, if possible. "Malfoy. Give. Me. Back. My. Pendant." Her words were sharp and enunciated. Draco took a step backwards and Hermione, in a rather lethal fashion, took a step forward. "Now."


Draco spun around and began running at full speed as Hermione began chasing him. He whizzed past a wizard walking his enchanted dog that had the legs of a zebra and jumped over a cart of oranges. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw that Hermione was hot on his trail but because he had longer legs, he was always two paces ahead.

Draco turned his attention back to the path he was running. Unceremoniously, he shoved a middle-aged wizard out of his way and kept running at full speed. He was both surprised and not surprised that Hermione was able to keep up with his speed; she had proven herself in more ways than one during the final battle against Voldemort. He felt the pendant beat against his chest but he no longer paid it any heed. He was caught in the moment of getting away from Hermione Granger.

And more importantly, her wrath.

Hermione's eyes were zoned-in and locked on Draco. She felt the blood rushing in her ears and completely forgot about her surroundings—she could only think of one thing: Get Malfoy. Retrieve pendant. Seamlessly, and without thinking, she withdrew her wand from her pocket and pointed at his back: "Accio Malfoy!"

She didn't even know if it'd work, in all honesty. Hermione knew the summoning spell worked on inanimate objects, so it being the first spell to come to mind was surprising. What was also surprising was that Draco Malfoy flew backwards, towards the girl who had summoned him without realizing it.

"Bloody—" Draco's words were cut off as he hurtled in to Hermione who flew backwards in to a stand of display robes. Grunting in pain, and visibly out of breath, Hermione lay on the floor unmoving as Draco tried to push off of her and the pile of robes that had toppled on top of him. He was unaware of the crowd they had attracted…

Or the thoroughly pissed off Madam Malkin who was glowering dangerously at them.

"Draco Malfoy!" She screeched at the top of her lungs and both Draco and Hermione's eyes snapped to her. Magically, Hermione's panting ceased; it was as if she did not just run a marathon to catch the last person she ever though she would be chasing. Hermione, and the aforementioned man's, eyes were solely trained on the huffing and almost-foaming-at-the-mouth Madam Malkin.

"What are you two doing?" She hollered. Draco quickly stood up and dusted off his robes before giving Madam Malkin a charming smile.

"Miss Granger and I had gotten into a slight… disagreement…"

It was Hermione's turn to stand up. "Disagreement?" She accused, pointing a finger at him. "You plopped my pendant in to your mouth. That is unsanitary!" Her voice was as screechy as Madam Malkin's. If Draco didn't know any better, he would've guessed that Hermione was close to foaming-at-the-mouth, too.

"My mouth is sanitary, thank you very much." He countered, forgetting that he was standing in front of Madam Malkin and in the middle of a rather thick crowd. Before Hermione could even think of a retort, Madam Malkin had begun shrieking once more.

"Hermione Granger, I'd expect you of all people not to involve yourself with petty arguments… especially with Draco Malfoy." She clicked her tongue and shook her head disapprovingly. "Mister and Missus Weasley would be so disappointed…" Madam Malkin paused. "Come to think of it, so would the plethora of other Weasleys, including the Weasleys-in-law and Mr. Harry Potter. And do not get me started on your parents. Trust me when I say that we were made aware when their memories were returned and I highly doubt they would appreciate their daughter parading around Diagon Alley!"

Hermione hid her wince. She was not parading... Draco made a sound that was something between a laugh and a snort. That resulted in Madam Malkin and Hermione to glare at him. "Your father would be very disappointed in you, Mr. Malfoy."

Hermione grinned smugly at him. "At least I have more people that care enough about me to be disappointed."

Draco's eyes flickered to her. "Can it, Granger. I have a whole fucking family tree that's disappointed in me. In Potter's house! Your clan of weasels has nothing on me."

"That's it." Madam Malkin took a step and physically separated two obviously angry magicians. "Miss. Granger, go buy school supplies. Mr. Malfoy, get in to studio four and prepare to have your insignias sewn on. Merlin only knows why I must deal with this; I'm not even a professor at the school!"

As Madam Malkin turned to go back into her store, Draco subtly winked at Hermione before picking up the Healer Pendant and putting it back in his mouth. She fisted her right hand and watched him enter the shop behind Madam Malkin. You're so dead, Malfoy.


Hermione was kind of glad that Madam Malkin had forced them to separate. She was able to buy textbooks, cauldrons, parchment, trinkets and odds and ends that were quite possibly not at all necessary for a successful final year of school, and lastly her robes. When she re-approached Madam Malkin's, she saw that the mess had been cleaned up and that Draco Malfoy was no longer in the shop. Inhaling deeply, she had entered and one of the assistants began taking her measurements almost immediately.

Though she wouldn't admit it, she was slightly disappointed that Draco was nowhere to be seen.

She decided that, since her pendant and frenemy had disappeared, she'd head back to the Leakey Cauldron… probably have something to eat before cracking open a textbook for a bit of light reading.

Who knows, she mused, maybe I'll run into some Gryffindors.


Draco couldn't decide if he wanted to buy the parchment laced with gold, or the quill that had a diamond studded stem… both looked good, and the price lived up to his Malfoy expectation… but it seemed too feminine.

Granger might like the quill, though. He thought without realizing he thought it. Snarling, he shook his head and tried to eliminate any thoughts of her. Who cares if she'd like the quill? She wasn't a Malfoy so it didn't bloody matter!

But I am, his saintly-half called out, and I could get her things…

No. His less-than-saintly-half countered. You will not.

Draco decided to remove himself from the diamond-quill situation before his two internal saints made him lose his mind. He didn't know what possessed him to want to buy things for Hermione Granger, but he did. What struck him the most was that regardless of the fact he wanted to buy her things, he actually did (prime example would be the Healer Pendant strewn across his neck).

A Slytherin – no, the Slytherin of all Slytherins—was buying the Gryffindor of all Gryffindor things. Not just anything, things he thought that she might like!

I think I'm finally getting the side-effects of the Battle of Hogwarts. Draco groaned, trying to put a name to the feeling. Or I lost it after Bellatrix had me under the Unforgiveable Curse.

Yeah, that made sense too.

"You know I've been behind you for five minutes, right?"

Draco whirled around to find a snickering Blaise Zabini. "Bloody hell, mate," Draco's eyes were wide. "Were you trying to give me a heart attack?"

Blaise raised an eyebrow. "Something has to be bugging you—you were actually caught off guard! I don't remember the last time you were ever caught off guard."

Draco snorted. "I was caught off guard when that stupid Granger punched me in third year." Even talking to Blaise he had to bring up Hermione Granger. Couldn't she just leave his mind alone?!

Blaise, on the other hand, was laughing. "I remember that. Crabbe couldn't stop laughing and Goyle found her attractive for a few good hours."

"He did?" Draco did not know about Goyle's temporary crush on Hermione. "He didn't tell me."

"He didn't want you to blow his brains out." Blaise shrugged and both fell into a step in tandem. "He got over it before the end of the day, though."

"Now why would I blow his brains out?" Draco was definitely planning on blowing Gregory Goyle's brains out.

"Because he found the girl who punched you mildly attractive?" Blaise snorted, oblivious to Draco's curiosity. "Why are you asking me and why do you care? This was five years ago, mate."

"Right." So I have five years' worth of blowing-brains-out to catch up on. "What're you doing here, anyway?"

Blaise rolled his eyes. "Same thing you are, buying school supplies. You're here pretty early though."

Draco shrugged as nonchalantly as possible. "Mother and Lucius were getting very emotional with the 'watch out for those who believe the Dark Lord will rise again' rubbish. One more day, and I was sure mother would've pulled me out of Hogwarts and put me at Durmstrang instead."

"Would you complain?"

"Of course not," Draco snorted, "I want to spend the rest of my final year with a load of men and not a single bird in sight."

"You just want your Slytherin sex on."

"Don't you?"

Blaise only shook his head and laughed at his best friend. Draco Malfoy could not be explained with any word in the English vocabulary—he was just something else altogether. Both men were walking in nowhere in particular when Blaise spotted something and nudged Draco, ushering him to look at a small outdoor café. "Draco, isn't that Longbottom and Granger?"

Draco's head whipped in the direction Blaise was pointing and, indeed, he saw Hermione laughing over a mug of Butterbeer with that Longbottom fellow—he had gotten taller and rather muscular over the summer. Draco didn't know why, but he slightly felt… threatened.

"Guess so," Draco murmured, subconsciously picking up the healer pendant and twirled it between his fingers. "They seem chummy."

"They lived together for eight years; you and Pansy are probably as chummy as they are." Blaise winked and Draco shuddered—everybody knew of Pansy's more-than-obvious crush on Draco Malfoy. She dropped hints any and everywhere. In their sixth year, she attempted to concoct a love potion and sneak it into Draco's pumpkin juice. Unfortunately she thought eye of rat was equivalent to eye of mouse and poisoned Draco instead.

Granted she had been very apologetic, Draco had to ingest almost inedible medicine to unpoison himself. Madam Pomfrey looked as if she wanted to laugh the week he was confined to the Hospital Wing; his scowls and look of utter despair probably did not help her cause.

"Pansy and I are just about as chummy as you and Millicent are." Draco snorted as he opted to brush past those two, not making his presence known. He knew Hermione would probably want to poke his eyes out with her wand for putting the pendant in his mouth, but he wasn't going to risk such travesties in broad daylight.

She did say she was staying at the Leakey Cauldron…


Draco paid seven sickles to hire a temporary owl to send a letter to Hermione. It was almost midnight and, again, his inner insomniac decided to come out and play. He wrote a letter to Hermione (what possessed him to do it, he didn't know) and hoped she would respond soon.


Shall we have a rendezvous?


Within ten minutes her response came.

Sure. Fourth floor, third window to the right.

That was it. Draco immediately pushed off the balcony railing and threw on his robe, already wondering where the heck a broom would be. Well… he could apparate onto her balcony, but to do that he had to envision where he wanted to go and he had no idea what her room looked like. Passing a broom cupboard on his way down the corridor, both of his eyebrows shot up.

He loved it when things worked out for him.

Grabbing the first broom he saw, Draco walked back to the balcony and mounted his trusty steed. Within moments he kicked off the ground and shot into the air. His mind was reeling, but most of all he couldn't fight the wondrous feeling of seeing Hermione Granger. Why the hell was he so excited?! He was the one that restarted sending owls to her and he was the one that suggested they meet up at Diagon Alley.

And now he asked if he could go see her.

Tone it down, Malfoy. He warned himself. You threw yourself in front of a Crucio for her and she thanked you. Don't take it any farther than this relationship should go.

But deep inside he knew; he knew he was lying to himself.

There was a reason why he threw himself in front of the Crucio—a reason he wasn't even sure of. But whatever that reason was, it had to be the same one that had Hermione Granger crying for Draco Malfoy.

Crying while cradling him in her arms.


Hermione was doubly shocked when the ugly barn owl dropped a rolled piece of parchment on her stomach as she tossed and turned, trying to sleep. Draco Malfoy had sent her a letter, asking if she wanted to meet up and as much as she wanted to say no, she couldn't.

Any moment now, he would be there.

Pulling on a pair of her capri yoga pants and a baggy white t-shirt, Hermione paced the room, keeping her ears open for the sound of Draco, however he may arrive. The situation that was presented before her was simply unbelievable; in a matter of just months, she and Draco were on speaking terms.

Friendly speaking terms.

A slow smile crept onto her lips. Watch it, you two are frenemies. Don't let him hear you say friend around him.

She barely finished warning herself when she heard somebody land on her balcony. Before she could react, Draco walked through the slightly ajar door; his hair was messy and askew from the fly there, and his face was glazed with a look of concentration. His plump lips were pursed and his eyes, stormy grey-blue, landed on Hermione.

"Good evening, Granger." He finally smirked, flicking his wrist and sending his broom (on its own) to stand up against the wall.

"Were you very bored?" Hermione crossed her arms in front of her. "Did you want somebody to chase you again?"

Draco rolled his eyes and sat down on her bed. "No, I don't. And yes, I was bored, but you obviously allowed me to come for the same reason I wanted to come."

"And what may that be?"

"You wanted to see me." Draco leaned back and sprawled onto her bed. Hermione gawked at him, her mouth open and her eyes wide in disbelief.

"I wanted to—" And then it clicked, what he just said. You obviously allowed me to come for the same reason I wanted to come. A smirk threatened to form on her wonderful, wonderful lips. "You wanted to see me, hmm?"

"Your words, not mine." He whispered, his eyes closed. Great, finally sleep caught up to him and that was while he was lying on Granger's bed.

Her bed…

She slept there last night, in probably her underwear.

Or nothing at all…

Relax. Draco.

"So you came here to sleep?" She asked him and he cracked an eye open. She was just as beautiful upside down as she was right side up. Shaking such blasphemous thoughts from his mind, Draco sat up and turned to look at her.

"Here," he unhooked the pendant from around his neck and held it out to her. "I hope I passed the no-hex test; although you might want to perform some sort of antibacterial spell on it." Playfully he winked at her. Hermione frowned at him and Draco took the opportunity to stand up and approach her.

"Won't you take it?" His eyes were twinkling and his voice dropped to a husky whisper. Hermione was blown away by the shade of his eyes; they were the most beautiful colour she'd ever seen. "I bought it just for you, from Italy." And his voice?! It caused a shiver to run up her spine making the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end. Why is my heart beginning to speed up?

"Why did you buy it for me?" He watched her lips move and the thought of kissing it crossed his mind.

What the hell, Draco?! This is literally the first day you've seen her since last school year and you are contemplating kissing her after exchanging a dozen or so owls?! What was he feeling? What was he thinking?

"Why else?" Gently, he put his hands on her shoulders and turned her around. Though she was reluctant at first, Hermione was compliant. After her back was turned to him Draco used his right hand to push her hair to the side—"Your hair is soft." He commented and Hermione slightly shifted her head to the right, to look at him.

"Why did you buy it for me?" She repeated as Draco draped the chain around her neck. The cold metal felt refreshing on her skin but Hermione could only feel the warmth seeping from his hands. He wasn't touching her skin, but he may as well be.

"Why did I take Bellatrix's Crucio for you?" He murmured as he locked the clasp. He turned her around but didn't release his hold from her shoulders. "Why did you cry when I fell? Why did you hold me? Owl me after? Why did I respond, and after I stopped, why did I start again?"

He picked the charm up; in the process his finger slightly brushed her skin. "Why did I buy it for you?" He whispered. Draco's eyes locked with Hermione's. "I don't know."

She was breathing heavily, panting almost. Their proximity was so close, their body heat clashing with each other. Draco was vividly aware of how her chest rose and fell with every inhalation, and how it was affecting him. His blood was rushing to areas that he wished to remain unknown. Especially to Granger.

Draco let the pendant drop but the hand that held onto her shoulder, remained. "Have lunch with me tomorrow?"

Hermione's eyes widened and her breath hitched.

"Not in the Alley. There's a place just outside from here; nobody there will recognize us right away." His eyes searched hers. Hermione was almost trembling and couldn't speak so, from the lack of control of her vocal chords, she merely nodded.

At that moment, Draco released her shoulder. "Meet me at Flourish and Blotts, at noon." Taking two steps backed, he held his hand out to where the broom was resting and murmured Accio broom. Soundlessly, the broom flew into his hand and, with one final look at the beauty in front of him; Draco turned around and kicked off of her balcony.

It was then Hermione sank to her knees, trying to calm her racing heart.

What on earth…?


Hermione didn't sleep the rest of the night. Her mind was reeling with what Draco was doing; possibly planning. Was it safe to have lunch with him at a place where nobody would recognize them at first glance? Was he trying to kill her?

Well, if that were the case, he would've let his aunt do the job at the beginning of the summer.

Or killed her the previous night when they shared a moment in her Leakey Cauldron room.

When morning dawned, she quickly showered and got dressed: a black and blue plaid skirt that landed just at her knees with a yellow blouse, tucked into her skirt. The top button of the blouse was undone, showing off the pendant Draco had gotten her. Grabbing her wand, Hermione tucked it into her messy bun, quite line a chopstick—for some reason, she was excited to see Draco.

Kind of.

Noting the time, Hermione saw that it was close to 11:30am and she knew that Draco would be by Flourish and Blotts soon. Dodging witches and wizards, Hermione slowed to a stop when she arrived at the bookstore. Draco wasn't there, yet, but to her delight and dismay, Ron and Ginny were.

"Hermione!" Ginny hugged her tightly and Hermione was aware of Ron giving her the once over. He was making an obvious point to check her out and by the blush that tinted his cheeks and the sides of his neck, Hermione was sure that he liked what he saw.

Too bad she woke up with the intention of seeing that look on Malfoy's face…

"When did you both get here?" Hermione asked in the most nonchalant voice she could muster up. "Is Harry also here?"

Ron shook his head and Ginny linked her arm through Hermione's. "No." She replied. "He said he got tied up at his Aunt and Uncle's. Something about helping them clear out their basement? Who knows. We got here today though—and wow, have you been working out?"

"Yeah…" Ron echoed his sister. "Have you?"

Hermione could've rolled her eyes but didn't. Ron was so obvious sometimes; throughout their schooling he was on and off about his attraction towards her. When she was 'one of the guys' he wasn't interested in her, but as soon as she showed some leg, he wagged his tongue like a little puppy. "No," She replied smoothly. "I just took extra time and effort to dress up today."

Ginny wiggled her eyebrows. "Meeting somebody?"

Hermione giggled. "Gin, you know I'd tell you if I did."

"Better not be a boy!" Ron snarled from the side and Ginny shot her brother a blatantly pissed off look.

"Ron, if she dressed up like this to meet up a girl, I'd assume she'd run around butt naked if it were a male."

Ron gulped and his eyes widened. Hermione laughed, shaking her head in sheer amusement. The Weasley family never failed to amuse her when she was a) distraught or b) nervous. In this case, she was nervous beyond repair. And slightly distraught that she couldn't make a clean getaway to meet up with Malfoy.

Out of the corner of her eye she saw a flash of blond and idly looked over. Draco Malfoy was watching her, looking so devilishly handsome. Dressed in jeans and a black button up shirt, Draco was the epitome of casual. His arms were crossed and he was leaned against a light post, successfully hiding in plain sight.

Hermione turned back to her two friends. She heard Ginny say something about Gringotts before nudging her and saying: "You coming, Hermione?"

Taken back for a moment, Hermione didn't know what else to say except sure. She couldn't very well tell her friends that she was going to have a lunch date with their arch nemesis; sure, Ginny was aware of what Draco did (and by aware, more along the lines of she knew he saved her live but didn't know the particulars of how) and was thankful for it, but Ron still hated him.

He has an ulterior motive, Hermione! He had insisted.

Again, Hermione couldn't understand who would have an ulterior motive to throw themselves in front of a Crucio. As Ginny dragged Hermione off, she glanced over her shoulder to find Draco rub his nose gently before pushing off of the post and walking off. Her heart sank—

Could she have disappointed him?


After a long day of being dragged around by the Weasley siblings (along with Neville and Seamus), Hermione couldn't have been more excited to enter her inn room and flop onto the bed. Although she had loads of fun, catching up with her friends about what happened during the summer, she was disappointed that she couldn't spend some time with Draco.

Perhaps it was for the best. Her fingers wrapped around the healer pendant as she stared at herself in the mirror. Her reflection watched her: hair pulled back into a messy bun, with her wand poking out of it, and her outfit still looking impeccable. Silly her, the one day she put real effort into her attire, she was shopping for school supplies with her friends.

Curb your enthusiasm, she scolded herself. Remember, he's a Slytherin; a really good looking, nice smelling, lifesaving, evil Slytherin.

Engrossed in her thoughts, Hermione failed to hear the balcony door open.

"Short skirt suits you, Granger."

Whirling around, Hermione came face to face with the man occupying her thoughts: Draco Malfoy. Frozen on the spot, she drank him in. He was still in his jeans and t-shirt, except his shirt was now half untucked, his hair an unruly mess, and his smirk wider than ever. "What if somebody saw you?" She blurted out and Draco rolled his eyes.

"Granger, Granger, have faith." Taking two steps forward, Draco pulled his wand out of his back pocket and flicked it. In an instant, the entire room rearranged to fit a picnic blanket and basket smack centre of the room. "Since you were preoccupied for lunch, I thought I'd bring lunch to us."

Hermione's eyes were wide.

"A picnic?" She breathed and Draco's smirk widened.

"A picnic. I promise I haven't poisoned anything," his eyes twinkled, "unless you want me to try everything first and then wait an hour to see if I keel over."

Hermione's eyes narrowed. "Shut up, Malfoy. I learned my lesson after not trusting you with the pendant."

"I can put it back in my mouth, you know."

"I'd rather you not."

Draco chuckled and moved to take a seat. Slowly, Hermione followed but made sure to fold her legs back, to hide any view that Draco may have of her lady parts. Slowly, he opened the picnic basket and pulled out sweeties, neatly cut sandwiches, and just about anything else that was picnic appropriate. Hermione was in complete awe…

"When did you have time to learn all this?"

Draco shrugged as he unwrapped the cellophane around his sandwich. "After the bridge was formed between wizards and muggles, I had a lot of research to do during the summer."

Hermione raised an eyebrow at him. "So you learned how to make sandwiches?"

Draco snorted. "Really, Granger? My mother learned how to make sandwiches. I just stood idly by and watched."

"What a sweetie," Hermione winked before biting into an unwrapped sandwich. Draco watched her expectantly and was thoroughly relieved when she leaned back and grinned, complimenting him for a sandwich-well-done.

"You are a chef, Mr. Malfoy." She commended and he puffed his chest out in pride.

"I am a Malfoy." He stated as if it was the ultimate skill of all skills: Malfoy. Hermione threw her disposed plastic wrap at him and Draco slapped it to the side with his wand.

"Well I'm a Granger," She stated, "I feel as if we're at equal with the Malfoys."

"I'd crack a muggle joke right now if this conversation was a year ago."

"This conversation wouldn't be happening between us a year ago." Hermione stated as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.

"Touché," Draco nodded before digging into a box of Bertie Botts Every Flavoured Beans. He cringed when he tasted an ash flavoured one. Spitting it out as fast as he put it in his mouth, Draco pondered on who thought of which flavours to put into the box.

"They aren't every flavoured beans for nothing." Hermione stated. "I wouldn't be surprised if there was a bean with the essence of Malfoy."

"I would," Draco had that familiar teasing twinkle in his eye. "I'd wonder who had the guts to sneak up on Lucius as he was sleeping to extract his essence."

"Right, because your father would wake up and shriek like a sissy girl."

Draco shrugged. "He could. I wouldn't put it past him." He lowered his voice and leaned forward. "But don't tell him, he's the big bad Death Eater, remember."

Hermione zipped her lips. "I wouldn't dream of telling anybody."

They both shared a laugh and resumed eating. It was quaint and Hermione had to admit, she was having more fun spending lunch with Draco than she did running around Diagon Alley with her fellow Gryffindor classmates. Perhaps it had to do with the invisible bond that the two had forged?

Or maybe it was because of all the unanswered questions between them, questions that Draco had posed earlier.

Hermione was the one that brought up topics of conversation, but to Draco's credit he put in an effort to keep the conversations going. They talked about their second year basilisk encounter, and when she punched him for their third year. Draco stated that it still hurt and Hermione, without thinking, offered to kiss it better.

Draco's wink was followed by a chocolate frog being thrown to his head.

The meal wrapped up nicely and Draco made it disappear with a swish of his wand. Hermione walked him to her balcony and they stood, just inside the French doors, for a moment longer.

"Thanks," she said, the awkwardness finally setting in. "It was fun."

Draco nodded. "Yep. Blaise is in Diagon Alley, and so are your friends. Meeting up will be difficult, Granger, so I'll see you at Hogwarts."

Why did her heart fall when she heard him say that?

"Yeah," she murmured. As Draco was preparing to mount the broom, she caught his arm and turned him to fully face her. Without warning, she wrapped her arms around his torso and hugged him, tightly. Draco was taken off guard but quickly recovered and put his arms around her shoulders, returning her embrace.

The sizzle of electricity was undeniable between them. The hug lasted a full ten seconds before Hermione pulled back, smiling. "You're squishy."

His face fell. "No I'm not! I'm all steel!"

She poked his belly. "Nah, there's a little pudgy there, Malfoy."

Draco's eyes narrowed. "I hope you're joking right now."

Ah, but she was. His chest was nothing more than a frame of utter masculinity. She could feel his abs burn through his shirt when they hugged. And his arms? She had never felt safer… which was ironic because she felt the safest in the arms of who would appear to be the enemy.

She cracked the pudgy joke to keep herself from blushing entirely too much.

"I dunno, Malfoy." She wiggled her eyebrows. Draco scowled.

"See you at Hogwarts." He repeated before kicking off and shooting into the sky. She watched him fly off before sinking to the ground and clutching her chest. Her heart was beating a mile a minute and the butterflies in her stomach were going crazy.

As much as she tried to convince herself that what she was feeling was just survivor-gratitude, she knew that she was lying.

What she was feeling was much more than just a quasi-version of Stockholm syndrome.

Chapter 3: Intruder Aboard Hogwarts Express

Hermione had decided that she wouldn't be telling Harry, Ron, or any of her other friends about her and Draco's relationship (what would she say to them anyway? Hey guys, Draco Malfoy and I are frenemies now!... right…). Based on the scope of the situation and how the two acted towards each other, she figured it would be for the best if she kept the information a secret for the time being. Standing at 9¾, Hermione stood in line to receive a kiss goodbye from Molly Weasley. Subconsciously, she was playing with the Healer Pendant's charm between her right index finger and thumb.

"How much do I have to pay you to help me pass my NEWTs?" Ron asked from behind her. Hermione glanced over her shoulder and raised both eyebrows in sheer amusement.

"You weren't prepared from last year?"

Ron gave her an incredulous look. "Prepared?! All I was prepared for was to blast off Voldemort's head. What the bloody hell were you prepared for?"

"My preparations were to blast off Voldemort's head and pass our NEWTs." Hermione replied, smugly. She prided herself in being, as Draco Malfoy had so kindly put it throughout their years of education together, an insufferable know-it-all.

Before Ron could retort, it was Hermione's turn to receive affection from Molly. Enduring the cheek pinching and smothering, Hermione only smiled through it. She knew if her mother had the ability to enter the realm of Platform 9¾, she'd probably do the same thing Molly was doing.

"And since there are no evils lurking around, please do keep the boys in check." Molly leaned forward so only Hermione could hear her. "Harry and Ron must pass their NEWTs. Make sure they don't spend too much time at the Weasley Wizarding Wheezes."

Hermione nodded, knowing that what Molly said was more than true. She joined Ginny, Harry, Fred and George off to the side as Molly fawned over her last son, Ronald. Hermione was still amused at how Fred and George received permission from Headmistress McGonagall to board the Hogwarts Express. Apparently the twins had made a deal with McGonagall; Fred and George decided that they'd take the summer off from their business to spend time with the family. So come September, when it was time to return, the twins could ride the Hogwarts Express to Hogsmeade if and only if they did not sell any bad jokey items to the Hogwarts students.

But Fred and George had no intention of following the rules.

"Mum putting you in charge again?" The twins asked simultaneously and Hermione nodded, sheepishly. Ginny snickered.

"You'll make a great mother, Mia." Ginny commented and Hermione rolled her eyes in response.

"Yeah, if I don't have kids like Harry and Ron."

"What's wrong with us?" Harry enquired as he watched, from the corner of his eye, Molly bestow Ron with a plethora of kisses. Snickering, he turned his full attention back to Hermione.

"You and Ron always came up with clever ideas to get us killed," Hermione's eyes glinted with mock anger. "Or worse… expelled."

"You need to sort out your priorities." Ron commented as he finally joined the group. Molly had finally finished showering her children (and surrogate children in the cases of Hermione and Harry) with love and affection. Before Hermione could come up with a witty retort the whistle blew indicating that the Hogwarts Express was now boarding. With a final hug to Molly, Harry, Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Fred and George boarded the crimson train that they were so familiar with.


The Golden Trio snagged a compartment all for themselves as Ginny went to sit with a few girls from her own year. Ron had gotten comfortable, lying down on one side of the compartment as Harry and Hermione were on the other side, staring at Ron incredulously.

"You just woke up three hours ago, Ron." Hermione shook her head and Ron cracked open an eye, to look at her.

"You can never get enough sleep," he argued. "Besides, with you, Harry and I will have numerous sleepless nights studying. I've decided to catch up on the lost hours of sleep now, as opposed to later."

Hermione harrumphed and chose not to speak to Ron for the remainder of the train ride. Way to be appreciative. Harry chuckled and shook his head. "It's going to be a dull year."

"Let's resurrect Voldemort just so we can have an eventful year, hm?" Ron said from his sleepy state. In the background the rumble of thunder sounded. Not long after the train departed from the platform, it had begun raining really hard. Lightning flashed through the sky every so often, and was always followed by the deafening roar of thunder.

"I still find it amusing how you defeated the all-powerful Dark Lord with a disarming spell we learned in second year." Hermione grinned and Harry howled in laughter. The Gryffindors, post-Voldemort, had a running joke of how the Slytherins, who always advocated blood supremacy, followed a half-blooded wizard who eventually was defeated with an Expelliarmus; a disarming spell they learned in second year by a phony wizard celebrity.

"I'm sure if we used Wingardium Leviosa, it would've worked like a charm." Ron murmured as he was on the cusp of sleep.

Hermione groaned and Harry snickered. "You're so punny." Harry shot back and Hermione slapped his arm.

"You two are not at all being humorous right now," she muttered. Both boys stared at her and she bit her lower lip before adding a small: "Okay, maybe it was kind of funny."

There was a cackle and a voice reverberated throughout the train: "Attention students! Lunch will be served shortly after the Treat Trolley makes its round. Today we are serving chicken shepherd's pie with jacket potatoes and baby carrot sticks. Hogwarts Express will arrive at the station at eighteen-hundred hours."

"Sheppard's pie?" Harry raised an eyebrow. "Well isn't that a notch up."

"Maybe they're sucking up to the Boy Who Lived." Ron mumbled, his eyes still closed.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Shepard's pie isn't exactly sucking-up-material, Ronald."

"Don't call me that."

Their compartment door flew open and the Golden Trio turned, thinking it was the Treat Trolley. Not surprisingly it wasn't—instead of the plump little woman that sold treats on the Hogwarts Express, it was Malfoy, Crabbe and Goyle, already dressed in their Hogwarts robes. Hermione noticed that alongside Draco's Slytherin crest, he had his Malfoy Family crest sewn onto his robes. Was that even allowed?

The trio had pulled the hoods over their heads and sauntered into the compartment, all three of them simultaneously saying: "Ohhhh! Dementor!"

"Bugger off, jerks." Ron muttered, sitting up.

Snickering, Draco pulled his hood off and was followed by Vincent and Gregory. Hermione shook her head; she was clearly not amused.

"Are you going to faint, Potter?" Draco crossed his arms in front of him.

"You are such a prick." Harry mumbled. "You'd think after everything all of us have been through, you'd give it up."

Ceremoniously, Draco sat down between Harry and Hermione. Vincent and Gregory took their places, sandwiching Ron between them. "Come on, Potter. Lighten up; we were only having a little fun."

"Your definition of fun is parallel to Ron and Harry's." Hermione mumbled and Draco side glanced at her. His eyes fell on the pendant resting against her chest and he smirked, languidly. Reaching over, he picked up the piece of jewelry.

Immediately, Hermione looked alarmed.

"Nice pendant you got there, Granger." He said in his usual better-than-thou voice. "Looks like a rare Healer Pendant. You know they're native to Italy… particularly Sicily?"

Hermione's eyes narrowed. "I wouldn't know." She said slowly. "I found a street peddler selling it at Diagon Alley."

Draco's eyes flashed in amusement. "Street peddler? My, oh my…" That bloody drawl! "I wonder where this… peddler could have ever gotten such a rare artifact."

"Leave her and her pendant alone." Ron called. "You can be such a prat."

Draco chose to ignore him. His eyes trailed up from the pendant and locked with Hermione's eyes. They shared an unspoken conversation: Harry and Ron didn't know about their frenemy relationship and Hermione would like to keep it that way. Pulling back, Draco let go of Hermione's pendant and slouched into the cushiony seat.

"So, how was everyone's summer?"

Hermione groaned. "You boys bond, I'll be back from the little witch's room."

"Don't you mean the little mudblood's room?" Vincent called as she stood up to leave the compartment. As Hermione froze, and before Ron or Harry could react, Draco pulled Crabbe up by the scruff of his collar and stared at him, lethally.

"We stopped using that word in sixth year." He whispered his voice nothing short of deadly. "I hear you use it again and you will be sorry."

Vincent looked terribly afraid and Ron and Harry's jaws dropped. Gregory was looking between his two friends and wonder what the bloody Mary was going on. Hermione didn't even turn around; she quickly pulled the door open and made a quick escape. Though she was furious over the comment Vincent Crabbe had made, her heart was racing uncontrollably over what Draco Malfoy had done.

Picking up the Healer Pendant, she started playing with it again. Subconsciously, of course.

Draco Malfoy: saved her from the Crucio and defended her honour.

He was her knight in shining armour—more like knight in black robes with silken blond hair, Hermione amended, inwardly laughing. Her mind shifted over to how her two best friends were reacting to Draco's outburst. She wished she could stay to see the aftermath but she had to get out of there.

Even if it was eight years later, that term hurt like a knife cutting in to her heart.


Shortly after Hermione left the compartment so did Draco; he instructed Crabbe and Goyle not to follow him. Harry, Ron, Vincent, and Gregory were all sitting awkwardly last Draco saw but he didn't care; they could bond and become best friends and he wouldn't give two flying pumpkins. He used the excuse of having to take a leak but he knew that they knew he was probably going after Hermione.

Way to keep a low profile, Malfoy. He sneered at himself. He had to stop being so obvious with his unhatred for Hermione Granger. Even though after the Battle of Hogwarts and after Voldemort's defeat all the houses had called a truce, the Slytherins still acted slightly better-than-thou than the other three houses. It wasn't to say that they were downright terrible to the Ravenclaws, Hufflepuffs, and Gryffindors, they just acted like they were better.

But the house truce wasn't enough of a reason for Draco Malfoy to go check up on Hermione Granger.

So why did he?

No matter how many times he asked himself questions of such manner, he always knew the answer would be the same.

Same reason you threw yourself in front of a Crucio for her.

So why? Why did I do it?


Hermione was waiting patiently in front of the washroom. Somebody was in there and Hermione had no idea how long she'd be in there for. Frankly, I'm glad, she thought, longer this person takes; the later it'll be before I return to the compartment. Hermione didn't really have to go to the bathroom; it was an excuse to get out of there before somebody threw a punch. Leaning against the wall, Hermione stared at the washroom door and thought back to what Draco said just moments ago.

The boy just never ceased to surprise her.

Hermione frowned as she saw a glow underneath the crack of the washroom door. "What the—"

Within seconds a loud alarm sounded and the train screeched to a halt.

"Intruder alert! Intruder alert! Initiating lockdown in three."

Hermione's eyes widened.


She all but screamed when she felt somebody grab her arm and pull her into an empty train compartment before shutting the door.


The lights went out and a click was heard; the train compartment was locked by the conductor. "Attention students: there is an intruder on the train. I repeat there is an intruder on the train. All compartments, including washrooms, change rooms, and staffrooms have been locked. We will resume and unlock when the Aurors and Ministry arrive. I repeat: there is an intruder on the train. Every compartment is locked."

Hermione, in a heartbeat, pulled out her wand. Because of the lights going out and the darkness of the weather outside, the compartment was pitch-black. "Lumos." She hissed. As soon as her wand lit up, she saw the illuminated face of a rather concerned looking Draco Malfoy. "Malfoy?! Why the bloody hell did you drag me into an empty compartment for?"

"A 'thank you' would suffice." He replied stiffly.

"What on earth were you doing following me?" She paused, re-evaluated what she said, and looked sheepish. "I mean… thanks." She looked away from him. "For what you did back at the compartment and… for now."

Draco rolled his eyes.

"Goodness, Granger, you'd think the earth would split in half and swallow you for being polite. But, because I'm a nice fellow, I accept your gratitude." Draco watched Hermione's expression change from shy, to confused, to annoyance.

"You're such a tool." she muttered. "So there's an intruder on the train? And how were you right there when the alarm went off?"

It was Draco's turn to look uncomfortable. He crossed his arms, in an attempt to keep some sort of dignity, and revealed to Hermione that he went to check up on her after what Vincent said.

"Wouldn't want you drowning yourself out of misery; the toilet is pretty deep." He added, to save face.

Hermione smiled warmly at him. "Thanks… you're a good frenemy."

"I try." he murmured, looking anywhere but her.

And then there was silence; awkward, uncomfortable silence. Hermione set her wand down beside her, still illuminated. Draco watched her and she tried to look anywhere but him. His lips curled up slowly: "Your hair looks nice."

Her eyebrows shot up. "Thanks?"

"Not the bird's nest you used to have when we were younger."

Hermione snorted. "What a classic Malfoy compliment."

"Well it is." He said, winking at her. Hermione was going to retort when the roar of thunder shut her up and made her jump. Her head immediately shot to look outside the window; it was foggy and unclear due to the rain. Draco immediately picked up on her discomfort and sat up straight.

"Does the thunder scare you?"

She looked at him as if he had grown a horn. "Scare? No. Thunderstorms just aren't linked to positive memories for me." She looked away from him. "The Dementors attacked the train during weather like this."

Draco knew that there was more to her thunderstorm fear than just the Dementors making Potter faint and scream like a sissy girl during their third year. But what the reason behind her fear was not his primary concern, his top priority was to comfort Granger.

He would ask himself why, but he knew the answer.

The answer was always the same.

I don't know why. I just know I have to.

Wordlessly, he got up and sat down beside her, wrapping his arm around her shoulders in the process. Hermione was stiff for a moment before relaxing and melting into his hold. Her heart was beating a mile a minute; she swore it would pop out of her ribcage at any given moment. His index finger was drawing little circles on her shoulder and his head was resting against the back of the seat.

"Thanks." she murmured. He glanced down at her.

"I only did it so I can throw you at a Dementor more easily should they arrive."

She rolled her eyes. "A 'you're welcome' would've suffice." She was mocking him and he knew it. Draco chuckled and she felt his chest rumble against her. Her heart began racing even faster, if that was humanly possible.

"You're welcome, Granger."

And again, they fell into silence. This time, however, it was comfortable and warming.

Welcoming, even.

Hermione didn't know when, but she fell asleep being held by Draco Malfoy. And Draco didn't know why, but when he was sure she fell asleep, he gently leaned forward and kissed her head, just at her hairline. "Sleep tight," he whispered, "Hermione."


Draco succumbed to sleep as well. Hermione had, at one point, shifted so that her arm wrapped around his torso and he simply tightened his hold around her shoulders. When the train had resumed moving and when the compartments were unlocked were beyond Draco and Hermione's knowledge.

Thankfully he woke up just moments prior to the train pulling into the station at Hogsmeade. Thank Merlin nobody noticed us… At least Draco hoped nobody noticed them. They weren't exactly keen on advertising their relationship. Grunting, he sat up straight and cracked his neck. He looked down at Hermione and counted, slowly, to one hundred in his head before waking her up. He figured she could use an extra minute or two of shut-eye.

"Granger," he called gently, shaking her slightly. "Hey, Granger."

She merely nestled in closer to him as he tried to wake her. "What is it, Draco?"

His heart stopped beating and his eyes wide. It was the first time she called him by his first name since ever. Although she was still half asleep and probably unaware of what she was doing, the effect on Draco was the same as it would've been should she have been awake.

"We're almost at the village…" He murmured, trying to keep his voice steady. Releasing a jaw-slitting yawn, Hermione moved away from him and rubbed her eyes before realizing what he said.

"We're here?!" She stood up. "Oh no! I haven't changed… and we fell asleep?! What are Harry and Ron going to say when they find out why I didn't return to the compartment? And who was the intruder?! Oh, Merlin, now I really have to pee!"

Draco chose not to address her last concern. "You still have fifteen questions left out of twenty," he muttered dryly, standing up. "Tell them our compartment didn't unlock. Honestly, Granger, you'd think after owling me all summer you'd pick up on some Slytherin virtues. Granted, lying about going to the bathroom to get away from us is on par with Slytherin attributes."

Hermione snorted in a rather unladylike fashion. Draco raised an eyebrow at her but she waved him off. "You may be a sweetie sometimes, Malfoy." He hid the wince when he heard her call him by his last name again. He would revel in the Draco for as long as his memory would serve him.

"But you're still annoying."

"Remind me of that next time I comfort you during a thunder storm."

Hermione's eyes narrowed. "There won't be a next time."

He merely winked at her before sliding the compartment door open. "I'll remind you of that when next time actually happens." Before she could reply, he left.

The nerve of the man.


Hermione used the excuse Draco told her to use: their compartment didn't unlock until the train arrived at the station. Ron and Harry seemed to accept her story, saying that their compartment was one of the last ones to unlock after the intruder was escorted off of the train.

Harry also told Hermione that it was Rita Skeeter that was found to be the intruder. She had snuck into the train as her beetle form and the moment she transformed, the intruder sensor on the train picked up on it. Hermione realized, at that moment, that the glowing light she saw under the washroom door was probably Skeeter transforming in to her human self. According to Ron, the Aurors dragged her off kicking and screaming.

The students of Hogwarts assembled into the Great Hall and sat down at their respective tables. Hermione quickly reacquainted herself with her many friends and found herself squished between Neville and Dean.

"Have you seen Trevor?" Neville asked and the group of eighth years burst into laughter.

"Still?" Seamus shook his head. "Nev, give it up."


Hermione put a comforting hand on his arm. "Trevor will show up. He always does."

Neville, though evidently distraught, smiled. "Yeah…"

The Great Hall was abuzz with chitter chatter in all corners. Draco hugged his good female friend, Tracey Davis, tightly. "Had a good summer, Trace?"

Tracey shrugged. "More or less. Theodore was a pain in my royal behind though."

In the beginning of seventh year, Theodore Nott and Tracey Davis had become an official couple. Most of the Slytherins called them T-squared. Blaise, as inappropriate and dirty as it was, called them "tity," both in reference to their initials and the slang American term for breasts.

Draco claimed he had too much respect for Tracey as a sister to degrade her name as such. Theodore, on the other hand, he didn't care much about. At that point, Theodore hit his arm, hard, and Draco said Tracey hit harder than him.

Of course, all was in good humour.

"Attention!" Minerva McGonagall bellowed as she stood at the podium many students were accustomed to seeing Dumbledore stand behind. "Attention everyone!"

Slowly, the Great Hall quieted down. Draco sat beside Blaise and Theo and sipped on some provided pumpkin juice. Across the room, he saw Hermione laugh at something Neville Longbottom said and felt a funny sensation in the pit of his stomach. It was the same feeling he had when he saw them have lunch together at Diagon Alley.

Why are you overreacting? He asked himself. She's just a friend. NO! A frenemy.

"Another year, another adventure," McGonagall started. "Many of you recall the tragedies of early this summer—Voldemort has been defeated and all peace is now restored to both the wizard and muggle worlds. Our hearts are forever with those who were sacrifices in this war for peace. May we have a moment of silence to respect our peers and loved ones."

Almost at once all of the students' heads bowed for a minute to respect their friends that they lost in the many wars they partook in early in the summer. Hermione had her hands clasped in front of her, sending a prayer for all the friends they lost. Draco simply prayed for his family. He prayed for the lost members and the members who were reconciling, mainly the Malfoys, Lestranges, and Blacks.

After the moment was complete, McGonagall continued. "For this year, the first to seventh years will proceed as usual. Our eighth years, and primary survivors from the war," she bowed her head to Harry, Ron, and Hermione, "will be enrolled in special classes designed just for them. Because they have the knowledge of the untaught Dark Arts, their classes will help them hone and master these techniques. The eighth years will graduate exactly a week before the seventh years."

There were some murmurs exchanged and McGonagall allowed them to converse for a moment before silencing the students. "And now, Madam Hooch, please file in the first years and the Sorting Hat."

Hermione clapped her hands in glee as a group of tiny first years entered the Great Hall. They all looked appropriately nervous and, not surprisingly, a few pointed over to the Gryffindor table and made comments on how Harry Potter is sitting somewhere there and how he defeated You-Know-Who. After the first years were all settled, McGonagall placed the Sorting Hat on a stool and, within seconds, it came to life.

"Hogwarts, Hogwarts, hoggy woggy Hogwarts,
Your lights shine bright; enlightening young minds of yonder.
I sing this song, to welcome our students,
and give them something to ponder…"

"That wasn't very rhyme-y." Ron nudged Harry who nodded.

"He lost his touch."

Hermione glared at them both. "Hush, both of you!"

Ron and Harry snickered. "Yes mum." They responded simultaneously and Hermione chose to ignore them.

"Meeting at the horizon,
The sky and the sea.
A dragon, born from the lion's den;
Out of three."

Hermione immediately snapped her head to her two best friends. "Is it prophesizing?" She hissed and Harry shrugged his attention on full alert. If there was anything that they learned over the past seven years, it was that the Sorting Hat never sang a song for the sake of it

"Salazar's soul; two parts of a whole.
Godric's gift; the spirit of a snake it lifts.
Rowena and Helga, by the sides
Soon, they'll change the tide.

Can the horizon split?
The seas run away?
Can the sun burn out?
Or are they here to stay?

Another year,
Another beginning.
A union is born,
Between a dragon
And his lady,
And so ends my song."

The poem-y song ended and the Great Hall paused before applauding slowly. Hermione only shook her head when Ron gave her a questioning look. 'No idea,' she mouthed and turned her attention to McGonagall who placed the hat on the first student.

Despite Voldemort being defeated and a promising year ahead, the Golden Trio knew that something was going to happen.

Something to do with the sun, the sea… and dragons…


Hermione lay on her four-poster bed, sharing a room with the girls she always did: Parvati Patil, Lavender Brown, Fay Dunbar, Kellah Morris. Kellah and Fay were doing each other's nails and Parvati wondered off to reacquaint herself with some of the other Gryffindors. Lavender had already fallen asleep.

Hermione lay awake reading a novel she brought from home, The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Her mother recommended it to her a while ago and Hermione decided that instead of reading it over the summer, she'd pack it and read it at Hogwarts whenever she had time or was bored.

An irritating tapping came from the window and her eyes widened recognizing Bubo Bubo. Kellah frowned. "What the heck is an owl doing here?"

Hermione threw her book down and went to pull the window open. She stroked Bubo's head before retrieving the roll of parchment from him and letting him into the girls dormitory. Fay raised an eyebrow and asked whose owl that was and Hermione told her that it was just a friend.

Hello Granger,

Surprised? Good, that was my intention. I wanted to inform you that the events of today will not be repeated. I cannot tarnish my reputation as the Slytherin Prince.

That is all.


Hermione snorted and quickly pulled out her own parchment.


Some nerve, hmm? You can tell me that you owl'd me because you missed me. You don't need to put up an act. But don't worry, I won't tell the whole school that you are the sweetest boy I've ever met. Who knows, perhaps the next time there's a thunderstorm, you'll comfort Pansy Parkinson.

Best wishes,


Within five minutes, Hermione received a response. Kellah simply rolled her eyes and continued drawing butterflies on Fay's toenails.


You have got to be kidding me. Me? Miss YOU? I'm laughing right now and I'm sure you can hear me up at the Gryffindor Tower. That's about as likely as me comforting you during a thunderous storm in a stalled Hogwarts Express.

Hermione raised an eyebrow. He just told me he missed me… she mused.

And now I have dirty images of me hugging Parkinson. Thanks a lot, Granger.


Hermione decided to keep her letter short and to the point.


Is this why you owl'd me? To be an annoyance?


Draco, who was lying on a couch in the Slytherin Dungeon, saw Bubo Bubo fly in through the open wall. Purposely, Draco did not shut the wall that separated the Slytherin common room with the dungeons only so that Bubo Bubo could fly in without any qualms. After all, the dungeons were located under water.




Two could play that game was Draco's mentality when he responded. Hermione, on the other hand, was amused to no end.


You're an annoyance.


Draco shook his head and scribbled his response down before sending Bubo Bubo away again.


Yet you still reply.


Hermione let Bubo sit on her shoulder as she stared at Draco's recent letter. Fay and Kellah began ignoring Hermione and she was glad—they asked a few times who she was owling but they got the hint after she never responded.


It is polite to respond to those you consider a friend, or a frenemy in your case. However, it is getting late now and I will be falling asleep. Will see you in class tomorrow.



Within two minutes Bubo came back with a rolled up parchment. Grunting in annoyance, Hermione opened the window and, before she realized what was happening, Bubo Bubo dropped the parchment and flew off, not waiting for Hermione to write a reply letter. Hermione was dumbfounded. "So he doesn't want a response?" She mumbled to herself as she picked up the letter.

Going back to her bed, Hermione got comfortable and slowly unrolled the parchment. She was wondering what Draco Malfoy could possibly want to say that he didn't want a response for.


Fine. I did miss you.

Sleep tight,


Chapter 4: Alternative Means of Communication

Bright and early, the handful of eighth year students piled into McGonagall's classroom and prepared themselves for a brutal year of Transfiguration. Unfortunately for them, all of their classes (Transfiguration, Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Divination, Charms, Care of Magical Creatures, Herbology, and a brand new class specific to the eighth years, Unforgiveable and Illegal Spells) were all NEWT levels and were chosen for them. While the seventh years had the choice of which electives to take and which NEWTs to write, the eighth years did not.

Ron had said something about receiving 'special treatment' for defeating Voldemort. Harry said that they might as well relearn and master the Expelliarmus, since it was the spell that destroyed the once revered Dark Lord. Another running joke among the Gryffindors was that the disarming spell was probably the most lethal spell known to wizardkind. Even stronger than the Avada Kedavra.

"Now," McGonagall didn't even dawdle to begin her lesson. She jumped right into it. "Transfiguration has many rules that the Ministry has set to maintain peace and order. Though it is simplistic in technique, there are dire consequences if it was conducted without care."

Hermione, who was sitting between Fay Dunbar and Harry Potter, was leaning on the palm of her right hand and watching McGonagall intently. She was acutely aware of the head of silvery blond hair sitting at the third table to the right, beside Blaise Zabini. Hermione was sitting at the fourth table to the left, close enough to Draco Malfoy.

Ron was lingering at the back of the classroom with Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan. Apparently he had no intention of passing NEWT level Transfiguration.

Apparently, neither did Seamus nor Dean. Parvati was sitting with her sister, Padma, in the row behind Harry, Fay, and Hermione and the rest of the eighth year students were scattered throughout the room.

"We have received special permission from Kingsley Shacklebot to practice techniques that center on the Dark Arts." McGonagall's gaze darkened. "They should never be used unless it is a life or death circumstance. Failure to follow this rule will result in imprisonment, or in some cases, removal of magic and erasing of memory."

Adrian Pucey whistled low, indicating that the consequences were severe. McGonagall shot him a glare that clearly translated to shut up.

"We will use the first three months of the year to learn and master the art of human transfiguration—" collective gasps were heard and Ron coughed.


The Gryffindors giggled and Draco glanced over his shoulder, shooting Ron a lethal glare. Hermione rolled her eyes and Harry slapped a hand over his mouth to stop himself from laughing. McGonagall scowled.

"Mr. Weasley. That was in no way appropriate. I'm afraid I have to deduct ten points from Gryffindor house."

Ron twitched. It was so like Minerva McGonagall to deduct points from her own house. Sometimes Ron wished that McGonagall was more like Severus Snape—he never deducted points from Slytherin and if he did, it'd probably be three points for not paying attention.

Snape was a little snake like that.

"There are only three students in this class familiar with the transfiguration of human beings." McGonagall nodded her head to those three students. "It was supposed to be taught for your sixth year but due to unforeseen circumstances, as you remember, the curriculum was changed. So, to begin with, we will learn how to conduct human transfiguration into inanimate object, self-transfiguration, and finally, human transfiguration to an animate object both third-party and self." McGonagall glanced around the class before naming the three students that knew human transfiguration to the fullest. "The three experts are: Hermione Granger of Gryffindor, Draco Malfoy of Slytherin, and Luna Lovegood of Ravenclaw."

All eyes snapped to Draco—he knew human transfiguration?!

"Didn't your mothers ever teach you that staring is rude?" Draco snapped, not loving the unwanted attention. Hermione wanted to snort at him; granted she was surprised he knew human transfiguration, but it wasn't unnatural. He was deemed Slytherin Prince very early on and Hermione wouldn't put it past Lucius Malfoy to teach his son some of the not-so-legal tricks of the trade.

McGonagall tapped her podium with her wand. "I would like Miss. Granger and Mr. Malfoy to come up here and both display how human transfiguration is done."

Hermione gulped and stood up rigidly. She saw Draco stand up too, in a languid fashion, and wanted to throw something at his head. Even when he was put on the spot he was as cool as a cucumber. Walking up to the podium, she stood beside Draco and could practically feel the heat emitting off of his body.

"Miss. Granger, will you go first?" McGonagall asked and Hermione nodded. Clearing her throat, she pulled her wand out of her robe and turned to face Draco. He merely raised his perfect blond eyebrow as she raised her wand to eye level, her expression monotonous.

"Humana ad ictis!" A shot of purple blasted out of Hermione's wand and came in contact with Draco. Immediately, his body morphed into a tiny, blond ferret. The entire classroom, Slytherin, Gryffindor, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw alike, burst into uncontrollable laughter.

Even McGonagall chuckled under her breath. The little Draco ferret blatantly glared up at Hermione as McGonagall and the aforementioned witch stared down at him. "I'll give Gryffindor ten points if you can get Mr. Malfoy to smile." McGonagall stated.

Hermione bit her bottom lip and the entire class leaned forward in anticipation. "Well," Hermione glanced around the room. "I never wanted to admit it but… Draco Malfoy has to be the best looking man in all of Hogwarts. He's also the most gorgeous man I've ever laid eyes on—wizard and muggle alike."

Indeed, as Hermione predicted, the ferret smirked. Hermione squealed and jumped up and down as McGonagall awarded their house ten points. Reversing the transfiguration, the ferret morphed back into Draco Malfoy. His arms were crossed, his eyebrows furrowed, but his lips were smirking. "Real original, Granger. Real bloody original."

Hermione shrugged. "I know; I get points for creativity. The good looking stuff though," she leaned forward, "I lied."

Draco's eyes widened and Ron howled in laughter. McGonagall rubbed her temples; no matter how many points she deducted from Ronald Weasley, he never learned.

"Ronald Weasley. One more outburst from you and I will have you in detention until you graduate!"

Crabbe and Goyle burst into laughter that was louder than Ron's and McGonagall deducted ten points from Slytherin each. Harry leaned over to Fay. "Do they ever learn?"

She giggled. "Don't think so."

"Mr. Malfoy," McGonagall nodded to him. "Your turn."

Puffing his chest out, Draco held his wand out and changed: "Humana ad castor!"

A shot of silver came out of his wand and enveloped Hermione. Within a heartbeat, she morphed into an oversized beaver with larger than life buckteeth. The Slytherins laughed and Pansy Parkinson made a point to snort really loudly. Beaver Hermione bore her buckteeth and McGonagall sighed, wondering why she asked those two to demonstrate. Why didn't she call upon Luna and Hermione?!

"Alright, Mr. Malfoy, if you can make Miss. Granger smile, I'll award Slytherin ten points."

Draco frowned, wondering what he could say to Granger that could possibly get her to smile. "Umm… Granger is the beautifulest woman ever?"

The beaver hissed and Harry twitched. "Malfoy, beautifulest is not a word in the English vocabulary."

"Can it, Potter."

"You're failing, Mr. Malfoy." McGonagall was amused. She knew that Hermione was a stubborn one but she wondered how she could fare against Draco Malfoy trying to get her to smile. McGonagall had half the thought that Draco might just pick up the beaver and tickle her.

"Granger is so smart… even smarter than I!"

"You're terrible at giving compliments," Padma called. "You'd think the Prince of Slytherin had tact."

Malfoy languidly gazed at her. "I only lack when it comes to Granger. The woman is insufferable."

The beaver hissed again.

"You aren't getting her to smile with insults," Susan Bones murmured, chewing on her thumb. The eighth years were rather glad that McGonagall wasn't as anal with them as she was years prior. Perhaps it had to do with that the fact that they were mature and war survivors. In any case, this little game of "points" would never have happened even the previous year.

Granted, there was no previous school year for any of them.

"Bloody hell," Draco snarled. "I give up! Castor ad Granger!" Before their eyes, Hermione morphed back into her humanoid self. She glared at Draco before, suddenly, bursting into laughter. Draco's gaze darkened.

"Really, Granger?! You couldn't have done that two seconds prior?"

Hermione was holding her sides and, her laughter being contagious, the three houses save Slytherin also burst into peals of laughter. "You. Really. Can't. Compliment!" Hermione said through breaths. McGonagall rubbed her temples—she thought for students that saw death purely because some magicians wanted to kill would be a lot more sombre.

Not her eighth years, that was for sure.

"Settle down, Miss. Granger. Return to your seats promptly."

As Hermione strode past Draco to get to her seat, he pinched her arm. Yelping, she glared at him over her shoulder and he merely gave her an innocent smile.

Watch out, she mouthed and he rolled his eyes.

Being frenemies with Granger wasn't all that bad. Draco seemed to enjoy it.


"We're getting the day off to go to Hogsmeade Village tomorrow." Kellah called from her position on her bed. Lavender was curling her hair with Hermione's curling iron—she wanted to do it the muggle way. Fay was watching Lavender and Parvati was attempting to brush Hermione's hair, of course, the muggle way. Sometimes they didn't want to use magic; they used it every day for the past eight years and really, they needed a break.

"Really?" Hermione frowned. "Why? It was only the first day today."

Parvati stopped brushing Hermione's hair to comment. "I think it's because we have double potions tomorrow and Professor Snape is sick."

Fay cringed. "Ugh, NEWT Potions…"

"It's so unfair we're being forced to write our NEWTs." Kellah muttered. "I mean Hermione and Harry could become Aurors without having five Es. They were the top players in the Battle of Hogwarts."

"I do not want to be an Auror," Hermione snorted. "Do I look like I want to chase bad guys for the rest of my life? Seven years was enough."

The girls laughed at Hermione's outburst. They thought she enjoyed playing cops and robbers but apparently not. She did have a point though; after having found horcruxes and defeating Voldemort, Hermione Granger needed to retire from bad-guy hunting.

"What do you want to be then?"

"Well, I want to see if I can beat the Defense Against the Dark Arts curse." she grinned. "I would love to try and be the only D.A.D.A professor that survives for more than one year."

"Really?" Fay rolled her eyes. "Leave it to Hermione to want to be an actual Professor here. Wasn't eight years of this rubbish enough for you?"

Hermione shook her head and Parvati pulled on her hair. "Stop moving, Hermione!"

"Apart from being a professor, I know Gringotts is looking for somebody who could possibly be an ambassador to the muggles to advertise muggle aspects of the bank," Hermione shrugged. "Since I am muggle-born, the position appealed to me."

"Anything to get away from chasing bad guys, huh?"

Hermione laughed. "Yep. Ron wants to be a Quidditch player, Harry an Auror, and me? Anything that hasn't to do with flying or bad guys."

"Imagine," Kelleh's eyes twinkled, "Hermione in one of those muggle pencil skirts with her hair in a bun."

Parvati squealed. "Oh, yes! With a see through blouse—and a black bra!"

Hermione deadpanned. "I am not a sex object."

"Doesn't mean that you can't look sexy." Fay beamed and Lavender nodded. Hermione wanted to retort but there was a tap at their tower window. All the girls looked over to find a small scrawny owl.

Bubo Bubo! Hermione shoved Parvati and went to open the window, letting the owl in and grabbing the rolled parchment that was attached to him. Fay asked who it was from and Kellah answered for Hermione.

"Probably the unnamed friend. I'm telling you, Granger, if it's a boy and you haven't told us, I will hurt you and you will wish Voldemort was back because, trust me girl, you'd rather face him than me." Everybody knew Kellah was not kidding.

Hermione told Parvati that she could finish brushing her hair later and her friend merely rolled her eyes; she decided to play a match of wizard chess with Kellah instead. Getting comfortable on her four-poster bed, Hermione unrolled the parchment as Bubo Bubo perched on her shoulder.


You're clever, hm, turning me in to a ferret? If we weren't frenemies, I would've done something terribly nasty, like turn you into an oversized beaver.

Hermione rolled her eyes, he was such a riot.

Snape is ill, as you probably know, and tomorrow's classes have been cancelled. The Slytherins are headed to Hogsmeade for the day and I am sure your faux-courageous friends are as well. Knowing you, you are probably going to be spending the day in the Library, the restricted section, shelf number four, probably on a section to do with dragons?

Hermione's eyes widened. How did he…know?

I'm a mind reader. He wrote next. Well, I also seem to remember that you were in the section on Dragons at Flourish and Blotts at Diagon Alley. You can say that I am a very observant male character, along with my charming personality and rugged good looks.

She wanted to snort.

What I wanted to ask was that if you'd possibly like to grab some butterbeer with me? Perhaps discuss what is appropriate or not in regards to morphing one another in to animals. I think if you turned me into a King Cobra, it would've done me some justice. Who knows? Perhaps I would have transformed you into a lion.

"No you wouldn't." she muttered.

Actually, I probably wouldn't.

Hermione giggled.

Let me know, I suppose. I don't want to run around Hogsmeade, especially with Pansy and Millicent. On another note, this letter writing rubbish hurts my wrist. I can't afford to bruise my perfect hand.


Hermione grabbed a piece of parchment and proceeded to write down her response.


Your letters never cease to amuse me. You should've seen the ferret coming, though, it's classic…anybody would've done it and I'm sure Luna Lovegood would have as well. The girls and I were just talking about tomorrow's day off; all of the eighth years are going to be going down to the village.

However how are we supposed to have butterbeer if all of our classmates are going to be in and out of the pub? Your plan has a fatal flaw, Malfoy.

You are right about the letter writing thing, though. No, not about your "perfect" wrist, more like it is painful to write letter after letter. Perhaps there could be an alternative?

Well, surprise me tomorrow… we will see what you are capable of.


She sent Bubo flying out the window and quickly gathered her things. Hermione told the girls that she would be headed to the library. Kellah snorted saying that of course Hermione would be headed to the library. It was classic Hermione.

Hermione laughed along with the other girls. What they didn't need to know was that she wasn't actually going to the library to study.

She was going to the library to figure out if she could do something about what Malfoy had mentioned…

Something about making their correspondence easier.


It wasn't quite lights out yet but Hermione was the only one in the library. She figured as much, nobody else would be there on the first day of school. She had books spread across a table and she was leaning over a particular book that talked about magical engravings into jewelry and enchanting parchment. The idea seemed appealing and she wanted to know more about the topic…

"Really, Granger?"

Her heart jumped and she looked up to see Draco standing on the other side of the table, dressed in jeans and a button up black silk dress shirt. Hermione chose not to acknowledge that she noticed the top two buttons were undone, giving her a glimpse of his near perfectly sculpted chest.

"How did you know I was here?" She tried to sound calm but she knew her voice was shaking.

"Bubo came back with the letter I wrote in response to you," he shrugged as if it were the most natural thing. He pulled out a chair and plopped down, rather carelessly. "I figured it was because he didn't know where to find you, and the only place that is, is the library."

"You're rather creepy and have stalker tendencies." Hermione muttered and she turned her attention back to the book before her. She heard Draco snicker and, without warning, the book in front of her was pulled away.


"I want to know what you're reading."

Hermione snarled and crossed her arms in front of her. Draco did a quick once over of the page and nodded, returning it back to her. "Enchanted parchment sounds good."

"I was aiming towards the jewelry," Hermione muttered. "I don't want to have to carry a piece of parchment around all the time. It would seem rather strange if I pulled this crumpled up sheet from my robes every now and then."

Draco snickered. "Touché, Granger."

"How about both?" Hermione's eyes locked with his. It never ceased to amaze her at how wonderfully gray his eyes were. They were unnatural and complimented his hair perfectly. His hair, unlike the previous year when it was long and combed over, was shorter and spiked. The style of his hair seemed to give it a certain brown tint, but the blazing platinum blond was still recognizable.


Hermione nodded, flipping through some pages in the book. "Parchment for when we're in class… jewelry for when we're not?"

"I'm not a woman."

"Merlin, I'm not giving you a nose ring, Malfoy." Hermione snorted. "Perhaps a necklace? Or a bracelet?"

"A bracelet is feminine."

Hermione scowled. "Well tough luck. I'll figure something out and you're going to appreciate it. Understood?"

Draco merely shook his head. "You're pushy, Granger."

"It's in my blood."

He raised both eyebrows and she made it a point to look away from him and back at the book in front of her. In the distance, Draco heard a clock ticking… one second, two, three seconds, four.



"Let's have a picnic in the Astronomy Tower tomorrow." He said suddenly and Hermione's head shot up.

"Come again?"

"For butterbeer," he amended, "we'll set up a picnic like we did at the Leakey Cauldron."

Hermione crossed her arms in front of her, unaware that Draco's eyes immediately locked with her breasts. Were they always that big? Draco had a sudden desire to see if they were perfectly sized to cup…

Draconis Lucius Malfoy! He scolded in his head, hoping to somehow hear his mother. She always managed to turn him off from deeds that were illegitimately attractive. Do not fantasize about grabbing Granger's breasts. They are off limits. Remember, frenemies. Shall I spell it out? F – R – E- N – E- M – I –E – S!

"Do you really think I'd go to the Astronomy Tower with you?"

"And why not?"

"You only take girls up there to get into their robes."

Draco grinned. "So? Don't wear robes tomorrow then."


"Fine, fine," he held his hands up in surrender. "I won't try to get into your robe slash pants slash skirt… whatever you choose to wear."

"Malfoy…" She said warningly. Draco knew that tone; it was a typical woman tone. He heard his mother use it plenty times with his father and the outcome of anything said after that tone was not good. Knowing that he had to maintain his honour, he slouched in his seat.

"Fine. Since all of our classmates are going to be at Hogsmeade, and the other students in class, let's have a picnic at the Quidditch field."

Hermione's eyes widened before she grinned. "That sounds lovely. Wow, Malfoy, you really are a romantic."

He waved his hand and Hermione noted how his biceps rippled beneath his shirt. When did he get so built? He was fifty times more attractive than what Hermione remembered. He definitely seemed a lot more built than when she saw him at Diagon Alley less than a week ago.

"Like what you see?" He smirked as he noted that she zoned in on his biceps.

"No." She said curtly. He knew she was lying.

"Well," he rubbed his left bicep and Hermione wanted to laugh at him. What a narcissist. "After somebody said I was pudgy, I decided I'd prove her wrong."

Hermione's jaw dropped. "Pudge—you listened to me!?"

"Why the hell not?" He asked, as if her question was so preposterous. "When somebody calls me fat, I have to take it seriously."

"Merlin, Malfoy you are not fat. If you were morbidly obese, trust me I'd tell you. All you have are some love handles around your midsection." Hermione was so lying. She clearly remembered the distinct feel of his abs against her. All she wanted to do was run her fingers down the length of his chest and—

Hermione! Control yourself! Her inner nun scolded. This is Draco Malfoy you're thinking of!

"Love handles, hmm?"

Hermione threw a small book at his head, which he caught with expert ease. "You know what I meant."

"You're such a prude," he laughed. "You blush at anything related to sexual intercourse."

"Malfoy!" She hissed. "Don't use such language in the library."

"Or what? The books will be influenced by my horrible language?" He loved watching her expressions change. Her eyes narrowed considerably and Hermione did a certain sniffy thing with her nose that, for some reason, Draco found to be rather irresistible.

"I'll… I'll… I'll hex you!"

Draco was highly amused. "Hex me?"

Hermione nodded, trying to keep a serious expression on her face but she was failing miserably. Draco stood up, strode over to where Hermione was, pushed her chair back and leaned forward. His nose was practically touching hers. Hermione resisted the temptation, but her eyes glanced down to see into his shirt—at his perfectly, irresistibly, sculpted chest.

"Yes," she hated how she squeaked. "I will."

"Would you… Stupefy me?" Her eyes were locked with his. "Tarantallegra, Rictusempra, Petrificus Totalus, or Impedimenta?"

Hermione brought her eyes up to lock with his. "What would you prefer?" Her voice was croaky, almost a whisper. Draco brought his right hand up to brush some of her hair off of her face and then proceeded to pick the pendant off of her neck. He held it in the palm of his hand; his fingers were mere millimeters away from her skin.

"Hexing is so violent," he murmured, playing with the pendant but still so irresistibly close to Hermione. "You could not have me use vulgar language in another way."

"What other ways are there?"

He leaned forward even more, tilting his head to the left. Hermione's heart was beating against her chest with such a force; she thought it was going to pop out. It looked like he was going to kiss her! The feeling she had mirrored what she felt at the Leakey Cauldron when he put the pendant on her.

"You know…"

She gulped. "I don't…"

Why wasn't she stopping him?

She didn't want to stop him. To be so physically close to Draco Malfoy was nerve-wracking and she didn't want it to stop. Before she realized her mouth was even moving, she whispered his name: "Draco…?"

His eyes flashed and he let go of the pendant, bringing his hand up and curling it around her neck. Hermione's eyes dropped to his lips and her brain stopped functioning altogether.

"There are loads of other ways to shut me up," his voice was husky, "Hermione."

The butterflies in her stomach went crazy and she could practically taste Draco. He was so close and as much as she knew it was wrong, she wanted to kiss him.

"HERMIONE?! You in here!?"

Harry's voice resonated through the library and Draco snapped back. Hermione's eyes were wide, as if she saw a ghost—scratch that, as if she saw Peeves doing the Macarena. Shoving his hands into his pocket, Draco muttered something about stupid fucking Pot-Head, before winking at Hermione and strutting off. Within seconds, Harry entered the area she was sitting.

"Hey! Lavender said I would find you here… You alright?" He peered at her closely. Hermione could only nod while attempting to have her heart beat at a regular pace again.

"You sure? You look kind of… pink…"

"I'm fine," she squeaked, her voice eight octaves higher. Harry frowned and put his hand to her forehead, to see if she had a temperature. She felt fine, but she sure wasn't acting it.

"Are you sure?"

She nodded again. "Yes," her voice was returning to normal. "I am. Sorry, what did you need? I was doing some homework."

Harry frowned. She wasn't telling him something but he would let it drop—for now. "Well I was wondering if you wanted to visit Fluffy over the weekend. Hagrid's bringing some lamb chops down and well… wanna come?"

Hermione glanced over her shoulder and saw Draco's shadow hovering between the bookshelves. She turned back to Harry.

"Sure… uh… when?"

"This… weekend…" Harry repeated, slowly. "Are you sure you're okay?"

Hermione nodded. "Yes, yes. Peeves took me by surprise a little while ago, that's all."

"Did he pull a prank?"

Hermione shook her head. "No. He just screamed in my ear and flew off."

Harry chuckled. "Sounds like something Peeves would do. Well, have fun studying… on the first day Mione." He gave her a tight hug before leave the library. Hermione slouched in her seat and tried to catch her breath. That had to be the scariest situation she'd ever experienced.

Even scarier than facing Voldemort.

As she tried to get her breathing back in rhythm, Draco snuck up behind her and yelled in her ear. "PEEVES!"

"HOLY!" Hermione jumped a foot in the air before using a book to smack Draco, who was rolling on the floor with laughter. He wiped tears from his eyes and all Hermione could do was glare at him with as much force as she could muster up.

"You're a prat, Malfoy."

Draco composed himself but still chuckled at random. "Your expression was priceless. See, I turned your lie into the truth. Peeves," he used finger quotation marks to surround the poltergeist's name, "scared you."

"I seriously will hex you." Hermione muttered.

"Scary," he wiggled his fingers as if he were a ghost.

Pointedly ignoring him, she turned back to what she was trying to research: finding alternative means of communication. Draco stood there and watched her; he knew she was trying her damned hardest to ignore him.

"You know," he shoved her. "I'd wouldn't mind a necklace."

She glanced over her shoulder. "I'll keep that in mind. Now, if you could care to stop talking to me." She turned back to her book. "I need to figure out a way to talk to you without owling."

Draco raised an eyebrow, bemused. "You want me to stop talking to you so you can figure out how to talk to me?"


"Only you Granger."

"Yes, yes," she waved, "only me. Now, leave?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "Granger, it's almost lights out. Let's go."

Hermione looked up at him. "Are you offering to walk me back to the tower?" She couldn't help but raise both eyebrows when he nodded. "Really?"

"Yes, really. Now." He waved his wand and all of the books were neatly put away and stacked in a pile. "Are you checking these books out?"

Hermione could only blink before scowling at him. "I didn't bookmark the page I was on!"

"I did, bookworm." Draco snorted. "Don't worry, you can go back to your dormitory and resume reading in peace but I'll make sure you get back there safely. You never know when Peeves is going to scream loudly in your ear."

Hermione gave him the look. "You're more dangerous to my sanity than Peeves is."

"I'll take that as a compliment. So, let's go." Using his wand to float her books over to him, he grabbed the stack and began escorting Hermione out of the library. She didn't know what to say: Draco Malfoy was carrying her books!

Their walk was comfortable and silent. They made comments about the castle every now and then but chose to make their journey in quiet. They were at the corridor that led to the Fat Lady portrait when Draco stopped them both. "If that pig sees me, she'll shriek."

Hermione laughed. "She would. Thanks for walking me." Draco nodded and handed her books to her. When he made sure Hermione had a grip on everything, he swiftly leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek.

"Anytime," he murmured before pulling back. "Hermione."

Her eyes were wide and her jaw agape as Hermione Granger watched Draco Malfoy's retreating figure.

Chapter 5: The Method behind the Marauders

"You're really not coming?" Harry asked as he and the other eighth years were getting ready to head out to the village. Hermione, who was still dressed in her pajama pants and a tank top, was sitting on the couch with a couple of books and a steaming hot mug of coffee (she had somehow gotten it delivered to the Common Room thanks to a house elf. How, or why, nobody knew or wanted to know).

Hermione nodded. "I have work to do. When all of you come begging me for help when it's time for our NEWTs, I want to be prepared."

"Lass has a valid point," Seamus winked. Hermione laughed and simply rolled her eyes.

"Come on, Hermione." Ron whined. Hermione shot him a curt look that clearly said be quiet, Ronald. You know you're going to be the first one in line to ask for my help.

"If Hermione wants to study, let her," Fay sighed. "When's the last time any of us convinced her to do anything in place of studying?"

The eighth years murmured at how Fay had a point and they wouldn't be able to tear Hermione away from her books. They bade her farewell; the girls and Harry gave her a hug and Ron awkwardly patted her head. Even eight years and many near-death experiences later, Ronald Weasley was still as awkward as ever.

The group of eighth years left the portrait and Hermione saw a glimpse of the Hufflepuff eighth years and a few Ravenclaw eighth years as well. Luna Lovegood, who was supposed to be a seventh year, was granted permission to take the classes the eighth years were taking because she had been a big part of the war. As such she was regarded as an eighth year instead of a seventh.

With a final wave courtesy of Kellah, the portrait door shut and Hermione was left in solitude in the Gryffindor common room. She heard soft giggling and glanced to her left to see a few first years descending from their dormitory.

"Morning, Hermione," one of the girls smiled and Hermione returned the greeting.

"Headed to class?" The eighth year war-hero inquired and the girl who greeted her – Hermione recalled her name was Antoinette – nodded.

"Yes, we have flying lessons today with Madam Hooch." Antoinette said, her bubbly personality shining. Her two friends beside her were grinning ear-to-ear, evidently excited about their first flying lesson. Hermione knew that the petit blond beside Antoinette (Casey? Was that the name the Sorting Hat called when he summoned her?) was muggle-born just like her.

Hermione was also getting ready to bust some balls if the little girl came back to the common room, crying, because some nasty Slytherins were badgering her. Though the Slytherins fifth year and up had given up on the blood supremacy ideology, some of the younger ones still asserted their faux power.

"Flying is fun… well, so say Ron and Harry." Hermione cringed. "I've never been too fond if flying."

Antoinette's eyes widened. "Really? My father gave me flying lessons before I received my letter in August; I had a lot of fun."

Casey cringed. "Flying seems scary."

Hermione laughed. "Well, I have to concur with you there. If you guys want, I can ask Ron and Harry to give you some lessons; you know the Seeker and the Keeper of the Gryffindor team…?" Hermione added the last bit as an afterthought. It sometimes eluded her the skills that Harry and Ron possessed when it came to flying.

Antoinette blushed; she so had a crush on either Ron or Harry. Hermione made it a personal mission to figure out who it was. Casey still seemed unsure and the third girl (whose name Hermione did not know) squealed with giddy delight. "Ron!? The Ronald Weasley? Oh please, oh please, oh please can you have him give me a lesson?"

"June, shut up." Antoinette scolded. "Don't seem desperate."

Hermione laughed. "Oh don't worry. There've been a lot of girls throughout the years that wanted lessons from one or the other. Tell you what, let me know how your lessons go and right before Harry holds try-outs for the Quidditch team, I'll ask them to give you girls a lesson… and anyone else if they're interested."

Antoinette threw her arms around Hermione. "You're awesome, Hermione."

"Tell me something I don't know," Hermione laughed as she returned the hug. Casey and June exchanged excited glances and thanked Hermione before the three young girls departed from the common room. Shortly after they left, the two remaining Gryffindor first year girls and the seven first year boys made it through the common room. They were all heading to flying lessons.

Finally, after peace and quiet embraced Hermione, she began to look through a few books that spoke about enchanted jewelry and parchment.

Parchment paper is one of the greatest assets to the Wizarding World. Unlike your wand, which depends on your technique and skill, parchment paper can be manipulated to do what you want, whenever you want it to. Parchment is used for various things: note-taking, book-writing, diary-keeping and so on. We, however, will not focus on any of that but rather on the more useful uses of parchment paper… to conduct mischief.

Hermione's eyes widened as her eyes zoned in on the word 'mischief.' Why does that word seem so familiar…? Hermione thought before flipping through the book further.

As students, mischief is the one thing that they wish to conduct. Students, be it first year or seventh, want to be up to entirely no good and wish to have no record of what they did after they've managed their mischief.

Hermione's eyes bugged as she slammed the book shut and took a good look at the authors.

The Method behind the Marauders
By: Moony, Wormtail, Padfoot, and Prongs

"No way," Hermione breathed as she ran her fingers over the authors' names. "They wrote a book on how they made the Marauder's Map?"

A familiar tap sounded through the common room and Hermione saw Bubo Bubo staying afloat just outside the window. Carefully putting the book down, she hurried over and slid the window open, allowing Bubo Bubo to fly in. He dropped the letter and perched on top of the fireplace. Picking up the rolled paper, Hermione made her way to Bubo and stroked him just under the chin. As much as she did not want to admit it, the flying rat was growing on her.


Quidditch field. Noon.

Be there.


Hermione snorted. "Way to ask me, Malfoy."

P.S: Don't get snooty. I asked you yesterday and you said yes.

Hermione raised both eyebrows. "Oh… kay…" Folding up the letter, she shoved it into her pajama back-pocket and quickly gathered up her books. Whistling once, Hermione ushered for Bubo to come over and he did, perching comfortably on her shoulder. Making her way up to the dormitory, Hermione decided to get changed and put her books away before going to meet up with Mister Draco Malfoy.

Bubo Bubo stayed on Hermione's shoulder, happily hooting. He was probably trying to start conversation so Hermione decided to humour him: "I know, Malfoy is a tool."

The owl hooted twice and Hermione figured that he concurred with her. "Hm, I like you Bubo."

The owl gently pecked her head. Hermione laughed, he probably kissed her.


Dressed in a plaid skirt and a white blouse, Hermione made her way to the Quidditch pitch to find a checkered red and white blanket was laid out on the center of the field. Atop the blanket was a picnic basket and Draco Malfoy (sporting jeans, a red t-shirt and a blazer to complete his ensemble). As Hermione approached him, Draco glanced over his shoulder and smirked.

"Before you ask, don't ask. A Malfoy never reveals his secret."

That stopped Hermione from asking him how he knew that she was going to react to him not asking her to come to the Quidditch field. Instead, she asked him how he knew she was going to ask him how he knew that she reacted to him not asking but rather telling her to come to the Quidditch field.

I confuse myself. Hermione muttered to herself at the end of that notion. Her head hurt; sometimes she didn't even make sense to herself.

"Like I said," he patted the blanket beside him, "a Malfoy never reveals his secret."

"Right." Hermione muttered, thinking how what he said was a mantra that muggle magicians repeated over and over again.

As Hermione got comfortable, Draco opened the picnic basket and pulled out all the treats that he packed: chocolate frogs, Bertie Botts Every Flavoured Beans, sandwiches, juice, salad… and much more. Hermione could only gawk as he pulled out everything and anything possible from the basket.

"Did you charm it to be a limitless basket?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "No, Granger, I'm just incredibly good at packing things."

Hermione picked up a cucumber sandwich. "And you're apparently really good at making finger food as well."

He scowled. "Mother and I had a lot of picnics growing up, alright? Lucius was never home and we had to do something with our spare time."

In all her eight years of knowing Draco Malfoy, he never voluntarily spoke of him and his mother. Hermione's heart jumped and she decided not to spend too much time on the story that he had just told her. Draco was never comfortable with speaking about his family and she didn't want to badger him for more stories.

"So it wasn't because there was a figurative bridge built between the muggle world and ours?" Hermione was teasing him with the very words he said when they had their first picnic at the Leakey Cauldron. "Well I like it so far." She grinned. Draco rolled his eyes as he finally pulled out two bottles of butterbeer. Opening the tops (which were un-twistable), Draco passed one to Hermione and they clinked their bottles in midair.

"To another bloody year of school."

Hermione snorted. "To friendship."

"Frenemyship." Draco amended and they drank to it. After taking her first sip, Hermione set her bottle down and picked up a small sandwich.

"So, how long is this frenemy thing going to last?"

Draco shrugged. "Until I decide we're friends?"

Hermione snorted. "Until you decide we're friends? We're picnicking and you're buying me things… I think we've graduated to friendship."

"Not yet."

Hermione merely rolled her eyes and took another swig of her butterbeer. "Well then, my dear sweet frenemy, what is going to be so different from frenemyship if and when we're friends? Snog?"

Draco had a glint in his eyes. Oh, those beautiful stormy gray eyes…

"Snogging would make us good friends. I don't think we're ready for that yet."

Hermione almost snorted out her butterbeer, as she was taking a sip when he spoke. "Really? And shagging would make us best friends, I presume?"

"You aren't the smartest witch of our time for nothing." He winked and Hermione groaned.

