In the Arms of Her Dragon

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

.xx.

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.

Alright.

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 is 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).

Preface~

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.

Chapter 1~

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?

Thought 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 aroused 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.

.xx.

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 needs so she could, potentially, give him what he wants.

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 lightening 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 the 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."

You 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.

.xx.

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 waved 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 I is 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.

.xx.

Draco was amused, so to speak. He would never have thought that the term of their relationship would be a concern to Hermione. But then again, the term 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 apt concentration.

Any future he had with Hermione depended on it.

Life is a risk, bookworm. You won't know unless you dive in to 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.

.xx.

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.

.xx.

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.

.xx.

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 the 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 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.

.xx.