Happy Birthday, Gwen! Bonne Aniversaire!

This story, my first ever Draco/Hermione, is for my very own wonderful cousin. Much love from across the pond from your best cousin!

Part Two will come out later!

A bleak, dreary day dawned cold and rainy in middle of November, torrents of rain beating down on the grounds of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. No one stayed outside for long- Care of Magical Creatures had been cancelled, and Herbology students were racing through the mud to take shelter under the greenhouses.

A small girl, a woman really, was curled up in one of the many windows in Hogwarts that had a stone ledge wide enough to sit on. She had to be cold- gooseflesh covered her bare legs and she was shivering slightly. Her riotous hair filled the space between her head and the wall as she gazed out into the stormy day, arms wrapped around her knees. The Gryffindor tie was perfectly knotted, as usual, her shirt crisp and tucked into her skirt neatly, and her prefect's badge gleamed red and gold on her black robes. But something wasn't right about Hermione Granger.

Her face was drawn, expressionless as she stared down at the frothing lake and the muddied grass. The large brown eyes that were normally alight with either quiet intelligence or vivacious passion had dulled, for whatever reason, and her teeth were worrying one corner of her small pink mouth.

The brisk tap of elegant shoes on stone floor didn't even faze the Gryffindor- it was only when the footsteps stopped and the man making them stared at her that she looked away from the rain.

"Granger?" he asked incredulously. "What extreme emergency dragged you away from classes? A fire? Hurricane? An envelope full of pus again?"

Hermione sighed, a spark of anger lighting her eyes before it faded and she turned her attention back to the window. "You're not in class either, Malfoy."

The blonde aristocrat eyed her warily. "What? No ferret jokes?"

"You must be mistaking me for Harry," Hermione said, a hint of humor in her voice. "Although if you miss it… I can certainly oblige." Her eyes flickered toward him, and she gave him a wry half smile. Something was moving behind it though- a thought, or an emotion just behind the curve of her lips.

Draco Malfoy folded his arms, leaning against the other side of the window. His piercing grey eyes scanned her defenseless pose; she had yet to even make a move toward her wand. She just sat, breathing so slowly he could hardly see her chest rise. (Of course he was looking. He was Draco Malfoy, a healthy, red-blooded young wizard.)

"Where are the Potty and the Weasel?" he said half-heartedly, tilting his head to look at Granger disinterestedly. He didn't want his curiosity to show- but if Potter was fighting with his pet brain… His father- if he could pass this information on to his father-

He had expected to her to stiffen, and attack like the kitten she was. Instead, she just shrugged. "We aren't attached at the hip."

He snorted, relaxing a fraction against the cold, hard wall at his back. "And they can remember to breathe without you reminding them every three seconds?"

"No," Hermione replied, face straight. "But I wrote it on Lavender's arse to make sure Ron doesn't forget."

Draco was so surprised, he let out a short bark of laughter. "I didn't know you had a sense of humor, Granger."

"I didn't know you knew my last name, Malfoy," she countered, meeting his mercury gaze with eyes so dark, they appeared black set in her pale face. But he knew they were honey and chocolate, tawny gold. "Calling me a Mudblood doesn't amuse you anymore?"

That made Draco uncomfortable, and he looked away, to the cold day outside the window. Raindrops ran down the glass, the beads falling faster as the rain picked up. The trees didn't sway in the wind- the seemed battered by it, cowering from the fists of water pounding down on them. "I've been reminded recently that the walls have ears, Granger."

She smirked. "Wise, Malfoy. You never know when a little bug might be listening." Her eyes flashed, and darted over to him before returning to an impassive state.

Luckily, he could control when he flushed. "Indeed."

"So why are you out of class?" Hermione asked suddenly, glancing toward him again. There was a flicker of curiosity in her face, a slight lift of the eyebrows, a tilt of the head.

He regarded her imperiously through hooded eyes. "I didn't feel like it." I need to work on a way of getting my fellow Death Eaters into the school so that they can kill you while I kill Dumbledore.

"Me either," Hermione said, sadness drifting across her face. "Today is a melancholy day."

Draco frowned, scanning her face. "What?" The pattering of the raindrops nearly drowned out her voice, and she had spoken in such a quiet tone it would have been hard to make out in the first place.