"So, going with your friendship hierarchy, what would determine that we're dating?"

Draco chewed on his sandwich slowly, taking his time to come up with an answer. "Well… I would get down on one knee and ask you. What else would I do, Granger?"

Hermione couldn't help but gawk. "And… engagement…?"

"Well if I told you, it wouldn't be a surprise." And he surprised her by winking and leaning forward to quickly place a kiss on her cheek. "Now stop overthinking, bookworm, and enjoy the picnic."

And all of a sudden, Hermione was one hundred percent sure that bookworm was his new pet name for her. In fact, it was the second time he had called her that… from what she recalled. Great. At least she could call him ferret, but that would be too unoriginal. She'd think of something.

"Did you get far in your research?" He asked and Hermione nodded.

"I did, actually. I'm figuring out a way to password protect the parchment so only we can read what we wrote." Draco studied her and nodded, as if he approved.

"Sort of like that Marauder's thing that Potter has?"

Hermione frowned. "You know about it?"

"Remember Snape confiscated it?" Draco saw Hermione slowly nod. "Well, at a family dinner not too long ago, he was complaining on how the stupid thing was insulting him."

Hermione smiled at the memory. "Good times…"

"Can we have it insult Weasel if he tries to read it?"

Hermione shot him a glare. "No."

"We can have it insult Pansy if she tries to read it, too!"

"Malfoy, you may not be fond of Pansy, but I am very fond of Ron and I will not have a piece of parchment insult my best friend."

Draco scoffed. "Fine. You're no fun anyway."

"What a baby." Hermione rolled her eyes. Draco shot her a playful glare before leaning back on his arms. He stretched his legs out and watched Hermione, who was sitting comfortably beside him.

"This sure beats Hogsmeade," He finally said and Hermione nodded in agreement. "Who wants to run around a pathetic village that we've been to more than a thousand times in the past five years or so."

"Your sarcasm amazes me."

"I'm not being sarcastic, Granger."

"Of course you weren't," she grinned.

Draco couldn't help but smile. Hermione put the empty bottle down and leaned back herself, now looking at the boy sitting beside her. "So," she finally said. Draco saw the Healer Pendant was resting nicely on the bulge of her breasts. Why was it that every damn time he saw the girl she was ten times more beautiful than she was the previous time he saw her.

There had to be some form of magic involve.

There had to be.

"That was a great picnic." Hermione offered. She was acutely aware of how the wind was ruffling Draco's hair, how his blazer fit him perfectly, how his muscular chest was very defined within the confines of the shirt he was wearing—in short, she was acutely aware of how attractive the Prince of Slytherin was.

Ironically, Draco was also intensely aware of how attractive the Angel of Gryffindor really was…

"But it's only beginning," Draco smirked. Hermione raised both eyebrows.

"Is it? I am quite sure that once all the food has been consumed it implies that a picnic has come to an end."

"Au contraire, Granger, it implies the picnic has just begun."

Hermione decided to play his game. "Okay," she challenged. "What are we going to do now?"

In a fluid motion, Draco pulled out his wand from his blazer pocket. Hermione watched as he waved their picnic basket and trash away (leaving only the blanket). Then he held the wand in the air and pointed it to the castle. "Accio," he murmured, "Lightyear."

Hermione was beyond amused. Lightyear was the newly designed Quidditch broom that the League of Broomsticks had invented; apparently the new design was one thousand times faster than the Firebolt, with fifty times more accuracy. It responded to will and very minimal controlling was required.

Twenty prototypes were released and quite evidently, the Malfoys had bought one (or maybe even many).

"So you're going to show off your flying skills now?"

Draco chuckled. "Really, Granger?" He said as his broom came to a halt beside him, floating just a few inches off of the ground. "You already know how great my flying skills are."

Hermione gave him a look that clearly said: Cocky, aren't we?

"We're going to see how great your flying skills are."

Hermione blanked. "Wh-what?"


"Yes!" She said a bit too loudly. Draco laughed once again. If Hermione weren't having a panic attack she would've made a mental comment at how beautiful the sound of his laughter was. Standing up, Draco held a hand out to her and Hermione stared at him as if he were crazy.

"Harry, Ron, the Weasley twins, the Grffindor Quidditch team and Viktor Krum couldn't put me on a broom and you think you can?"


His response was curt and cocky. His eyes were twinkling in delight and Hermione wanted to conk him over the head with an oversized coconut. She held her ground and remained sitting on the picnic blanket. Looking away from Draco, she crossed her arms.


"Granger, up."

"Do I look like a dog to you?" She whirled on him and was met with a smiling Malfoy. Her anger quadrupled.

"Of course not," his voice was rather soft. "Your resemblance is more to that of a bookworm—" he burst into laughter when she glared at him with all the force she had. He was pretty sure if looks could kill, he'd be dancing in hell with Tom Riddle.

Hermione stood up and dusted off her skirt. "If you're going to try to force me to fly, then this picnic is over."

"Are you afraid of heights?"

"Yes!" Hermione was seething in anger. "Now go bug somebody else to fly."

"But everybody else is in Hogsmeade." Draco realized, suddenly, that he loved teasing Hermione Granger. He loved angering her and watching the expressions on her face change so rapidly. The previous night he noticed that he liked pissing her off, but at that moment he realized that he could most definitely get used to ticking off the brains of the Golden Trio.

"Then tough luck." Hermione spun on her heel and was ready to march off but Draco caught her wrist. The sizzle of electricity was undeniable but Draco did not let go—he couldn't. Her skin was soft, like silk, and his fingers felt happy to be in contact with Hermione. It was one third of what he felt when she hugged him and one sixteenth of what he felt when his lips touched her soft and inviting cheek.

"Are you really going to be impossible?" He hummed and she felt like punching him.


Like from third year.

He so deserved it.

"Are you really looking for another black eye?" She raised her eyebrow at him and he smirked, slowly and dangerously.

"I bet I could get you onto a broom faster than you could throw your fist at me."

"Where was that attitude in third year?"

Draco pulled her closer, his hand still curled around her wrist. "Little-boy Malfoy and grown-man Malfoy are two very different people, bookworm." Yeah, she was right; it was his new pet name for her. "Grown-man Malfoy really believes you'd enjoy flying."

"I don't like flying."

"You flew on the oaf's Grippohiff."

Hermione wanted to laugh. "Hippogriff, Malfoy."

"Same thing," he said absentmindedly. He was dragging her closer to him and she either did not notice or chose not to pull back. In any case, he loved her compliance. "How is that any different from a broom?"

"Hippogriffs are living creatures with a conscience and a fight-or-flight factor. Brooms respond to me and my fear of heights makes me rather irrational." Why was she pouring out her biggest fear to him? Why did she suddenly feel so hot and why was he suddenly so damn close to her.

"But flying with me wouldn't be so bad, now would it?"

Hermione stared at him warily. "Do you really think I'd go thousands of feet into the air with you of all people? I didn't take Harry up on the offer two years ago and I'm most definitely—Malfoy what in bloody damnation do you think you're doing?" Her shriek almost put out Draco's eardrums but he was a man on a mission: get Granger on the damn broom. He picked her up caveman style and threw her over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes.

"Getting you," he grunted, "on Lightyear." He used his wand to bring Lightyear to him. Within seconds, Lightyear was hovering just a few inches beside Draco and Hermione.

"Like this?!" She was hysterical. Draco snickered.

"Yes. You could choose to cooperate or you could fly thousands of feet in the air like how you are now. The choice is yours and I'm not taking 'none of the above' as an answer."

Draco waited; he could literally hear the gears in her head turning. She was faced with a dilemma and she was going to pick the most rational option of the two. He knew her, he knew how her mind worked, and Draco knew that she would pick the smartest option: flying with him, not on his shoulder.

"Why?" Her voice was so soft it almost tore Malfoy's heart in half. Exhaling loudly, he brought her off his shoulder and slid her down to the ground. His hand, however, rested gently on her waist and her body was pressed comfortably against his.

"Because," his voice matched hers, "you're afraid of heights and I want to help you get over it. Besides," he tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear, "isn't that what friends are for?"

Hermione's heart was pounding against her chest and she didn't know if she could trust her voice. Instead, she nodded. Draco smiled softly. "Will you get on the broom now?"

"Will you let me fall?"


"You'll catch me if I did?"



"Cross my heart."

Inhaling deeply, Hermione turned away from him and stared at the broom. "Oh—okay then," she stuttered. She felt his hand come down on her shoulder and she looked over at him.

"Granger, trust me?"

In a heartbeat, she replied. "You know I do."

It was true. She did.

She trusted him with her life… He saved her from an Unforgiveable Curse once and she knew, deep in her heart, that he would again. Why? That she didn't know, but she was positive that he would put his life on the line for her.

Draco and Hermione turned to Lightyear floating beside them and, hesitantly, Hermione mounted it. Fluidly, Draco got onto the broom behind her and immediately wrapped his arm around her waist. "Ready?" his voice was warm against her ear and the butterflies in her stomach were going crazy. Not trusting her voice (once again), she dumbly nodded and Draco kicked off into the air. Hermione's eyes were closed but she felt the rush of wind go past her and could feel the earth moving farther and farther away.

And then nothing.

No movement, no wind except a light breeze, nothing.

"Open your eyes, Granger," Draco's voice hummed against her and Hermione did as she was told. They were going in slow circles over the Quidditch pitch, parallel to the highest Keeper's hoop. Hermione, whose left hand was gripped onto the broom handle and right hand on Draco's arm, tightened her hold on both things. Her heart was pounding and her fear was escalating.




"Relax," her mind snapped back to reality when she heard Draco purr into her ear. "I'm here." He murmured as he tightened his hold on her, as if to indicate that he had no intention of letting her fall.

Of letting her go.

"I'll always be here."

Again, Hermione nodded. Draco willed his broom to move away from the vicinity of the Quidditch pitch and go towards the Forbidden Forest. Hermione was in awe of how beautiful the castle scenery looked atop a broom. She vaguely remembered her ride on Buckbeak with Harry in their third year; they had almost fallen off and died back then. Her selective memory blocked that part of her life away in a dark corner of her mind.

It probably fuelled her fear of heights. She was rather sure about it.

"Isn't it beautiful?" She breathed.

"Yes, it is." If she could see Draco, she'd notice that his eyes never left her as he responded. She looked down at the forest and realized that it didn't look too forbidden five hundred feet in the air. She and Draco, though, were all too familiar with the dangers that lurked within the tall trees of the forest.

"So, is it as bad as you thought it was?"

"No," she mumbled. "Thank you." She turned her head so that she could look at him and he took the opportunity to place a gentle kiss on her forehead. Blushing, Hermione turned away from him. "Why do you keep doing that?"

His chest rumbled in laughter. "Doing what?"


"Please explain, Granger."

Sighing in exasperation, she used the hand that was holding onto his arm to wave around. "You know!"

"This?" Sneakily, he kissed the area just behind her ear and shivers immediately shot down her spine. Apparently that was one of her more sensitive spots. Trying hard to control the shaking of her voice, Hermione affirmed that that was what she was referring to.

"Because I want to."

Hermione felt as if her lungs were constricting. It was getting really hot really fast and she knew she needed to get really far from Draco.


"Alright… enough flying for today." She strangled out. Draco laughed, aloud, but did nothing to heed her comment. Hermione frowned.

"Malfoy, can we please go back to the field?"

"But we're having so much fun." He brought his right hand up (as his left hand was around her waist), and caught the pendant between his two fingers. Hermione screamed and he jumped, letting go of her pendant and grabbing the broom immediately. Her shriek threw him off balance and he was afraid they both might fall.


"Don't let go of the broom!"

Draco rolled his eyes. "Really, Granger? You have a hernia over that?"

"I was not having a hernia."

"Right and my cousin is a giant shaggy dog."

Hermione snuffed and pinched his arm. "Sirius Black is your cousin."

"Can I not be sarcastic without you correcting me?"

Hermione giggled. "No. Now can we please get down? I think I'm going to have an anxiety attack up here."

Rolling his eyes, Draco began to guide his broom closer to the ground. Hermione was still watching their surroundings and was most definitely glad that Draco dragged her ass up into the sky. She wasn't sure if she would do it again, but she was glad for that day.

"We are going to have another flying lesson tomorrow." His voice tore into her mind, breaking her train of thoughts.


His smirk was incredible. "You can't get over a fear if you only face it once."

"That's like stuffing a claustrophobic person into a broom cupboard for hours on end!"

Draco snickered. "True, but that claustrophobic person isn't with me, now is she?"

"I'm sure you have a lot of experiences in tiny broom cupboards with another female." Hermione snorted and Draco burst into laughter, throwing his head back and revelling in what she had just said. Hermione couldn't help but giggle as well; his laugh was contagious.

"Your sense of humour never ceases to amaze me."

"I wasn't trying to humour you."

Draco guided them to the Gryffindor Tower, right to the window that would lead Hermione back to her dormitory. Bringing the broom very close, he shoved the window open and helped Hermione climb in. She was safely in her dormitory but Draco did not release his hold on her hand.

"Had fun?" He asked, his thumb drawing lazy circles on her palm. Hermione gulped.

"I did… did you?"

"Yep," he leaned forward and Hermione knew what was coming. She turned her cheek and reached up on her tip-toes so that Draco could plant a soft and endearing kiss on her cheek. "Tomorrow, after lights out?"

Hermione studied his eyes for a long moment, trying to figure him out. When she realized she couldn't, she simply nodded. "Yes. Where will you meet me?"

"Library, restricted section, the eastern window. I'll be outside with Lightyear and you'll climb out. Okay?"

Hermione nodded. "Alright." Holding onto her hand for a moment longer, he finally let go and sped off. Hermione watched his figure leave before slamming the window shut.

Holy Merlin.


Hermione decided to drown herself into research after her 'date' with Draco ended. She learned the secrets behind the Marauder's Map and even tried to experiment herself in creating a sealed parchment. With her experimenting, she figured out little tricks that would help enhance the security of whatever it was that she was attempting to seal.

Hermione decided to combine the methods of: Tom Riddle's diary (a blank diary), and the Marauder's Map (a special phrase required to activate the map) to create two complementary notebooks. Any and all notes written in the books would be recorded and archived for future references, but only she and Draco could see what was written in the notebooks.

Well, anybody could see it if they had the password. But nobody would; only she would.

And Draco would.

Her book was a dark maroon with a gold spine and golden edged pages. Across the front was her name engraved in gold. She managed to combine both magic and certain potions (which were stacked in the Gryffindor general-use potions cupboard) to create the books herself. According to Moony, the creation of the object you wish to enchant would be a lot safer than purchasing something and enchanting it.

Moony, aka Remus Lupin, their Defense Against the Dark Arts professor in third year, probably knew a thing or two about enchanting the enchantable.

Draco's book was a deep green, almost black, with a silver spine. The pages of his book were silver edged (his book representing Slytherin and hers, Gryffindor). She didn't put any name or title on his book, knowing that he would want as much secrecy as possible.

Finally, she set the enchantment that sealed off the words from any nosey person. "Incantabit librum istum, e vagantibus oculos. Ostende te loquentem: vetitum amicitia est nomen mittentis et evanescat."

Both books glowed a magnificent purple before absorbing the aura of the magic. Hermione stared at the books lying on her lap and wondered if it worked—there was only way to find out. Grabbing one of her quills, she wrote in her book: testing. She felt Draco's book begin to heat up on her lap and was practically giddy with delight. Her plan worked! Their books would heat up slightly so that the other was aware they had received a message.

Hermione, then, picked up Draco's book, opened it and murmured the words that she made to be the password: "Vetitum amicitia."

Without a moment of pause, the word test bled onto Draco's book. Heart racing, Hermione quickly murmured her name, as she was the sender of the message: "Granger…"

And the word disappeared.

It worked…

"It worked!"

"What worked?"

Hermione shoved Draco's book under her pillow and whirled around to see Fay, Kellah, Parvati and Lavender walk into the dormitory. "McGonagall's method of transfiguring inanimate objects without a wand." Hermione spewed out the first thing that came to her head. Parvati gave Hermione an incredulous look and the young witch could only shrug.

"What? It worked!"

"Right." Parvati rolled her eyes. "On a more interesting note, Hogsmeade was so much fun and Rick Cornwall, the shy guy of Hufflepuff, bought me butterbeer!"

"He looks like a toad," Kellah snorted.

"He's probably Neville's toad. I mean, Ron's rat turned out to be an animagus… maybe that could explain why Trevor disappears every school year." Fay tapped her chin and Hermione laughed.

"Please! No more crazy pet animagus. I'd rather have a relaxing year this year…"

"I concur." Lavender sank into her bed. "Just study, pass, get a great job, and move away from this 'save the world from a psycho half-blooded wizard who wants blood supremacy' bullshit. Voldemort was the biggest hypocrite of life."

Kellah nodded in agreement. "I wish Harry said that to him before he disarmed him to death."

Hermione and Parvati snickered. After exchanging a few more words, Kellah, Parvati, and Fay went to grab some food from the Great Hall and Lavender went to take a shower. Hermione used the opportunity to head to the Owlery to find a large enough bird to deliver Draco's book to him. Slipping a note inside the front cover, Hermione instructed the owl on where to go and how to reach Draco Malfoy

"Hoot and peck at the stone wall," she whispered, "there're no other ways in."

The owl nodded and flew off, quickly disappearing as it soared through the castle to get to the dungeons. Hermione stood in the Owlery for a moment longer before making her way back to her dormitory.


Draco and Blaise were lounging in the Slytherin common room, discussing trivial matters that they generally discussed. "Italy is going to beat England in the World Tournament this year."

Draco shook his head. "France is."

"Just because you're one sixty-forth French doesn't make you a French national."

Glowering at his best friend, Draco did his best to not throw the silver candle that sat on the end table beside him. "I'm still French."

"You're more English."

"Whatever I may be, I just hope that chump Krum doesn't win."

Blaise agreed whole heartedly. "I hope the snitch burrows into his fat arse."

"I'll burrow a bludger into his fat arse." Draco scoffed and Blaise cackled loudly. After a few more words exchanged, Blaise decided to take a bathroom break and Draco basked in his memory of what happened throughout the day.

It was a good day…

His train of thought, however, was broken when a tapping and hooting came from outside the stone wall. Knowing in his gut that it was an owl, Draco jumped out of his seat and quickly opened the doorway, revealing a giant barn owl and a package. Immediately taking his parcel, he sent the owl away and returned to his seat.

He tore the wrapping off and saw that a green and silver book was what he received. Knowing it was from Hermione; he opened the front cover and saw a small note:

Enchanted journal. You write a message and it'll send right away, the book heats up when you receive a message… words become invisible as soon as you send the message.

Password to view the message: vetitum amicitia
Password to hide the message: my name.

Hopefully this puts Bubo Bubo to rest and ease.

Draco wanted to try before Blaise returned. Quickly picking up one of the quills on the coffee table, he wrote a short message:

Does this thing really work?

Within moments, he felt his book heat up. He uttered the spell that made Hermione's note visible: "Vetitum amicitia."

Without missing a beat, letters bled onto the page.

Do you doubt me?

Laughter bubbled up to Malfoy's throat. He wrote his response:

Sometimes. But you never fail to prove me wrong.

She was a quick writer because as soon as he sent his message, she replied.

I hope that's a good thing.

Draco scribbled down: It is. Hope you had fun today… Blaise is returning, I shall message you before lights out.

She replied: Alright. I had fun… thank you, for what you did.

Draco wanted to reply but Blaise had returned. He quickly murmured 'Granger', saw the words disappear, and shoved the book underneath a sofa cushion. "So where were we?" Blaise asked as he sat down on an armchair.

Blaise and Draco resumed talking about Quidditch but the only thing on his mind was when he could message Granger once again.

Chapter 6: A Discussion about Draco Malfoy


Draco was sitting on his bed with the journal propped up on his lap. His dormitory mates, Theodore Nott, Blaise Zabini, Adrian Pucey, Vincent Crabbe, and Gregory Goyle were sound asleep. Goyle was snoring but they had gotten used to it throughout the years and were able to sleep right through it. Using his wand as a way of shedding light, Draco stared at the journal wondering if Granger was going to reply. A part of him hoped she did…

And he couldn't figure out why.

Yes I am. His journal heat up as words bled onto the page. Reading up on Potions.

We didn't have Potions this week.

Exactly, trying to be prepared for when we have class.


Remind me of that when you try to cheat off of my assignments.

I never cheat.

Of course you don't. So during our Transfiguration OWL, you were looking over my shoulder to admire how my nail polish looked?

Draco chuckled lightly. She kept him entertained, it was rather refreshing. He was used to girls fawning over him and so easily bending to his whim. Hermione Granger matched him word for word; intellect to intellect… it was amazing.

Of course. I was wondering why a Gryffindor like you would wear Slytherin green nail polish. With silver tips, if I recall.

Draco smirked, watching his journal expectantly.

He laughed, trying to muffle the sound. Cat got your tongue?

Trying to figure out how you remember what my nails looked like during our Transfiguration OWL in fifth year.

Who wouldn't forget one third of the Golden Trio wearing nail polish that represented the house of their mortal enemy.

I would hope it's just one third. Because if it was the other two, we would have a serious problem.

She had a sense of humour. Draco loved it. And Pothead and Weasel didn't have a problem with you endorsing Slytherin?

Green is my favourite colour. They badgered me into trying to change it to red and gold but…

Draco waited but nothing else came so he quickly scribbled: But green is the best colour around?


Although the topic of your nail colour in fifth year is rather riveting, can we talk about something else now?

Alright, what do you want to talk about?

Draco thought before smirking. Are you a virgin?


Draco snickered. What? I think it's a legitimate question.

Are you?

I asked you first.

I asked you second.

Ladies first.

Exactly Malfoy, so go ahead.

Last I checked I was all beast.

Last I checked I was all goddess.

I don't know about that, bookworm. Maybe I should check for you.

This conversation is over.

Come on!

Good night.



Draco rolled his eyes. Fine. Goodnight.

He waited for a good thirty seconds and when he got nothing; he whispered 'Granger' and shoved the journal under his pillow. That conversation was rather enlightening—Goddess, hmm? He'd see to that one himself.


Hermione awoke in the morning to Lavender bawling. Scrambling out of bed, she hurried over to her friend, who was in Kellah's arms, and asked what happened.

"She heard that Ron was kissing some girl on the eighth floor yesterday," Fay filled in. Hermione snorted.

"Really? Really?! Is he trying to sleep with every girl in the school?"

"Apparently," Parvati snorted. "It was a Hufflepuff girl too. Hufflepuff!"

Fay rolled her eyes and winked at Hermione. "Of all the houses hmm?"

"She was probably high," Kellah offered. "They all normally are. If you walk by their portrait you can smell the potions they sniff."

"Why do you think they're called Hufflepuff," Parvati grinned. "They keep huffing and puffing potions."

"It's the only house against which house prejudice is condoned… by even the professors and headmasters." Hermione added. "We could probably converse with the Slytherins, civilly might I add, of all the faults the Hufflepuffs have." Lavender pulled out of Kellah's arms to smile at her friends.

"You all are brilliant."

Hermione winked at her. "I heard through the grapevine that Dumbledore had to offer Professor Sprout an increase in her salary of thirty-seven percent when he offered her the job of Head of Hufflepuff."

"Why did he have to offer her a salary increase?" Kellah was truly intrigued.

"She wanted to be sorted into Ravenclaw during her sorting but the Hat thought she'd be more appropriate in Hufflepuff," for once in her life Hermione was glad that she listened to the Ravenclaw girls gossiping in the library. "She's been resentful ever since."

The girls shared a laugh and Lavender thanked her friends. Parvati wrapped an arm around Lavender's shoulder and suggested that they go for breakfast… and shoot daggers at Ronald Weasley.

Hermione snorted as she gathered her books, namely the journal, and commented at how she always glared at Ronald Weasley as the exited their dormitory on route to the Great Hall.


True to their words, the girls glared menacingly at Ron before brushing past him and heading to the end of the table. Kellah took it unto herself to elbow him in the head hard before throwing her nose in the air. Ron looked confused and Harry sighed, knowing exactly what they were doing.

Ron was caught kissing a Hufflepuff girl on the eighth floor the previous night when he knew Lavender had a thing for him. Sometimes he wondered how Ron was still alive; the Gryffindor girls were vicious little things.

Draco Malfoy had seen everything and, for a brief moment, caught Hermione's eye. He tilted his head slightly and she raised an eyebrow. He wanted to laugh; she was still upset about their conversation last night. Hiding his journal inside of a Transfiguration textbook, he had it propped against the edge of the table and his lap so that nobody would be able to see what he was writing. He couldn't very well whisper Granger every time he wanted the words to disappear out of his journal, and the last thing he wanted was for his friends to discover who he was conversing with.

Still mad?

He saw Hermione jump slightly and figure the notebook was heating up under her fingertips. She shared a joke with her friends, giggled, and opened it. She quickly read what he wrote, looked up and rolled her eyes. Draco saw that she pulled out her quill and began writing.

Yes. Kind of. Ron's a jerk.

I could've told you that.

"What you got there, mate?" Blaise said and Draco slammed the Transfiguration book shut, sandwiching his journal in between the pages.

"A textbook." Draco snorted haughtily. "Can't I study?"

"You study?" Adrian smirked and Draco glowered in his direction.

"I'm not top performing wizard of our year for nothing."

"Granger's beating you though," Blaise taunted. Draco couldn't help but roll his eyes. He quickly glanced at Hermione and saw that she had shut her notebook and was conversing with her friends once again. She probably figured that he was unable to continue writing and turned her undivided attention to Parvati, who was speaking animatedly.

"I said top performing wizard, not witch." Draco smirked, turning back to Blaise and recalling what Hermione wrote to him last night:

Last I checked I was all goddess.

"Who knows what's in those robes." Theodore said as he stole some of his girlfriend's pumpkin juice. "Could be a Neanderthal."

Adrian shook his head. "Doubt it. Even though she's a Gryffindor, she's one hell of a girl."

"Easy on the eyes." Blaise concurred.

Draco was beginning to feel slightly jealous, a feeling he was rather unfamiliar with. He didn't like the fact that his mates were praising Granger. He had formed a special bond with her, something that he was coming to cherish greatly, and it was because of that that he was becoming suddenly very protective of her. She was a frenemy, a good frenemy, and he knew what his friends really thought of her.

No, of her house.

"What do you think, Malfoy?" Adrian nudged his mate and Draco scowled at him.

"Can we talk about something else other than how easy on the eyes Granger is?"

"If you don't find that bird hot, I doubt your sexuality." Theodore muttered and Draco stood up, knocking over his pumpkin juice. Crabbe and Goyle jumped to their feet both preparing to hold back Draco and or Theodore to stop the impending fight.

"Thought your mother taught you more respect than that, Nott." Draco hissed murderously. Theodore stood up and matched Draco's look with one of his own.

"Getting rather antsy there, Malfoy." Theodore whispered. "Did I strike a chord?"

Draco glowered at him for a moment longer before picking up his books and leaving the Great Hall. Unknown to him, the entire room and gone quiet and watched the interlude. Blaise, after a moment, got up and chased after his best friend and Hermione watched worriedly.

What happened… she pondered, anxious to pull out her notebook and write to her frenemy.


Wanting to not be found, Draco had quickly called his broom and flew to one of the tallest towers that Hogwarts had to offer. He chose the third tallest, not wanting to be sitting on the Gryffindor tower in case he was seen by somebody. Leaning against the shingles, Draco watched some birds fly over the Forbidden Forest. Why did he get so angry?! He was so close to blowing their cover…

Why couldn't he keep his emotions in check?

Why did he have to blow up on Nott?

His notebook began heating up.

What happened? He read the words that Hermione wrote to him and, for some reason, his anger began subsiding.

Don't worry about it. What did the ginger bread weasel do?

He patted his shoulder for that one; it was a rather original new insult. He waited for a few moments before he was greeted with a ginormous paragraph. "Way to write an essay, Granger." He murmured as he began skimming over what she wrote, trying to pick up on significant words; he was scanning for idiot, jerk, weasel, hate, and any variation of.

To the eyes of Draco Malfoy, Hermione's message looked something like:

idiot… jerk… kissed this Hufflepuff girl on the eighth floor… Lavender… shooting daggers… I'm ready to hex him… argh!

Her five hundred word paragraph summarized into nineteen convenient words. Draco was proud of himself. Relax, Granger.

I am relaxed. Kind of…

Do some breathing exercises.

Come from the man who just went head to head with his mate?

He said some questioning things that I wasn't approving of.


He was disrespecting women.

And you cared?

My mother taught me how to respect women. Well, she did. Draco just didn't employ those lessons in day-to-day life… well; actually he didn't used to employ them. He was beginning to see how the 'How to Treat a Lady' lessons that Narcissa had given him throughout his life could come in handy.

Especially with Granger.

Hermione, on the other hand, was staring at her notebook. She was sitting in her dormitory (she had told the girls she had to quickly run to the library which she actually didn't; she ended up going back to their dorm), writing to Draco and trying to figure out what happened. He was being rather cryptic though. Figuring she should change the subject, she wrote: I'm still upset over what you said last night.

She waited a few seconds for his response. Would it help if I said I was sorry?

Would you mean it?

Probably not. I do want to see if you're all goddess down there.


Mother also taught me not to lie!

You could certainly pick and choose what you say to somebody.

Where's the fun in that?

Hermione couldn't fight her smile. Fighting with him was probably the most fun she ever had. Where did you run off to? Change of topic again. Draco had gotten comfortable on his tower, having conjured up a pillow to rest his royal butt on.

Nowhere of consequence. Why? Worried?

If I was, I wouldn't admit it. Hermione anxiously waited to see what Draco's response would be.

Aww, I'm glad you care bookworm. She couldn't help but gawk. Care?! She didn't care… did she?

Don't get used to it. D.A.D.A is in half an hour, you coming?

Do I have to?

Hermione said: Yes.

Fine. Draco replied.

Good. Hermione countered.

Great. Draco was purposely trying to annoy her.

See you then.

See you.



Hermione was, in reality, trying not to burst in to laughter over the back-and-forth that she and Draco were exchanging.

Will you stop now?

When you stop.

But I don't want to stop.

Good, neither do I.

We really need to go.

We do.

So stop?

You first.


Come on, bookworm.

Gah. Fine. See you in the dungeons.

Hermione slammed her notebook shut and threw it to the foot of her bed. Dammit, she was acting like she was in a committed relationship with Draco and doing what her muggle friends do with their boyfriends:

'You hang up first'

'No you'

'No, you!'

'Nuh uh, you first'

'No, you first'

Hermione shoved her head onto her pillow. She was getting too fond of Draco Malfoy a bit too fast. Whether that was a good thing or bad was left to interpretation.


Hermione was sitting beside Neville and Kellah two rows from the front. The professor, whoever it was going to be that year, hadn't shown up yet and the eighth years were mingling, talking about how long they thought this professor was going to last.

Harry was betting two years.

Luna said six months.

"How long do you think, Hermione?" Neville asked and Hermione shrugged.

"I just hope they don't have Voldemort on the back of their head."

"Or in their diary." Kellah added.

"Or at the end of a maze." Hermione giggled. Neville rolled his eyes at how his friends were flippant about Voldemort's many resurrections. Once upon a time they wouldn't be able to jest about it. But now? It was the topic of humour in any conversation… especially the joke about how Harry disarmed him to death.

Never got old.

Ron was sitting in a corner with Dean Thomas and Seamus Finnigan and Hermione figured it was because he was going through a lot of hate at the moment but she wondered why didn't he ever learn? Back when he claimed that he liked Hermione, he made out with Lavender, and now he was kissing up some Hufflepuff girl when he knew that Lavender liked him.

Draco, Blaise, and Tracey walked in and were followed by Vincent, Gregory, Adrian, and Theodore. Theodore looked annoyed; it was probably because of the spat he had with Draco moments prior. In any case, the Slytherins were like family and reconciled pretty quickly. Hermione glanced over her shoulder in time to see them sit down at the last table in the row.

"I think a Dementor would have a better chance in teaching us Defense against the Dark Arts." Fay spat as she plopped unceremoniously beside Neville. "Think about it," she winked, "if anybody got on their nerves, they could kiss them to death."

Hermione laughed, finding Fay's joke to be humorous. Kellah simply snorted and Neville burrowed his head into his arms, he would much rather be somewhere else. He hated Defense Against The Dark Arts but there he was, taking it and having to write a NEWT on it. Gah.

Hermione was flipping through her textbook, choosing to zone out the hustle and bustle around her. Kellah got up and went to talk with Susan Bones and Luna Lovegood for a bit, before their professor decided to show up. Fay, getting bored, joined her and Hermione could hear light snores coming from Neville. Poor boy had fallen asleep.

Ron was still sitting in his corner, sulking, and Harry stepped out of the classroom to go to the lavatory. Beneath her textbook, her journal heat up.

Prepared for another year of this cursed class?

Hermione bit back her smile and fought the urge to turn around and catch Draco Malfoy's gaze. She quickly scribbled her response.

I helped defeat Voldemort. I was born ready.

I was also the only kid that ever got away with hugging him.

Do you feel loved?

Not at the least.

Hermione was very close to laughing. I would feel special—who else got away with hugging him other than you?

Trust me, if I knew I'd go to rehabilitation with them. These scars will never heal… want to kiss them better, Granger?

You're so funny, Malfoy. Grab a dementor.

Natural born funny-guy.

Funny looking more like it.

Before Draco could respond to her jibe the dungeon doors swung open. The class whirled around and immediately Hermione stood up, her hand covering her mouth. Harry gasped, loudly, and Ron bit back a curse.

"Remus?" Hermione finally found it in her to whisper the name of what looked like their new/old Defense against the Dark Arts professor: Remus Lupin. Draco simply rolled his eyes and slammed the journal shut.

Great, he thought, it's the wolf-man.

"Hullo, class." Remus's eyes twinkled. "I apologize for the delay. You can say that it's that time of month again."

The few that knew intimately what that meant shared a laugh. Harry beamed at his father's best friend; it was such a wonderful surprise. Remus and Tonks hadn't told them that he was planning on returning to Hogwarts but that didn't matter—Harry was elated. Ron, despite wallowing in self-misery, found it in him to stand up and shake hands with his former professor and now friend.

"Settle down," Remus strode up to the podium. Everybody hurried back to their original seats and Hermione shoved Neville, waking him up.

"Wha- huh…" His eyes focused. "Remus?!"

Remus chuckled. "Hullo to you too, Neville. Now," he placed his books and wand down. "This is going to be an intense year. Most of you excel in defending yourself in the dark arts and others," his eyes landed on Harry and then shifted to Hermione, "excel in the dark arts."

Hermione blushed sheepishly and everybody in the room laughed. Draco, who was leaning back in his seat with his fingers linked at the back of his head, was secretively watching Hermione Granger. The blush of pink on her cheeks suited her really nicely.

Blaise nudged Draco. "The werewolf?"

Draco nodded. "Yeah… remember third year?"

Gregory smirked and looked over at his best mate. "When Granger punched you?"

"Shut up, Greg." Draco muttered.

"There isn't much that I can teach you all, per se, but we can do lots to excel in what you already know." Remus recited. "If my memory serves correctly, after Defense against the Dark Arts, you lot have double Unforgiveable and Illegal Spells and a half-class of Transfiguration, correct?"

There was a chorus of yes.

"Excellent. I am working hand-in-hand with your Unforgiveable and Illegal Spells professor—" Remus's eyes landed on the Slytherins. "You should be able to recognize who he is. What I do will be complemented and supplemented with his class. Now, to begin, the Headmistress and I have decided that since this course is presumed to be cursed, we are going to do something that is against tradition: seating arrangement."

"A seating what?!" Ron blasted and Remus sent him a snarky look.

"Arrangement, Mister Weasley." Remus repeated. "Now to promote inter-house relations, Headmistress and I decided that we will place four students at a table, all representing a different house. Starting at the first table we will seat—"

Groaning, the room began shifting. Students were taking their seats where Remus Lupin was assigning them and the students that just lost their seats were lingering until their names were called.

Table 1: Padma Patil of Ravenclaw, Harry Potter of Gryffindor, Theodore Nott of Slytherin, and Hannah Abbot of Hufflepuff.

Table 2: Kevin Entwhistle of Ravenclaw, Ron Weasley of Gryffindor, Pansy Parkinson of Slytherin, and Stacey Winterwaters of Hufflepuff.

Table 3: Mandy Brocklehurst of Ravenclaw, Fay Dunbar of Gryffindor, Millicent Bulstrode of Slytherin, and Ernie Macmillan of Hufflepuff.

Table 4: Terry Boot of Ravenclaw, Neville Longbottm of Gryffindor, Adrian Pucey of Slytherin, and Megan Jones of Hufflepuff.

Table 5: Suzanna Li of Ravenclaw, Seamus Finnigan of Gryffindor, Vincent Crabbe of Slytherin, and Wayne Hopkins of Hufflepuff.

Table 6: Anthony Goldstein of Ravenclaw, Dean Thomas of Gryffindor, Blaise Zabini of Slytherin, and Susan Bones of Hufflepuff.

And so, Lupin kept going. He called out names of four students that would be sharing a table together in D.A.D.A for an entire year. By the end there were four students standing and all eyes were on them.

"And the final table consists of: Luna Lovegood of Ravenclaw, Hermione Granger of Gryffindor, Oliver Cadmus of Hufflepuff, and Draco Malfoy of Slytherin."

Draco and Hermione exchanged glances before taking their seats beside each other at the last table in the back to the left. Kellah sat on Draco's left and Kevin was sitting on Hermione's right. Without a warning, Luna grinned at Draco.

"Malfoy? I'm Luna Lovegood, if you remember. I know that you can see warbles as well, no need to lie to me." Luna's face was uncomfortably close to Draco's by this point. "Additionally, you look like a jerk from afar but up close you're pretty cute."

Draco spluttered.

Hermione snorted.

Oliver burst into laughter.

Remus shook his head.

"Anyway, now that we've established our seating arrangement, I would like to make a few quick announcements. First of all your table-mates will be the ones you do any group projects or practical training with," Remus scanned the classroom. "They are your lifelines. Secondly, this class will have four major projects—"


"He's rather gorgeous up close and personal." Kellah murmured as the girls went to sit in the courtyard. Hermione was listening intently; a topic concerning her frenemy, how exciting (kind of?). "I know you're jealous, Fay." Kellah was one of the last students to be called for their D.A.D.A seating arrangement and, not going unnoticed by Hermione, she had quite enough time to ogle Draco mercilessly.

Women were vultures.

Fay snorted. "Platinum blond doesn't float my boat."

"It's more dirty blond." Lavender tapped her chin. "I just want to run my fingers through it."

Hermione giggled. "His hair does look soft."

"It glistened under the candlelight, Hermione!" Kellah sighed dreamily. "Were you not staring awkwardly in D.A.D.A?"

Hermione wrapped an arm around Kellah's shoulder. "No, but everybody saw that you were. Heck, even Malfoy knew. He was shifting towards me the entire time because you were staring just a tad too obviously. And you were sitting at the table seating beside ours!"

Kellah threw her nose in the air. "Harrumph. I was purposely trying to have him feel awkward."

"Right," Parvati smirked. "You probably wanted to smell him."

"I bet he smells as delicious as he looks." Kellah winked. "I wish I could sit beside the Slytherin Sex God. So lucky, Mia."

"Oh, Kell." Hermione shook her head. "You've made the last eight years of my life that much more bearable."

Fay nodded in agreement. "The boys had Ron; we needed our own comic relief."

"Ron's just funny to look at," Lavender snorted. "Kell has true funny."

"I'm still thinking of how much sex appeal oozed out of Malfoy." Kellah ducked and dodged the smack Fay aimed at her and the girls burst into uncontrollable giggles. Hermione, though she had a few friends in the muggle world, was truly glad that she and her dorm mates were as close as they were. Sure her best friends were Harry and Ron (despite Ron's stupidity), but she needed girls in her life.

Girls like Fay, Kella, Lavender, and Parvati.

"Other than Draco Malfoy's obvious sex," Fay said as the girls sat down on some benches. "How're you feeling, Lav?"

Lavender shrugged. "You girls helped me feel better. He's such a jerk."

Hermione concurred. "You didn't figure that out when he made out with you a day after he confessed he liked me?"

Lavender blushed. "I'm sorry."

"No harm, no foul. I never liked him, remember?"

"I don't see how anybody could," Kellah muttered. "He's no Draco Malfoy."

"Bloody Merlin!" Fay threw her hands up in the air just as Draco, Blaise, and Theodore walked by. Unfortunately for Fay, she didn't notice them and continued talking: "Are you going to stop going on and on about how badly you wish to be fornicating with Draco Malfoy?!"

"Excuse me?"

Fay turned red and mechanically turned to be greeted by a smirking Draco Malfoy. "Uhh… umm… we were… talking about the… Draco Malfoy in… Huffle… puff…?"

Draco chuckled, a velvety sound. Hermione's grip tightened on her textbooks but her eyes never left Draco. "Is that so? What were you saying about this Draco Malfoy in Hufflepuff?"

"How he oozes with sex appeal," Hermione piped up and the girls shot her a glare. She saw Draco's eyes widen with amusement. "What? You need to take some pointers from him, Malfoy." Her eyes twinkled. "According to the tally in Myrtle's bathroom, right by where the Chamber of Secrets is, he's three votes away from taking your title as Hogwarts Sex God."

"Really?" Draco sang. "I must consult with him on his secrets, then. Perhaps you should introduce me to him someday, hmm?"

"Rest assured, Malfoy, I will." Hermione squared her chin.

Sending the girls a wink, Draco strolled off and Kellah clutched her heart. "Merlin! That was so close," and whirled to Hermione. "You had to tell him, didn't you?!"

"Draco Malfoy from Hufflepuff?" Hermione wailed. "He isn't obtuse; he knew we were talking about him."

Fay blushed. "Okay, yeah, that was rather stupid of me."

"Rather?" Parvati snorted. "Try very stupid."

"You deserve to have Buckbeak bite you." Lavender muttered and Fay glowered at her.

"Not funny, Lav."

Hermione laughed and shook her head. She felt her journal heat up beneath her fingertips and slyly opened it.

I ooze with sex appeal?

Noticing that the girls changed the topic and were discussing the new Madam Witch fashion line, Hermione withdrew her quill from her pocket and wrote.

Not you. The Malfoy from Hufflepuff.

His response came in a heartbeat. Perhaps you should introduce me to him tonight? Remember, we have a flying session after lights out.

I remember. Eastern window of the Restricted Section.

Glad to see you remember.

Who could forget… leaving for class now. See you there?

Yep. Later, bookworm.

Hermione shut the journal just as the girls were getting up. Fay commented on it: "You have a diary, Miney?"

She nodded. "Yeah. You should try diary keeping, it's rather therapeutic."

"Right. So is sex."

"With Draco Malfoy. From Hufflepuff!" Laughing, Kellah ducked the punch that Hermione threw at her. "Geez, you girls can't take a joke. Come on, we're going to be late for class."

Class, Hermione thought. With Draco Malfoy… she hid a smile. From Slytherin, not Hufflepuff.

Chapter 7: Lesson Number One

The group of girls walked into their Unforgiveable and Illegal Spells class, giggling about a stupid Harry-Ron story Hermione was telling them. Lavender was having a blast; it was perfect material to use to get over Ron. After she found out that Ron didn't understand the intricacies of a woman's anatomy, she decided she could never look at him without bursting into excessive laughter ever again.

Fay sat down near the back of the room and was promptly followed by Kellah and Parvati. Lavender and Hermione exchanged glances.

"Um," Lavender began, "we're sitting back here?"

Fay nodded. "Yes. Why? Too far for you?"

"Yes." Hermione answered without hesitation. "Butts up, we're moving to the table right up there." she pointed to the second table from the front. Fay frowned.


Hermione grinned evilly at her. "If you're going to ask for my help during our examination period, I suggest you give me the opportunity to sit close enough to pay attention."

"Quit bugging your roommates, Granger." Draco's greater-than-thou voice sounded from the doorway. Hermione looked over at him and raised an eyebrow, obviously surprised and amused that he was addressing her directly as opposed to talking to her through their enchanted diaries.

"I do have to learn, Malfoy," she responded, "why don't you pick up some pointers from your Hufflepuff counterpart."

Draco smirked and Hermione's stomach did flip flops. "Oh I will," his voice dropped, "after you introduce me to him."

Fay stood up. "You know what? Let's move to the front—I don't think I can stand another conversation about the Draco Malfoy in Hufflepuff." And with that, she stomped off. Hermione, Kellah, Lavender, and Parvati burst into laughter and even Draco had to chuckle.

As the girls turned to follow Fay, Hermione's eyes caught Draco's and he subtly smirked and winked at her. Rolling her eyes in amusement, Hermione walked off and Draco promptly sat in the seat Fay was in not too long ago. Within seconds, Vincent and Gregory clunked in followed by Pansy, Theodore, Blaise, Adrian, and Tracey. Immediately behind Tracey were Harry, Ron, Luna, and that Hufflepuff boy, Oliver.

"You aren't like the other Puffers." Ron noted and Oliver rolled his eyes.

"The hat made a mistake; I was supposed to be in Ravenclaw or Gryffindor but, you know, a stupid hat knows you better than you know yourself."

Harry nodded. "I can attest to that."

"Unforgiveable and Illegal spells?" Pansy's shrill voice echoed in the dungeon. "Why must we learn that?"

"Quick," Ron turned to her, "name the four Unforgiveable Curses."

Pansy snorted. "Avada Kedavra, Cruciatus, and Imperius."

"And?" Ron raised an eyebrow expectantly and Blaise scowled at him.

"There are only three curses, Weasley."

Everybody in the room had quieted down to turn and watch the interaction. Draco, whose head was buried in his hands, was listening intently. Beneath his fingertips were his two textbooks and journal, the latter beginning to slowly heat up. Sitting up, Draco yawned melodramatically before flipping his journal open and glancing at what Hermione had written to him.

How long do you think before Pansy attacks Ron?

Draco smirked and looked up, catching Hermione's eyes. He mouthed to her 'ten seconds' and immediately after he closed his lips, Pansy lunged at Ron.

"Expelliarmus is not an Unforgiveable Curse, you pathetic excuse of a wizard!"

"Actually, Miss. Parkinson," the familiar rumble of Remus's voice came from the entryway of the classroom, "you will learn in the second unit that the Expelliarmus is, in fact, one of the new secondary curses. But for now I suggest you relinquish your hold on Mr. Weasley's hair and promptly take a seat—actually don't. This class has a seating arrangement as well."

There was collective groaning and Pansy scowled scathingly at Ron who was rubbing his head… that Parkinson had an iron grip.

You're good.

Draco looked at the perfect cursive writing in his journal. Admittedly, Granger had nice handwriting… well, he did too but he wasn't about to compliment his own writing. He could though, he was a Malfoy. Again he locked eyes with her and mouthed 'I know.'

Is there a problem with you writing?

He wanted to laugh so badly. Remus made his way up to the classroom and while everybody was focusing on him, Draco took the opportunity to quickly write back to Hermione: I'm sitting beside Crabbe and Goyle. They're bound to ask what I'm writing.

Hermione responded quickly. Apparently her friends weren't paying enough attention to her to inquire what she was doing. It was either that or they we were used to her concentrating on a book and periodically writing. Tell them you're talking to the most wonderful witch alive and you can only dream of being like her.

Draco snickered. We aren't talking about Moaning Myrtle, Granger.

Wow, Malfoy. Not only are you going for a muggle-born, but you're going for a dead one. I'm sure Grandfather Malfoy is turning in his grave. Also, I said alive. Myrtle is not alive.

Draco was quick to respond. Tossing, turning, and probably hoping that I don't have the capacity to reproduce and pass down the trait that allows me to lust uncontrollably over a crying dead muggle-born girl.

I'm surprised such large words are in your daily vocabulary.

When I'm butting heads with Hermione Granger, I need to expand my horizons.

Glad you find it necessary to "expand your horizons" when speaking with me.

Draco's eyebrows shot up and he lazily glanced up at Hermione. His eyes widened with surprise when she sent him a playful wink before turning her attention to Remus, who was shuffling through some paper. Apparently he was trying to find something.

"Aha, here it is." Remus said more to himself than anybody else. Finally, clearing his throat he drew the attention of the class. "Your professor for the class is a new hire, Headmistress and the committee have found him to be the most excellent of choices to teach you." Remus looked at the doorway. "Enter now, Professor Flint."

Heads turned, a few girls gasped, and Pansy burst into uncontrollable laughter, followed by Tracey. Draco grinned stupidly. Apart from the Slytherins, nobody realized who Professor Flint really was. Hermione's eyes were locked on 'Professor Flint.' He had to be the most attractive professor she had ever seen.

He was tall, about as tall as Draco, with short and spiked brown hair. There was a five o'clock shadow that studded his face and, to complete the 'attractive-bad-boy-Professor' look, he had a small snake earring on his left ear. He could not be older than twenty five.

Remus had a knowing grin on his face when he saw the girls in the class react the way they did. Of course they didn't recognize Professor Flint—who would recognize him without his severe overbite and protruding jaw. It was a wondrous thing what muggle braces could do. Apparently magic didn't solve all…

"He is a graduate of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and some of you may recognize him, possibly even had class with them." Remus nodded at Professor Flint. "Ready to take the stage, Professor?"

The new Professor of Unforgivable and Illegal spells nodded before taking a stand at the podium. "Hello class." he greeted. His had a coppery voice that reverberated with utter masculinity. Lavender sighed loudly and just about died when 'Professor Flint' winked in her direction. The action caused Pansy to snort loudly and Tracey to stifle her laughter.

Oh yeah, they recognized Professor Flint alright.

"I want to thank Professor Lupin for introducing me. As per instructions given to us by Headmistress, I am also assigning a seating arrangement. Everybody up!"

The class groaned and somebody, a Ravenclaw girl, was heard saying, and here I thought he was hotter than Malfoy.

Draco was amused and Hermione didn't hide her grin. She would bring that up with him when they were having their flying lessons later that night; it was perfect tease-Draco material. The group gathered towards the back of the class as Remus and Professor Flint waved their wands. The tables began shaking before they shot into the air, were surrounded by a puff of purple smoke, and then came back down.

Now, instead of rows, there were tables big enough for only two students.

"Great," Harry groaned loudly. "We told you, the Slytherins and Gryffindors get along now. No need for a seating arrangement!"

"Harry." Remus's tone was curt and stern. Sighing exasperatedly, Harry said nothing and simply glared at the tables. Hermione idly glanced over at Draco who was animatedly chatting with Blaise—something about a jewel encrusted quill.

Professor Flint held out a roll of parchment and began calling out names: "Blaise Zabini and Neville Longbottom."

Neville groaned loudly and Ron gave him a comforting pat on the shoulder. "You'll be fine mate."

"Unnnhh…" Neville grumbled. The two of them stepped forward, shook hands, and picked a table to sit at.

"Pansy Parkinson and Harry Potter."

"Are you fu—"

"Harry Potter!" Remus roared and Harry immediately shut up. Begrudgingly he shook hands with Pansy and they took the table just behind Blaise and Neville.

"Adrian Pucey and Luna Lovegood."

Neither complained but simply shook hands and took the table farthest from where the first four were sitting. The list continued and two by two, the tables were filling up. Finally there was only one table left – the far back one—and two people:

"Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger."

"Figures," Draco murmured as he and Hermione were standing beside each other. "We become friends and suddenly we're always seated together."

"Frenemies." Hermione corrected with a sly grin and she was assaulted by a sensual Draco Malfoy grin. Something she had only seen a few times and he only directed them, from what she gathered, to people that seemed special to him.

Well, by the beard of Merlin… I'm special. She thought amusedly, another tease-Draco topic to bring up later that night.

All eyes were on Draco and Hermione as they took a step forward each, shook hands, and then proceeded to walk over to their table. Draco stood off to the side and waited for Hermione to sit down before he took his seat—it was his version of holding her chair out for her since he couldn't actually do it without people raising their eyebrows at him.

"Excellent." Professor Flint beamed. Remus Lupin smiled before taking his leave. As soon as the dungeon door shut, Blaise Zabini stood up.

"Are you serious, mate?!"

Professor Flint began grinning like a Cheshire cat. "Serious about what, Mr. Zabini? Do you mind taking your seat?"

Adrian raised his hand and before Professor Flint could call on him, asked: "How'd you fix your face?"

Professor Flint's grin began widening. Hermione, who was thankful that she and Draco had gotten a seat that was behind everybody so nobody was able to see them, leaned towards her tablemate. "What's going on?"

Draco lazily looked over at her. "Don't you recognize him?" He whispered back and Hermione bit her lip.

"Am I supposed to?"

Draco cleared his throat and stood up, not answering Hermione. He looked at the 'Professor' and asked: "Professor Flint, may I conduct a quick experiment to help my classmates recognize who you are?"

If Professor Flint grinned anymore, his face would be stuck in that position perpetually. "Mr. Malfoy, I have no idea what you mean."

Raising his wand, Draco waved it at Professor Flint's direction and superimposed a grotesque overbite onto his face. A plethora of gasps were heard and Hermione managed to squeak out: "Marcus Flint?"

At that precise moment Pansy and Tracey burst into laughter followed by the rest of the Slytherins. The girl from Ravenclaw, who earlier commented about Marcus being hotter than Draco, earlier passed out and a few of the students rushed to her. Luna Lovegood ran out of the room to call Madam Pomfrey.

"Wow, mate," Theo grinned, "not even the first ten minutes and you've sent somebody to the hospital wing."

"Mah… muh… Flint… Mar…cus…" Hermione gaped at the professor and Draco looked up at his old mate and now professor.

"I believe you've rendered Granger speechless."

Ron stood up and pointed a finger at Marcus. "But you failed twice! How in bloody hell did you become a bloody professor?!"

"I suggest you speak to me with respect, Weasley," Marcus said snidely. "My academics are none of your concern."

Ron sat down and crossed his arms. Grumbling, he turned to Blaise and said: "How?!"

Blaise shrugged. "Beats me, Weasel. I'm as surprised as you are to be totally honest."

"Muh… muh… muh…"

Draco nudged Hermione. "Granger, please form coherent words."

"Marcus Flint?!"

"I believe we established that that is his name." Draco was thoroughly enjoying the moment. It was perfect tease-Granger material for later that night… little did he know that she already had a few tease-Malfoy points.


"Well," Draco smirked. "Mr. and Mrs. Flint found out that they were expecting-"

Hermione shot Draco a nasty glare. "I know what process Mr. and Mrs. Flint had to engage in to produce Marcus, but how?!"

"Well when a man loves a woman…"

"Malfoy," Hermione emanated danger, "shut. up."

Marcus tapped his wand on the podium as he'd seen Severus Snape do throughout his years at Hogwarts. "Are we done discussing my birth, name, and grades? We have a lesson to begin."

As the words left his mouth a loud horn sounded indicating the class was done. Marcus scowled and said something along the lines of: "Now I understand why Snape was so disagreeable."

At that precise moment, Madam Pomfrey rushed it followed by Luna.


Kellah, Parvati, Lavender, and Fay caught up to Hermione as they left the dungeons. Kellah wrapped an arm around Hermione's shoulder and proceeded to tease her. "Muh... muh… muh."

Hermione shoved her off. "Bugger off, Kell."

"You were right though," Parvati directed her statement to Hermione. "If we minus the overbite and the protruding jaw, he is one fine specimen."

Fay raised her eyebrows at Hermione. "You analyzed on whether Marcus Flint would be hot without the massive thing he called a jaw?"

Hermione crossed her arms and harrumphed. "I may be a bookworm but attractive men attract me!"

"I concurred with her too," Kellah admitted. "We both magicked his face and took out the jaw. He looks better than what we conjured up though."

Fay groaned and shook her head. "I swear to Merlin."

"Why does Slytherin get the attractive men," Lavender sighed sadly. "Zabini, Malfoy, Nott…"

"Crabbe and Goyle are not that great looking," Fay said dryly. "Harry, Ron, and Neville look a thousand times better than them."

Hermione shuddered. "I grew up regarding the latter three as brothers. Their names plus hot is not appealing."

"And Ron is off the hot list indefinitely." Lavender inputted. "He's a jerk who can't sustain a crush on a girl for longer than a minute."

Kellah playfully shoved Hermione. "How long before Ron is on the hot list again?"

"Never!" Lavender said vehemently. "He's a… a… a…"

"Weasel?" Kellah offered and Lavender grasped that insult.

"Yes. A weasel!"

Parvati giggled. "For once we agree with the Slytherins."

"After calling three of the most notorious members hot." Hermione added and Kellah murmured a soft amen.

"Why does calling them notorious make them hotter?" Fay murmured. "I'm suddenly imagining Zabini in an Auror outfit. Why is that image so appealing?"

Kellah licked her lips. "I don't know but it's making my mouth water, too."

Hermione groaned and shook her head. "Honestly, you lot. I don't know whether to laugh or walk off pretending I don't know you."

Fay snorted. "Says the girl who analyzed our Unforgiveable and Illegal Spells professor?"

"Shut up, Fay. He wasn't our professor when I analyze him, alright?"

The girls managed five more steps before Padma sprinted through the courtyard, bee-lining for her sister. "Parvati! Parvati! Come here, now!"

Parvati looked apologetically at her friends before jogging after her sister. "What happened?"

Kellah yawned loudly and told her friends that she was going to get some studying done. Fay teased her by asking if she actually studied. Kellah just shot her a dirty look and walked off, wordlessly dragging Lavender with her.

"Wha—I don't want to study!"

"You do now!"

Fay leaned over to Hermione. "I think Kell just saw Ron walk towards the direction of the Library… they're in stalker mode now."

Hermione snorted. "Women."

"I know, right? Listen, I want to go take a shower before going for a jog," Fay and her exercise. She was the only one other than Hermione that kept up with her exercise and healthy eating routine, "see you tonight?"

Hermione nodded. "Definitely."

With nobody left from her group of girlfriends, Hermione decided to head back to the Gryffindor Tower to study and hopefully get in a few words with Draco Malfoy.


Muh- muh- muh?

Hermione glared at her journal. She had just made it back to the tower when her diary heated up. Apparently nobody was going to let her live that down.

Shut up, Malfoy.

Draco was sitting on his four-poster bed with his journal propped up on his knees. His friends were playing a round of Spin the Wand and he claimed he had a headache. In actuality he just wanted to write to Granger… and for some reason he was perfectly okay with that.

Excited about our lesson?

Not it the least.

You seem to have so many wonderful comebacks when not in Flint's presence.

Hermione scowled. I swear to Merlin, I will cancel our flying lesson if you continue.

How about we replace the word lesson with date?

Are you begging to take me out, Malfoy?

Now that I know it's possible to shut that pretty little mouth of yours? Yes. I am.

Hermione gawked. He didn't just… he did… wait… what? She stared at the page with her quill sitting beside her. And now that's the second time I've been rendered speechless today. I need to stop doing that, she thought.

As if reading her mind, Draco wrote: Have I shut you up?

Shut up, Malfoy.

That seems to be your favourite thing to say. We should make it your catchphrase, like those superhero things you muggles love so much.

Are you trying to annoy me?

Quite possibly. Is it working?

Very well, actually.

Draco had to smile. Why did he enjoy bantering with her? She was so unlike anybody else. If he tried to playfully argue with anybody else, they'd think he was trying to get into their pants. But not Granger…

Actually, he wasn't even sure if anybody had gotten into her panties. Last time he tried to ask her she got seriously angry at him.

Good, that was my intention.


Yes, Granger?

Shut up.

Draco cackled. You're losing the talent that makes you the brightest witch of our age. Not only were you rendered speechless twice, but you seem to not know that shut up has many synonyms.

Within two minutes Hermione responded: bottle up, choke, dry up, dummy up, fall silent, gag, hold tongue, hush, keep trap shut, muzzle, pipe down, quiet, quieten, quit chattering , shush, silence, soft-pedal, still, stop talking.

Did you seriously just give me synonyms for shut up?

Yes, I did.

Draco could practically hear her grin. Touché Granger, touché. I'm beginning to like how you think.

I thought you always liked how I thought.

I did, but I would never admit to it.

And you are now?

Yes, because we're friends.

Frenemies, Malfoy.

Tomato, tomato.

Hermione stared incredulously at what he wrote. That only works when you're speaking aloud.

What if I was?

I didn't hear you.

Maybe you should clean out your ears.


I know, I know. Shut up.

Actually I was going to say be quiet.

Gaspeth! Granger knows how to use synonyms for 'shut up' in every day conversation.

Shut up, Malfoy.

Draco chuckled out loud.

Wait… did you just write gaspeth?!

Draco twitched. He was hoping she didn't catch that. My family is bred from royalty.

You mean inbred from royalty?

Shut up, Granger.

Should make that your catchphrase as well, Malfoy.

We could have a couple's catchphrase.

We aren't a couple.

We're a couple of smarty pants.

You say gaspeth and smarty pants? Who are you and where is the real Malfoy?

You humour me, Draco wrote smoothly. Why is it that his hand cramped when he took notes in class but he didn't seem to tire of writing to Granger? But for now I must bid you adieu. See you tonight?

Yes, bye Malfoy.

Later, Granger.

Hermione murmured 'Malfoy' and watched the ink disappear. Why did arguing with Draco entertain her so much? She argued with Harry and Ron on a regular basis and it didn't invigorate her the way that arguments with Draco did. Slamming the journal shut, Hermione was just about to get up when she felt the radiation of heat on her retracting hand.

Confused, Hermione opened the journal again.

P.S: I miss you. Bye.

Hermione's heart began racing. "Draco…" She whispered before smiling and shutting the journal again. She wasn't going to make those words disappear anytime soon.


Hermione tiptoed through the library; she had gotten permission to 'study' in the restricted section for some 'extra-credit.' She was lucky that she was one of McGonagall's favourites… perks of being a teacher's pet. She made it to the eastern window to see that Draco was flying aimlessly through the air, performing perfect loops.

Pushing the window open, Hermione stuck her head out. "Malfoy!" She called. He stopped midway in executing a loop, looked over at her (while upside down), grinned, waved, and completed his loop before flying over to her.

"Hello Granger, ready for our date?"


"Whatever helps you sleep at night." Bringing his broom in close to the window, Draco held out a hand and Hermione took it, allowing him to help her out the library and onto his broom. Afraid of losing her balance, Hermione gripped onto his hand with all her might and brought the other hand up to grab his shoulder. Draco's free hand went around her waist and he decided to haul her onto his broom instead of waiting for her to climb on.

After she was sitting comfortably, with her back against his chest and her hands gripping the broomstick, Draco began guiding his trusty steed, Lightyear the broom, to absolutely nowhere. He had one hand loosely looped around Hermione's waist and the other hand dangling to his side.

"What's lesson one?" Hermione inquired as the broom remained afloat.

"Other than getting the broom to come 'up,' mount it, and kick off?"

Hermione snarled and whirled around to look at him. "Yes, other than; as long as I have you, I won't need to know how to mount and kick off."

Draco smirked playfully and brought his free hand up to flick her nose. Hermione scrunched her face and crossed her eyes to look at her nose. She didn't like the fact she liked it when he did that. It was a strange sensation.

"You have to learn how to connect with your broom, to be able to control it with your mind."

Hermione frowned. "But how?" She had turned around and was looking at the scenario out in front of her. Draco leaned forward and brought his lips to her ear.

"It just happens," he whispered and a shiver ran up her spine. "You don't know how, or when, but you just form this connection that means more to you than anything else in the world."

Hermione dared not turn around. "Kind of like a good… frenemyship?"

Draco lips seemed to get closer to her ear, if possible. "A good friendship." The hand that was around her waist tightened ever so slightly and Hermione hated how she loved how safe she felt. How… complete she felt.

Hesitantly she turned around to look into his stormy grey eyes. When she began talking, she could hardly recognize the own whisper of her voice. "I thought you said we weren't friends until we kissed."

He smirked.

Oh, how beautiful…

"I did say that, didn't I?" His voice was so silky, so velvety. It was completely ethereal and masculine and Hermione was acutely aware of how the hair on the back of her neck hair stood on end and how her heart began pounding against her chest. Because it was beginning to strain her to look at Draco while turning around, Hermione swung one of her legs over the stick of the broom and got comfortable sitting side-saddled beside Draco.

"Lesson number one," he leaned forward ever so slightly. The stars were twinkling brightly in the sky and the moon was faintly aglow. "When forming a friendship with somebody, it is always polite to seal it." Without waiting for a response, Draco dipped forward and caught her lips with his own. Hermione was stunned, her eyes wide and her body rigid.

Draco Malfoy was…

He was…

He was kissing her.

The free hand that was dangling to his side was brought up and curled around the back of Hermione's neck. She felt herself being pushed into him slightly and the arm around her waist tightened. Hermione decided to let her body go with the flow; to not think, and as hard as that was, it was possibly the best decision she ever could have made. Bringing her hands up, she wrapped them around Draco's shoulders and tilted her head up slightly. Immediately the kiss intensified. Draco ran his tongue over her lower lip and Hermione opened up to him. He shifted a bit closer to her and held onto her tighter.

Hermione's nails dug into his shirt and she clenched her fists, crumpling the green shirt he was wearing. The fireworks that surrounded them were magical, something so unreal, even to the two smartest magicians of the century.

The broom lost altitude suddenly and the two of them broke away from each other. Their foreheads, however, remained pressed together and Draco smiled. "Guess I lost my connection with Lightyear."

Hermione licked her lips. "You were too busy connecting with your mentee. You're a great flying instructor."

Draco pecked her lips. "I do have an amicable student."

Hermione only smiled as he connected them into another kiss, this time with more vigor. His hand moved up from her neck to her hair and he grabbed it gently. Into the kiss he whispered: "I've always liked your hair."

"Not too bushy?" She whispered as she had his lower lip caught between her teeth. Despite being trapped, he managed to smirk.


In the distance a loud growl was heard. They, regretfully, stopped kissing and Draco lazily looked towards the Forbidden Forest and clicked his tongue. "I believe that's our call for lights out? Feels like we just got here…"

Hermione nodded, albeit sadly. "It is late now."

"Shall we continue this flying lesson tomorrow?"

"We shall."

Draco rubbed his nose against hers and promptly guided Lightyear back to the eastern window of the Restricted Section of the library. The broom came close to the windowsill and Draco took the opportunity to tuck a strand of her hair behind her ear. Thankfully she was still side-saddled. "Best student I've ever had."

Hermione raised an eyebrow. "How many students have you had?"

He grinned, wolfishly. "Just you." Leaning forward, Draco kissed her forehead before assisting her off the broom and into the library. "Goodnight, Hermione."

She smiled, knowing that a faint shade of pink tinged her cheeks. Oh, how he made her blush…

"Goodnight, Draco"

He gave her a wink before speeding off with Lightyear. Hermione stood there, gaping at the window and trying to comprehend what just happened.

I have to be dreaming, she thought, there could be no other explanation.

Draco Malfoy just kissed her.

And it was the best feeling in the world.

Chapter 8: Lesson Number Two

Hermione was lying on her bed, dazed. Her lips were still throbbing from being kissed rather thoroughly by Draco Malfoy—she could still smell him, feel the strength of his arm as he held onto her; she could still feel the moment. It scared Hermione that she wanted that moment to come back, for kissing Draco had to be the best feeling in the world.

She tossed left, the right, then onto her back. None of the ways she turned helped her sleep any faster. The violet aura of the night sky trickled into the dormitory and all Hermione wanted was to sleep—and be kissed by Draco again.

Wait, what?

Hermione growled and sat up, in utter annoyance. She didn't want to lose sleep over the Slytherin "Prince" who also referred to himself as the "Sex God." (Though as of that moment, Hermione was entertaining what else he could do if he was so talented with his lips). Her eyes, somehow, drifted over to the journal resting on her bedside table and that caused a lump to rise to her throat.

Was she expecting him to write to her?

No. But why am I disappointed that he didn't?

Hermione clenched her sheets. Suck it up, Granger. If you want to talk to him, message him first.

But she wanted him to.

Hermione was ready to scream; her blood pressure was probably through the roof and any possible chance she had of falling asleep was totally gone. Deciding she needed a little walk, Hermione clambered out of bed and grabbed her night robe. A stroll through Hogwarts it was—hopefully she'd run into somebody interesting.

Like Peeves.

Or Moaning Myrtle.

Or maybe… Draco?


The walk had cleared Hermione's mind and she was able to return to the tower and sleep… for the two and a half hours she had left of the night. She hadn't bumped into anybody of interest but she had come across the Room of Requirement. Odd, she had thought when she saw the massive doors appear; I thought you only showed up when somebody required you.

Regardless, she had stepped into the Room to find a ginormous library of everything Hermione could think of. She didn't know it could do that, but she took advantage of it anyway. By the time she looked at the grandfather clock she saw it was almost quarter past four in the morning. Putting the book away, she thanked the Room of Requirement in her head before scurrying out and rushing back to the Gryffindor Tower.

Hermione felt like she had just fallen asleep when she felt a giant cushion thrown at her. Spluttering, she sat up suddenly and scanned the dormitory. Scowling, she blew her hair out of her face and glared at a snickering Kellah.

"That was not funny; that could've given me a heart attack!"

"I thought you wanted an early wakeup call for Herbology today." Kellah smirked "followed by Charms, Divination, and Care of the Magical Creatures."

Hermione flopped back onto her bed. "Nobody can be prepared for Care of the Magical Creatures."

"But Hagrid is teaching it."

Fay, who had just walked into the dorm, scowled darkly. "I swear, if a Hippogriff attacks me again!" She didn't complete her phrase but everybody understood what Fay was getting at—poor girl. She was a drama queen, though.

"You and Malfoy both," Hermione shot. Fay rolled her eyes and walked over to her trunk at the foot of her bed to get her uniform for the day.

"If there's anything he and I have in common, it's that."

"And your hatred for Ron." Lavender piped up. Her comment made the girls fall into a fit of giggles.

Hopefully today won't be awkward with him, Hermione thought as she crawled out of bed. She was slightly tired, but she knew exhaustion and her sleep deprivation was going to kick in midway through the day.



Madam Sprout waddled through the greenhouse with the eighth years towing behind. Neville was the only one that looked excited; everybody else just looked so bored. Of all the eighth years, Draco Malfoy looked the most annoyed—not that Hermione was watching him or anything.

And she wasn't aware of how he didn't even so much as make eye contact with her.

Foul, loathsome, evil little cockroach. Hermione insulted bitterly whilst contemplating whether she should complete that moment of 'nostalgia' with the infamous punch.

"Look," Ron nudged Hermione who stopped walking to look at what he was looking. She missed the look that flashed through Draco's eyes when he passed the two friends right at that moment. "A Jupiter Fly Trap!"

Hermione's eyes bugged. "A what?"

Ron and Hermione inched closer and Harry, from the sidelines, called out: "Don't get too close, it likes to eat human hair!"

Hermione immediately zipped back and Ron burst into laughter. "I don't have hair long enough to- AHHH GET IT OFF!"

Lavender burst into laughter. "Yeahhh! Eat off that ginger hair! Good plant!" Behind her the Slytherins were cackling and Madam Sprout was running forward to wrestle the plant off of her student. Harry couldn't help but laugh as well—the sight was to die for. Hermione stared in horror, knowing that it could've been her in the clutch of an evil Jupiter Fly Trap.


Madam Sprout pulled out her wand, waved it, and immediately the plant let go of Ron. It sounded like it was whimpering while it coiled back into its clay pot. "Damn bloody—don't hiss at me!" Ron snarled.

"Yelling at a plant won't do much for you, weasel." Draco called out. "Aren't you glad you got away sooner, Granger? If that thing got tangled up in your hair we'd have to shave it all off to get it out."

"Put a sock in it, Malfoy." Harry muttered. "Remember: house unity. Be civil."

"Civil is not part of his everyday vocabulary," Padma murmured as she walked by them with her sister linked around her arm. "I don't even think he knows what that means."

Draco's eyes narrowed. "Civil, adjective, originated between 1350 and 1400 rooted from the Latin word cīvīlis. The definition that pertains to us is to be polite and courteous. Synonyms include: respectful, deferential, gracious, complaisant, suave, affable, urbane, and courtly. Is that good enough for you, Patil?"

Harry simply gawked at Draco as everybody struggled to shut their slack jaws. "If you weren't blond and flat-chested, I would've thought you were Hermione. That was… so… Hermione!"

Draco raised an eyebrow and Susan Bones bit her tongue in laughter. "Flat-chested, Harry?"

Harry looked at Susan, then Hermione, and then back to Draco. "Well Hermione did go through an impressive post-puberty growth stage."

"Students! May we please continue our lesson?" Madam Sprout roared as Hermione murmured: "And get off the topic of my 'impressive post-puberty stages'."


There was a two hour break between Herbology and Charms so Hermione decided to take the opportunity to get some studying done, as always. Kellah promised she'd smack Harry for making the impressive post-puberty stage comment but Hermione said to drop it—she had other means of punishing Harry for what he said. Refusing to help him study for their NEWTs would be apt castigation.

Last Hermione knew, Ron was attempting to get Lavender to talk to him but Fay and Kellah were acting as her sentries. Hermione had a very funny mental image of Kellah and Fay dressed up in suits of armour glaring down at a quivering Ron.

Hermione skipped steps on her way up to the library when her journal, which was the first book in the stack of four in her hands, began heating up. Her heart jumped to her throat but she decided to let him wait—let him sit there and stare at his journal for the time it took her to get to the library, find an empty seat, sit down, get settled, find the books on the shelves that she required, return, and get comfortable.

That was what he was going to have to go through for not even acknowledging her.

Ahh who was she kidding! Hermione couldn't wait that long herself; as she continued on her trek to the library, she flipped the journal open.

You mad, Granger?

Hermione simply gawked at what he wrote. Was she mad?! Of course she wasn't mad! She was just very… disappointed…



She couldn't walk and write so she shut the journal and filed in the back of her mind to write back to Malfoy. He could wait that long, at least. Why was he asking if she was mad when he hardly made eye-contact with her? Hermione's shoulders slumped; alright, she was partially at fault, too. She hadn't written to him and she was expecting him to contact her. Her thought-process was slightly sexist and Hermione couldn't help but feel ashamed.

Though, it would've been a wonderful surprise if he did write to her earlier.

What was she expecting? That he pull her into a dark corner of the castle and kiss her till her lips bruised?

Yeah, that'd be nice too.

Fairy tales, Hermione thought, it only happens in fairy tales. Doesn't happen in real life and what are you even thinking?! Draco Malfoy! Draco-bloody-Malfoy! We're just friends. Yes, we kissed… but that's what promoted our frenemyship to friendship, right? Ugh, why am I over thinking—

Her process of overthinking was cut short when she was pulled into a dark corner of the castle. The first thought that crossed her mind was that Peeves was going to shove her in to the wall and she'd have to find a way to get out of the wall. She was, however, pleasantly surprised when the delightful familiar scent of Draco Malfoy filled her senses.

"I said, you mad, Granger?" His voice was so close; his body enveloped hers as she was pressed against the cold stone wall of the castle. Her books were crushed between their bodies and she had enough room to move to look up at Draco's stormy grey eyes.

"Why would I be mad?" She managed to raise an eyebrow. "I'm a tad bit annoyed that you stopped me on route to the library. Don't you have somebody else to harass?"

His chest rumbled which translated to a sensual chuckle that came from the back of his throat. "Pansy isn't nearly as fun as you are."

Hermione's eyebrows both shot up. "She isn't, is she? Perhaps you should acquaint yourself more with her. Whispers in the corridors claim that she's quite the vixen and has a sadistic sense of humour."

"Sadistic sense of humour? Possibly. But vixen? Who the bloody hell is whispering? Diggory?"

"He's dead."


Hermione shook her head and attempted to shove Draco out of the way. "If you're done bugging me, I really must get some reading done before—"

He silenced her inane babbling with his lips on hers.

Hermione was expecting yet not expecting for something like that to happen. Regardless, she melted into the kiss and began responding positively. The ethereal sensation was back, the fireworks, the 'world-stop-spinning-around-them' feeling. Hermione was close to dropping her books so that she would be able to clutch Draco's robes but managed to hold onto some ounce of control. Slowly, Draco pulled away from the kiss and pecked her lightly.

"Still mad?"

Hermione blinked as she stared into his eyes. "I was never angry to begin with. But thanks for checking, prat." She smacked him with her textbooks. Puffing her chest out in mock annoyance, Hermione began to stomp off to the library when she heard her companion call out:

"I thought women were dainty creatures that couldn't hurt a fly and the men were the aggressive type."

"Let's see you try to be aggressive with me, ferret!"

The echoes of his laughter followed Hermione to the library.


Professor Flitwick was standing atop a stack of books and was lecturing the eighth years on the values and ethics of proper charm casting. All the while the students were not paying attention and were either chitchatting quietly, or in the case of Draco and Hermione, writing in their journals.

I can be aggressive. Just not in the hurt-you kind. Well, you still would get hurt, but it's the good kind of hurt.

Hermione could only stare at what he wrote. Are you seriously implying that you're aggressive in bed…?

Your words, not mine, bookworm.

Really? I take it you learned everything you know from the Malfoy in Hufflepuff?

She looked up in time to see him smirk at what she wrote.

He learned everything he knows from me.

Hermione glanced over at Fay who had begun painting her nails; obviously her tablemate was not paying any attention to her so Hermione turned back to her journal.

You know, with all this talk about the imaginary Draco in Hufflepuff, I wouldn't be surprised if some people actually assumed it was true. Hermione jumped when she saw Fay move beside her. The latter girl was actually moving to yawn but it caused the e in the word true to be slightly askew.

Fay made that up, not me.

Her measly attempt to cover up our conversation, I assure you.

You still have to introduce me to this 'Malfoy,' bookworm.

Tonight. Flying lesson time.

No response came from him so Hermione glanced up. There, leaning back in his seat and smirking like the man that he was, was Draco Malfoy. He was beaming with pride and it took all the control she had to not throw a crumpled piece of parchment at him. His egotistical attitude ground on her nerves so badly but, in the back of her mind, she knew that was a quality of his that drew her to him.

Who knew that being cocky and egotistical would attract Hermione?

Not Hermione, that's for sure.

Hey, I have a question… actually; I've been pondering this since first year. Draco wrote to Hermione.

Staring blankly at her journal, Hermione took a moment before writing her response: Yes, Malfoy, I use conditioner.

She looked up in time to see his stupefied face.

you do? I mean, that wasn't my question but dear Merlin! What does it look like without—actually, I don't want to know. Hermione knew he was teasing; he only told her last night that he really loved her hair. What I wanted to ask is what books do you think Flitwick stands on? I'm pretty sure they're the same ones he's been standing on since he started teaching.

He had a good point and, since Hermione was the golden student, decided she'd figure it out. Interrupting the professor midway through his "ethical procedures to conduct charms" lecture, Hermione inquired about the books.

"Professor! I was wondering if there was a textbook somewhere that outlined everything you're telling us?"

Everybody stopped their chatter to look at her, all thinking the same thing: What the Voldemort? She wasn't asking anything of importance… and that was so unlike Hermione Granger. If there was a textbook regarding the rubbish Flitwick was going on about, Hermione should know. In fact, she'd probably know before the Professor even knew.

Flitwick cleared his throat. "I'm afraid not, Miss Granger."

She, discreetly, looked over at Draco. He sat up straight and called out the next part of what the question he really wanted answered: "What about the books you always stand on?"

Ron coughed in an effort to hide his laughter. Flitwick blinked before looking down at the stack. "These? These old things are outdated editions of Hogwarts: A History."

All eyes turned to Hermione as she gasped with horror and, unintentionally, Draco burst into uncontrollable laughter. He was not expecting that answer at all. Hermione looked like she was about to die—her whole world probably crushed down onto her shoulders. Her beloved Hogwarts: A History was being used as a stool.

For Flitwick.

Oh, the justice behind how the world worked was priceless. Well, in Draco's opinion at least.

"Now, if that answers your question Miss Granger," Flitwick continued his lecture. Fay elbowed Hermione.

"You alright?"

Hermione nodded, slowly. "Yeah just… was not expecting that."

"Serves you right for asking a stupid question." Fay rolled her eyes and went back to maintaining her nails. Hermione turned her attention to her journal in time to feel it heat up; Draco's words began to bleed onto the page.

Well… that was interesting. And not expected.

This is your entire fault. I feel like all that I've known is a lie.

Because Flitwick is standing on a stack of your favourite books?

That's the history of Hogwarts! It's almost religious! Wait, no, it is religious.

You need to get laid, Granger.


Why, need help?


Good, you're already practicing how to scream my name ;)

Hermione stared blankly at her journal before looking up to glare, with all the force she could muster up, at a smug looking Draco. He was digging his own grave and was already five of the six feet in.

I'll take that as my queue to shut up?


Gotchya, bookworm.

Stop calling me that.

Alright, bush-bush.

"What the bloody—" Hermione said aloud before catching herself. She regained composure and looked both ways to see if anybody heard her—thankfully nobody did. Fay idly glanced at her and assumed that Hermione had read something she didn't agree with in her book and returned her attention back to her nails.

Draco was trying hard not to burst into uncontrollable laughter, again. Oh, how he loved teasing Granger.

She was just so teaseable.


"She predicated you were gonna date a dragon!" Kellah howled as the girls lounged in their dormitory late into the evening. They had back-to-back classes right after Charms (Divination and Care of the Magical Creatures) so they were unable to talk about the things they saw, heard, and witnessed in class.

"She. Thought. You. Are. Going. To. Date. A. Dragon. She's lost it; officially lost it." They were talking about Trelawney… and her amazing prediction-making skills. Kellah still couldn't get over the fact that the crazy psycho fortune-telling professor foresaw Hermione dating a dragon.

Fay looked up from writing some Potions notes to give her two-cents. "Isn't it weird though? Trelawney's prediction matches the dumb song the Sorting Hat sung earlier this week."

Parvati's eyes widened and the look on her face was as if the meaning of life had just been discovered. "You're right!" She breathed, enthusiastically.

"So you expect me to believe that Trelawney and the Sorting Hat have a torrid love affair and they've both agreed to team up to have me go crazy because apparently I'm dating a dragon?" Hermione said in one breath as she gave her friends a deadpan look. "Let me just Floo Charlie in Romania and get him to ship over Harry's Hungarian Horntail from the Tri-Wizard Tournament. Sound good? Then he and I can have some tea at Madam Puddifoot's."

"Sounds like a foolproof plan." Lavender piped and Hermione's eye twitched. "And if it doesn't work out between you and the Horntail, we can always make it go after Ron."

"We are not seriously having this conversation."

"Yes, we are." Fay grinned stupidly. "But feel free to change the topic."

"Okay," Hermione had an evil glint in her eyes. "About that Draco Malfoy in Huffl—"



Hermione was beginning to wonder how often she could use the 'I-need-to-study-so-I'm-going-to-go-to-the-library-tonight' excuse to see Draco before her friends became suspicious. On her way out of the common room, she was met with Ron and Harry playing chess. Ron asked her how long it was going to take the girls to forgive him and start talking to him properly once again, and Hermione responded with: "When you grow up."

Harry chortled unintentionally and Ron shot him a nasty glare before icily commanding: "Rook to E7."

Harry gawked as his Queen was taken down—how did he overlook Ron's rook?! Hermione took that opportunity to make her great escape and hurry on over to the library to study.

Was it the thrill of befriending somebody that was considered taboo to her friends that kept her wanting to see Draco?

Or was it the fact that he made her feel things she never did before. Sure, she felt safe with Ron and Harry growing up but it was more like a brotherly type of safe. The two were always there to ensure that she got out of sticky situations… as she instructed them on how to perform spells properly so she wouldn't get blown into bits as they attempted their heroic rescue.

But with Draco—

With Draco she felt a different kind of safe, which was unusual because he was the bad guy for the majority of their time at Hogwarts. But he made her feel so safe, as if nothing could harm her. Just feeling his arms around her was enough for her to know everything was going to be okay. Was it because she knew that he cared enough to take Bellatrix's Crucio? Or was it because she knew that he cared enough to continue caring after the fact?

Whatever it was, Hermione never wanted it to end.

As she was lost in thought, Hermione missed the sound of something whizzing towards her. She stumbled back when a gust of air rushed past her; looking up she saw a smirking Draco mounted on Lightyear.

"Thought I'd meet you halfway, bookworm," he said playfully as he manoeuvred Lightyear closer to her. He held his hand out to help her onto the broom, just in front of him, and when their hands touched they both felt that familiar sizzle.

It was a feeling that neither could ever get used to but loved every moment of it.

When Hermione was safely seated in front of him, and he secured her with one of his arms snaking around her waist, Draco sped off. He weaved through the corridors and made it to the moving staircases before it shot straight up—Draco was taking it to the top floor.

"Where're we going?" Hermione asked. She was looking over her shoulder to see Draco's eyes furrowed; he was concentrating on their final destination. His eyes flickered to her and his intense expression broke.

He smiled at her.

"You'll see." And he took the opportunity to kiss her cheek. Hermione wanted to hide the blush so she quickly turned her head away from her 'friend.'

Lightyear seemed to get faster and faster and Draco's hold on her tightened slightly. Hermione's eyes were tightly snapped shut—irrational fear of heights plus very fast broom equaled a very, very afraid Granger. She felt Lightyear speed to the left and she tightened her hold on Draco's arm. Within a heartbeat, his lips lowered to her ear.


Hermione shook her head slowly and that resulted in Draco chuckling, a sound that was so sinfully sweet. "Don't lie to me, Granger," his voice was a husky whisper, "but don't worry. As long as you have me, you have nothing to be afraid of."

Hermione was able to muster up enough courage and mutter a meek: "I know."

Again, he chuckled. Was that sound ever going to get old? Probably not, Hermione told herself. His voice—his laughter, was amazing.

Lightyear whizzed into the Astronomy Tower before circling the globe once and shooting out to the open skies. Draco whispered for Hermione to open her eyes and, although hesitant, she did as he requested. Her breath caught in her throat. The night sky was unbelievably beautiful; the half-moon shone mystically in a sky filled with blinking stars and purple clouds.

"Wow," she breathed.

Draco guided Lightyear to the one of the tallest tower Hogwarts had to offer; the tip of the Astronomy Tower. Having Lightyear hover close to the tip, Draco dismounted before helping Hermione off. His arm went around her waist to steady her and with one whip of his wand, two pillows were conjured and Lightyear went to rest on a ledge.

"Stargazing?" Hermione asked, looking over at him. Draco nodded as he sat down, unceremoniously, on the pillow and pat the pillow beside him.

"Yes, so come join me."

Hermione shook her head but went to sit beside him anyway. As soon as she was comfortable, he wrapped an arm around her shoulder and conjured up a blanket to cover them. Then, because he could, he kissed her temple. "Now this is what you call a date."

"This isn't a date," Hermione rolled her eyes; "this is an outing between two friends."

"Which, in short, means: date." Draco grinned, smugly. His arm that was wrapped around her shoulder gave her a gentle squeeze. "And I thought I should let you know that I was a nervous wreck all night."

Hermione's eyebrows shot up. "Were you now?"

"I was genuinely afraid you were mad at me for kissing you." His admittance was cute and made him more human. Gone was the tough guy persona that he always maintained. At that moment he was a real man with real feelings.

It made Hermione's heart race uncontrollably.

Blushing sheepishly, she rested her head against Draco's shoulder—it felt like the most natural thing in the world, to do that. "I was kind of upset when you didn't write to me last night. Just kind of."

And Draco, as if it was the most natural thing for him to do, leaned over and kissed her temple. "Honestly, I didn't know whether you were mad at me or not." They were both staring into the sky watching the stars twinkle. In the distance, the far end of the Forbidden Forest, they saw a dragon take flight and soar off towards the moon. "I thought you were going to hex me." Draco, picturing his lips being hexed off to nothingness, shuddered. Trying to take his mind off of it, he reached over and ran his fingers down the column of Hermione's neck before trailing the pad of his finger along the Healer Pendant.

Hermione made a serious effort to not react to his touch. So, rather than focus her energy on the hair standing on end and the butterflies in her stomach, she laughed nervously at him. Yeah, it was rather ballsy of him to kiss me but admittedly it worked for the better. "Does this mean we're real friends now?"

"Yes." Draco's voice was a low rumble, almost husky. "It does." He withdrew his finger from her pendant.

Then silence.

A comfortable silence blanketed them and Hermione couldn't have asked for a better 'flying-lesson.' The arm that was wrapped around her shoulder began massaging her lightly and Hermione, subconsciously, snuggled closer into him. "This is nice," she whispered, afraid her voice might break the serene atmosphere. "I'm sure I wouldn't have such a great time with Hufflepuff Malfoy."

Draco's chest rumbled with laughter and he gave her shoulder another gentle squeeze. "He can't outshine the master, now can he? Though I'm sure you could have an equally good time with Flint."

"Malfoy!" Hermione playfully smacked his chest. Draco snickered at her measly attempt to faux-hurt him. "I thought we were never going to bring that up."

"When did we agree to that?"

Hermione paused, trying to think of a witty response. "Your dreams?"

"In your dreams."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "He aged gracefully, let's put it that way."

"He became graceful when the ogre in his mouth was fixed," Draco snorted. "Even we made fun of him."

"And how did he become a professor? Of a brand new subject, might I add?"

Draco shrugged. "Beats me. I have to ask him; trust me, we're as surprised as you guys are. He failed a year too; I don't know what in bloody Merlin's name possessed McGonagall to hire him."

"She sees the good in people," Hermione mumbled. "I guess the world would be a better place if everybody did."

Not knowing what to say, Draco kissed her cheek. Surprised, Hermione glanced over at him and he took that opportunity to capture her lips. The kiss was unlike the previous night; it was gentler, slower, and filled with more passion. Draco used the force of his head to tilt her face up and when her mouth was angled with his properly, he deepened the kiss. Hermione bit his lower lip and he brought his free hand up to comb through her hair- oh, he loved her hair so much.

"Lesson two, in flying," Draco murmured into her lips, "always do what the teacher does."

"Hmm?" Hermione said, not at all listening to what he was saying to her.

The hand that was holding onto her hair released and Draco curled it around the back of her neck. He wanted to taste more of her, feel more of her... her lips were amazing and kissing her had to be the best thing he had ever experienced. Needing air, they pulled back to catch their breath. Draco pushed some of her bangs out of her eyes. "Hogsmeade weekend tomorrow," He whispered, "the Slytherins are going. Do you want to have another picnic with me?"

Hermione's face lit up. "Will you make the snacks?"

Draco chuckled. "If you insist."

"Great, then I'll join you."

Finding her irresistibly cute, Draco kissed her once again.

Chapter 9: A Magic Carpet Ride

Saturday dawned bright and early. Hermione squinted when the rays of sunshine lit up the girls' dormitory; she was the only one to wake up. Kellah was half on her bed and Fay, somehow, had fallen off sometime during the night. Lavender was the only one that slept with any sophistication and Parvati was curled up into a little ball, snoring softly. Yawning loudly, Hermione sat up and scanned the room.

Last night filled her memories.

Never in her wildest dreams did she expect that she and Draco Malfoy would be friendskissing friends at that! It was unexpected but so familiar at the same time. It was as if this, her and Draco, was somehow prewritten and meant to be.

It was as if it was going to happen, no matter what.

Hermione suddenly froze. Draco… the Latin word for Dragon… could Trelawney… no! That isn't possible—Hermione's thoughts were cut short when she felt the heating sensation of the journal just at the foot of her bed. How and when she kicked it down there was beyond her; she was just glad that it was enchanted.

Slept well, Granger?

Hermione opened the journal to see Draco's morning message. An unintentional smile curled onto her face and she quickly retrieved her Perpetually Inked Pashmina Quill that Bill Weasley got for her for Christmas the previous year. Without further ado, she wrote back to the man that haunted her thoughts.

Very well, thank you. Yourself?

It was so-so. Zabini, apparently, took up the art of snoring.

How do you take up the art of snorting?!

Beats me. Ask him.

You know what? I think I will.

How do you propose you do that?

Hermione's eye twitched. Well, that was a silly question. She promptly responded with: I'll approach him and ask him? Really, do you think I'm afraid of a few snarky little Slytherins?

Are you calling me snarky?

Perhaps. Why; what are the repercussions of me insulting you?

You're the smartest witch of our time, Granger. You tell me.

Two could play that game. Well, don't you suppose a good spanking would help?

Draco, who was leaning against his headboard, was not expecting her to respond with that. Whatever happened to his innocent little Granger who was in her Hogwarts robes before the train even departed from platform 9¾? Draco stopped his thoughts. His Granger? Deciding that he needed to stop thinking of Granger and start writing again, he formulated his response.

I was going along the lines of snogging, but hey, a good spanking never hurt a good girl.

Why would one be required to spank a good girl?

If she wishes to go bad.

Well, I don't see any around here.

That's because I have yet to corrupt her.

Hermione rolled her eyes. He was a cocky prick, and she, for some reason, loved it. Corrupting the incorruptible is impossible, Malfoy.

Hence why they are termed 'incorruptible,' Granger… which you are not.

Hermione's eyebrows rose. "Did he…" She intently concentrated on her response. Are you implying I am already corrupted?

Draco smirked like a snake; she fell into his trap. Pot-head and Weasel already started the job. I just have to finish it.

Hermione was in shock. Did he just—he just…

I'm not saying you shagged them, Granger!

Hermione's eyes zeroed in on what he wrote and waited for him to continue. She knew he would, his man parts were on the line.

The Granger I knew back in first year was already in her robes on the Hogwarts Express looking for Longbottom's toad. The Granger now breaks into Gringotts, steals a dragon from said bank, and then proceeds to break out of said said bank through the skylight with said dragon. She has also stolen a magical stone, snuck into a secret chamber, created polyjuice potion so that HER two best friends can look like MY two (then) best friends. Not to mention she was also willing to lie to my psycho Aunt Bellatrix and was a breath away from being put under the Cruciatus Curse. So, Granger, am I leaving anything out?

Hermione gawked at his paragraph before writing the first thing that came to mind:

it wasn't a skylight, it was the glass dome.

Draco burst into laughter at her response and took a moment to compose himself. This was the third time Granger was rendered speechless. He would never let her live this down.

You can't hear me right now, but I'm dying of laughter.

Hermione was ready to retort when something hit her. Wait! How did you know that we used polyjuice potion in second year?!

Seriously... did you honestly think I wouldn't notice Crabbe's hair turning red? Besides, Potter and Weasley do not have one sixteenth of the brain capacity required to concoct a polyjuice potion in second year. Actually, they still don't.

Be nice, Malfoy. They helped you get off.

Granger, I swear to Merlin, don't you ever tell anybody that "they" helped me "get off!" The very idea is utterly revolting.

Augh! Get your mind out of the gutter! Okay, Malfoy, can we please stop talking about Harry and Ron?

I'm in agreement to that notion. Let's talk about last night.

What's there to talk about? Hermione was already blushing.

Loads. Where to begin? Draco was beginning to enjoy the turn of their conversation.

Well, the best place to begin is always at the end. So, the end! I'm off to bed!

Draco snickered. Granger, it's seven in the morning.

I haven't finished my beauty sleep, yet.

Don't worry, you're always beautiful. So, let's talk about it.

Hermione zoned in on the word 'beautiful.' Could he have meant that? Maybe, considering all the time that they were spending together… besides, he also said he loved her hair so that should count for something.

There isn't anything to talk about. Oh, hey! Kellah is awake. I will see you later today for our picnic.

Shaking his head, Draco allowed her to win—but only this once! Alright, I will meet you on route to the Astronomy Tower?

Sounds good. Bye!

Take care.

Hermione slammed the journal shut and shoved it under her pillow before Kellah was fully awake. She wasn't lying when she said that her dorm mate was awake; it was absolutely perfect timing. Not wanting to erase the conversation she had with Draco, Hermione chose not to whisper his name to trigger the deletion of the words in the journal. Some things were just meant to be kept for simply a while longer.


Hermione was sitting between Dean and Harry in the Great Hall for a late breakfast that morning. Kellah and Fay went for an early morning jog and Parvati decided to join her sister at her house table. Lavender was still sleeping in when the girls had left that morning; it wasn't anything new to begin with.

"You're coming with us to Hogsmeade, right, Hermione?" Harry asked as Hermione watched, in disgust, Ron scarf down two egg and cheese English muffin sandwiches. There was probably a black hole where his stomach should be… perhaps that black hole stemmed from the one that should be his heart?

That's probably why he has the emotional range of a teaspoon! Hermione concluded in her mind.

"It's best if I don't." She finally answered as she tore her gaze away from the pig that was Ronald Weasley. Her eyes finally settled on Harry and, with her peripheral vision, she saw Draco in the background enter the Great Hall. His eyes lingered on her for a brief moment before he languidly followed Theo and Blaise to the Slytherin table.

Say what you always say, Hermione. She told herself. Use what has been tried and tested. So she spat out the excuse that never failed her: "I need to start preparing for NEWTs." Harry immediately donned the 'not this again' look and she heard Dean groan from behind her.

"You guys should be studying for NEWTs too!" She exclaimed, turning to look at Dean. "Because Merlin knows that you all will be coming to me for assistance after drinking it up at the Hogs Head."

"Okay, okay, we surrender!" Dean threw his hands up in the air. "Fine, don't come. Study. Study hard. You need to know what you're doing so can tell us what we're doing."

With a stuffed mouth, Ron mumbled something that sounded incoherently like: "Amen."

Hermione shook her head and went to take a sip of her pumpkin juice when her notebook began to heat up beneath her fingertips. Conspicuously (which wasn't that hard, the boys weren't paying attention to her anyway) she opened her journal to read what Draco wrote to her.

Whatever happened, Thomas and Potter don't look impressed. Did you tell them that their bits were so tiny that they can only be seen from under a muggle microscope?

Hermione bit her tongue to stop herself from choking on her juice and air. She retrieved the quill Bill got her and began writing her response. The Gryffindors simply assumed that she was taking notes—it would be the most appropriate thing to do after a 'study-for-NEWTs' conversation.

How do you know what a muggle microscope is?

Malfoys know everything, Granger.

But it's a muggle thing.

I repeat, Malfoys know everything.

Hermione rolled her eyes and looked up in time to catch Draco watching her. Leaning back, Draco smirked and sent her a sexy wink before paying attention to the story Blaise was animatedly telling his fellow housemates.

"We're leaving at noon," Hermione managed to catch the tail-end of what Harry said. She turned away from Draco to look at her friends. "Spend the day there, grab dinner, and come back?"

"Are you sure you want to study for the whole day?" Seamus asked in his thick Irish accent. This time, Neville snorted.

"You obviously don't know her well enough. Back in first year, she studied all day and night." His response was met by Hermione throwing a bun at him. The boys laughed heartily which caused their female companion to harrumph and stand up.

"So be it! All of you can forgo excellent studying time by having fun," she said the word 'fun' in the best disgusted tone she could muster up. Truth be told, she wasn't going to be doing anything close to studying. She was going to have her own fun.

Hermione wasn't aware of how a pair of stormy grey eyes followed her.


Despite her desire to write to Draco and request to, perhaps, start their picnic a little early, Hermione decided that getting in a little bit of studying would be the most practical thing to do. Kellah, Fay, Parvati, and Lavender dropped by the library to do some last minute persuading before leaving to join the boys on their trip down to the village.

Hermione wanted to join them, yes… but she's spent every year in Hogsmeade with them since they were allowed.

She had only recently begun spending time with Draco Malfoy.

And having picnics with him.

And kissing him…

Especially kissing him.

Just the thought of his tender lips made Hermione's hair stand on end. He was attractive as nothing else, and kissed like he invented the bloody process…

He probably did, Hermione thought shrewdly as she flipped through the pages of a book about pixies. He is part French. I wouldn't be surprised if his ancestors have patented kissing.

"Granger, you are aware that the book is upside down, right?"

Hermione jumped about a foot in the air. She was not expecting Draco Malfoy's husky voice to sound from behind her at such a close proximity. Robotically, she turned around to find the man haunting her mind grinning stupidly at her. He was definitely prepared for a picnic: khaki shorts, a plain blue t-shirt, and a seashell-esque necklace around his neck. Hermione, although she was in the school in the library, felt out of place in her robes.

"I was practicing the skill of reading a book upside down." Hermione finally replied. "It helps with the process of strengthening one's concentration."

Draco snorted. "Just kiss me while we're upside down on a broom. I'm sure that would require ample concentration as well."

"It's not the same kind!"

"Maybe we should test it to find out?"

Hermione stared at Draco for a brief moment longer before turning back to her upside down book on pixies. "Perhaps. One day. But as of right now, I would like to get back to the mating rituals of adult pixies, thank you."

Draco chuckled. The sound was velvety, like dark chocolate… if dark chocolate had a sound. If Hermione's hair stood on end anymore, she'd be a prickly cactus. "Why are you kidding yourself, bookworm?" Ahh, there was the pet name again. Hermione was officially a cactus. "Go back to your tower, get ready, and I'll be outside of the window to the girls' dormitory in fifteen minutes, alright?"

Knowing that she was anxious to get picnicking with him, Hermione agreed. When she stood up, Draco took the opportunity to place a soft kiss on her cheek before strolling off as if he owned the place. Normally something like that would make Hermione shake with fury.

But for some reason, she was blushing…

And her heart was racing.

Oh, Merlin… save me.


The weather was still agreeable for mid-September. Hermione opted to wear a strapless yellow sundress with a baby cut and a lacy black belt tied just underneath her bust. Because she knew that she was going to ride on a broom, she wore shorts underneath her attire—just in case. She wanted to look presentable for Draco; something she had never done before. She tied her hair into a side-braid and adjusted a sparkling silver headband just in time. A tapping on the window broke her attention from the mirror.

Like the god that he was, as perfect as Adonis, Draco Malfoy sat mounted on his broom smirking into the Gryffindor girls' dormitory.

Slipping into her black ballet flats, Hermione pushed the window open to not receive a greeting from Draco, but rather a compliment.

"I believe I've never seen you look as beautiful as you do right now." He managed a wink before continuing with: "Not even at the Yule Ball in fourth year."

The battle against the blush was a difficult one, but Hermione won!

"I hope I make the Malfoy in Hufflepuff a jealous man," he finally concluded before holding a hand out. "Mi'lady," he offered gallantly. "We have a feast awaiting us."

The urge to giggle like a moron was great, but Hermione overcome that battle as well. What was it about Draco Malfoy that made her feel like…


A girl?!

It was something Hermione decided she'd ponder later. At that moment, she had more pressing matters to attend to.

Like taking a hold of Draco's outstretched hand.

It surprised Draco that every time he touched Hermione, he felt a sizzle course through his veins. He found himself spending many moments throughout his day pondering on why such a chemical reaction existed. Why did he feel a course of electricity every-bloody-time Granger touched him?! Maybe she rubbed her feet over the carpets before their rides together—yes! That made the most logical sense.

Static electricity.

Hermione safely was able to mount the broom in front of her 'friend' and, immediately, Draco's arms wrapped around her waist. "Hold tight, Granger." His voice purred in her ear. Hermione's heart began pounding dangerously against her chest and she was able to nod and whisper a meek 'okay.'

Controlling Lightyear with absolutely no effort, Draco was able to guide it to the Astronomy tower in little time. Hermione's eyes were squeezed shut for the entire ride, though. She hated heights… she hated heights…

She hated—

"Granger, when will you understand that I'll never let you fall?"

Hermione made a sound between a snort and a squeak: "I know."

He chuckled; a velvety sound. "Then why are your eyes clamped shut?"

"My eyelashes hurt."

"That's a pathetic excuse, even for you."

"It's the best I could come up with between my irrational fear of heights and my equally irrational fear of falling." Her honesty made his heart melt, though he would never admit to it. Subconsciously he tightened his hold on Hermione.

"Don't worry, bookworm." He said, again, with the velvety sweetness. "If you fall, I'll make sure to shed a tear at your funeral."

"DRACO!" Hermione opened her eyes, twisted her body over and smacked his shoulder. "You could at least spare two tears."

He smirked. "I could, but I just got you to open your eyes and turn around without worrying about falling. I think I deserve an award."

Without thinking, she pecked him. On the lips.

Not wanting to see his reaction, Hermione promptly turned back around and snapped her eyes shut again. "I'm going to my happy place, please let me know when we've arrived at our destination."

"And where's your happy place?"

"On the ground. Nice, solid ground."

"Will a nice solid flying carpet suffice?"

For the second time in thirty seconds, Hermione opened her eyes. Before her was a royal purple flying carpet with gold tassels; atop the carpet was a picnic basket. Hermione was at a loss of words. She was expecting a picnic but not one on a flying carpet.

Draco Malfoy never ceased to amaze her, but that probably wasn't the first time she made such a declaration either.

"A picnic?" She was amazed. Her eyes were locked on the enchanted piece of décor. "On a carpet?" She felt like she was in the Disney movie she watched as a child: Aladdin. She was positive, though, that Malfoy did not know who the son of the King of Thieves was and how he had a genie in a lamp, a conniving pet monkey, and a magic carpet that always made it in time to save his butt.

Draco faux gasped. "Why, yes! How ever did you guess?"

Hermione's eyes narrowed and she glared at her companion. "I don't appreciate the sarcasm much, Malfoy."

Choosing not to respond to her, Draco merely kissed her just behind her earlobe and wordlessly helped her off the broom and onto the carpet. "Sarcasm is a language I'm fluent in, Granger." He finally replied. "Perhaps you should familiarize yourself? The rules are rather complex. As the smartest witch of our time, you would understand a challenge when it is presented, wouldn't you?"

Hermione raised an eyebrow as she watched Draco dismount Lightyear and land perfectly on the carpet.

"Sarcasm is the language of fools, Malfoy. An academic, such as me, prefers to lose herself in literary masterpieces. In Latin."

"Draco means Dragon in Latin." Draco grinned which caused Hermione to snicker.

"I'm glad you know the etymology of your given name, Malfoy. Do you know where your surname derives from?"

Draco had a twinkle in his eye; Hermione quickly learned that that twinkle was only there when he was just about to show off his (what he assumed to be) superior intellect. "The name Malfoy is French, which is relevant to the fact that I am part French, and is derived from two French words: mal and foi. Together it means 'bad faith' or 'unfaithful.' Yes, I know, ironic." Draco input when he saw Hermione's lips curl up in amusement. "In existentialism, 'bad faith' is when people blame their failures on external forces. For the record, I sometimes blame my father."

"Perhaps I underestimated you, Mister Malfoy."

"In that case, I demand retribution."

Hermione knew what he was saying. As the carpet began to ascend (with Lightyear following close behind), Hermione leaned forward and was met halfway by Draco. His lips were gentle against hers and, without missing a heartbeat; he curled his fingers around her neck.

Hermione caught the collar of his shirt and managed to yank him towards her rather suddenly. Not expecting that, Draco lurched forward and managed to push Hermione down. Their lips were touching, though they weren't kissing, and they were staring into each other's eyes: Draco on top, Hermione lying on the carpet beneath him. His eyes searched her face as he brought the hand that was around her neck up and caressed her cheek.

"Have I ever told you that you are the most beautiful witch I've ever laid eyes on?"

Hermione fought a losing battle against her blush. "Perhaps, but that doesn't mean I believe you."

"A Malfoy never lies," he whispered as he kissed the tip of her nose. "Especially to those we care most about."

Hermione's heart was racing, yet again. "But I thought Malfoy meant unfaith—"

He silenced her with another kiss. Whatever he was, whoever he used to be didn't matter. Hermione knew about his past, knew of his family, was victim to his aunt's wrath, but she was still spending time with him. Being with him.

He couldn't have asked for anything more—and for some strange bloody reason, he wanted to head to Knockturn Alley at first opportunity to purchase that jewel encrusted quill he saw before the start of the term.

Draco wanted to see Hermione smile. He really wasn't lying when he said she was the most beautiful witch he'd ever seen. She was natural and flawlessly graceful without even trying. Those were qualities he admired in a woman; that and she was smart and strong.

The perfect double-edged sword.

"Okay, okay," Hermione laughed against him. "I get it. Thank you."

He growled, it was a feral sound from the back of his throat. He was obviously very reluctant to stop what they were doing, but Hermione had a point: food. Their main objective was to have a picnic and a picnic they were going to have.

"Fine. But I get dessert."

She knew what he meant by dessert…

"I'm okay with that." Playfully she winked at him before reaching for the picnic basket. "Did you pack the cute sandwiches?"

"Food isn't cute, bookworm."

"Neither are you."

"I resent that." He was sitting beside her, leaning back on one arm. He used his free hand to reach forward to interlace it with hers. "I believe you find me dashing. And handsome."

"As handsome as an unfaithful ferret can get." Her voice was playful.

Draco lifted her hand to his lips and kissed the back of it. "Admit it, Granger, you find me irresistible."

"I do not!"

"Why else would my enemy's best friend be finding any opportunity she can to spend time with me?" Draco's heart sped up when he saw the glare she shot him. Merlin she was gorgeous; especially when she was mad.

"Perhaps I find that I owe you my life because you saved it?"

Draco shrugged nonchalantly. "I wasn't fond of Bellatrix anyway. Now, if Aunt Andromeda was going to—"


Draco laughed and tugged her towards him. He let go of her hand and wrapped it around her waist, lying her down beside his now lying down figure. "You really think I'd let you get hurt? Even if it was by one of my aunts, Hermione?"

Oh Merlin… her first name!

"Haven't you realized how much you mean to me?"

Oh Merlin… he was being sentimental!

Draco kissed her forehead. "I'm kidding, bookworm… but I won't make jokes like that anymore. I know, not funny."

… "Maybe it was a little?"

"But jokes like that won't be repeated, okay? Now let's eat before I pass out. I'm so hungry!"

Hermione laughed, trying to calm her heart and her shaking nerves. "Pig. Now I see where that pudge comes from." And to 'prove' her point, she poked his abdominal region. As expected, she was met with rock-hard abs but she wasn't going to admit it.

She wanted him to fester on the fact that he, may, have some love handles.

"I am not pudgy!" Draco whined. "Granger, I've been working out extra hard since you said that in Diagon Alley."

Hermione shrugged light-heartedly. "I don't think it's working."

Her tone of voice said it all; she was playing around. Growling playfully, Draco pinned Hermione. "I'll show you."

Their lips met.

And the picnic basket lay forgotten.


Draco dropped her off at the Library Restricted Section. Before he flew off, he kissed her goodbye and said he'd write to her later that evening. He had some things to do with Blaise and Theo, but he'd contact her as soon as he was done.

Hermione told him not to worry and to take his time.

He told her that she was amazing.

She told him to stop lying.

He said that just because his name meant bad faith didn't mean it represented his character.

She only grinned and said that she loved riling him up.

He responded with another kiss.

Hermione loved their goodbyes. She conjured up her books and began to exit the library as if she had spent a whole afternoon pouring over books and discovering the location of Pandora's Box or something. Though the goofy grin on her face, the unmasked glow, and the skip in her step probably said otherwise, but Hermione didn't care.

Nothing could faze her now.

Hermione saw some of the seventh and eighth year students slowly filter into the castle, which mean that they were coming back from their day trip. She tried to muster up her best 'I-was-studying' face and tried to show less of her 'I-was-just-ravished-and-thoroughly-enjoyed-it' face. She managed to weave expertly through the growing crowd; she wanted to escape to the Gryffindor tower and relive everything that happened.

Shortly after their snog session ended, they sat atop of the enchanted carpet and flew over the Forbidden Forest as they sipped tea and munched on perfectly cut sandwiches. Draco really did have an attention to detail which Hermione quickly learned. He made every effort possible to ensure that their picnic was an unforgettable one.

After they finished eating Draco made the basket vanish and pulled Hermione into his chest. He wanted to cuddle with her as the carpet remained afloat. It was peculiar (in a good way) how her body fit into his. It was a perfect union; as if they were made for each other.

The entire time, Hermione was mentally singing "A Whole New World." (One of the faults of watching Disney while growing up: she knew every Disney song by heart and could sing them in her sleep). Though there were no promises of any future picnics, they both knew that they would probably have another one, and very soon at that.

The Gryffindor password changed for the week and was now "Avante." Why that was the word, nobody knew. The Prefects announced it earlier that morning and the Gryffindors had to accept their password for the week.

"Avante." Hermione murmured and the Fat Lady smiled before swinging open. Noticing that there wasn't anybody in the Common Room yet, Hermione bee-lined to the dormitory. She didn't want to see her friends; she knew that she would burst into laughter if she did.

Deciding that she wouldn't let the opportunity present itself, Hermione went to take a long bath.

A very long bath.


"Mate, you disappear every time we have Hogsmeade plans." Blaise muttered. "Are you hiding something?"

"Yes," Draco yawned. He was sprawled on the loveseat in the Slytherin Common Room. Apparently Theodore wanted to plan a surprise for Tracey and required the assistance of Draco and Blaise. Something about them being the biggest womanizers in all of Hogwarts history.

Draco stopped himself from saying: "Granger would know all about Hogwarts' history."

"What is it?" Theodore leaned forward and Draco raised an eyebrow in his direction.

"If I told you, it wouldn't be a secret, now would it?"

Blaise rolled his eyes. "A hundred galleons say he's having a torrid love affair."

"Malfoys don't have torrid love affairs." Theodore smirked. "Draco couldn't stay with one girl for more than one night."

"I resent that!" Draco called. They didn't have to know he'd been talking to Hermione Granger since the start of the summer.

And that he had three picnics with her.

And that he regularly kissed her.

Those bits of information would remain his little secret.

"Well what are you doing for Trace?" Draco steered the conversation away from him. "What's the occasion anyway?"

"Anniversary." Theodore promptly replied. "I was thinking of getting her this jewel encrusted quill I saw at Knockturn Alley."

Draco's blood ran cold. He was going to get that for Hermione.

"When do you plan on getting it?" He tried to remain as cool and composed as possible. Blaise had resigned to study his fingernails. He wasn't one to surprise the ladies… he just loved them, that was all.

"Maybe owling Borgin and Burkes? I know they accept owl-in orders sometimes."

Owl-in orders, hmmm?

That gave Draco a rather splendid idea. Hermione's birthday was coming up…


Do you understand how bothersome it is to help one's friend figure out what to do to surprise his girlfriend?

Hermione stared amusedly at the note Draco sent her. Dinner just wrapped up and the Gryffindors were lounging in the Common Room discussing their day at Hogsmeade and taking a trip down memory lane while they were at it.

Hermione was seated closest to the fireplace. Ginny was sitting on the couch, between Ron and Harry, and the rest of the seventh and eighth years were randomly strewn about.

Why not surprise Tracey with a bouquet of chocolate flowers?

How'd you know it was Trace?!

The only two Slytherins dating are Theodore and Tracey. Everybody in the castle knows that, even Filch.

Well, we still haven't figure out what to do and their anniversary is coming up. If we don't think of something fast, I have to listen to Tracey whine about how unromantic Theodore is.

How about a magic carpet picnic ride?

Draco gawked at what she wrote. Why didn't he think of that before?!

Granger, you're a genius.

So I've been told.

I could just kiss you.

Hermione blushed. Well, come on over and do it, Malfoy.

I'm sure your dormmates would be opposed to me barging into the Gryffindor Tower to kiss their angel.

They'll live.

I quite enjoy this side of you, Granger.

Your fault, Malfoy. I have been tainted due to your unfaithfulness.

He chuckled, shaking his head. Granger was a lot wittier than he gave her credit for.

I'm faithful.

We will see, now won't we?

Draco's heart did somersaults. Yes, Granger, we will.

Chapter 10: To Come to the Aid of a Friend

Heat scorched Draco's skin. He was standing in front of a ball of light that resembled the sun; the heat was deadly, enough to burn cement, but Draco stood his ground staring murderously at it. His left hand was clenched and his right hand, with the faint outline of the dark mark, held his wand out in front of him.

"I repeat," Draco hissed. "Let. Her. Go."

The ball of light grew brighter and the reverberation of a female voice echoed out of it. "Oh dear nephew, when will you learn that a mudblood will only bring you down? I will succeed in turning Voldemort's dream into reality, and the key to that is your disgusting, filthy little friend."

"BELLATRIX!" Draco screamed, lunging forward. The ball of light exploded causing Draco's flesh to melt. In the distance, before he succumbed to death, he heard a bone chilling scream-




Draco woke up with a cold sweat. That had to be the worst nightmare he'd ever had; Bellatrix, his psycho aunt, was determined to succeed where Voldemort failed. And, to attain her goal, she killed Draco and probably killed Hermione too. Or tortured her; Draco was unsure which would be worse.

Pushing his covers off of him, Draco headed to the washroom to splash some cold water on his face. Subconsciously his mind went back to the Sorting Hat prophecy — about a dragon and his lady. Draco wasn't stupid; he knew that the Hat was probably talking about him. His name was Latin for dragon.

And the bit with the sea and the sky?

Hermione stayed in the Gryffindor Tower, which was as close to the sky as any tower of residence could get.

And Draco lived in the Slytherin. It was submerged in the Black Lake.

The Hat was probably talking about Hermione and himself; it wasn't a coincidence that the year that they became friends was the same year the Hat said something about a Dragon and the sea and the sky and... more bloody nonsense. Draco knew Hermione was becoming somebody very important to him, and he also knew it was a matter of time before people found out about their friendship.

And then what?

The son of a Death Eater, a previous Death Eater himself, befriending the best friend of Voldemort's destroyer? He could hear his father's voice in his head. Draco, leaning over the sink, stared in to the mirror, into his groggy reflection.

She helped kill Voldemort, Draconis! The Lucius Malfoy in Draco's head taunted. I know we've stopped advocating blood supremacy, but you need to have some sort of pride! This is tarnishing the Malfoy name.

"I don't care if this tarnishes our name, and I don't care if she helped kill him." Draco whispered to his reflection. He saw Lucius Malfoy in himself. Draco inherited the signature Malfoy hair and the Malfoy eyes. His jaw structure resembled his mother's, a Black trait, but he was a Malfoy; through blood, through genetics.

Draco tore his gaze away from himself. He thought about it all the time, about why he threw himself in front of Bellatrix's Crucio and why Hermione cradled him while crying. It was that moment that an unbreakable bond was formed between them that made them want to spend time with each other, and go on picnics... and kiss.

Kissing... Hermione Granger.

It had to be the best feeling in the world. Draco had his fair share of kissing in his last eight years in Hogwarts, but none of them could compete with Hermione. None at all. Perhaps it was because of that bond that he had with her? Or maybe it was rooted deeper, something that only the stupid Sorting Hat knew.

Draco growled and ran his fingers through his hair. He didn't want to admit it, but he was slightly worried. Worried that Hermione would change her mind when news began to spread (eventually) about the son of a Death Eater and the saviour of the world were friends. Slytherins and Gryffindors were enemies, even if they were slightly more civil with each other, that didn't change hundreds of years' worth of animosity.

And now the Prince of Slytherin and Princess of Gryffindor were cavorting?

Draco could see the headlines in the Daily Prophet already: Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger's illicit love affair! Could they have secretly been plotting against You-Know Who? Or, perhaps, it was the other way around! And with the headlines came his father's angry voice and the taunting of his dormmates. But that didn't bother him. What bothered him was that he didn't know if it was going to bother Hermione. Alright, so Draco was slightly insecure, but he never was involved with somebody as intellectually skilful as Hermione, as beautiful as Hermione, and witty as Hermione.

Basically he'd never been with anybody like Hermione.

Draco pushed away from the sink and punched the wall. Why was he getting so worked up over it? Whatever! They were friends.

End. Of. Bloody. Story.

Deciding to forget his insecurities for the moment, Draco started heading back to his dormitory to squeeze in as much sleep as he could for the rest of the night. Sundays at Hogwarts were usually (an unspoken rule) study days. Anyone that was particularly interested in passing their classes sought assistance for projects, and whatnot, on Sundays. Draco had to review the curriculum for the term anyway; he probably was going to ask Snape for clarification on some sort of potions projects.

Draco always did, every term.

Silently shutting the door behind him as he entered the dormitory, Draco crept over to his bed and sank into it. His eyes were shut and, out of habit, he shoved his right hand under his pillow to feel for the journal. His eyes snapped open when he felt it, and felt that it was warm. Hermione had written to him.

But it was three in the morning.

Maybe she was hurt?

Draco pulled the journal out from under the pillow and grabbed his wand from the night stand. "Lumos." He whispered. When a small bubble of light appeared, he opened the journal.

"Vetitum amicitia." Draco murmured, revealing Hermione's text.

Are you awake?

Draco cracked a silly grin and moved to grab his quill. Yeah. Why're you awake?

Neville's toad jumped on my face and I woke up screaming. The girls woke up too and Parvati went to yell at Neville. I didn't expect you to be up.

But you certainly hoped, which is why you wrote to me, isn't it?

Shut up, Malfoy.

That is your catch phrase. I've never had somebody tell me to shut up so often...

That's because I find you insufferable.

And attractive. Draco enjoyed his banter with Hermione. She always had some comeback for him, and they weren't pathetic and brainless... except for the 'shut up, Malfoy.' That was probably her fallback phrase when she had no witty comeback. Draco did learn that Hermione Granger was capable of being rendered speechless, so maybe when she told him to shut up it was because she had nothing left to say.

Perhaps a little, but the Malfoy in Hufflepuff gives you a run for your money. I spent the day with him yesterday, you know. He packed me a wonderful picnic and took me on a magic carpet ride.

Draco, despite himself, grinned like a stupid fool. So she was playing that game, was she? Alright, two could play it. Is that so? How was your time with him? I'm afraid I didn't fare as well as you did; I was stuck with this insufferable know-it-all, buckteeth, bushy-haired witch.

Were you now? I pity you. No, this Malfoy ensured that I had a spectacular time, which I did might I add. He makes this wonderful cucumber sandwich with the crust cut off... must be the most heavenly thing I've ever had.

Lucky you. When do I meet him?

He's out of your league.

Very funny, Granger. I'm in a league of my own. I pity the mortals that try to come close to where I stand.

Are you implying you're immortal?

My rugged good looks and charming personality has left an impression on all the students of Hogwarts, as well as the professors. I hear Dumbledore's portrait constantly praise what a genius student I was.

Then I must be Socrates reincarnated.

Than you can call me Aristotle.

Hermione giggled at his response. He was the perfect person to engage in a battle of wits with.

Okay, Aristotle. I believe we should hit the sack now. You have to tell me tomorrow why you're awake, though.

Perhaps. Night, bush-bush bookworm.

Goodnight, bad faith.


"Quidditch tryouts begin today." Harry declared as the group of eighth year students began their descent to the Great Hall. "We received the thumbs-up from McGonagall late last night. Slytherin and Gryffindor share the field from two to four, and Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw share the field from four to six."

Luckily, as per Hermione's promise, she had Ron and Harry give the three first year students flying lessons not too long ago. Their crushes were instantly sated when they learned that Ron and Harry were speed demons on their broomsticks. One of the girls swore she would never fly for as long as she should live.

Poor girls…

Hermione frowned. "Tryouts? But I thought we agreed to talk to Madam Sprout today about making our NEWT all written with no practical."

"Yes… but Quidditch!" Ron whined. "We have to win the House Cup this year because… well… there weren't any House Cups the past two years. It's a pride thing, Hermione, you wouldn't understand."

He missed the dangerous glare she sent him. Mockingly she said: "You need to sort out your priorities."

That caused the group to laugh at Ron's expense.

"I'm surprised you know what a pride thing is." Lavender shot bitterly at the ginger-haired boy. "Any man who decides to mess around with a Hufflepuff mustn't have any form of pride whatsoever."

Ron looked aghast. "I didn't mess around with her!"

"Pfft," Kellah snorted. "We wouldn't know, now would we?"

"Oh, will you lot give it up already!" Ron yelled, exasperated. "Can't a red-blooded man do anything around here without facing bloody consequences by you so-called Gryffindor Angels?! At least the girls in Hufflepuff know what they wa—"

The corridor that they were in went deadly silent when they heard a loud smack. Hermione's palm had connected with Ron's cheek, causing his head to snap sideways.

"I never thought I'd say this, but Draco Malfoy is right." Hermione hissed, missing Draco, Theodore, Blaise, Adrian, Tracey, and Pansy turning the corner. They stopped dead and watched the scene unfold.

"But you're nothing but a worthless, useless, tactless piece of… of…"

She couldn't finish. She wanted so badly to insult Ron but she couldn't bring herself to say the word. Luckily for her, Draco just so happened to know exactly what word she was looking for.

"Shit." He called out and Hermione's eyes widened. She didn't know he was there. "He's a worthless, useless, tactless piece of shit. He's also a good-for-nothing Weasel, looks like a squished pug, has the emotional range of a teaspoon, and has about the IQ level of a doorknob."

Ron scowled. "Nobody asked you, Malfoy."

"I do recall Granger quoting me; therefore, I was asked indirectly." Draco strode languidly to the group of Gryffindors. His Snakes followed him, all smirking broadly—Pansy and Tracey stood back to watch the scene unfold.

"You are in dire need of pointers from real men on what it's like to be a real man." Blaise snickered. "I'd offer to help but… you're a lost cause."

Harry shoved Ron aside to glare at Blaise. "Nobody asked you, Zabini."

"When my mate is indirectly asked, then we are as well." It was Theodore to retort. Hermione and the other Gryffindor girls exchanged glances and promptly took a step back. They didn't know how or why the Slytherins got involved, but it looked like it was going to get messy and they did not want to be caught in the crossfire.

"You, Mia, are an instigator." Fay nudged Hermione. The latter girl could only smile apprehensively before turning her attention back to Harry yelling at Blaise. She caught Draco's eye and shot him the 'if-you-dare' look. Apparently he got the hint because he immediately grabbed Blaise's arm.

"Zabini, drop it. Potty and Weasel aren't worth our time."

Blaise snickered. "You're right, Malfoy. I can't believe the Jupiter Fly Trap actually ate you" Blaise directed at Ron. Wow, I am wasting my time talking to you." Laughing, Blaise walked off with Draco. As much as Draco wanted to glance over his shoulder to take one more look at Hermione, he knew it'd be way too obvious so he restrained himself.

Hermione sent a silent prayer of thanks to Merlin. She didn't want to have a situation on her hands; she'd have to tend to the wounds of both Harry and Draco if they scrapped. And she could only imagine how intolerable the both would be. If there was anything Harry and Draco had in common it was that they were extremely whiny when the opportunity presented itself.

Case and point one: the skele-gro incident with Harry.

Case and point two: "the-Hippogriff-broke-my-arm-but-the-cast-kept-switching-arms-but-I'll-still-make-sure-my-father-hears-about-this" incident with Draco.

"This house is losing its sense of family." Ron spat after the Slytherins left. "You left me to the vultures there… scratch that, you brought the vultures to me."

"If you weren't stupid…" Hermione muttered and chose not to finish her phrase. She didn't have the energy to argue with Ron.

Ron took a dangerous step towards Hermione. "You know, ever since the start of the term you've been a complete bitch."

"At least I have the decency to not snog other boys when one clearly admires me in my own house!"

Now there was a circle forming around Ron and Hermione. She was glaring murderously at the boy and Ron could only match her glare with one of his own. "You got your knickers in a twist because nobody wants to snog you?!"

If only he knew…

"I don't need anybody to snog me." Hermione hissed. "When I find somebody, he's going to respect me enough to not want to snog me meaninglessly!"

"Good luck with that! The only way you will get any action is if you become another notch on Malfoy's broom."

Hermione's eyes narrowed. "Malfoy's broom doesn't have notches. It's new!"

"Well look at that! He notched the old one down to a sliver so he had to get a new one!"

Everybody watching the fight was ping-ponging between Hermione and Ron.

Hermione and Ron.

Hermione and Ron.

"At least Malfoy knows what he's doing enough to notch his broom down to a sliver. How many notches do you have?!"

The fight was getting out of hand.

"Go be Malfoy's fucking slut, Hermione." Ron snarled but was taken aback when he felt a fist smash his jaw. All eyes turned to a seething Draco Malfoy.

"If you dare…" Draco whispered. "Ever say that. Ever."

Ron, whose cheek was pulsing, turned his rage onto Draco. "You working on getting into Hermione's pants now, are you? Why else would you defend her on the train when your goons called her mudblood and now?! Do you fancy her?"

"Regardless of if I fancy her or not, I was taught to respect women."

By then the crowd doubled. Kellah nudged Hermione and whispered: "Why did he punch Ron and not Harry or Neville or Dean or Seamus?"

Hermione shrugged her heart racing and her eyes locked on Draco. "No idea." she whispered back. Fay decided to answer that question herself.

"Ron's their mate. They don't want to jeopardize their friendship with him."

"And my friendship with them?" Hermione raised an eyebrow.

The girls had nothing to say to that.

The tension was thick enough to be sliced with a butter knife. There were daggers being thrown between Draco and Ron and the onlookers didn't know what to expect. Draco's jaw tightened. His eyes bore into Ron's and it was taking all of his willpower not to beat Ron into a bloody pulp.

Draco was enraged. He didn't even want to use his wand to inflict pain. He wanted to use his fists.

"Respect women, hmm?" Ron scoffed. "Is that why your old broom was notched to a sliver?"

Draco took a lethal step towards Ron. "Listen here, Weasel. When I'm with a woman, she is the only person I am with emotionally and physically. Until the day comes where we have to call it off and tie up loose ends, I will remain faithful to her endlessly."

Hermione's eyes widened slightly… she knew his speech was also directed to her.

"I have learnt respect, honour, and loyalty. Despite the fact I'm in Slytherin." He took another step towards Ron. "But you, friend," he said the word 'friend' with disgust, "display qualities that even us Slytherins would be ashamed to have."

Harry and Dean decided it was time to intervene. The two of them stepped in between Ron and Draco to stop Draco's advancements. Harry spoke up.

"Okay! Okay… perhaps this is getting a little out of control. It was a spat between Hermione and Ron. Friends fight, Malfoy. You don't need to get so worked up about it."

Draco's eyes flickered to Harry. "Friends don't tell their friend to be anybody's slut, let alone their enemy's, Potter. You'll never hear me tell Pansy to be your slut; that is quite possibly the worst form of disrespect."

Looking at Hermione for a brief moment, Draco let his eyes linger on her before turning back to Harry and Ron. "And I highly doubt I've shagged as many girls as you have."

Ron's expression melted from anger to cocky. "Oh! So you're admitting that I'm more of a man than you."

"Hardly." Draco took a step back. "I'm telling you that you are a man whore and I'm selective when it comes to my women. I only pick the finest, smartest, and wittiest of them all. Not to mention ethereally beautiful."

Ron barked with laughter and Fay was tempted to conjure up a bag of popcorn. The fight was getting good…

"If that were the case, why haven't you gotten Hermione yet? She's smart and witty."

"And ethereally beautiful?" Draco cocked an eyebrow and Hermione managed to skilfully hide her blush. How did this go from their loyalty to women to her?!

"Let's end this before Ron gets hexed by Hermione for shoving his foot in his mouth." Dean squeezed in before Ron could formulate a response. Fay wanted to oppose the notion but figured Dean was doing the right thing.

"He's already shoved both his feet into his mouth." Kellah muttered under her breath and Lavender shoved her hard.

Draco looked at Ron for a brief moment longer before turning around. "You Gryffindors are a waste of my time." Without a sparring glance he turned the corner and disappeared. The crowd was silent for a moment longer before Seamus whistled low.

"What was that?"

"That was war." Kellah muttered. "How the bloody hell did that escalate?"

"If I were to repeat how the fight started then we'd have a case of déjà vu." Hermione murmured before turning on her heel and stomping off. She wanted to rip Ron's hair out and paste it to his chest (considering he couldn't grow any on his own)—she was never so angry at anyone before.



You okay, bookworm?

Hermione, who was in a secluded corner of the library, watched the words in her journal begin to bleed onto the page. She was toying with the Healer Pendant around her neck. Ever since Draco got it for her and she put it on, she never took it off.

It became a part of her.

I'm okay. Thanks for earlier.

I'm surprised your supposed friends weren't sticking up for you. What would've happened if I didn't show up in time?

Then we'd have Ron's body parts scattered throughout the Forbidden Forest.

crap. Then I shouldn't have come back.

Why did you?

To tell you which ingredients Snape told us to get for our potions assignment.

Hermione gawked at what he wrote. She wasn't expecting that to be the reason for him returning to where she and Ron were quarrelling. Really?

Yes. I spoke to Snape today about the curriculum and thought we should get a head start on our project. Apparently Potions has a seating plan too but because Snape was ill… we didn't know.

Let me guess, we're seated together?

Whatever gave you that impression? Anyway, do me a favour will you?

What is it?

Turn around.

Hermione froze and stared at the last two words. Robotically she turned in her chair to find the object that constantly plagued her mind leaning against a bookshelf with his journal and a quill in his hand. "Draco?" She squeaked.

Snapping his journal shut and making it disappear; Draco pushed himself off of the shelf. Languidly, he strode to where Hermione was sitting and, without word, used his index finger to tilt her face up and planted his lips on hers. Hermione was in a state of shock but managed to quickly recover and respond to his caress.

His other hand snaked its way around to the back of her neck and he pulled her closer to him, wanting to feel more of her lips.

More of her.

"If that Weasel ever talks about my woman like that ever again…" Draco murmured into the kiss. He used his teeth to grab hold of her bottom lip but she managed to yank away. She pressed her forehead against his and stared into his endless gray eyes.

"Your woman?" She cocked an eyebrow. "That's a new one, Mister Bad Faith." Their breathing was ragged and Draco took the opportunity to lean forward and steal another kiss from her.

"Why did that piece of rubbish speak to you like that?" Draco's fingers caressed the nape of her neck. "And why didn't your friends defend you?"

Hermione sighed and melted into his touch. She really needed him, and as much as she didn't want to admit it she was glad that he was there with her right then. "I have theories… we were having a fight over Ron's womanizing issues and he basically said that the Gryffindor girls were spinsters and Hufflepuff were…"


Hermione grinned at Draco. "Pretty much. So we fought about that and something about you having so many girls that you notch your broom every time you get laid came up… and he told me to be your slut, and you punched him."

"That part I know. And your friends not defending you?"

"The girls didn't know how to react… and I think the boys were confused on whether they should jeopardize my friendship, or Ron's."

Draco sighed and placed a soft kiss on her nose. "Bookworm, I want you to punch him like you did me the next time he speaks to you like that understand?"

Hermione couldn't help but giggle. She was feeling miserable until Draco decided to pay her a little surprise visit. She told the girls that she wanted to be alone and snuck off to the library to immerse herself in her wonderful books. Hermione was not in the mood to speak to anybody at all.

Until Draco showed up.

He was something else, altogether… and Hermione was beginning to like it. A lot.

The hand that was under her chin moved down to grab a hold of her pendant. "I quite enjoy seeing you wear this every day, Granger."

"A good frenemy of mine got it for me." She teased and Draco grinned wolfishly.

"Frenemy? I thought we graduated to friendship."

"Right, right, my mistake." Hermione laughed. "Thank you, Draco."

The way she said his name sent shivers running up his spine and his nightmare from earlier was beginning to creep into his mind. In his nightmare she screamed for him… desperately cried for him to save her but he… he…

"Anytime, Hermione." he whispered in response. "When I said I'd catch you when you fall I didn't mean it literally. In every figurative sense there is, I will be there for you."

Sighing softly, Hermione nodded. "I know."

Draco took a step back and crossed his arms in front of his robes. "Well then, are you going to wallow in misery in the library all afternoon?"

"That was the intention." Hermione eyed him warily. "Why? Do you have another picnic for us on a floating bedsheet?"

Draco gave Hermione an incredulous look. "Bookworm, bedsheets don't float." Her joke completely went over his head. "And no, I don't have another picnic. The Quidditch tryouts are now and as the team captain, I have to be there. So why don't you use the pretense of supporting Gryffindor to come watch me execute my perfect flying tricks to on-looking second, third, and fourth year Slytherin girls?"

Hermione shook her head in amusement. "You're a character, Malfoy. I'd love to see you show off but I kind of don't want to see Ron right now."

"Then don't. Watch me instead." He gave her his best Malfoy-puppy-dog-look he could muster up. "Please Hermione?"

The way he said her name did it for her. She slammed her book shut and scowled at her 'friend.'

"Fine. You're a prick, you know that?"

Laughing, Draco kissed her cheek. "I know. And you love it."

"Yeah, yeah. Let's go."


Hermione was sitting with Ginny, Kellah, and Fay in the Quidditch field. They were recalling the argument from earlier and the girls were at a consensus that Ron was in the wrong and shouldn't have said what he said to Hermione. The conversation then shifted from Ron's stupidity to Draco Malfoy's masculinity.

"He looked so riveting." Fay sighed dreamily. "He just came out of nowhere, defending Hermione's honour."

"He's doing that a lot lately, hmm?" Ginny nudged the quiet Hermione. "I heard about the incident on the train too, when Crabbe or Goyle called you the m-word."

Kellah tapped her chin. "Well... maybe it is because he's promoting inter-house unity. Perhaps he's trying to be civil after being an A-class arsehole to Hermione for the better part of seven years."

"Five." Hermione murmured and all eyes turned to her. "He was a jerk to me for five years. He lay off in sixth and seventh year." Not to mention that he saved my life from his psycho aunt. Granted Harry and Ron knew about it, but that didn't mean that they would suddenly call Draco their best mate. And Hermione wasn't sure if the girls knew about Draco's heroism. Well, any of the other girls except Ginny of course; Ginny knew Draco did something, but Hermione knew Ginny was unware of what that something was.

"He's dreamy though." Kellah concurred with Fay. "The way his muscles were bulging... and what he said about intelligence, and wit, and ethereal beauty? That was so romantic!"

Hermione's eyes moved to the sky and followed Draco's flying figure on Lightyear. Her mind reeled back to the flying lessons she had with him and found herself begin to wonder when they would have another late night rendezvous. One of the third year boys (Hermione didn't remember his name) was having a hard time trying to catch the quaffle. Apparently the captains of the Gryffindor and Slytherin teams (Harry and Draco respectively) were able to request the non-live balls from Madam Hooch (which meant they were only able to get the quaffles). Both captains were using the quaffle as a mean to determine who would make the cut.

As Draco promised, he was showing off. He did a fancy loop in the air and flew around upside down for a while. Hermione wasn't completely ignorant. She knew that he was showing off for her and not for the Slytherin girls in second, third, and fourth years.

"Hermione?" Fay shoved her friend. "What are you watching?"

"Ron making a fool of himself." Hermione was quick to respond and her answer seemed to satisfy her friends. Ron was making a fool of himself; he was purposely trying to outshine Draco and perform fancy tricks himself. As predicted, Ron's tricks weren't as smooth as Draco's.

"I can't believe he brought up the topic of pride with you." Kellah shook her head. "He says you've changed since the beginning of term? I say he's changed. Gin, what in Merlin's name happened to him over the summer?"

Ginny untied her ponytail while watching her brother and shrugged. "No idea. He seemed normal all summer... kept getting into trouble with mum, getting on Fred and George's nerves, annoying Percy, and being a doting brother-in-law with Fleur. Then school started and he just..."

"Did a complete one eighty?" Hermione offered and Ginny nodded.

"Did a complete one eighty— LOOK!"

All eyes snapped to Draco Malfoy hanging off the side of his broom... doing chin-ups. Hermione's heart jumped to her throat as she, for a fleeting moment, thought that he was going to fall. No, that wasn't the case; he was being his usual show-offy self. Hermione tried not to show how much seeing Draco hang precariously many kilometres in the sky bothered her; she was already planning on giving him a piece of her mind for giving her a heart attack like that!

"He seems to be in a good mood." Fay observed.

Kellah snorted. "If you landed a good punch on Ron, you'd be in a better mood yourself. He's been a complete prick as of late and I just want to wipe the castle floors with his big, white, pasty arse."

The girls giggled. Hermione looked back up at the sky in time to see Draco hoist himself back onto his broom. He looked down at her, caught her eye, and winked. Hermione scowled at him and she saw him throw his head back and laugh. He was in a good mood, and seeing him laugh made Hermione want to smile.

She couldn't wait to be back in his arms...

"That girl is really good." Ginny pointed out and Hermione moved her gaze from Draco to a familiar third-year Gryffindor girl. Hermione remembered seeing her face around the Common Room a lot, but she couldn't put a name to the face. Whoever she was, she was really good at manoeuvring her broom. From what Hermione could tell, she was trying out to be Keeper.

"She is." Fay hummed. "She's cute too. Let's set her up with somebody!"

"Ugh, Fay!" Kellah groaned. "Fay! She's, like, five years old!"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Kell, she's fourteen. She isn't much younger than us. Besides," Hermione didn't want to admit it, but she sometimes enjoyed playing matchmaker. There was such a sense of accomplishment with it! "I heard Dean Thomas is in the dating scene."

"Is he really?!" Kellah's eyes twinkled. "Because I've been eyeing him from second year!"

Ginny and Fay threw their heads back in laughter and Hermione only shook hers. Over the years the girls had become such important people in her life. She was always with Ron and Harry as they were the ones practically leading the Wizarding war, so she quickly learned to appreciate her girlfriends.

"Then forget her!" By 'her,' Fay meant the Gryffindor girl trying out to be Keeper. "Let's get you hooked up with Dean!"

Hermione believed she never saw Kellah blush before. But there she was, blushing, and blushing very hard. Ginny wrapped an arm around Kellah's shoulders in an effort to comfort their friend. Kellah sighed loudly and allowed her shoulders to slump. Yeah, she had a crush on Dean Thomas. So sue her.

Hogwarts was always fighting to stay alive so Kellah figured telling the boy she fancied him wouldn't be the most appropriate thing to do.

The girls engaged in a conversation about setting Kellah and Dean up and missed the Gryffindor Team landing just a few feet away from them. The Gryffindor tryouts were done and the team was ready to retire to their dormitory... it was a long two hours. The veteran team members (as Harry would announce the ones who made the cut the following morning) approached the girls.

Ron was sneering. "Look who decided to show up…" He trailed off. Ron spotted Draco landing just behind where the girls were sitting and caught the dirty glare the Slytherin Prince shot at him. Ron looked back at Hermione and saw that she glanced over her shoulder to look at what he was looking at. "Your bodyguard can't protect you forever. Especially not in our Common Room."

Without waiting for her to respond Ron stalked off. Everybody gawked at his retreating figure...

"What is wrong with him?!" Fay snarled. "He's acting like he's the King of the bloody school and that nobody, especially a Malfoy, can defend Hermione. So what? House unity and inter-house cooperation; the war is bloody over and most of the Slytherins don't advocate blood supremacy."

"It's a pride thing. Kellah echoed what Ron said earlier. Harry took a seat between Ginny and Hermione.

"I tried talking to him, but I got nothing. I'm sorry about what he said earlier, Hermione." Harry wrapped an arm around Hermione's shoulder and the girl smiled, leaning into her friend's touch.

"I don't know what's gotten into him." Hermione sighed. "He's getting all nasty because of the fact we're mad at him?"

Seamus shook his head; he was on the Gryffindor Quidditch Team as well. "It's because Malfoy punched him in an effort to defend you."

Ginny snorted. "At least somebody is looking out for Mia. What were you boys doing?!"

Hermione shrugged Harry off, stood up and turned around. She was a tad bit disappointed that the Slytherin Team, including Draco, were gone but didn't let it show. "Drop it, okay? Forget about what happened. I'm not mad at the boys for not defending me. I understand, Ron and I are both your friends and it would've been a bad situation. I'm thankful for Malfoy for being there, though I'm not sure about the punch."

"Ron deserved it." Kellah murmured but Hermione ignored her.

"Let bygones be bygones. Ron'll be okay, eventually, and we'll all move on from this. Now, since tryouts are done, I'm going back to studying. Snape is assigning us potions projects and I want to get ahead." Hermione gathered her books, which were placed neatly on the ground, and walked off. Harry watched her and couldn't help but feel terrible for not coming to her aid earlier.

He was her best friend. It should've been him stopping Ron's tirade, not Draco. Sighing, Harry turned back to the rest of the Gryffindors. "Butterbeer?"

They erupted into loud cheers.


"Who were you showing off for?" Blaise nudged Draco as the boys, still in their Quidditch uniforms, walked towards the Slytherin Dungeon. "Those chin-ups were rather good, mate."

Draco snarled and moved away from Blaise. In an attempt to get away from nudging distance, Draco walked into Adrian. Adrian wasn't any nicer than Blaise was and continued to taunt his captain. "Zabini's right, Malfoy. Who were all those acrobatic acts for?"

"I was only showing the Slytherins trying out that Quidditch isn't just about flying. It's about physical strength, smarts, and apt concentration as well." Draco sounded stupid, even to himself.

Theodore snorted. "Apt concentration on trying to show off to your lady."

"I do not have a lady!"

"Then why'd I see you wink at Hermione Granger?"

Blaise had him there. Draco felt his blood run cold and he did the first thing that came to mind: he ran away.

"You lot are crazy!" He managed to call out before mumbling the password to the dungeon wall and rushing into the Common Room. Adrian, Blaise, and Theo exchanged amused glances.

"Do you think he fancies Granger?" Blaise asked and the others shrugged. They didn't know what to think anymore... Draco was changing, and although they all agreed that it was for the better, they wanted to know who the cause of the change was. Blaise wasn't lying, though. He did catch Draco wink at somebody and the only one that was watching the Slytherin team, from the direction that Draco was winking, was Hermione Granger.

"He can fancy whoever he wants. As long as it isn't a Weasel." Theodore muttered.

"Or the Patil twins." Adrian added. "Besides, Granger's the smartest witch in the last century. She's probably the only one that can shut Malfoy up. And she's a sight for sore eyes."

"She is a beauty, isn't she?" Theodore drawled as the boys entered the Common Room. "I wonder what she'd look—" One look from Draco, who was sitting on the sofa, stopped Theodore from finishing his phrase. "In Slytherin robes..." he lamely finished.

"Your life, Malfoy." Blaise shrugged. "We're no one to judge."

Draco could only nod at the boys. Blaise disappeared into the dormitory and Theodore and Adrian headed in the direction of the bathroom. Draco stayed seated on the sofa; the boys reacted to that a lot better than he thought they would. Untying his cape, Draco let it fall onto the sofa before he stood up and sauntered in the direction of the dormitory. He was anxious to write to Hermione...

If he couldn't have her in his arms right then and there, he might as well settle for having her words in their shared journal.

Oh Granger, what in Merlin's name have you done to me?

Chapter 11: The Way I Miss You

Harry hunted down Hermione who, as predicted, was in the library. She seemed to be reading books about dragons, which wasn't peculiar, but after the Sorting Hat's prediction the previous week Harry didn't think that it was a coincidence. Silently pulling up a chair beside her, Harry plopped down just in time for her to rest the book down and look over at him. She looked slightly perplexed.

"Harry! What're you doing here?"

Harry's head was bowed and he just couldn't seem to make eye contact with her. "I'm really sorry, Mione."

Hermione raised an eyebrow and pushed the book slightly away from her so that she had enough room to rest her elbow on the table. "For?"

"Not being the one to punch Ron. It's been eating at me all day... I was just so surprised that Ron was saying half the stuff he did. Granted," Harry crossed his arms in front of him and gave Hermione a teasing-scolding look, "you implying he was a man-whore was also uncalled for."

"I didn't imply anything." Hermione grinned. "Malfoy was the one that said that."

Harry chuckled and playfully punched Hermione's shoulder. "As much as I don't like the bloke, I'm kind of glad he punched Ron. I mean, like I said, I was still in shock that Ron of all people was saying what he was. I'm also not saying that you were right in anyway, Mione, and I honestly think you and the girls overreacted about him kissing that Hufflepuff girl. But Ron shouldn't have called you a slut or a bitch."

Hermione sighed and her shoulders dropped. "It's fine, Harry."

"No!" Harry was vehement. "It isn't. I'm going to have a sit-down talk with him about what he said, but before that I wanted to talk to you." Harry slouched further in his chair; his composure was waning. "Tell the girls to stop giving Ron grief; I think that's why he's overreacting. Lavender did admit to having feelings for him but Ron said nothing about reciprocating those feelings; therefore he isn't tied down to her. The girls are egging him on and you were conveniently there, saying the wrong things at the right time, for him to release his anger on you."

Hermione nodded slowly. Harry made a lot of sense and she felt lightly disheartened that she hadn't recognized that earlier. She was book-smart, yes, but her street-smarts hadn't caught up to her academic intelligence as of yet. Running the fingers of her left hand through her hair, Hermione exhaled loudly and gave Harry a final nod. "You make sense, and I'm going to apologize to Ron as well."

"But that doesn't mean he was right. Make sure you let him know that. You aren't apologizing because his argument was right; you're apologizing for saying what you said. But," Harry paused and took in a deep breath. "That isn't an excuse for me to not jump in."

"Don't lose sleep over it," Hermione rolled her eyes. "Ron's on his period."

"Ron is perpetually on his period." Harry grinned. Hermione laughed and leaned forward to give her best friend a hug. Over Harry's shoulder Hermione saw Draco grinning from over a book behind a bookshelf. It took all the willpower she had not to react to seeing Draco lurking about—her heart, however, was something she could not control no matter how hard she tried.



"You okay?"

Hermione pulled back and tore her attention from Draco to Harry. "Yes. Why?"

"You've never hugged me for this long… even after I escaped from Quirrell."

Hermione's eyes flickered to Draco who continued to browse over the bookshelf nonchalantly, as if he wasn't paying apt attention to the two friends' conversation. "Today's events just… really took a toll on me."

Harry nodded in understanding, even though he didn't understand a single bit. The Hermione Granger was bothered over a fight with Ronald Weasley. She went face-to-face numerous times with the Dark Lord, was paralysed by a Basilisk (and she still somehow helped Harry figure out how to defeat it), defied time with the Time Turner, broke every school rule that Umbridge ever instigated, helped form Dumbledor's Army, and faced Bellatrix head-on in Malfoy Manor.

And she was upset because she had a spat with Ron? Something didn't add up.

But Harry knew better then to press it. She was a woman after all, and women were confusing. He stood up and rested a hand on Hermione's shoulder. "Listen, Mione, I'm always here for you, no matter what."

Hermione smiled in his direction. "Thanks Harry. I'll see you in the Common Room?"

With a final nod Harry turned and left. A distant clock ticked a good twenty seconds before Draco emerged from behind the bookshelf with a book in his hand titled "101 Uses of Tapioca for the Pregnant House-Witch." Ceremoniously, he sat down in the chair that Harry had occupied not even thirty seconds ago and smirked at Hermione from over the top of the book.

"Uhh… got something you need to tell me, Malfoy?" She inquired, raising an eyebrow. Draco's smirk fell when he realized what was in his hand and noticed the picture of a pregnant – and very naked – house-witch rubbing tapioca gel on her protruding belly.

"My… uh… Aunt Andromeda is pregnant?"

Hermione deadpanned. "Right. And I'm a monkey's uncle."

Draco slowly shut the book and placed it gently on the table. Then, every so carefully, he gave Hermione the once-over before letting his eyes linger in the general crotch area. "Do you have something to tell me, Granger?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Yes. I'm a monkey's uncle and you're the father."

"You're my brother?!" Draco leaned into his chair, slouching ever so slightly with his legs spread. He looked like he was more relaxed than he had ever been in his life. "Well then, my father has a lot of explaining to do; I believe our family tree is more messed up than I thought it was. I mean," he leaned forward, "you're a muggle-born… a muggle-born girl. How are you my purebred brother?"


Draco paused before he mock-gasped, eyes twinkling in amusement. "Oh my Merlin, I kissed my brother."

Hermione gave him her best Malfoy-esque smirk. "Incest shouldn't be anything new to you, pureblood."

"You know what; I think I should shut you up."

Squaring her chin defiantly, Hermione taunted him: "I think you should."

Never one to back down from a dare, Draco did.


Hermione felt like she was floating on air by the time she returned to the Gryffindor tower. Draco's kisses just seemed to get better and better. The Common Room was deserted, save a few straggling first years sitting by the fireplace. With a nod in acknowledgement, Hermione walked slowly up the stairs and pushed the door to the girls' dormitory open. Unsurprisingly, the girls were still awake. Kellah was painting her toenails, Parvati was reading a novel (an erotic romance, from what Hermione could see of the title), Lavender was going through her trunk of clothing and Fay was snuggled into her bed, watching the other girls in disinterest.

"Mia!" Fay squealed, sitting up abruptly. She patted the spot beside her on her bed and, confusedly, Hermione did as she was being ushered to do.

Hermione sunk in to Fay's bed and quirked an eyebrow. "What's gotten you so happy, Fay?"

"Durmstrangiscoming!" Fay blurted out in one breath and Hermione had to think about what she said before she clued in. Eyes widening, Hermione's jaw went slack.

"Repeat that. Slowly."

Everybody's heads turned to the two girls; they already knew the news and were literally waiting for the moment when Hermione would find out. Her reaction would be priceless, that was for sure. Fay couldn't contain the glee in her voice as she repeated what she said, making sure to enunciate this time.

"Durmstrang. Is. Coming. Their school was flooded by something magic and they're unable to get the water out. All the guys are going to stay in Hogwarts until further notice." The colour drained from Hermione's face and the girls were anxiously holding their breaths, awaiting her reaction. Calmly, Hermione crossed her arms in front of her chest with a smug expression- she seemed to recover from her reaction rather quickly, much to the girls' dismay.

"Viktor Krum is three years older than us. No way is he still going to Durmstrang. He's graduated, remember?"

Fay rolled her eyes. "We know that. You don't seem to remember that all of the Durmstrang boys practically undressed you with their eyes during the Triwzard Tournament. The only reason they didn't make a move was because Krum already did. And Krum is their God."

"Great," Hermione pushed herself up off of Fay's bed. "Just what I need: an over protective Malfoy, an angry and partially jealous Ron, and an institute full of men who are constantly undressing me with their eyes."

"Woe is your life," Parvati snickered. "Who doesn't want a hoard of relatively attractive men undressing them with their eyes? Hell, I'd be okay if they were considering me as somebody potential attractive, let alone mentally undressing me. And don't complain; Draco Malfoy has never cared for anybody in his life, the fact that he's coming to your heroic rescue constantly is kind of endearing."

Hermione shot Parvati a nasty glare but Kellah decided to take over: "Yeah! Perhaps he feels that you two have a bond because both of you've faced Voldemort?"

"Then he should have a bond with Harry." Hermione muttered in a snarky tone. "Malfoy probably had a change of heart. No big deal, I'm sure he would've done the same for anybody else." Hermione sounded stupid, even to herself. She could only imagine the disbelief the girls were feeling. But that wasn't the point; she couldn't let them believe that she meant something more to Malfoy than just a classmate. "Besides, I don't like being the center of attention, you lot know that. Say, when did you say Durmstrang is coming?"

Fay had a cheeky grin from ear to ear. "Tomorrow after lunch."

Hermione groaned, loudly. The girls found pleasure in her pain and she was pretty sure Draco would react the same way they did: gleeful. In fact, she was going to tell him right then via their enchanted journals (the fact that she couldn't wait to tell him something kind of worried her). Hermione walked over to her bed and plopped down, rather unceremoniously.

"I'm going to do some late night reading."

The girls gawked.

"But you just came back from the library!" Kellah shrilled.

Hermione shot her a know-it-all look. "Yes, but you can't get enough literature, Kell."

"Ugh." Kellah groaned and returned to painting her nails. Hermione was glad that her friends stopped paying attention to her; she withdrew her journal from the stack of books in her book bag and inconspicuously retrieved one of her quills from her bedside table.


She thought her greeting was appropriate: short, simple, and sweet. Why did she seem to over analyze everything when it came to Draco Malfoy?

Miss me already, bookworm?

No, I felt that you would be the one missing me, so I thought I'd put you out of your misery.

Draco, who was lounging in the Common Room with his friends, couldn't have been more amused. He always had his journal with him, for moments like these, and was grateful that his friends weren't entirely nosey. Removing the quill from behind his ear, Draco scribbled his response.

I applaud your kindness and consideration. But I feel as if you probably missed me more than I could miss you.

Prove it.

Draco cocked an eyebrow at his journal. She really kept him amused…

Fine, I will.


It isn't a surprise if I tell you, now is it bookworm?

Hermione had to quickly think of a response; she hated being left speechless and that was something that happened quite often when it came to Draco (minus the Marcus Flint episode… she still couldn't believe that underneath the grotesque crossover bite thing, he was very attractive).

I suppose I'll let you have your fun, Malfoy. Now, the reason why I wrote to you: Durmstrang is coming tomorrow indefinitely because their institute has flooded. According to the girls, that is.

Hermione was expecting his response to come a lot sooner than it did; it took Draco at least forty-five seconds to formulate a comeback to what Hermione just told him.

So I have to deal with Weasel and a band of pubescent teenage boys constantly undressing you with their eyes? Fan-bloody-tastic, Granger.

Hermione was amused. That was exactly what she said. And because that was exactly what Fay said.

Am I the only one that didn't see that they undressed me?!

Draco smirked; Hermione, even though a genius, was still a typical teenage girl: naïve and oblivious. Yes, bookworm, you are. You were too busy fawning and cooing over Krum.

I do not fawn and coo.

You definitely fawn and coo over me, dollface.

Don't call me dollface, Malfoy. And I don't do any of that around you. I simply express my feeling of great contentedness.

Of course, Draco absolutely adored riling her up. He knew it would get him in trouble, one day, but that day wasn't the day. And I'm a monkey's aunt.

Let me guess: I'm the mother of the monkey, making you my sister?

Just like how you, apparently, are my brother.

Now I know what it's like to be a pureblood. Ron was right; it does give me the willies.

We aren't that twisted!

Bellatrix undresses Voldemort with her eyes! You can't get any more twisted than that.

Okay. Fine. Some of us are twisted.

90% of you. The Longbottoms and the Weasleys are the only normal ones I'm aware of.

Mr. and Mrs. Longbottom were under the Cruciatus curse until they went crazy and the Weasleys are… well, that's self-explanatory. I wouldn't consider them to be exactly normal.

They're a lot less twisted than the Blacks and the Malfoys.

I'm not arguing that point, bookworm.

So it's possible to shut you up as well!

I didn't say I was speechless; Draco was smirking so broadly that his cheeks were hurting. I just said I wasn't arguing against the fact that the Longbottoms and Weasleys are a bit more normal than my family. Face it, we're twisted. But I'm glad that you can finally admit that you are capable of being rendered speechless.

Shut up, Malfoy!

Like right now.

You're insufferable.

Tell me something I don't know.

Hermione had to think quickly. I've seen you in your birthday suit!

Draco paused and gawked. What?! When the bloody hell was this?

Oh look at the time! We have Divination in the morning. Goodnight!





I bloody swear to Merlin, if you don't answer me I'll do something that I'll regret!


Sighing dejectedly, Draco slapped the journal shut which caused Blaise, Theodore, and Adrian to jump. Blaise, who was sitting leaning forward on the armchair, lounged back and raised an eyebrow at his friend. "Novel didn't end the way you were hoping for it to, Malfoy?"

"Didn't the bloke get his missus?" Theodore teased.

"I am not reading a fruity romance novel. Didn't you idiots see that I was writing?!" Draco snarled vehemently. He returned the quill to rest behind his left ear and marched off to the boys' dormitory.

Adrian grinned stupidly. "I'll bet my Gringotts bank account that that book is probably something enchanted from Granger that allows them to communicate and she's ignoring him because he's a prick."

Blaise and Theodore exchanged glances before throwing their heads back in laughter. "Yeah right!" Theodore wiped the proverbial tear from his cheek. "Him and Granger, communicating?! He might be trying to impress her but I doubt they're at that level yet."

Adrian snorted and rolled his eyes. "Well you never know, it's Malfoy and Granger; one is a silent prick who never tells us anything, and the other is Granger."

Blaise and Theodore paused and gawked at Adrian before Blaise murmured: "You're right…"

Adrian dusted the invisible dirt off his shoulders. "I know."


"I still don't understand why Divination was added to our eighth year curriculum." Hermione complain as she and the girls, plus Neville, Dean, and Seamus walked to the North Tower to spend two bloody hours with Professor Trelawney. "We stare into teacups to determine ones future. That doesn't make any sense!"

Seamus grinned idiotically. "And a talking hat decides which house we spend the next seven years of our lives in. That doesn't make much sense either, Hermione."

The muggle-born glared dangerously at her house-mate. "The hat has logic behind his decision. He can read our minds and determine which house is best suited for our personalities and traits. He plans it so that we can further develop said traits. Divination is just a bunch of baloney."

"It's not just tealeaves in teacups, Mia," Kellah smirked. She was walking alongside Dean and every so often, Fay would secretly poke Kellah's side ushering her to make some move on the boy she had a crush on. Unfortunately for Fay, though, Kellah didn't. "Tessomancy is when we require to use leafs. There are several branches… I'm sure I overheard somebody say that we're going to learn xylomancy and fire-omens."

Hermione's eyes bugged. "There're more ways?! I was told that we only learn astrology, tessomancy, and crystal-gazing."

Parvati wrapped an arm around Hermione's shoulder. "You, my friend, are in a world of a lot of hurt."

"Hex me now." Hermione groaned. "What other methods are there?"

Dean, being one to show off from time to time, decided to answer that question. Kellah blushed when she heard his deep baritone speak. "You already know astrology, tessomancy, and crystal-gazing. There's also cartomancy, which is reading tarot cards, dream-interpretation, fire-omens, which is observing flames and interpreting embers, heptomology, something about the number seven? Palmistry, palm reading, ornithomancy, I think it has something to do with birds, ovomancy, observing the fall of egg yolks, and xylomancy, observing twigs."

Hermione shook her head. She was evidently disturbed by the many branches of Divination that existed. She could hardly stand it in third year and she was required to take it for a whole bloody year and then write a stupid NEWT on it. She wanted to bang her head against a brick wall repeatedly. She loathed Divination. Hermione did logic. Anything that had a theory behind it or could be proven or disproven were things she enjoyed doing, or if she didn't enjoy it, at least understood it.

Divination was guess work.

Hermione wished Dumbledore had scrapped it when he had the chance.

"Why can't I take Ancient Runes again?"

"Because everybody, even a self-appointed genius like you Granger, should be able to take a course that they cannot excel in."

All heads turned to look at the man behind the sultry deep voice. Standing regal, tall, and proud was Draco Malfoy. Behind him were his Slytherin mates—the Snakes, as the school more popularly termed. Hermione's eyes narrowed.

"Self-appointed? I'm not that self centered, Malfoy."

"Of course you aren't." his voice dripped with sarcasm and Hermione huffed. He was going to play that game after what she said last night, was he? She wasn't completely oblivious to the opposite sex. She was on the bloody run for the better part of a year with two boys; she knew exactly how men thought.

"Drop it," Kellah grabbed Hermione's arm, "he's as bi-polar as Ron. He's defending you one second, then making fun of you the next." Without giving Hermione or Draco the opportunity to respond, Kellah dragged her off to the Divination classroom with their dormmates following close behind.

Blaise took that chance to nudge his friend. "If you fancy her, you shouldn't treat her like a prick."

Draco shot Blaise a lazy look. "Even if I do, which I don't, do you believe that I want her to know?"

Theodore shrugged. "I'm sure she'll be okay with the notion, it's her friends that you should be worried about."

"A few Gryffindors don't scare me." Draco rolled his eyes. "Come on; let's make it to class before that blasted professor foresees detention in our near future."

The boys snickered but hastened their pace anyway. Professor Trelawney was so easy to make fun of.


Hermione dozed off in Divination. Trelawney was explaining the foundation of fire-omens and Hermione couldn't care less. Her head was leaning on her desk, cushioned by her journal, and her eyes were half-lidded. Even though she had her seven hours of sleep, Divination seemed to make her feel like she hadn't slept for a whole week.

She was caught off-guard when she felt her journal heat up. She had half the mind to not read what Draco wrote to her but curiosity got the best of her; she damned her lack of control.

So are you ever going to answer my questions on a) whether you're a virgin and b) when you've seen me in the nude?

Hermione glanced up to look at Draco sitting across the room. He was paying apt attention to Trelawney… she knew he was doing that on purpose, he was being a cheeky little arsehole.

Stupid questions need-not be answered by the self-appointed genius of the century, Draconis.

I resent my questions being stupid. I think they are perfectly acceptable for two friends with a relationship like ours. Trust is very important, bookworm.

What do my sex life and your nakedness have to do with anything?!

Draco, unintentionally, barked in laughter and all heads turned to him. Hermione couldn't contain her smug expression; it felt good when she made him do that.

"Do you find the burning of the Salem Witches to be humorous, Mr. Malfoy?" Sybill Trelawney had her arms crossed in front of her and somehow, rather quickly, marched up to where Draco was sitting and peered at him over her spectacles. "Because I can assure you that many Malfoys and Blacks were killed in those raids; you should pay more respect to your deceased relatives."

Draco bit his tongue before he could retort. He was dangerously close to saying something along the lines of: 'I don't even respect my father and you expect me to pay respect to my dead relatives from X-hundred years ago?' Alas, his mother taught him to be a lot more respectful than that, so he opted to apologize to Trelawney and ensure that an outburst, such as the one he just had, would never happen again.

Hermione's smug grin grew.

"Karma," Fay leaned over to Hermione. "That's what he gets for making fun of you."