"Melancholy, Malfoy," she repeated. "A pervading sense of sadness."

He caught on quickly- whatever Draco Malfoy was, at least he was also intelligent. "A long lasting, pervading depression." Arms still folded loosely across his chest, he projected haughtiness as he asked the first tugging question that leapt to the forefront. "What does the Gryffindor golden girl have to be depressed about?"

"Wouldn't you like to know, Malfoy," she asked sarcastically, resting her head on the rainy window.

He shrugged. "I would, actually," he answered. Any information you give me might save my father a Crucio later.

She was surprised at that. Slowly, she turned her large brown eyes on him. "Do you ever wonder if we are going to make it out of this war alive?" Her voice was steady- he knew if he had asked the same question in her position, his voice would have cracked or trembled.

"War?" He hated sounding clueless, but he wondered how Granger would react. "I-"

Tossing her hair back, she finally looked at him with her old fire in her eyes. "Don't act the fool, Malfoy. You know we're moving closer and closer to the epicenter of the greatest war the Wizarding world has known since the 1940's. The last time we've seen anything this bad was fifteen years ago, and the blubbering masses are still afraid to say the instigator's name."

The bitterness in her voice was surprising. "We have yet to-"

"No," Hermione snapped. "This has begun. Or did Daddy forget to tell you about the fun we had at the Ministry? One of his friends gave me a pretty little scar, I'm sure he would have mentioned that?"

That gave him pause. He knew about the disastrous excursion to the Ministry- it was why his father was in Azkaban for Merlin's sake- but he had forgotten Granger had gotten hurt. He thought back to those painful, humiliating days after the O.W.L.'s. Granger hadn't been seen until the train ride home. It was possible that she was in the Hospital Wing in that time.

"If there is a war, then we are on opposite-" he stopped quickly, eyes narrowing. "You can't trick me that easily, Granger."

She glanced up at him, then laughed. "I wasn't trying to trick you, Malfoy," she replied, baring her teeth. "I just asked a simple question. Do you think you are going to get out of this alive?"

He considered his options for a moment- he was a Slytherin, after all. He could make a blithe comment about the slipperiness of snakes, or the affluence (desperately faded now, but what did Granger know about the intricacies of pureblood society?) of the Malfoys, or- he could tell the truth.


This surprised her- her eyes widened and her mouth rounded slightly. But the she smiled in the same way she had been smiling. A melancholy smile. "Me either."

"Then why stay?" he asked, moving from leaning against the wall to sitting at the opposite end of the window seat. He felt the urge to lean forward intently, but shoved it back as he tried to maintain (any sort) of his dignity. "You know how to live as a Muggle- and you have no ties to the Wizarding World. You could leave- move to France, hop across the pond to the United States, hell, go to Brazil! You could get away from this madness that-"

She glared at him, stopping him in his tracks. "I couldn't leave. I promised Harry- so did Ron. We'll stick with him the bitter end no matter what."

"How sentimental," he sneered. "I would never have thought that a girl with your intelligence would stay in a dangerous war-zone for friendship."

"And I would never have thought a boy as smart as you are would make a mistake as glaringly obvious and that necklace," Hermione shot back. It was almost comical, she thought, to see the horror and realization going through him.

Draco's mouth went dry, and he could feel the blood rushing in his ears. She knows. She knows I have to kill-

"Of course I figured it out," Hermione said, almost gently. "I don't know what your final aim is, Malfoy, but try not to put innocent people in the way next time. And-" she broke off, looking outside again before meeting his silvery eyes. "That necklace could have killed Katie. That leads me to the conclusion that you wanted to kill someone-"

"Who wants to kill anyone?" he hissed at her, anger coursing through his body. She acted like she understood him, like she knew what it was like, as if-

She raised an eyebrow. "All of this is conjecture, if it makes you feel any better," she said pinning him with a knowing stare. "Anyway, for some reason, unknown to me, you were trying to smuggle a dangerous cursed object into the castle. Presumably to result in someone's death. And because the only th-two people in the castle worth killing are totally obvious, I'm going to guess Dumbledore because you could have gotten Harry in Hogsmeade."

Her powers of deduction were frightening him. They didn't call her the brightest witch of the age for nothing. But even as he wondered how he could get out of this one, she continued. "I may be wrong," she was saying quietly. "I'm hoping I am. You're not a killer, Malfoy. And Albus Dumbledore-"

"Do not presume to know what I am," he whispered harshly. "And saying all this in broad daylight, in the middle of a corridor-"

Hermione smiled self-depreciatingly. "That would be pretty stupid, if that was what was actually going on. I know a handy little spell that insures privacy. We can hear out, no one else can hear in. And considering anyone standing outside the window would have to know some way of eavesdropping at least- we're on the sixth floor, so let's say fifty-five feet up in the air, and in this weather."

"And what makes you think I wouldn't just Oblivate you here and now?" he asked, stomach twisting as he thought about it. He wasn't quite sure it was wise to threaten Hermione Granger, but he would try anyway.

Of course, she called his bluff. "You could, I suppose," Hermione said with a shrug. "At the moment, I can't seem to find enough energy to care. And I would just think it all over again later and come up with the same theory."

"What makes you think it was me?" he asked finally, at a loss for words. "What reasons could you possibly use to pin this on me?"

Hermione sighed, pressing the side of her head to the chilly window. "Several. Madame Malkins. Borgin and Burkes. The fact that you purposely got detention on the first Hogsmeade weekend. Professor McGonagall never lets anyone get away with not doing their homework and you failed to turn it in twice."

While he was floundering for words, she sighed again, closing her eyes for a long moment before slowly opening them again. "So what are you going to do now?"

"What do you mean, Granger?" he asked, feeling exhaustion sinking into his bones. It was bloody cold there. What was Granger doing at this window in the first place?

She yawned, covering her small pink mouth with a dainty hand. "You can ignore what I just told you. You can Oblivate me, and hope I don't make the same conclusions. Or you could go to Professor Dumbledore."

She yawned again, and moved her legs to the floor, standing slowly. "I'm not going to say anything," Hermione told him, face as serious as he had ever seen it. "Professor Dumbledore is far more intelligent that I am, and he probably knew the moment Professor McGonagall told him Katie was cursed. He can help you, if you want to be helped."

"And my family?" Draco asked, anger fading to helplessness. "The old man may be brilliant, but he's not a miracle worker."

Hermione stretched, blinking rapidly. "I never said he could walk on water. I just said he might help."

What on earth is she talking about? Of course Dumbledore can walk on water, he's a wizard for Merlin's sake. Draco stood as well, regarding her from his impressive height. She barely came up to his chest. "I don't know what I'm going to do."

She hesitated for a moment, biting her lip as she considered. "If you ever need to talk you know where to find me," she told him gravely. "No judgments."

"Sure," he drawled as sarcastically as he could. "And Weasley finally saved a goal and Potter developed more than three brain cells."

She laughed sadly. "Who knows?" she said wistfully. "It might happen."

They stood looking at each other cautiously. "I'll see you around, Malfoy," she said finally. "Don't do anything stupid."

"Bye, Granger," said Malfoy flatly. "Do us all a favor and tell Weasley that chocolate cake grows at the bottom of the Black Lake. Maybe he'll believe you and get eaten by the giant squid."

"Funny," she said, rolling her eyes. "Believe me, I would. Except I share a dorm with Lavender and she would be unbearable." With a wave of her hand, she started to walk away.

Before he could think it through, his hand darted forward to grab her wrist. It was small and fragile under his fingers, a tiny pulse beating underneath the cool skin. "Wait," he said, unnecessarily. "Why were you here?"

Her lips quirked up into a small smile again. "Sometimes it's exhausting to be Hermione Granger," she informed him. "Stuck with two boys like- well, like Harry and Ron. Too many thoughts, all at the same time. And then, every once in a while, a thread of doubt and a worry about my mortality."

He released her arm, and she left.

This is Part One. Part Two will come out in a few days.

Hope you had a great birthday, ma belle. Tu me manques.

Love, ausland.

Review, please! I've never written Draco/ Hermione before, and I'm a little down because of some not-so-nice reviews I've been getting on my other story. Once I find the time to finish the other half of this, I'll post it.