Hermione beamed at Fay. Ron was sitting in the back row between Neville and Harry watching the scene unfold. He hadn't shaved that morning and had noticeable ginger stubble growing. He wasn't in the mood for self-grooming and was slightly on edge; Harry said that he had to talk with him about something very important and Ron was spending the better half of Divination formulating rebuttals to possible arguments Harry could make.

It's your fault I got in trouble, bookworm.

You have a lack of self-control, how is that my fault?

What you said made me laugh!

I wasn't intentionally trying to be funny.

Nakedness is a bloody funny word, alright?

Hermione clamped a hand over her mouth to restrain herself from bursting into laughter. Alright, so nakedness was a funny word but she had better control than Draco did.

See! Draco accused. The only difference now is you learnt a lesson based off of my mistake.

That's typically what self-appointed geniuses do, Malfoy, learn from others' mistakes.

I'm starting to reconsider proving to you that you missed me more than I did you, Granger. You're being rather mean today; very unlike you.

Coming from the prick who pointedly insulted me, in front of my friends, right before class? The girls are constantly whispering to me since class started about how you must've been under the Imperius yesterday, when you came to my heroic rescue.

Tell your friends that our friendship is none of their concern.

Okay, hold on, let me just pass on that message to them, okay?

As if you're actually going to tell them anything I just said. I'm calling on your bluff, bookworm. You have a terrible poker face.

Hermione paused and gawked at what he wrote before responding. You know what poker is?

Who doesn't? There are enchanted chips that have a different monetary value and enchanted cards that—

Okay stop! Hermione already knew where his description was going: Wizard Poker was akin to Wizard Chess. I get it.

I knew you would, you are the smartest witch of the century, non-self-appointed.

I'm glad you finally see the light. How much longer till class is over?

An hour and forty-five minutes.

we've only been in class for fifteen minutes?

Painful, isn't it? How about we pass the time about you telling me the story of when and how you saw me naked? Tell me, were you thoroughly impressed?

Hermione's eyes glinted evilly. Why yes, I was. It quite the moment in fifth year; I wondered how a fifteen year old boy could be so blessed like that. Oh, look, Trelawney wants us to do some practical fire-omen reading. I will see you later, blondie!

Granger. GRANGER! Don't you dare stop writing to me!

Ferociously, Draco's head snapped up to see Hermione tuck the journal into her book bag and lean back in her seat arrogantly. Ohhhh, he would definitely prove to her how much she 'missed' him…

And how much her teasing affected him in ways no woman has ever affected him before.


Hogwarts students piled into the Great Hall to stuff their faces with food before departing for their afternoon classes. Lunch was always the happiest time at the not-normal boarding school.

The end of the week, though, was probably happier.

"Look! They're here!"

Luna Lovegood, who decided to sit with the Gryffindors for lunch, exclaimed in the middle of their meal. All heads turned; a march of rugged Durmstrang Institute boys. Kellah leaned to Fay and whispered: "Doesn't that one look familiar?"

Fay nodded. "He does... I think his name's Gavril? He asked me to the Yule Ball when they were last here. He was part of Krum's posse."

"He was definitely part of Krum's posse." Hermione affirmed and the girls, plus Ron, Harry, and Neville, turned their heads to her. Hermione looked back at them with a perplexed expression. "What?! He took me to the Yule Ball! I met his friends."

Parvati smirked knowingly and nudged Hermione. Leaning in closely, she whispered in her ear: "Did you meet Malfoy's friends yet?"

Hermione's eyes widened and she kicked her from under the table. "I have no idea what you're tal—" Hermione was cut off when a hand was placed gently on her shoulder. Everybody looked at the Durmstrang boy – the one that Fay thought was named Gavril – that daringly broke away from his march to approach a Hogwarts girl.

"'ello, 'ermione. Remember me?"

Hermione's eyes widened before they flickered to Draco, who was watching from across the Great Hall with keen interest. Her eyes flicked back to the auburn-haired boy who she recalled had tagged along with Krum many years ago.

"I… do." Hermione murmured slowly. She wasn't lying, she did recognize him, she just didn't remember his name. Gavril (Hermione was going to assume that that was actually his name) beamed.

"That is great!" He proclaimed. Before he could say another word the professor leading the march barked for him to return.


That's his name!

The boy, Gunnar, smiled apologetically before racing back to his line. Fay looked highly amused. "Well then. His name isn't Gavril... at least I got the G right."

"How are Gavril and Gunnar any way related?" Kellah snorted. "No wonder you barely pass every year."

"Be quiet, Kellah." Fay muttered.

Hermione turned back around so that her back was faced to the rest of the Great Hall – in particular, the marching Durmstrang boys. She didn't really expect any of them to remember her when she hadn't the faintest idea who was whom (apart from Krum, but he was also a famous Quidditch player).

"Are we going to have to share our houses with them?" Neville asked, still watching the endless line of boys striding through the Great Hall and gathering in front of the teachers' platform.

"I hope not." Colin, who was sitting quite near the group, voiced. "The houses are already crowded because of you eighth years… not that I'm blaming you… we just don't have bed space."

"Whatever it may be, we'll have to take it in stride." Hermione declared just as she felt her journal, which was in her book bag on the floor leaning against her leg, heat up.

He was undressing you with his eyes.

Hermione's jaw tightened and she resisted the urge to turn around and glare at Draco with all the intensity in the universe.

He was not.

He was imagining you in a skimpy French maid outfit serving him buttered croissants. Then, in his imaginary world, he was buttering your croissant.

That is morbid, Malfoy. And you're part French.

What does my being French have anything to do with Gunnar undressing you with his eyes and putting you in a French maid outfit?

Your people invented French maid outfits.

Hence why it's called the 'French' maid outfit. Geez, Granger, I'm beginning to doubt your intelligence. And besides, if he wanted you in Durmstrang lingerie you'd be in a parka, giving him Eskimo kisses.

I cannot figure out why we're having this conversation.

Because we've broken the barrier of our friendship and we can talk about anything. Well, except your virginity and my nakedness.

Hermione cracked a grin. Except.

So when are you going to let me prove to you that you missed me more than I did you?

Why must I be the one granting you the opportunity to show me something that you believe to be true? I feel that you must grasp the opportunity yourself.

Is that a dare?

It is whatever you want it to be.

Merlin, Granger, I quite enjoy this side of you.

Why, thank you. But, as riveting as this is, I must leave for Potions now. I will see you in class, Malfoy.

Draco gawked at the words that bled onto the page of his journal. Potions?

Granger… Potions doesn't start for another hour and a half…

Precisely. I'll be in the Restricted Section.

Draco didn't answer. He simply slammed his journal shut and stood up abruptly. "I must run to the loo. Stomach ache." Without waiting for any of the Snakes to respond, Draco dashed out of the Great Hall.

Blaise, when he was sure Draco ran out of earshot, leaned towards Adrian and Theodore and murmured: "Notice how Granger left too?"

Adrian snickered. "This is better than the wizarding wireless."

Chapter 12: Jealousy, What a Wonderful Feat

In a secluded corner of the Restricted Section, Hermione ran her fingers over the spines of some books that she was examining. She wasn't looking for anything in particular; she was waiting for Draco (even though she wasn't actually sure he followed her or not. She left the Great Hall without watching for him). At the end of the third shelf from the top, beside a book on resurrecting spirits, was a dusty book-spine titled Greatness: Mythology of the Dragon Empire. Hermione's interest was immediately piqued. She pulled the book off of the shelf and blew the thick layer of dust off of the cover.

On the black leather-bound book a picture of the majestic golden dragon; the dragon looked in both directions before yawning. Hermione pulled the cover open and read the preface on the rough parchment paper inside.

This book is a research conducted by Isadora Gryffindor to study the habits of the legendary Dragon Empire. The Dragon Empire is a clan of the most majestic and rarest bred beasts from across the lands; their philosophies, ideologies, and habits are studied so that we can better understand their kind. According to Isadora's elder brother, Godric Gryffindor, there will be a time in the 20th Century when the Great Dragon's spirit, hidden within the body of a mortal, will be called upon. When a union is formed between the heavens and the seas, the spirit will unleash. This book's main purpose is to understand where this prophecy came from and whether the Dragon Empire has any control over it.

Hermione couldn't believe what she was reading. What the book was researching was exactly what the Sorting Hat prophesized about. Can the sea run away... can the sun burn out... The hat talking about the heavens and the seas. And that bit about a dragon and his lady? This can't be just a coincidence. Hermione turned the page and saw that the title was printed in big bold cursive writing.

Greatness: Mythology of the Dragon Empire, by Isadora Gryffindor with thoughts and comments provided by Godric Gryffindor and Salazar Slytherin

"No way." Hermione breathed seeing that both Godric and Salazar had both been consulted to conduct research on the Dragon Empire. Hermione was about to turn the page to read the introduction when she felt a pair of strong and rugged arms wrap around her waist. Because her hair was tied into a bun, Hermione felt hot lips press against the back of her neck, kissing her not once, not twice, but three times.

"What've you got there, bookworm?" His voice was a sinfully sweet whisper, his lips moving against the nape of her neck. He gave her waist a gentle squeeze and pressed another soft kiss, this time more towards the side column. Hermione felt the molten lava in the pit of her stomach begin to heat up. Her insides quaked and the heat rushed to between her legs, where an unfamiliar throbbing erupted. Hermione felt herself begin to tremble, ever so slightly. Without shutting the book she managed to whisper a soft 'nothing.'

Her response elicited a sexy chuckle from the back of Draco's throat. "Doesn't look like 'nothing,' Hermione."

The way he said her name sounded like a sweet moan after a satisfying round of aggressive sex. Hermione's senses were on fire.

"It's… uh… a book?"

"Cat got your tongue, Hermione?" His breath splashed against her ear and she felt his lips graze against her right earlobe. Draco pulled her more into his body and she, very distinctly, felt him thrust into her behind. He squeezed her waist even tighter. "Last time you were this speechless, you learned our D.A.D.A. professor was Marcus."

Hermione gulped but was too afraid to move. "Marcus… didn't have such a… a…"

"A what?" His lips were back to the base of her nape. "Come one, sweetheart… articulate for me; he didn't have such a what?"

"A effect on me."

"An effect, sweetheart, Marcus didn't have such an effect on you." Hermione was just about ready to implode when Draco whirled her around and pushed her against the bookshelf before planting his lips on hers. Hungrily, Hermione dropped the book she was holding and ploughed her fingers through his hair, needing to feel more of him. From somewhere on the shelf (luckily they were in the farthest corner of the Restricted Section, shielding them from plain site), a book cat-called.

But neither were fazed.

Draco had one hand firmly gripping Hermione's waist and used his other one to release her hold from his hair. Expertly, and with utmost strength, he pinned her hands above her. Hermione groaned in desire as his lips left her mouth and assaulted her neck; Draco had no mercy. He nipped, bit, and suckled on her creamy soft skin and only went harder when he heard her moans of pleasure.

"How much did you miss me, love?" He purred against her neck.

Hermione twisted her hands, trying to free them from his grip but her efforts were in vain.

"Draco…" She trembled with desire. She wanted his lips on hers; she needed to taste him.

But he wasn't giving her that release. His tongue ran over her jawbone and he nibbled on her bottom lip. He simply smirked when she tried to capture his lips with hers and continued his ministrations of maddening pleasure. Draco's body enveloped Hermione's, covering her entirely. Without holding back, he ground his hips against hers.

"How much?"

Hermione was losing her mind, but she still had the sense to not give in to Draco. "Is… this you… proving to me… that… I missed… you more?" She managed to pant. "Because," Hermione tried to wretch her face away from him but he still managed plant kisses on her, "it isn't working."

"Frankly, I don't care much to prove anything to you. I just want you, and now that I have you, I have no intention of letting you go. And teasing you is just so much fun." With the force of his face, he tilted her head up and gently enveloped her lips with his once more. Hermione melted and Draco let go of her hands to wrap her fully, bringing her body as close to his as possible.

Hermione's hands were limp around his shoulders; she was on cloud nine.

"It's so strange," Draco whispered as they broke away from the kiss to breathe. "How in a few short months you've become one of the most important people in my life."

"Have I now?"

Draco placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. "That shouldn't be surprising." He ran his lips down the bridge of her nose and placed a chaste peck on her lips once more. "By the way, Granger," he pulled away from her and took two steps back. He crossed his arms and, with the cockiest smirk on his face, said: "I missed you more than you can ever bring yourself to imagine." He blew a kiss in her direction and turned to leave. Hermione simply gawked; Draco glanced over his shoulder and called out: "I'll see you in Potions."

Hermione stood, stunned, for a few moments longer before realizing that the book on the Dragon Empire was sitting on the ground. Calming her racing heart, Hermione retrieved it and went to check it out—she was intending on showing it to Draco but he clearly distracted her so much that she forgot how to breathe.

Damn that man and his bloody kisses. Why must they be so perfect?!


Hermione made it to the Potions classroom alone, lost in her thoughts. The book on the Dragon Empire was in her book bag beside her journal and her Potions textbook. She was both anticipating and nervous about seeing Draco—and, despite that they didn't have Potions last week, Hermione knew that they were in a seating arrangement (courtesy of Draco consulting Snape on Sunday) and she was seated beside Draco.

The professors probably arranged the seating chart based upon average grades throughout the last seven years—no way could she be beside Draco in practically every class (except Transfiguration and Divination; the only classes that didn't have a seating arrangement. And Care of Magical Creatures didn't even have seats, let alone a seating chart.). She and Draco had scored the highest on their OWLs, and received top marks every year for their exams… that had to be the basis for sticking them together all the time.

Hermione entered the classroom to see the eighth years straggling towards the back of the classroom, right where the door was. Hermione frowned and approached her group of friends standing in the Gryffindor circle.

"What's happening?" She inquired as she squeezed in between Neville and Harry. Ron stood opposite of Hermione and didn't catch her eye; Hermione assumed that Harry had had his talk with him.

"Waiting for Snape," Harry announced. "He came in earlier and said there's a seating arrangement and left again."

Dean had his arms crossed in front of him. "I still don't understand this house unity rubbish."

"It's a load of horseshit." Seamus muttered. "I say we all go down to Hogsmeade and have a round of butterbeer."

"How about regular muggle beer?" Fay chirped. "I had some his summer… it's bitter, but it's good!"

Hermione and Harry exchanged glances and Seamus began chortling in laughter. Dean simply shook his head—the four aforementioned were the only ones integrated in the muggle world enough to know things that Fay couldn't know.

Like the possibility of getting very drunk and passing out.

"Let's just stick to butterbeer, Dunbar." Seamus said affectionately. "You can't handle real beer yet."

Their words were drowned out with the noise from the other houses; Hufflepuff were speculating on how the Quidditch season was going to end, Ravenclaw were talking about their NEWTs, and the Slytherins were discussing which Death Eater could still be on the run, trying to resurrect Voldemort. The four houses were oblivious to Severus Snape entering the classroom.

"Settle down!" His voice bellowed and everybody immediately hushed up, turning their heads to look at their never aging professor. He just did not seem to grow old at all.

"Now, I will call upon the names and the seat number. Take your seat, no hesitation or questions." Snape flicked his wand and each table had a number appear, floating overtop of them. Hermione glanced over her shoulder and saw that Draco had an arm wrapped around Pansy and cracking a joke which caused his whole group or friends to laugh quietly. Smiling silently (remembering what happened not even an hour ago in the library), Hermione turned back to her friends.

"Dean Thomas. Susan Bones. Table one."

Dean broke away from his group of friends and hugged Susan before they took their seat.

"Draco Malfoy. Hermione Granger. Table two."

Parvati whispered under her breath: "No surprise." Hermione silently shoved her before walking up to table two. Before she could take her seat, Draco pulled her chair out and smirked cockily at her.

"Ladies first, Granger."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Shut up, Malfoy." But took her seat nonetheless. She knew that whatever he did in public was an 'act' from revealing their true relationship. But, even within the confines of acting, there was a hint of realism in the things he did.

The list continued and, finally, the last two students were seated (Luna Lovegood and Blaise Zabini). Snape flicked his wand once more and the numbers disappeared; Draco was slouching in his chair and, inconspicuously, reached his hand over from under the table and interlaced his fingers with Hermione's.

Her back stiffened in reaction but she was good in holding back the full blunt of her body's response. Draco had effectively hidden their hands with his robes; he gently squeezed her hand and lazily began to draw patterns where her thumb connected with the rest of her hand. Hermione recovered from her momentary shock and squeezed back in response.

And that was how they sat for the rest of the class.

Draco, being the ambidextrous genius that he was, was able to record his notes with his left hand as his right hand was too busy holding Hermione's left. Everybody was oblivious, including Snape.

"Now that we've had a brief overview of what we're doing for the rest of the term, I find it a suitable time to discuss your term-long project with your table partner." Snape peered at all of the students in his classroom. "You must create a potion that incorporate ingredients specific to your team that will cure an ailment, again, specific to your team." Snape waved his wand and two folded pieces of parchment appeared in front of the students; one for each team member.

"You may open your parchment and discover your ingredients and ailments."

"Basilisk poison, elephant ivory, smoke from a lightning bolt, and the tears of a virgin." Draco whispered to Hermione before they even reached for their parchment. She glanced over at him.

"Those are the ingredients you never got around to telling me?"

"You were sad; my primary concern was making you feel better, not telling you what our bloody potions project should include." Draco murmured back quietly. Hermione's heart all but melted but she hid her emotion well. Everybody in the classroom reached for their parchment—Hermione grabbed the one that had the ingredients listed in it and, unsurprisingly, it was everything Draco said.

"What are we curing?" She asked, glancing over at him. Draco shrugged and passed the parchment to her. In neat cursive, Hermione saw Snape had written heartbreak on the tiny slip. Her eyebrows rose in amusement.

"We have to create a cure for heartbreak?"

Draco, who was still holding her hand under the table, looked over at her and smirked. "Of course, Granger. Then, after we're successful in our feat, we should sell the recipe to all the Potions Masters of the world and earn you a small fortune."

"Why me?"

"Because I already have four Gringotts vaults to my name. Do you even have a vault?"

Hermione rolled her eyes and wretched her hand away from him. A few of the students turned their heads to look at the bickering duo and Snape could only shake his head. Hermione and Draco would never change. And Snape, being one of the few adults that knew of Draco throwing himself in front of his aunt's Crucio, thought that the two would be at least a bit more civil with each other.

Snape made a mental note to have a talk with his godson. Try to get him to be less greater-than-thou (though he was a Malfoy and the trait was something that all Malfoy's possessed).

"Settle down," Snape droned. "Potions will be split into two halves; the first half is your lesson, and the second half is collaboration. Today I will be showing you how to find similarities in your ingredients to concoct a potion that won't poison the drinker."

Draco reached for Hermione's hand again but she kept it a safe distance away from him. He fought his smirk; he loved riling her up (Draco felt like he thought that at least ten times a day since he and Hermione became close). Oh well, he'd get her to relent eventually.


"Lovegood and I got 'flaccidity'!" Blaise roared as they left potions. "We have to cure a man that cannot find it in himself to perform for his woman." Everybody that was in earshot burst into laughter and even Luna couldn't help herself.

"We," Tracey began as she referred to herself and her partner, Terry Boot of Ravenclaw, "have boredom."

Padma Patil, who was walking past the Slytherins with her sister, heard Tracey's ailment and stopped. "Boredom is at least normal. Vincent and I," at this she nodded at her table partner, "have rudeness. How do you cure rudeness?!"

The Slytherins erupted into laughter and Vincent Crabbe groaned. "It's not funny! And we have to use toe jam as an ingredient."

Everybody paused and looked between Vincent and Padma to see if either of them was lying—they both had a look of dead seriousness on their faces and Adrian commented: "Ouch. Good luck, ladies." Which caused Vincent to scowl in Adrian's direction

"Thanks." Padma muttered and walked off with Parvati.

"What did you get, Malfoy?" Theodore inquired and Draco shrugged nonchalantly. Gregory Goyle, somehow, pulled a cupcake out of thin air and was stuffing his face (as per usual).


Everybody paused and looked at him. Pansy, who was walking arm-in-arm with Tracey, raised an eyebrow. "Heartbreak? I believe this is karma for all the times you've broken girls' hearts."

Draco grinned toothily at her. "I'm not a believer in karma, Parkinson. You should know that by now."

Pansy groaned and turned away from her classmate. "Whatever, Draco."

"Well, while you need to cure the lack of erection," Theodore nodded at Blaise, "and you cure boredom, and you find a fix for heartbreak, I am lucky enough to cure the common cold."

Everybody gawked at Theodore who could only grin in superiority. "Told you, Snape loves me!"

Draco sighed. "And I'm supposed to be his godson." His comment caused his fellow Snakes to howl in laughter. Draco simply shook his head and turned the corner in time to see Gunnar – the idiot from Durmstrang—tap Hermione's shoulder. He stopped, which caused Blaise to run into him from behind.

"What the fu—" Blaise cut himself off when he saw what Draco was looking at. Secretly, he nudged Theodore who couldn't help but smirk. They could practically feel the anger radiate from their friend (anger that Tracey and Pansy were oblivious to).

"Aww, look! The Durmstrang is interested in Granger." Pansy muttered snidely. Blaise didn't miss the way Draco's jaw tightened and how he clenched his fist after he heard what Pansy said.

Adrian cracked his knuckles. "Hey! Granger!" He pushed away from his group of friends and began walking up to Hermione and Gunnar. Draco's jaw dropped.

What is he doing?!

Hermione tore her gaze away from Gunnar (the Slytherins noticed Fay and Kellah standing afar, watching Hermione. Kellah began to walk towards Hermione when she saw Adrian heading her way). Cocking an eyebrow, Hermione's eyes flickered to the Slytherins a few feet behind Adrian. She saw Draco watching her intently.

"Yes, Pucey?"

"I need your help with something." Adrian glanced at Gunnar. "If I may."

Gunnar, visibly disappointed, nodded. "She is all yours." At that precise moment, Kellah and Fay stopped short of them.

"What's wrong?" Kellah asked frantically and Adrian could only smirk.

"I require Granger's assistance. Goodbye." Adrian caught Hermione's upper arm and half dragged her away from the vicinity. Kellah and Fay watched, stunned, Gunnar was disappointed and the Slytherins — especially Draco— watched in disbelief.

The same thought echoed through everybody's mind: What just happened?


When Adrian was positive that they were out of sight and earshot, he let go of Hermione who was in shock the entire time. He took a step back and looked at her closely—her shock melted into pure anger.

"What do you think you're doing, Pucey?!" She shrilled. "Whatever it is you had to ask me, you could've done so in front of my friends!"

"I was saving that idiot's arse." Adrian scowled. "If he spent an extra second with you, Draco would've hung him up from the Astronomy Tower in his underwear."

It took Hermione a second to truly understand what Adrian was telling her. From anger, her expression changed to pure shock. "Dra—he told you?!"

Adrian seemed pleased. "No. But you just did." Hermione was confused and Adrian took it unto himself to explain to her what was happening. "We're Draco's best friends, just like how Potter and Weasley—" Adrian didn't miss the look of annoyance on Hermione's face when he mentioned Weasley, "are to you. We know what he feels, when he feels it, before he even knows himself. I have no idea what is going on between the two of you, I just know something is and the anger Draco felt when he saw Gunnar approach you was very obvious."

Hermione only stared at Adrian before crossing her arms in front of her. "So you dragged me out of there before Draco could—"

"Hex Gunnar to oblivion." Adrian grinned toothily. "Contrary to popular belief, Granger, the Slytherins are very kind to those who they are loyal to. I don't know what the hell is going on between you and Draco, I just know something is. And I just saved a bloke's ass by dragging you out of there."

Hermione could only stare at Adrian Pucey. Well then, she was not expecting him to say that to her. "Who else knows?"

"Blaise and Theo have inklings. Vince and Greg don't really hang out with us as much anymore, so they're oblivious… as are the girls."

Hermione nodded. "Okay… umm… thanks? But I'm sure Gunnar can take care of himself—"

"Draco would never lay a hand on you, no matter how much you piss him off. The Durmstrang idiot, however, I can't say the same for." Adrian peered down at Hermione. "I may have been there to save the day once, but don't think it'll become a habit, Granger."

"Oh gee, thanks. Now, if I have the hero's permission, I'd like to go back to my friends now."

Adrian's lips twitched. "Hero? I like the sound of that." Without even saying goodbye, Adrian left the little corner where he and Hermione were standing, leaving her stumped and stupefied. Of all the things that Adrian Pucey could've approached her for, she would never in a thousand years thought it'd be for that.

Just like she believed, once upon a time, that never in a thousand years Draco would've saved her life.

And she would've cried for him.

And they would become close friends.

Perhaps, eventually, something more?


"And that was?" Kellah said without even greeting Hermione. She found them in the Gryffindor Common Room, sitting in front of the fireplace. Harry and Seamus were playing chess and the other boys were nowhere to be seen—apparently Ron was pinning up the list of those who made the Gryffindor Team on a wall outside the Great Hall.

"Nothing." Hermione said quietly. "He just had a potions related question about his ingredients."

Fay and Kellah exchanged looks and Fay leaned towards Hermione. "Listen, I'm getting worried. First Malfoy defends your honour then Adrian drags you off to ask you a question? Are you hiding something from us?"

Hermione feigned the best aghast expression she could under the circumstance. "No! They just had a change of heart Fay, you know that. There is nothing going on here."

"I don't know… it's okay if Malfoy fancies you and all but you know you shouldn't involve yourself with them." Kellah whispered quietly. She didn't want Harry or Seamus to overhear them; it was a girls-only conversation.

"You don't know when one of them will go back to the dark side in hopes of resurrecting the Dark Lord."

Hermione knew her friends had her best interest at heart but she really didn't want to talk about the Slytherins anymore. She felt suffocated: her girlfriends were watching her back, Adrian was watching her back, Draco was constantly on her back (kissing her neck, which really wasn't a bad thing), and Ron was an annoying prick at her back—she wanted her back to be empty and alone for a while.

"I know. Listen, I'm going to the bathroom to take a bubble bath. I'll see you girls in a bit, alright?"

Fay and Kellah exchanged looks but nodded. Hermione rushed to the dormitory to retrieve a change of clothes, towels, bubble solution, and her enchanted journal and a quill before hurrying to the Gryffindor Girls' Bathroom. She locked the door behind her and enchanted it so that nobody could Alohamora their way in.

She prepared the water and stripped down before stepping into the welcoming warm waters.

Hermione was in dire need of relaxation.

Settling into the tub comfortably, Hermione reached for the journal and quill. She felt that the journal was warm, indicating that Draco had written to her; enchanting the quill so she wouldn't have to prop the book on something to write in, Hermione opened the book and whispered the words that allowed Draco's writing to bleed onto the page.

Adrian told me what happened earlier. On his behalf, I'm sorry. I wasn't going to hang gunman's arse off of the Astronomy Tower and neither was I going to react overly jealous and possessive. I was slightly angry that he approached you—to be frank, I'm not fond of other men approaching you but I am nobody to ask you to stop talking to people because of me. I suppose Adrian sensed my anger and took charge of the situation when he shouldn't have. I didn't make him do it, so on behalf of him and me, I'm sorry. Granger.

It looked like he tacked on her name as good measure. Hermione glanced at her quill which was arched, ready to write when her mind commanded. She looked back at the journal and thought the words that her enchanted quill began writing.

I don't know what to think. You don't have to apologize, it wasn't your fault… you just have very… loyal friends.

I gave the loyal bastard a piece of my mind. Draco was in the boys' dormitory listening to Crabbe snore, while writing to Hermione. Truthfully, he was taken back when Adrian decided to take the situation into his own hands, and wasn't expecting him to drag Hermione off (though he was silently glad, but wasn't going to admit to it. He knew that Adrian doing what he did was enough to have Hermione be mad at him straight till Christmas, and not talking to her for four months was not something he was willing to risk).

You have good friends. But if any of them interfere with me and the people I associate myself with, you will be in a world of hurt, Malfoy. Hermione wrote the last part in good humour.

Think I already don't know that? But if the people you associate yourself with are quite evidently bullying you, I hold no responsibility over what my Snakes will do to them.

I'll keep that in mind. And when were you planning on telling me that your friends had an inkling that we were friends?


His response came quickly and Hermione couldn't help but smile.

Good to know. Have you received hell from them?

If I did, do you think Adrian would rush to your heroic rescue?

Adrian said he was saving Gunnar's fate from you.

If gunman was faced with a horrible fate, you'd be upset at me for the rest of the school year which indirectly is saying that you were also punished. So, in short, Adrian saved us all.

That's one way of putting it.

But I'll see to it that Adrian doesn't do that again.

And Blaise and Theodore?

Them too.

And you?

I can't make promises for myself, Granger.

That's comforting. Hermione wrote, hoping he'd catch the sarcastic undertone in her writing. She was amused at how when she wanted to get away from the world (including Draco), she turned to Draco. That had to mean something.

I'm glad you see it that way. Apart from Adrian and gunman and everything else associated with that moment in time, how are you?

Hermione snorted. Great. Hufflepuff Malfoy cornered me in the library today.

Draco began smiling; now she was talking. Did he now? What did he do?

Things you Slytherins cannot ever fathom of doing. Quite the moment in my day, I must say.

Left you speechless?

Left me breathless.

Good to know, Draco's face was beginning to hurt. Was it possible to want to smile so much?! I'll keep that in mind for when I meet the bloke (eventually) and get pointers from him.

It would do you some good, too.

I'm sure it would. What're you doing?



Normally nakedness and bathing go hand in hand, Malfoy.

Clearly, that must've been the way you saw me in the nude.

You weren't bathing when I saw you, but close enough. Hermione could hear him squawk in surprise. And Malfoy's don't squawk.

I'll get that story out of you, if it's the last thing I do. But, seeing as you won't tell me now, I was wondering if you wanted to head over to the Quidditch pitch in an hour? The list of those who made tryouts was posted today and Slytherins have the field for practice for the afternoon before Herbology and Care of Magical Creatures.

Are you going to be doing more acrobatics in the air?


Consider me there, then. Though those air chin-ups gave me a fright, they were rather impressive.

I'll keep that in mind, as well.

Are you sure your mind is large enough to store all this information?

I assure you, my mental capacity is alarming.

In a positive way?

In a positive way. Draco was trying to figure out why he enjoyed her so much. He just did. And perhaps later tonight we can take another flying lesson?

I was wondering when you were going to ask.

You could've asked me.

And ruin your Malfoy reputation? I thought Malfoy men always asked the girls out, not the other way around.

Times have changed, Granger. Draco quickly wrote. If you ever want to ask me out instead, be my guest.

Now I will keep that in mind. Hermione teased. Remind me to show you the book I checked out today.

The one I caught you reading in the RS?

Yep, that one.

I thought it was 'nothing.'

Shut up, Malfoy.

Come on! Tell me I have a wonderful effect on you—say it!


I'll make you say it.

I won't stop you.

Is this you indirectly telling me you thoroughly enjoy me kissing you?

I don't know. I think you need to remind me how well you kiss.

Draco clamped a hand over his mouth to stop himself from laughing. She was fiery, that was for sure. Alright, I shall. I need to get ready for Quidditch practice now. See you on the field?

See you on the field. Hermione affirmed and quickly whispered Malfoy to have the words disappear from her journal. She wanted to evaluate what her relationship was like with Draco, but didn't know where to begin. There were so many unanswered questions between them, primarily the one regarding the Crucio.

Subconsciously, Hermione picked up the Healer Pendant and toyed with it. And then there was the question of why he bought her the pendant. And why they talked. And why they kissed.

And why he was jealous over Gunnar—and how his emotions were so strong that his best friends picked up on it.

But… did that make Hermione just another girl though? He hadn't said anything about taking their relationship further. But did he have to? They were already in a taboo friendship; a romantic relationship would push the limits of everyone's sanity. But then why constantly take her out on picnics and flying lessons, and why buy her anything?!

Hermione didn't want to overthink, but she was a woman; she couldn't help herself. And, unlike a normal situation with any other boy, she couldn't talk to her girlfriends. Well… she could owl her muggle best girlfriend, Gabriella Mitt, in London. She knew about her magic and also didn't live through the house animosity that Hogwarts was known for; Gabriella would be able to provide an unbiased answer for her.

That was an option too.

Hermione didn't want to ruin what was going on between her and Draco by bringing up relationship-related questions, but she couldn't help ponder why. Why was he doing what he was? What was his intention? What did he hope to gain?

Did he want to be with her?

Hermione sank into the water, fully submerging herself. She couldn't deny that his kisses made her forget everything and when his arms were wrapped around her all of her worries melted away. And the way he got jealous—it was slightly endearing, and Hermione appreciated that he apologized on Adrian's behalf.

But why get jealous if she didn't mean something more?

Hermione broke the surface and inhaled deeply. Her mind was running a mile a minute and she was sure that if she didn't voice her thoughts to somebody, she'd go insane. She could either owl Gabriella or floo there; Gabriella was a part of the floo network after Hermione petitioned for it. It took a lot of persuading, but Kingsley Shacklebolt eventually agreed.

Exhaling loudly, Hermione swished the bubbles around her. She only wished she could talk to Ginny or Lavender or Kellah or Fay or Parvati, but she couldn't. They were biased against the Slytherins and if they found out that Hermione and Draco were having an illicit friendship then all hell would break loose.

Besides, they didn't know about the Crucio. Only Harry and Ron did, and she was not going to go to either of them for advice.

Gabriella it was.

But would she owl her or floo?

Owling would make the most sense. She couldn't floo and see Gabriella and come back for dinner and flying lessons with Draco in time. Hermione pulled herself out of the tub and toweled herself dry. She was already formulating the letter in her head…


Dearest Gabriella,

How are you? I miss you greatly and hope that when I come home for Christmas that we can have a girls' night out. We can plan that later, though, because right now I need your advice.

Remember Draco Malfoy? Well, we're friends. Kind of. We've been in contact throughout the summer, as you know, but our relationship has grown a lot since then. We're a lot more physical (you can figure that one out yourself, but no hanky panky), and he makes it a point to go out of his way to spend time with me. I mean, when I was in Diagon Alley to buy my school supplies he made an effort to come there and spend one day with me, preparing a picnic and everything! He even got me a magical pendant from Italy, and we weren't even close then.

Since school started, he's been spending more and more time with me, taking me on more picnics, giving me flying lessons (he found out about my irrational fear of heights), et cetera. He's even a tad bit jealous of the other boys (not Harry or Ron, he doesn't like them enough to be jealous of them). But the thing is, I'm unsure on where we stand.

We're kissing, yes, and he compliments me and makes time for me, which is fine and dandy, but I don't know what his intentions are. Am I just another notch on his broomstick (verbatim what Ron said), or could I mean something more? I don't think he's ever gotten presents for past women in his life, or taken them on picnics and what have you, but I never really paid attention to his relationships to actually know. Haven't cared much, to be honest.

I know I can't approach him and ask him what the situation is, and I can't ask the girls in Gryffindor because they inherently hate Draco. Therefore I've turned to you. I know you'll be honest with me; unbiased and truthful. I wish you could be here right now, helping me. I've never been so confused and I've helped defeat the cruelest man the world has ever seen.

I do hope to hear from you soon, Gabriella. The owl has been instructed to hang around as long as it takes for you to write back. Give your parents my regards.



Attaching the letter to a barn owl in the Owlery, Hermione took it to the giant window and whispered into its ear where it had to go. With a final breath, Hermione released the owl into the afternoon sky and watched it for as long as she could, until it disappeared into the horizon.

Now all she could do was wait.

In the distance she heard cheering and looked over to the opposite side of the Owlery to find the Slytherins flying high above the Quidditch pitch, far in the distance. Realizing that she had given Draco her word that she'd be there to watch him, Hermione quickly left the Owlery and headed to the Gryffindor Tower.

She had to change and find somebody to bring with her, so that she didn't seem suspicious watching the Slytherins practice.

Get back to me soon, Gabriella. Hermione thought anxiously as she flew past Peeves (who was drawing graffiti on the walls). Her heart raced, both with the anticipation of what her friend was going to say, and of seeing Draco.

Hermione knew, deep down, that she was in a predicament that was going to be rather difficult to get out of.

Chapter 13: Going with the Flow

Hermione managed to recruit Ginny, Neville, and Seamus to accompany her to the Quidditch field to 'study'. Neville asked why they were studying there instead of the library and Hermione replied with: "I need a change of atmosphere. I've been in the library almost three times a day every day since school started."

Which wasn't exactly a lie; she told everybody she was in the library when she was actually parading around with Draco. In the eyes of the Gryffindors, Hermione really was in the library. The four of them made their way to the Gryffindor side of the arena; the boys were already thinking of questions they could ask Hermione in regards to their potions assignment.

Snape must've been in a very bad mood when he planned the project.

"So," Neville turned to Ginny, "what's really gotten your brother so upset?"

Ginny shrugged. "No idea. He's always been the more emotional one between him, Harry, and Hermione, so I can't really say what's bugging him; something always is."

Grinning, Hermione turned the corner and glanced over her shoulder to look at her friends. They were half a step behind her. "More emotional? That goes against everything I've ever said… Need I remind you that he has the 'emotional range of a teaspoon'?"

Seamus guffawed. "I love it when you say that."

Hermione smiled to herself as the four of them began climbing the stairs that led them to the highest seat available. Ginny commented that the fresh air felt nice and Neville concurred. Seamus said something about some Irish malt to go with the fresh air and Hermione chortled; Seamus was so Irish.

"You should get a shirt that says 'Kiss me, I'm Irish'." Hermione commented, rendering Ginny and Neville confused. Seamus, who was half-blooded and very familiar with the muggle world idioms, smirked.

"I don't. But I do have a shirt that says 'Irish I was drunk'."

"Clever." Hermione laughed. The four of them took their seats on the bleachers and Ginny spared a glance at the Slytherins manoeuvring in the sky. Hermione was making a point not to look up; she knew that if she did, and saw that Draco was doing some crazy gymnastics on his broom, she'd have a heart attack and be sent to the Hospital Wing.

"Merlin! They're all shirtless!"

Hermione's eyes widened and she, Neville, and Seamus looked up to see that, indeed, the Slytherins were on their brooms, practicing without shirts. Seamus choked on air and Neville's jaw dropped.

"What in Merlin's name are they doing?!" Neville asked. "Is this even allowed?"

"Apparently so." Ginny sighed, dreamily. "I've never seen so many attractive men flying shirtless in the sky together ever before."

Although Hermione wasn't going to voice it, she agreed.

"Malfoy seems to take the cake, wouldn't you say?" Ginny nudged Hermione. Breaking out of her reverie, Hermione simply looked over at Ginny before turning her attention back to the sky. She was not about to comment to what was just said- she was afraid she was going to spill the beans on her and Draco's illicit affair.

Neville and Seamus exchanged glances and looked at the two awe-stricken ladies they were sitting with. "Uhh... ladies? Focus on the task at hand, please."

Hermione was the first to break from her trance. She returned her attention to her friends and smiled sheepishly. "Sorry, blame it on the estrogen."

"I'll say." Seamus snorted before shoving Ginny. "Ginevra Molly Weasley, snap out of it. Lest I tell your boyfriend…"

Ginny wasn't fazed. "I'm looking, not touching."

"But you're probably imagining running your fingertips down his rock-hard abs, tracing the-"

"Seamus!" Ginny scolded and Hermione and Neville clamped their hands over their mouths to prevent themselves from bursting into laughter. Who knew that Seamus's vocabulary consisted of a plethora of adjectives? Certainly not them. Hermione struggled very hard not to look back at what was happening in the sky. Instead, to her displeasure, she looked at Seamus, Neville, and then Ginny before commenting on how they should proceed with their studying.

Ginny muttered something along the lines of studying the male anatomy, but the other three chose to ignore her.

"Potions!" Neville sighed. "Focus! Potions… how do we do what he asked us to?! I think it's impossible. You have heartbreak, Mione. How do you cure that?!"

"Beats me." Hermione shrugged. "I suppose that'd be the reason why Malfoy and I were paired up. Perhaps the professors inferred that putting two great minds together will produce extraordinary results."

Seamus smirked his signature Irish smirk. "Well, surprise them. Give them not extraordinary results, but super ordinary ones."

Ginny, who finally managed to look away from Blaise Zabini's glistening chest, caught the tail end of what Seamus said.

"I see what you did there! Extraordinary… ordinary… yeah, I'm going to go back to gawking at Zabi—"

"I move that we relocate to the library. All in favour say aye." Neville interrupted Ginny, not being able to tolerate any more ogling on both her and Hermione's parts. Seamus said aye but Ginny and Hermione were quiet. The latter mentioned girl grinned.

"I believe we are at an impasse, Neville. You and Seamus wish to relocate but Ginny and I are quite comfortable where we are. What shall we do now?"

Seamus shrugged. "Tie-breaker?"

Ginny frowned. "How?"

And Seamus, since he was never afraid to do anything, cupped his hands around his mouth and yelled out: "MALFOY!"

Hermione gawked but Neville simply questioned why Seamus didn't just use the sonorus to project his voice. Somehow, by some godly way, Draco heard Seamus and halted the practice so that he could go entertain the Gryffindors with their request. He wasn't, at the least bit, surprised to see Hermione but he was quite amused to see the star struck look in she-weasel's eyes.

"What do you need now, Finnigan? I won't be able to turn Granger into rum, you know."

Seamus ignored Draco's jibe at his attempt in first year to turn water into rum. "I figured I'd call you since you're team captain. We need a tie-breaker; aye or nay?"

Draco paused and studied Seamus; he had no idea what he was asking him and what the consequences would be. He thought he'd do a little bit of investigating before he took his pick—something important could be riding on his decision.

"What am I ayeing or naying against?"

Hermione supressed her shivers when she heard Draco say aye… it sounded so Scottish and English and… he sounds so European! Hermione had no other explanation as to why Draco saying a single syllable word could be so hot and attractive.

"Just aye or nay, mate." Seamus sighed. "The happiness of the girls or ours," Seamus shoved a thumb in Neville's direction, "depends on your choice."

Draco's eyebrows rose. "Really? Hmmm… which did the girls pick?"

Hermione was ready to die—not from embarrassment, but from the close proximity of shirtless Draco on a broomstick glistening with a thin layer of sweat. Her hormones were going into overdrive and it was taking every ounce of willpower she had to stop herself from lunging off the bleachers and tackling Draco's lips.

"It may bias your decision." Seamus smirked. "Aye or nay?"

"Hmm… well if I know Granger, she always has to say no to anything a man wants." Draco glanced at Hermione and winked at her. Ginny snorted and Neville chortled in laughter. "Ergo, because I always put the desires of a woman before my own, I vote nay."

Ginny pumped her fist and yelped in happiness but Hermione was not as happy. Her eyes were narrow and she glowered at Draco. "I always have to say no?! What the bloody hell does that mean, Malfoy?"

Draco manoeuvred his broom towards Hermione. Great, now she could feel the heat from his shirtless body. That's going to help my raging hormones. She thought, sarcastically.

"You know what it means, Granger." oh the way he drawled her name.

"And what would that be, Malfoy?"

Neville groaned loudly. "Here we go again! You know what, let's split up… you two stay here ogling the Slytherins and Seamus and I will try to study in the library." Without waiting for anybody to say anything, Neville got up and walked off. Seamus shrugged, obviously impartial to any decision, and followed his friend.

Draco's eyes widened slightly before he turned to Ginny and Hermione. "Ogle?!"

"I change my mind. I vote aye." Hermione, without waiting for another reaction from Draco, grabbed her book bag and chased after Neville and Seamus. She wanted to save herself from any more embarrassment. She knew Draco would not let her forget it.


With Hermione gone, Draco turned his attention to Ginny. "And aren't you going to leave?"

Ginny shook her head. "No." She wasn't even looking at him; she was staring into the sky. "I don't have as much self-respect as Hermione does, in case you haven't come to realize."

"Other than the fact you're dating Potter?"

Ginny snorted. "No. Harry's amazing. Hermione has no idea what she's missing out on."

Draco had a horrified expression on his face. "With Potter?! I didn't know you swung that way!"

Ginny managed to tear her eyes off of the shirtless group of men in the sky and looked at the blond-haired Adonis hovering before her. "No, I mean with men in general. Honestly, you're pretty stupid for being the smartest wizard of our time—"

"Granger's a virgin?!"

Eyes widening, Ginny realized that she subconsciously revealed Hermione's secret. "I vote aye too. Bye!" Without even gathering her things, Ginny bolted out of the Quidditch field. Draco wasn't able to lift his jaw back up; he was still in shock over what he just learned.

Excellent. Now I know your little secret, bookworm. Taking a few breaths to calm his nerves, Draco shot back into the sky and avoided the looks his teammates shot him. Blaise Zabini smirked to himself; he made a note to self to corner Draco with Theodore and Adrian.


Shirtless?! Why? Hermione scribbled into the journal during Herbology. For some reason, Professor Sprout decided to have an in-class lesson that day about the mating rituals of animalistic flora. Ron uttered something stupid about plants fornicating and Sprout took twenty-three points from Gryffindor.

Then Wayne Hopkins of Hufflepuff commented on how random twenty-three points was and Sprout took two points from her own house.

Blaise mumbled about Sprout being like Snape; she didn't like taking points from her own home. So Sprout took nineteen and a half points from Slytherin.

Luna Lovegood commented on how she never knew half-points could be taken and commended Professor Sprout for being unique, like Nibblebibbles. Nobody knew what a Nibblebibble was, but Sprout found Luna to be sweet and awarded Ravenclaw thirty and three-quarter points.

Nobody saw the three-quarter points coming.

I knew you'd enjoy yourself.

Hermione simply stared in amazement at what he said. Enjoy? So in lieu of airborne acrobatics, you opt for half-naked flying?

I can help you soar all-naked.

Hermione's eye twitched. Sex references? Really?

I feel like it's about time we break the barrier in our relationship, bookworm. Draco smirked while writing to Hermione. Why was it that he never got bored writing to her? She always had something to say that piqued his interest and had him think up possible witty things he could say to her.

Along the lines of soaring naked, that reminds me of when Harry was delirious and went to take a short fly over the Black Lake in his birthday suit.

… Or she said something that left Draco completely speechless with a bad aftertaste in his mouth.

I can always count on you to turn my innuendos into… dirty-Potter-references.

Hermione smiled and leaned back in her seat, visibly pleased with herself. She was going to reply to him but she saw more words bleed onto the pages of her diary.

Wait… you saw naked-Potter breeze past you with a broom – shut up, Granger – and you didn't do anything to stop him?

Like you said, I like ogling naked Quidditch seekers.

I never said that! You can only ogle this naked Quidditch seeker.

You aren't naked.

Look up.

Hermione's eyes widened. She was too afraid but couldn't supress her curiosity; she had to look up. Slowly she lifted her head until her eyes caught sight of Draco sitting diagonal to her. Her eyes widened and she gasped loudly.


Everybody's eyes turned to her and when they saw her staring at Draco, turned to look at him. The class was confused over Hermione's outburst.

"Miss Granger?" Sprout walked towards her star student hesitantly. "Is… something the matter?"

Yeah Granger, Draco quickly wrote, something wrong?

Hermione narrowed her eyes. She had half the mind to tell Sprout that Draco, for a brief moment, charmed himself to be naked to fuck with her mind. But, alas, she wasn't that spontaneous and said that she thought she saw a Dementor but was probably seeing things. Sprout seemed to accept her excuse and continued with her lesson.

Dementor? I need to teach you how to lie better. Draco scribbled languidly into the notebook. Hermione glanced idly at the words on her page before gently shutting the journal and indicating to Draco that she was done with talking to him. He charmed himself to be naked! She didn't see anything worth seeing but still—if his charm was anything close to the real thing, then Hermione was in for a world of…


Willing herself not to look at Draco, Hermione concentrated on the lecture Sprout was presenting. Her action made Draco grin in amusement; never a dull moment with Hermione Jean Granger.


"Guess whose birthday is next week!" Dean Thomas grinned as all the Gryffindors lounged in the Common Room after Care of Magical Creature. Luckily for them, Hagrid decided to give them an in-class lesson as well. None of the students were too fond of learning how to care for crazy psychotic creatures, and neither did they understand why it was part of their curriculum…

Whatever the reason was, they had to learn enough to pass the NEWT and graduate from Hogwarts.

Oh, hoggy warty Hogwarts.

All eyes turned to Dean before a few of the eighth years looked at Hermione. Ron was engaged in a heated battle of Wizard backgammon but took a moment to look up and answer: "Hermione's. What's the plan? Golden Girl of 1991 is turning nineteen… this is cause for celebration."

Ginny scowled at her brother and Parvati commented on how she wasn't sure if Ron was being serious or spiteful. Harry said to take it at face value and Hermione addressed Ron directly.

"Have any suggestions, Ron?"

The tension was thick enough to cut with a butter knife but everybody knew that they were trying to maintain a civil atmosphere. Their relationship was a very shaky thing and the Gryffindors were afraid that any sudden comments may shatter the fragile thing that it was.

"Let's make a trip to my brothers' joke shop and floo to Diagon Alley for some Fortescue's for dessert?" Ron suggested, breaking his attention away from the backgammon game. Neville, who he was facing against, was perfectly fine with that; he was losing anyway.

"That has to be the most sensible thing you've ever suggested in your life, Ronald." Hermione muttered, though not spitefully. Ron glanced at her and turned his attention back to the backgammon board.

"Well," he muttered softly and almost everybody in the Common Room was leaning forward to hear what he had to say, "I did spend the last eight years with your sensible arse."

And no matter what issues the two friends were facing, everybody knew that they were going to be okay.

Harry bit into an apple he swiped from the kitchen and sunk into an armchair. Ginny was sitting on the armrest of the chair. "Well… about Snape's project?"

The eighth years exploded at the same time, commenting on how crazy their professor was; never did they imagine that their crazy professor was so crazy. Sure, Snape was the half-blooded prince (and nobody saw that coming) and he worked as a double agent for the Light side (nobody saw that coming either), but they didn't think he was crazy crazy.

Just… crazy.

Hermione heard the grandfather clock strike ten pm and she knew that she should meet Draco soon at the window in the Restricted Section. She didn't know whether to be amused or not that their designated meeting area went without saying. As inconspicuously as possible, she got up and said that she needed to pull books from the library about Heartbreaks.

As always, the Gryffindors weren't the least bit fazed that Hermione was making late night trips to the library. Bidding everybody goodnight, she grabbed her cloak and her book bag; she had to show Draco the book about the Dragon Empire she got from the Restricted Section earlier that day. Hermione left through the portrait hole and began powerwalking to the library.

Her thoughts were wandering to Draco flying half-naked earlier and charming himself to look naked…

He was a very beautiful man.

Very beautiful.

Hermione's thoughts were cut short when a frizzy barn owl flew past her and dropped a rolled parchment. Her heart jumped to her throat; she knew that Gabriella sent a response to the letter she wrote earlier.

Dear Hermione,

I miss you too! Why are you coming for Christmas?! You know I throw a Halloween shindig every year and this year you have to come with Mr. Malfoy, whom you've been speaking to all summer without even letting me know because you're a horrible friend but I love you despite your flaws and live vicariously through your love life because I do not have one.

I know. Breathe.

So, from what I understand from your letter, you and Draco are friends, are snogging at any given opportunity and he takes you out on unofficial dates because he can and he's a chivalrous man, proving to me that chivalry isn't dead. That sounds sweet and I think you're overanalyzing everything. Don't read into the sweet things he's doing; to me it sounds like he genuinely cares for you. I mean, he gave you a pendant from Italy when he didn't have to; but don't read too much into it.

Let everything go with the flow for now; if it's meant to be, it'll happen (I know, cliché). In my honest opinion I feel as if he cares for you but don't get your hopes up yet, Jeany Weeny (I know you hate it when I call you that :P). I'm sure everything'll fall into place and, if you guys are really close, bring him to my Halloween party.

Write back! I miss having you around here…

Love, love, love,


Hermione smiled as she read over the last few lines of the letter. Her best friend really was as crazy as ever and Hermione loved her for it. What she said did make sense; just go with the flow and everything would fall into place. Sighing loudly, Hermione folded the letter up and slipped it into her book bag. She rounded a corner and was pleasantly surprised with a pair of strong arms wrapped around her, squeezing her into a tight hug.

"Hey there, bookworm."

The sensual voice she grew to know and love rumbled huskily in her ear.

"Hey yourself, bad faith." Hermione responded cheekily, allowing herself to relax in his arms. Despite whatever idiocy they speak about throughout the day, the moment always came down to when she would be back in his arms, inhaling his intoxicating scent, and relaxing against his heartbeat.

It worried her that she wasn't worried at how much he became a part of her daily routine.

Draco released the hug and wrapped an arm around her shoulder as he fell into step beside her. Clearly he was guiding her to the library, but Hermione wasn't going to question as to why he wasn't already there, on a broom, waiting for her. This gave her more time to spend with him which, ultimately, was what she wanted.

"Tell me about the book." He said and Hermione gasped, forgetting that she was going bring that up with him. Reaching into her book bag, she pulled out the black book and passed it to Draco. He used his free hand to flip the book open and quickly skim over the synopsis.

His eyebrows arched in surprise. "Well isn't this something…"

Hermione nodded feverishly. "I was surprised too. That's why I didn't notice you behind me."

Draco leaned over and kissed her temple. "I know I have an effect on you, Granger."

"Shut up, Malfoy."

He chuckled but turned back to the book nonetheless.

Prior to the existence of civilization lived an ancient clan of regal beasts, which we have come to recognize to be the Dragon Empire. These beasts have a different subset of laws and regulation that set them apart from any other creature that coexists with wizards and muggles alike; they follow an ancient monarch rule that is neither socialist nor capitalist. Godric, Salazar and I have spent years living amongst the Dragon Empire to learn their habits, rituals, and laws so that we may put a reason to the Chaos Theory, or in Godric's words, the Prophecy of the Sun and Sea.

"Chaos Theory?" Draco looked over at Hermione who was leaning over to read along with him. "You heard of that before, Granger?"

She shook her head. "Never. It wasn't mentioned in Hogwarts: A History." Draco snorted and Hermione playfully hit his chest. "Can we not insult the book?"

"Of course not," Draco sounded sarcastic, "it's only your Bible."


"I know. Shut up."

Before we begin our research, let us denote the different roles in the Dragon Empire. The highest level in this system is the Kapral, which is equivalent to a human emperor. The Kapral has two advisors, Darzulf and Darharkt. The Darzulf's role is to be the devil's advocate whereas the Darharkt must be the voice of reason. The Kapral also has a group of seven elders; they are referred to as the Wadoya, meaning High Priests. The Wadoya play the roles of Elders in this ancient clan. They are the wisest, oldest, and most experienced—usually the Wadoya consists of one or two past Kaprals.

Let us reiterate:

Highest post: Kapral.

The Kapral has two advisors: Darzulf and Darharkt.

The Kapral and his advisors seek council from the Wadoya: the seven elders of the Dragon Empire.

The present Kapral, to our knowledge, is Kapral Zabini who has ruled the Empire democratically and civilly for an estimated three centuries. The average term of a kapral is twenty-three centuries before they step down and select their successor. The successor is usually next of kin but the kapral has the option to choose another dragon if they feel that their kin cannot aptly rule the throne and protect the Ring of Chaos.

Hermione and Draco stopped walking and both stared at the book, their jaws slack. His grip around her shoulder tightened a little bit and she grabbed the book from his hand.

"Kapral Zabini?! As in… Blaise Zabini?" Hermione looked at a clearly confused Draco. "Is your best friend a dragon?!"

"I don't think so!" Draco stuttered in his defence. "I mean… I grew up with the bloke; I've known him since I was two, I don't think he's part dragon."

"Then why is the dragon leader named Zabini?"

"Hermione," Draco said her name in the hopes of calming himself down, "this was written before Hogwarts was created. I'm sure this Kapral Zabini is, of no way, related to our Blaise."

Hermione narrowed her eyes and shut the book. "I like how he's my Blaise as much as he is yours."

"What's mine is yours, bookworm." Draco sang playfully before kissing her temple again. When his lips came in contact with her skin, he snapped his fingers and a bouquet of flowers appeared in front of the couple, levitating. Hermione's eyes widened when she saw blue violets peeking in between a plethora of alyssum. It was a weird mix of flowers, and she couldn't for the life of her figure out why he picked blue violets and alyssum

But the gesture was beyond romantic anyway.

Hermione reached out and gently caught the bouquet before bringing it to her face and smelling it.

"Thank you…" She whispered just as they entered the library. Draco chuckled softly and guided her to the window where Lightyear was waiting for them. Hermione looked over at him.

"This is so sweet…"

"I know," he smirked. "But let's put the bouquet down and mount your trusty steed."

Hermione cocked an eyebrow. "Lightyear is my trusty steed?"

"Of course," Draco pushed the window open and leapt onto the sill. He looked over his shoulder and extended a hand out to Hermione. "What's yours is mine, right?"

Hermione grinned and placed her book bag and bouquet down before catching Draco's extended hand. He hoisted her onto the sill, caught her around the waist, and fell backwards out of the window. Hermione gasped and shut her eyes for the fear of falling to her doom scared her for a split second before she realized that she and Draco fell onto a floating cushion that mimicked a cloud.

"Lightyear!" Draco called and his broom zoomed towards them. Draco stood up and helped his lady to her feet before throwing himself onto Lightyear and helping Hermione after him. The cloud cushion disappeared and Draco began to soar high into the sky. Hermione's arms were wrapped around his torso and her grip tightened, ever so slightly, but Draco could sense that she was less afraid of heights than before.

"You okay back there, Granger?"

"Yes." Her voice wasn't as shaky as it used to be and that made Draco very happy. He brought Lightyear to his desired altitude and, without warning, swung a leg over the stick of the broom so that he was sitting on the broomstick side saddle. Hermione shimmied closer to him, still straddling the broom, and wrapped her arms around his torso.

Draco wrapped his arm around her waist and hugged her closer to him; he loved feeling her body against his…

It made him feel… complete.

"I suppose Blaise, Adrian, and Theodore like me?"

Draco smiled and began tracing patterns on her back. "I suppose. Otherwise Pucey wouldn't have made the effort to save Gunnar's sorry behind. Blaise constantly says that now that you and I are friends, my chances of being best performing student of the year has gone to hell, and Nott is just… indifferent."

"They aren't making quips about me being in Gryffindor?"

"Better Gryffindor than Hufflepuff." Draco smirked and kissed her forehead. "Are you going to tell me tomorrow that you had the most splendid night with Hufflepuff Malfoy tonight?"

Hermione smiled and looked up at his perfect profile. She stretched her body up to kiss his jawline. "Perhaps. Why, jealous?"

"Slightly." Draco hummed. "I don't like sharing what's mine."

"So I'm yours?"

"If you want to be." Draco's grip on her tightened a bit. "I mean, we're already friends."

Hermione's heart was racing and she began shaking, ever so slightly. But she had to keep her composure; she didn't want to seem un-Grangery. "I thought you said we wouldn't be considered significant others until we've… shagged."

Draco chuckled. His chest rumbled and the voice reverberated. Hermione's breath hitched but she wouldn't let it show.

"You are correct… so evidently we can't be dating."

"Then what does being yours constitute?"

"To hold," he whispered without missing a beat, "to protect, to care for… to be the only woman in my life whose attention I will be vying for without giving another woman a second thought ever, until you deem me unfit to be yours."

Hermione's world was spinning. "Does that mean I have to hold, protect, and care for you whilst vying for your attention without giving another man a second thought?"

"No." His response came immediately. "You cannot protect and care for me because that's my job. All you have to do is hold me; you don't even have to vie for my attention because you have it. It's yours and my attention isn't going anywhere."

"And this isn't dating?"

The corners of Draco's lips tugged. "No. We haven't shagged yet, remember? This just means that we're… each other's."

"Does this have anything to do with Gunnar?"

Draco's head whipped to her and his heart melted seeing her smiling face and twinkling eyes. Bloody emotions. Why couldn't he control how he felt when it came to Granger?! She was just another woman…

Albeit smart… intelligent… beautiful… witty… caring…


"No. But having lost the opportunity you could've had being with him makes me happy."

Hermione snorted. "I wouldn't want to be with Gunnar, idiot."

Draco brought his right hand up, bent his index finger, placed it under Hermione's chin and tilted her face up. "Why?" His voice was husky, soft, and ethereal.

"He just isn't my type." Hermione gulped. She didn't want to get into a conversation with Draco regarding what type of men she liked. Apparently she was his (yet not his girlfriend or anything).

"And what is?" his face moved closer to hers and Hermione's heart pounded heavily against her chest. She wondered how he couldn't hear it; she was pretty sure her heart was going to fly out of her chest and fall to its doom somewhere on the Quidditch pitch.

"Whatever he's like, my type isn't Gunnar. So stop getting jealous." Hermione attempted to turn the tables but, with Draco, that was never possible.

"Can I safely assume that I'm your type… since you're here, with me, agreeing to be mine?"

Hermione gulped and weakly said: "I'm not anybody's property."

"Never said you were, angel."

Hermione didn't have a chance to react because Draco pressed his lips gently against hers. And, just like every time they kissed, her world around her dissolved leaving just her and Draco on a broom. She moved her arms from around his torso to around his neck and, since he was side-saddling the broom, he turned his upper body so that he was almost parallel to Hermione.

His right hand released its hold on her waist and moved to grip her hair. He pulled her head back and, with an animalistic sound, moved to bestow immeasurable pleasure on her neck. Hermione released a throaty moan as Draco's tongue danced over the bundle of nerves that released a whirlwind of pleasure. Hermione gripped his shoulders and threw her head back further. Draco's lips moved from one side of her neck to the other where, without holding back, he bit her gently. His action withdrew a loud moan to sound from the back of Hermione's neck and, not surprisingly, the sound was enough to keep Draco going.

Draco's left hand went around Hermione's waist and, without holding anything back; he gently slid his hand up the back of her shirt. He felt her soft skin beneath his fingertips and that was enough to drive him to insanity.

Hermione was in a different world altogether as his fingers kept trailing up her back, taking a moment to snap her bra strap, before continuing its journey to the back of her neck. He cupped her neck and pulled her lips to his, slamming his mouth against hers and sending her to a wave of pleasure that she didn't know was possible.

"Dracooo," she purred as they pulled back for air. Draco pulled his left hand out from under her shirt and cupped her cheek.

"Why do you do this to me?" He murmured and Hermione smiled. Her eyes were glazed over with passion and it was taking every ounce of will power that Draco had to not fly her to a conjured bedroom and take her repeatedly, mercilessly, and endlessly.

"Why do you do this to me?" She answered his question with one of his own.

Draco gave her a lopsided smirk and leaned forward to place a gentle kiss on her forehead. "How about we call it a night before we both wake up dating?"

Hermione's heart skipped a beat… the simple thought of being beneath Draco, naked; writhing in pleasure ignited a flame in the pit of Hermione's stomach. Why did he make her feel so… so… woman?

"Yeah," her voice was shaky, "let's."

Draco threw his leg over the stick of the broom to saddle it once more and guided it back to the Restricted Section window. No words were required to be exchanged between the duo; Draco simply helped her dismount and climb through the window before leaning forward and kissing her goodnight.

"See you in the morning, Hermione?"

She nodded, not trusting her voice. Draco simply winked at her before zooming off into the night sky. Hermione shut the window, turned around, and slumped against the wall. She couldn't trust her feet to walk, her voice to talk, and she couldn't control the racing of her heart.

What happened in the sky took her and Draco's relationship to a whole new level and, frankly, she wasn't sure what to expect anymore.

Whatever was happening between them, Hermione would take Gabriella's advice to heart: just go with the flow.

The rest would fall into place.

Chapter 14: Forget the Bloody Hierarchy

Tuesdays were considered the 'easy' days for the eighth-year students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, and that was only because they had double Transfigurations and McGonagall was rather easy going. Minerva McGonagall's theory was that if 95% of the students participated in the Great War, then her job only entailed to ensure that the students were clear in the theory of Transfiguration, since most of them were apt practitioners. The only thing McGonagall would focus on would be human transfiguration, and even then the class was showing great prowess in the art.

Class ended smoothly and the four houses dispersed to get on with their day; most of the students decided that they were going to focus on their Potion's project. It was a rather smart idea, in all honesty; the project seemed to be quite the doozy. Additionally, all of the students were paired with somebody that wasn't in their house, so meeting up for collaboration would prove too difficult.

"I'm ready to drown myself in alcohol and forget all of my misery." Seamus's thick Irish accent drawled. The Gryffindors decided that they were going to occupy a quiet corner of the Restricted Section of the library (thanks to Hermione's VIP access to and from that area) and focus on their potions. They had no more classes for the rest of the day and decided that they would all be productive; besides, they didn't know when Hermione would change her mind about helping them.

"That's not what your potion is supposed to heal, Seamus." Dean shoved his good friend. Harry was quick to respond to both Seamus and Dean.

"Alcohol is the potion that cures misery. Albeit temporarily, of course."

Seamus winked at Harry and Hermione bit her lower lip to prevent her laughter. Sometimes it felt good to just kick back with her friends. The bout of awkwardness between her and Ron was slowly fading away and things were going back to normal. There was still a little bit of pain in her heart but, as Hermione knew very well, time healed all wounds. She would eventually get over it. She was still unsure exactly why Ron had his outburst; maybe in the future she'll know the methodology behind his thinking, but for the time being she was going to take it for what it was worth.

And that was a friendship.

She had also taken up Harry's advice and apologized to Ron. He reciprocated and they buried the hatchet.

Without warning Fay groaned and leaned back in her seat. All eyes turned to face her, watching her expectantly; the Gryffindors were silently asking her 'what is the matter?'.

"I'm reading this passage and it keeps talking about monkshood… what's monkshood?!"

Hermione's jaw dropped and Harry choked on air. Neville paused with his quill in midair, "You're… kidding, right?"

"Snape taught us that in first year!" Seamus burst into laughter. "And even if you don't remember that, how could you possibly forget after third year?! Lupin… wolfsbane… werewolf?!"

Fay raised an eyebrow quizzically. Hermione was speechless, simply gawking at her friend. How could Fay possibly not remember what monkshood was? "What does wolfsbane have to do with monkshood?"

"An alias to wolfsbane is monkshood." Dean grumbled, exasperated. "And before you ask, so is aconite."

Hermione shook her head. "Honestly… sometimes I question how any of us will pass our NEWTs. Now, all of you focus on your potions. If you need me, I'll be here doing my own little thing."

Kellah leaned towards Seamus to murmur: "Her partner is Malfoy… I wouldn't be worried about the outcome of my potion either if I was paired with him."

Hermione heard the comment but made no movement to show that she heard. Kellah was right; she wasn't worried. Malfoy was an intelligent man and she knew that he wouldn't let her down academically. Granted, the butterflies in her stomach at the mere mention of his name had her almost believing that he wouldn't let her down romantically as well.

But who was she kidding. They were 'friends' and nothing more. And, according to his hierarchy of relationship statuses, they wouldn't be dating until they slept together and, as much as she loved kissing him and spending time with him and resting in his arms, Hermione Granger doubted if she would have sex with him. She wasn't the type of girl that would so easily give up that...

That which he didn't know she was; a virgin.

Hermione decided to put Draco in the furthest corner of her mind and focus on the task at hand: writing back to her best friend, Gabriella Mitt. Her last letter indicated that she wanted Hermione and Draco to drop by for her Halloween shindig… the idea was tempting, and costume choices would be so easy; Hermione could go as a witch. It was tradition to have a witch at every costume party known to man, and Hermione wouldn't have to invest in a costume.

She could wear her school uniform. The only thing she would need to invest in would be green face paint and a fake elongated nose.

And maybe a mole, to add to the Wicked Witch of the West look.

Dear Gabriella,

Don't call me Jeany Weeny. Cody McIntyre called me that all through primary school, remember? Granted, I do think he had a crush on me back then. But what would I know; I couldn't have been more than seven years old at the time.

But, regarding what you said about going with the flow… that is what I'm doing. Do you have any idea what he says to me? Yesterday, in the midst of our flying lesson, he told me that I was his and only his. We aren't an official couple by any means. He has this hierarchy system and according to it we aren't dating until we've slept together. I've only gone as far as kissing him and allowing a roaming hand (or two).

Going the whole nine yards? The idea is so… I mean… I don't know what I mean. I'm speechless. He is so different from who I perceived him to be all these years. I think it also has to do with the fact that we've been through so much and have done so many things as teenagers that most adults don't in their lifetime. We've pretty much destroyed the Hitler of the Wizarding World.

With our bare hands (wands? Bare wands? Oh no, that could be interpreted so sexually. Never mind.)

If I do come to your shindig for Halloween, I'm dressing up as a witch. Yes, you may shake your head at my lack of creativity.

Anyway, Gab, I must return to studying. You study hard too! You've gotten into Oxford for chemical biology! You don't have time to waste. Go go! Stop reading this letter.

Love you loads,


Content with the letter she penned (quilled?), Hermione rolled it up and tucked it into the inner-pocket of her robes. She was pleased to see that her fellow classmates were engrossed in the world of education, looking up their ingredients and cross referencing them to the material they had learned throughout the last eight years.

About time this lot learned how to concentrate on the task at hand. Hermione mused playfully. They were only the surviving witches and wizards from the Great War; focusing on the task at hand should be a lesson learnt from their experiences.


Draco, Blaise, and Theodore decided to take a stroll through the library. Their decision, however, was primarily for Blaise; Theodore was happily dating Tracey and Draco was involved with Hermione. Blaise kept whining about how left out he felt and deduced that since Hermione – a mighty fine witch with "legs that never ended" (quote Blaise)—spent so much time in the library, than other mighty fine witches with legs that never ended should as well.

His logic made no sense, but Draco and Theodore decided to humour the chap. He hadn't had some since the summer; they allowed his petty delusions.

"I want a woman with fine blond hair, fine blond long hair!" Blaise amended. "And legs…"

Draco frowned. "Blaise, don't be rude towards the physically disabled."

Blaise scowled and replied with: "I meant long legs. Like Granger."

"Granger's legs are mediocre." Theodore murmured whilst cracking his neck. "Now remember Fleur Delacour? She had legs for kilometers."

"Fleur also married a Weasley."

"Perhaps they have a certain je ne sais quoi?" Theodore smirked and Draco chuckled, he saw what Theo did there; Fleur, French, je ne sais quoi… French phrase.

"Clever." Draco offered and Theodore's grin widened.

"Can we stop discussing the Weasley's charm and Fleur's certain je ne sais quoi and start scouting?" Blaise gave both of his friends a nudge. "It's either this or study for our Potions and I'd rather not be working on the latter. Lovegood is a nice girl but I can only listen to her babble about invisible monkeys for so long."

Draco snickered and wrapped an arm around Blaise's shoulders. "Not monkeys, mate, nibble wibbles."

"What the hell are you going on about—" Blaise was interrupted when they heard a familiar shriek. The three boys raced towards the origin of the sound and were amused to see Seamus Finnigan holding a snake up to a pale white and ghastly afraid Hermione Granger.

Draco raised both eyebrows and Theodore and Blaise were too dumbfounded to react. They watched the Gryffindor boys explode in laughter while the girls were frowning at Seamus.

"That isn't funny!" Fay scolded.

"Come on, Dunbar," Seamus made the snake disappear and in its stead was his wand. "Hermione faced the basilisk in second year; a fake snake isn't that frightening."

Hermione scowled at Seamus. "That's precisely why I'm afraid of the blasted thing. You try facing an overgrown snake and tell me if you don't have an irrational fear of it afterwards."

"Harry thrust a sword in its mouth." Seamus's eyes widened when he realized the innuendo behind what he said. Within seconds the Gryffindors exploded into peals of laughter and even the three Slytherins couldn't help themselves.

Harry tucked his quill behind his ear and leaned back into his seat. "Quite a bore, isn't it? Without Voldemort around…"

The Gryffindors recovered from their laughter and nodded silently. Draco ushered for his friends to leave; their presence was not required. With one last lingering look towards Hermione, who was oblivious to the fact that Draco was in the vicinity, Draco, Theodore, and Blaise left.

Besides, Draco was already formulating the intricate sentence structure he would use to write to Hermione as soon as he got back to the dungeons. He was secretly planning on a way to get her on a broom with him, once again.

He was tired of just kissing her and admiring her from afar—he wanted more.

And more was what he was going to get.


Am I right to presume that you have chosen to refuse to write to me until I have written to you first? I have no other plausible explanation as to why I haven't heard from you all day… unless you grow bored of my company?

The words hadn't even finished bleeding onto the pages of Draco's diary when Hermione's perfect writing appeared with her response.

Quite a long winded sentence you have there, Malfoy. Is this your way of saying that you missed me?

A Malfoy never misses anybody.

I thought you were going to stop referring to yourself in the third-person.

Shite, I forgot about that. Rephrase: I don't miss anybody.

Is that so? You are quite a terrible liar for a Slytherin. What was it that Sorting Hat said? Conniving? A trait of Slytherins? I fail to see anything relatively conniving right now.

I oughta shut you up, Granger.

Shutting me up is quite impossible as I am in the Gryffindor Tower and you are not.

No, but I could be outside your dormitory whenever you say the word. I feel like we shouldn't be tardy with your lessons; you're just getting good.

Quite forward, aren't you Malfoy?

Only when it concerns my main lady.

And since when did I become your main lady?

Hopefully tonight, during flying lessons but that remains to be a surprise so shhh, don't tell Granger.

Hermione's heart jumped into her throat. She was sitting cross-legged on an armchair in front of the fireplace, quite comfortable. Her bladder was about to explode but she couldn't care less—there was probably a spell to clean up the mess anyway if it did explode. What could he possibly mean that he was intending on making her his main lady?!

Technically they were only talking solidly for a week and a half, never mind the stint during the summer—what could Malfoy mean?! If only Hermione could whip out her cellular device and ring up Gabriella. Alas, to her misfortune, muggle satellite signals didn't work in the Hogwarts vicinity (a muggle-born in Hufflepuff tried in first year and the cell phone exploded in his hand). So she couldn't call her best friend.

And she sure as hell couldn't talk to her friends in Gryffindor.

Have I left you speechless again?

Hermione snapped to reality when she felt the journal heat up. She cocked an eyebrow when she saw what he wrote and quickly responded.

I don't recall being left speechless by you.

Pardon me, breathless then?

That was Hufflepuff Malfoy.

I'm sure it was.

Is that sarcasm I detect?

Granger, you're brighter than I presumed you to be.

Smartest witch of the century, remember?

Modesty suits you.

As sarcasm suits you?

Let's end this mindless chitter chatter and tell me when I should meet you outside of your dormitory.

Hermione glanced at the grandfather clock against the far wall of the common room. It was a quarter past five; the girls weren't planning on doing anything. Perhaps she could somehow persuade them to leave the common room momentarily so that she could climb out her window and meet up with Malfoy.

Besides, creating a lifeless doppelganger was an easy spell; she could stick one under her covers and pretend to be asleep.


Fine. Twenty minutes. If you aren't outside of my window by then, consider yourself stood up.

I'll give you twenty one minutes.

How considerate.

See you soon, bookworm.

Back at you, blondie.

Shutting her journal, Hermione slipped it into her book bag and languidly pulled herself out of the armchair. She wasn't even going to let Draco comment on her new pet name for him. It was suitable, given the colour of the slick mop of hair on his head.

Hermione bounded up the stairs to the dormitory; she had to think of a way to sneak out without her friends seeing…


"You're steering Lightyear today, bookworm." Draco instructed after Hermione was safely on the broomstick. He was dressed in jeans and a solid yellow t-shirt. Hermione thought the yellow was a bit odd but she made no comment; the man looked godly in just about anything.

"You have that much faith in me?" Hermione teased while getting comfortable in her position. Her back was against Draco's chest and her hands were gripping the broomstick tightly. She wasn't afraid of flying Lightyear; she was just anxious about how she'd react in the air while being so close to Draco physically. Well, not like she wasn't that close before… the feeling was just something she would never get used to.

Feeling his warmth seep into her pores was an exhilarating sensation and she could not get enough of it.

"More faith than you can ever imagine." His response was a husky rumble against her ear. Hermione chose not to react and focused everything in guiding Draco's broom. She knew she liked him—a lot. And she knew her friends weren't that fond of him (apart from the girls' attraction to Draco's looks); but none of the Gryffindors were okay with the idea of a Gryffindor being with a Slytherin. Sure they banded together post-war but that didn't eliminate centuries worth of animosity.

Which would be the reason why she sent a letter to Gabriella; she was Hermione's only friend that wasn't influenced by the rivalry in Hogwarts. Hermione knew she could count on Gabriella to tell her the honest truth, to give her an honest opinion.

Hermione was silent for longer than anticipated to Draco took it unto himself to change the topic. "Have you read anything from that book?"

Caught off guard, Hermione glanced over her left shoulder to peek at Draco. She wasn't expecting such a question… to be frank she didn't think he cared much. "Not recently. Why?"

Draco shrugged and wrapped his arms around Hermione's waist when he felt her pick up altitude. His arms were rugged and strong, pulling Hermione closer to his chest; his heart began pounding. Why was it that this bloody woman of all bloody women made him weak in the knees?! Sure, he couldn't bear to stand and watch as Bellatrix cursed Hermione to near-death, but he never fathomed that that one act of kindness would instigate a world of friendship and, probably, more.


"Curiosity killed the cat, Malfoy."

"Draco." His voice croaked in her ear. Lightyear was being guided towards the general vicinity of the Forbidden Forest; Hermione deemed it to still be too early to veer the broom anywhere near civilization and the castle. It was quarter-to-six in the afternoon and there was still enough hustle and bustle; they would be seen if they weren't too careful.

"Must I beg to hear you say my name?"

Hermione's back stiffened. "I've said it." Her response was weak; how was she possibly to keep her cool around Draco Malfoy?! He was just a ball of perfect wrapped into a neat little package with a quaint little bloody green ribbon!


"Not quite enough, Hermione."

Oh the way he purred her name. Hermione was ready to enter into a state of euphoria. Scratch that, she already was in a state of euphoria. Without word, Draco brought his right hand up to gently clasp the Healer Pendant. He couldn't recall a day since he gave it to her that she ever took it off—it felt good, to know that he was responsible for such a sentimental gift. He sure couldn't remember Ron or Harry giving Hermione anything that she never took off.

"Don't your friends ask about this?" Draco asked, pulling Hermione out of her euphoric state. Bringing Lightyear to a halt, Hermione looked down at the pendant Draco was holding onto. She couldn't recall any of her friends asking…

"Only on the train ride to Hogwarts. The boys commented on it, apart from that no, not really." Hermione turned her upper body to take a better look at the man sitting with her. "I'm sure Blaise was around when you purchased this. I'm surprised he hasn't commented on it."

Draco shook his head. "I snuck off, remember? Bought it, hid it, and made it back to our group before they noticed I was gone. I had to lie through my perfect pearly whites—hey!" Draco laughed when Hermione aimed a punch at him. He immediately let go of the pendant to wrap his arms around her waist once again.

"They are perfect, but one mustn't compliment themselves. It's bad luck."

"I didn't read that in the Encyclopedia of Superstitions." Draco purred, teasing Hermione yet riling up her hormones at the same time. "Did you?"

Hermione exhaled sharply and managed to manoeuvre her body so that she was now facing Draco. He wanted to play dirty, did he? Well, she could play just as hard. Draco was watching in amusement, ready to of course catch her if she stumbled, with what Hermione was doing. When she was sure that she was secure, Hermione grabbed the collar of Draco's shirt and pulled him into an unexpected but breathtaking kiss.

Needless to say, Draco was caught off guard.

Her fingers released from his collar and her arms snaked their way around his neck. Recovering quickly, Draco shimmied closer to Hermione and took the kiss to a whole new level, igniting the fireworks and fueling the fire. Hermione's finger's played with the hairs on the nape of Draco's neck and he, sneakily, brushed a few fingers against the skin on the small of Hermione's back.

"You're a little prick, teasing me like that." Hermione managed to breathe when they pulled away from the kiss. Draco smirked, licking his lower lip oh so slowly.

"I quite enjoy watching you squirm."

"And I repeat, prick."

"Are you going to continue to insult me or are you going to kiss me again?"

Hermione, calculatingly, unwound her arms from around his neck and crossed them in front of her. Her action pushed her breasts up ever so slightly, much to Draco's glee. "Why must I instigate the kiss again?"

"Because I was the one to instigate these flying lessons. I mean look at you! You're flying on a broomstick backwards," Draco leaned forward and rubbed the tip of his nose against Hermione's. Remaining at the close proximity, Draco added, "I'm sure your friends potty and weasel can't do what you're doing right now."

"What?" Hermione was quick to run her tongue over Draco's lower lip. "Make out with the Slytherin Seeker while flying, on his broom, over the Forbidden Forest? No, I'm sure they can't do what I'm doing right now."

"Wouldn't you like to fly on my broo—ah! Stop hitting me, woman!"

Hermione glared icily. "Don't make such crude jokes."

"Who said I was jok—oww! Okay, okay, I surrender!"

Hermione grinned victoriously. "Good."

Draco chuckled and placed a gentle kiss on the tip of Hermione's nose. "Listen," he whispered. His arms never left their place from around her waist. "There was a reason behind why I wanted to see you today."

"Other than my charming personality?"

Draco rolled his eyes. "So charming."

Hermione laughed gently. "Your sarcasm amuses me. Is it about our potions project?"

The look that Draco gave Hermione made her throw her head back in laughter. His facial expressions were priceless, exemplified by his stormy grey eyes. "Do you think that I'd bring you hundreds of feet in the air to discuss the details of our potions project? I could do that while you're sitting with your friends in the Great Hall!"

Hermione recovered and pecked Draco's lips. "I know. I'm teasing… go on? Are you breaking up with me?"

"Quite the opposite…"

Hermione's heart stopped beating when those three words tumbled form his lips. Her eyes locked with his and all she could see were endless pools of seriousness and admiration…

Admiration for her.

What is he thinking…?

"Fuck the bloody hierarchy, Hermione." Draco whispered. He sounded sultry, rather hypnotic. Almost exotic.

"Fuck it all. We're more than friends; you know it as well as I do. I'm not one to play mind games, to have either one of us contemplate what kind of relationship we're in. Perhaps Hogwarts can't know yet, for obvious reasons… but for us… for you and me… I want this."

Hermione's throat was dry; her mouth felt like cotton. "Want… what?"

"You." Draco croaked. "I want you for me, just me. I don't want Gunnar thinking he has a chance—fuck, I don't want anybody to have the slim chance of taking you away from me."

"What… are you—"

"I want you to be my girlfriend."

Chapter 15: The Response of a Bruised Heart

Hermione's jaw was slack. A light breeze flew through the atmosphere; it was as if time had stopped altogether. Draco's eyes searched Hermione's, hoping to get a glimmer of reaction. Well, he wasn't expecting her to react like that. In his mind he pictured the scenario to look more along the lines of her throwing her arms around his shoulders, telling him that that was what she wanted since their first encounter in 1991 and that all her hopes and dreams had come true with his one question.

But, as much as he wanted the situation to end up like that, he knew that Hermione was too practical to do any of the aforementioned.

Well, maybe except the throwing her arms around his shoulders part. That was the most plausible out of the scenario.

It felt like an eternity ticked by and Draco was unsure of whether he was holding his breath or not. He didn't feel like he was breathing; his attention was more on Hermione's lack of reaction. Well, that bloody well blew up in my face didn't it? Way to go, Malfoy, ask the only girl in the whole bloody school you want to be yours and face a reaction like this. If you didn't want to be my girlfriend, you shouldn't have bloody snogged me in every blasted corner of this goddamned castle!

Should he call her name? He wasn't sure what Hermione was thinking of... perhaps she was contemplating the pros and cons of being his significant other? Draco was more than ready to pull his hair out—


Draco was anticipating a yes or a yes (the no wasn't really an option in the made-up scenario in his head), but he damn well wasn't expecting her to ask him why he wanted to date her.

But that was what made her Hermione Granger; her need to enquire about every happening in the world made her oh so utterly unique.

"… what do you mean why?" Draco asked, trying very hard to keep his voice steady. Nobody ever questioned him when he asked them out. Granted, he only ever had one serious girlfriend and she lasted for all but six weeks.

Hermione blinked ever so innocently at him, her large brown doe eyes making his heart melt. What the bloody hell, Draco. His mind began to scold him. She is just a girl. Just. A. Girl. Sure, you've been lusting for her since you've developed the hormones required to properly lust for a woman but in the name of bloody Merlin! She's just a girl… albeit incredibly beautiful and outstandingly smart and blissfully witty but just a girl!

"… hierarchy?"

Draco blinked. He totally missed everything Hermione said to him because he was too busy ducking his head and not making eye contact with the scolding person residing inside of his brain. The image he saw of the person scolding him looked oddly like Antonin Dolohov… and that unnerved Draco very much. It was entirely too reminiscent of the year Draco spent with Death Eaters in his mansion. Cue inward shudder.

"Pardon me?"

Hermione looked away from him and a stray lock of her hair dangled just by her ear. Draco used all the willpower he had to resist tucking it behind her ear again—the moment didn't seem too fitting.

"I said, what happened to the hierarchy?" She looked back at him. "That… we're supposed to…"

Amusement rippled through Draco and his shoulders visibly relaxed. "Honestly, bookworm? We're thousands of feet in the air and I'm asking you to be my girlfriend and all you're concerned about is the hierarchy?"

Hermione raised an eyebrow. "Honestly yourself, Malfoy. You know I'm not one to break the rules and quite frankly, this hierarchy is a predetermined set of rules that – although quite ridiculous and nobody sane would follow under any given circumstances – I just can't break with a good conscience."

"So you'd use that explanation to justify sleeping with me?"

Hermione's mouth snapped shut but Draco could just about hear her response: Yes, if the hierarchy called for it. He inwardly did his signature Malfoy Victory Dance. Finding that moment to be fitting, he tucked the stray lock of her hair behind her ear while murmuring in an ever huskily succulent voice: "I'm sure that you, Potter, and Weasley have broken more rules than the school even has."

"We did not." Hermione muttered. She was still caught up with what he asked her; how was she even to respond to that?! She didn't really entertain the idea of being with Draco. Okay, well, she did but every girl in the school probably entertained that thought at some point of their schooling career. Hermione was a 'late-bloomer' in that sense; she hadn't thought about it until she and Draco were actually involved in some form.

But still.


What would his father say? Hermione was amused at herself for thinking what she just thought, but she had a point.

What would his father say…? Of course, when he heard about it.


Hermione blinked several times before focusing her gaze back onto Draco. "Sorry?"

His brows furrowed. "You alright? Maybe we should call it a night…" He tried to keep the disappointment out of his voice. He was really hoping for the answer he wanted to hear but if Draco knew anything about Hermione, it was that she wasn't going to make his task as easy as he hoped.

This, perhaps, was one of the many reasons as to why he liked her so much; she never failed to present an intriguing challenge that always seemed to pique his Malfoy-interest.

"I'm quite alright." Hermione inhaled deeply and idly glanced at the horizon. "Yes… we should call it a night."

Don't ask her about the question… don't ask her about the question… don't ask her about the bloody goddamned stupid question!

"So, Granger, what about my question?" His eyes widened, utterly horrified. Stupid mouth! Why can't you ever listen to the brain goddammit?!

"I'll let you know."


Typical female response.

Augh, Draco you're such an idiot. How could I possibly salvage this one?! And I have her as my potions partner and tablemate for every class this year. Great, you dug yourself your own grave.


Draco blinked several times (quite déjà vu, actually) and noticed that they were hovering just in front of the Gryffindor Girls' Dormitory. "How did… when did…?"

"I flew us down here?" Hermione said, her statement sounding more like a question.

Draco blinked some more. "All by yourself?!"

Hermione deadpanned. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, oh great flying teacher of mine. Can you help me down please?" Keep it together Hermione. Just two more minutes and then you can go kick yourself for your lack of response in peace.

With the utmost straightest face that Draco could muster up, he helped Hermione disembark from his trusty steed and safely (and quietly) into the comfort of her dormitory.

Wait… do I kiss her?

Hermione leaned forward and placed a peck on his cheek.

Well, that answered that question.

"Goodnight, Draco."

Ahh, the butterflies in his stomach. With his typical Malfoy smirk and confident Malfoy aura, he winked at her. "Sweet dreams, bookworm."

Yep, I salvaged that one alright. Draco was inwardly commending himself.

Hermione took a step back and gently shut the window. Without waiting for anything, she quickly made way to the washroom to scream loudly in peace (of course, with a silencing charm placed on her). WHY AM I SO STUPID?!


"Hermione, pass the juice will you?"

The aforementioned girl broke from her reverie and looked up at Seamus who was watching her patiently. Ever since the previous night, she hadn't been completely there, so to speak. All she could do was think about Draco and his proposition.

He actually wanted her to be his girlfriend.

As Hagrid would put it, blimey.

Draco threw the hierarchy out of the proverbial window and dismissed all previous discussions of how they must sleep together to attain the title as girlfriend and boyfriend. High atop the Hogwarts grounds he asked her a question that was akin to a marriage proposal—at least to Hermione. Draco wasn't aware how she never had a real boyfriend, or how she was still a virgin; in fact, Hermione was positive that nobody knew her secrets (except the girls… they knew everything about everybody's purity status).

"Here you are." Hermione plastered on her best unfazed face when she addressed her housemate. She was unsure of who she was fooling, though… herself or others. Draco hadn't written to her in their linked journals that morning and she sure as heck wasn't going to the first to break the barrier (so to speak).

Besides, they had double Potions together in less than an hour… he probably would bring 'it' up then.

Maybe he won't. Malfoy ego and all…


Draco's mind was facing a conundrum ever since he dropped Hermione off the night before. He wasn't able to get a wink of sleep; all he did was toss and turn and play out the many other scenarios that could've happened last night.

He never would've dreamed that what happened last night actually would've happened. Draco didn't anticipate Hermione to let him know later. What the bloody hell was that supposed to mean?! Did she have to think about it? What was there to think about?! He was a goddamned bloody Malfoy—Malfoys didn't need to be thought about before receiving the affirmation that yes, indeed, the muggle-born with once bushy hair and enormous buckteeth would be his goddamned blasted too-smart-for-her-own-damned-good girlfriend!

… Not that muggle-borns were worthy of Malfoys.

Except Hermione.

But what the hell?! Let him know later?! She was probably penning a quasi-poetic letter to gently let his poor old soul down.

It sounded like a Granger thing to do.


"… WHERE?!"

Blaise exhaled loudly. "I knew that would catch your attention. You were off in your own little world ignoring everything Adrian and I just said."

"Telling me the red-haired orangutans are coming is not the way to get a man's attention, Zabini." Draco mumbled. His mind began to wander back to Hermione…

Stupid, smart, mean, Hermione.

What the hell, man! Pull yourself together. She is just a girl. Just. A. Girl. Just. A…

"Coming, Hermione?"

Draco's spine stiffened when he heard her name being called just a few feet behind him. The voice sounded like it belonged to the mini she-Weasley. He didn't want to turn around but couldn't help himself when he heard Ginerva Weasley holler: "Hi Gunnar! Care to join us on our way to the Potions classroom?"

Theodore gently elbowed Draco. "It's Gunnar!"

"What am I to do about that? The boy from Durmstrang is free to walk the corridors of Hogwarts as he pleases." Draco was tight-lipped and monotone. Blaise and Adrian exchanged looks but said nothing.

Theodore, however, didn't have that much tact.

"You weren't saying that when he was flirting with Herm-umph!" Blaise and Adrian smothered Theodore's face when they saw Draco's stormy grey eyes narrow. Clearly Hermione and Draco had a squabble and they didn't want any of the Slytherins being on the receiving end of Draco's rage that should be directed towards Hermione.

Granted, they didn't even want Hermione being on the receiving end of the anger meant for Hermione.

"We have class. Let's go."

"Twenty galleons say they're in a fight." Theodore whispered to the other boys when they removed their hands form his face. Adrian rolled his eyes.

"Gee, what gave that away?"


Hermione was sitting nervously in class. Draco would enter any moment and things were bound to be awkward. He hadn't written to her all day (granted, she hadn't written to him either), and Hermione was not looking forward to what type of conversation they were going to partake in.

If they were going to partake in any conversation at all, that is.

Speak of the devil… Hermione was acutely aware of when Draco took his place beside her. She could distinctly smell his eau du Malfoyblasted, why must he smell so good? Back straight and eyes trained on the invisible speck on her desk, Hermione was determined to not make any eye-contact with her tablemate.

"Hey, Granger."


"Hello. Malfoy." She added his name abruptly after greeting him.

Draco was leaning back in his chair looking wordlessly beautiful as always… like the statue of Adonis, but perhaps even more majestic. How could anybody in a school uniform look so attractive?! It should be illegal on all levels!

"I'm certain Professor Snape will have us collaborate on our project today. Have you done research?"

Why is he being so casual?! Hermione was so confused!

Keep it together, man. Draco was doing quiet breathing exercises. His heart was racing off the charts; he was sure he was going to suffer cardiac arrest any moment now. Act nonchalant. Pretend as if last night never happened… you're a man, not a boy. Have class.

"I really haven't…" Hermione's voice was meek, as timid as a squeaking mouse. Draco was quite amused, despite the circumstance. He never witnessed Granger to be so confused and squeaky.

"No matter, I've done some preliminary research on some of our ingredients. The one thing I was unable to do adequate research on was tears of a virgin." Draco didn't miss Hermione's back straighten even more than it already was. Yes, he knew her little secret but she didn't know that he knew.

Which made it all the more fun.

"Settle down." Snape's voice droned from the back of the dungeon and within the blink of an eye, all the students were settled in their seats and preparing themselves for a gruelling two hours with Professor Snape.

Harry still questioned why they had to put up with him. His intentions were questionable, despite him claiming that he was on the light side and not the dark. Snape was Snape… he'd always be the most grimy and emotionless professor that Hogwarts had to offer.

Hermione welcomed Snape's interruption. The close proximity between her and Draco was driving her wild! She didn't know how to face him after leaving him hanging the night before—how could anybody possibly face somebody that asked them out? Hermione was caught off guard. In her defense, she didn't see that coming and she wasn't able to formulate her thoughts correctly.

She needed time to think.

Which she did.

All that was left was to understand Draco's intention. The mighty Slytherin Prince was asking her to be his girlfriend when he could have just about anybody in the school. And there was the matter of his pureblood lineage; how were his parents ever going to accept her? Especially since his aunt threw the Crucio at her not even a year prior.

Or was the relationship meant to be kept a secret? If that was the case, Hermione didn't want any part of it. She didn't believe in the wishy-washy 'keep-this-relationship-a-secret' bullocks that some couples did. Yes, keeping their friendship a secret was one thing; they formed a bond the night Bellatrix tried to kill her and Draco heroically intervened. A bond that they knew nobody would understand.

But a relationship?! No way was Hermione going to keep that a secret. How were they ever going to sneak about for dates and whatnot—oh that is bloody ironic. She wanted to smack her herself. That's precisely what they've been doing since the beginning of the school year, sneaking around.

Hermione didn't want to say no. Rather, she wanted nothing more than to say yes to Draco's proposition but she had a lot of factors to consider and she couldn't thoughtlessly accept his offer. Not that she was going to draw a pros and cons list but she had to consider the Slytherins and Gryffindors… his family, his father

Would she be respected by the people surrounding them if she were to enter such a relationship? Hermione wasn't the type of woman to accept rudeness and disrespect. She had the spark of a Gryffindor and she wouldn't hesitate to chew somebody out. Or hex them, whichever was most convenient.

"Today you will be collaborating on your Potions' projects."

Of course Malfoy's right. Hermione thought, sarcastically.

"I will be providing some text that will help you in your research," with a flick of Snape's wand, more than two dozen books appeared on a long bench at the front of the class. "You may use any text required in this classroom, but none of the books can be taken. For that, you must consult with the library directory. Any questions, I will be here. Otherwise, you may begin."

Draco tilted his head in Hermione's direction. "So, how do you propose we cure heartbreak?"

Hermione was unsure on whether he was implying something which, honestly, made her feel worse than she already was. When he asked her out, it made her heart jump into her throat because she was excited.

But then she was left speechless because she was shocked.

And then all of the questions and concerns that came with dating a Malfoy began to flood into her mind… it really wasn't her fault at all.

Was it?

"We first need to look at the magical properties of the heart." Hermione murmured, not really looking at Draco. "Once we find out what magic is involved in a heart breaking it'll be easy to cure it."

"You sure about that?"

Hermione's heart sunk. "Positive." Without another word, Hermione leaned over to grab her book bag. Her intention was to pull out her potions notebook (of course a muggle notebook that she brought from home) but, as Murphy's Law insisted (damn that muggle Murphy), Hermione pulled out her journal instead.

She rested it on her desk and leaned back over to find her potions notebook. All the while Draco's eyes were glued onto the one thing that linked them together. Her disregard for his question was chewing him up! She could at least say no… he couldn't even involve himself with other women now because a) that wasn't classy, and he wasn't going to drown out his internal turmoil by shagging other women and b) Hermione Granger had eternally ruined him for all other women he could potentially be involved with.

Hermione finally found the object that she was looking for and sat up. She was just in time to see Draco tear his eyes away from the journal and that made her feelings worse—I'm such an idiot.

She would have to talk to him but how was she going to request his attendance in private after last night?! Come on, Hermione. You're the smartest witch of the era, I'm sure you can think of something to lure Malfoy out.

She had to discuss his question with him. She wasn't blindly going to accept his proposition…

Hermione sometimes hated being so analytical.

But then she'd probably fair the same fate as Lavender Brown with Ron…

"So let's get our facts straight," Hermione was going to lock up her inner turmoil and get down to business for the time being. Everything else could be addressed at a later time. "Heartbreak is the result of a person of close relationship letting somebody down dramatically."

"Not letting somebody down," Draco rolled his eyes. "Weasel could flunk his Potions' NEWT and you'd be disappointed. Not heartbroken. Heartbreak is more akin to what weasel would feel if you rejected his romantic gestures for somebody more deserving."

Was Malfoy implying something?

"Can we stop talking about Ron and his romantic gestures for me?" Hermione mumbled. It was awkward because Ron did have feelings for her once upon a time and because of what transpired between her and Draco the previous night.

"Fine." Draco's voice drastically changed. "Gunnar, then."

"That isn't fair," Hermione whirled towards him. "I don't reciprocate his feelings!"

Draco bit his lip, he didn't want to push the matter further; it was bad enough that she didn't want to be with him and here he was rubbing salt on his own damn wound by bringing up other men that had a thing for her. Why did she have to be so attractive both physically and personality-wise?

"Heartbreak is caused by immediate disappointment by somebody that you have a romantic inclination for." Draco muttered, less enthusiastic than before. "What we have to do is find somebody suffering from heartbreak, analyze their heart, and figure out a cure incorporating the four ingredients listed."

Hermione was glad he dropped it. "And who could be actively suffering from a broken heart?"

Draco shrugged. "How should I know? Ask your girlfriends. I'm sure they're up to date on the latest Hogwarts gossip."

Oddly enough, he was right.

"I suppose." Hermione sighed. Nothing else was said after that… Draco had gotten up to grab a few textbooks to do research and Hermione figured she'd do the same. After all, she was the one at fault for making things so awkward between her and Draco.

Chapter 16: Normal? What's Normal?

Draco was whisked away by his friends at the end of Potions Class and Hermione joined Ron, Harry, Seamus, Fay, and Kellah on their walk back to the Gryffindor Dormitory. Draco had, however, gently placed his hand on her upper left thigh and quietly bade her farewell. It was his way of saying that 'despite your lack of response the night before, I still feel the same' which, inevitably, made Hermione feel even worse, if that was humanly possible.

She needed Gabriella's advice.

Hermione was lost deep in her thoughts (which wasn't unusual for her so her friends really made no effort to snap her out of it). Perhaps she should message Draco first. After all, she did tell him that she would be the one to let him know. That seemed like the smartest thing to do.


It was decided. She would message him via their journals as soon as she reached the dormitory. Perhaps she should take the time to read that book on dragons as well—it had been a while since she flipped through the pages. The mystery behind Kapral Zabini had to be solved… what if there really was a relation to Blaise Zabini? Then the mystery of his missing father would be solved and his mother would, maybe, alleviate the intensity of the allegations claiming that she was a black widow.

The boys and the girls and Hermione (who was in a category all on her own) separated: the boys wanted to get a quick work-out done in the Hogwarts Training Facility and the girls were suggesting lounging in the courtyard (they wanted to get as much lounging done as possible before the cold weather arrived). Hermione welcomed the opportunity of solitude; she wanted to sit in her dormitory, write to Draco, and get some research and reading done.

Too many things were on her mind.

Without much distraction, Hermione arrived at her dormitory and was happy to find that none of the other dorm girls were in the tower. Quickly changing into clothing that allowed more comfort; Hermione climbed onto her bed and pulled out her journal and the Dragon Mythology text.

She was first going to write to Draco...

I'm in somewhat of a pickle. Would you care to help me figure it out?

It took her all but ten minutes to figure out what to write to him without sounding too cheesy or desperate.

Waiting a total of two and a half minutes (and not receiving a response from Draco), Hermione shut the journal and placed it beside her. There was no point getting her knickers in a twist over the time it took for him to respond; he was probably with his friends. Besides, she wanted to catch him when he had time so that she could lay out all of her thoughts. It was better to do it sooner rather than later. She wasn't the type to sit idly by when a situation was laid before her, but what happened the previous night took her completely off guard and she was not prepared to react.

Who would be prepared to react under such circumstance was beyond her.

Never mind. Hermione decided to reread Greatness: Mythology of the Dragon Empire once again. It had been too long since she read it and, besides, there were too many things on her mind for her to actually remember how the text went.

Getting comfortable, she flipped open the book (not before watching the dragon silhouette fly around the cover).


This book is a research conducted by Isadora Gryffindor to study the habits of the legendary Dragon Empire. The Dragon Empire is a clan of the most majestic and rarest bred beasts from across the lands; their philosophies, ideologies, and habits are studied so that we can better understand their kind. According to Isadora's elder brother, Godric Gryffindor, there will be a time in the 20th Century when the Great Dragon's spirit, hidden within the body of a mortal, will be called upon. When a union is formed between the heavens and the seas, the spirit will unleash. This book's main purpose is to understand where this prophecy came from and whether the Dragon Empire has any control over it.


Prior to the existence of civilization lived an ancient clan of regal beasts, which we have come to recognize to be the Dragon Empire. These beasts have a different subset of laws and regulation that set them apart from any other creature that coexists with wizards and muggles alike; they follow an ancient monarch rule that is neither socialist nor capitalist. Godric, Salazar and I have spent years living amongst the Dragon Empire to learn their habits, rituals, and laws so that we may put a reason to the Chaos Theory, or in Godric's words, the Prophecy of the Sun and Sea.

Before we begin our research, let us denote the different roles in the Dragon Empire. The highest level in this system is the Kapral, which is equivalent to a human emperor. The Kapral has two advisors, Darzulf and Darharkt. The Darzulf's role is to be the devil's advocate whereas the Darharkt must be the voice of reason. The Kapral also has a group of seven elders; they are referred to as the Wadoya, meaning High Priests. The Wadoya play the roles of Elders in this ancient clan. They are the wisest, oldest, and most experienced—usually the Wadoya consists of one or two past Kaprals.

Let us reiterate:

Highest post: Kapral.

The Kapral has two advisors: Darzulf and Darharkt.

The Kapral and his advisors seek council from the Wadoya: the seven elders of the Dragon Empire.

The present Kapral, to our knowledge, is Kapral Zabini who has ruled the Empire democratically and civilly for an estimated three centuries. The average term of a Kapral is twenty-three centuries before they step down and select their successor. The successor is usually next of kin but the Kapral has the option to choose another dragon if they feel that their kin cannot aptly rule the throne and protect the Ring of Chaos. The story of the Chaos Theory (also known as the Prophecy of the Sun and Sea) as well as the Ring of Chaos will be further discussed in this research.

The history of the Dragon Empire's existence is vague, even to the Empire itself. Kapral Zabini has very limited knowledge, as he recently was coroneted (and by recent, I mean less than five centuries ago). Godric, Salazar, and I were informed that he was still getting used to the position in terms of all of the rules, regulations, as well as what his job entails exactly.

To my knowledge, and this will be discussed further, the Dragon Empire was the first to instate any magical decree; the clan of mythological beasts are the first (in known existence) to practice a form of magic. Though this magic is not akin to the magic we as witches and wizards use, it uses the same basic principles and properties that we use, that is the requirement of thought, feel, and emotion to instigate any magical power.

We will first begin this research by outlining the history (or rather what we know of the history). We'll then briefly map the genealogy of the Kaprals and look into how this hierarchy system first came in to affect and why it still exists today. We'll branch off into subtopic, such as their rules, regulation, their practices and culture, etc.

The text need not be read in chronological order. There will be a table of contents on the following page and you may skip to the section that interests you instead. The text will be written primarily by me, but some chapters may be covered by Godric or Salazar.

Thank you, whoever you are, for reading the text behind this study. It has taken us a great deal of time and your interest, however fleeting it may be, is appreciated.

Hermione was ready to flip the page to look at the table of contents but she felt her journal heat up just beside her. She was hardly aware of how her heart jumped to her throat; she was too excited and cared more to tear the book open to see what Draco had responded with.

Pickle? What's wrong?

Though slightly disappointed that his response was so brief, Hermione understood. Draco was, perhaps, treading carefully because she was the one that requested time in regards to his proposition. He was taking it quite well, in her opinion, and she decided it was best not to keep him waiting. She had concerns that needed to be addressed and instead of wallowing away pondering the 'what ifs,' it was best to address her concern with the person who produced them.

There has been a… situation with the Malfoy of Hufflepuff.

But who said she had to address the situation head-on? Using a fake Malfoy would do just nicely.


Draco and the other Slytherins proceeded back to their dungeons. After double potions, nobody wanted to do anything—and Draco just wanted to sit and not think of anything. His heart was telling him to shake the knockers out of Hermione and demand an answer but his brain was opposing that notion.

Give her space.

Give her time.

Give her what she needed so she could, potentially, give him what he wanted.

I hate this bloody waiting game.

Well, Draco wasn't the first in history to declare a deep hatred for waiting. The group of Slytherin males entered their Common Room and immediately split-up. Draco welcomed this decision, he wanted to sit in the cozy armchairs in the Common Room and scowl at the green flame flickering in the fire place. Granger was such a Granger! Why couldn't she bloody well message him alr-

He felt his journal heat up.

Speak of the devil! With lightning speed, Draco pulled his journal from within his stack of text books and quickly flipped it open. He was amused, needlessly to say, at what Hermione had written. Leave to his bookworm to be so eloquent when they were having a 'rough patch' so to speak.

I'm in somewhat of a pickle. Would you care to help me figure it out?

Draco was acutely aware of how his heart fluttered (in his opinion that was rather pathetic) upon reading her sentence. How could one single human being be capable of making him feel so goddamned happy?! That shouldn't be possible and some deep, dark, dangerous magic was involved in this situation. There just had to be; Draco had no other explanation to it and he was a wizard for Merlin's sake.

Pickle? What's wrong?

He had to remain short and sweet. He couldn't let her see that it made him happy and excited to hear from her. He was giving her the space she needed and Draco was slowly eating himself up from the inside; he hated not hearing from her. Again, rather pathetic. And miserable. And completely un-Malfoy.

There has been a… situation with the Malfoy of Hufflepuff.

There! She said it and he didn't have to bring it up again; oh, there were good things that happened to Draco. He sat upright; such things required apt attention and utmost concentration and Draco had to offer everything he could to this situation. His sanity, heart, and state of bachelorhood depended on it.

Especially his state of bachelorhood. If that even was a thing.

What kind of situation? Must I hex somebody now, for having you feel emotionally distressed, bookworm?

Draco was practically doing breathing exercises. Keep it cool. Keep it cool.

He needed a muggle paper bag. Draco believed that he was hyperventilating and that, also, was completely un-Malfoy. His heart rate accelerated when he saw her words bleed onto the pages of their linked journals. This had to be the greatest bloody idea that Hermione had ever come up with; nobody would think that they were communicating. Muggles needed something like this!

Well, I wouldn't say hexed. The issue is that he has formally asked me to be his girlfriend and I said I would let him know— which was rather unconventional on my part, I must admit.

Draco rolled his eyes. You think? He wanted to write that to her but decided against it.

But I believe that he doesn't understand the rationale behind why I did what I did and now I think that he thinks that I am going to not accept, but rather, reject his proposition. Despite my excelling intellect, I am failing to understand what I must do in regards to this situation.

Well, that was long-winded. A part of Draco felt relaxed, though. Her first reaction wasn't a no. She had concerns, apparently, that she wanted addressed. Well... she could've just said that instead of saying 'I think that he thinks that I think that he thinks that I think that he thinks.' Women were confusing, regardless of their "excelling intellect."

Your compliment yourself, bookworm. Draco began penning his response. But let us examine the situation; let us assume that you informed him you will let him know because you had some concerns, correct?

It took her a moment, but she responded. Maybe she was questioning his use of a semi-colon. Perhaps it wasn't properly placed and she was giggling over how puncuationly incorrect he was and how he must return to primary school to relearn the basic concepts of proper punctuation placement.

And his excessive use of alliteration.

Correct. Okay, so maybe she wasn't questioning his semi-colon positioning. Maybe Draco was over thinking and he should just calm down.

And what type of concerns?

Draco sat back and heard the seconds tick by. This was basically do-or-die; she was going to tell him what was worrying her and if he was able to address it then the issue of his bachelorhood would be solved! Otherwise he would have to hang his head for the rest of the semester and avoid Hermione at all costs. The latter wasn't an option; he was addicted to her lips and infatuated with her touch. She was all around perfect and he was not going to lose her at any cost.

The first one is that our friendship is being kept a secret and I do not want to be in a relationship that must also be kept a secret. Would the school know? As far as I am concerned, any relationship between him and I is considered blasphemous.

"She has a point." Draco murmured. He hadn't thought of that- of course he hadn't, he wasn't concerning himself with what the bloody school thought! He only wanted to know what Hermione thought.

The school can just learn to deal with it. I thought that we were advocating house unity anyway... or must I remind you of those blasted seating plans in every class?

Good point. But people will talk...

People always talk, Granger. They'll talk whether you date me or not.

I'm not talking about you...

Draco smirked. Oops?

Of course you're not, bookworm. But please, continue with your list of concerns.

There, he redeemed himself once again.


Hermione was shaking as the conversation continued. She was glad that she didn't have to face him and have the conversation; she wouldn't be able to face him, let alone speak. He saw his words appear in her journal urging her to continue with her list of concerns. He basically waived off her first one, about Hogwarts' reaction in regards to their relationship. He said it didn't matter, people would talk regardless.

Fine, she'd give him that one. But she wasn't going to accept anything less than a solid answer for the rest of her concerns. Especially the one in regards to his father. Okay, Hermione. She was trying to muster up the courage. Just tell him everything bugging you. Besides, she knew that nothing could be solved unless it was addressed.

Her quill hovered over the page for a brief moment before she began listing her concerns.

I'm also curious about how serious he is. Everybody knows he had only one girlfriend and that didn't last too long. How am I sure that he is serious or of this is just a short-term commitment. I cannot commit to something that isn't being taken seriously by the other party. I'm not asking for a guarantee of the long-term, all I'm requesting is that there is effort put into this union.

Hermione leaned back. Well, that wasn't too painful; it took her a while to form the sentences together in her head but she felt that she adequately wrote what she intended to. Now all there was left to do was wait for Draco's response.

Oh woe is me.


Draco was amused, so to speak. He would never have thought that the longevity of their relationship would be a concern to Hermione. But then again, the permanency of a relationship was a concern to any woman, be it Hermione or otherwise.

Fine, her second concern was also legitimate. How was he supposed to tell her that what he felt for her he never felt prior? That the mere thought of her made his heart pound uncontrollably… How was he to explain that his blood boiled when he saw her with another man? Or that when she was physically near him he lost all control of his senses and immersed into a world that involved her and only her? Surely if he wrote all that she would deem him insane and hesitate to speak to him ever again. And I can't afford to have that, now can I? Draco heaved a heavy sigh and shifted so that he was more comfortable. What he was to say next required ample concentration.

Any future he had with Hermione depended on it.

Life is a risk, bookworm. You won't know unless you dive into the deep-end.

There, philosophical yet still Malfoy. Draco never ceased to impress himself (although that was quite cocky). Deciding that what he wrote just wasn't enough, he continued to write, his perfect handwriting bleeding through the page, making its way to Hermione.


And the fact that I've only ever had one serious girlfriend and am now asking you to be my girlfriend should be an indication that I've never been more serious about anything in my life.

Hermione's heart slammed against her chest. This conversation was not going how she expected it to, but exactly how she wanted it to. He, more or less, answered the question the way she wanted him to…

But now remained the final and most difficult question of them all…

His father.


Answer accepted. Draco smirked, Granger was sometimes so cute. But now I must pose the hardest of all concerns…

Draco knew what was coming.

Your father.

And without hesitation, he scribbled his response: Will hear about this. If the school will know, then of course my family will.

And the fact I am muggle-born?

They'll learn to accept it.

Your aunt tried to kill me.

My aunt doesn't live with me. And my mother helped save you, remember?

My memory may be slightly blurred from that day. It was quite traumatic.

In any case, Granger, my family will know about this and you can leave that to me. I fully intend on bringing you home, too.

There. He said it. After something like that she couldn't possibly doubt how serious he was about her. He'd never brought home a girl before… hell, he never brought home anybody. Draco couldn't even recall if he invited any of his friends over; usually his mother did.

He anxiously awaited Hermione's response.


Hermione simply gawked at what he wrote. He intended on bringing her home? Well, she hadn't anticipated that. Where was Gabriella when she needed her? Hermione was never this involved with a man before; she wasn't even dealing with a man! She was dealing with Draco Malfoy.

Prince of Slytherin.

King of Cockiness.

Lord of Lavish.

Hermione wasn't dealing with a human.

She had to be quick with her response and not seem frazzled by what he said; she had to remain calm, cool, and collected. He answered her questions exactly the way she wanted him to but not at all the way she had expected him to.

And that threw her off. Hermione was confused and didn't even know what to say next. She didn't anticipate him to be so understanding of her concerns. She was expecting some sort of a Malfoy blow-up, but then again the Malfoy she was dealing with wasn't the same Malfoy she met in first year.

Hermione inhaled deeply. Well, it was do or die. She had to give him a response eventually; she couldn't leave his question hanging... Why am I so nervous? Hermione couldn't recall being nervous about something. She was either worried, unsure, or extremely confident but nervous? Not even facing Voldemort. Draco Malfoy brought out something in her that she never knew existed.

That concept unnerved her.

Are you able to spare a moment and meet me? Astronomy Tower? I doubt anybody will be there right now.

His response came within seconds.

Sure. I'll fly there and pick you up from the Tower?

Sounds good. See you soon then?

Yes, see you soon.

Hermione's hands were shaking as she shut her journal. Well, that was it— her whole life was going to change as she knew it.

Chapter 17: Committed to the Prince

Hermione made hurried strides towards the Astronomy Tower; everywhere she looked she felt like somebody knew what she was doing. But that was impossible unless they were looking in to her mind… but that was impossible too! Hermione needed to shake away her jitters. She was too nervous and that wasn't helping her situation (or sanity) much either.

It was going to take no more than five minutes. Sure, Draco may not let her live it down but she could deal with that… right? She didn't know if she was making the biggest mistake in her life but it always came down to one thing: they shared something the night his aunt tried to curse her; something that can neither be created nor broken.

Something that simply existed.

A presence of nature.

Whatever the bloody hell it was it needed an explanation. Hermione was an analytical woman and the "simply be" explanations didn't work with her. Everything was calculated, precise, and predetermined.

Nothing can simply be…

Not even her feelings for Draco Malfoy. Everything had a reason behind it.

The corridor stretched on forever and time seemed to slow down. It was reminiscent of the Time Turner, but this time with jitters and nervousness and a desire to vomit her lunch.

Cool your nerves, Hermione. That was her measly attempt to cool her nerves. You're just going to give him an answer, so take a deep breath, calm down, and relax.

Easier said than done.


Draco walked as fast as he humanly (or rather wizardly) could do the Astronomy Tower with his trusty steed, Lightyear. The last few words that Hermione wrote via their magical journal were burned in to Draco's mind: Are you able to spare a moment and meet me?

"I'd drop anything and everything for you, you blasted bookworm." Draco muttered while dodging annoying straggling first years in the corridors. Why were they even about?! Did they not have any Potions or Transfigurations homework they should be doing? If Draco recalled correctly – and he always recalled correctly – his first year class was swamped with homework every day for the whole year. He didn't have time to hang around the corridors.

He still did though… but that was beside the point.

Astronomy Tower?

If Draco's gut feeling was correct – again, his gut feeling never failed him yet – he would enter the Astronomy Tower a bachelor and leave a taken-man. A quite happy taken man. It worried him that Granger had such an effect on him, but he was not worried that he was worried. Nobody had ever made him feel the way that Granger did and Draco loved it. He loved having intellectual banter with her, joking around with her, teasing her…

He especially loved that she knew when to take him seriously and when not to. Most other girls he associated with took him seriously all the bloody time and it drove him nuts.

"What's the rush?"

Draco stopped mid-stride and glanced over his shoulder to see Theodore smirking and Blaise fighting back laughter. "You seem to be running away from a fire, mate."

Draco snickered. "Not running away, Blaise. Running towards."

Blaise was always the smart one and caught on. "Could you possibly…"

"Quite possibly."

"The Prince of Slytherin… might have a Princess?"

Draco face palmed and Theodore punched Blaise on the arm. "Please don't ever say that again. Anyway, we mustn't consume any more of Draco's time… his princess is waiting."

Blaise howled in laughter and Draco had half the mind to curse them both and be done with it. But, alas, he didn't have any cursing time. Shouldn't keep Granger waiting.

"If I had more time…" He let his threat hang and hurried off. Blaise and Theodore exchanged grins.

"He's smitten."

"At least it's with a beautiful and intelligent one this time."

"And let's just hope it lasts." Blaise grimaced. "Despite her being a Gryffindor. Do you think both houses will agree to it?"

Theodore shrugged. "To be frank, I couldn't care less. Draco's life, he can do what he pleases."


Hermione felt that all eyes were boring on to her but knew that that was not the case. She was nervous—she never really had a boyfriend before so whatever was about to transpire would be an entire new world for her. She would not only have a boyfriend, but she would have somebody that would require her to fight to be with. Her house did not agree with his and despite house unity, hundreds of years of animosity could not simply be forgotten.

Yet… it was what she wanted to do. It was what she knew she had to do.

Hermione saw Ginny and Kellah chatting in a corner and had to be quick to avoid them. The proverbial butterflies were going crazy in her stomach and she could not bear to wait a second longer.

She had to see Draco.

She had to give him her answer.

After what felt like an eternity, Hermione arrived at the Astronomy Tower and was pleased to see that it was empty. Walking slowly towards the window, Hermione looked down at the scenery before her. Draco wasn't there yet and she decided to take the moment to breathe and calm down.

Their entire relationship was surreal and it kept getting better and better. Hermione could stay in his arms forever—he was just so different. She wasn't an expert when it came to the opposite sex, but she knew what she felt and trusted it.

"Penny for your thoughts, bookworm?"

Hermione broke from her reverie and was excited to see Draco afloat before her, mounted on Lightyear.

She decided to say the first thing that came to mind: "How do you know what a penny is?"

Draco chuckled and extended his hand out to her. Without thinking twice she put her hand in his and allowed him to pull her out of the window and on to Lightyear, right in front of him. He wrapped his hands around her body to grip Lightyear's stick and, in that moment, Draco took the opportunity to whisper in her ear: "To fraternize with a beautiful muggle-born like you, I took it upon myself to learn the muggle language."

Hermione felt a tingle run down her spine and opted to say nothing. Draco's chest rumbled with laughter and, with a quick kiss just behind her earlobe, Draco took off into the cloudy sky.

Hermione was acutely aware of the warmth seeping from his body into hers. Her heart was racing a mile a minute… she was both used to and not used to that feeling. During Lightyear's ascent Draco released his left hand from the stick and wrapped it around Hermione's waist, ultimately pulling her closer towards his body; as much of a shocker as that motion was, Hermione was completely at ease. Hermione had been surrounded by boys and men her entire life. Her two best friends were boys… but nobody had ever made her feel the way Draco made her feel.

Heck, not even Krum… and he was really interested in her.

"You okay, bookworm?"

"I am." Hermione managed to squeak.

When Draco brought Lightyear to the altitude he wanted, he levelled his broom and held onto Hermione for a moment longer before relinquishing his hold on her. To say that the cold air slapped him would be an understatement; Hermione belonged in his arms. Without her there, he felt entirely incomplete.

He couldn't wait until she was his…

"Now that I have spared you a moment, or two," Draco slyly winked at the girl sitting before him. She had managed to shimmy so that she was sitting with both legs swung over the side of Lightyear; it gave her a better opportunity to look at Draco.

And, for what was going to happen, she kind of wanted to see the looks on his face.

"What did you want to talk about?"

Hermione stared into his pale eyes for an instant… how did Merlin allow anybody to be as perfect as Draco?!

"Fuck the bloody hierarchy, Hermione. Fuck it all. We're more than friends; you know it as well as I do. I'm not one to play mind games, to have either one of us contemplate what kind of relationship we're in. Perhaps Hogwarts can't know yet, for obvious reasons… but for us… for you and me… I want this."

"Want… what?"

"You. I want you for me, just me. I don't want Gunnar thinking he has a chance—fuck, I don't want anybody to have the slim chance of taking you away from me."

"What… are you—"

"I want you to be my girlfriend."

After what felt like an eternity, Hermione cleared her throat. "We once established a hierarchy…"

Draco gave her the time she needed. He couldn't say that he could empathize with her entirely, but he wanted to be as understanding as he possibly could. Subconsciously he placed a hand on the small of her back and began to rub his thumb up and down. Hermione's mind immediately zoned to the spot where his hand rested…

Damn him and his effect on me.

"It was quite unconventional…" Hermione continued. "To have such a hierarchy… but we did. I suppose our relationship could be defined as unconventional in and of itself?"

"It could be." Draco murmured his voice music to Hermione's ears. "Neither of us has been known to stick to convention since day one… wouldn't you say?"

Hermione smiled. "I suppose you're right…"

"If you need more time, bookworm…" Hermione cut Draco off by placing her hand over his mouth, a very physical way of telling him to 'shut up.' Her reaction confused her, let alone Draco.

"No," her voice was barely audible. "It took me enough time to get the courage to ask to you meet me. If I wait any longer, I won't be able to tell you that I want to be with you."

Hermione's eyes widened. She didn't realize that she would blurt it out so quickly… great, so much for self-control, Hermione.

Slowly she released her hand from Draco's mouth. His eyes were locked onto hers and it felt as if an eternity elapsed. A lone hawk – neither wanted to entertain where it came from – flew past them, mercilessly shrieking. The world disappeared around the duo; the atmosphere disintegrated and they were flying in the middle of a white vacuum.

Hermione could hear the blood pounding in her ear—or perhaps that was her heart. She wasn't sure anymore.

Draco brought his hand up and cupped her face. Instinctively Hermione leaned in to his touch…

"You want to… what?"

Hermione gulped. Well, the ferret was out of the bag… may as well just be up-front.

"Be with you."

"As in… my girlfriend?"

Hermione grinned. "Well, if you prefer something more… permanent."

Draco's eyes widened before his features relaxed and his smile widened. "One step at a time, bookworm. After all, we have a hierarchy in place."

Hermione was aware that her little wifey joke did not faze Draco at the least bit. In fact, if she didn't know any better, she would say that he was anticipating something along the lines of more 'permanent.'

"As in your girlfriend." Hermione referred to his earlier question. She didn't need magic to see the excitement radiating from his body. He really wanted to be with her, and that made her even more excited. Such a decision took a tremendous toll on her and she was glad that she made the choice she did…

No matter what the future had in store, at least Hermione could gladly say she had no regrets… after all, she got the boy.

"Can I seal it with a kiss?"

Hermione tilted her face up. "Do you have to ask?"

And the rest was history…


Dear Gabriella,

Will you be happy to know that I did it? I told him that I wanted to be with him and… well… I suppose you can say that I have a boyfriend?

I will wait for you to scream now.

Are you quite done? Good, then I shall continue.

I suppose you would like to know how it happened. Well, I told him that I needed to speak to him and we agreed to meet at the Astronomy Tower… I got there a little before he did and was waiting for him when, without me noticing, he appears in front of me on his broomstick.

And before you ask, he did look quite dapper. Plus, his hair was blowing in the wind—it was quite the sight to see. He puts his hand out for me and I took a hold of it. Quite effortlessly he pulled me onto the broom and we flew into the sky… he had me sitting in front of him and well…

Hermione continue to pen her letter to her best muggle friend, Gabriella Mitt. It was quite refreshing to have a friend that wasn't involved in the Wizarding World. Gabriella knew everything there was to know about the world of magic that Hermione lived in—now, it was unlike Hermione to break the rules; she received special permission from the Ministry of Magic to reveal to Gabriella the secrets of their world. The Ministry had Gabriella under a spell so that should she tell anybody, even family, about Hermione's secret, her memory would instantly be wiped and anything she knew about Hermione, including childhood memories, would be instantly forgotten.

So immersed in her letter writing that Hermione didn't realize Kellah come take a seat beside her the bed.

"You look deep in thought."

Hermione looked up from her letter. "Oh, hey Kell… just writing to my friend."


Hermione nodded and glanced down at her letter for a moment before putting it down on the side. "Yeah, muggle. We went to school together when I was younger… before my Hogwarts letter."

Kellah grinned. "It's sweet how you have friends that are out of Hogwarts… couldn't say the same for some people in this school. Anyway… the girls and I were talking and well, they voluntold me to see you so here I am."

Hermione raised an eyebrow. "Voluntold? For what?"

"You've been kind of… out of it… and we are concerned."

Hermione gulped. She and Draco are supposed to be a public thing… so she could essentially tell Kellah. But she wasn't sure how Kellah would react to it… or any of the girls for that matter. Heck, all of Hogwarts might be in a state of commotion.

Best not to say anything yet… the school and her friends would know, but in due time.

"I'm fine. Just a few things on my mind, that's all." Hermione was not going to take such a huge decision that was telling her housemates of her relationship status change without consulting Draco. Hermione decided she may as well use this situation to leverage her Potion's project. "Stressing about Snape's project, that's all."

Kellah's eyes widened. "You?! Stressing?!"

Hermione grinned. "Yes, Kell, I am capable of stressing too."

"Over what?!"

"I have to figure out a cure for heartbreak and I'm here pulling hair trying to figure out how to analyze the magical properties of heartbreak. To my knowledge, there is nobody in this school right now that is heartbroken." Hermione tilted her head and watched Kellah's expression change. She knew that her response was not what Kellah was expecting… but so be it. Gryffindor – no, Hogwarts wasn't ready to hear about her and Draco's relationship.

"Lavender was pretty heartbroken over what Ron did."

Hermione snorted. "Kell, you and I both know she is over that. Didn't you catch her flirting with Seamus?"

Kellah giggled. "I did… so that's it? You swear?"

"I swear."

"Well… in that case," Kellah looked both ways before leaning towards Hermione. "Word in the corridor is that some fifth year Ravenclaw just broke up with her boyfriend. He's a sixth year Hufflepuff—they'd been dating since she was in second year. She seems pretty… heartbroken."

Hermione would've kissed Kellah. The girl was comedic and entertaining as she was reliable. "Does this girl have a name?"

"Orla Quirke."

Hermione choked on air. "Orla?! Are your resources correct?!"

"They're never incorrect." Kellah harrumphed. "She was dating a Vance Kitimat for some time."

"Vance? Never heard of him…"

"Never left the Common Room from what I hear."

"Then how'd he and Orla meet?"

Kellah shrugged. "Beats me. Perhaps you can find out during your research?"

Hermione laughed. "You've made my project that much easier. Thanks Kell."

"Anytime… and listen, if you do need a friend to talk to you and letter writing to your muggle friend isn't enough, you have me, okay?"

Hermione leaned over and hugged Kellah. "Thanks."

"Anytime." And she left.

Hermione filed that little bit of information in the To-Do pile in her brain. She never knew Orla was dating a Vance… she didn't even know there was a Vance that went to their school. Shows how much Hermione knew—perhaps she was too engrossed with defeating Voldemort over the past few years.

She was just about to return to her letter to Gabriella when a tapping on her window caught her attention. Hermione was both surprised and excited to see…

"Bubo bubo?!" What was Draco's owl doing there?

She let the owl in and allowed it to perch on one of the posters of her bed as she unrolled the letter that Bubo brought with him.

Dear Miss. Granger

It was an invitation…

You are cordially invited to the Masquerade Ball that will be hosted at the Malfoy Manor on October 31st. Dress code will be in effect, visitors without the invitation or a masque will not be allowed entry.

Procession beings at 7 sharp. Party will be held in the Grand Malfoy Ballroom.

Escort preferred, not required.

Thank you in advance,

Malfoy Family

Hermione gawked at the letter. No way did Lucius and Narcissa send her this letter… Draco had to have gotten a copy of the invitation template and filled in her name himself. They just started dating a few hours ago! Merlin, her parents didn't even know yet.

While she was engrossed in the invitation, which had the beautiful Malfoy crest stamped onto it, she missed the tapping on her window. It took Bubo Bubo to perch himself on Hermione's head and peck at her for her to turn her attention to the flying Adonis outside of her bedroom window.

"Draco?!" She hurried to the window and cranked it open.

"Good evening, princess." Draco drawled in his ever perfect voice. Hermione's heart raced. "Might I ask for your attendance tonight for some dinner? We can discuss your concerns over your invitation."

"How did…"

"Now's not that time, I saw your girlfriends headed towards the Common Room on my fly up here—and before you ask, I saw them leave the Great Hall just before I left. Kellah came in to tell them something and they all left."

Hermione crossed her arms. "So you are guessing they're coming up here."

"A very educated guess. Now, might I ask for your attendance?"

Hermione laughed. "Yes, you might. Let me just—" She turned around and threw her comforter over the letter and clutched her invitation in her hand. "There we are." Hermione headed to the window and took Draco's outstretched arm.

When she sat comfortably on the broom behind him he took the liberty to turn around and place a gentle peck on her lips. "I missed you."

Her heart pounded. She would never expect Draco Malfoy to tell her that he missed her…

"I missed you too." She murmured. He smiled, softly… his eyes were half-lidded and he pecked her once more before commanding Lightyear to take off into the dusk sky.

Whatever her destiny had in store, Hermione was ready…

Chapter 18: Draco Dormiens Nunquam Titillandus

Hermione had her arms wrapped around Draco's waist. Her fear of heights diminished quicker and quicker each and every time she was with Draco on Lightyear, speeding through the Hogwarts skies. Her heart pounded against her chest and the butterflies in her stomach flittered uncontrollably. The sweet smell of autumn assaulted Hermione's senses and she felt as if she was on cloud nine…

She was with – quite possibly – one of the most important men in her life flying through the sky in the middle of her favourite season (and autumn being her favourite had nothing to do with the fact that she was an autumn baby). If she was struck by lightning, she would die a content and blissful woman… minus the fact she didn't achieve anything in terms of her career but if she wasn't an ambitious career-driven woman, then this would be a blissful death.

"You're quite quiet back there, bookworm; anything the matter?"

His husky voice broke her from her reverie. How could it be that even when he spoke it was absolutely perfect? It rocked her senses, quite literally.

"Nothing," she replied as she tried to keep her voice stable. "Just thinking."

"About anything in particular?" Draco expertly guided his broom to over the Forbidden Forest. Hermione was in no way concerned about where he was going… she trusted him that much. It was almost frightening.

"Nope." Her reply, although short, was lighthearted and Draco chuckled.

"You pique my interest, Granger; and that too in a good way."

Hermione squeezed his abdomen gently. "I'm glad. I need to be interesting to keep you interested in me." She enunciated the suffix in interest.

"I'm afraid that if you turned yourself into a pigmy plant, I'd still be utterly fascinated by you. You're a wild flower—untamed, and I just can't help but want to get to know everything about you." Draco began to descend Lightyear into the Forbidden Forest. During his descent he pulled his wand out of his windbreaker pocket and shot it straight in front of him causing a silvery cloud to shoot from the tip.

A barrier spell.

If Hermione's deduction was correct (which they always were), Draco was creating a small barrier in the middle of the forest so that wherever he landed was safe from the stalking creatures of the forest. Strangely enough, it was quite romantic.

"I don't know whether I should feel complimented or insulted that you would go as far as saying you'd be fascinated if I was a pigmy."

Draco chuckled while pocketing his wand. "If, by chance, you turned into a pigmy plant, the first thing I would do is curse the living shite out of the bastard who turned my girlfriend into a pudgy little plant."

Her heart leapt into her throat.


It sounded wonderful.

"And then I would go to Madam Sprout to figure out how to reverse it."

"I think McGonagall would be the better option…"

Draco snorted. "Whatever. A professor is a professor… I wouldn't want to take the risk unto myself. Who knows, I may transfigure you in to an inanimate object and then where would I be?"

"Where would you be?"

"In an utter state of despair. Now, hold on tight… I'm going to make a rough landing… I can't wait to get my hands all over you."

Hermione grinned. She couldn't wait either…


"Lleisgar." (Rise)

Ochre-eyes blinked emotionlessly. They were trained on his subordinates rising from their bowing position—it had been many moons since his mercenaries stepped foot on his soil. They deserved a proper feast to commemorate their journey between the realms.

"Yth geou ukris zahae dout visekic sva bilnol. Ihk jaka, yth gribkoan!" (We will talk about your adventures at dusk. For now, we feast!)

Heads thrown back, the dragons of Thaczil roared loudly, many magic retaining dragons unleashing their oral fury. Fire and ice danced amongst each other and the shrieks grew louder; wings beat, causing a storm of winds to unravel.

It was good to be home.

A Hungarian Horntail and a Hellfire Wyvern came to stand at the side of their merciless leader, Kapral Zabini. The dragons of Thaczil revered him like no other, and it was Kapral Zabini that would continue to protect the Ring of Chaos and ensure that the Chaos Theory remained a hidden mystery from prying eyes.

The Hungarian Horntail was the Kapral's Darzulf: the devil's advocate. The Hellfire Wyvern was the Darharkt: the voice of reason. They were the left and right hand dragons of the king and helped ensure that everything the king ordered was under the decree of the Wadoya. Disobeying the elders was considered a high crime amongst the dragons.

"Darastrixi," (Dragons) Kapral Zabini's eyes scanned his dragons. The sky was bright, the sun shining beautifully over the vast greenness of the Thaczil. They were realms away from earth and that was how Kapral Zabini liked it… he did not want the humans to get involved in the dragon's ancient role in the universe. "Let us proceed to the Central Canyon and welcome our warriors back from Earth! I am sure that they have many tales to tell…"

With a final roar of joy, the dragons began to saunter towards the canyon. As Kapral Zabini was about to step down from his post, the Horntail, Ixen, stopped him.

"A word, Kapral."

Kapral Zabini nodded and ushered for the Wyvern, Xarzith, to follow the other dragons to the central canyon. Zabini and Ixen waited for the Grand Foyer to clear before speaking. Their place of residence was the ethereal Rilark Zabini (Castle Zabini), an open concept castle that allowed for the dragons to freely fly in and out. Underneath the castle was a deep cavern of water allowing marine dragons to freely swim in and out of the castle vicinity.

The Grand Foyer was a place to receive the dragons upon their return from their treacherous missions into different realms. Kapral Zabini always made sure to welcome them as if it was his own brother returning—his dragon mercenaries did more for him than his kin did.

"Yes, Ixen?" Zabini's eyes blinked twice before his body began convulsing. Ixen took a step back and watched as his king's body bubbled and shifted, shrinking quickly. Bones cracked and a few dragon scales shed before Kapral Zabini's majestic dragon form reclined into a small human, barely the size of Ixen's big toe.

Ixen fell to all fours and looked at his king through one eye. "Blaise has been skipping classes. Again."

Zabini groaned. "How did I know? After how many warnings… get me a howler—actually, no. A personal visit is in order this time. I thought his mother had taken care of his terrible habit."

"Don't be rough Kapra—"

"I think it's about time I taught that boy a lesson." Kapral Zabini rolled up the sleeves to his cotton peasant shirt. "At this rate, I doubt he will ever take over the Dragon Empire."

Ixen chuckled, a puff of smoke coming from his nostrils. "Just go easy on him. He did help defeat Voldemort. Besides… Blaise doesn't even know you exist, how is he ever to know that he could potentially take over the Empire."

Zabini decided to ignore the latter point. "Voldemort or not, it does not give him an excuse to skip classes. You and Xarzith are in charge, I shall return in a few days. I have to have a word with my… wife." Ixen managed to barely stand up; Kapral Zabini was already gone.

Teleported, to the Wizarding World.


Harry and Ginny's fingers were interlaced as they walked with their friends to the Gryffindor Common Room. They were speaking nothing of absolute interest; just aimless babbling to pass the time. Ron was munching on a few Bertie Botts and Seamus stole a few from him every now and then.

"Doesn't life seem a bore now that Voldy is gone?"

All eyes turned to Ron. Ginny's eyebrow twitched.


Ron grinned. "We've been so afraid of saying his actual name, I figure now that the bloke is dead, I'd give him a nickname. Besides, Voldemort is one syllable too many."

Dean snickered and Seamus actually laughed. Ginny, Harry, Fay, Lavender, Parvati, and Kellah groaned.

"That was a pathetic attempt at being funny, Ronald." Lavender muttered and Ron pointedly ignored her. Sure, their relationship was amicable to say the least, but that didn't mean they didn't really like each other. Their relationship was quite the complicated one.

"Off of Voldy's topic." Dean dodged a punch Kellah threw at him. "What's the update on Hermione, Kells?"

Kellah shrugged and snagged a jellybean shaped treat from Ron. "I spoke to her today; she was concerned about her Potion's project—at least that's what she told me; something about analyzing a heartbreak in order to cure it? Told her about Orla, she seemed better after that."

Harry frowned. "I don't believe that for a second. We're talking about the Hermione Grang—"


The Gryffindors turned to their Durmstrang classmate and admirer of aforementioned Granger, Gunnar.

"Hello, Gunnar." Ginny greeted him with a smile. Kellah tried to stifle her laughter, Gunnar tried so hard.

"How are all of you?"

"We're fine," Dean shoved Seamus and Harry so that he could be up front and centre for the conversation. He was as twisted as Kellah was, and Fay took notice. They were so meant for each other. Fay considered it her destiny now, to set Dean and Kellah up. "How are you?"

"Good… ah… well… I haven't seen Hermione… around?" Gunnar didn't want to admit it, but the gaggle of Gryffindors intimidated him. Especially if that gaggle was let by the Boy-Who-Lived; he was a legend among legends and despite being a Durmstrang man, Gunnar couldn't help but feel a bit giddy in the presence of Harry Potter.

Slightly fanboyish.

"You'd be lucky if you did," Seamus called with a mouthful of confectionaries. Ron nodded with agreement.

"Finnigan is right… she lives in the library. Or her dormitory."

"With her books." Ginny added. "Why, did you need her for something? I could relay a message to her…"

Gunnar shook his head. "No… ah, I mean, I wanted to know if… well… if she was available this weekend, is all."

Harry and Dean exchanged glances and Fay walked away; she couldn't hold in her laughter. Kellah bit her lower lip and decided to let the boy down nicely: "Sorry, Gunnar… it's Hermione's birthday this weekend and we're taking her out to Hogsmeade."

Gunnar's eyes widened. "Is it really?"

Ginny nodded and was about to say something but Gunnar beat her to it.

"I must get her something then!"

"No you really don't hav—" Harry started but Gunnar cut him off.

"No, no, I must. Thank you. I have to go… bye!"

The group watched with amusement as Gunnar scurried off. Fay returned, tears streaming down her eyes… she was having too much fun. "Did that just…?"

"It did." Ron said slowly. "I don't know if I should feel sorry for the bloke or…"

"Feel sorry for Hermione." Ginny finished her brother's thoughts. "I would never let her date him."

"I'd let her date… Crabbe before Gunnar." Dean chimed.

Seamus nodded. "Or Malfoy."

Harry rolled his eyes. "Can we not talk about who Hermione is or isn't allowed to date?" He saw his friends groan in disappointment but Harry wasn't about to let them stand around and discuss Hermione's love life. He was a better friend than that.

"Gunnar did bring up a good point though—her birthday."

"I thought we decided my brother's joke shop and then Florean Fortescue for dessert?"

Kellah shook her head and took another Bertie Botte from Ron. "We did, but she's turning nineteen… we need to do something a bit more… extravagant. Besides, it's because of her we're still in school and alive…"

"Otherwise that basilisk from second year would've eaten us all." Ginny muttered. She was the one directly affected by the second year incident.

"How about a surprise party?" Lavender spoke up. She was quiet the whole time, but she wasn't one for interactions like the one with Gunnar. She, like Harry, didn't like to meddle in other people's drama. She had enough of her own.

"We can count on Mia to be out of the Common Room long enough for us to conjure up decorations. We'll grab a cake and desserts from Forescue, floo to Diagon Alley and buy her some goodies and make it back in time?" Lavender watched her friends' expressions and they seemed to like her idea.

"It could… work." Harry said slowly.

"We have a few days," Ron looked around. "We can take turns distracting her?"

"Done deal!" Ginny squealed. "Ohhh, she's going to love this!"


Hermione was lying on a pale green picnic blanket with Draco atop her, kissing her neck without mercy. Her fingers ran through his striking hair; the feeling her body was experiencing was of pure ecstasy. Draco had one arm propping himself up, so that he wouldn't crush her, and the resting just in the groove of her hip. His lips left a burning trail of desire along the column of her neck and the stroke of his tongue did not alleviate that sensation.

Hermione bit back an involuntary moan of approval.

Draco used his nose to nudge the Healer Pendant away from his trail. He loved that she was so dedicated to wearing a gift he got her. Never had he put so much thought into getting a gift for somebody before; the first time he did, the reaction displayed by his beloved recipient was more than what he could've hoped for.

Deciding to leave her neck for her lips, Draco trailed his kisses up to her mouth and enveloped her lips with his own. Hermione bit his lower lip and Draco used the opportunity to flip them over, so that she was now on top of him. He would not have guessed that he would be in the Forbidden Forest making out with Hermione Granger…

And if somebody told him that it would happen, he would've scoffed and called them an idiot.

But, damn… he sure was the idiot. He missed out on Granger for seven years… he could've had all of this for at least two of those seven years (considering he was a total and utter idiot for the first five years of his Hogwarts schooling experience; it was only when he realized what Voldemort was doing did he realise the error of his ways)…

He wasn't the same man he was now that he was two, even one year ago. He wouldn't have given Granger the attention she deserved—he was too engulfed with blood supremacy. Hermione trailed her kisses to his ear and nibbled on his earlobe and it was his turn to moan involuntarily.

Unfortunately for him, his stomach decided to moan as well. Hermione giggled and sat up, straddling Draco at his hips. "Hungry, Mister Bad Faith?"

"For you." Draco winked flirtatiously while pushing back a stray bang the escaped from Hermione's messy but perfect bun. "That was some of the best snogging in my life."

"Quite the compliment, blondie." Hermione dismounted Draco and he sat up. He quickly ruffled his hair and leaned back on his left arm, never taking his eyes off of Hermione.

"It's true. I can't keep my hands off of you."


Grinning cheekily, Draco leaned forward and placed a chaste peck on Hermione's lips before snapping his fingers. Like magic (how funny) a picnic basket appeared in front of him. "Do you know that I love picnics?"

Hermione giggled. "I had a feeling…"

"And I love picnicking with you."

"It is our fourth."

"Of many more to come."

"I don't know," Hermione tapped her chin thoughtfully. "Malfoy of Hufflepuff did offer me this and so much more."

Draco snorted. "Yes, but Malfoy of Slytherin can do what Hufflepuff can plus so much more. Besides, you're my Granger, and nobody else's."

Again with the butterflies. How did Draco do that?

Hermione flipped open the picnic basket and pulled out a cutely cut sandwich. She wasn't going to say anything about Draco's attention to detail, but she found it to be rather adorable. "Hey, question for you." She started while unwrapping the cellophane.

"Hmm?" Draco already shoved a tiny sandwich into his mouth.

"How do we break it to the… school?"

Draco swallowed, with great difficulty. Shouldn't have put the whole thing in my mouth. "We just do. We agreed, no hiding. Right?"

Hermione nodded. "Right… but… how?"

"Well, my friends already know, so not much to say there. You worry about your friends, and the rest of the school can bite my perfect Malfoy arse—I don't answer to them and they don't answer to me."

The image of his perfect Malfoy arse crossed her mind and she couldn't help but blush. She was quite glad that Draco didn't notice; how embarrassing would that have been.

"I suppose you're right." Hermione murmured.

"Aren't I always?"

"You're still cocky as ever."

Draco smirked. "I might be enthralled by you ethereal beauty, bookworm… but that won't change the Slytherin in me."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I suppose blondie." She leaned forward and ruffled his hair. "You can be such a cutie patootie."

"I disagree! I am not a patootie."

Hermione couldn't help the bubble of laughter that sprang to her lips. Draco's genuine annoyance made her laugh. "You are a patootie."

"I am not. Patootie's aren't capable of eliciting the noises that you made today." Draco definitely turned the table and Hermione decided to give him a point for that one. Always keeping her on her toes this one… it was rather refreshing.

"Fine. You win. But you're still a patootie."

"Yeah, yeah." Draco waved her off and shoved another sandwich in her mouth. "'fufs ooh?"

Hermione paused. "Pardon me?"

Draco swallowed, again with great difficulty, and repeated his question. "What's new, bookworm?"

Hermione pulled the crumpled invitation from her pocket and laid it in front of her. "Apart from this invitation? Nothing. Care to explain?"

Draco grinned. "I managed to loot a few from my parents before the school year started… I was originally going to hand them out to a few unwanted guests… you know," he threw up finger quotation marks and said: "To irritate my parents…" End air-quotes. "But I figure I may as well put one invitation to good use. Besides, it's a masquerade so you won't have to feel uncomfortable. I know there're a few out there who still have the blood supremacy notion running through their veins…" Draco gently took Hermione's hand in his own. "But I'll be there with you the entire time…"

Hermione studied his eyes. Well, she wasn't anticipating such a decision to be made on the first day of being Draco's girlfriend…

And she really didn't want to go back to the Malfoy Manor so soon… Memories of Bellatrix and Draco teetering on the edge of life and death still haunted her dreams.

Draco sensed Hermione's apprehension and tugged her hand, ushering her to come close to him. Hermione crawled over and sad with her back pressed against his chest. Draco wrapped his arms around her waist and resting his chin on top of her head. "You don't have to, Hermione." His chest rumbled as he spoke, and the way her name tumbled from her lips made her quiver with a feeling unknown.

"I know my house doesn't bring back happy memories for you… and I know you don't want to meet my parents so soon…"

Hermione exhaled loudly. "May I think about it?"

"Of course." Draco placed a gentle kiss just behind her ear. "Take all the time you need, bookworm."

Why is he so perfect?

"Did you have other plans?"

Hermione closed her eyes and relaxed in Draco's arms; the shadows that the tall trees of the forest created were almost magical—in a fantastical sense. Hermione felt as if she was in those old Disney books her mother used to read to her as a child… like Snow White, living inside of an enchanted forest that sparkled by day, and roared by night.

It was a wonderful feeling…

"Not that I know of. My muggle friend, Gabriella – I told you about her, right?"

She felt Draco nod.

"She normally has as party at her house every year. She mentioned she wanted us to come but I hadn't really given her a definitive answer… it was while we were still exchanging letters."

Draco smiled. "Take your time to think about it… you don't need to decide right away…"

Hermione twisted around and looked in to Draco's eyes. "Thanks."

His response to her was a heart melting, soul surging kiss.


Theodore, Blaise, and Adrian were playing wizard poker in the Slytherin Common room when Draco entered, holding Lightyear over his shoulder. Blaise raised a hand in acknowledgement and Adrian held his fist out, which Draco bumped while walking past him.

"Got the princess?" Theo asked before ushering to a pitcher of butter beer that was on the floor beside their game. Draco flicked his wand and the pitcher poured itself a glass, which then floated to Draco.

"Ever had a doubt?"

Blaise grinned. "Good man. Happy?"

"Yep." Draco nodded. Those were his friends; men of few words.

"How is she taking it?"

"Good. Worried about what others will think, though."

"To hell with that." Adrian snorted. "Who cares what the school has to think, it's your life."

"Tell her that. I'm worried how she's going to tell the Gryffindors." Draco stretched onto the sofa and sipped his beer. "They're more concerned about inter-house mingling than we are. And we're supposedly the infamous house that's hell-bent on blood supremacy."

Theo flicked a poker chip in the air and caught it before glancing over his shoulder to look at Draco. "If they so much as fuck with a hair on her head, they have us to answer to."

Draco smirked. He had a wonderful group of Snakes—"Her birthday is coming up."

"Let's throw her a shindig." Blaise automatically called. Draco shook his head.

"Nah, she probably'll want to spend time with the Gryffindors."

Blaise snorted. "Nothing special about them… but you're right. Gonna get her something, mate?" Blaise looked over at Draco who nodded.

"I have an idea… a few actually." Unfortunately for Draco, Theodore had owl-in ordered the jewel encrusted pen from Knockturn Alley for Tracey. Oh well, no point crying over spilt milk; Draco already had other ideas of what he could get his lady.

"I have a feeling that people will rue the day they mess with Hermione Granger." Adrian muttered and the boys laughed.

Draco sipped his butter beer. "You could say th—"

He was cut off when the Common Room door swung open. All eyes turned to a… howler.

Blaise paled. "Oh shit…"


It was Blaise's mother's voice.

WHAT IS THIS I HEAR ABOUT YOU SKIPPING CLASSES… AGAIN?! I was going to PERSONALLY come young man, but thought against it. This is the THIRD howler I'm sending you in a WEEK.

If I hear ONE MORE TIME YOU SKIPPED I will PERSONALLY come to your school to teach you a lesson!

Oh, and hello boys.

The howler disintegrated into a puff of smoke and all boys just stared at it, still.

Blaise was the first to recover. "That woman must have spies on me…"

The other three boys nodded in agreement. How else could Aurelia Zabini know about Blaise skipping classes?

"… I guess uh… no skipping Dark Arts tomorrow morning?"

Draco's eyes widened and Theodore looked at Blaise like he lost his mind.

"You fucking believe no skipping Dark Arts tomorrow, you idiot."

Blaise grinned sheepishly. "I can't help it!"

"Better help it now." Draco muttered as he lay back on the sofa again, sipping his butterbeer. He closed his eyes momentarily and the image of a smiling Hermione flashed into his mind. He smiled himself…

Merlin, was he ever lucky.

Chapter 19: A Birthday Away

"Must we go?" Ron groaned from his spot in the Common Room. The eighth year Gryffindors were preparing to leave for Defense Against the Dark Arts and, as usual, the usual Gryffindors were whining about not going. And, of course, the usual were Neville and Ron.

"Ronald," Hermione snarled while descending from the dormitory, "you know what the answer to that will be."

"But we defeated—"

"Voldemort." The entire Common Room chimed together, simultaneous to Ron. Everybody laughed, their Voldemort jokes never got old; especially when it was Ron that was whining about it. Hermione made it to the base of the stairs and grinned at her friends.

"Are we ready to learn?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "Learn what?"

"Expelliarmus!" Dean roared and again they fell into peals of laughter. "I shall disarm you to doom! Arg!" Dean waved his wand around dramatically.

"To hell with the other three." Seamus drawled in his distinct Irish accent. "It's all about Lockhart's second year lesson in disarming."

Kellah snickered. "Yes, when Harry kicked Draco's ass."

"And made a snake chase Justin." Fay giggled. "Good times…"

Kellah came around to Hermione and looped an arm through hers. "I'm sure somebody could write a novella about all the things we've been through."

Dean raised an eyebrow in Kellah's direction. Much to Fay's glee, Dean and Kellah had been flirting quite frequently and Fay's dream of hooking those two up was slowly coming to life. "A novella? Don't you mean a novel? I think it would take more than seven consecutive novels in a series to document everything we have been through."

Ron raised his hand from his laying down position on an armchair. "I volunteer."

Hermione grinned. "Consult the thesaurus, Ron."

"I resent that. I think I can cleverly depict the instances of our—ahh bloody hell, I can't talk like you." Sinking further in to the armchair, Ron closed his eyes. He was so close to falling asleep. They had Defense Against the Dark Arts in ten minutes and it was far too early to be doing anything but sleeping.

Hermione began hurrying her friends. "Come on, let's go! Wake up Ron! Remus will be assigning our first projects tod—"

Neville groaned. "Seriously? Why… we defeated Volde—"

"Mort!" Ron finished Neville's complaint. "Thank you! I keep telling everybody tha—okay, okay, I'm coming." It was Harry's glare that made Ron shush his mouth and get out of his armchair. "Bloody Defense Against the Dark Arts—what Dark Arts?! We showed those Dark Arts who its granny is and blew the knickers off their flat arses."

"Would you like some cheese with that wine, Ron?" Fay grinned.

"Shut your mouth, Dunbar." Ron playfully called back as the group of eighth years exited their Common Room. It felt good to have such comradery; perhaps battling for life and death over the course of seven years resulted in an unbreakable bond.

In any case, Hermione appreciated it. Still linked with Kellah, Hermione gave Parvati, who was in front of her, a little nudge. It was her way of giving her a friendly gesture. It bugged her that she couldn't tell them about Draco but, alas, that news would be better off shared at a much more appropriate time.


The skies were dark, which was rather unusual. It was not supposed to rain at all during the week—the Gryffindors were planning Hermione's birthday outing and did not count on getting rained on. Of course, a spell here, an invisibility cloak there, the rain would not be a problem but it was the concept behind it. The darkness, the lightning, the roaring thunder… it all put a damper on the mood.

Draco walked a few paces in front of his lagging friends. The thunder and lightning did not bother them as much; they were submerged underwater and often times did not even know it was raining until after they left their Common Room. In the back of his mind, however, he knew that Hermione hated thunderstorms for reasons untold and that thought bothered him immensely.

"Maybe the rain is a bad omen." Adrian mused. "In mythological folklore, unexpected thunderstorms are the result of dragons tearing the barrier between our worlds and entering ours. Their roars are supposed to sound like thunder roaring."

Draco rolled his eyes. "We all know what dragons roar like. Fourth year, remember? Retrieve the golden egg? I think their roars sound more like a mix between a banshee and Trelawney…"

Blaise snickered. "To that statement, I concur."

"I give you that," Adrian snorted, "but I mean real dragons, not farmed dragons. The dragons we used in fourth year were all farmed… these dragons are the ones that have the ability to travel between space and time."

Though Draco's exterior was unbelieving, his mind travelled back to the words of the Sorting Hat:

Another year,
Another beginning.
A union is born,
Between a dragon
And his lady,
And so ends my song.

Could it be that… the dragons from his prophecy are making an appearance? Draco would not discount that possibility—if he learned anything at Hogwarts it was that anything was possible.

"Whatever it is, let's just hope it ends soon." Draco murmured. "The Quidditch match listings are going to be posted early next week and the last thing I need is a rainy match."

Blaise nodded grimly. "Flying in the rain is the worst."

"Seeking in the rain is worse than that." Draco grunted. "There has to be a rule against wet flying—" He paused and smacked his forehead. His friends all burst in to laughter; his phrase sounded rather dirty, and Draco didn't realize that until after the words left his mouth.

I really ought'a think before I speak. He scolded in his mind. Deciding to quickly change the topic, he voiced his earlier thought: "Do you think the sudden thunderstorm has anything to do with the hat's prophecy?"

Adrian raised an eyebrow. "Mate, I thought he was spewing nonsense but now that you mention it…"

"It could be a prophecy." Theodore finished for Adrian. "I wouldn't put it past the hat."

"And now with the sudden thunderstorms and what not…" Adrian's eyes widened. "Maybe?! A lord dragon has entered our realm to find his lady and stop imminent destruction from Voldemort's successor?"

Draco snickered. "Mate, the former part of your statement is more plausible than the latter. Successor my arse; this time I'll disarm the bastard to oblivion. What a waste of seven years…"

"Could've been chasing birds?" Blaise nudged Draco who snickered.

"No, could've gotten myself a Granger a lot sooner."


"Be seated, everyone!" Remus roared as the eighth years were engaged in riff-raff conversations amongst their little cliques. Despite being mature young adults, they were still little children and, sometimes, had to be treated as such. "I will be going over your project for the year—and it might interest you to know that your project will also be considered your NEWT."

Ron was the first to speak up (he also stood up in vigour, which further outlined his utmost excitement). "So no NEWT?"

Remus shook his head. "For all intents and purposes no, no NEWT, but that means that your project's grade will be heavy and very difficult. I will not be going easy on anybody."

Remus's statement was more for the satisfaction of the class knowing that he would not give preferential treatment to Harry Potter as the Boy-Who-Lived was his child's godfather. As the class settled down in to their seats (Hermione and Draco exchanged flirtatious glances before returning their attention to their professor), Remus began explaining the concept of their project.

"You will work in groups of twos, which will be your tablemate; in creating a new dark art spell. The spell must incorporate five major components and your spell must be accompanied by a written portion; no longer than ten inches of parchment. Now, turn your attention to the back where I will show you visually what your spell must incorporate…"


"I was never a believer of destiny," Tracey giggled as she walked in tandem with Theodore, "but I just might be a believer now. What are the odds that Granger is your partner for everything?"

Draco glanced idly towards Theodore who shook his head in the negative; he did not tell Tracey about Draco and Hermione's relationship. Theodore felt that that was something that should be revealed by Draco or Hermione. Turning his attention to Tracey, Draco managed a nonchalant shrug.

"Not really destiny, Trace." Draco muttered. "She and I have the highest average of all the students; it makes academic sense to pair us together."

Blaise nodded. "Whatever Draco said but with fewer words."

"Any plans for the weekend?" Adrian asked in an effort to switch the topic. Draco's friend understood completely the situation that he was in, and was trying their best to make it as comfortable and un-awkward as possible.

"Not really." Blaise murmured. "You?"

Draco looked over at Blaise. "Maybe. Might make a trip to the Alley."

"Alley? Diagon Alley?"

Draco nodded. "Hmm…"

"What for?" Theodore asked, but he already knew the answer: it was Hermione's birthday on Saturday.

Just as Theodore predicted, Draco answered. "A friend's birthday."


Hermione couldn't even get the scream out of her mouth. She was blindfolded and gagged and rudely awoken from her slumber. What the bloody hell is going on?! She thought in desperation. It's Saturday! Why in bloody hell must I be kidnapped on a Saturday?! I wanted to sleep in…

She felt herself being thrown over a shoulder. "Mmmhh phhhfff!" Hermione tried to yell let-me-go but the gag was proving to be quite effective. Before her heart beat out of her chest out of sheer terror, the blindfold was torn off and the gag was removed to reveal a decorated Common Hall and all of her housemates grinning from ear to ear.


All Hermione could do was gawk in surprise— "… how… but… I was up until 4am studying! When did you do this?!"

Kellah dust invisible dirt off of her shoulder. "You aren't the only clever one, Miss. Granger. I put an alarm charm on you—when you went to bed, an alarm went off on my wand and we all went to work."

Hermione grinned stupidly. "That has to be the best present I could've ever asked for!"

"We haven't given you anything yet…" Ron started slowly but Hermione raised a hand to stop him.

"You did. I never would've thought you lot would've been clever enough to put an alarm charm on me! I didn't think you knew it existed considering how many times Neville and Ron have gone to class late."

Neville frowned. "I disagree! I'm only up looking for Trevor."

"Did he ever show up?" Harry asked, completely off topic. The Gryffindors burst into laughter when Neville shook his head in the negative.

"I'm beginning to think he croaked. Figuratively. And literally—but bringing everything back to Hermione, happy birthday!"

Hermione could not contain the squeal when, with a flick of Seamus's wand presents rained on her. There were big ones and small ones and round ones too, as much as Hermione never admitted to it, she loved getting gifts; it was a wonderful feeling. One by one her friends hugged her with well wishes. Harry, Ron, and Neville all placed a brotherly kiss on her cheek along with their hugs.

"Awww, now I feel slightly bad for hounding all of you all the time." Hermione grinned from within her mountain of gifts.

"If it weren't for you, we would've still been in first year." Fay mumbled in seriousness. "Now open your presents! Wait till you see what Harry got you…"


"I still can't believe you threw a muggle birthday party in Fortescue's." Hermione said in between bites of her ice cream sundae. She was having a blast all day; her friends surprised her with an early morning birthday celebration complete with gifts and cake. Harry, just as Fay hinted, had gotten her something extraordinary; he managed to get an excuse from Professor McGonagall to enchant a muggle laptop to work in Hogwarts, the only one of its kind. Hermione was now able to surf the internet and stay caught-up with the muggle world… apparently, from what Harry had learned quite recently and that was also thanks to Ginny, Hermione was a sucker for British boybands.

Harry would've never guessed that.

"It wasn't that hard." Dean puffed his chest out in pride. "The floo network is quite reliable. I didn't know we had muggle connections, I was able to floo everything. The quilt that Lav got you is genuine Egyptian cotton… from Egypt! Made by a muggle!"

"Where else is Egyptian cotton from, you dimwit?" Lavender rolled her eyes.

Hermione laughed, her voice drowned out by her friend's laughter. It felt so good to be able to kick back and enjoy life. There was a tugging at her heart, and she knew it meant she wanted to be with Draco but she tucked that urge away. She realized she was missing time with her friends and she enjoyed the moment for what it was. And, as a cherry on top, an owl zipped in to Fortescue's with a letter from Gabriella.

"Hermione's muggle friend!" Seamus drawled in his thick Irish. Hermione shot him a playfully angry look.

"She has a name."

"Aye, first name Muggle, last name Friend."

Seamus left no room for argument. Ignoring him, Hermione unrolled the parchment and began skimming through the letter.

Happy birthday, Hermione!

have fun today… give your present on Halloween… still coming right?... what did Draco get you?... birthday sex… miss you… found a boy… tell you about him later…

Love, Gabriella

From what Hermione gathered with the quick read was that Gabriella had a present for her which would be given to her during Halloween (Hermione had still yet to decide if she was going to the masquerade ball at Malfoy Manor, or Gabriella's annual costume party), and she was curious to know if Draco had given her hot birthday sex as his present. Additionally, Gabriella had found new man and will tell her about him at a later date.

Hermione was actually surprised at the thoroughness that she was able to skim the letter with, particularly because Neville kept trying to snatch the letter from her and she held with iron fingers.

There were three words in there that Hermione did not want anybody to read. Draco. Malfoy. Sex.

The thought, however, sent shivers down her spine… if his kiss tasted so good; she wondered what else of his would feel surreal.


Blaise could only gawk at the state of his best mate. The rest of the snakes had retired to their rooms for the night, but Blaise Zabini figured he'd stay up with Draco and witness the strongest willed of the Slytherins slowly lose his mind…

Draco had pink wrapping paper. And a ribbon.

A ribbon that he had to floo to muggle land to purchase! With muggle money.

"You are smitten, Malfoy." Blaise could all but painfully squeeze out. "You have wrapping paper and a ribbon. How the bloody hell—"

"Put a sock in it, Zabini." Draco snarled. He didn't need to be told that he was going insane; he bloody well already knew it. He knew Hermione was a special lady, but even Draco would've never guessed that he would've put so much effort in to getting her a present.

Blaise flopped back onto the couch. "Okay. Sock has been put in. Now care to explain how you're going to get it to her? You can't exactly fly to the tower; it's pouring out there. Bloody rain… the weather-wizards are always wrong."

Draco smirked. "Leave that to me, mate."

"You always have something up your robes."

Draco's mind reeled with the millions of innuendos he could fire, but he decided against it. His mission was to get his presents to Hermione and chattering with Blaise would hinder him from doing so. He swallowed his desires and let Hermione spend the day with her friends, but that night, she was going to be with him.


It was a half past eleven and the eighth years were settling down in the Common Room. Hermione was agitated, but didn't reveal that to her friends. It had been an entire day and she hadn't heard from Draco. She wasn't expecting him to pop up in front of her while she was with her friends, but they had a secretly shared diary that he could've communicated with her with. There was only a half an hour left of her actual birthday and her boyfriend hadn't even contacted her.

The voices around her were zoned out and Hermione was staring blankly in to the fireplace. Her excuse for being quiet was that she was tired, and that Gryffindors had such a fun-filled day that she was physically exhausted. On her lap was her enchanted diary and, as the flames of the fire licked the sides of the fireplace, her fingers drummed the hardcover of the book.

"… Quidditch…"

"… Match listing… Monday…"

Hermione caught bits and pieces of the conversation, but not enough to understand what they were talking about. The knot in her stomach kept growing, putting her in an unbearable state. Hermione was about to implode—

Her diary heat up.

Her heart began to pound at an unusually accelerated rate. As calmly as possible, Hermione opened her diary and whispered the words that activated it: "Vetitum amicitia."

I know you're quite upset with me bookworm, but allow me to explain myself. You were with your friends all day and as much as I would love to ravish you in the dark corners of this castle, I could not allow myself to be so selfish on your special day. Don't think I haven't noticed that you've been spending quite some time with me, and not a lot of time with your friends. Alas, putting my selfishness to the side, I wanted you to spend the day with your friend before you could spend the night with me… besides; you have ample birthdays in the future in which you can spend both day and night with me.

Hermione couldn't help but gawk at his message.

But, with only less than an hour left of your special day, I would like to have you all to myself. So, when appropriate, please come to the Astronomy Tower. I'll be waiting.



And just as casually she opened the book, Hermione shut it. How the bloody hell was she going to escape her friends without them questioning her?! If ever she was required to use her brain power, it would be at that moment.


Draco watched the rain fall harder than ever. It was a curious thing it was, to have so much rain during such an off-peak season. It began suddenly, with no previous warning (and as Blaise said, those blasted weather-wizards were wrong), and it kept going strong. Perhaps Adrian was right? Maybe mythological dragons were ripping through the barriers of both dimensions… maybe it really had something to do with the hat's prophecy… a dragon from another realm could be in search for his lady?

"As long as it's not Voldemort returning, I'm fine." Draco mumbled to himself as a flash of lightning ignited the sky. He was leaned sideways against a column with his arms crossed in front of him. Hermione's gift was afloat beside him… there was only five minutes left before midnight and he was beginning to get quite anxious.

Draco began chewing his bottom lip… if Hermione didn't show up in time then his plans would be—

"Guess who." Soft fingers covered his eyes and the owner of the hand leaned her head against his back. "You have three guesses."

Draco began to smile. "Oh who would be in the Astronomy tower so late at night… could it be… Myrtle?"

Her giggle was infectious. What he said wasn't even funny.

"Or… Snape? I wouldn't be surprised if he did polyjuice himself to be a young sexy woman just to spite me. Blasted godfather…"


His smile widened. He loved hearing his name from her lips. "Okay, okay, Granger… it's Granger."

Hermione took a content step back and put her hands on her hips as Draco turned around. "About time you messaged me." She said her voice mockingly angry. "I was beginning to think you forgot."

Without missing a beat, Draco wrapped his arms around her waist and pulled her body straight up against his. "Me? Forget your special day?" He placed a kiss on her forehead. "You don't give me enough credit, bookworm."

"And is this? Messaging me to come out so late… oh the lies I had to lie to get out of the Common Room. Everybody was awake and I surely wasn't able to use the studying excuse… it's getting old."

Draco rubbed his nose against hers. "Keep talking."

"Draco! Be serious."

"I am. Happy birthday." Before she could protest, he pressed his lips against hers and enveloped her with his essence. She inhaled sharply through her nose before bringing her hands up to encircle his neck. With gentle prodding, he used his tongue to gain entrance and the fireworks around her exploded. If possible, Draco pulled her body even closer to his and brought his left hand up to grab a handful of her hair.

"Merlin, I missed you." He whispered in between kisses.

Hermione made a sound that was between a moan and a sigh. "I sincerely thought you forgot…"

"Really?" Draco pulled back. "I'm hurt—" He wasn't able to finish because Hermione caught his lips once again.

"Oh, stop the drama Malfoy."

His chest rumbled in laughter and he tried to detangle himself from his girlfriend. "Okay, okay, drama has been stopped. May I give you your present now?" His heart melted at the way her eyes lit up. Never had he been so satisfied by doing simple things for a woman and bloody hell the feeling was amazing.


He nodded at the floating gift. "Really."

It took all of Hermione's willpower to not squeal. She grabbed the box and sat on the ledge of the tower, Draco followed suite. Hermione admired the wrapping job and, with a look of awe, stared at Draco. "Did you wrap this?"

"No, Bubo did." Draco rolled his eyes. "Of course I did, woman. Do you doubt me?"

"You make picnic sandwiches with the crust cut off and you wrap presents with utmost perfection? Who are you?"

"A Malfoy."

"You can't refer to yourself in the third person anymore, remember?"

"I wasn't going to. Merlin woman, do you have no faith in me?" Draco's voice dropped an octave, sounding sweet... sultry.

Hermione's heart was pounding against her chest, but she kept her composure. "I do have faith. Bad faith."

"Just open the blasted gift." Draco quickly steered the topic back to the actual issue at hand. He really wanted Hermione to see the latest edition of Hogwarts: A History… he had to search far and wide to get the edition he got her: genuine dragon skin bound with gold threading. It was literally one of a kind.

Without hesitation, Hermione tore the wrapping and gasped at what lay before her. "… you really shouldn't have…" Tears began swimming behind her lids.

"I really should." Draco countered. Unexpectedly, Hermione threw her arms around him and he could faintly feel his neck getting wet. "W-wait… are you crying?!"

Hermione shook her head in his neck but he knew she was lying. "Hermione… what the hell… did you not like it?"

"I love it." Hermione sniffled as she pulled back. "It's just… the best… present… ever…"

Draco threw his head back and began laughing. "Is the Hermione Granger crying?"

He knew that would do it. She pulled back and glared at him through teary eyes. "Why? Am I not allowed to cry? What difference does me being Hermione—" Draco shut her up with a kiss.

"Shut up," he said, huskily. "Just kiss me."

As the thunder roared and the lightning flashed, Hermione was wrapped up in Draco's arms, her senses in an entirely different world.


"Duulo ve…" (Free me)

The winds picked up.

"Nomeno ui wer sulta di wer Zabini svihelen." (This is the end of the Zabini Clan).

Chapter 20: Secret No More

"How are all the blasted projects coming along?" Harry asked as the Gryffindors left their Divination class—double classes were brutal, but double Divination was the worst. Hermione was especially exhausted; she was with Draco until the wee hours of the morning before she came back to the Common Room. Neville was still awake, but he didn't ask much… for some reason, he thought she lived in the library (he once, a few years prior, asked if she had a private bedroom in the library because she spent so much time there).

"Coming." Ron grumbled. "Why can they just not give us all passing grades as a thank-you gift for saving the world?"

Kellah groaned. "Quit your whining, mate. All you've been doing is complaining about our workload… one would've thought you would've gotten used to it."

Hermione grinned, finally somebody who was on her side!

Ron shook his head. "I think the question is, how did you lot get used to the workload? Harry," Ron turned to his best friend, hoping that somebody would be on his side! "Don't you agree the workload is unbearable?"

Harry shrugged and plucked a snack out of the container Hermione was holding. "Feels the same to me, in all honesty."

Ron scowled and furrowed his eyebrows. "You, my friend, are not going to get my blessing whenever you marry my sister."

"Note," Seamus spoke up, finding an opportunity to put in his two cents, "that he said when not if."

"Ron'll take Voldemort's place to ensure Harry becomes the boy-who-didn't-live if he doesn't propose to Gin." Fay giggled. Precisely at that moment, a shriek of thunder pierced through the air and Hermione screamed, dropping her snacks which scattered across the corridor. Alarmed, Harry gathered Hermione in to his arms and let her calm down there— the thunderstorms weren't letting up (it had rained all weekend), and Hermione had been doing a great job in hiding her fear but Harry knew it wouldn't be long before she broke down…

And, unfortunately, only he and Ron knew the reason behind her fears…

Putting his comedic self aside, Ron stepped up beside Harry and looked at Hermione's shaking figure warmly. "Think we should head back to the Common Room, Harry?"

Harry nodded and everybody was watching confused.

"Is she okay?"

"What happened?"

"What's going on?"

A collection of questions were hurtled in their direction but Harry and Ron paid no heed—they had to take Hermione to the Common Room and away from everybody else. Quickly taking their leave, Harry and Ron hurried off with Hermione and missed the piercing gray eyes that followed them within the shadows of the castle.


"Maximus," Aurelia Zabini's eyes locked with her husband's. "I sent Blaise the howler."

Kapral Zabini, lord and ruler of Thaczil, the ancient land of the darastrixi, stood before his wife— a woman that endured pain and suffering all on his behalf; a woman that lived a lonely life because she was unable to travel to his world with him, and he was unable to leave that world because of his royal bloodline. He loved her so very much… but Maximus didn't know how to express that anymore. He had been away from her for far too long…

"I know. Ixen has been watching him…"

Aurelia nodded and ushered for her husband to sit down on the sofa beside her. When did everything become so awkward?

"I think it's about time we tell him…" Maximus began and missed the flash in Aurelia's eyes. "As soon as he graduates he has to undergo training to begin to train his dragon—"

"Why can't you just let him live a normal life?"

Maximus frowned. "Pardon me? What has he been doing for the previous eighteen years? Seemed pretty bloody normal to me!"

Again with the fighting… Aurelia missed her husband dearly, but it seemed as if they forgot how to communicate… forgot how to talk…

"The boy had been part of the biggest Dark Arts conspiracy that the Wizarding world has ever seen," Aurelia said in the calmest voice she could muster up. "That isn't normal, Maximus."

"Thaczil needs a ruler. The Ring of Chaos needs protection!"

"It is being protected and Thaczil has a ruler just fine." Aurelia placed a hand on his knee. "You're ruling just fine."

"My interim is coming to an end… and then what? The Chaos Theory will be revealed and the universe as we know will be—"

"You're not old, Maximus." Aurelia laughed, cutting him off. "You still have a few fire breaths left in you; you've been ruling for twenty four centuries. You have one whole century left in your term. That is ample time, my love."

Maximus covered his wife's hand with his own calloused one. "Yes, I do… but as soon as he takes over, the sooner I can be with you. I can choose to remain Kapral… or I can choose to name my successor."

Aurelia tilted her head and studied her husband's features; he hadn't aged a day since they had been married. Oh she loved him so much… and the thought of being apart from him made her heart hurt, but the thought of being apart from Blaise tore her soul in to bits.

Aurelia Zabini was stuck between a rock and a hard place. As selfish as it was, she was hoping that Blaise would refuse the throne and push the responsibility to the next successor…


"Does Draco have a girlfriend?"

Theodore's eyes widened and he turned his head to Pansy. Blaise began choking and Adrian had to try and perform the Heimlich on him. Pansy, Millicent, Tracey, Vincent, Gregory Theodore, Adrian, and Blaise were resting in the Slytherin Common Room as Draco decided to take a quick shower before Potions. He said he needed to think, but the boys knew it had to do with him not being able to comfort Hermione earlier when the thunderstorm had gotten quite serious.

"What gives you that idea?" Adrian said in a not so subtle tone to which Pansy rolled her eyes.

"Really? It's obvious. He's smitten… but with who?"

The boys glanced at each other and unanimously decided to say:


Tracey already knew so she twiddled her thumbs as she waited for Millicent and Pansy, as well as Crabbe and Goyle, to react.

"Three…" Theodore started.

"Two." Blaise continued.

Adrian wasn't able to even say one because Draco entered the common room and was immediately tackled by Millicent. Adrian leaned over to Blaise: "I was betting on Pansy attacking him first."

"I don't think Mil is attacking…"


Draco's eyes widened and it took him a moment to digest the situation before peeling himself off of his friend. "Yes, I am… please detangle yourself from me, Bulstrode."

"Sorry." Millicent mumbled and quickly detangled herself from Draco before asking her question again, a much more calm tone: "You're dating Granger?"

Draco looked at Blaise who shrugged and jerked a thumb at Adrian who, in turn, glared at the back of Blaise's head. Theodore didn't even look at Draco and Draco made a note-to-self to hex the brains out of his three friends. This was not the way he wanted to break the news to his other friends…

"I am." He replied curtly.

"She clearly wasn't able to do anything about your asshole attitude as of yet," Pansy muttered. "But good, I guess? You needed somebody like her. She's such a princess… too perfect." Pansy faux-gagged at the thought of an idealistically perfect person. Her reaction, however, caused Draco's blood to boil.

"What's wrong with that?"

"Ohhhh," Vincent grinned, the fat rolls around his neck gathering, "smitten, mate?"

"If I wasn't, I wouldn't be dating the girl." Draco snarled and Adrian stood up, preparing himself to stop any fights that would break out. Maybe he, Blaise, and Theodore didn't do a smart thing by revealing Draco's little secret to the others. In all honesty, Adrian assumed the others would react the way he, Blaise and Theo did.

Maybe Blaise, Theo and I are the only normal ones. Adrian thought ruefully. Or does that make us abnormal? House unity, in Adrian's opinion, had turned all of the Slytherins (namely Blaise, himself, Theodore and Draco) in to wussies.

Pansy mock yawned and examined her nails. "Do her friends know?"

"Of course." Draco had to think fast. "We're slowly letting the school know."

"Hmm…" Pansy stood up. "Well, good for you. Doesn't mean I like her, but I like you. So good for you."

Well, Draco was not expecting that but decided not to question things. He responded with thanks and the group headed off to Potions. That went slightly better than expected.


Skeletal eyes glared at the purple sun setting in the far horizon. Multiple portals were being torn between dimensions; everything was coming together nicely. Blazing red irises flickered to a rift in time that appeared beside him.

It was Ixen, Kapral Zabini's most trusted advisor; his Darzulf. His left hand dragon. The Devil's Advocate.

"Tepoha wux wyogada wer Ifyugvreol di Rygat?" (Have you located the Ring of Chaos?)

Ixen blew from his snout and a puff of smoke disappeared in to the atmosphere. "Ti. Wer Wadoya re naktair wer wyogale vi irthos. Wer Kapral tepohaic jacida narod japachi; jaci ui vsist naktair wer wyogale vi irthos." Ixen swung his tail left and right; his eyes never left the skeletal lord before him "Naktair dout bekir houpetor ui xkhatir throdenilt nirescho, sia Ith."

(No. The Wadoya are keeping the location a secret. The Kapral has his mouth shut; he is also keeping the location a secret. Keeping your energy hidden is becoming more difficult, my Lord.)

"Qe rekimat persvek dout kobtish, Ixen, vur sia bekir geou zexenuma houpetor." (Be competent in your job, Ixen, and my energy will remain hidden.) A dragon, of massive calibre, stood up. There was no flesh or muscle on him; his form was merely the skeletal remains of a dragon that no longer was. An evil energy surrounded his form, giving him the energy to speak.

To walk.

To be.

"Kapral Zabini geou ehtah ekik!" (Kapral Zabini will find out!)

"Wux tepoha evnek ve batobot jaci ui shafaer Edar. Duulo sia vers halkvri jaci returns ekess Thaczil." (You have informed me that he is on Earth. Unleash my power until he returns to Thaczil.) The undead dragon took a step towards the purple sun in the horizon. Tornadoes of fire began to rise all around him and Ixen, signifying the coming of a new Dark Lord.

"Wer Ifyugvreol di Rygat geou qe sini. Vur wer vaslakni korja mrith coi." (The Ring of Chaos will be mine. And the universe along with it.)


As soon as class was done for the day, Madam Hooch posted the Quidditch match listings:

Round 1a: Gryffindor vs. Ravenclaw – October 15

Round 1b: Hufflepuff vs. Slytherin – October 16

Round 1c: Slytherin vs. Ravenclaw – October 22

Round 1d: Gryffindor vs. Hufflepuff – October 23

Round 1e: Ravenclaw vs. Hufflepuff – October 29

Round 1f: Gryffindor vs. Slytherin- October 30

Upon completion of Round 1 Quidditch games, Round 2 matches will be posted. Practice hard, play hard, and stay safe.

~ Madam Hooch

"Our match against Slytherin is the eve of All Hallows Eve." Harry mused, his arm wrapped around Ginny's shoulders. Luna Lovegood was mingling with the Gryffindors and made a small comment about pigmyweed. Hermione shoved Ron before he could make a quip about the possibly non-existent plan/weed creature.

"We should channel Merlin's good luck." Ron grinned. "When do we begin practice, mate?" He turned to Harry who began chewing on his bottom lip.

"We've been practicing… somewhat. I have to speak to Madam Hooch about booking the Quidditch field. I think we may be splitting some practices and sharing the field… which is no good." Harry's shoulders sagged. "Can't afford to let the competition know our game plan."

Hermione raised an eyebrow. "That's no issue; I'll erect a quasi-invisible barrier in the middle of the field so neither team can watch the other."

"Gotta love Hermione." Parvati grinned. "Always has a backup plan."

"Her middle name is backup plan." Ron crossed his arms. "She always has a plan."

"I do," Hermione placed her hands on her hips and watched Ron challengingly. "Is that a problem?"

"No." Ron switched his hand positions to match Hermione's. "I just like testing your patience. Is that a problem?"

"It would be if we weren't friends for eight years."

"Good. So I guess I will continue to test your—" lightning struck and thunder crashed. Ron immediately shut up and took a step towards Hermione with worry in his eyes. He stopped midstride, along with Harry, when Hermione held a hand up.

"Relax, won't you?" She smiled tightly; Ron and Harry saw right through it. Old habits die hard…

Neville, who didn't know the root cause of Hermione's fears, wrapped a comforting arm around her shoulders. "We are relaxed. Are you?... how about you help me look for Trevor…?"

Kellah face-palmed. "Neville, will you drop—"

"I'd love to." Hermione needed to get away from people. An unsettling feeling was beginning to bubble in the pit of her stomach and she needed to get away from people in general. Neville was giving her a great getaway and she decided she would take it. Waving goodbye to her friends, Hermione hurried off with Neville in tow. Maybe a heart-to-heart with Neville wasn't a bad thing.

At that precise moment, Gunnar approached them. "Hullo… have you seen—"

"No." Fay cut him off. "We haven't." Hermione needs to be alone right now, Fay thought, and I'm going to make sure she gets that time. Something is up with her and she's bottling it… what are friends for if she can't talk to us?

And so, Fay decided to make a game plan with Luna, Ginny, Parvati, Kellah and Lavender to help Hermione release whatever it was that was bugging her… apart from the wretched unending thunderstorms.


Neville and Hermione found an empty corner close to the Hospital Wing. Hermione slouched against the wall and rested the back of her head against the cool stone. There was a light layer of sweat that covered her body; Hermione was willing to stop the racing of her heart.

"You alright?"

Hermione looked at Neville who was watching her carefully.

"Yes." With struggle, Hermione pushed off against the wall. "Just… thunderstorms aren't my forte."

"I could've told you that. Want to talk?"

"About thunderstorms? Not really…"

"About anything." Neville sat down with his back against the wall and pat the floor beside him. Hermione, without hesitation, sat down beside him and rested her head against Neville's shoulder. It felt good to have a one-on-one with one of her friends. Neville was an important person in her life; he wasn't a Harry or Ron, both of whom she loved like brothers, but Neville was about as close to her as Harry and Ron were. She appreciated the comfort he gave her.

"Tell me about Trevor."

Neville chuckled. "He's lost. I can't find him."

"He'll turn up, he always do—" thunder. "… es." Hermione finished her sentence anyway. Whatever happened had happened a long time ago and she couldn't keep letting her past fears get in the way of her creating a future. She had to let bygones be bygones. Although it was very strange that the storm had been persisting for almost four days now; it was very unnatural for such time of year. September was wrapping up and October was just around the corner, rainy-season wasn't until early Spring.

"He will." Neville concurred.

There was a comfortable silence between them and Hermione, for a split second, wanted to tell Neville about Draco. She really did want her friends to know; they were protective of her, of course, and Hermione was probably not giving them as much credit as they deserved, but she really wanted them to know. Although Ron would be the last person to find out given his personality…

Maybe telling Neville wouldn't be such a bad idea… the school was going to find out anyway…

And maybe it'll take a load off of my chest? Sneaking around is a terrible thing…

The rain seemed to be getting harder and Neville moved his arm up to wrap around Hermione's shoulder. "Anything else you want to talk about? Perhaps you'll stop thinking about the storm."

Hermione gulped. "Actually… yes… there is…"

Neville remained silent. Hermione was not the type of person that spoke about her feelings often. Most of the time, any conversation with Hermione revolved around school, studying, books, and good grades. Hermione was a difficult person to crack but Neville firmly believed that eight years of chipping at her wall proved to be beneficial. Hermione was closer to the Gryffindors now more than ever and Neville wanted to solidify that relationship. Hermione was like his sister, and he really cared for her… everybody did.

"There's… a boy."

Neville couldn't help but grin stupidly. "I knew it!"

"Pardon me?" Hermione pulled away from him to gawk at him incredulously. "You knew?"

"Why else are you sneaking off at ungodly hours of the morning while feeling the need to make up excuses?"

"When did I do that?!"

"The night of your birthday. You told us you left something in the library and had to go to the Headmistress's office to retrieve the key so you might take a while. Hermione, you don't need to make excuses to go off whenever you want, we aren't your keepers." Somehow what Neville said lifted a boulder off of her shoulders. She really was not giving enough credit to her friends.

Maybe the concept of her and Draco would actually fly with the Gryffindors.

Hermione laughed her sound drowning out the small rumble of thunder. "I suppose you are right…"

"Contrary to popular belief, I'm right quite often."

"Cockiness doesn't suit you, Nev."

Neville laughed. "It's a new image I'm trying…" He laughed even harder at Hermione's obvious distasteful grimace. "Okay, I'll stop trying. But go on! There's this boy… who is he?"

"Somebody we know very well—"

"From Gryffin—no, stupid question, you wouldn't be sneaking off of he was from our house… Ravenclaw?" Neville prodded. "Or even… Slytherin?"

Hermione gulped. It's now or never…



Hermione's heart stopped as she and Neville turned to look at the object of Hermione's affection. Without missing a beat and eyes locked with the smouldering grey ones that Hermione had come to love so dearly, she squeezed out an introduction. "Him."

Neville's jaw went slack and he lost all control of his body.

"You're… dating Malfoy?"

Chapter 21: Kapral Maximus Zabini

It was definitely not how Hermione had anticipated breaking that news to Neville. Draco stood, like the beautiful statue of Adonis that he was, with his arms crossed. His grey eyes flickered from Hermione to Neville and back again—he, too, was not anticipating such a situation to unfold. Granted, he was not jealous of how Hermione was breaking the news to her friends; his three best mates ensured that the Slytherins found out all at the bloody same time.

On the bright side, it did save Draco the hassle.

"I am." Hermione squeezed out. She felt Neville's body slump and, immediately, she took to worry. "Neville?"

"That does explain why you tend to disappear all the time," Neville made the pathetic attempt at humour. "For… how long?"

Draco remained silent the entire time. It was not his place to say anything to Neville, it was Hermione's. As much as he was a reformed man and completely smitten by the woman who rivaled his unparalleled intellect, he was quite enjoying watching Hermione squirm. It wasn't often that Hermione was put in an uncomfortable situation, so whenever she was in one, Draco enjoyed it to the fullest.

"Just shy of a week…"

Neville's eyes widened. "Just shy of—then why is it that you were sneaking out of the Common Room so frequently?"

Draco groaned and rolled his eyes. "Because, Longbottom, in order to decide whether or not you wish to be in a relationship with someone there has to be a courting process; since Granger and I are a deemed socially inacceptable, we had to keep our rendezvous a secret."

Hermione looked between Draco and Neville, wondering what was going on in both of their minds. On one hand was one of her closest friends, who had been there for her since day one alongside Harry and Ron and on the other hand was a reformed Death Eater that captured her heart and was slowly having her fall in love with him, one step at a time.

If there ever was a conundrum, Hermione was in one.

"Well…" Neville pushed himself off of the ground and held his hand out to help Hermione up. She was confused, to say the least, but allowed Neville to help her—what is he thinking?

"When are you going to tell the others?" Neville made no reaction other than his evident shock just moments prior. "Harry and Ron'll have a tough come wrapping their heads around this." Hermione was confused; was Neville okay with it?

Draco merely shrugged. "Potter and Weasley will have to deal with it. Granger is with me and their discomfort with the situation means nothing."

Neville nodded. "I suppose… well… welcome to the family? I think… what do I say?"

Laughing, Hermione hugged Neville's arm. "You took that better than I anticipated."

"Well… you like the man; I can't do anything about that. Actually, I feel as if I should insert some sort of death threat right about now of how if you hurt Hermione I'll do something to your balls but, to be honest, Malfoy you still frighten the shite out of me so I will keep my threats to myself." Hermione giggled and Draco also couldn't help but let out a small chuckle.

"I wouldn't dream of it. Now, since that is done and out of the way, might I be allowed to kidnap my girlfriend for a moment or two?"

Neville nodded, dumbly. It was going to take a whole hell of a while to digest what the Bloody Mary just happened. It took all of Neville's skill to show both Draco and Hermione that their relationship was okay with him—he was still digesting the information. Sure, he was happy for her, but Neville couldn't help but think whether or not Draco Malfoy had an ulterior motive… Hermione is a smart girl, Neville thought as he watched the two walk off. Draco had his arm wrapped around her waist and Hermione leaned in to his touch. She'll be able to protect herself, even if it's long enough for the rest of us to arrive… She'll tell the others in due time. Besides, Neville sported a lopsided grin as Draco and Hermione turned the corner. It's been a bloody long time since I've seen her that happy…

Who knew?

Maybe Draco Malfoy really was a reformed man.


"It is quite surprising that nobody else in this school decides to visit the Astronomy Tower." Hermione mused. She was wrapped in Draco's arms and had her head leaned against his shoulder. She had never felt so safe before; his arms made her forget all of her worries and troubles.

Draco chuckled and the rumbling of his chest made Hermione's heart beat faster. "I concur, bookworm."

Hermione exhaled loudly and, regretfully, detangled herself from Draco's arms. "Now, as much as I absolutely adore our secret rendezvous," she ignored him raising his left eyebrow at her, "I do have to go back to studying. I haven't made a breakthrough for our potions projects yet."

"How hard could it be?" Draco crossed his arms and decided not to visibly show Hermione how much he missed her warmth. "Study properties of the ingredients, interrogate Orla about her heartbreak—and you have to do the latter quickly, lest Orla gets over Vance—and determine how the four ingredients relate to the magical properties of a heartbreak."

Hermione's face was blank which quickly turned into a deadpanned expression. "Right. So easy." Her voice dripped with unmasked sarcasm.

Draco laughed, once again. "Stop stressing, bookworm."

"I can't help it!"

"I can help you…"

Hermione ignored her heart that jumped into her throat. "I am certain you can help me, but I am not looking for sexual gratification as of yet, Malfoy."

His eyes twinkled. "As of yet? Does that mean that I can sexually gratify you soon?"

"Shut up!" Hermione instantly regretted what she said and threw a playful punch at her boyfriend. "Okay, no more dillydallying—" she ignored the quirk of Draco's eyebrow once again. "I need to study. Basilisk poison!"

Draco snorted. "Alright, good luck. I think I'll be heading to Hogsmeade for some butterbeer with—" the dangerous look Hermione gave him made Draco stop what he was saying and revaluate life for a split second.

"On second thought, I think I will help you study."

"Good call. Library?"

"Is there anywhere else we could go for studying?"

"Sarcasm doesn't suit you."

Draco grinned. "Clothing doesn't suit you."


"What? My mother taught me never to lie."

Hermione merely groaned and stomped her way towards the library. Draco stood laughing to himself for a few moments longer before, languidly, starting for the library. Oh how Granger kept him on his toes. He loved every moment of it.


Blaise Zabini could not believe his eyes; he received an owl from his mother indicting that he was due home at once because she and his father had to speak to him about an important matter. The word father made Blaise's stomach twist into knots.

But father is… was… I thought… dead! With trembling hands, he reread the letter that his mother posted for him

Dearest Blaise,

The contents of this letter are to remain a secret; you cannot disclose the information to Adrian, Draco, or Theodore. There have been a lot of things I have kept a secret from you Blaise and I just want to let you know that it was against my will to keep secrets. Your father, however, insisted that it is for your best interest and, as such, we have come to the consensus that it is time for you to learn about your origins and history.

I have already sought and attained permission from Headmistress McGonagall for you to take a week leave from classes without repercussions. There will be a carriage waiting for you tonight at sundown. It will take you to King's Cross Station, platform 9 ¾ where your father and I will greet you.

With all my love,


The candle beside Blaise flickered precariously. The shock that resonated within him was inhumane; his father was alive, his mother was keeping secrets from him, and he had an origin and history?! His first instinct was to go and blab everything to his three best mates, but he was specifically instructed by his mother not to. The situation had to have been serious; otherwise his mother wouldn't have told him not to tell. Blaise folded the letter and tucked it away… it was close to sundown and he had to pack a few of his items for his trip back to King's Cross.


Adrian, Draco, and Theodore were in shock when they saw Blaise lugging his trunk out of the Slytherin Dungeon. The three boys exchanged worried looks before hurrying after Blaise. He hadn't told them what was happening; he simply emerged from the dormitory with his trunk in tow. Blaise simply nodded at his friends in acknowledgement before walking past them.

It was close to sundown and Draco and Hermione had gotten much studying done in the library. He had dropped her off close to the Gryffindor House and there he was at that moment, racing after Zabini for an unknown reason.

"Zabini! ZABINI!" Theodore roared. That boy was fast despite lugging a seemingly heavy trunk.

Blaise stopped and his shoulders slumped. He turned around and said: "I don't want to talk about it. I'll be back in a week."

Draco understood he undertone in his voice and grabbed Adrian and Theodore by their arms, preventing them from chasing after Blaise.

"Something must've happened. Let him go, he'll let us know when he's ready."


Draco stopped Adrian's protests. "How long have we known that bloke? I'm sure he has a good reason for up and leaving, leave him be for now."

Theodore snorted. "Granger's rubbing off on you, mate."

"As Tracey has rubbed off on you?"

Adrian furrowed his brows. "Just because you two have girlfriends does not mean you can rub it in my face, ya'hear?"


Neville eyed Hermione wearily. A group of the eighth years were sitting around the fireplace in the Common Room, studying. Harry and Ron were transfixed on their Divination homework while Hermione, Kellah, and Fay were concentration on Herbology. Neville was doodling on his parchment; he was pretending to study Potions, but he really wasn't. He was too busy thinking about what the hell he had learned that day.

Hermione Granger—their Hermione Granger was dating Draco Malfoy! The Draco Malfoy!

I am happy for her—honestly. But Draco of all people?! Son of a Death Eater, Prince of Slytherin… a Malfoy? As much as I want to tell myself he's reformed, what are the odds that he actually is?

Hermione's eyes flickered to Neville and she raised an eyebrow. "Nev, do you have a question? You haven't stopped looking at me all evening."

Neville flushed red. "N-no, Hermione. Just spacing off."

Hermione raised both eyebrows. "You alright, Nev?"




"Do you want to talk about it?"

Neville gulped and said slowly: "Yes…"

Hermione excused herself from Kellah and Fay, handed them her Herbology notes, and left the Common Room with Neville. Harry and Ron were immune to what had transpired and Kellah and Fay paid them no heed. Maybe Neville needed help with Potions.


"I can't seem to wrap my head around it. Have you told anybody else yet?"

Hermione simply rolled her eyes. "Nev, if I told any one of them do you think we'd have an amicable study session?"

Neville paused momentarily and agreed with hesitance. "You make a valid point… but are you sure?! Draco Malfoy?"


His reluctance was very evident on Neville's face. Hermione placed a hand gently on Neville's shoulder. "Neville… he makes me happy."

"I can see that!" The battle that was going on within Neville was very evident. Half of him; the half that was Hermione's friend, was overjoyed and ecstatic about her relationship with Draco. He hadn't seen her that happy in a very long time and Neville did want her to be happy… but the other half? The other Gryffindor half was upset that she had to be happy with Draco freakin' Malfoy and not a stable Gryffindorian! Up until that very year, Gryffindor and Slytherin were rivals. They despised each other; Draco all but wanted to kill Harry—did all of that just elude Hermione?

"But?" Hermione was anticipating an afterthought.

Neville's shoulders slumped. "But… I don't know. I saw how you looked at him. You really like him, I see that… but… it's Malfoy. He wanted to kill Harry! He's the son of a Death Eater…"

"Do you want to sit with me and make a pro and con list?"

Neville snorted. "Never. I tried that, it isn't my forte, Hermione."

"I don't know what else I can tell you Neville." The duo stopped walking and sat down on the ledge of a tall window that overlooked the lake. "I trust him. And I'll tell Harry and Ron in due time."

"You know I'll always be there for you, right Hermione?"

She nodded and tucked a stray lock of hair behind her ear. Far in the distance, towards the middle of the Forbidden Forest, flew a dozen creatures that Hermione wasn't able to identify. The sun had set a while ago, however the ominous glow that perpetually emitted from the forest cast an eerie radiance towards Hogwarts castle.

"I do, Nev."

"But are you absolutely positive he doesn't want to kill you and absorb your brain?"

Hermione threw her head back and laughed heartily. "No! That isn't even possible!"

"Unless you're a succubus?"

"… you need to read up on your magical creatures, Nev. Succubae do not absorb your brain…"

"Shut up, Hermione."


Aurelia paced impatiently along the station platform of 9 ¾. It was close to the time that Blaise was to arrive, not too far off was Maximus leaning against the brick wall. The husband-wife team hadn't said more than two words to each other since they arrived at King's Cross Station. Maximus was bracing himself to meeting his son for the first time in ages and Aurelia was mentally preparing herself on telling Blaise that:

a) He was the heir to the throne of Thaczil

b) His father was a dragon

c) He was a dragon

d) The fate of the world depended on him

She knew Blaise. He probably wasn't going to take any of the aforementioned points well, but, if what Maximus had told her was true it was time that they told Blaise his true origins…

I pray that Blaise abdicates the throne and it passes down to the next successor…

Aurelia despised that option as much as she despised the fact that Blaise could be the ruler of the damned Realm of Dragons and eternally protect the Chaos Theory until another successor is born. However, if Blaise were to relinquish the throne then next known successor for Thaczil was…

Draconis Lucius Malfoy.


Draco pulled out his charmed journal in the dead of night and began writing to Hermione; he was hoping she was awake. Although he had seen her a few hours ago his soul was craving her presence and because she couldn't physically be with him, emotionally was the only option he had.


It took some time, but her response came.

Yes, just got back from assuring Neville that you won't kill me and absorb my brain like a succubus would.

Draco raised both eyebrows in amusement. The candle that was flickering beside him lashed out for a brief second before calming down once again; all the boys were sleeping and Adrian mumbled something incoherent in his sleep. Draco could swear it sounded something akin to: Leave me alone Myrtle, you're dead. We can't keep doing this. The concept of Adrian dreaming of Myrtle disturbed Draco.

But they don't absorb brains?

That's what I told him.

Sometimes I question if any of your friends would've made it this far without you.

I, myself, question that all the time.

Draco smirked. By the way, I am not about to reveal the fact that I miss you terribly, bookworm.

Good. Neither am I, bad faith.

Your diminutive for me does not make sense, Granger.

Hermione giggled on her end. I, Malfoy, do not frankly care.

I can hear you laugh, you know that?

Again, do not care.

I will be wiping that smile off of your face, bookworm. Frighteningly, it did not scare Draco the slightest when his insides melted to goo. His feelings for Hermione went deeper than he realized they did.

You best live up to that statement, bad faith.

Draco, subconsciously, chuckled before eloquently scribbling: I intend to.


It had taken some time, but Blaise Zabini arrived at King's Cross Station. Within moments, he would be seeing his mother and his… father. He disembarked just a little distance away from the station, hidden from the mass crowds and quickly worked his way to Platform 9 ¾. He weaved around the hustle and bustle and, without waiting another second; he walked in to the wall that led him to the magical in-between.

Before he fully emerged from the bricks, his eyes landed on exactly who he was looking for.

A mirror image of himself, but older.

His father.

Maximus Zabini.

Chapter 22: Legacy of the Kapral

Dear Gabriella,

Why does it feel like we haven't exchanged letters in ages? Never mind that! I am going to reread the letter you sent on my birthday as I pen this (actually quill this, as pens do not exist in my realm… *insert laughter*) so as to cover all my bases:

1) I have been in a relationship with Draco for less than a week, so of course we did not engage in illicit activity. Honestly woman, what kind of friend are you?!

2) You didn't need to get me a birthday present… and speaking of birthday:

3) Draco has invited me to an annual All Hollow's Eve masquerade shindig at his manor… now I have a few concerns in regards to that which I will go into detail in a bit. And lastly…


Honestly Gabriella, not even a week since we've been talking and you have yourself a new man. Did you even court this fellow? I've been telling you about all of my rendezvous with Draco and our whispers of sweet nothings and you drop a bomb on me telling me that you have a man!? I require details, woman!

Your next letter must at least be a few pages long regarding what the hell happened.

Now… about Halloween… Draco invited me to go to a masquerade event at his manor and I'm a little scared. I mean normally we do Halloween at your place, costume party et al but we just started dating and I feel as if I should attend… but then his parents don't know about me and his aunt literally tried to kill me in the same manor that this party will be hosted in. These are things that I can't exactly overlook.

I am at a loss of what to do… what do you suggest?

Anyway, I must end this letter short… classes begin shortly.

Cannot wait to see you!




Blaise was unable to move or speak, his eyes solely trained on his mother and… father. Aurelia Zabini paced feverishly from one end of the platform to another and the mirror image of himself – Maximus Zabini – was leaning against a brick pillar with his eyes closed, his right hand rubbing the bridge of his nose.

Blaise felt everything around him disappear; the sounds, smells, and atmosphere. He zoned in on his mother, eternally youthful and beautiful, and his father—his father; his bloody, fucking, useless, run-away-from-home father. Shock turned to anger; anger towards his mother, and anger towards his father.


Blaise cleared his throat. His mother stopped pacing and his father opened his eyes.




The Zabini Clan had finally reunited.

"Son!" Aurelia hurried to Blaise and gathered him in her arms. Blaise, however, remained stiff and motionless—he was there to get answers to the stupid letter his mother sent. He wanted to learn his origin and history and get answers to why his father was said to be dead, leaving his mother to undertake the bloody reputation of black-fucking-widow.

"Mother." Blaise said with zero emotion.

"… Mother's husband."

Blaise refused to acknowledge the man that claimed to be his father. "That is, if you are still married to her—"

"Mate." Maximus whispered and Blaise cocked an eyebrow.

"Sorry?" Blaise wasn't sure he heard his father right. Did he use the term mate in place of married?

"Mated. We're mated, Blaise."

"Maximus, not here."

Blaise looked between his mother and father. What the hell? "Are you going to tell me why I was pulled out of school and why this man who claims to be my father is here? I am not looking forward to a ninth year at Hogwarts—Merlin knows I've made it this far all thanks to Draco."

Aurelia winced, not going unnoticed by Maximus.

Draco—oh Narcissa, please don't hate me if Blaise abdicates.

"Let us retire to the manor." Maximus whispered, hiding the hurt he felt that his son, his blood, refused to acknowledge their relationship. "We have much to discuss."

"Yes, we do." Blaise muttered while briskly striding past his parents, trunk lugging behind him. Aurelia's shoulders sagged, indicating defeat and Maximus was quick to wrap his arm around them.

"Love, he will understand."

Aurelia bit her lower lip. "I hope you're right."


Neville was uncomfortably close to Hermione as they walked out of Tuesday Transfiguration. Draco was mildly amused, silently watching his girlfriend—Merlin I will never get used to how it feels to say that… my girlfriend – try to shake one of her good friend off of her tail.

"Neville, are you quite alright?"

"Huh? Oh… yeah… will you help me study for potions tonight?"

Hermione rolled her eyes and Kellah gently nudged the poor flabbergasted boy. "You okay Nev? You've been slightly out of it…"

Neville turned red, involuntarily of course, and scurried off not before mumbling something along the lines of: 'You're crazy Kell.'

Kellah rolled her eyes. "I think he likes you."

Draco couldn't hold it in any longer. He barked in laughter which caused Theodore to jump beside him. Adrian, who had been privy to the entire situation, laughed alongside Draco; it was comical, really, to witness the Gryffindors display such disgusting ignorance… did they know nothing about their friends and what they did throughout the day?! The Snakes were quick to figure out Draco's secret and, judging by what was happening, Neville Longbottom knew and was trying to come to terms with it.

Damn Gryffs.

"What's so funny, Malfoy?" Parvati raised an eyebrow at the outburst behind them. Ron, Harry, Seamus, Dean Hermione, Kellah, Parvati, Lavender, and Luna all turned around to the three remaining Slytherins: Draco, Theodore, and Adrian.

Before a response could be made to Parvati's question, Hermione blurted out: "Where's Blaise?" Which promptly resulted in her wanting to smack her head with her Care of the Magical Creatures textbook. Her mouth worked faster than her brain—she kind of forgot her friends didn't know about Draco yet.

Thankfully, Adrian swooped down to the rescue.

"Aww, Granger you do care about us." Adrian made fake kissy noises. "I'll alleviate your concern; Blaise had to go home. Family issues."


"So what was so funny?" Harry returned to Parvati's former question. Hermione mouthed a small thank you to Adrian who, in turn, smiled ever so slightly. It swelled Hermione's heart knowing that her boyfriend's — holy hell, my boyfriend! — friends were so protective of her already.

Draco shrugged while snickering. "It's cute how Longbottom has a thing for Granger." He hated saying that, as much he knew they were keeping up a ruse until Hermione was ready to let the others know about their secret. "He was quite dumbfounded, if I do say so myself."

"Shut up, Malfoy." Ron snarled. He was still royally annoyed that Draco-bloody-Malfoy had punched him not too long ago. And Ronald Weasley was one to hold grudges… "Nobody asked you." The latter part was said in a mumble. Draco rolled his eyes and diverted his attention to the only woman in the world that deserved it.


"I believe we agreed to a study session tonight, Granger." Draco said while aptly watching the ripples in Hermione's muscles. She glanced over at him and cocked an eyebrow.

"I remember." In all honesty, they hadn't planned anything. But Hermione was smart enough to play along Draco's sudden allegation. "We're focusing on smoke from a lightning bolt tonight."

Dean groaned. "Please don't remind me of the project."

"We can't help it that we desire to pass, Thomas." Draco smirked before striding past the gaggle of Gryffindors. Adrian, conspicuously, gave Hermione a playful shove while they brushed past them.

"Merlin, I hate that prick." Ron muttered while his group of friends chose to retire to their Common Room before heading down to the village for lunch. "House unity is a load of rubbish." And, for once, nobody decided to intervene and stop Ron's rant.


Blaise sat in the middle of the Victorian era chaise in their living room. Aurelia was sitting in an armchair to his left and his father was pacing in the center of the room. Blaise had noticed that his father wore a peculiar set of instruments; dragon hide boots and gloves, like Charlie Weasley did, and mostly leather clothing. It was strange, really, as Blaise had never seen anybody that wasn't a dragonologist don such attire.

Perhaps his father was part of a secret order of dragonologists? That could be a reason as to why he was proclaimed dead for all of Blaise's life.

"There are… a lot of things we need to tell you." Aurelia began, watching Maximus with a wary eye pace to and fro. Maximus stopped to look at Aurelia before beginning to pace once again.

"Maximus, please stop that. You are making me dizzy."

Maximus stopped abruptly and sat down on the loveseat nearest to him. Blaise looked from his mother and father a few times before settling his gaze on his clearly shaken mother. "Are you going to tell me what the fuck is happening?"

"Blaise!" Aurelia was shrill. "Watch your language."

"Bullocks! You pull me out of school with special permission," emphasis on the last two words, "from McGonagall. You tell me my dead father is alive and that it's time for me to learn about my origins?!" Blaise stood up, vehemently, to emphasize his point. "So pardon my French, mother, but I cannot censor my language any longer."

Maximus exhaled loudly. "Aurelia, the boy is right… we owe him a lot."

Blaise glanced at his old man but decided not to acknowledge what he said. He returned his gaze to his mother. "So?"

"So," Maximus took a step towards him but Blaise put a hand up.

"Do not come near me. Just speak."

Maximus' jaw tightened but he adhered to his son's request. "The reason that I was never present is because…" Maximus inhaled deeply. "It because I am the Dragon Emperor of the realm of Dragons… Thaczil."


Blaise stared at his father incredulously. Aurelia was holding her breath, unsure of how Blaise was going to react to the revelation. There was a strong possibility that he would laugh in their faces, call them liars and proceed to stomp out of their manor… she wouldn't put it past her son.

"Repeat that?"

"I am the Dragon Emperor of a land called Thaczil."

Blaise nodded, very slowly.

"Oh… kay…"

Aurelia bit her lower lip. Blaise's lack of reaction was quite concerning.

"I have been the Emperor for twenty-four centuries; however I am ready to retire. Due to my travelling between the realms and the fact that your mother was unable to travel due to the fact she is not a dragon, I had to pronounce myself dead so that Aurelia and yourself weren't targeted by rogue Dragon Hunters—and, as you questioned me earlier, dragons mate for life." Maximus took a tentative step towards Blaise. "But never once, in all of these years, did I stop loving your moth—"

"Stop talking."

Maximus' eyes widened. He was not used to such insolence and insubordination, but he had to look at the situation from Blaise's point of view.

"Let me get this straight: you're a Dragon Emperor and because you're royalty you had to pretend you were dead so mother and I were safe because mother couldn't travel with you to your world?" Blaise's eyes were molten, burning into his father's eyes. What he was saying wasn't so farfetched, given that his schoolmates were part of a war that was made for the history books, successfully eliminating a power hungry wizard that had been out to kill Harry Potter for eight years, but it was going to take a whole hell of a lot more to convince Blaise.


"And you're here because…" Blaise began pacing, paying no heed to his parents. "Let's go on a whim: you're here because you need me to take over your throne so you can retire with mother for the rest of your extended dragon lifespan, correct?" Blaise stopped pacing and cast his mother a sidelong glance for a brief second before turning his gaze to his father. Maximus gulped and nodded, slowly, repeating what he said earlier:


"I see… anything else I need to know?"

Aurelia stood up and approached her son. "Your father protects the Ring of Chaos… it maintains the balance of light and dark… good and evil…"

Ying and Yang.

Blaise crossed his arms and began pacing again. "Alright, so let's summarize: pull Blaise out of school and introduce him to his long, lost, dead father while attaining prior authorization from the headmistress. Do not introduce each other properly and not have said father ask about his son's life, what he's been up to, his likes and dislikes, et cetera et cetera. This long lost dead father proceeds to not apologize to said son for not being part of his life for eighteen years, and then proceed to tell said son that he must take over the throne of a faraway land that he hadn't heard about until a minute ago so said father can spend the rest of how ever many fucking centuries he will live with a mate he has left alone for a lot of fucking years." Blaise whirled onto his father. "Does that summarize everything then?"

Aurelia's eyes began watering. "Blaise—"

"Enough, mother." Blaise stepped away from Aurelia. "This is beyond ridiculous. You cannot waltz in to my life and pretend that everything is going to be okay, understand Maximus?"

A gong went off in Maximus' core when he heard his son address him by his mortal name. Not father, not Kapral, but Maximus. The ruler of Thaczil was not okay with that feeling, but he knew as if he was in no position to reprimand his son.

"I am returning to Hogwarts, and I'll contact Draco's parents to assist me. You can take your dragon bullshite and shove it up your arse, Maximus, because I want no part of it." Blaise turned around and stormed towards his bedroom. His parents faintly heard him continue his rant:

Think they could just drop the bomb on me and assume I'd be okay with it. Dragon ruler my arse, probably a load of shit—he was out fornicating with other women for eighteen years and now that he can keep his pants on, he wants to settle down.

Maximus clenched his fist. "Aurelia…"

"Give him time." Aurelia flocked to her husband and put a comforting hand on his arm. "It's a lot to take in… we need to show him proof, show him that what you did was for our good."

Maximus gathered his wife in to his arms and held her there. The feel of her heartbeat against his was comforting; helped him relax his nerves. "I pray that you're right, Aurelia… I need to gather the Dragon Tomes and show Blaise the Dragon Family Tree…"

Maximus felt Aurelia nod in to his chest. "He needs to accept his position as Kapral…"

"Otherwise Draco gain ownership of the title…"

Maximus held his wife tighter.


"Come on, bookworm." Draco had his chair pulled comfortably close to Hermione. They were sitting in their usual area in the Restricted Section of the library but, unlike any other time before, they were actually studying. "Just a little kiss."

"No, Malfoy," Hermione shoved him away. "This is serious. I approached Orla today and she's over it! Four years with the boy, and she's moved on. How on earth do you expect me to analyze a heartbreak of nobody in this school is heartbroken!"

"Moaning Myrtle?"

Hermione rolled her eyes and swatted Draco's probing hands off of her. "She wasn't heartbroken; she was killed by a basilisk."

"Then maybe we can analyze basilisk poison with her aid?"

"She wasn't bit by it—Draco!" Hermione shoved her boyfriend when he placed his hand on her inner thigh. "Pay attention!"

"I am." He pressed his lips just behind her earlobe. "I haven't had you in my arms in ages, Granger, so please let a man enjoy himself."

Hermione sighed dreamily, resigning for long enough to enjoy the small amounts of carnal pleasure he was bestowing upon her. Draco Malfoy was something else altogether and she counted her blessings every day since she had the pleasure of getting to know him.

"Alright, time's up. Let's focus: heartbreak. We need to cure it using four major ingredients… smoke from a lightning bolt, elephant ivory, basilisk poison and—"

Draco interjected: "And tears of a virgin. Now where are we to get that, Granger?"

Hermione shot him a glare. "We'll find a way. Now, what do we know so far?"

Draco finally acquiesced and slouched back in his chair, pulling away from Hermione only slightly. She was right; they had a reputation to uphold as the smartest duo the school had seen in centuries. If they didn't study and figure out the properties of their potions project in good time then they'd be screwed for all the other projects they had pending.

Especially Defense Against the Dark Arts. They had to create a new spell! How the heck was that even plausible?!

"We know that heartbreak is caused by severe disappointment from a loved one. The two primary examples are death and end of a long-term relationship." Draco recited from their previous research.

Hermione nodded. "Right and we're focusing on the relationship aspect of heartbreak."

"Elephant ivory has healing properties, which can be used for the actual healing part." Draco leaned over and ran his finger over the Healer Pendant. "You know this is made of ivory, right?"

Hermione nodded but didn't look at him. She was chewing on her fingernail and poring over her notes. "Yeah, I do. What else? What about smoke from a lightning bolt?"

"Represents aftermath." Draco pulled away from her again, hating how she was avoiding his advances but loved knowing she was so determined and concentrated on getting things done. Two traits that he wanted present in his woman.

"Exactly." Hermione's eyes scanned over a few notes she had scribbled down. "Represents the aftermath of a serious situation, so that embodies the events immediately prior to the moment the heart was broken. Basilisk poison acts as a liaison between the two: it is supposed to represent death, but in this instance it can represent the death of a broken heart, which ultimately means it is never broken."

Draco crossed his arms and peered intently at Hermione. "And tears of a virgin?"

Tell me you're a virgin. Tell me you're a virgin. Tell me.

"Represents purity." She didn't look at him. "The heart is the purest magical entity to exits. It is wholesome and true, unable to lie." Hermione glanced up at him. "It ties everything together, finishing the potion to eliminate the effect of heartbreak."

You'll tell me eventually.

"So now we just have to figure out how to incorporate it all."

Hermione slouched back in her chair. The sun had already set and lights out was fast approaching; eighth year of Hogwarts was mentally draining and physically exhausting. "Precisely."

"Now that we have that figured out," Draco spun Hermione's chair so that it faced him and pressed his lips against hers. Without missing a beat, Hermione snaked her arms around his shoulders and pulled his body as close as she possibly could towards her.

With a gentleness that Hermione didn't think possible, he pushed her mouth open to gain full access to bliss. Involuntarily, Hermione moaned and Draco took that as motivation to continue to deepen their kiss, taking them to a realm that was no longer Hogwarts.


Dear Hermione,

So I don't have a boyfriend exactly, but we are seeing each other! He's taking me out for a spot of tea later on this week (and by that I mean fish and chips with a side of beer!). His name's Jeremy Oira and I met him at my parents shop. Fun stuff, eh? Nothing as romantic as him throwing himself in front of a Crucio or anything, but we'll get there.

Now, on to more pressing matters: My shindig or the Malfoy Masquerade? Let's make a pros and cons list.

Hermione was sitting in her Common Room mere hours after her and Draco engaged in quasi illicit activities in the Restricted Section. It wasn't until a book yelled at them to stop being hooligans did they part from each other's embrace. Embarrassed that a magically enchanted inanimate object had to stop their kiss, Hermione quickly packed up and scurried back to the Gryffindor Tower, with a laughing Draco following her ten steps behind.

It was a ritual to drop her off. He would never stop now that he had started.

My shindig~


* It's my shindig
* You do it every year
* You'll see all of our old friends
* Draco will come and I get to meet him
* Nobody has tried to kill you in my house, except for maybe my brother when we were five years old… but that's a story for another day…


* No possibility of sneaking off for some beautiful love making, which would only be possible in his manor
* He has a manor

And now for the masquerade…


* It's a bloody masquerade! That's something out of a fairy tale, Mione!
* Note above con:
possibility of sneaking off for some beautiful love making
* You get to see his bedroom (unless you've already seen it when you were about to die in his manor…)
* You get to meet his parents


* You get to meet his parents… (this works both ways. Crazy ex-Death Eaters!)
* You were almost killed in his house which could resurface terrifying memories
* I don't get to meet him
* You break our annual Halloween tradition!
* You don't get to see our old friends

Your call now girly. I've written it all out for (did the hard part, really.)

ANYWAY I miss you terribly! Please, please, please come visit soon… if you choose to go to the Manor for Halloween, I'll understand but you have to promise to floo to my house. Merlin (haha, I talk like you… btw, is Merlin real?!), we connected my fireplace to the floo network JUST. FOR. YOU.

Utilize that, honey.

Anyways, I must bid you adieu. Talk to you soon!


Hermione folded the letter and pressed it against her chest. How grateful she was for her best friend—muggle best friend. Just as Hermione was about to crack open a book, she felt the comforting heat of her journal seep into her lap. It was placed there, alongside her Herbology textbook and the book on Dragons for further nighttime reading.

I do not miss you, Granger.

Hermione snickered, pulled her quill out, and began writing away.

Shame, because I quite miss you.

It's a peculiar thing that I have become so fond of you. I mean, I take you out for picnics and flying lessons! I must be losing my mind.

You can't lose something you didn't have, Malfoy. And speaking of lessons… why haven't we had one in a while?

Because of the rain. Speaking of rain, why are you terribly afraid of thunder storms?

That's a story for another day.

Hiding things from your man already?

Don't get cocky.

I can't get cocky, I am cocky.

If anybody were to ask me what I dislike about my boyfriend, it'd be that.

Hey, if that's all you'd dislike about me, I'd say we're going to have a pretty fun run then because that's trivial.

Says you.

Yep, says me.

Hermione shook her head when she saw his response bleed onto the page. So what really happened to Blaise?

Adrian was telling the truth. We have no idea, he received an owl and next thing you know, he's gone.


Isn't it? So, have you decided on All Hollow's Eve yet?

Not yet. Gabriella wants us to attend her annual party.

And I want us to attend my parent's annual masquerade.

I'm still deciding.

Do you have a pro and cons list?

as a matter of fact, no. Gabriella did one for me.

Tomato, tomato.

Draco! Again, that only works when you are speaking.

Fine. Tom-EH-to, Tom-AH-to.

Merlin, what am I to do with you?

Draco chuckled. Merlin, he could endlessly banter with the woman. It was an unusual feeling to want to give her the world and so much more, but knowing that even if he were to achieve the feat of delivering her the universe, it wouldn't be enough. If only he knew when he started Hogwarts that the girl he met on the train; the nerdy, bushy-haired, bucktoothed girl would be his girlfriend… perhaps his run in Hogwarts would've been a bit different.


Blaise had yet to contact Draco's parents as he was still trying to digest and comprehend what the hell had just happened with his parents. His father was a Dragon Emperor?! Of a realm named Thaczil? And his mother knew about all of this but had to claim his father was dead to keep Blaise safe?!


It was a matter of trust and Blaise felt incredibly betrayed, especially since it was his mother and supposedly his father.

Not too long ago, his mother dropped off a few books for him saying that it contained information if he wanted to read up on it. Blaise did not respond. He simply accepted the books and shut the door in his mother's face; he was not in the mood to speak or look at her. Hours passed and, after much contemplation, Blaise pushed himself off of his bed and picked up the first book his mother gave him.

Legacy of the Kapral

"What the fuck is a Kapral?"

No matter. Blaise opened the book and his eyes fell onto gold pages with inky black text. The very first page had the words Family Tree etched across it. Blaise raised both of his eyebrows and turned the page to find a large family tree with extremely small writing.

Blaise pulled out his wand.


The book enlarged immediately, becoming big enough for Blaise to read the text without squinting.

At the top of the family tree read two names: Kapral Sigmund and Evelyn. Blaise could easily understand that this Sigmund person was married to Evelyn. Just below their names were nine names connected to them by a solid line, which could only mean one thing: they bore nine children! Nine! Blaise's eyes scanned across the names, trying to come across something familiar. The lineage from Sigmund branched down in to many different bloodlines… names that were becoming familiar, but all of which were abdicating the throne except for two families.



Blaise's eyebrows furrowed as he came closer to the 1980s generation, hoping to catch sight of names of people he knew.

Kapral Zabini and Aurelia


"Mother and father."

Blaise Zabini, heir apparent.

Blaise scanned the names in his generation of the tree. Many of the names he didn't recognize, but all of which had abdicated beside their name. Finally, twenty-nine branches away from his name came the first name that he recognized personally…

Draconis Lucius Malfoy, heir apparent should the Zabini Clan abdicate.

"What the…" Blaise read and reread that line over and over again before feverishly flipping through the book, hoping to come across a page that could explain what the bloody hell he just read!

Finally, he found something.

Maximus Zabini has ruled Thaczil with a fiery fist, however his time is nigh. The Zabini Clan has maintained order in Thaczil for uncountable generations, with the Malfoy Clan next in line. Upon retirement, Kapral Zabini will hand over the Ring of Chaos as well as his powers as Emperor to his son, Blaise Zabini.

Should Blaise abdicate the throne, the title will be given to his generational counterpart, Draconis Lucius Malfoy.

Should Draconis abdicate the throne; the darastrixi will enter what is known as the Battle of Kings to crown a new Emperor of Thaczil, and a new protector of the Ring of Chaos. This option is quite dangerous as the winner of the Battle of Kings would potentially have ill intentions and might intend to divulge in the secrets of the Ring of Chaos, ultimately bringing destruction to Thaczil and Earth.

Blaise was shaken and, as a result, his enlargement spell was reversed. The book fell to the ground with a thud and all Blaise could do is stare at it, his heart pounding against his ribcage. "What the hell is going on?!"

Unless his parents were playing a practical joke on him, his life had just done a complete 180 degree turn…

So he was in line to take over his father's position as Kapral… otherwise… Draco would have to do it?

What the hell do I do?

Chapter 23: The Heir, Should I Abdicate

Friday after classes Draco received an owl from Blaise that required his prompt arrival at the Knockturn Alley pub.


Friday after classes please meet me at The White Wyvern in Knockturn Alley. It is urgent.



Apparently, from what Draco deduced, Blaise was staying in one of the few rooms available in The White Wyvern. It was odd that Blaise didn't stay at Diagon Alley, but Draco presumed Blaise's reason to be seclusion; Blaise wanted to be alone and didn't want to run the risk of running in to witches and wizards he may know.


"I'll be back Sunday night, bookworm." Draco had run his thumb over Hermione's lip that very night when he was setting off to see Blaise. He hadn't told her the details of why he was going as he did not know himself.

Hermione nodded, the look on her face dripping with disappointment. "I won't see you all weekend then?"


And just as quick as her disappointment came, it disappeared. It caught Draco off guard.

"Well, I can finally work on our Defense Against the Dark Arts project— we've been so caught up on Potions we haven't even looked at it." Hermione stepped away from him and tapped her chin. "I was thinking of creating a spell that twisted the mind, what do you think? It could work similar to the Crucio…"

Draco rolled his eyes, caught her chin himself, and pressed his lips against hers. "I think you talk too much and should be using these lips to kiss me."

"Quite demanding, are we?"

"Only when it comes to my woman."

Hermione chose not to respond but simply melt in to his kiss. It would be the last for two days…


Draco appeared in the fireplace at The White Wyvern in time to see Blaise nursing some sort of potion at the pub. Stepping out of the fireplace and dusting off his robes, Draco approached his best mate and cleared his throat directly behind him. Blaise straightened his shoulders and glanced over it to see the man he needed to see.

"About time, Malfoy."

"I had to tell Hermione where I was going without actually knowing where I was going." Draco slipped onto the stool beside Blaise and waved the barwizard down. "So what the hell is going on? You leave for a week and suddenly end up at Knockturn Alley?"

Blaise looked away from Draco and at his tankard. How the hell do I start…?

Draco gave him his moment of silence. Clearly whatever Blaise wanted to talk about was serious. The barwizard approached Draco, took his order, and proceeded to his counter of alcoholic potions and whatnot to mix the drink. Draco had his arms crossed with his body facing Blaise, simply waiting.

Blaise slammed his fist onto the counter and whirled unto Draco.

"Do you know about Thaczil?!"

Draco raised both eyebrows. "Thac-what?"

Blaise growled and downed his potion in one gulp. The tankard slammed onto the counter with a loud thud; Blaise turned back to Draco. At that precise moment the barwizard returned with Draco's drink, took the payment and tip, and went about tending to other patrons.

Draco sipped his beverage and gave Blaise the onceover; he was clearly intoxicated. "Thaczil, the realm of Dragons— where a fucking emperor has been ruling for twenty-four fucking centuries; do you know about it?"

"Mate, I have no idea what you're—"

"Let's go to my room."

Draco frowned but nodded. Clearly something had happened during the week Blaise had gone home. He quickly tipped his drink into his mouth and pushed off of the barstool, following Blaise to whatever corner his room was located.


The first Sunday of October was a chilly one. A few of the sixth, seventh, and eighth years travelled down to the village just before dusk to unwind before another dreadful week of school, while the majority of students remained back at the school. The nip was bone chilling and, quite frankly, a lot of the students did not want to bother bundling up to go down to Hogsmeade for just a few short hours.

In addition to the cold, the thunderstorms weren't waning. It was not a continuous storm, as it had been the last week of September, but rain still persisted for the majority of the week. Luckily for the students, that particular Sunday it hadn't rained a drop.

Blaise had not returned and the Gryffindors still hadn't the foggiest of Hermione's relationship with Draco. Granted there were moments where Draco's voice was softer than usual, and his eyes lingered on Hermione for a moment longer that caused Hermione's girlfriends to question what he was thinking… but apart from Neville, the Gryffindors were still in the dark.

Sitting close to Hagrid's hut were Hermione and Neville. The latter boy claimed he wanted to talk to Hermione about something and seeing as she needed fresh air after studying all weekend (she actually hadn't seen Draco since she wanted to focus on D.A.D.A. without his roaming hand, which worked out perfectly well as Draco said he needed to take a quick trip to Knockturn Alley. He'd tell her about it when he came back). The duo opted to sit outside of Hagrid's hut, on some of his overgrown pumpkins, and have a chat.

"You've been with him for a fortnight now, when will you tell everybody?"

Hermione exhaled loudly. A wisp of cold hair flew from her mouth, indicating just how cold it really was. "I will. It's hard; just when I think I have the courage to tell them, I chicken out."

Neville nodded, clearly understanding her predicament. "But you want to, right?"

"Of course!" Hermione buried her face in her hands. "Of course I do… I was actually planning on telling them tonight." Hermione looked up and studied Neville's eyes. "You know, end the week off with a bang?"

Neville shook his head, clearly indicating that he did not agree with Hermione's notion. "I don't agree with that. I mean… let's be honest for a second; it's you and Malfoy—"

Hermione's glare ripped Neville in half. Never had he seen her so livid before… if looks could kill, Neville would be dancing the two-step in Voldemort in hell.

"Are you saying that you do not think our relationship will last more than just a few months?"

"No…" Neville gulped, trying to retrace his steps and turn what he would've said in to something positive. "I mean… it's just…" He threw his hands up in defeat. There was no point in beating around the bushes; he may as well lay it straight to Hermione. She'd probably figure out that he was trying to spare her feelings anyway. "Oh come on Hermione! Cut me some slack; he's been an arsehole to us for seven years and you expect me to just be okay with him being your boyfriend?!"

"Yes." Hermione turned away from him. "I do. Because you're my friend and because I'd hope you know the type of judgement I'd exercise before I entered in to a relationship with Draco."

The sun had set fully and the winds picked up. Hermione was ready to call it a night. All she really wanted to do was go back to her dormitory, write to Draco, and perhaps have some late night flying lessons with him. It had been quite some time since they soared through the skies of Hogwarts.

Hopefully he was back from Knockturn Alley. Perhaps his trip would prove to be excellent story telling material if and when they had their late night flies again.

"Hermione!" Neville groaned. "Let's think about it, shall we?"

"What's there to think about?"

"I mean…" There goes my courage… Neville scoured his brain for a reason other than hey, I don't think you two will have a successful relationship. Hermione clearly did not appreciate that suggestion when he was about to blurt it out. "The Quidditch matches are coming up and something like this is bound to throw the Gryffindor Quidditch team off of their game and—"

Hermione stood up abruptly. Neville almost rolled off of his pumpkin. "Neville, I will tell the Gryffindors if and when I please. I will not sit around and wait for the preliminary matches to be over and done with because we're afraid that Harry and Ron won't be able to concentrate!" Hermione had never felt such anger towards her friend. She knew Neville had honourable intentions, she really did, but she refused to sit back and put Harry and Ron's feelings before hers. She had been doing that for far too long and finally when she found her own happiness she had to more or less jeopardize it because it would be a blow to the boys' ego.

She loved Harry, Ron, and the rest of the Gryffindors… but sometimes she felt that her feelings about them were stronger than their feelings towards her. I mean, Hermione thought, if either of them were dating a Slytherin girl I would appreciate knowing rather than have them cavorting around the castle after hours because they were too afraid of what we'd think. At least it'd give me the opportunity to come to terms with their relationship versus being ridiculously upset at either of them for keeping it a secret from me for so long.

Alas, that was the rational Hermione thinking. She had learned, much to her discontent, that her two male friends did not exercise the rationality that she did.

"I wasn't saying that!" Neville stood up and towered over Hermione. "I just want everybody to be okay."

"You and I both know that nobody will be okay with this." It hurt Hermione saying it out loud; she really wanted her friends to be okay with it. "But they have to accept it if they truly are my friends." Hermione's eyes softened and she placed a gentle hand on Neville's shoulder. "Aren't you?"

He couldn't match her gaze. "I am but—"

"Then trust me?"

"I always do." His eyes locked with hers. "I just want you to be happy."

"Who says I wasn't?"

In the far distance, deep in to the Forbidden Forest, roared a lone dragon causing the creatures within the forest to disperse.


Draco leaned against the rickety old door. The room was falling apart; peeling paint, a rusty moldy smell, and dusty furniture. It was very unlike what Draco was used to, but his parents had sponsored his stay in Knockturn Alley. Draco assumed that Blaise paid for his room alone, which is why had probably chose The White Wyvern. Narcissa and Lucius sent Draco to a high-end inn, much to their dismay, in Knockturn Alley as Draco had refused (at that time) to say in Diagon Alley.

Blaise, though, seemed unfazed by his surroundings. He was lost in his own world and Draco was beginning to worry.

Blaise never acted like that.

"What's going on—" Draco stopped short when Blaise conjured up a book. It was floating in front of Draco for a solid ten seconds before he grabbed it, releasing it from suspension.

"Read the first page."

Draco looked from Blaise to the book and back again before placing the book down on a very dusty wardrobe. "I'm not here to read a bloody book, mate. Tell me what the hell is going on."

Blaise punched one of the four posters. "My father. My father came back."

Draco felt as if the wind was whipped out of him. "Your— father…?"

"Yes." Blaise pushed himself off of the bed and began pacing the length of his room. "My father. My bloody fucking father, arghhh!" Blaise threw a punch at the wall, ultimately putting his fist through it. "Maximus, his name's fucking Maximus. Don't refer to him as my father. He isn't my anything."

Draco pushed himself off of the door and shoved his hands into his pockets. He was donning a pair of black jeans and a navy blue sweater. His hair was messy and askew from seeing Hermione earlier that day at their usual spot in the Astronomy Tower; he had no intention of grooming to go see Blaise.

"Okay…" Draco said slowly. "Maximus, then. He isn't dead?" He had to take the conversation slowly. He didn't know what mental state Blaise was in, especially since had had consumed some alcoholic potions. Draco hadn't a clue how many Blaise ingested prior to his arrival.

"No!" Blaise ran his fingers through his hair. "He isn't. He's apparently a dragon that's been in this other realm and he's decided that he wants to retire to be with mother."

"Wait, backtrack— your mother knew about this?!"

Blaise nodded. "Yeah, fucked up innit?"

"Hmmmm…" Draco walked over to Blaise's bed and sat down, somehow knowing that he wouldn't want to be standing for Blaise's story. "So Maximus has returned after ruling a dragon realm for twenty-four centuries and he wants what— ohhhh." Draco's eyes widened as they locked with Blaise's. "He wants you to takeover so he can retire…"

"Bingo." Blaise hissed. "That selfish good for nothing— I AM ABDICATING! DO YOU HEAR MAXIMUS?! I AM FUCKING ABDICATING!"

Draco shot out of the bed and grabbed his best friend by the shoulders. "Get a hold of yourself, man!" Draco saw Blaise blink a few times; he was returning to reality. The alcohol wasn't helping him, though.

"Sorry," Blaise shrugged Draco off and resumed pacing. "You're right. Maximus wants to return, his interim is coming to an end and he wants me to take over the throne."

"But you can abdicate, right?"

"About that…" Please don't be mad. Please don't be mad. A mantra repeated in his head as Blaise flicked his wand. The book that Draco set down flew towards them, opening to the page that Blaise wanted his best friend to see. After a quick enlarging charm ("Augeo!") Draco was able to read the words clearly.

Draconis Lucius Malfoy, heir apparent should the Zabini Clan abdicate.

Draco reread the line a hundred times. Blaise sunk onto the mattress and buried his head in the palms of his hand. "See?" his voice was muffled but Draco could hardly hear him over the raggedness of his breath. "My abdication… forces you to…"

"Take over?"

Blaise was silent for a heartbeat. "Does Lucius know? About dragons? About Thaczil?"

Draco shook his head very slowly, his eyes locked onto the words his mind could not stop repeating. "He's never… spoken about this…"

The sorting hat's prophecy! Draco's world began spinning very fast. A dragon and his lady… the sun and the seas… Hermione and me…?


The skeletal dragon reared his skull and exhaled dust and ice. Ixen quivered at the sheer size of the being; it had to be, by far, the biggest, largest, and most phenomenal dragon he had ever had the pleasure of seeing. The dragon expanded his skeletal wings, the size triple that of Ixen's wingspan.

"Kapral Zabini ui ti persvek Thaczil?" (Emperor Zabini is not in Thaczil?)

Ixen lowered his snout. "Thric, sia Ith. Jaci ui shafaer Edar. Jaci huvenic ekess tepoha jacida deevdru qe wer frevor Kapral." (No, my lord. He is on Earth. He wishes to have his son be the next Emperor).

"Bensvelk. Wer vers di wer siksta ui agmasaon sini. Agmasaon, si geou qe Daar." (Good. The power of the sun is almost mine. Soon, I will be King.)

Ixen nodded and stood up. "I must return to Thaczil, sia Ith. I mustn't be caught— soon your powers will return and we can take over Thaczil."

"Coi ui ti zahae Thaczil. Si sweekmon narhethi ihk nomenes svaust stoth ve mojka: Wer Zabini Svihelen vur Malfoy Svihelen. Astahii troth wer Ifyugvreol di Rygat zyak danthe ekess astahi shar soon ehs di coi geou qe." (It is not about Thaczil. I seek revenge for those who locked me away: The Zabini Clan and Malfoy Clan. They protect the Ring of Chaos so dear to them but soon none of it will exist).


"What are you thinking?" Blaise enquired once he saw Draco's eyes widened suddenly. It has taken him quite some time to figure out what he wanted to do. He decided that he was going to abdicate; Blaise was not ready nor did he want to be the emperor of some land that he didn't know existed. Perhaps if he was involved with his father and his realm he'd be more inclined to do so, but he wasn't and never had been.

Blaise, also, did not want to leave Draco in the dark. Blaise decided that he would tell Draco that his decision to abdicate directly impacted him, and if he decided to abdicate as well then the dragons of Thaczil could enter in to the Battle of Kings, but that did not concern Blaise or Draco. The immediate consequences of abdicating, however, would probably upset Draco very much… but Blaise was hoping against hope.

"Of the hat's prophecy."

Blaise furrowed his eyebrows. "… I wasn't expecting you to say that."

Draco closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. His head was starting to get heavy and a strange burning sensation was beginning to settle in the pit of his stomach. Maybe he was just missing Hermione…? No… that wasn't it. He'd missed Hermione plenty of times, but never had he been physically impacted.

He opened his eyes and Blaise stumbled backwards.

Draco frowned. "What happened?"

Blaise pointed at the mirror behind Draco, a cracked and rustic little thing. Draco turned to peer at his reflection; he saw that his normal gray irises were aflame. Fire danced and licked the whites of his eyes, giving him an animalistic appearance. Draco let out a howl of surprise and stumbled back, tripping and falling onto his behind.

"What the fuck?! What the hell is happening to me?"

Blaise clambered to the book his mother gave him just a week ago, and tossed it to Draco. "Turn to page 394."

"I'm not going to read a fucking bo—"

"Just fucking turn to the page."

With hesitation, as he really wanted to know how the hell his eyes were on fire, he turned to bloody page 394. He skimmed the title (the fiery eyes did not hinder his vision. In fact, Draco felt his vision was much clearer): Abdication.

Abdicating is not as difficult as a darastrixi would perceive it to be. To abdicate, the heir must inform the present Kapral that they do not intend to take the throne. This begins the process of abdication; the process includes three steps:

1) Premeditation of abdicating

2) Informing the Kapral of abdication

3) Abdicating in front of the next heir in line

This triggers the Transferral of Powers. The next heir immediately feels the effects of being the heir-apparent. At this point the newly appointed heir-apparent can: a1) immediately abdicate* which will force a Battle of Kings or, a2) post-abdicate** which can be done up until the coronation or, b) accept.

The newly appointed heir-apparent has until their Coronation to abdicate.

* In order to immediately abdicate, the new heir apparent must not mentally desire to take over the throne at the time the existing heir apparent abdicates. They must enter a state of denial immediately which bypasses the Transferral of Powers and forces Thaczil in to a state of Battle of Kings

** Occurs when newly appointed heir apparent decides, after accepting the role of heir apparent at the time of previous heir apparent abdicating, that they do not want to go forth and undertake the role as Kapral. Post-abdication expires when Coronation has been completed.

Note: for the next heir apparent to abdicate, they must simply inform the current abdicating heir apparent that they do not wish to take over the throne. The next heir apparent need not inform the Kapral.

The flames that were Draco's irises grew stronger, engulfing his eyes almost altogether. Draco slowly shut the book and locked his gaze with Blaise— unknown to Draco; his canine teeth were elongated, but just slightly. "You… you knew abdicating forced the powers onto me?"

Blaise clambered to stand up, facing Draco eye-to-eye. "If you had any intention to abdicate the powers would've bypassed you, you read it yourself! You abdicating isn't the same process as me abdicating; I have to tell my father and you whereas you just need to not want to do it."

"You fucking snake…" It was Draco's turn to punch a hole through the wall. "You could've told me the entire story without saying you abdicated! You live true to your goddamn Slytherin name."

Blaise took a tentative step towards Draco. "But you don't want to say no… that's why you're beginning to feel your powers." He was really hoping that Draco was okay with what was happening, but that was next to impossible. Blaise knew Draco, he knew that Draco would be incredibly upset with what was happening, but Draco would not reject the opportunity presented before him.

Draco Malfoy was a calculating man and he would analyze the situation from every possible angle before making a decision such as abdication.

Narrowing his eyes, Draco took a step away from Blaise. "I don't know what I want to do. I didn't know any of this existed until five minutes ago and now suddenly I have powers?!" Draco combed his fingers through his hair, wanting to keep his fists busy so that he wouldn't throw a punch and knock out Blaise's teeth. "Your father had to live away from your mother for Merlin knows how long. I just got Hermione and you're already taking her away from me?!"

Fuck, Blaise felt like an asshole. I did not think of that…

"Low blow, Zabini."

"Draco I'm—"


Blaise let out a blood curdling scream of anguish when Draco stormed out of his room.



Maximus clutched his head and let out an involuntary groan of pain. Aurelia rushed to her husband's side and gathered him in her arms. He had been getting a terrible amount of migraines since Blaise secretly floo'd out of their manor a few days prior and neither of them could diagnose the cause.


"My head!" The pain, this time around, was absolutely unbearable. Along with a murderous headache, a searing pain scorched his back, right where his—

Maximus's eyes widened. "SHIT!" Fighting the pain of his headache, Maximus clawed at his chest garb trying to pull it off as fast as possible. Aurelia took the hint and helped him out of his dragonhide chest armour— and she let out a shriek of despair.

"Your insignia!"

Maximus clawed at his back but couldn't feel the intricate patterns of raised skin that identified him as the Kapral. It had been his family crest, the Zabini Clan, along with the traditional Kapral of Thaczil crest; it was what identified him as the ruler of the mystical land of dragons. Every emperor had their crest emblazed onto their body by unknown, unseen forces… it was innate; happened for as long as any darastrix could remember.

And when the blood heir of the Kapral abdicates the Kapral loses his insignia, as his lineage would be coming to a definitive end…

"He… he abdicated…" His voice was breaking. "In front of… in… Draco…"

Aurelia sunk to her knees. "He couldn't have… he— CONNIE!" Aurelia shrieked for her house elf. "GET ME MY FLOO POWDER!"

The Zabinis were going to pay the Malfoys a visit.

Chapter 24: Truth, Actually

Narcissa shrieked and almost fell out of her armchair when her fireplace roared to life, transforming to a beautiful shade of emerald. Lucius, who was in the study going over some paperwork, hurriedly rushed to his wife in the drawing room with a plethora of house elves in tow when he heard her scream.

He was surprised to come face to face with his dear old friend, Maximus Zabini.


The soon-to-be retired Kapral couldn't acknowledge Lucius as he was writhing in pain. Narcissa was quick to recover and hurriedly instructed two of her house elves to call for their family witchdoctor. Aurelia was trying to help sooth Maximus and Lucius had joined her.

"What's happening?" Narcissa's eyes searched Aurelia's. "Is Max okay? Did something happen to the Ring of Chaos?"

Aurelia shook her head in sadness. Lucius helped Maximus stand up and assisted him towards a chaise not too far from where Narcissa had been sitting. Aurelia had her hands clasped together, she was breaking into a cold sweat and her nerves were starting to consume her entire being.

"We… told Blaise of Thaczil."

Lucius tore his attention off of his friend and towards Aurelia. "You did what?! Hadn't we agreed that we would sit Blaise and Draco down together and let them know of their origins at the same time? Isn't that what the both of you wanted us to do?!"

Maximus was having a hard time breathing. The pain was absolutely excruciating. He couldn't recall if the initial emblazoning of the insignias was as painful as what he was feeling right then; granted the original emblazoning had happened many, many years ago. He let out an involuntary grunt of pain before pushing himself off of the chaise. He needed to get his two-sickles in before Lucius released his wrath.

"We… did…" Fuck, it's so hard to breath. "But… I'm sorry… my fault…"

Aurelia decided to take over from there. "We told Blaise as we genuinely believed he would understand our predicament. We had no idea that he was going to—"

"What do you mean no idea?!" Narcissa cut everybody off, smoke practically billowing from her ears. "You hid his father from him for eighteen years, you lied to him, lulled him into a false sense of security, and then suddenly expect him to be okay with being the Emperor of Thaczil?! A world he had no idea existed until that very moment?!"

"You hadn't told Draco." Aurelia feebly tried to counter but Lucius was quick to retort.

"The Zabini's have reigned over Thaczil for over five thousand centuries." Lucius placed emphasis on the length of time. "We did not, were not, and are not anticipating your lineage to abdicate; therefore we did not groom Draco to be Kapral; he does not need to know until Blaise's coronation, at which points he should know for the mere fact that until Blaise sires an heir, Draco could still take the throne should something fatal happen to Blaise."

Narcissa nodded, agreeing with her husband's sentiment. "Exactly. Blaise, on the other hand, should've been groomed. Having such a responsibility foisted upon him is not only irresponsible, but also idiotic." Then added as an afterthought: "No offence."

Aurelia exhaled shakily. "None taken. Then why did we agree to tell both boys at the same time?"

"Well," Narcissa began before Lucius could, "since you both had already decided to hide it from Blaise we couldn't do much to change your mind. It only made sense to tell them both at the same time that way if, by the slim chance Blaise abdicated, we would be there to address all of Draco's concern; whether he wanted to abdicate immediately, wait until coronation, or accept. If Draco knew before Blaise," Narcissa glanced at Lucius for a brief moment. "Then it would've been highly probably that he would've told Blaise. So, to be truthful, we couldn't tell Draco unless you two were okay with telling Blaise."

Aurelia groaned. "Well dragon dung has hit the fan."

Lucius's eyes narrowed. "Meaning?"

Maximus took a shaky step forward. "Blaise— he… abdicated… Draco…"

A loud clatter was heard and all eyes whipped to Narcissa. She had backed into a decorative table causing the contents to topple off of it. "Your… your Kapral insignia…" Narcissa finally took in that Maximus was shirtless and that the Kapral insignia on his back was fading into his skin, disappearing almost altogether.

"Blaise has abdicated." Aurelia whispered her voice hardly audible. "And… we don't know if Draco accepted or…"

"WHERE ARE THEY?!" Lucius's voice was a bellow.

"We don't—"

"HOW DO YOU NOT KNOW?!" Lucius cut Aurelia off. "Where are our sons?! How the hell is he abdicating and how the hell is Draco with him?! No way could the Transferral of Powers have been initiated unless Blaise abdicated in front of Draco, and that too only if he abdicated in front of Maximus beforehand."

Aurelia gulped and Narcissa was choosing to remain quiet the whole time. "Blaise… did say he did not want the title. But we only thought it was because he was overwhelmed with all that we were telling him."

Lucius began pacing the length of the drawing room. "How could you both be so irresponsible? Narcissa, quill a letter to Minerva. We need to know where the hell those two boys are."

Narcissa nodded. "Right away." She hurried off to quickly contact Minerva McGonagall; she was highly doubtful that Blaise and Draco were in Hogwarts. They were stupid, yes, but they weren't clueless. Blaise would never initiate an abdication in the middle of Hogwarts. Abdicating meant that he had to give Draco some details of their lineage and she highly doubted Blaise would instigate such a conversation within their boarding school.

As Narcissa left the drawing room, the witchdoctor hurried in.

"Elwes, please tend to Master Zabini." Lucius needn't say anymore; Elwes was a skilled witchdoctor and had already figured out that Master Zabini wasn't human, and neither an animagus.

"Aurelia, come with me. You need to tell me everything."


Draco withdrew funds from his Grinngotts bank account to rent a room in the Leakey Cauldron. He was not ready to go back to Hogwarts; he did not want to face Hermione, particularly because his eyes had yet to return to normal. How could Blaise do something as stupid as abdicating in front of him when he knew that it would trigger the so-called Transferral of Power?

But if you really didn't want it, it would've bypassed you. Draco told himself, repeating what Blaise had said not too long ago, as he began stripping out of his clothes to take a long and much needed shower. You're curious. That's why you're suddenly have dragon powers…

"Bloody hell!" He punched the doorframe as he entered the suite. "You're absolutely ridiculous, Zabini!"

Aurelia was unable to travel to Thaczil, which was why she remained on Earth with Blaise. What did that mean for Hermione and him? They had only been together for a fortnight but he knew – just knew – that she was somebody that would become invaluable to him; a woman that he would rely on for, quite possibly, the rest of his life.

And he did not want her to endure the pain that Aurelia had to endure.

"Which means," he murmured as he entered the shower. The rhythm of the water beat against his back immediately released the tension his muscles had built up. "I would either have to abdicate to be with her, accept the throne and find out how to have her travel to this… world… or…"

He hated the last option.

I accept and… end our relationship.

But Draco knew that the last option was not an option at all. Hermione came first. The throne of a realm he had never heard about up until that very same day came second.

Everything would come second… Hermione would alwaysalways be first.

No ifs, ands, or buts.

No conditions.

No negotiation.


Dear Mrs. Malfoy,

I regret to inform you that Mr. Blaise Zabini has not returned to Hogwarts since his permitted leave of absence a week ago. After a thorough search through the castle, and after consulting with his housemates, I am able to conclude that Mr. Draco Malfoy is also not at Hogwarts and has not been since Friday after the last class had ended.

It is quite possible that Mr. Malfoy is spending the weekend at Hogsmeade. I cannot assure you with complete certainty, though, and neither am I able to reprimand him as the weekend is his time off to do as he pleases.

Should Mr. Malfoy not return by Monday morning, I will write to you immediately. If this is of an urgent matter, please let me know and I will do my best to aid you.


Minerva McGonagall

Narcissa read the letter with shaky hands. It had arrived two hours after she sent her letter to the headmistress of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. She was almost afraid of showing the letter to Lucius and Maximus. Neither man was known to contain their anger very well, and especially when Maximus was enduring deadly pain Narcissa knew that letting him know Blaise and Draco were missing in action was very unwise.

I can't hide it from them, though. Narcissa thought dejectedly. She had to show Lucius and Maximus— the situation was too dire to do otherwise. Oh Blaise… Draco… what are you two up to?


Sunday dawned and Draco was pleased to see that his eyes returned to their normal grey colour. He hadn't heard or seen Blaise since the incident Friday night and, frankly, he did not want to see Blaise for the rest of his natural life…

Which could be forever if I go through with this dragon thing. Draco grabbed a handful of floo and positioned himself in front of the fireplace in Diagon Alley.

Alright then… time to face my world…


"SLYTHERIN COMMON ROOM!" He roared in an authoritative voice and threw the powder into the fireplace. The fireplace roared to life with the floo travel emerald green colour; Draco stepped into the flames and allowed the warmth to consume every ounce of his body.

Within seconds he began his travel through the world of floo. His gut was clenching; he couldn't wait to have Hermione back in his arms.


Missed me?

Hermione's heart jumped to her throat when she felt her journal heat up. Sunday was coming to an end and she returned to her dormitory just moments ago. Her powwow with Neville left a bad aftertaste in her mouth. She was slightly irritated with him; she couldn't believe that he was putting precedence on Harry and Ron. She was just as important as them and, frankly, she did not care at all about how the heck they felt when they were playing Quidditch.

"Why should their feelings affect their gameplay?" She more or less muttered to herself.

I don't know, Bad Faith. Did you miss me?

I missed you something fierce.

The butterflies that lay dormant in Hermione's belly roared to life. She had not anticipated him responding in the fashion that he had just done.

In that case, as did I.

Come see me?

Astronomy Tower?

Come to the Slytherin Common room? My house knows about us, I'm positive they won't mind.

I don't know…

If you're uncomfortable, I won't force you. Astronomy Tower then? Maybe we can pick up on our flying practices ;)

Hermione giggled. I like the sound of that.

See you soon, bookworm.

Hermione slammed her journal shut and grabbed her cloak. It was very chilly and knowing that she would be flying at a higher altitude, she didn't want to run the risk of catching a cold— or worse! Pneumonia. After securing her cloak on (and changing into something a lot more visually appealing than her Hogwarts school uniform), Hermione descended the stairs that led to their Common Room. A few first and second years were gathered around the fireplace studying while the seventh and eighth years lounged on the sofas and armchairs scattered decoratively around the ovular room.

"Where you headed?" Ron looked up from his game of chess with Kellah.

Hermione's eyes flickered to Neville who, almost immediately, lost all colour in his face. Turning back to Ron, Hermione crossed her arms.


"Okay?" Ron raised both eyebrows and turned his attention back to his game. "Have fun."

"Yeah!" Neville was very happy that Ron did not press the matter. "Have fun!"

"You going to study?" Fay looked up from her textbook. "I can join you; I'm getting so nervous about D.A.D.A. Potions I can stand… but… making our own spell?! Is that even a thing?"

Hermione felt her heart begin beating uncontrollably. "I'm not going to study."

Neville stood up. "Hermione! Ha! Ha! You're making a joke right? Right?!"

Rolling her eyes Hermione began heading towards the portrait door. "No, I'm not joking. I'm not going to study; I'm actually going to meet somebody."

Kelleh tore her attention off of her game. "You are?! Who?"

Hermione had a hand on the knob that pushed the portrait open. Harry, who had been engrossed in a conversation with Ginny, Dean, and Seamus, also put a hold on what they were doing to turn his attention to Hermione. It wasn't odd of her to leave their Common Room at ungodly hours, but what was odd was that it wasn't for studying but rather to meet somebody.

Somebody that clearly wasn't Gryffindor because all of them were in the Common Room right then and there.

"Draco Malfoy."

All the air was sucked out of the room.

"… Draco Malfoy?" Harry repeated. "Why would you go see him?"

Hermione inhaled deeply and pushed the portrait door open. "Why wouldn't I? I've been dating him for a fortnight." And not waiting for their response, Hermione left the Common Room.

Everybody stared after her. The grandfather clock in the corner ticked loudly and, after ten seconds (but which really felt like an eternity), Kellah burst into laughter. Everybody turned their attention to look at her and Neville, for a moment, thought that he was going to lose his mind.

"That girl! She's obviously pulling our leg, guys. Honestly, you know she wouldn't date him. She's probably going to meet with a professor something." Kellah turned back to her game.

Ron rolled his eyes. "She tried to pull the same shite a few years ago, but she said she was dating Crabbe— she probably is going to meet Malfoy, but to talk about their project or something. Honestly, that woman…"

Neville's eyes widened in disbelief. "What?! So none of you believe her?"

"What's there to believe?" Ginny shrugged. "I'm with Ron; she is going to meet him but they aren't dating. And besides, we all started hanging out with our partners a lot over the last fortnight, and the fact that they're partners for everything only makes sense that they will meet up."

THEY DON'T BELIEVE HER?! Neville was ready to slap every single person in the Common Room. He was relieved, slightly, that they didn't believe her. It went back to the argument he made for her in front of Hagrid's place. But a part of him also was very disappointed; he wanted everybody to know for Hermione's sake. He was caught between a rock and a hard place.

If Hermione likes Malfoy she likes him, I just wish his reputation was slightly better for her sake.

Neville's eyes widened. I have an idea!


Hermione all but ran to Draco when she spotted him at their usual pillar in the Astronomy Tower. He looked as beautiful as she remembered; his hair windswept, his muscles taut and visible underneath his black t-shirt, his rough and calloused hands…

"Malfoy!" She heard herself call. She wanted to surprised him, sneak up on him and catch him off guard but she couldn't contain her excitement. Since the beginning of school, that weekend was the longest she had ever been away from him and she, if she were being honest with herself, did not enjoy that feeling at all.

Draco turned around and gave her the biggest grin he had ever given anybody. Breaking into a run, Hermione lunged into his outstretched arms and allowed his musky scent to engulf her; it felt good to be back in his arms. Draco held onto her tightly.

He needed to feel her.

He needed to feel her body against his, he needed to bury his face in her hair and inhale her scent— he needed her. Draco pulled back and devoured her lips with his. Never had he needed a woman so fiercely. Never had he wanted to be with a woman with his body, mind, and soul…

Never had he had himself a Hermione Granger.

Hermione tightened her hold on him and urged her body to get closer to his. Draco's arms were wrapped securely around her waist and, at the opportune moment, he broke free of the kiss.

"Trust me?" He whispered. Hermione nodded and, without missing a beat, he tipped off of the side of the tower with Hermione in his arms. Draco was falling backwards with Hermione tightly squeezed against him. Her eyes were snapped closed but it was not out of fear; she was immersed in the moment of simply being.

Being herself.

Being with Draco.

Being alive.

Draco's body fell onto a fluff of conjured cloud. Lightyear was flying circles around the couple, acting as a guard against any oncoming stray birds. Hermione smiled while looking into Draco's eyes, grey and beautiful just as she remembered. "Hey, bad faith." She finally greeted.

"Hey yourself, bookworm." He pushed some stray locks out of her eyes. "I missed you."

Hermione smiled and kissed his forehead. "I missed you back. Everything okay?"

Draco grunted and pushed himself up to be propped on his elbow. Hermione remained lying on his chest; she was too comfortable to move and, if he were going to be honest, he was not going to let her move.

"Well… it's a long story."

"We have time…"

Draco shook his head. "Now is not the time, bookworm." He whispered. His left fingertips were running up and down the length of her arm. "I just want you. I'll tell you, I promise, but not yet?"

Hermione bit her lip. She wanted to argue but she thought against it. She could tell by the aura he was exuding that he was physically and mentally drained. She wanted to be there for him but he needed to want her to be there before she could do it.

"Quit thinking," he flicked her nose, "I know your bookworm-brain is up to no good."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "On the contrary, Monsieur Mal Foi, I was convincing myself not to press the matter so that I may give you time to come to terms with whatever has happened."

He chuckled, the sound musical to Hermione's ears. "Thank you, bookworm."

"Always," Hermione finally climbed off of him and sat, cross legged, on the cloud. "But I have a story for you!"

Draco cocked an eyebrow still in his propped up position. "Oh?"

And Hermione entered into her spiel of the conversation she had with Neville earlier that day, and what happened in her Common Room just moments prior. Draco was holding in his laughter, clearly very amused with what she had to go through. Hermione, realizing he was not taking her seriously, smacked his arm.


"Sorry, sorry! I can't believe Longbottom has his knickers in a twist over us. That too about how Pothead and Weaselbub will feel. Truthfully, he's probably concerned that this little tidbit will hinder their performance for the Gryffindor versus Slytherin match coming up later this month." Draco finally pushed himself to sit up. "How cute."

"Seriously, Draco." Hermione muttered. "And I don't think my friends believed me when I said I was dating you."

"Consider the method in which you told them." Draco rolled his eyes. "You literally had a foot out of your portrait door when you tossed, over your shoulder, that you've been dating me for a fortnight. Didn't you tell them a few years ago you were dating Crabbe as an April Fool's joke?"

Hermione blushed. "Yeah…"

"Well then? Can you blame them for not believing you? Honestly, and you call yourself a 'smart' witch."

"Sod off."

Draco laughed and pulled her into his arms. "I know you want everybody to know, and I know you're scared—"

"I'm not—"

"Don't cut me off."

Hermione bit her lip and rolled her eyes. Entitled prick.

"Stop thinking ill thoughts about me."

Hermione giggled. "I am not…"

Draco rolled his eyes and decided to move past their little roadblock and continue with the conversation. "As I was saying, you want the school to know and I agree, I want them to know as well, but you're afraid." He placed a finger on her lips when he saw her open her mouth to argue with him again. "You aren't afraid because you're dating me, I'm saying you're afraid because you crave acceptance which you aren't sure you will get when we come out as a couple."

Okay, he hit the nail on the head with that one but… "I don't care about that."

"You say you don't, but you do." Draco placed two fingers in his mouth and whistled for Lightyear. The broom zoomed towards them and positioned itself beside Draco, knowing that the couple was about to mount it. "And I do too. I want them to accept us; I say I don't care but deep down I do."

Hermione remained silent when he helped her mount Lightyear. Draco straddled his broom and, in a second, their cloud bed disappeared. In one fluid motion, Draco wrapped his arm around her waist and the other hand gripped the staff of the broom. Using sheer will alone, Draco began an ascent, going higher and higher to the sky, embracing the darkness with his lady.

A dragon and his lady…

Draco could feel his heart pounding against his chest. He did not want to worry Hermione about what transpired over the weekend just yet. He wanted to be with her and not have her worry about what may be because of his situation.

"Hermione," his breath tickled her earlobe resulting in her hairs to stand on end.

She tilted her head slightly towards the side in which his voice sounded from. "Yes?"

"I missed you."

Chapter 25: My Father Just Heard About It

The entire school froze when they heard McGonagall's voice echo through the corridor. She wasn't using sonorus, as that would've merely amplified her voice. No, she was using a spell that allowed her voice to reverberate throughout all the corridors of Hogwarts.

"Attention, attention students!"

Hermione, who had been sitting bundled up with her girlfriends in the courtyard, glanced up to see everybody searching around themselves trying to figure out why McGonagall was calling for their attention. Normally any announcements that needed to have been made happened during dinner time.

"Would Mr. Draco Malfoy and Mr. Blaise Zabini please report to my office immediately."

Hermione's eyes widened slightly. What? Why would she need to see Draco and Blaise?

"I repeat: Draco Malfoy and Blaise Zabini to my office."

And her voice sizzled to a halt. Immediately the murmurs began flooding the corridors: Why would McGonagall need to see Draco and Blaise? Blaise wasn't there for the week and Draco was M.I.A. during the weekend… could it be related to that? Were they expelled? Did they have link to the Dark Lord?

Hermione bit her lip and kept quiet. She knew it wasn't any of the concerns that the students were expressing, but she couldn't be sure. Draco hadn't divulged into that information and all she could do was hope against hope that he hadn't done anything ridiculous enough to get him expelled.

"I wonder what that's about." Ginny pondered. Luna decided to join the girls during their break; it had been quite some time since she spent time with them. Between juggling her regular seventh year classes as well as the special eighth year classes, Luna hardly had time for herself. Plus she was seen in and out of the hospital wing a lot as of late. When Hermione had asked her Luna merely replied with 'I am visiting a friend.'

Hermione decided not to push.

Kellah snickered. "Who knows? Let's ask Hermione, it is her boyfriend after all."

Hermione's eyes narrowed when she looked at Kellah. "Pardon me? Did you think I was joking?"

The group of girls, Parvati, Padma, Luna, Ginny, Kellah, and Fay, immediately stopped laughing and looked at Hermione with wide eyes. Up until that point it could've been a joke but the tone in her voice clearly indicated otherwise.

"You were joking… weren't you?"

Hermione bit her lip before squaring her shoulders. "No, Kellah, I was not joking. Draco and I are dating and have been for a fortnight. We started talking just after the war had ended and it was because I sent him an owl thanking him for helping me during the fight inside of his Manor, against Bellatrix."

Ginny squeaked. She didn't know what happened in the castle, but she knew something did and that Malfoy had helped her. Could that have led to—?

"You're pulling our legs still, Hermione." Fay tried to convince herself more than anybody else. "You and Malfoy… it's just… it…"

"Fine." Hermione shrugged, not really caring any longer. If her friends weren't going to believe her then far be it for her to beg and plead for them to believe. They would have to see it for themselves. "Let him finish his meeting with the Headmistress and then we can all ask him together. But if you need further assurance, Neville knows about it. It's also why I've had to sneak in and out of our Common Room so frequently; to meet him. He left for the weekend for an unknown reason and had returned yesterday."

"Then how do you contact him to meet up?!" Ginny all but shrieked.

Hermione ushered to the journal sitting on her lap. "This is enchanted. He has one too, whatever I write in mine he receives and vice versa."

The group of girls became deadly silent but Luna was the first to speak up. She got off of her seat and went to sit beside Hermione, effectively shoving Ginny out of the way. Luna placed a hand on Hermione's shoulder and smiled broadly.

"If you're happy, Hermione, then so are we. People are not innately bad; they are born good and have bad bred into them. If you believe he's good, I believe he's good." Hermione returned Luna's smiled and embraced her tightly.

"Thanks, Luna."

"Anytime. Now I must bid you girls, adieu… my friend Oliver Cadmus from Hufflepuff – you all know him, right?" Luna saw the girls nod. Oliver was an eighth year student who attended their classes with them. "Oliver's in the hospital wing after a terrible accident with the Whomping Willow."

"Oh no!" Fay gasped.

Luna nodded solemnly. "It's terrible, really. I told him to be careful lest he wants to introduce himself to the Thestrals." Luna's shoulders sagged. "But he can see them now, which is good and bad. Anyway, bye!"

The girls watched Luna skip off in the direction of the hospital wing. Parvati was the first to break the silence.

"Draco Malfoy…and you?"

Hermione nodded. "Yes, Draco Malfoy and I."

Time seemed to have slowed down for the group of girls. All of them stared intensely at Hermione, not knowing what to say and not knowing what to think. Hermione simply chose to look each of them in the eyes one by one until one of them was ready to say something to her. After what felt like an eternity, Fay spoke up.

"Prove it."

Hermione did not expect that.

"Pardon me, Fay?"

"Yes, prove it. I still believe that you're pulling our legs, especially after the Crabbe incident that one April Fool's Day." Fay crossed her arms. "So I want you to prove it this time…"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Seriously? You girls are absolutely ridiculous. Do you understand how long it took me to gather the courage to let you know I'm dating him? Only to be greeted with your disbelief? I might as well have kept my mouth shut. What do you want me to do to? Bring you to him? Confirm my allegations with the Slytherins? With Neville? Because they all know."

Kellah chewed on her lower lip. She was contemplating how to respond to Hermione when, finally, she opted to say: "May we meet him?"

Despite being caught off guard Hermione was able to swiftly recover and nod, albeit reluctantly. "Yes, you may."

"Then let's, for a moment here, believe that you are dating Draco Malfoy— holy bloody hell, Hermione!" Ginny clamped her hands together. "What are you thinking?! He's tried to kill us!"

"He isn't evil, Ginny." Hermione snorted. "He simply was put in a position where evil was the norm. He… there was… he saved my life." Hermione lowered her eyes, not wanting to look at her friends when she somewhat divulged into her story. It wasn't as if she was embarrassed, or scared, she simply wanted to tell the story whilst in her own world.

"He saved my life during the battle in his manor." Hermione looked up to glance at her girlfriends. They all seemed to be at the edge of their seats. "I sent him an owl to thank him over the summer and we kept communicating— he went to Italy and got me this," Hermione pulled the Healer Pendant out from underneath her cloak. "An authentic Italian Healer Pendant."

"So that wasn't a street peddler?!" Ginny raised both eyebrows. She had heard from Harry and Ron what had happened on the Hogwarts Express when Draco and his goonies walked in pretending to be Dementors. Ginny also knew that Draco all but killed his friends over calling Hermione the m-word.

"No, it wasn't."

"And that explains why he keeps coming to your rescue— wait!" Kellah gasped. "Were you dating when he punched Ron?!"

"No." Hermione giggled. "We weren't… but we were talking. He's a bit protective of me."

Parvati and Padma glanced at each other. "Are you sure you're making the right decision in dating him? I mean you can't erase seven years' worth of animosity over one summer."

"No, you can't erase animosity of such a long time, but he makes me happy." Hermione explained. "Not to toot my own horn, but I have saved all of your arses numerous times during the last seven years because of my better judgement. I know who he is, I know my feelings for him, and I know that he's a good man."

"Still want you to prove it." Fay indicated. "And then we can go further with this conversation of whether he is evil or not."

"Fine. But let him finish his meeting with McGonagall first."

Fay nodded. "Sounds fair… but back to Draco Malfoy… what kind of kisser is he?!"

"FAY!" The group of girls yelled simultaneously. Fay blushed in embarrassment and shrugged.


"Curiosity killed the cat, Dunbar." Kellah murmured but Fay retorted with a quick kissing of her teeth and rolling of her eyes.

"But satisfaction brought her back." Fay grinned cheekily. "I'm simply asking what all of you have been thinking for the last seven years!"

A communal groan of annoyance erupted from the group of girls.


Draco and Blaise were standing outside of McGonagall's office, just at the foot of the elaborate gargoyle. It was the first time Draco had seen Blaise since his abdicating incident at The White Wyvern. He didn't want to admit it, But Draco noticed terribly ugly bags under Blaise's eyes; perhaps the arsehole felt like an arsehole for abdicating and forcing such a stupid situation over Draco's plonking head?

Yeah, he feels like an arsehole. It somewhat pleased Draco to know that Blaise was in such emotional turmoil. Granted, Draco wasn't in any better of a state but the ball was in his court and he had the opportunity to do as he pleased: become the Dragon Emperor (What a bloody fantastic title!) or abdicate.

In any scenario, he would not jeopardize Hermione.

"So uh—"

"I have nothing to say to you." Draco interrupted Blaise. He didn't want to speak to him, see him, or breathe the same goddamn air as Blaise. But, as luck would have it, due to the announcement made by McGonagall not too long ago the duo was forced to face each other after their terrible altercation at Knockturn Alley.

Blaise's shoulders sagged. "Just listen… I didn't think of Hermione and…"

"That's fine." Draco interrupted him again and this time actually turning to look at him. "Hermione is not your responsibility. She's mine. Everything I do I think of her first; I think of how it impacts her, how it affects her, and how I can do what I am doing to make her life easier. Why?" Draco looked away to study the perfectly preserved wall across from where he was standing. "Because she's my world. Not yours. So you are not at fault for not considering Hermione. You are at fault, though, for not fucking considering how the hell your best-fucking-mate would feel about the whole fucking thing. That's what you're at fault for, Zabini."

Blaise didn't know what to say so he kept his mouth shut.

McGonagall clearing her throat caused both of them to look over at the gargoyle. Draco pushed himself off of the wall and approached their headmistress. Blaise's eyes were glued on his friend.

"What is it you need from us, professor?"

"Come in, boys." McGonagall ushered to the staircase. "You have visitors."

Despite being utterly enraged, Draco glanced over at Blaise who shrugged his shoulders. Looking back at the staircase in front of him, Draco inhaled deeply and began his ascent.

I'm tired of bloody surprises.


"Are you fucki—"


Draco's jaw went slack when he saw an older Blaise Zabini standing in front of him. He could only assume it was Maximus Zabini, the long lost dragon emperor father of his friend (were they still friends? Draco hadn't decided yet…). Beside Maximus was his own father, Lucius, leaning against the wall with his signature cobra cane beside him. McGonagall took her seat behind her spindle-legged desk and leaned back just slightly. To the left of her desk was an enlarged portrait of Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore; he was sleeping, snoring quietly.

"Take a seat." McGonagall offered to the two boys but neither of them listened.

"What is going on?" Draco asked his father. "Why are you here with… Blaise's dad?"

Lucius looked at Minerva, Maximus, Blaise, and finally Draco. Blaise decided he would take McGonagall up on her offer and found a seat to rest his butt on. He was not looking forward to where the conversation would be heading.

"Are you here about the whole dragon thing?" Blaise inquired and Maximus nodded.

"Yes. I believe there are some things we need to discuss as you," Maximus ushered to Blaise, "abdicated and forced Draconis to take the throne."

"I forced nobody!" Blaise snarled. "If Draco really didn't want the damn title, he could've abdicated right then and there—"

Lucius decided to interrupt. "You fool! Do you not know Draco? You've grown up with the boy; you know Draco will not make an impulsive decision to abdicate something as serious as the throne to an entire realm of dragons without assessing the situation first." Lucius glowered at Blaise, his eyes only momentarily flickering to his own son. "What you did was impulsive boy. You should've thought of it."

"I did—"

"You did not." Maximus did not let Blaise continue. "You simply acted on emotion and abdicated because of your grudge against me."

"HELL FUCKING YES I DID." Blaise screamed. "I thought you were dead my whole life. You can't waltz into my life and drop a bomb like this." Blaise got up from his seat and began pacing. "How the hell do you expect me to react when you, literally, walk into my life and say: Hi Blaise, I am your father. I'm also a dragon, I rule a world called Thaczil and now I want to retire to be with your mother so be the bloody emperor of a bunch of dragons and rule a world that you didn't know existed."

Draco was quietly listening to his friend. Alright, I hadn't looked at it from his point of view… It alleviated some anger he had towards Blaise. But not all.

"Gentlemen." McGonagall's authoritative voice bellowed. "We need to discuss this in a calm manner. Perhaps we should address Mr. Zabini's concern before moving onto Mr. Malfoy?"

Maximus and Lucius nodded and turned to their boys.

"Your concerns are fair." Maximus said his voice tight. "The approach in which we did all of this was a big mistake. We should've groomed you instead of finagling this onto you."

Did Maximus just use the word finagling in everyday conversation?! What the hell? Draco and Blaise had similar thoughts regarding older Zabini's choice of words.

"And I hope one day we can reconcile." Maximus couldn't look Blaise in the eyes. "But that does not excuse you abdicating and forcing Draconis to take the throne. Draconis is not aware of the draconic set of rules and, as his father has indicated, he was not going to abdicate regardless of knowing the rules because he's a calculative being." Maximus held up a hand to stop Blaise from arguing when he saw his son open his mouth. "I believe I can safely assume that Draconis is not an emotional creature as you are; he would not have abdicated due to a sheer grudge."

Blaise scoffed. "Your method is something to not be proud of, Maximus, so you cannot chide me for my method of abdication."

"And I apologize for what your mother and I have done. We should not have kept this a secret from you."

"Too late to apologize." Draco muttered but his father scolded him.

"Your turn will come, boy. Do not interrupt."

Draco turned his head away from everybody and focused his attention on the accoutrements cluttering McGonagall's desk. He had never taken her to be a messy lady; mayhap it was from the remnants from Dumbledore's reign?

"I know that I cannot undo the past, Blaise," Maximus murmured as his son went reclaim the seat he gave up during his state of rage. "I cannot do anything to rectify it but what I can do is ensure I take steps to help us achieve a relationship such as Draconis and Lucius—"

"Well we don't necessarily have the best father-son relationship, Maximus," Lucius interrupted. "You might want to use the Weasleys as a comparison."

Maximus raised an eyebrow. "Really? I would've never thought—"

"GENTLEMEN!" McGonagall tapped her wand on the table. "Can we focus?!"

Blaise and Draco glanced at each other and shared the same thought: They're like us!

Maximus shook his head and turned back to the two boys sitting before him. "Sorry, sorry, my apologies. As I was saying, I wish to forge a relationship between the two of us. I cannot undo the fact that you have abdicated and neither can I reverse it so… we must do…" Maximus closed his eyes and exhaled loudly. "We must do what we have to do."

Blaise simply looked away from Maximus. "I have nothing to say."

Lucius cleared his throat and ushered at Draco with his head. "Moving on to the next of the two hooligans. We get that you want to be a good father now, but can we please address my son's takeover of the throne?"

Draco was trying his damned best to keep his mouth shut. He wanted so badly to retort coldly but bit his tongue. It was neither the time nor the place.

"Right, moving on then." Maximus settled his gaze onto Draco. "I don't know how much Blaise has hold you but— but before we begin, where the hell did you and Blaise go when Blaise abdicated?"

Draco responded in an utmost nonchalant fashion: "The White Wyvern."

"You were in Knockturn Alley?!" Lucius bellowed, pushing himself off of the wall to take a few steps towards his son.

"Why is that surprising? I stayed there when I went to get my school supplies…"

Maximus was confused. "Knockturn Alley?"

"Ugh, never mind. Proceed." Lucius returned to his post against the wall.

"Okay? Well… basically there exists a realm of dragons, we call it Thaczil. I am presently the Kapral and, assuming Blaise showed you the lineage book, you are the generational counterpart heir apparent to Blaise." Maximus began pacing the small area that the five of them inhabited in McGonagall's office.

"Our monarch system is vastly different from yours. We do not have bloodline heirs, but rather generational heirs. That means that when the current Kapral sires an heir then all heir apparent are moved down a generation." Maximus stopped pacing and, instead, opted to lean against McGonagall's desk.

"That means that when Blaise was born, instead of Lucius being the heir apparent, as the Malfoys are the next lineage after the Zabinis, that title was passed down to you. Therefore, when Blaise abdicated you immediately felt the effects of the Transferral of Power… you are now next in line to be Kapral and, as Blaise kindly said it earlier, as I am intending to retire in the very near future… you will be Kapral, lest you abdicate." Maximus carefully studied Draco and Blaise's expressions, but was not able to read any.

"You have until your coronation to formally abdicate, at which point I will facilitate a Battle of Kings to decide who will be the next Kapral." Maximus added as an afterthought.

Minerva remained silent. She always knew of Thaczil and everything else it entailed, but she had no idea that the title was going back and forth between the Malfoys and the Zabinis.

The shadows of the flames licked the walls of McGonagall's office. Dumbledore's portrait remained fast asleep which, as much as Minerva hated to admit it, was a blessing in disguise. They could all do without Dumbledore's constant desire to impart his innate knowledge.

"You are all fucked up, you know that?" Draco finally muttered. His body was slouched in an uncomfortable and inhumane position but, frankly, he didn't give a flying Weasley. "Who hides something like that? Ugh," Draco began rubbing his temple, "I feel like I should apologize to Zabini, but at the same time I don't."

"Never mind that, mate," Blaise drawled. He was in an equally uncomfortable and inhumane position, "I owe you an apology. Should've thought it through."

McGonagall, Maximus, and Lucius's eyes were ping-ponging between the two boys.

"Should've, would've, could've. What's done is done." Draco covered his mouth as he released a jaw-splitting yawn. "So, Maxy-boy," Draco's eyes flickered over to his best friend's long-lost-but-now-found-Dragon father, "what does this Kapral business entail? What the hell does Kapral even mean and what do I need to know before coronation to make a well informed decision if whether or not I want to abdicate?"

Lucius beamed. "Told you! I told you Maximus; Draco would never make an emotional decision. He gets that from his father." His excitement caused the inhabitants of the circular room to roll their eyes. Lucius, sometimes, exuded way too much pride in his son.

Maximus cleared his throat and crossed his arms in front of his chest. "Kapral stands for Emperor in the ancient draconic tongue. It, literally, translates to Emperor Zabini – or Emperor Malfoy, in your case."

"Draco." Lucius's voice was warning and Draco glanced at his father.

"I am not going to let power get to my head, father." Draco turned back to Maximus. "Continue, Maxy-boy."

"Stop calling me that," Maximus muttered, but continued his explanations regardless. "You are now heir apparent, as Blaise has abdicated, and you are going to be prepared for your coronation; the date has yet to be fixed." Maximus tagged the last bit on when he saw Draco open his mouth.

Draco sat up slightly straighter, as his back was already hurting, and continued to stare down Maximus. Okay, so I have time to learn the ropes of this Emperor business and, if I don't like it, still abdicate. Sounds fair.

"Being Kapral, itself, is not exactly… difficult." Maximus chewed on his lower lip. "All decisions are made by the High Priests, or in our tongue, the Wadoya. They are seven previous Kaprals who weigh all options presented to them regarding politics and come up with the best possible recourse. This solution is presented in front of the Kapral – so you – and you decide yay or nay. If it's a nay then the Wadoya have to re-evaluate, consider your input, and come up with another decision. "

Draco nodded, slowly. Blaise was beginning to drift off and, in his semi-conscious state, tipped too far to the left and almost fell off of his chair. A few portraits cackled and Dumbledore's portrait stirred, just a bit, but all fell back in order within seconds.

"The Kapral also has a Council of Advisors, again, in draconic tongue your Biwheg. They are who you'd call upon to discuss the politics of your sovereign, your people, et cetera et cetera. They are also who you would discuss the Wadoya's decisions and determine whether you accept or decline their word." Draco's eyebrows were furrowed but he said nothing.

"You have your Darzulf – your devil's advocate – and Darharkt – your voice of reason. They are, what you would say in laymen terms, your left and right hand men."

Draco cocked by eyebrow. "So I get wingmen?"

Lucius threw his head back and howled in laughter. Minerva even giggled some and Blaise shot awake. Maximus could not control the tick in his eyebrow; perhaps if he had been around during Blaise's youth he'd be better equipped to handle teenage-boy-brain but, regrettably, he was not and all he could do was endure Draco's sarcasm.

"Yes, Draconis, you get wingmen." Maximus was secretly upset that he hadn't coined the term wingmen for his own wingmen, Ixen and Xarzith. "Back to the point. You are also the protector of the Ring of Chaos and the defender of the Chaos Theory but, alas, I cannot divulge further into that as that is confidential to the immediate Kapral." Maximus glanced at Blaise, Lucius, and Minerva before adding in: "My apologies to the rest."

Minerva held up a hand. "No need, Maximus. Please do continue with your explanation—Mr. Zabini! Please do not doze off! Honestly, how have you boys managed to live up until this very point in time, is beyond me."

Again, Lucius snickered and Draco had to bite his cheek from not bursting into laughter. Blaise shot awake and mumbled an apology before crossing his arms, mimicking his father, and stared at the portrait of a dancing unicorn across from him (What the bloody hell?!).

"Coronation, itself, is a very ancient and honourable tradition. You must name many people who'll join your reign. When you take the role of Kapral the eldest High Priest retires and I join the ranks of the Wadoya. You, then, must select you Darzulf and Darharkt, as well as two unbiased individuals that are not related to you, dragon or otherwise, to join your Biwheg."

Draco decided to interrupt Maximus at that point. "Hold on, if this entire escapade is to take place in Thaczil, a realm solely for dragons, how the hell do I appoint two individuals to join my advice council? Can humans travel there?"

Maximus nodded. "Good question. As you know, the job of these two advisors is to act as a liaison for you and Thaczil. Your advisors are those who relay information to you from Thaczil and your very own world to help you reach a verdict on what the Wadoya have decided. These two members will directly speak to the rest of your Biwheg. And, to address your earlier question, humans can travel to Thaczil, but for a very limited period of time."

Draco took a moment to digest all that was being said to him. He knew that Blaise was not paying attention at all; Blaise had clearly informed everybody that he wanted nothing to do with being the Emperor of a foreign realm. Draco wouldn't be surprised if he was daydreaming of drowning in a vat of butterbeer.

"Okay, so let me recap: I'm Kapral, the emperor, I have wingmen, Darzulf and Darharkt and a Council of Advisors, the Biwheg. I protect this Ring of Chaos and the High Priests, Wadoya, make political decisions for me and I vote yay or nay with my advisors?" Draco watched Maximus nod.

"Yes, correct so far. On coronation day you must appoint the two members of your Biwheg, your Darzulf and Darharkt, and your Lady of Eternity."

Draco's eyes shot up at that last point.

"My what?"

Suddenly Blaise's interest was piqued.

Maximus nodded. "Yes. Your Lady of Eternity. It is said that a ruler requires an anchor to help him stay grounded and, as such, you must appoint your Lady of Eternity at coronation—but don't worry! The Wadoya can select a perfectly capable candidate—" Draco had zoned out and his eyes travelled over to Blaise who began making a cutting motion across his neck. Draco raised an eyebrow and Blaise shook his head.


"What the hell are you two signing to one another?" Lucius drawled from his position against the wall.

Draco and Blaise's eyes snapped right over to Lucius and then to Maximus.

"The Lady of Eternity bit," Draco immediately stated. "What does that role entail?"

Lucius glowered at Draco but chose not to say anything, ultimately allowing Maximus to talk. His son was up to something and Lucius did not like it one bit.

"She is your anchor. Her lifespan is lengthened to meet yours; she does not necessarily have to be your mate, but somebody whom you know can keep you grounded during your dark hours." Maximus was struggling not to look at Blaise. "My Lady of Eternity is not Blaise's mother; my Lady of Eternity is a very close friend of mine from when I was being coroneted centuries ago. We did not have romantic inclinations and, to this very day, remain very good friends. If you do select a Lady of Eternity that is different from who you intend to take as a mate, both lifespans can be lengthened, but it is a complicated process."

Draco nodded, slowly. "And you said if I don't have one, the Priests will pick one for me?"


"Blaise, if you do not stop with the cutting motion, I will cut you." Lucius snarled. "What are you trying to get Draco not to say?!"

Blaise looked like he had seen a ghost. "Uh… nothing, Uncle Lucius sir!"

Maximus narrowed his eyes but chose not to react to his son's idiocy. "Well then. I will discuss with the Wadoya when your coronation can be scheduled and we will take it from there? In the meanwhile, to prepare ourselves, please think about who you want to appoint as your Darzulf, Darharkt, and your two members of your Biwheg." Maximus glanced at Lucius and nodded. "I will inform the Wadoya that we need to look for a Lady of Eternity."


Blaise smacked his forehead and McGonagall rose from her chair, ready to intervene should father and son (mainly the Malfoys) threw fists. Or spells for that matter.

"Pardon?" Lucius raised both eyebrows. "He mustn't search for a Lady of Eternity?"

Draco stood up as well and looked his father right in his eyes, his own face stone cold and emotionless. "No." He repeated. "You don't need to find me one. I already have one."

McGonagall looked at Lucius and shrugged when the elder Malfoy sent her an inquisitive stare. She had no idea Draco was in a romantic relationship with anybody in the school, and that notion concerned her. Minerva McGonagall knew everything that happened in her school.

Who was Draco Malfoy dating?

"You do?" Maximus, oblivious to the tension sizzling around him, asked gleefully. "Might I ask who it is?"

Draco's eyes did not break from his father. "Hermione Granger."


Hermione and her girlfriends were in the Entrance Hall of Hogwarts, arriving at the school after a small stroll through the grounds. They had studied, much to Hermione's pleasure, and opted to take a break. Ron, Harry, and the rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team were in the Training Facility intending to get a quick workout in whereas the other boys were scattered throughout the grounds of their school.

It had been a good three hours since Draco and Blaise were called upon by McGonagall and Hermione had yet to hear from her boyfriend.

She was beginning to get very worried.

"Look!" Fay shoved Hermione. "Your boyfriend is coming… along with your future father-in-law."

Ignoring the father-in-law bit, Hermione looked in the direction Fay was pointing to see, indeed, Draco, Lucius, Blaise, and an older looking Blaise (uncle? Hermione couldn't properly guess who that character could've been) headed towards the main gate with McGonagall not too far behind.

Draco's eyes caught with Hermione's and, in an instant, he felt all of his tension melt away. Hermione, however, did not miss the nasty look Lucius threw in her direction.

What happened?

"Thank you for meeting with us today." Lucius glanced over McGonagall and offered his thanks. "Glad we were able to sort everything out."

The Gryffindor girls, save Hermione, paid no heed to the conversation and whispered amongst themselves. Kellah decided to stop her butt just beside the main entrance of the castle in hopes to catch Draco after the adults left. Hermione was trying to get them to leave but was failing, miserably.

A cold October gale filled the corridor, forcing Hermione to tighten her cloak around her body. The tree leaves were beginning to transform into beautiful shades of orange, red, and yellow—autumn, Hermione's favourite time of year. To her it represented rebirth, despite spring being the traditional season of life. She absolutely adored autumn.

"See," Ginny rolled her eyes when Draco and the rest were within earshot, "he hardly acknowledged you. Honestly, if you two were dating then he'd—"

So she told them and they don't believe her? Draco's annoyance was irrepressible. Fuck this. Draco pushed past his father and Blaise and shoved Hermione's friend's aside. Wordlessly he grabbed her chin and leaned forward to capture her lips.

Shock rocked through Hermione's body; she was unable to react or respond to him.

What is he doing?!

All around them were wide eyes… it was official…

Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger were dating.

Chapter 26: The Thereafter

Time was at a standstill.

All eyes were glued on Draco and Hermione, everybody's mind reeling with disbelief. The Draco Malfoy and the Hermione Granger were romantically involved?! Never in the last seven years would anybody have ever guessed it.

"Uhh…" Fay finally sounded involuntarily. Draco pulled back and, because his back was facing everybody else, glanced over his shoulder with a lethal look twinkling in his eyes.

"If anybody has anything to say about it, don't say it. I don't care, she doesn't care, so you bloody well damn shouldn't care and get used to it. Understand?" There was a gravelly undertone in his voice that everybody immediately picked up on. Maximus was ready to step forward and intervene if Draco's dormant dragon abilities began to surface.

Before he could do anything, however, McGonagall held up one of her hands.

"Mr. Malfoy, who you are in a relationship with, is none of our concerns. Now please, limit your public displays of affection and focus on your studies—I run a school not a… not a… courting service." McGonagall was not able to find a better comparison, so she let her angry tone do the talking for her. "Please resume your daily activities. I believe you lot," she nodded her head to the gaping Gryffindor girls (and Padma Patil), "have classes shortly."

McGonagall turned to Lucius (who had smoke billowing from his ears from learning of his son's romantic relationship) and Maximus (who was somewhat confused with why Draco and Hermione being in a relationship was of any concern, but nonchalant nonetheless) and nodded her head to the elder counterparts of the Slytherin troublemakers. "I am glad that we have come to some form of an agreement regarding our… situation. If you need any assistance from me, please do not hesitate to owl me." With years of skills, honed and mastered, McGonagall was able to quickly shoo Maximus Zabini and Lucius Malfoy out of her castle before Lucius could explode and whirled unto her students.

"Didn't I say resume your daily activities?!" If McGonagall had spoken to Voldemort with the tone she had just used, Draco and Blaise were certain the Dark Lord would've crawled into the hole that he originated from.

Squeaking, and being the first to split, Fay shot out of the vicinity with the rest to quickly follow. Blaise and Draco weren't too far behind the girls—they needed to get away from McGonagall before she could corner them about their dragon blood. The chance of McGonagall seeking answers was much more frightening than either of their fathers.

Draco watched as his girlfriend's friends rounded a corner with Hermione in the center of them. Well, that was definitely not how I intended to go about doing this. But they were asking for her.

His shoulder tensed when he felt Blaise's hand come in contact with it. Draco turned around and was almost taken aback when he saw the forlorn look on his best mate's face. "Zabini?"

Blaise inhaled deeply. "I… sincerely apologize, mate."

Draco's eyes narrowed but he nodded, just slightly, indicating to Blaise that he was okay to continue speaking.

The candles that illuminated Hogwarts flickered causing their shadows to grown and shrink rather eerily. No students were in the vicinity, so the deadly silence added to the unnerving atmosphere. Draco was half expected Peeves to whiz by, shrieking madly in their ears.

"I should've explained everything to you before I abdicated but—I mean, not to make excuses or anything… I just…" Blaise was at a loss for words and Draco was able to read that easily. His eyes were darting back and forth as he searched for the right word to continue his apology. The Slytherin in Draco told him to let Blaise grovel in his apology; have him beg for forgiveness but the other side of Draco… the side the Hermione touched, told him not to be an ass to his best mate and to forgive him.

Mistakes happen.

But mistakes tested the strength of friendships and Draco wanted to say that his friendship with Blaise was much stronger than Blaise's childish stupidity.

Besides… it wasn't as if Draco was stuck being the… what did the bloke's father call it? Kapral…? Yes… it wasn't as if Draco was stuck being the Kapral of Thaczil. He had the opportunity to abdicate, right up until his potential coronation. That gave him time to think, ponder, assess, and discuss the situation with his parents (well, maybe his mother because his father was clearly less than impressed when he left Hogwarts) and his girlfriend (as the situation could potentially affect her, seeing as Maximus had to leave Aurelia in a different dimension altogether just so that he could run Thaczil).

"Quit your blubbering," despite Hermione influencing him to be a nicer person, he was still a jerk most of the time. "We all know you're the stupidest of the snakes." Blaise's eyes widened when he saw Draco smirking. "But you better believe that you will be one of those wingmen dragons I get. I wonder if you still have your dragon powers regardless of you abdicating… I mean… it's not like your abdication erases your dragon DNA altogether."

Blaise's jaw went slack; he was absolutely stunned with Draco's response to him. The bloke hadn't been talking to him up until half an hour ago and there he was entertaining potentially making him a wingman?! Hermione did a number on him… Picking his jaw up off the floor, Blaise's lips curled up into a miniscule smirk. "What makes you think I'd be your wingman?"

"Your sorry-self abdicated the throne, thus forcing me to potentially take it. You need to be punished and the best way is to make you my little bitch and have you do all my dirty work for me." Draco was quick to dodge the punch Blaise threw in his direction.

"Your bitch? Pardon me, Malfoy, but you seem to be living in an alternate universe—"

He interrupted Blaise. "Actually I will be. The name of this universe is Thaczil, if you didn't know."

Dumbfounded, Blaise could do nothing but shake his head. "You are something else, Draco."

"Yeah, yeah, Hermione tells me that all the time. Speaking of Hermione—"

"Damage control?"

Draco nodded solemnly. "Oh yeah…"

"Ballsy, what you did there."

"I know, but I can't stand people not believing her anymore." Draco tilted his head and looked over at Blaise as the duo began heading to their next class. "You know she told the Gryffindors and they thought she was joking?"

Blaise raised his eyebrows. "Why?"

"She once pulled an April Fools prank and convinced everybody she was dating Crabbe." Draco shrugged. "The idiots assumed she was joking again."

Blaise snickered and missed that he walked through a ghost. The ghost shrieked in fright and Blaise rapidly tried to wave away the ghost essence that engulfed him. "Ackkttt!" He began coughing; how could a phantom creature have tangible essence?! Blaise would never know.

"I will never understand how the hell ghost cloud envelopes us whenever we walk through one of them." Blaise murmured. The duo entered the central chamber that housed the moving staircases. They were not immune to the stares and whispers that were shot in their direction. Draco knew that they were staring and talking about why he and Blaise were called to McGonagall's office—no way could it have been regarding him and Hermione.

He had just kissed her! Nobody could possibly—

"He's dating Hermione Granger!"

Draco's head whipped in the direction he heard the not-so-subtle whisper. "How could they possibly know already?!"

"Padma was with the girls," Blaise ruminated. "Ravenclaw."

"Is that supposed to mean something?" Draco eyed a third year Hufflepuff warily as he sidestepped to get onto the staircase. Blaise, fortunately, was not too far behind him. "What does Ravenclaw have anything to do with—ohhh, Orla Quirke!"

Draco caught on; Orla Quirke, the girl that Hermione was supposed to interview to understand the properties of heartbreak, was quite the gossiper. It was said that she was to be the next Rita Skeeter, though how anybody could compare to her Draco would never know.

Blaise must've meant that Padma had gone and immediately told her friends, Orla must've been in the vicinity and, as quick as a forest fire, word had spread and everybody was in the know. It didn't bother Draco, though, as he and Hermione had decided a long time ago that they were not going to keep their relationship a secret.

But he was worried about how Hermione was feeling.

He hadn't really consulted her when he had gone ahead and kissed her in front of everybody (including his blasted father), and he was somewhat worried that her temper would get the best of her and they would engage in their first couples spat.

You'll cross that bridge when you get there, Draco.

His ears were abuzz with the whispers of students around them. Draco felt Blaise's arm on his shoulder and his tensed shoulders relaxed slightly. Perhaps making Blaise one of his wingmen (should he accept the throne) wasn't that bad of an idea…

"Zabini." Draco glanced over his shoulder. Blaise raised an eyebrow indicating that he had heard Draco calling him. "Let's keep our lineage between us for now, okay?"

"Sounds good. We have to deal with you and Granger first… then deal with us."

"Do not tell any of the other snakes as well."

"Dragon's honour."

Involuntarily, Draco barked with laughter.


All eighth year students assembled in Snape's potions classroom. Eyes were glued onto the couple that was, ironically, assigned to sit together in every-bloody-class. For the on looking spectators Draco decided to put on a show; he pulled Hermione's seat out for her and, when she had taken the seat, he leaned forward to kiss her cheek gently.

Her eyes darted in his direction.

"Mad?" He murmured against her ear and the corner of her lip tugged.

"A little. But I'll get over it."

Chuckling – a low baritone sound that sent waves of need to ignite in Hermione's stomach – Draco took his own seat. "I'm sure you will. What angers you, Granger?"

"That you're hiding things from me."

Their conversation practically echoed off of the stone walls of the dungeon classroom. The couple paid the rest of the students no heed; they were going to stare, and stare, and stare and Draco and Hermione were not about to pause their life just so that their classmates and peers could come to terms with their relationship.

It just wasn't how Malfoy and Granger did things.

"Oh? So you aren't particularly upset that I kissed you in front of my father?"

An audible gasp sounded somewhere in the room. Ron was beginning to clench his fist—if somebody didn't stop the smitten idiots, he would do it himself!

"That? Oh, he would've found out sooner or later—though a warning would've sufficed, Malfoy." Hermione leaned her cheek against her palm. She was acutely aware of everybody gawking at them. She was used to unneeded attention, though; Harry Potter, the boy-who-lived-and-continued-to-live-after-defeating-Voldemort, was one of her two best friends.

"I live for spontaneous in-your-face moments, if you haven't realized that as of yet, Granger." Draco, just for show, flicked her nose.

Hermione scrunched her face, displaying her distaste with his gesture. "No, that hasn't upset me. I'm upset that you left for the weekend, returned, and was called for an important meeting with Headmistress McGonagall without me knowing anything."

"Ahhhh, that." Draco felt fire dancing in his belly. His inner dragon… his Kapral blood. "We'll talk about that… in private." It was then that he glanced behind him to glare at his peers. Almost immediately the classroom engaged themselves in useless tasks; they were trying to pretend that they weren't all just eavesdropping.

"It's bad enough this lot is rendered speechless by our relationship, I don't want to go ahead and reveal to them that I've been crowned King of all the Wizarding World." His quip earned him a punch courtesy of his girlfriend.

Draco chuckled and rubbed the spot she hit. "That hurt, Granger."

"Suck it up, Malfoy."

From behind, Susan Bones called out: "What kind of couple refers to each other by their surnames?!"

"Ever heard of a pet name, Susan?" Draco was quick to retort and Susan blushed a deep red. She hadn't anticipated Draco Malfoy to respond to her with lightning speed. Before anybody else could speak up, Potions Master Professor Snape entered his classroom.

"Class, open your textbooks and turn to page seven hundred and sixty two."

Underneath their joint table, Draco caught Hermione's hand and laced his fingers through hers. It was a small gesture, but Hermione knew the meaning behind it: you're my everything.


Draco and Hermione left class hand-in-hand (a connection they made at the beginning of the class which Draco refused to relinquish), and were subject of everyone's peering gazes. Hermione stood with her back straight and her shoulders pulled back; she knew what she signed up for when she and Draco decided that they wouldn't keep their relationship a secret.

Coming up behind Draco and Hermione were, who Draco referred to, the Snakes. Blaise, Theodore, and Adrian stood protectively close to Draco and Hermione and scowled at all of the onlookers. Adrian pushed past Hermione and crossed his arms, taking a stand directly in front of the couple.

"What're you lot gawking at?! Don't you have anything better to do?"

Ron, who was standing at the foot of the crowd, glared at Adrian. "You knew?!"

"You have to be daft to not know." Adrian snickered. "We," he ushered to the other Snakes, "knew while they were courting. Unlike you," the noun was spat like a curse word, "we are aware of what our mate is doing and feeling at any given point in the day. Did you think it was normal that Granger was flouncing—" at the word flounce Hermione made a word that was a cross between a squeak and a snarl, "around Hogwarts at ungodly hours of the night? Because we sure as hell didn't think it was normal for Draco to be doing that."

It was Theodore, now, who pushed past Draco and Hermione. "Forget it, Pucey. They are daft."

The Gryffindor girls looked from one to another when, finally, Kellah decided to take step forward. "We knew… she told us and to be frank—"

"Let me stop you there, Morris," Blaise, finally, entered the mix, "Hermione told all of you yet you believed it to be a joke."

That shut Kellah up quickly.

"Care to sit at our table today for free period, Hermione?" Blaise called from over his shoulder as he, too, joined the ranks of Adrian and Theodore in front of Draco and Hermione. The aforementioned girl's eyes flickered to Blaise before locking with Kellah's.

"Thanks for the offer, Blaise," Hermione said, her voice strong and her words enunciated, "but I believe that I would like to sit with my friends."

Blaise nodded and turned back to the crowd. It kept growing, members of the Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw houses gathering at an alarming rate. If Blaise had to gander a guess, he would say that all of Gryffindor house was already present. The Slytherin house showed less care than any of the others; if Draco Malfoy, Blaise Zabini, Theodore Nott, and Adrian Pucey were okay with the union then who were they to say anything about it?

"Very well. If any of you say anything to her…"

Finally, after bated breath, Draco pushed past his friends.

"You will have to answer to me."



Hermione was unfazed when Ron exploded on her during their walk to the Great Hall for lunch. Swarms of Gryffindors, some of which the eighth years couldn't even properly recognize, crowded them with the hope of catching a glimpse of the Brains of the Golden Trio, the Gryffindor Angel—the one that had managed to steal the heart of the Slytherin Prince… he, who had been wild and untameable for seven years.

"Wait, better question, were you even thinking?"

Ginny scowled at her brother. "Put a sock in it, Ron."

The boys were silent, allowing Ron to vent his rage but the girls were not going to hear any of it.

"As obscure as this situation may be," Kellah, ever so rational Kellah, "we must respect Hermione's wishes. I mean," Kellah winked at Hermione, "she has saved our arses numerous times throughout the last seven years with her unmatchable judgement… I do believe that she can judge Malfoy well enough to determine if she wants to date him or not."

Ron would hear nothing of it. "This is bullocks! He must've put a spell on you… that's why he punched me, isn't it?!"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Ronald, we were not dating then. And I did tell all of you in the Common Room—am I to blame if all of you thought me to be joking? Anyway, Neville was in the know for some time now."

All eyes whirled unto Neville. The poor boy gulped and waited to be interrogated by his peers and friends.

"You knew?!"

Hermione snorted. "Hadn't you thought it weird that he was acting jittery?"

"He's always jittery." Dean responded almost immediately. "But… Hermione… this is just too… weird."

Harry had been silent for the whole time and Hermione knew he was rationalizing everything that was happening. That was Harry; the emotionally charged irrational rational friend. She would get his response eventually, perhaps not then, but eventually.

Though she was particularly surprised that the girls seemed so accepting of the fact she was dating Draco. Perhaps it was because she had already told them earlier on and all they needed was proof? But why would they need proof to begin with? Hermione's head was beginning to hurt; Draco's friends seemed so accepting of our relationship yet mine are wary and judgmental? Truth be told, it hurt Hermione deeply.

But she wasn't about to show her friends. She would, when she was ready, talk to them about their reaction… but she knew that a few of them would be incredibly volatile with the news of her relationship with Draco. Thus speaking to them anytime in the near future would be futile.

"I care about him." Hermione said her voice heavy with emotion. "He has helped me, countless times." She referenced Draco saving her from Bellatrix, something only Ron and Harry were aware of. "What else would you like me to say? I care for him, he cares for me. Ergo we are dating."

Seamus rubbed his temples. "My brain. I need a drink. Come, Hermione." Seamus grabbed Hermione's upper arm and dragged her away from the crowd. In their wake were the eighth year Gryffindors and their miniature peers, all goggling at Seamus and Hermione. He whispered something to her that caused her to throw her head back in laughter.

Neville, finally, cleared his throat. "Shall we join them?"

"You KNEW?" Ron whirled unto him. "Why didn't you tell us?"

Neville raised an eyebrow. "It's her relationship, Ron," Neville tried to rationalize with his friend. "It isn't my place to say."

"She's dating DRACO MALFOY." Ron near screamed, his face turning red and blotchy. "Do you forget who the bloody fuck he is?!"

After what felt like an eternity, Harry Potter finally spoke up: "Ron, I think you might need to tone down your anger."

"Tone down my—"

"You're jumping to conclusions. I think it best we talk to Hermione."


"Just. Talk." Harry's voice had a note of finality and he wasn't going to allow Ron to argue with him. Harry knew what Draco did, knew that Hermione had a few correspondences over the summer with Draco but that was the end of that. What he wanted to know was why Hermione felt the need to hide her relationship from them, from him. He was her best friend. They dodged death together, grew up together, lived together, and learned together— they were nothing short of being siblings.

Though Harry didn't grow up with a sibling, he was pretty sure such things weren't kept a secret from one's brother…

And if Hermione Granger truly cared for Draco Malfoy, then Harry would do his damnedest to ensure that Hermione was happy. It was the least that she deserved after standing alongside him in the Battle of Hogwarts.

But Harry needed to speak to Hermione. He needed to know her rationale, her feelings… everything.

"Let's bloody well go grab some juice, then. We have Herbology and Care of the Magical Creatures tonight and I need sugar to sustain my life force." Ron muttered while shoving past a few of his friends to get to the Great Hall. He was not impressed with what the fuck he had just witnessed.


Come meet me?

Hermione was actually getting some studying when she felt her journal heat up. She was sitting in front of the fireplace with a few third years scattered around the Common Room. Ron disappeared after Care of the Magical Creatures and Harry had approached her, revealing that he wanted to have a chat with her but with Ron present. But as he disappeared, they had to take a rain check on their conversation.

"You're sure though, Hermione? He makes you happy?" Harry had asked her and all she could do was nod.

"He does."

"Very well then." Without any other words, her best friend gave her a hug, complete with a squeeze, and retired to his dormitory.

Hermione found herself absentmindedly writing back to Draco: It'll be quite the experience coming to see you without hiding under the cloak of darkness.

His response came almost instantaneously. Wouldn't it be? Shall we ditch the Astronomy Tower and go for something more public?

Never. The Astronomy Tower is our place now, regardless of Hogwarts knowing our deep, dark, secret.

Imagine: son of a Death Eater and the Hermione Granger in an illicit romantic relationship. I can picture Skeeter's headline now… Granger and Malfoy: Dark Love Affair to Resurrect the Dark Lord! INSIDER SPECIAL, sources say Granger has a dark mark and is the dame of a dozen of Draco Malfoy's children!

Hermione almost choked when she read what he wrote. That's atrocious, bad faith.

Is being the dame of my children really that appalling?

Hierarchy, Malfoy, hierarchy.

I thought we threw that in the dust bin? Because if it were intact I would've had you undressed and underneath me to make our relationship official.

Hermione clenched her eyes shut when a flutter of butterflies erupted in the pit of her stomach. How did he manage to do things? How did he manage to make her feel so sexually charged?! How the hell did she even know what sexually charged felt like? She was a virgin.

Touché, blondie.

Back to the point: Astronomy Tower in ten minutes?

I'll see you there… will you tell me everything?


See you soon. Hermione finished scribbling and slammed her journal shut. Well, it would be quite stress free to go to her dormitory, change, and head to the Astronomy Tower without having to lie through her teeth. Packing her things, Hermione hurried to change into something less school-uniformy before beginning her trek to the tower.

"Headed to see Malfoy?" Fay called when Hermione began out of their dorm.

"Yep." Hermione's hand hovered over the doorknob before she turned to the girls. "How are you all okay with it?"

Kellah shrugged. "We wanted proof, you gave us proof, and now we're just waiting for him to royally screw up so we can kill him."

Hermione furrowed her eyebrows but nodded slowly. "Okay…?"

"If we have inhibitions, we'll tell you, okay?" Lavender shooed Hermione. "I'm still concerned that you're dating our arch nemesis."

Hermione rolled her eyebrows. "He isn't—"

"We know." Kellah said. "He can't be, otherwise you wouldn't be with him, but it's a lot to take in."

Then how is his friends okay with it?! Hermione almost asked in exasperation but held it in. She didn't want to engage in a confrontational conversation with her girlfriends. Hermione wanted to put herself in their shoes but didn't have the time to; she had her boyfriend to meet up with.

"If you guys need to talk about anything—"

"You'll be the first to know." Fay smiled. "Now go!"

As the door clicked shut behind Hermione, the three girls turned to each other: "What do you think happened at his manor? She refers to it a lot…"

Kellah shook her head. "No idea. Ron and Harry know, we could ask them? But what do you really think about this? Think he's cursed her?"

"Doubt it. She's smart." Lavender chewed on her lip. "I think she really likes him… and he's cute."

"He's fucking gorgeous." Fay seemed genuinely upset that Lavender only called Draco cute. "We have to trust Hermione."

"And if she's wrong?" Lavender looked afraid, as if Hermione Granger being wrong about anything was against the law of the universe.

Kellah smiled at her friends and crossed her arms. "If she's wrong, she has one hell of a support system that'll make Malfoy regret the day he met her."


As anticipated, the tower was empty. Hermione ran into Draco's outstretched arms and inhaled his scent deeply; despite having classes with him, she missed him terribly. Tilting her head back, Hermione welcomed his fiery lips.

That was home.

It was what she needed.

Draco's arms roamed her body freely, glad that she discarded her robes to wear a pair of khakis and a V-neck t-shirt. He, however, was still in his Slytherin robes. Hermione's hands played with the hair that gathered at the nape of his neck, her fingers running along the column of his neck as well. His hairs stood on end; her touch was something he would never get used to.

"You okay?" He whispered against her lips.

"Yeah… you?"

"I can handle myself."

"So can I."

He heard the angry undertone in her voice and smiled before placing a chaste peck on her nose. "I didn't say you couldn't, I'm saying that as long as I'm around you don't have to."

"Are you trying to be manly and chivalrous?"

His chest rumbled in laughter, a sound Hermione would never get used to. It was an ethereal sound, almost musical; heavenly to her ears. "I would never let any harm come to you, Granger. I know you can take care of yourself, it's one of your characteristics I admire, but why would I let my lady go through that to begin with?"

"I suppose I can agree with you… to a degree." Hermione pulled away from his embrace and crossed her arms, tilting her head ever so slightly to the right. "But I rely on no man."

"I wouldn't expect you to." With his eyes locked on Hermione's, Draco put two fingers in his mouth and released a loud whistle. Within a matter of five seconds, Lightyear was in the vicinity and ready to be mounted. Draco, with swiftness and ease, mounted Lightyear before extending a hand out to Hermione.


Giving him a faux curtsey first, Hermione grabbed his outstretched arm and allowed him to help her hoist herself onto the broom. When she was secured behind him, with her arms wrapped around her waist, Draco shot out of the tower and began a steep ascent to the highest possible altitude that their human bodies could endure.

Hermione threw her head back and released a howl of excitement that made Draco grin madly. Never in his life had he ever felt the way he did that very moment—Hermione was everything to him.

His heart.

His soul.

His Lady of Eternity.

Upon reaching his desired altitude, Draco brought Lightyear to a halt and carefully turned around so that he was facing Hermione. His eyes were locked onto hers for just a second before he pressed his lips against hers for a vigorous and heated kiss. Her fingers raked through his hair and his were wrapped protectively around her waist.

This was the moment he'd been waiting for.

"I'm so glad the school knows," he whispered when they stopped for air. "Now I can do that wherever the fuck I want."

"Your method was questionable."

"It did the trick, didn't it?" He pushed a stray lock of her hair and tucked it behind her ear. "How were the Gryffindors?"

Hermione had a ghostly smile on her face. "I'm a tad envious your Snakes are taking it better than they are."

"We aren't innately bad people… we just happened to be sorted in the house that once had a crazy half-blood wizard bent on blood supremacy." Draco winked at his girlfriend. "It isn't a big deal, Granger."

Hermione rolled her eyes and swatted Draco away. The sun was dipping just past the horizon which painted the skies beautiful colours of red, orange, and yellow. Birds and creatures native to the Forbidden Forest took flight, cawing and screeching in an attempt to communicate with their kind… nightfall was approaching and all the living creatures were beginning to take refuge.

"Other than the obvious… what happened?"

Draco inhaled deeply. "Well…"

Hermione raised an eyebrow.

"Remember that book you found? Of Dragons written by Isadora Gryffindor?"

Hermione nodded, utterly confused as to why Draco started off with the book. "I do remember… why?"

"The Zabini that the book mentioned is our Zabini."

Hermione's eyes widened. "Wh-what?"

Now or never. Draco closed his eyes and tried to calm his racing heart. When he reopened them he was blown away by the concern and confusion on Hermione's eyes; concern for him and confusion as to why he even brought up the book.

"Blaise abdicated the throne of Thaczil…"

The ridge of her nose creased and her lips pursed; a sign of her confusion. "Okay?"

"The next in line within our generation to take over the throne of Thaczil… is me."

Chapter 27: His Inner Fueryon

Hermione gaped at Draco. She was sure she heard him, but she wasn't quite sure she heard him correctly—did he say that he was the heir of Thaczil?! Hermione's knowledge in the, what she thought to be, fantastical world was limited to what she read in the book penned by Isadora Gryffindor. She hadn't really read the book in its entirety as she was busy with preparing for their NEWTs as well as trying to navigate her way through their potions and dark arts projects.

"Repeat that?"

Draco inhaled deeply and did as his girlfriend requested: repeat his statement but in a much condensed fashion. "I'm the generational heir to Thaczil. Blaise has abdicated and, as such, the title has been passed down to me." There was a tense pause before Draco added as an afterthought: "Lest I abdicate."

For the second time in a matter of twenty-four hours, time was at a standstill. Draco had forgotten his biological instinct to exhale and awaited Hermione's response with heavy anticipation. His heart was pounding dangerously against his ribcage and he was half a heartbeat away from suffering cardiac arrest; does Granger intend on killing me with this prolonged silence?! He endured the painful half-a-heartbeat and continued to look into his girlfriend's eyes. She was expressionless, something that Draco had never seen before.

The woman always had some form of expression, be it disdain, exasperation, or utter glee. Fear gripped him for a split second and he was quick to grip her shoulders to give her an urgent shake.


"Can we get to… solid ground?"

Draco nodded and whipped himself around to guide Lightyear to the farthest part of the grounds to allow them seclusion and privacy. Hermione's grip was deadly tight around his torso during the descent and he was beginning to wonder if she was even aware of how firmly she was holding onto him. His news clearly was a shocker–as anticipated–and he was very worried for Hermione's reaction.

The back of his mind kept chanting to him that if she were to go into a catatonic state, he'd turn the heavens inside out to bring her back to him.

Lightyear barely touched down and Hermione disembarked. Draco didn't miss a beat and was quick to follow her; Lightyear retreated to rest upon the ground not too far from them. After a dozen or so sauntered steps, Hermione whirled unto Draco.

"You're a dragon?"

He nodded, not knowing what else to say or do.

"And you just found out after Blaise abdicated?"

Again, he nodded.

"Why did he abdicate?"

Draco frowned. He hadn't expected that question. "I presume he is upset at his parents for hiding his lineage from him and doesn't want such responsibilities thrust upon him." Really, he didn't know exactly why Blaise abdicated. It's something to look in to, that's for sure, Draco filed it away in his to-do-in-the-near-future pile in his brain.

Hermione went onto her next question in the quick-fire round she was forcing Draco to go through. "And you aren't upset?"

"I'm quite livid actually." Draco tentatively took a step towards Hermione. When he saw that she did not retract, he quickly closed the gap and pulled her into his arms, effectively burying her face into his chest. "Beyond livid, but I, unlike Blaise who just does not want to listen or try to understand his parents predicament, understand why my parents hid it from me: the Zabini Clan has ruled Thaczil for many centuries—they did not expect one of them to abdicate during our lifetime."

Draco heard Hermione mumble, "But he has."

Her retort muted him so he opted to just nod; he wished he knew what she was thinking.

"And what are you thinking?" Her face was pressed against his chest. He wanted, so badly, to pull her back and see the expressions colour her face but Draco fought temptation. He wanted Hermione to feel how near he was to her, to understand how much she had become part of his life—how integral she was.

Draco's shoulders sagged and he pulled her away, just slightly enough to tilt her head back, and looked her dead in the eyes. "I… don't know…"

Hermione bit her lower lip and took a reluctant step back. "Tell me everything…"

And so he did.

Draco told her of Blaise's father entering his life, of Blaise abdicating out of anger and spite for his father, of the Transferral of Power initiating, of his upcoming coronation (at which point he could still abdicate), and of everything else in the middle. Hermione listened, never once interrupting, with a look of concentration on her face. Draco revealed that his father and Blaise's father requesting their audience in McGonagall's office. He, however, did not tell her about him choosing two wingmen and a Lady of Eternity, as well as two members to join his council; those were details that would come as her questions poured in.

At the end of his extended soliloquy, Draco fell silent. He wanted Hermione to respond and he was at the edge of his proverbial seat. It was then Draco realized just how much he needed Hermione's approval in all that was going on; without her support he would not be able to tackle the trials and tribulations that were on the horizon.

He needed Hermione by his side, abdication or not.

"In conclusion, you are the last heir and if you abdicated all the dragons would have to engage in war to see who will come out victor?" Draco nodded at her assessment.

"In essence… but I don't think it's all the dragons, just the ones eligible to become Kapral."

"Kapral means emperor, right?" Hermione was recalling what she read in Isadora's book.


Hermione nodded and bit her lower lip. "I see… and what do you plan on doing?"

Sometime during his story they both sat down on a giant boulder strategically placed at the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Draco had propped Lightyear up beside him and conjured up a simple shield spell to hinder any creature that should attack them unsuspectedly. Hermione's hands were on her knees, both fisted and bunching her fabric of her jeans. Draco noted that she seemed confused.

That's a first…

"I don't know," he revealed. "I don't agree with Blaise abdicating without adequate reason, but the deed is done. I can't abdicate without a good enough reason, lest my conscious forever nags me, but I can't accept without acceptable knowledge on the role… but that knowledge won't be passed down until after my coronation."

"I… am at a loss for words."

Deciding that it was time to crack a joke, Draco smirked and said, "Has this Marcus Flinted you?"

Hermione's jaw dropped. "Did you just turn my reaction to Professor Flint's corrected jawbone structure into a verb?"

"I did indeed."

Without warning Hermione smacked his shoulder. "You loathsome blond cockroach." There was a teasing undertone in her voice.

Laughing at his own expense, Draco wrapped an arm around Hermione's shoulder and pulled her against his body. He hated having her so close yet so far. Draco had yet to discover whether she was reacting to the news positively or negatively, so he opted to keep her physically close to calm his own bloody nerves.

"Honestly Hermione," the way he whispered her name caused her hairs to stand on end. Her body tingled with unknown anticipation much to her discontent; she was in a state of confusion and anger (towards Blaise), she had no right to be aroused by the simple way he drawled her name! "I have never been this confused in my life."

Hermione turned her head to look at his profile. Draco was staring into the sky, seemingly unaware of his surroundings any longer. A light wind picked up and tousled his hair slightly, but that was the only disturbance to occur. Shifting slightly, Hermione pulled away from Draco's hold and turned to face him, crossing her legs on the rock.

"What are you confused about?"

"Everything." Draco turned and looked at Hermione and she was blown away by the unnatural amber shade his eyes had taken on. She had become so accustomed to and so in love with his stormy grey that this new shade had caught her off guard.

It must be his inner dragon. She reasoned. Her eyes were locked with his and, slowly, she saw his orbs revert back to their natural colour. Strange…

"I cannot, in good conscious, abdicate. What reason do I have? If I claim that I was not aware of my lineage and cannot adequately fulfill my duties, my father and Maximus will argue with at neither did Blaise. If I say I don't want it, I'll regret it for the rest of my life because I made the decision without the proper research and knowledge required to make such a conclusion…" Draco exhaled slowly and brought his left hand up to cup Hermione's cheek. She instantly leaned in to his touch.

"And what about you?" His last question came out as a breathless whisper. "Maximus had to leave Aurelia in a different realm while he ruled Thaczil…"

Hermione closed her eyes for a brief moment. "Let's rationalize through this?"

Draco nodded, dumbly, and retracted his hand.

"You have until coronation to abdicate?" She saw him nod and proceeded. "It gives me enough time to research and finish Isadora's book so you can make an informed decision. You're more rational than Blaise so I don't expect you to abdicate willy nilly—" she cocked her head and threw him a very Malfoy-esque smirk. "Besides, sacrifices have to be made for the greater good."

Her latter quip resulted in Draco groaning. "Do not impart Dumbledore-esque knowledge right now, Granger."

With a small giggle, Hermione continued her rationalizing: "So that solves the problem if you having inadequate knowledge on the world you could potentially take over. I can have a report written out by the end of—"

"No report." Draco was prompt to interrupt. "Just summarize in your own words and tell me. I'm not a professor."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I know, but I need to put my thoughts and research on paper and organize them in an eye-pleasing fashion that seamlessly flows from the thesis to the—"

"Alright, alright!" Draco covered Hermione's mouth. "Write me an essay!"

Her eyes twinkled as if she were extremely pleased with herself for making him change his mind. Draco withdrew his hand and Hermione continued. "So that covers points one and two: you are not abdicating for the sake of abdicating because you will be making an informed decision."

"Fair. And point three?"

Hermione shrugged painfully. "Easy." But is it easy? Her heart tugged. "We've only been dating for a few weeks; you cannot base a decision that will affect you for thousands of years over a new relationship." It pained her to say what she was saying, it really did, but she was being rational and when rational Hermione spoke, she saw no end. "There is no guarantee—"

She had missed the tick in his eye.

She had missed the clenching of his jaw.

She had missed the fisting of his hand.

Draco stood up abruptly and whirled unto Hermione. "Do not finish that statement."

Hermione's jaw dropped and she gawked at Draco, totally caught off guard. She was not anticipating him blowing up on her! She was sure that he was agreeing with the rationality behind her words; she had no idea that he was getting angrier by the second. "Pardon me?"

"Do not finish." He repeated, his voice beginning to take on a gravelly tone and his irises beginning to ignite. "Do you not have any sort of faith in our relationship?"

"I do!" Hermione stood up so she didn't feel tiny in front of his towering frame. "But given various factors, we have to be cautious—"

"To hell with these various factors!" His voice reverberated throughout the forest, almost dragon. Hermione took an involuntary step back but was met with the boulder she was sitting on not too long ago and fell onto her butt. Draco matched her step and took one forward.

"Did you think I was dating you for the fuck of it?"

"I didn't—"

"If all I wanted was a fuck, I would've gotten it from any girl in the bloody school Hermione." He was slowly losing his human and embracing the feral beast that lived within him. Hermione's heart began racing; she was not accustomed to dealing with a dragon that was also her boyfriend.

"Draco, that's not what I meant."

Her words went in one ear and out the other. "If you don't think we're going to last then why the hell are you wasting our ti—" his words were abruptly halted when a large winged body slammed into him, pushing him to the ground. Hermione screamed and withdrew her wand from her pocket, pointing it at the creature that caught them off guard.


She frowned when she heard the creature instruct her to run.

"Go before it gets too dangerous."

Hermione scowled. "No! Let him go!" She wasn't about to listen to an unknown thing that tackled her boyfriend out of the blue.

"Go before he loses his human senses!" The creature – man – turned to look over his shoulder and Hermione recognized him as Blaise's father, Maximus. That caused her to halt and lower her wand slightly. She saw Draco thrashing about and heard him shout profanities.

She wasn't going to leave her boyfriend there, especially not while he was not in the right state of mind. "I can't leave him…!" The precise moment the words left her mouth, Draco screamed. Hermione shrieked slightly and stumbled back when she saw black essence shoot from his mouth—fire? No, it wasn't fire… it was destructive.

"Run! Nobody is safe from the Kapral's Wrath of Chaos."

Hermione's eyes widened. Chaos? He's breathing Chaos? But she refused to leave. "No! I won't leave him!" And, true to her Gryffindor trait, she sprang forward and crouched on the ground beside Draco. He had stopped breathing chaos, but he was thrashing about violently. His eyes were fully aflame and she noticed charcoal grey scales peppering the length of his left arm and the left column of his neck.

"GO!" Maximus screamed but when was the last time Hermione listened to an adult? She pressed her hand against Draco's cheek and leaned forward. She had to get him to listen to reason, to her voice… she knew that whatever he felt was amplified due to his dragon lineage; his awakened dragon blood. When her fingers touched his skin, Draco calmed down just enough for her to reach for him both physically and spiritually.

"Draco," she whispered as she pressed her face against his ear. He grunted and tried to thrash but with Hermione's calming aura and Maximus's monster body, it was quite difficult. "Draco listen to me." Her heart was thudding against her chest, but she knew she had to do whatever it took to bring him back to her. "I'd never leave you, you know that…" Tears gathered behind her lids. "I can't… I never would… If we were ever to end, it'd be because of you not wanting to be with me…"

Draco tensed and tried to thrash about, again. He opened his mouth and released a blood curdling roar; Hermione fell back and Maximus tightened his hold on him. "Do not speak of leaving him!" Maximus commanded.

Hermione hurriedly sat up on her knees again and looked at Maximus before looking down at Draco's calming figure. His eyes were almost fully alit and the grey scales continued to comb along the length of his arm, forming a triangle vertex point over the top of his hand. The scales did not grow along his fingers. "Draco," she brought both of her hands forward and cupped his face, forcing him to look at her. "Come back to me, please!" The tears that gathered behind her eyelids unleashed, one tear managing to land on Draco's cheek.

"Please!" She pressed her forehead against his as she clenched her eyes shut. Draco, however, flickered his fiery eyes in her direction and his breathing became extremely laboured. "I… I don't know what I'd do without you… I…" Hermione opened her eyes, tears causing her vision to become blurry.

The words tumbled out of her mouth before she could even register what she was thinking. "I love you…"

A lash of power hurtled Maximus off of Draco, but Hermione was unaffected. Draco gripped either of Hermione's arms and flipped her over so that she was underneath him.

"Rasvim…" His voice was no longer his but the echo of the dragon soul that resided deep within him. He brought his right hand up and trailed his index finger along her cheek.

"Sia rasvim…"

Draco pressed his lips against Hermione's with urgency and another lash of power unleashed from his body. Within seconds his body became limp and he collapsed on top of Hermione. Gasping for air, Hermione struggled to push Draco off of her but was eventually successful; she noticed Maximus recovering from the blast of power as she was pushing herself up off of the ground.

"What happened to him?!" She demanded when she saw Maximus stand up. "Why did he become like that? What happened?!"

Maximus studied the unconscious boy for a brief second before turning his attention to the soon-to-be-Kapral's girlfriend. "Did you say something that triggered his anger?"

Hermione's eyebrows shot up. "Pardon me?"

"Did you say something that made him upset?" Maximus repeated with the same calm. He watched as the girl's posture sagged considerably. She must've said something that triggered him. Maximus thought with utmost confidence.

"I… must've…"

"What did you say?"

Hermione's eyes widened. "I would never disclose—"

"I am sure he's mentioned the whole dragon thing to you, so let me repeat what he must've already told you: I am the present emperor and his state and wellbeing is the most important thing to me right now, until his coronation," Maximus crossed his arms and glared at Hermione, "so I repeat: what did you say to him?"

Hermione crossed her arms, matching Maximus's stance. "I told him that he cannot base his decision on abdicating solely on the fact that you left Aurelia on Earth while you were in Thaczil because our relationship is only but a few weeks old."

Maximus nodded slowly, understanding Draco's anger. If Draco had gone so far as to declare her his Lady of Eternity, which entailed her living for as long as he would to ensure he remained grounded and sane, then she must've been somebody of extreme importance to him. Hearing a potentially Lady of Eternity doubt the strength of the relationship would be enough to unleash the dormant dragon within any future Kapral.

"I see… but you say you love him? That seems contradictory, my dear."

Her eyes flashed. "That is none of your business, Mr. Zabini. And with all due respect, I have a bone to pick with you and your son—"

Whatever Hermione was going to say was halted when the two heard a groan escape from Draco.

"Draco!" Hermione fell to her knees beside Draco and anxiously watched him. He was not coming to consciousness, but he was definitely making noises of pain. Hermione cast a glance over her shoulder at the elder Zabini.

"We need to take him to the hospital wing."

Maximus nodded and ushered for her to step aside. With swiftness and ease, Maximus picked Draco up and threw him over his shoulder. "Lead the way."

And so she did.


Three nights had passed since Draco was admitted into the Hospital Wing with no sign of recovery. Maximus would visit for the day and retire to Hogsmeade for the night – Hermione had found out that he was in Hogsmeade after the meeting with McGonagall because he was afraid Draco's powers would get the best of him… and he couldn't have been more right.

Hermione hadn't left Draco's side at all, getting special permission from her professors to miss classes to give Draco all of her support. As their relationship was no longer a secret, it was a feat much easier attained. On the third night, while sitting beside Draco's bed, Hermione quilled a letter to Gabriella.


Is it possible to be in love without knowing it and then having an incident occur that has you realizing that you are so hopelessly in love? Logic would tell me no: you cannot feel something you are not aware of, but experience would tell me otherwise.

I love him.

I can't go into detail with what happened, but he was in a state of… emergency, let's say, and in that split second I realized that I love him. I even told him but given the circumstance, I don't think he remembers…

Well that's all I can say right now. Looking forward to your reply.


Scanning the letter twice, Hermione folded it and pocketed it just as Maximus entered the Hospital Wing. The wing was deserted, save Madam Pomfrey (who was in the farthest corner away from where she and Draco were, putting away potions and bandages), Draco, and herself; it allowed a private enough space to have private conversations, should she need to have any.

"Maximus," Hermione nodded and he returned the greeting.

"Hermione. Has the situation changed?"

Hermione shook her head, a ghostly look of sadness etched into her features. "No… Madam Pomfrey is saying his vitals are looking good but—"

Maximus halted her update. "I am going to call for my motzu – doctor – in Thaczil. Perhaps his prognosis would help Draco better than a witch. He succumbed to a state of fueryon, meaning beast, and it is something that only a dragon can understand." Hermione chewed on her cheek but nodded, nonetheless.

"I suppose asking your motzu for their opinion isn't a bad idea… does Mister and Missus Malfoy know of his state?"

"No, I'd rather not worry them right now. They're already concerned with Blaise abdicating, Draco unleashing his fueryon would only worry them further. He's alive and breathing," Maximus studied Draco as he spoke, "so we must take that as good news."

Ahh yes, that. Hermione had almost forgotten that Blaise Zabini was the reason Draco was in the Hospital Wing. Not really, Hermione, you did trigger his anger… she couldn't berate Blaise for something she said. He had been in and out of the Hospital Wing with the other Snakes for the last three days, clearly very concerned with the wellbeing of his best mate.

"May I ask you something?"

"Go right ahead."

Hermione subconsciously brought her hand up and held Draco's near lifeless hand. "He said something to me when I told him I loved him…" She looked up to catch Maximus's eyes. "What did he say?"

"Rasvim," Maximus murmured, "means treasure in our tongue. Dragons are known to be treasure seekers—it is the highest form of endearment for our kind, and all dragons know this innately. Sia rasvim translates to 'my treasure.' He was calling you his treasure."

Hermione's felt her hairs stand on end with the new piece of information she learned. His treasure?

"Is that all, Hermione?"

Dumbly, she nodded.

"Very well. I have a few words with Minerva so I will take my leave early today. I shall return tomorrow," he tipped his head, "if his state changes, please do let me know."

Hermione nodded and waited for Maximus to leave the wing before bursting into tears. She buried her face into Draco's chest and let her feelings pour out uncontrollably. Had she known that he would've reacted the way he did, she never would've tried to rationalize his concern of leaving her. She should've taken it for what it was… he doesn't want to leave me because he wants to be with me. Why was I so stupid that I went to place rationale behind why leaving me was okay?!

She felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. Looking up and over, she saw Neville and immediately threw her arms around his torso. She continued to sob uncontrollably against her housemate and friend. Hermione missed that Harry, Ginny, Kellah, Blaise, Theodore, and Adrian were also present in the hospital wing, entering not long after Maximus had left.

"It's my fault," she murmured but only Neville heard her.

"Hermione," he ran his fingers down the length of her hair, "crying won't help Malfoy. You're the same girl that saved us from the basilisk after you were petrified. If you can do that, you can do anything!"

He's right. She thought, her tears beginning to slow down. Crying won't save him. I have to do something. I have to research! The book… Isadora's book!

She pulled away from Neville abruptly. "You're right!" Hermione looked around and saw that her wand was tucked neatly under Draco's pillow, the hilt poking out just slightly. She grabbed it and pointed it at the door of the Hospital Wing.

"Hermione!" Adrian took a step forward, preparing to stop his best mate's girlfriend from doing anything crazy but she already called out her spell.


All were dumbstruck, except Blaise. He heard her say dragon book and only assumed that she had, somehow, found a book that spoke of their lineage. Heck, he found out most of his information from the books his mother gave him, he wouldn't put it past Hermione Granger to find a book about Thaczil and its people.

"Hermione Granger! We do not cast spells in the Hospital—AHH!" Madam Pomfrey dodged a flying thicker-than-a-textbook book by the width of her hair. "That is absolutely unacceptable! Behaviour like that will result in being kicked out from the Hospital Wing, hospitalized boyfriend or not!"

Harry muttered an apology on Hermione's behalf before whirling unto his friend. "What the hell was that, Hermione?! If you needed a book you could've just…"

"She's not paying attention, Harry." Ginny placed a hand on Harry's arm. Indeed, Hermione Granger was already flipping through the pages of the book as if her life depended on it. Well, perhaps Draco's life depended on it but none of them actually knew if it really did or not.

"I think its best we leave her to her devices." Blaise took a step forward. He knew Hermione was looking for something related to their dragon blood and, since none of their friends knew, he wanted to give her the space and time she needed. "Let's go."


Blaise cut Kellah off. "Now."

Quickly bidding Hermione adieu, the group left. Hermione studiously flipped through the pages of Isadora's book and missed the slow twitch in Draco's right hand…

And the flutter of his eyelids.

Chapter 28: The Scales of Wrath

Earlier that day…

"We have absolutely no idea what happened to him then?" Adrian snarled. Both of his hands were fisted on his knees; three quarters of the Snakes were sitting in a deserted Common Room discussing the state of the final Snake. Blaise was doing well to keep his mouth shut; he didn't want to let the other two boys in on his and Draco's secret so soon. Theodore and Adrian were under the impression that something attacked him while he and Hermione were rendezvousing.

Adrian was upset that they had no idea what attacked Draco. Theodore was more concerned with Hermione's wellbeing.

And Blaise was the only one that knew the truth.

"None." Blaise affirmed Adrian's suspicious which annoyed the latter boy significantly. Abruptly, Adrian stood up and flipped the coffee table that decorated the centre of their Common Room. Neither Blaise nor Theodore was fazed by his sudden outburst.

"She fucking helped destroy Voldemort and the only two times his unruly arse went to the Hospital Wing was when Pansy poisoned him and a fucking Hippogriff attacked him… and he faked the latter! What the hell could have hospitalized him for days and thrown her out of fucking commission?!" Adrian all but screamed. Theodore stood up to stop his mate from unleashing hell unto their Common Room; his anger was warranted, definitely, but Theo didn't see any use in destroying their House.

"Clearly it was something." Blaise stood up. "And Hermione is out of commission because Draco is hospitalized. We can't discount her courage and strength."

Adrian's eyes narrowed. "You seem awfully unperturbed by this."

With a blink of an eye, Blaise held Adrian by the scruff of his collar. "What do you want me to do?! Can I get his arse out of that hospital bed? Can I heal Hermione's emotions?! Can I reverse every bloody thing that has happened?!" There was a deeper meaning to Blaise's words, but he knew the other two boys wouldn't be able to know that. Realizing what he was doing, Blaise released Adrian.

He turned around and headed for the exit of the Common Room, leaving a gawking Theodore and an even more highly annoyed Adrian in his wake.

"I'm going to the Hospital Wing."

Without waiting for a response, Blaise left the Common Room. Theodore placed a hand on Adrian's shoulder in an attempt to calm his friend. "There is clearly more to this story… Blaise's reaction was strange."

Adrian nodded. "Glad I'm not the only one that's noticed it. I would've bet Draco's state would've upset him the most—they are best mates since childhood. But…" Adrian paused and chewed on his lower lip. "But he doesn't seem bothered at all that Draco's hospitalized."

Theodore concurred with Adrian. "Yes. But we have to give them space, Adrian."

Rolling his shoulder, Adrian effectively released Theodore's hold on him. "When did we turn into Gryffindor hippies?!"

"After Voldemort died and we were the most complacent with house unity." Theodore smirked. "I'm glad we're upping those Gryffindors in something."

Adrian nodded, clearly agreeing with Theodore's statement. "Let's join Blaise?"

"Let's go."


Blaise was not at all surprised when Theodore and Adrian caught up with him. He knew his friends and was positive that they were going to chase after him. What he wasn't expecting was seeing his father brush out of the Hospital Wing. Their eyes caught briefly but Blaise kept his composure; he was not going to react in any way in front of his friends. He and Draco agreed that nobody, save Hermione, was going to know and Blaise would be damned if he went against their pact. Particularly when his best mate was bedridden and unconscious.

Why am I not surprised that he's here?

Maximus tilted his head at Blaise and the younger Zabini had the decency of returning the gesture. Theodore and Adrian exchanged glances but chose to say nothing. It was silently accepted that something crazy was unfolding and neither of the two Slytherins wanted to voice their concerns yet… if there was anything they learned over the course of the previous eight years, it was that if any questions were to be asked, they would already have so by Hermione Granger.

Blaise was about to push the double doors open when he heard Neville Longbottom call for him: "ZABINI!"

The three Slytherins turned around and saw Neville, along with Harry, Ginny, and Kellah, sprinting towards them. Theodore and Adrian fully turned around and crossed their arms; however Blaise didn't so much as flinch. He continued to push the door open; he had to see Draco. He needed to know that his best mate was okay.

He felt fully responsible for the state Draco was in.

If I never abdicated, then Draco would never have had this come unto him…

Neither Draco nor Hermione.


Blaise entered the Hospital Wing only to feel a whiz of wind rush by him. He stopped midstride when he saw Neville place a hand on Hermione's shoulder; Adrian and Theodore approached either side of Blaise. Hermione lifted her head and Blaise saw that her eyes were bleeding red, tears staining her cheeks and her nose rubbed raw.

Hermione mumbled something but Blaise wasn't close enough to hear what she said. He did, however, hear Neville's response.

"Hermione," Neville ran his fingers through her hair and Blaise clenched his fist. That was Draco's woman and Blaise would be damned if anybody comforted her other than Draco…

But he's the reason she's crying. Blaise inhaled deeply and tried to keep his emotions at bay. Hermione was upset and she would seek consolation from her friends, the rest of the Snakes didn't know her well enough to comfort her despite her dating Draco.

"Crying won't help Malfoy. You're the same girl that saved us from the basilisk after you were petrified." Blaise had to agree, Neville did have a point. "If you can do that, you can do anything!"

Adrian leaned forward and whispered: "Quite the pep talk" Which resulted in Blaise shoving his rib.

"You're right!" Hermione pulled away from Neville and yanked her wand out from under Draco's pillow. On instinct, Adrian stepped forward with a concerned look in his eye.

"Hermione!" Blaise and Theodore were right up alongside Adrian, ready to pounce should Hermione do anything that she would end up regretting. Before anybody realized what was happening, Hermione pointed her wand at the double doors of the Hospital Wing and roared out her spell.


Shock coursed through Blaise's entire being. Of course there was a book about their heritage in the school, and of course it was Hermione Granger that had stumbled upon the book. After a quick scolding from Madam Pomfrey, Hermione was settled into her seat with her book and the group bade them farewell. The confused looks on all of their faces were evident, but Blaise knew Hermione Granger was up to something.

And he was very glad she was.


Hermione scoured through the pages of the book, reading as fast as she could. There had to be something in there about Draco's condition—about the fueryon. Sure Maximus' motzu – doctor – was called in to inspect Draco and give his diagnosis, given his extensive knowledge on dragon biology, but Hermione refused to wait for him to show up. She wanted to diagnose Draco herself.

"Come on," she didn't know who she was urging, but she was urging something. "You have to have an answer…"

As she was flipping through the pages of the Dragon Mythology book, Hermione stumbled across a passage written in hieroglyphics...

"Huh...?" Hermione was caught off guard. "I thought the ancient Dragon tongue originated from Latin..." Hermione had no freakin' idea of how to read pictures. Groaning, she glared at the first image for a bird-like man with a sun over his head. This is about as useful as Divination.

Because Hermione was so engrossed in Isadora's book, she missed the initial twitches of Draco's right fingers. Hermione's world zoned in on the images presented in the book; neither the passage before nor after made any sense in context to the hieroglyphics.

"What could this possibly mean?! Think, Granger, think." Hermione paused to consider what she just thought… Great, now I'm calling myself Granger. No matter, she resumed trying to decipher the Ancient Egyptian text.

"So… man-bird with sun over his head—" Hermione studied Ancient Runes and Latin—not Ancient Egyptian! Hieroglyphics had nothing to do with runes. "Half a foot and wavy line. Bird-man gets kicked into a river?!"

That didn't sound right…

"Rise, oh Great Dragon, Ra."

"No, no, that can't be—"

Hermione paused. Wait… Slowly, painstakingly slowly, Hermione turned her head to meet the twinkling, albeit tired, grey eyes of her boyfriend. With a loud thud, Isadora's book fell out of her hand, passage already forgotten.

"Draco?" Her voice was hardly audible, just over a raspy whisper. His lips curled into a devilishly handsome smirk – about as devilishly handsome one could get after recovering from an episode like the one Draco had gone through.

"In the flesh."

It took all the willpower Hermione had not to throw herself at him and bury her face in his chest. He was probably still injured, in a lot of pain, and unaware of what happened to him (and hopefully unaware of her declaration of love, she really wasn't ready to face him about that as of yet).

"How… are you?" Hermione muttered, not knowing what else to say. She saw Draco's expression morph into something of confusion.

"Well—I feel like I was bucked off of Lightyear." His voice was hoarse from the lack of water and Hermione was already moving to the pitcher at his bedside to pour him a glass. "What happened?" He gratefully took the glass of water and guzzled it with his right hand; Hermione was aware that he hadn't used his left hand as of yet. In fact, it was still tucked under the crisp white blanket.

"Something… to the effect of Lightyear bucking you off."

With a jolting snap, Draco was sitting upright. The blanket slid off of his body and Hermione zeroed in on his left arm and left pectoral. "Is Lightyear okay?! Where is he?! Are you okay?!"

Hermione missed that Draco referred to his broomstick as a gendered entity. She was too in shock with what she saw. When Draco realized she wasn't paying attention to what he had asked her, he furrowed his eyebrows.

"What the bloody hell are you gawking at, Granger? Do I have a gash in my—WHY THE BLOODY FUCK DO I HAVE SCALES?!"

Upon hearing his outburst, Madam Pomfrey bustled into Draco's Hospital Wing quarters. "What is all the—my Merlin!!" Poppy zoned in on Draco's left arm and her jaw immediately went slack. "How, in the name of a Hippogriff, did you manage to get yourself scales?! They weren't there when Maximus brought you in!"

Draco paused, his mind reeling a mile a minute. "Wait—Zabini's father brought—" He stopped and looked at Hermione, his scaly arm forgotten. "You said I had a brooming accident."

"Brooming accident?! No, boy," Poppy began examining his arm and Hermione was devoid of any thought and all feeling. "It was definitely not a brooming accident. I am unsure what exactly it was, but it definitely wasn't brooming."

Draco's frown deepened and Hermione was beginning to regain some feeling, nervousness being one of them. Lying to the Headmasters was one thing—but lying to her boyfriend?! What made her think she would be able to get away with that one; he was the master of deception! What was it?! Slytherin, as cunning as they come? Stormy grey eyes were burning into Hermione's profile and she sighed, relenting and finally turned to face Draco.

"I think… Maximus is better to explain."

"No, you explain."

"I really—"

"Hermione." Damn, he used the voice. "You. Explain." And he enunciated.

Hermione chewed on her bottom lip. "I really think—" Her words were interrupted when the large double doors flung open and in strode McGonagall. Hermione sent a silent prayer up to Merlin and stood up, readying herself to greet their Headmistress.

"Headmistress McGonagall."

Minerva nodded at Hermione, a gesture to return her greeting and turned her eyes on the now-awake-and-partially-scaly Draco.

"Good to have you back, Mr. Malfoy."

As nonchalant as he could, Draco shrugged. "Yeah. I would say glad to be back if only I knew what happened to me."

Minerva frowned and briefly glanced at Hermione before returning her gaze on Draco. "Poppy, cease your work and leave." Poppy looked as if a vein was going to pop in her forehead, but the somber look on McGonagall's expression told her to keep her mouth shut. "I must have a word with the boy. Miss. Granger, I believe you've invested enough time in the Hospital Wing. Mr. Malfoy has returned to the land of the living so I recommend you recommence your classes."

She took time off for me? Draco hadn't seen that one coming.

Muttering a few words of appreciating, Hermione quickly took the escape she was given. She was, in no way, ready to face Draco. Unbeknownst to her, though, the letter she wrote for Gabriella slipped out of her pocket and landed just at McGonagall's feet. Minerva noticed the note that bounced off of her foot and, on instinct, picked it up and rested it on the nightstand where Draco's water pitcher was.

"What happened to me?" He immediately asked her, now more curious than ever.

Minerva inhaled deeply and began rubbing the bridge of her nose. Despite her being infamously known as the strict professor, hardly harbouring any emotions and laying down the law without bias, she sincerely did not enjoy being the bearer of bad news. Minerva cared deeply for all of her students, be it Gryffindor or Slytherin, they were all under her care and she would travel to the ends of the world to protect them. Draco Malfoy had been subject to more nightmares than, possibly, Harry Potter. Draco's parents, and family, had been followers of the Dark Lord and based on his own judgement and his own compassion, he turned away from them to help his fellow classmates.

Minvera did not know the details of what happened in Malfoy Manor, but she knew something did which resulted in Hermione and Draco being inseparable.

But, at the end of the day, they were her students and she did not want him to suffer any longer. Alas, she knew that this was just the beginning of Draco's life and whatever the Dragon Kingdom had to offer him; she couldn't protect him from his destiny. All she could do is support him, the way that Albus supported Harry.

"You see, for reasons unknown, you partially entered into a state of Dragon." Minerva watched the expression change in Draco's eyes. "I allowed Maximus to be present in the Hogwarts vicinity, as he expressed his fear of you doing just that. Before you could have injured Miss. Granger, Maximus intervened."

Time stood still and a faraway clock ticked at a minimum of a dozen times.

"Mr. Malfoy?"

"Pardon me…?"

Minerva nodded curtly and repeated her statement in a much more condensed version. "You entered into a state of Dragon. Maximus stopped you before you could injure Miss. Granger."

Draco's body began shaking. "I… almost hurt her?" And, for a brief second, his eyes flashed a brilliant red, almost fiery, before returning to normal.

"Boy, the girl is fine did you not just see her?" Minerva crossed her arms. "Be more concerned about your state… and your dragon arm. Maximus did mention he was bringing one of his special healers from your realm to take a look at you."

Again, questions pooled into Draco's head. "How did… why… when…?"

"I pray that we find answers soon, my boy. But you keep resting. Professor Snape will be around shortly," Minerva closed her eyes just momentarily. "Merlin knows the struggle he has endured to keep your parents away from the castle."

"They're here?!"

"They're in the village."

Well, that was the second time he was thrown news he certainly wasn't expecting. Minerva rested an arm on his dragon arm; she was expecting the scales to feel dry and coarse but, to her surprise, they were soft and warm. "Things always work out, Draco. They did for Harry, they will for you."

"I regret wishing for shit like this to happen to me on my twelfth birthday." Draco revealed. "I was jealous of Potter getting all the attention when I was the Malfoy."

Minerva raised an eyebrow, clearly very amused at his confession. "I didn't think Malfoys celebrated birthdays, let alone adopt the Muggle traditions of making a wish."

"We don't. I spent the day at Aunt Andromeda's house."

"With your father's permission?"

Draco had a ghostly smile on his face. "He thought I was at Aunt Bella's. Mother dropped me off at Aunt Andromeda's and warned me never to speak of the trip. It was the last I saw her."

Minerva didn't know what to say. The man sitting on the hospital bed before her was definitely a different Draco from the one that walked into her castle eight years ago. Though many changes were attributed to Granger, Minerva saw a great deal of maturity within him and, for a brief moment, felt comfort in knowing the Dragon Realm would be ruled under his watchful eye.

"Rest, Mr. Malfoy… you have a rough few days ahead of you."

As Minerva left, Draco leaned back down and glowered at the ceiling. Why did he tell McGonagall about that blasted moment in his life?! Nobody knew about it, save his mother and Aunt Andromeda, and nobody knew about his childish wish. Exhaling loudly, Draco used his right arm to trail down the length of his scaly left.

What actually happened?

Uncomfortably, Draco shifted his body to lie on his side and immediately his gaze landed on the folded note set beside his water pitcher. The note from earlier…

Pushing himself upright, once again, Draco painfully leaned over to grasp the folded parchment. What is this? Perhaps it was Granger's notes about his condition. Carefully unfolding it, Draco's eyes settled on the first few words of the letter.


Is it possible to be in love without knowing it…

Draco's heart jumped into his throat.

"This is Granger's letter to her muggle friend."

I love him.

His eyes shot wide open.

I love him.

I love him.

In the split second I realized that I love him… I don't think he remembers.

His heart was pounding painfully against his ribs. "She… loves me?!"

What really happened to him?

Chapter 29: The Motzu has Spoken

Hermione was curled up in to a tight ball on her bed back at the Gryffindor girls' dormitory. Her friends watched her with concern, none knowing what to say or what to do. Kellah exchanged a look with Fay before slowly approaching Hermione's and placing a hand on her back. The muscles tightened slightly before Hermione uncurled herself and sat up on her bed; her eyes were red, proof that she was crying.

"You okay, Mia?"

"Oh, yeah… you know… project stress."

Kellah cocked her eyebrow and Hermione sighed, very exasperated. "Am I that terrible of a fibber?"

"Yes," Fay remarked and Hermione laughed, rubbing her eyes and sitting up straighter. Kellah took a seat beside Hermione, on her bed, and the other girls came closer: Fay, Parvati, Lavender, and Ginny.

"Tell us everything." Lavender said in a soft voice, but Hermione was quick to shake her head.

"It's a lot. I'd rather not."

"You know you could trus—"

Hermione cut Ginny off, already knowing what she was going to say. "I know I can trust any of you. But none of you can trust me and it took Draco kissing me in public to prove that we are dating." Rubbing her face, Hermione threw the comforters off of herself and swung her legs over the side of the bed. "It's just a lot to take in… within a matter of hours the school found out I was dating him and we were in a brooming accident." Her friends weren't aware of his transformation in to a state of dragon and she was not about to divulge such information. "He's been hospitalized since Monday and now we're well in to Friday evening and he's just woken up."

The girls remained silent. It was Hermione's turn to vent and they were going to give her, her moment.

"I need some time to myself, if you ladies are okay with that." Hermione didn't give her girlfriends the chance to answer as she grabbed her cloak and promptly left the dormitory. Ginny moved to run after her but Fay was quick to grab her arm and hold her back.

"Let her have some thinking time, Gin."


Hermione aimlessly strolled through the corridors of Hogwarts. It wasn't very late; the sun was only then beginning to set and the nocturnal creatures of their magical world began to wake. Students, from all walks of life, were scattered throughout the corridors and courtyards, studying or gossiping, doing whatever their student life entailed.

Why did I lie to him? Hermione's internal struggle began as she stepped foot in to the courtyard. I could've told him that he turned in to a state of dragon when I questioned the permanency of our relationship.

A caw echoed from the distance while thunderclouds began rolling in. The thunderstorms subsided for only a few days but, based on how the clouds looked, they would be returning any day now.

Are you afraid of being in love?

Involuntary tears sprung into her eyes and Hermione was quick to wipe them away; I refuse to weep over self-pity…

"Granger? You alright?"

Hermione stopped dead in her tracks and looked up to see a curious Adrian Pucey studying her. Just half a step behind him was an equally curious Theodore Nott… her boyfriend's two (of three) best mates. Nodding vigorously, Hermione attempted to side-step and walk around them but Theodore was quicker. He caught her wrist, causing her to look over her shoulder.

Theodore raised an eyebrow. "You aren't alright. Care to share your feelings?"

"Not really, Nott."

"I wasn't really asking, Granger. With Malfoy in the hospital wing, it is somewhat our responsibility to ensure his girlfriend is taken care of… do you understand?" Theodore released his hold on Hermione. She took the opportunity to shove her hands into her pockets.

"I appreciate the gesture but you don't—"

Adrian cut her off. "We know we don't have to, but when you are dating a Snake, it something we must do. Tracey, Theodore's girlfriend, is subject to the same privilege as you…" Adrian crossed his arms and flashed Hermione the signature Slytherin smirk. "Only difference is, is that she's part of our house making it easier to take care of her."

Hermione gawked at them for what felt like an eternity before casting her eyes down. "I'm alright, honestly. It's just a stressful week… you both can appreciate that, can't you?"

"We can," Theodore nodded, "we can also appreciate that you've been through worse than us. He's our best mate, sure, but he's your boyfriend… and after Merlin knows what happened with Zabini and him, you're entitled to be upset. So," a goofy grin began to spread across his face (so unlike the Theodore that Hermione had come to know), "it's Friday eve. Would you like to join us for a round of butterbeer? We could take the opportunity to get to know each other…"

Hermione bit her lower lip. "I would rather just be alone—"

"Great! It's settled, let's get going, Granger." Adrian looped his arm around Hermione's and began tugging her alongside him. Stupefied, Hermione was trying to process what was happening and, by the time she realized she'd have to fight the two boys to remain in the castle, they were already out the giant double door.

Her thrashing began. "Nott! Pucey! Leave me be!"

"No can do, Granger. Snakes orders!"

"It's really peculiar you call yourselves Snakes." Hermione mumbled whilst still putting up a fight to get Adrian to stop tugging her along. "It's like the Hufflepuffs calling themselves the Badgers."

Theodore snorted. "Snakes are much cooler animals than badgers, Granger."

Never, in a thousand years, would Hermione have imagined that Theodore Nott and Adrian Pucey would be dragging her into the village to have drinks. But, then again, Hermione couldn't have fathomed that she would be so hopelessly in love with Draco Malfoy—it was a world unforeseen and, despite the peaks and valleys that she was experiencing with her emotions, it was a world she was glad she was in.

"I see you've come to terms with hanging out with us?" Adrian smirked. Hermione realized that she was strolling, willingly, between Adrian and Theodore. The quip, however, earned Adrian a playful sucker punch to the arm.

"I've been taught from a certain snake," Theodore snorted when Hermione used the term the four boys had coined many moons ago, "that if you can't beat 'em… join 'em."

"Unless they're purebred maniacs." Adrian ensured he input a clause. Hermione giggled and nodded, agreeing with him.

"Unless they're purebred maniacs."

Theodore crossed his arms and glanced down at Hermione. "There, there, Granger… aren't we feeling much better now? Honestly, you were going to blow up into puddle of tears earlier."

"I was not!"

"You sure were." Adrian smirked. "And where would that have left poor Malfoy?"

A few students glanced in their direction but, ultimately, paid no heed. If Hermione Granger could be dating Draco Malfoy, then her walking with his two best friends was not an unusual circumstance… in fact, it was painfully normal.

"I know this may be just words to you, Granger, but I want you to know you can trust us." Theodore nudged Hermione. Her eyes whipped in his direction where she was met with his sombre and serious expression. "It might've taken you a while to trust Malfoy and it will bloody well take you longer to trust us… but we'd take a hex for Malfoy."

"So please believe we'd take a hex for you." Adrian piped up. "Slytherin-Gryffindor feud aside; you're our best mate's woman… ergo, you're under the permanent protection of the Snakes."

Once again, Hermione was slapped with a wave of emotion and tears blurred her vision. Unlike last time, however, she wasn't quick enough to wipe them away and drop by drop; her tears began to roll down her cheek. Adrian stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes wide and Theodore had a very similar reaction.

"Granger?! Why're you crying?! What did we say?"

"I told you not to fucking tell her we'd always be there for her!" Theodore roared at Adrian who snapped his angry eyes at him.

"You told me?! You were all gung-ho about welcoming her to the family. I told you to take it slow; she bloody just started dating Draco! She doesn't need three other Slytherins stalking her every bloody move!"

Theodore gently pushed Hermione out of the way to poke his finger into Adrian's chest. "Don't you dare lie to me, Pucey!"

"What benefit would I receive from lying to you, Nott?!"


The two Slytherins were pushed away from each other by the meek physique of Hermione Granger.

"Quarrelling gets us nowhere. Now, who will be paying for my butterbeer as I clearly do not recall agreeing to this little outing?"

Adrian and Theodore exchanged looks. They were both under the impression Hermione was going to stomp off with every intention of telling Draco how stupid his friends were. They truly did want to take her mind off of Draco and, at that moment, both boys were hopeful that Draco's girlfriend might trust them…

Even if it was just a hairs width of trust compared to what she had for Draco. Granger's trust, be it endless as the ocean, or otherwise, was all that the boys wanted.


Maximus, Blaise, Madam Pomfrey, Professor McGonagall, and Maximus' motzu¸Irisvar, crowded around Draco's hospital bed. Draco's eyes were ping ponging between Maximus and Irisvar as the two were having a conversation in a tongue foreign to Draco. If he had to take a gander, he would presume it to be the draconic tongue that his blood was native to.

"Si tepoha ti rinov ocuirtor ternocki!" Maximus roared. ("I've never seen scales!")

Irisvar, a tall and lanky human with an elongated nosed which resembled a dragon snout, and narrow piercing amber eyes, nodded at Maximus' comment.

"Wux re zlonzic, shar coi shilta shinalt. Mobi ui ergriff ir lyrik krel svaklar vi munthrek mamiss vur darastrix iejir tepoha coanwor." ("You are correct, but it can happen. There is only one other case where a human and dragon's blood coexisted in harmony.")

Draco wasn't the only one who was bouncing between the two men. McGonagall, Blaise, and Pomfrey were in the same boat. Blaise was the first one to mouth his opinion.

"We get that you both know a different language," he had to be careful not to say anything about dragons as Madam Pomfrey was not privy to their conversation earlier that week, and neither were the homesick first years throwing up their guts in nearby bedpans. "But plain English would be appreciated."

Maximus glanced at his son before nodding at Irisvar. "My apologies, son."

Blaise flinched at the title but chose to remain silent. Maximus looked over at Madam Pomfrey with an apologetic expression.

"I am very sorry, Madam. I must ask you to give us a bit of privacy; it concerns a matter that only the Headmistress is aware of."

Madam Pomfrey looked as if she had been slapped, an expression Draco had seen constantly throughout his years. Poppy Pomfrey hated when anybody told her what to do in her Hospital Wing; but a quick nod from Minerva McGonagall stopped her from arguing back.

"So be it." Madam Pomfrey said tightly and stalked off to care for a first year that had yet to stop throwing up.

Almost immediately, Minerva, Blaise, and Draco turned their heads to Maximus.

"So?!" Draco hissed. "Why in Merlin's beard do I have scales?!"

Irisvar took a step forward. "You see, Papref Kapral—" Maximus quickly interrupted and translated Irisvar's title for Draco as future Emperor. "This case is not common. I have seen it but only once."

Draco growled. "Is it curable?!"

Irisvar nodded. "Fortunately, it is, Papref Kapral Malfoy." Upon reciting his title, Irisvar bowed low which caught Draco off guard. He was quick to look at Maximus who was gesturing his hand upwards and mouthing the word rise.


Irisvar did as Draco commanded. "Vinxa."

Maximus mouthed the translation: thank you.

"So what is the cure?"

Irisvar stroked his foot-long beard – whiskers, when he becomes a Dragon – and began pacing, just enough steps to take him to the foot of the bed and back to the head. "There is both an immediate cure and not so immediate cure."

Draco watched Irisvar's every move, held on to every word—he needed to know why he entered a state of Dragon so that he could avoid doing it again. The dragon state – the feuryon as Maximus had called it – was something he believed that only Hermione could discuss with him. Maximus had offered to discuss the details, but Draco refused. His girlfriend had lied to him about something; he wasn't mad, but more concerned. He trusted Hermione with every fibre in his body and he knew that she lied to protect him.

But protect him from what?

Draco also needed to know how Irisvar could reverse the bloody scaly arm that he sported.

"Your corrrronation."

The r was rolled. But Draco didn't notice; he had latched onto the word itself.


Maximus frowned. "There has to be another way! We need more time, Irisvar… Draco must decide who he wants to be part of his council and—"

"That is the most immediate cure, Kapral Zabini." Irisvar bowed and Maximus quickly muttered rise.

"Papref Kapral Malfoy's dragon blood is in a state of confusion. The coronation is the only thing that will allow him to accept his blood, in which he will gain full control of both his dragon blood, and human blood." Irisvar explained while glancing at everybody that was present. McGonagall and Blaise had nothing to say; it was not their realm of expertise.

Draco brought his scaled arm forward and studied it briefly before looking past it and straight at Maximus. "And should I abdicate?"

Maximus looked at Irisvar for the answer.

Irisvar exhaled sharply. "You must recreate the event that caused your fueryon to release… and do the opposite of the action that forced you to release your inner beast. That is the not so immediate cure."

More now than ever was Draco confused. "Recreate the event?"

"I believe the lady involved—Kapral Zabini has told me she is your chosen Lady of Eternity?" Irisvar's eyes twinkled with excitement. "Will be best suited to explain what happened the night of the incident. If coronation is the rout you wish to take, Papref Kapral, then a date must be picked right now so that I may return to Thaczil and begin preparations."

Draco shook his head vehemently. "I am not deciding anything until after I talk to Hermione."

That was enough for Minerva to intervene. "Mr. Malfoy has spoken. Neither of you shall stress my pupil any longer; my deepest thanks to you, Irisvar, for diagnosing Mr. Malfoy's condition. Please allow him to speak to Miss. Granger. We will communicate our decision to you via Mr. Zabini, er… your Kapral Zabini." Minerva had to backtrack when she realized there were two Mr. Zabinis present.

Irisvar nodded. "Very well then… I do recommend deciding soon, Papref Kapral… waiting too long will cause the transformation to remain permanent, and no amount of potions or elixirs can reverse it."

With a final bow, Irisvar turned to depart from the Hospital Wing, with Maximus not too far behind.

"Talk to her," Maximus managed to say, "and send me an owl. I'll be waiting."

McGonagall gave Draco a gentle squeeze on his shoulder before leaving the Hospital Wing as well, leaving just Draco and Blaise (and a hacking first year that Madam Pomfrey had yet to cure). With his eyes closed, Draco began rubbing his temples. Blaise seated himself in the chair beside the bed; it was occupied by McGonagall earlier.

"Where is she?" Draco opened his eyes to look over at his future wingman.

Blaise cracked his neck before responding.

"Adrian said he and Theodore were going to take her in to the village for some Butterbeer. They were adamant that her housemates wouldn't be much for comforting her." Draco nodded, obviously agreeing with Adrian and Theodore's method of thought.

"When she comes back, I need to speak to her."

Blaise leaned back in the chair and crossed his arms. "I know you two have had some sort of misunderstanding, but I can assure you that she will not retire for the night without seeing you first."

Despite all of the situations that punched Draco in the gut, he managed a smile at Blaise's words.

He knew it was true.

His Granger would never go to bed without seeing him last… and the same could be said the other way around.

"Do me a favour, Zabini?"

Blaise cocked an eyebrow. "Sure?"

"Bring me an owl?" Draco had every intention of posting Hermione's letter to Gabriella… sure he had read it, but that didn't mean he was going to tell her that he read the letter and neither did it mean that Gabriella wasn't going to receive it. It was one of those things that Draco would put in his back pocket…

Just as he did with the little tidbit information of Hermione being a virgin. They were his trump cards, and he would play them when the time was right.


Theodore and Adrian were having a jolly great time with Hermione. Though the sun fully set and the numbers in the pub were dwindling, the trio were not fazed by it; the boys ordered round after round of butterbeer while Hermione only nursed the one that she took.

"I must say," Theodore leaned back in his seat, "Malfoy picked the perfect woman—nobody else is good enough for him… or you, for that matter."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Why thank you, Nott."

"Please! Call me Theodore… or Theo… or T, if you prefer."

Adrian snorted his butterbeer out of his nose. "T?! Who calls you T?!"


"Because her fat arse is too lazy to say Theodore. It's three-frakin'-syllables."

Hermione giggled and sipped out of her tankard. The boys were fun creatures to be around, constantly pulling silly stories out of their sleeves of their childhood with Draco and imposing blood supremacy onto every student in the school. Adrian mentioned something about Draco wanting to polyjuice the three of them in to looking like the Gryffindor Golden Trio to sneak in to their Common Room and advocate blood purity. Hermione had to blush at this story since her; Harry and Ron were guilty of doing exactly that.

"So… all good with you and Malfoy?"

Hermione bit her bottom lip and shrugged. "Just a little overwhelmed, is all…"

"You haven't been up there much since he woke." Adrian raised both eyebrows. "Again… is all good?"

"I doubt he wants to see me right now."

"Now, I wouldn't say that." Theodore shook his head. "That boy is rather smitten."

Deciding it was time to go, Hermione stood up and began fumbling through her pockets for change. Sure, she joked with the boys that they would be paying for her but she didn't actually mean it. Theodore stood up and placed an arm on Hermione's shoulder.

"Quit fishing for change. Let's go see him together, then? We haven't seen him since he woke either…" Theodore's eyes flickered to Adrian. "Blaise and his dad were in and out a lot—for Merlin's sake, Blaise has a dad and he's seeing Draco more than his own son!"

Adrian snorted. "Their family business, let's not concern ourselves with it." He looked over at Hermione. "But there was a Dumbledore-looking fellow with them, too."

Hermione's eyebrows furrowed. "Dumbledore?" Must be the dragon doctor from Thaczil.

"Yeah… hold on, let me go pay. Theo, keep an eye on this hooligan, lest she tries to pay for all three of us, and our fifteen rounds." Adrian pushed himself off of the chair and wound his way to the front as Theodore slipped into his cloak. Adrian's quip, however, earned him an eye roll.

"Do I have no choice when it comes to you both?"

Theodore shook his head. "Nope, we said we'd take care of you and that's that."

Hermione exhaled sharply. She was, in essence, dealing with four Dracos: Blaise, Theodore, Adrian, and Draco himself.

But, if she were to be honest with herself, she wouldn't have it any other way.


The letter was posted and the Hospital Wing was quiet. Blaise had left not too long ago and the first year finally stopped throwing up a lung… but no sign of Hermione, as of yet. Draco, however, was not at all worried… he knew she'd come.

She had to come. His heart wouldn't be at ease otherwise.

As if the skies parted and a ray of light shone on Draco alone, the Hospital Wing doors were pulled open and three silhouettes emerged… Adrian, Theodore…

And Hermione.

Scrambling, Draco moved to cover his scaly arm as he didn't want his friends to see. Then, as the three approached the bed, Draco sat up and gave the three a shit-eating grin.

"Enjoyed your butterbeer?"

"Did we ever!" Theodore boomed which earned him a shhhh from a dozing off Madam Pomfrey. Blushing, he slinked down a bit to hide his frame beside Adrian.

The entire time, though, Draco couldn't take his eyes off of Hermione. She was looking anywhere but at him and, seeing as she didn't have class the next day, it was a great time to sit and have a long chat. His stormy orbs flickered to his two friends.

"Thanks for visiting… but do you mind if I have a private conversation with Hermione?"

Adrian nodded. "We expected as much."

"Thanks for taking her out." Draco offered but Hermione didn't hear anything that was being said; she was lost in a world of her own.

"Anytime." Theodore glanced at Hermione and gave her a soft nudge. "If he gets mean, you holler for us, ya'hear?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I believe I can take him on, healthy or not."

"I don't disagree." Draco grinned. With a final farewell, the two boys left and Hermione took a seat beside Draco. An awkward silence enveloped them. Draco was the first to speak, causing Hermione to jump slightly.

"How are you?"

His voice was gentle and warm, as if a comforting blanket was draped around Hermione. She exhaled, slowly, to calm her jittering nerves and turned her body to look at Draco. "How are you? What did the doctor say? Why didn't anybody tell me the motzu came with Maximus?!"

Draco cracked a crooked grin. "Honestly, bookworm, I had no idea he'd get here so fast. And with McGonagall, Maximus, the motzu, Blaise, and Pomfrey crowding me, the very last thing I thought about was for somebody to go fetch my girlfriend."

Crossing her arms, Hermione glared at him. "It would've been nice."

"My apologies." He used his head to usher her towards him. "Come, you're too far."

Without question, Hermione got up and wiggled her butt onto the hospital bed, close enough for Draco to cup her face with his non-scaly arm. "I missed you." He whispered as she leaned into his touch. Her eyes were closed, just briefly to relish the moment, before reopening them.

"We need to talk, Draco."

Chapter 30: A Decision has been Made

As quickly as Draco touched Hermione, he was quick to pull back his hand. His jaw tightened, not going unnoticed by Hermione, but he said nothing. His head bobbed, just slightly, as if to indicate to Hermione that she could do all the talking and he was simply there to listen.

"I…" Hermione closed her eyes and Draco took that moment to study her. Her eyes were puffy—she had been crying.

A lot.

Draco hadn't known Hermione to cry much; clearly something was bothering her to a great degree if she had been shedding enough tears for her eyes to be puffy. Despite wanting to exude a tough aura, Draco was incapable of doing so in the presence of his girlfriend. Exhaling loudly, Draco shifted so that his left leg was propped up and his left arm was resting against it.

"Start from the beginning, bookworm. I won't get mad, I promise…"

Hermione's eyes searched Draco's for many long excruciating seconds. Finally, Hermione exhaled and slumped, just slightly, in her sitting position on the Hospital Wing bed.

"It isn't a matter of you getting upset," she revealed, "I can deal with you while you're upset." Hermione ignored Draco cocking his left eyebrow. "It's more of me trying to figure out why I did what I did."

"And that is?"


Draco already knew that. He had come to terms with her lying and he wasn't upset about it at all. He wanted to know why she felt like she had to lie; he knew it was to protect him but why did she feel like she had to resort to lying. It also irritated him that she felt the need to protect him. Draco Lucius Malfoy… he was unstoppable and he should be the one protecting her, not the other way around.

But you must've been put in a position where she felt like she had to protect you. Draco reasoned with himself.

"So, like I said, start from the beginning."

And, with a deep inhale, Hermione did. She explained to him everything, right from the moment of when he told her what a Lady of Eternity was and how she doubted the longevity of their relationship. Hermione noticed that he clenched his right arm—his scaly arm, when she mentioned her rational doubt of the term of their relationship. Other than that, he was calm throughout her explanation.

"And that's when you said sia rasvim to me…" Hermione chewed on her lower lip while studying Draco. His eyes were zoned out, seemingly looking at something through Hermione. Leaning forward, just slightly, Hermione placed her hand on his slightly hidden right hand. Draco jumped at her touch.

"I didn't know how you would react, a second time, at my rational—" Hermione stressed the last word, "line of thinking."

"To hell with rationality." Draco finally rasped out, his voice husky. "Your arse should've known I would've reacted the way I did."

Hermione's jaw went slack in complete disbelief. "Pardon me?!" Her voice began to rise but Draco was quick to silence her with his lips. With lightning speed, he brought his right arm up and curled it around the back of her neck, meeting her half way. He saw, for the split second his eyes were open, her orbs widen in disbelief before he shut his eyes and tugged on her lower lip gently with his teeth.

It felt like almost an eternity that he felt Hermione Granger's lips against his and, if he had anything to say about it, he decided he would never go a day by without kissing her. He felt himself ground back onto earth and all previous worries begin to melt away. Hermione was his anchor; the sanity to his insane Malfoy brain—his rock.

After a few butterfly kisses, Hermione melted in to the kiss. The hospital wing disappeared around them as they clung to each other, wrapped up in their embrace and hypnotized by their kiss. As air was a necessity, Draco pulled out of the kiss first but kept his forehead leaned against hers. Their breathing was ragged; their chests rising and falling in unison.

"Merlin, I needed that." He finally revealed with a chuckle. "It's been far too long."

"Yeah," Hermione mused. "But—" begrudgingly, she pulled away from his embrace, "now we need to discuss a few things."

Draco groaned and rolled his eyes but nodded nonetheless. "Fine. What does sia rasvim mean?"

"Your treasure."

Draco's stomach churned; his dragon knew the intense meaning behind that. He chose not to press the definition any further. It was filed in the back of his mind in the Shite-To-Ask-Elder-Blaise pile. Using his left hand to pull the hospital blanket over his scaly arm, Draco took a moment to give Hermione the onceover before giving in to her desire of discussing their situation.

"What do you want to discuss, bookworm?"

"Lady of Eternity."

Draco nodded while subconsciously trailing his left fingers along the length of Hermione's left arm.

"It's as the definition holds: eternity."

Hermione chewed on her lower lip. "What does it entail?"

"Based on what Maximus told me, the Lady of Eternity's primary job is to keep the Kapral grounded. Beyond that, I don't know—" Draco watched Hermione's expression change. "He told me that Aurelia is not his Lady of Eternity… it's some other Dragon Wench from millions of years ago."

Hermione's brows furrowed. "What about their lifespan?"

"Both are extended to match his… but he did reveal that it's a complicated process to extend both the mate and the Lady's lifespan." Draco's eyes did not waver from its boring gaze. Hermione, however, felt a sense of comfort knowing that her boyfriend's stormy grey eyes were, once again, upon her. It had been far too long since she had felt such a feeling of comfort and safety.

"Okay…" Hermione nodded. "And there's no backing out?"

As much as Draco wanted to let his inner dragon release with the words that Hermione had just uttered, he managed to keep his anger and dragon in check. His girlfriend was asking legitimate questions and it was her right to do so. All he could do was give her the answers she requested to the best of his ability; there was no use getting upset or allowing his inner Kapral to take control. It would not positively impact the situation.

"To my knowledge no…"

What is she going to do? Draco thought uncertainly. Hermione's eyes were locked onto his and, once again, their surroundings ceased to exist. It surprised Draco how frequently such a feeling happened when he was with Hermione. He had never felt such things before.

"And tell me about your scales."

Well that topic changed really quickly. He wasn't going to dwell on that fact, though.

"The motzu said that there are two ways to reverse it." Draco glanced at his arm—was it peculiar to feel that he was beginning to like it? It had a very mannish charm to it. Or is would the correct term be dragonish?


Hermione's eyebrow was cocked and it took everything in Draco's power not to laugh. She was beginning to adopt certain traits of his… it was kind of endearing.

"Accept coronation which will allow my human and dragon bloods to accept one another… or recreate the event that caused the scales to appear and react the opposite of how I did initially." Draco almost shrugged while informing his girlfriend what their two options were. Hermione's jaw went slack. She didn't know if she was in disbelief regarding his explanation or his nonchalant method of executing said explanation.

"Okay so…" Hermione had to finally get off the bed and sit herself back on the chair. She needed to not crane her neck uncomfortably. Her arms were crossed and her eyebrows furrowed; Draco took note that her nose did the cute scrunched-up thing when she was about to contemplate something.

"Explain coronation."

Draco pushed himself up; he was beginning to slouch. "Hmm… anything in particular you want to know?"


Should've known. But that's why he held her so dear to his heart.

"Okay well… I have to select a plethora of people and or dragons before coronation."

"Lady of Eternity being one?"

Draco nodded. "Yes, along with two wingmen, my Darzulf – the devil's advocate, and the Darharkt – the voice of reason. I also have to select two unbiased individuals that are not my wingmen to join my Council of Advisors, also known as the Biwheg. Should I not have chosen wingmen or advisors; the high priests – Wadoya – have to select them for me. With me so far?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Draconis. I am top student of our year every year for eight years consecutively; of course I am with you so far."

"Wow, retract your bloody fangs, Granger." He winked at her and proceeded with his explanation before she could retort. "I am the protector of the Ring of Chaos – don't ask." He said when he saw her mouth open. "Even I don't know all the details yet. I suppose I will learn my purpose in life after coronation," the sarcasm dripped from his voice, "regardless… I have to select two wingmen, two advisors, and you, of course. Then the coronation happens."

Hermione nodded, painfully slowly. "Alright… do you have any notion of who you want to appoint your wingmen and advisors?"

"Yes. Zabini will be the Darzulf… the bloody plonk is already a damn devil's advocate." Draco paused for a moment to give Hermione the chance to interject, but she didn't. He resumed talking. "And you my Lady, of course… apart from that I'm drawing blanks. I think I'll let the Wadoya select the others for me."

Hermione's eyes bugged. "You'll let old purebred Dragons choose your advisors?!"

"You seem to forget I've let old purebred wizards dictate my whole bloody existence."

"Yes but the lifespan of a wizard is nothing compared to the millennia we'll be alive."

Draco did not miss the 'we' that came from her mouth. His heart skipped a beat, but he wasn't going to admit that anytime soon. "Would you believe me if I said that I don't mind?"


"You know me so well." Again, he winked at her and this time Hermione giggled – much to her disbelief! She wasn't much of a giggler, but then again she never thought herself to be a Draco-Malfoy-dater either, but there she was... helplessly in love with the man.

"So what're you going to do?"

Draco shrugged. "I honestly haven't thought that far ahead in life yet, Granger. The only two I was certain of were you, and Blaise, but that's about it. I don't know if I want to involve Adrian and Theodore in this new world—bastards are only just getting over Voldemort… I can't thrust a realm of dragons on their shoulders."

"Why not? I'm sure they'd appreciate and understand it."

"I know they would, but it's one of those things… they're my best mates, but I don't know how well they'd do in advising or helping me run an entire realm."

Hermione nodded. She could understand where he was coming from; if she was in his position, she probably wouldn't consider Ginny or Kellah to be part of her council. She'd only consider Harry and Ron, and the latter would be considered after much coaxing (on Harry's part, that is. He would have to coax her in to considering making Ron a member of any council). Hermione would also consider—

"Neville and Luna?"

Draco raised both eyebrows. "Pardon? I hardly know what Luna looks like, and Longbottom is a weeping blubbering mess of things ninety-nine percent of the time. And, truly, I don't want to trust my realm with a fool who loses a frog every year."

"Toad." Hermione on instinct corrected Draco who merely rolled his eyes.

"Synonymous. I am not putting Longbottom and psycho-who-sees-dead-creatures on my council."

"Thestrals are not dead."

"They might as well be." Draco crossed his arms, exposing his right arm but he and Hermione were already well used to it.

Hermione exhaled loudly and closed her eyes momentarily. She rubbed her temples before reopening her them. "You are honestly going to leave such a decision on the shoulders of old dragons? Are you quite positive you'll be content with their decision?"

"I won't be, but what choice do I have?"

"Blaise is your devil's advocate, Adrian would be your voice of reason, and Theodore and Tracey could be on—"

Draco interrupted her. "Council has to be unbiased. Those two are loyal to me and Slytherin, it isn't unbiased."

"Harry and—"

"Granger, those two hate me."

"I wouldn't use hate."

"I would." Draco rolled his eyes. "We've had the worst house animosity for eight years. Potter and Weasley would be anything but unbiased."

"What about your childhood friends?"

"I have none. Crabbe and Goyle maybe, but again, they are biased."

Hermione sighed. "Finding somebody unbiased is difficult, isn't it?"

Draco nodded. "It is. You know, Potter wouldn't be a terrible voice of reason… too bad we have bad blood."

"The irony behind your statement is beyond ridiculous."

Draco chuckled and decided he wouldn't worry about coronation nonsense until the morning. It had been a while since he was with Hermione and he wanted to enjoy every possible second of it—"Come here, lay next to me?"

"But Draco—"

"You know I won't take no for an answer."

Before either of them knew it, Hermione had fallen fast asleep in Draco's arms—for the first time. Draco, however, stayed wide awake in to the twinkling hours of twilight. He didn't have the heart to stir Hermione, and his brain was abuzz with the different aspects he had to consider regarding his coronation.

Hermione would be his Lady of Eternity, no question about that, and Blaise would be his Darzulf.

That left the Darharkt and the two members of his council. He was certain he didn't want any of the Slytherins on his council; he wanted to keep the Dragon world as much of a secret as possible. If it had come so many millennia without being exposed, he didn't want to be known as the ruler that did expose it—

I'm acting as if I am certain I'll be ascending the throne. You don't know yet Draco.

But he had to be sure of everything if he ascended.

Perhaps Potter wouldn't be a terrible wingman… I already know his goody-two-shoes self is the perfect voice of reason. It was a thought, one that Draco would not disregard because of his past with the Boy-Who-Lived. If he knew anything about Potter, it was that he was fiercely loyal to Hermione, which would then, in turn, make him regretfully loyal to Draco.

Ironic, ain't it, Potter?

Draco had until the morn to make his ultimate decision and… he knew what he wanted to do.

With a final glance down at Hermione, Draco leaned forward and placed a kiss on her forehead. Is this love…?

Was he capable of such a feat?


Draco Malfoy was most certain of two things:

He needed to ascend the throne to get rid of his scaly arm, or recreate the event that caused it. He knew the latter would be impossible, so he was entertaining the thought of becoming the Emperor of Thaczil. He had been weighing the pros and cons all night and decided that it was something he was going to do, not just for himself, but for the Dragon Realm as well.

And, secondly, that Potter would make the perfect Darharkt. With Zabini and Potter by his side, Draco was positive that no harm would ever come to him or Hermione—Blaise Zabini was faithful to Draco, and Harry Potter was the same with Hermione. Having a member from both ends of the spectrum would ensure a perfect balance for his wingmen.

Draco was contemplating letting the Wadoya select his two advisors, but was still unsure.

It was the crack of dawn and Hermione was kicked out as soon as Madam Pomfrey was aware that she had fallen asleep next to Draco. With a quick peck, she hurried off leaving Draco to his thoughts. He needed to speak to Potter; he couldn't wait any longer. Maximus would probably want Draco's response that very day and Draco had to be sure of every decision that he was going to take—that meant Harry Potter needed to know about Thaczil and Draco's lineage.

It was as if Merlin was listening to Draco's prayers; Blaise walked in to the hospital wing not too long after Hermione left and Draco quickly informed him that he needed to talk to Harry.

Blaise was, understandably, confused. "Harry? Why?"

"Just get him."

"Uhh… it's dawn, Draco. He's probably sleeping."

"Do I care? Bang on the Fat Lady."

"Ugh! Please do not repeat that statement—ever. Now I have the image of me banging the Fat—ahh! Disgusting!"

Draco snickered. "Cute. Now, go, will you?"

"Fine. Fine. This is the thanks I get for coming to check on my best mate—"

"That you indirectly hospitalized?"

"Shut up, Malfoy." Blaise scowled at Draco before turning on his heel and stomping out of the Hospital Wing.

Draco knew that Blaise was not impressed with his request to speak to Harry, but he didn't care. His mind was set and he was going to have all pertinent conversations that day before giving Maximus his answer. Draco had no time to spare; his arm was at stake as well as an entire realm. After speaking to Harry, Draco was going to speak to Blaise and then Hermione before requesting Maximus' audience.

After that, he would speak to his parents…

After all, they were more than entitled to know that the Malfoy's were going to rule Thaczil for the first time in Dragon history.

Chapter 31: Assembling Draco's Team

Blaise was glowering at the Fat Lady portrait for a good fifteen minutes before he decided to start hollering. It would've made more sense to send Hermione an owl, requesting for her to rouse Potter from his beauty sleep and send him to the Hospital Wing. But something in the back of Blaise's mind told him that Draco didn't want his girlfriend to know about his idea.


Blaise cupped his mouth and began hollering.


The Fat Lady shot awake and screeched. Blaise covered his ears, he was almost certain that they would begin bleeding if the hippopotamus didn't stop. "Argh!" Blaise growled before kicking the portrait. "Shut your screaming!"

"Boy! What are you doing shouting for Potter at this hour in the morn—AHHH! YOU LEFT A SCUFF MARK ON MY PAINTING!"

Blaise rolled his eyes and crossed his arms. "My apologies. I'll ensure that I have somebody clean it up. Now, are you able to call Harry Potter for me?"

The Fat Lady raised her eyebrows in amusement. "Me? Call Mr. Potter for you? At this time?" She started chortling and Blaise grimaced; her fat was rolling every which way and it was making his stomach churn. Then, without missing a beat, the Fat Lady stopped laughing and stared Blaise dead in the eyes.

"No. Unless you can provide me the password, you cannot gain entry and I will not call anybody for you."

Blaise accepted the challenge. "Fine. I'll guess."

The Fat Lady rolled her eyes exaggeratedly. "I expect you to be here all day… as I am not living and do not need to relieve myself, I can deduce that you will quit long before I do."

Blaise raised his proverbial sleeves. "I accept. Tortuga."






"Doodle nugget."



"Incorr—whoa!" The Fat Lady swung open to reveal an amused Hermione. Blaise took a step back and raised both eyebrows, surprised himself at the turn of events.

"Belasco?" Hermione had her arms crossed in front of her and cocked an eyebrow. "Just what exactly are you trying to do, Zabini?"

Blaise rolled his eyes. "Evidently I am quite bored, Granger. So I decided to have a little verbal spar with the Fat Lady."

"I WAS WINNING!" Her voice shrieked. Hermione shook her head in amusement and exited the portrait opening. She, however, decided not to close the portrait behind her; it would give the Fat Lady the opportunity to talk and, quite frankly, she did not want to listen.

"The truth, Blaise."

Blaise's shoulder's sagged, defeated. "Fine. Malfoy wanted to see Potter?"

To say that Hermione was shocked would be an understatement. "Draco wants to see Harry? Why?"

Who am I kidding myself. I know why—he probably wants to ask Harry about potentially being his Voice of Reason. Hermione didn't know how to feel about that. To say that she and Draco had animosity for seven years would be a joke next to how Draco and Harry's relationship had been. They were the true definition of enemies.

But as they say, keep your friends close… and your enemies closer.

"No idea." Blaise shrugged. "He just wanted to see Potter. How about you give him a call and you and I go grab breakfast together?"

"But I—"

Blaise decided to cut her off before she could continue. "I guarantee you that Malfoy wants to have a private conversation with Potter. You being there would not allow Malfoy to speak his mind—he would be cautious because he knows how important Potter is to you. So, let the two men speak and then you can pick Malfoy's brain."

With a lopsided grin, Hermione placed her hands on her hips. "Look at that. You've got quite the rationale, Zabini."

"I am the self-proclaimed smart one of the bunch." Blaise snickered which resulted in Hermione groaning in annoyance.

"Fine. Fine. I'll meet you in the Great Hall; let me go call Harry."

With a nod, Blaise turned and left while Hermione went back into the Gryffindor Tower. As the portrait was gently closed shut, the Fat Lady was glowering at the back of Blaise's retreating head.



Hermione was rather hesitant when she walked into the Great Hall. She had resigned to sit with Blaise at the Slytherin table—something she knew she would regularly have to do now that she was dating the so-called Prince of Slytherin. With a deep breath, Hermione scanned the Great Hall to note that it was fairly empty, much to her pleasure and chagrin. When her eyes landed on the Slytherin table, she saw Blaise sitting by the farthest end, closest to the professors' podium.

And, so, she began her trek.

Hermione didn't miss as the eyes of her fellow students were locked on her. A Ravenclaw girl was whispering something to her friend which Hermione could only surmise to be: Look it's Hermione Granger! She's dating Draco Malfoy and is going to have breakfast with Malfoy's best friend, Blaise Zabini!

Thankfully they didn't know Draco was also a part dragon; it would've added a great plot twist to their already twisted stories.

Blaise lifted his head up in time to see Hermione just approaching the Slytherin bench. Quickly, he stood up and hugged Hermione tightly, giving her the opportunity to forget all her worries and troubles. He wanted to show her that despite everything, he was there for her—not only because she was Draco's girlfriend and the Lady of Eternity for Thaczil, but because Blaise genuinely cared for Hermione.

But neither of them did miss the sound of somebody gasping and some sort of utensil falling.

"Hungry?" Blaise finally asked as he pulled away from Hermione. She nodded and they both sat down next to each other, at the Slytherin table, under the scrutiny of the rest of the students. Blaise, being a Slytherin through and through, didn't care. Hermione, being the brains of the Golden Trio and rule-breaker-extraordinaire, wasn't fazed either.

"Why did Draco want to see Harry?" Hermione asked as she grabbed a croissant.

"Beats me." Blaise shrugged. "He just commanded me to get Potter as soon as I walked in to the Hospital Wing." Blaise playfully tapped his chin. "It's as if he thinks I'm his… bitch, or something."

Hermione snickered. "More or less you would be, as his wingman."

Blaise rolled his eyes. "Apt punishment for the one causing him grief, wouldn't you say?"

"The scaly arm is quite interesting. I might be getting fond of it."

Blaise couldn't help but chuckle at her comment. "Don't let the Prince of Slytherin hear you say that. His looks are probably the only thing he cares about—I mean, after you… of course."

"Doubt it." Hermione sighed. "He spends more time on his hair than I do—and do not comment on the mess that is my hair, Blaise." Blaise clamped his mouth shut as he was going to make an unnecessary comment of how her hair looks like a bird's nest.

"Your hair looks like a bird's nest, Granger."

Hermione whipped her head around to find a snickering Theodore and a smug Adrian. Rolling her eyes, she tried to shove Adrian as he slid onto the bench beside her but he was quick to loop his arm around hers and lock her hand against his ribs.

"Release me, Pucey, I'm trying to eat. It takes much sustenance to maintain this bird's nest." Hermione tried to sound angry bout to no avail. She was enjoying herself which was both a good and a bad thing; she didn't want to feel guilty for enjoying her time while Draco was locked up in the Hospital Wing, but she knew that that was what he would want her to do.

"Fine." Adrian released Hermione's arm and began to fill his plate with his choice of breakfast foods.

Theodore, with a half bitten piece of toast in his mouth, looked over at Blaise, Hermione, and Adrian: "Would you lot like to visit Draco after breakfast?"

No words had to be said; Hermione's eyes lighting up was reason enough for the boys to want to go see Draco. Funny how, within just a few short weeks, she had become something more to them than just their mate's girlfriend.


Harry was more than just confused when Hermione told him that Draco wanted to see him. Knowing that he was Hermione's boyfriend and Hermione was his best friend, Harry knew better than to argue. He obliged and hurriedly went to get ready before beginning his walk to the Hospital Wing.

What could Malfoy possibly want from me? Harry mused as he walked the familiar path to the Hospital Wing. Maybe he wants my blessing? Or wants to tell me I can't talk to her anymore?! Why the bloody hell am I overthinking everything?

Before Harry knew it, he was standing in front of the Hospital Wing with one hand on the doorknob. With a final deep breath, he pushed the door open to go face whatever it is that Draco Malfoy wanted to talk to him about.

Draco glanced over at the door when he heard it open and was both surprised and not surprised when he saw that it was Harry. With their gazes meeting, Draco ensured that he nodded just slightly at Harry, to tell him that this was to be a meeting between… amicable acquaintances (as Draco was not about to call him a friend).

Harry, silently, took the seat beside his hospital bed. Draco had carefully constructed a sling that perfectly hid his scaly arm—he wasn't ready to show his weakness to anybody other than his girlfriend and his mates. It was already awkward enough he was about to reveal his lineage to his once mortal enemy… Harry knowing about his scaly arm (as a result of said person's best friend) was not something Draco was ready to face.

"Malfoy." Harry finally greeted. "Trust you are doing well?"

Draco nodded. "I'm alright, Potter. It takes more than just a brooming accident to kill me."

"I would hope so," Harry managed to crack a grin. "I've entrusted my best friend's life in your hands… a damned broom shouldn't be enough to take you down." Harry feigned thought. "Particularly since you exchanged a rather friendly hug with the Harbinger of Death."

Draco rolled his eyes in an exaggerated fashion. "That, Potter, was not a hug. It was me standing stiff as he attempted to hug me. Anyway! I did not call you here to discuss my past relationship with a now-dead Harbinger."

Harry nodded and decided not to say anything. There had to be some sort of reason as to why Draco had called him to the Hospital Wing and Harry was going to find out. Besides, since Draco was dating Hermione, there would be ample time for more quasi-friendly banter with the bloke. Far be it for Harry to take that right away from Draco—he was dating one third of the Golden Trio. Slytherin sucker or not, Harry was going to bully him because as a self-appointed elder brother, it was his right!

"This…" Draco had no idea what to say. He should've made a script.

"Whatever I'm going to say… you may not believe."

Harry nodded slowly but didn't say anything.

"Why I called you is because I know you are fiercely loyal to Hermione." Despite dating her, very rarely did Draco call Hermione by her first name. Every time he did, though, shivers went up his spine a whole new batch of butterflies went wild in the pit of his stomach. He knew she loved him… but could such a feat be possible for a man like him?

"And, as such, I can infer that for as long as she is with me… you will be loyal to me. Not fiercely, but definitely loyal."

That caught Harry off guard. He was not expecting Draco to have a conversation with him about loyalty. Well, the man definitely knew what loyal was; he was first loyal to his father… and now, he seemed to be very loyal to Hermione. The only thing Draco seemed ever unsure of was being a Death Eater.

"Go… on…" Harry finally said when there was a moment of pause. Draco looked away from him to his own left hand that was gently placed on his lap.

"What if…" Draco looked back up at Harry. "What if Hermione was bound to me for as close to eternity as one could possibly get?"


Draco blinked before rolled his eyes. "What the hell gave you that—" Pause. "Dammit. I only now realize what the hell I said! No, no, I am not proposing to her." But you may as well be, Draco… He tried to squash his thoughts. "But her and I may be… together for a long time. And that is what I wanted to talk to you about."

By this point, Harry was confused.

Well, more confused than he was walking in to the Hospital Wing.

"Alright, Malfoy. Can you please start from the beginning?! After seven years of chasing Voldemort, I have grown tired of cryptic." Harry rubbed his temples and Draco decided to just verbal diarrhea the whole situation to the man. Beating around the bushes was not going to get him to where he wanted to be in the conversation. So, what was the next best thing?

Tell Harry everything.

So Draco did. He told Harry about Blaise abdicating, the Transferal of Powers, and the bodies needed in order to complete his coronation: how Blaise was to be his Darzulf, Hermione to be his Lady of Eternity… how he needed a Darharkt, and two members on his Biwheg. Draco watched as the expressions changed on Harry's face: shock, disbelief, even more shock, and finally intense thought.

"And as a result of everything," Draco just didn't tell Harry about the whole transforming into a semi-dragon thing. He felt that Harry wouldn't appreciate his best friend being in somewhat danger (though Draco felt that he would never have hurt Hermione, even in a state of dragon). "My arm looks like this." Draco undid his makeshift sling to reveal his scaled dragon arm.

Harry sucked in a gasp when he saw the shiny scales that covered what once used to be Draco's arm. He leaned forward, just slightly, to get a better look. "Is it permanent?"

"No… well… yes? I mean, if I were to get coroneted it would go away. Otherwise… no…"

"And you can't assume the throne until you have all members chosen?"

"Not necessarily. I can have the elders select everybody for me, but Hermione is adamant that I choose my men and not a bunch of old crows." Draco shrugged. "Apparently old and experienced retired dragons won't make the right choice?"

Harry rolled his eyes. "It's because it's not Hermione making the choice." Draco was amused that Harry was able to crack a joke at a time like that.

"Question," Harry was twiddling his thumbs together. "As I am not a dragon, but you and Zabini are… would I have issues travelling to this… Thaczil?"

"No. I asked Blaise's dad that… any non-dragons can travel safely but only for a short period of time. I don't think I'd have to have both of you there for an extended period of time… and Blaise is a dragon regardless, so he can stay there if any unforeseen circumstances should occur." Draco had thought of that point and was ready to answer.

Harry slouched in his chair. "Mate, this is a lot to take in."

"You're telling me," Draco gestured to his arm. "I'm in a state of half-human and half-dragon. I have no bloody idea what the fuck I'm doing."

"I feel sorry for you." Harry snickered. "But I am so bloody glad it isn't me this time around."

"I feel like I should apologize for making fun of you for being the Boy Who Lived."

"I ought'a start calling you the Boy Who Dragoned."

"Man," Draco smirked. "I'm the Man who Dragoned. You were just a boy when you lived."

Harry groaned. "That was not at all funny, Malfoy. Now, getting back on track—when'd you need to know by?"

"I was hoping now?"

"I need to think things through." Harry murmured. "What about tonight? Before midnight I'll have you an answer?"

Draco deemed that to be fair. He did spring everything onto Harry rather suddenly, and was surprised the man was taking it so well. "That sounds good. Just don't go blabbing your mouth off to everyone. Blaise and Hermione are the only two that know."

"Then I shall discuss with Hermione." Harry said as he stood up. "Any ideas on who'll be on the Biwheg?"


"Perhaps you should consider a Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff."

Draco cocked an eyebrow and Harry crossed his arms. "The Sorting Hat prophecy? He had mentioned all houses… and if Blaise and I were to be your advisors, that's two of the four houses being represented in Thaczil."

"Are you saying you'll do it?"

"No, I am simply stating that if I were to accept."

Draco chewed on his bottom lip. Harry did have a good point… "I hadn't thought of that, but I suppose it's something to consider." A Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff hmmm?

"I suppose I'll see you tonight, Malfoy?"

Draco nodded and watched Harry's retreating figure.

Who could I—Draco paused. Tonks… She's a Hufflepuff. Well, it was time to get to know his Cousin Nymphadora just a little bit better.

Chapter 32: Cauili di Shehad

Blaise, Theodore and Adrian were blabbering incessantly just half a step behind Hermione as she led the group towards the Hospital Wing. Occasionally she would tune her hearing in—their conversation jumped from Quidditch to school to Draco to the House Cup and to their plethora of projects. Hermione heaved a heavy sigh; it seemed like just yesterday she was worried about how to get through the many projects she had but now, all of a sudden, she was worried about Draco's arm and the whole Dragon thing.

Who was I kidding? Hermione snorted to herself. This will be anything but a normal school year.

"DUCK!" Blaise roared but not soon enough. Hermione looked straight ahead to have an overgrown barn owl fly directly into her face. Spluttering, Hermione stepped backwards and Theo grabbed her by the waist to steady her.

"You alright?" He asked, worriedly. Hermione nodded and regained her composure. Theodore released his hold from her waist but opted to wrap an arm around her shoulders instead. Adrian had his arms crossed as Blaise went to check up on the owl; it seemed to be unhurt. The owl recovered and flew off, leaving a letter in its wake.

Blaise picked it up: "For you, Hermione."

Hermione took the letter from his outstretched hand and immediately recognized the handwriting: it was from Gabriella Mitt, her muggle best friend and confidant.

Theo poked her cheek. "You going to read it, Hermione?"

Hermione rolled her eyes and shrugged his arm off her shoulder. "Yes, but in my Common Room. You lot are nosey and I'll not be reading my letter here."

"Darn." Adrian playfully snapped his fingers. "I was hoping to see which bloke, other than Draco, you've enticed."

Hermione rolled her eyes, again. "The 'I' in Hermione is dotted with a heart—I'd say the handwriting is rather feminine." The boys chuckled, loving how easy it was to rile the Gryffindor girl up. The girls in Slytherin were never so easy to speak to and it was rather refreshing to have a new brain to banter with. None of the Slytherins ever wanted to date anybody outside of the house… mainly because they all thought they were better than everybody else, but also because they feared persecution from their peers. Draco, clearly, didn't give a rat's arse and followed his heart.

Something the three boys respected deeply.

"Shall we go see Draco, then?" Blaise interjected. Hermione, Adrian, and Theodore nodded and they were off on their way again, just one corridor away from the Hospital Wing.


The Cuaili di Shehad – or, the Room of Royals in the mortal tongue – inside if Rilark Zabini was filled with the many members of Kapral Zabini's assembly: his advisors Ixen and Xarzith, his Lady of Eternity Lise, his wife Aurelia, the members of his Biwheg and the Wadoya. Maximus called for the assembly and promptly brought his wife over to Thaczil; he deemed the meeting to be pertinent before the crowning of Draconis Malfoy as the new heir to Thaczil.

"Darastrixi!" (Dragons) Maximus roared, his voice mirroring the tone of his inner beast. "Vi z'ar dian tepohaic lleisgartor." (A new dawn has risen) Cheers were heard from every corner of the Cuaili, but they were not cheers of excitement. Many members of the assembly were distraught that the Zabini reign was coming to an end. After many millennia, the unthinkable was happening.

"Wer Malfoy Clan geou jaka tuka!" (The Malfoy Clan will now reign) Maximus raised an arm to stop the shouts. "Si tor batobot wux tekilek wer ghergo kapral." (I ask that you respect the young emperor). Maximus scanned the eyes of his people.

Of his dara.

"Kapral Malfoy will be an honourable and great ruler." Maximus bellowed. "Rilark Zabini will be proud and honoured to become Rilark Malfoy. Our young Kapral is currently selecting his council—I am honoured and blessed," Maximus bowed his head, "that he is considering my son—the abdicated heir—as his Darzulf."

Maximus allowed for cheers at that moment. He knew his assembly was glad one member of the Zabini Clan would be part of the new reign.

"Upon his coronation, I will step down and replace juanth Kapral Bytooxis on the Wadoya."

An older dragon with a grand moustache coming out of his nostrils nodded his head in respect. Maximus bowed his head in return. "Juanth Kapral Bytooxis will leave the assembly and lead a normal life until he returns to the vignari… to the ashes."

Both joyous and saddened cheers filled the Cuaili. Joy, because all dara look forward to returning to the ashes that they were born from, and sad because their long-time friend from centuries old, Bytooxis, will no longer be with them.

"Alas! The universe is such that happiness cannot exist without pain," Maximus reasoned. "Let us raise our goblets and drink to this occasion. Perhaps it is high time that Thaczil had a new ruler with a fresh pair of eyes. Pour your Wicken Root and let us dance the night away!" Maximus raised his goblet with his right hand and wrapped his left around Aurelia's waist. Lise stepped up to stand to Maximus' right.

"Do you think your new Kapral will do well, Maximus?" She has, her accent thick with the dragon tongue.

"He will." Maximus kept his eyes trained on his people. Aurelia glanced at Lise, her rival for time but her companion as well. Lise had vied for Maximus' love, but in the end Aurelia had been the one to be in his favour. Unfortunately, she had turned down the role of Lady of Eternity, at which point Maximus turned to Lise. It wasn't because he loved her. He did care, deeply, but he knew because of Lise's love for him, she would always strive to keep him anchored.

"Draco is a smart boy," Aurelia murmured. "He and Blaise grew up together. If anybody could rule Thaczil with an iron fist, it'd be him. That I can promise you."

Lise's deep brown eyes flickered to Aurelia before returning to watch the drinking dragons. Lise pressed her goblet to her lips. "I pray that you are right, Kapraliv."


Now there was a title Aurelia did not hear frequently. Only when she spoke to those native to Thaczil did her true title be used…

Kapraliv. But not for much longer…


Oh, Hermione! I could've told you that you loved the boy—augh! I am so excited and happy for you! Hermione's eyes skimmed over Gabriella's letter as Draco joked around and talked with his mates. He slipped his dragon arm into makeshift sling to keep it hidden and, in Hermione's opinion, it worked out very well.

Weird, Hermione thought. I don't remember posting the letter?

Perhaps she did but she didn't recall? She was going through a great number of things.

It is very much possible to fall in love so quickly. To be frank, the both of you have such an intense history that nobody could possibly question your love for him. I mean, the man saved you but this also isn't a case of Stockholm-Syndrome as… well… he didn't kidnap you. Hermione had to roll her eyes at that one.

You should tell him. Forget what he could be feeling, you need to tell him how you feel. Just watch! You're going to contemplate the pros and cons of telling the man… and there ARE no cons, by the way (him not loving you back isn't an option based on what you're telling me), and then the next big adventure is going to happen and there will no longer be a perfect time to tell him how you feel.

Trust me on this one, will you? I've always been the smarter one and whatever I say somehow, always, seems to come true. You should be of the mindset to always trust me by now, Hermione. Tell the bloke you love him, make loads of babies and make me an auntie? But not yet, you're still young… just, go with the confessing your love bit right now.

Hermione's eyes were wide reading her friend's letter. Gabriella, truly, was insane!

But I somehow get the feeling there is more to the story than you're letting me believe. That's okay, though… you have a strange life and I will never hold it against you to withhold certain facts from me. If, somehow, this means that you cannot come visit me for Halloween, I'll forgive you this year Hermione Jean. But, next year, you and Draco better come to my shindig… and maybe even for Christmas this year? Please? I want to meet the man, goddammit!

Okay, enough pestering from my end. Let me give a quick update on me: Jeremy and I are now officially dating! He's such a sweetheart… so kind… considerate… caring… I know, the usual. The only thing he has going against him is he was never my mortal enemy turned boyfriend but hey, we all can't live fairy tale lives, now can we?

Hermione gawked. He was never MY mortal enemy, Gab. She corrected internally.

Write back soon!

Love you,


Hermione, carefully, folded the letter and tucked it into her pocket before turning her attention to a laughing Draco and a very much embarrassed Theodore. Adrian was hanging off of one of footboard of the hospital bed and Blaise was doubled over, clutching his belly from all the laughing that he was doing.

"Are you for real, man?!" Draco bellowed and Theodore glowered at him.

"Cut it out, Malfoy. If you weren't hospitalized, I would've sent you here myself!"

Hermione stood up from the chair to the right of Draco's hospital bed. "What are you lot guffawing at?!"

The four boys turned to her. Draco grinned, toothily, and her heart began pounding uncontrollably.

"Can't tell you, Granger. This is men's talk."

Hermione snorted. "I daresay, it's 'Little Boys' talk'."

Straightening up, Blaise adjusted his robe and playfully glared at Hermione. "You are a stuck up prick, you know that, Gryffindor?"

"I do."

"Good." Blaise snickered. "Now, men, let's depart and let this love birds catch up. It took Gryffindor there quite some time to read her lover's letter."

Theodore smirked. "The 'I' was dotted with a heart, so clearly it's from a girl." His tone was mocking and even Hermione had to laugh at him teasing her. One by one, the boys gave her a hug goodbye before leaving the Hospital Wing, leaving Hermione and Draco alone.

Hermione slid onto the hospital bed beside Draco and interlaced her fingers through his left hand. Draco rubbed his thumb in circles just over the junction of her thumb. "Gabriella wrote to you?" He asked, trying to keep his voice level. If his assumption was correct, this would've been the first letter Gabriella sent since he sent out the one where it said she loved him.

Hermione nodded. "Yes she did."

"And what did she say?"

"Nothing of importance."

My perfect Malfoy behind! Draco wanted to call her out on her bullshit, but didn't have the chops to do it. She would definitely get upset at him for reading her private letter that was addressed to her best friend. Best keep some facts to yourself, Draco. He told himself.

"Fine. Come here, will you Granger?" Draco tugged at her until she was lying atop him on the bed. Hermione smiled and gently gave him a peck before snuggling up against his perfectly toned chest.

"Why'd you want to see Harry?"

She was listening to his rhythmic heartbeat. It was calming her… relaxing her…

"Asked him to be my Darharkt." Draco said without hesitation. Hermione thought he was going to beat around the bushes… but apparently not. Their relationship was definitely a lot more mature than she had expected… but that was a good surprise.

"What did he say?"

"That he'd think about it."

Sounds like a Harry Potter answer. Hermione thought.

"Does he know about—"

"He knows everything, Granger."

Hermione chewed on her bottom lip. "You weren't afraid he'll tell everybody?"

"Not at all." Draco was running his fingers down the length of her back. "He is fiercely loyal to you. If he tells anybody about me, he's telling everybody about your secret too—your boyfriend is a dragon emperor. He won't tell anybody. The weasel, though, probably would."

Hermione giggled. "Will you stop bullying my friends?"

"It's just so easy, Granger." Draco chuckled, his chest rumbling.

With that, they were enveloped in comfortable silence. To Hermione, this was home. Being in Draco's arms was the most comfortable thing she could ever experience—every time she was wrapped up in him, all her worries and troubles disappeared. For Draco, though, having Hermione in his arms was his life. He couldn't even begin to fathom a world before Granger, which was ironic as she was just a recent addition to his life. She completed him, made up for everything he lacked, and grounded him.

Throwing himself in front of that curse for her was probably the best thing he could've possibly done.

"Potter was saying," Draco hated to break the silence, but he did have things to tell his girlfriend. "That I should consider a Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw to be on my council of advisors."

Hermione glanced up to look at him, her chin resting on his chest. "Oh?"

Draco nodded and brought his head up to gently kiss her forehead. "Yeah. Something about the Sorting Hat prophecy… it makes sense. If Potter accepts, I'll have Slytherin and Gryffindor represented through my wingmen. If I am to select two members on my Biwheg, both Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw can be represented as well."

"Any potential candidates?" Hermione cocked an eyebrow.

"I was thinking my cousin Tonks for the Hufflepuff." Draco murmured and Hermione nodded.

"Sounds like a good choice. And Ravenclaw?"

"Perhaps that Lovegood girl," Draco breathed. "She, truthfully, is the only Ravenclaw I know anyway."

Hermione laughed. "Don't be silly. Those are good choices, though… but would Tonks accept? Does their lifespan need to be lengthened to match yours?" Draco watched as his girlfriend spewed out her sensible questions… as she always did. "And if Tonks were to lengthen her lifespan, would she? Could Remus and Teddy also lengthen theirs?"

"I haven't thought of those questions yet, Granger." Draco rolled his eyes. "When Maxy boy comes, I'll ask him… happy?"

"I'm only asking for your benefit, Draco." Hermione muttered before resting her head back against his chest.

"I know you are, bookworm." His voice purred. "Can we put business behind us for a moment, though?"

Giggling, Hermione decided to get up off of him and sit down on the chair beside his bed. "Fine. Business is behind us—what now?"

"When the bloody hell can I leave the Hospital Wing?"

Hermione crossed her arms. "How am I supposed to answer that?"

Right on cue, Madam Pomfrey strolled up to Draco's hospital bed with a canteen of some sort. "Drink up, boy." Draco sent Hermione a pleading look as he began to drink the concoction and she knew he wanted her to ask Madam Pomfrey.

Fine. She'd do it.

"Madam Pomfrey…"

The nurse glanced up at Hermione. "Yes, Miss. Granger?"

"When can Draco take his leave from the Hospital Wing?"

Madam Pomfrey began to untie his sling. "You should be ready for discharge tonight, Mr. Malfoy. But refrain from revealing your right arm—keep it in the sling until Headmistress McGonagall has figured out what to do." Madam Pomfrey also whispered an afterthought, more to herself than the couple, but to keep things hidden from the head of the nurses?! What is Minerva thinking?!

After she completed her checkup, Poppy scurried off to the next bed. Draco smiled over at his girlfriend. "Discharge tonight. It's Sunday, Granger… care to take a stroll with me?"

Hermione smiled. "I'd love to." She leaned forward and met Draco halfway for a chaste peck before the couple began talking about irrelevant things—anything that had nothing to do with dragons, Hogwarts, or a scaly arm.


Harry was sitting in the courtyard, lost in thought. Everything Draco said to him sounded like a story! But Harry was in no position to question the legitimacy of Draco's story; Harry was subject to unfathomable suffering for the better part of his life, and all of that sounded like a story!

He felt somewhat honoured that Draco thought of him to be one of his advisors. It meant that Draco was beginning to accept those around him, and that meant that for the little time Hermione had been part of his life, she had already changed him.

But what about lifespan? Harry knew that he probably had to undergo some sort of ritual to extend his lifespan, if that feat were to be possible. He rubbed his hands over his face and inhaled deeply—he couldn't talk to Ginny because she didn't know about Draco's lineage. His only options were Blaise and Hermione…

He wasn't going to talk to Blaise, but he had an inkling where Hermione was.

Might as well talk to her and Draco at the same time… Harry thought as he pushed himself off of the stone bench he was sitting on. He already knew what he was going to do… he just needed to rationalize his thoughts before he vocalized them.


Cousin Tonks,

Trust you are doing well? I need to discuss a very important matter with you. It has nothing to do with Voldemort or the Death Eaters… this is something else altogether. I can hope that you understand I have no other option, hence me owling you.

If you would let me, may we meet at Diagon Alley or Hogsmead? Today would be preferable…

Send Aunt Andromeda my love.


Nymphadora Lupin read the letter four times before heading over to her small writing desk. She had no idea what her cousin was up to, but as her Black family blood was cursed— her curiosity got the best of her.

She poised her quill over a small parchment, her owl resting on her shoulder.

Cousin Draco,

I will meet you at the Leakey Cauldron. I will wait no longer past midnight.



Okay so! I have been working on editing and ironing out the plot holes :D I will be actively updating here and Archive of our Own. Because I'm going to be editing it all, all chapters will be removed and I will update regularly!

First second and third chapters should be released next week!

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