Yay! Here's chapter 8!
I am so sorry there is so much time between posts right now! I am so sorry! *insert gif of a sad tenth Doctor here* Please forgive me! And please don't give up on this story! :)
I don't own any characters that you recognize. And also, thank you to harmswife for beta-ing this story for me!
Now, onwards with the story!
Hermione's face was buried in someone's black robes. Whoever this was had good taste, she thought as she breathed in as best as she could and smelled the expensive cologne clinging to the body. She groaned and tried to shift herself. The person she was laying on top of tried to do the same thing at the same time. Both of them froze, trying to keep the awkwardness to a minimum. Hermione lifted her head.
A pair of silver eyes stared back at her.
"Gah!" Hermione said as she ungracefully began to throw her arms around, trying her hardest to find purchase on the ground so she could lift herself up. Finally finding it, she rolled over before scrambling up and onto her feet.
The blond remained on his back on the floor, looking completely and totally shocked and uncertain of what to do. "Um," he managed. He glanced up at at Hermione and gave her a sheepish grin. "Hey."
"Get up, boy," a deep voice scolded. Hermione glanced up to see Professor Snape watching the other man with a frown. She could have sworn she caught a glint of amusement in his dark eyes.
She stared back down at the man lying on the floor. He flashed her another grin before lifting himself off of the ground with much more grace than she had. She frowned at him when he offered his hand to her. "Oh, come on, Granger," he said. "I'm not that bad anymore." Draco Malfoy reached out and took her hand from her side, shook it, and let it fall back to its place again. He smirked. "It's not everyday someone can render Granger speechless, is it, Uncle Severus?"
Snape grunted. "I've managed just fine," he said.
"What's he doing here?" Hermione asked, still trying to process the fact that Draco Malfoy was, in fact, here in the castle.
"He's here because I asked him to be," was Snape's response.
"To be quite honest," Malfoy said with a shrug, "I'm not totally sure why I'm here. I mean, I know about Severus' little... ah, predicament, shall we say." He brushed off his robes and swept his gaze over Hermione before turning back to Snape. "You look good, by the way," he said. His eyes were focused on Snape but he was obviously talking to her. She frowned. "Anyway," he continued, "I know about his problem. But I'm not exactly sure what I'm supposed to do about it."
Snape crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm only going to say this once." He looked from Malfoy to Hermione and back again. "You two are the best potions students I've ever taught before. Therefore, I've decided I need your help."
Malfoy grinned. "You've gone soft since the war, Uncle," he said. "You just complimented me."
"He's complimented me a few times as well," Hermione said, shooting a sly smile in Malfoy's direction.
"Well duh," Malfoy answered, as though he knew why and she should have, too.
Hermione frowned. Snape glared at Malfoy. "As I was saying," he said sternly, "I need your help. Come to my office this evening, both of you. Seven should suffice. We need to get started as soon as we can."
"Get started doing what?" Malfoy asked as the doors to the Great Hall swung open.
All three of them turned to see Severus standing there, frowning. "There you are," he said to Hermione. "Ginny and I had been wondering where you'd gotten off to." He took one look at Draco and smirked. "You must be a Malfoy," he said.
"Merlin," Malfoy breathed.
"Yes, people do confuse us on a rather regular basis. Actually, it's Snape. Russell Snape."
"Liar," Malfoy snapped before smiling and a wink. "You're name isn't Russell. It's Severus, isn't it?" He turned back to his Uncle. "Merlin," he said again. "That's you? You didn't tell me you were so... is charming the word I'm looking for?" He glanced at Hermione.
"No, I think egotistical is more like it."
"You're right that charming isn't the right word. But I don't think egotistical is quite it, either." He smirked and glanced back at his uncle. "You aren't exactly a looker, but there is something about you that seems to be undeniably attractive..."
"Draco," Snape snapped.
Draco grinned wider. "Sorry," he said. He turned to Hermione and winked. "I'm sure you can't help but notice, either."
Severus had crossed his arms over his chest. "I'm still here, you know. And it's more than slightly weird to have you complimenting me like that."
Snape glared at Severus. "You need to get out of here," he said.
"But sir," Hermione said, taking a step closer to Severus. "He's you. He might be helpful as well."
"No," Snape said immediately.
"Why not?" Severus and Draco asked simultaneously.
"I'll tell you later," he said to Hermione as though it had been her who had asked the question.
Severus snorted. "Of course you will. It would make too much sense to tell yourself, wouldn't it?"
"Shut it," Snape snarled at him. "Go back to your breakfast."
Severus frowned. He approached Hermione and leaned down to whisper in her ear. "You will tell me later, won't you?"
Hermione shivered as his breath brushed across her ear and neck. She shook her head. "Not if he says not to," she murmured back.
He growled softly as he stepped back. "Fine," he grumbled. "See you later, I guess."
Hermione nodded. She watched as he walked back into the Great Hall, letting the doors close behind him. She felt a pair of eyes on her and turned to Malfoy. He was staring at her with amusement. He waggled his eyebrows suggestively and winked. She frowned and glared at him. "Don't say a damn thing, Malfoy."
"Oh, come on, Granger. We'll be working with each other. The least you can do is call me by my given name."
"Only if that's what you want, Ferret."
Hermione saw Snape smirk and smiled with satisfaction. "Ouch," was Malfoy's response.
"You two, seven, my office," Snape said before striding towards the dungeons, robes swirling around him.
"Not even a 'Hello, Draco' or a 'Nice to see you too, Draco'," Malfoy muttered as he watched the receding figure of the professor. He turned to Hermione and grinned. "So, what have you been up to, Hermione?" he asked. "Other than hanging around with Little Snape, I mean."
Hermione frowned. "Oh please, Malfoy," she said. "Does Snape know?"
Draco paled. "About what?"
Hermione grinned. "He doesn't."
"You don't, either."
"Oh, please," Hermione said. "Everything about you screams it."
"What?" he asked.
"Do you even bother try to hide it?" She paused for a moment. "I suppose you do if not even your godfather knows. But you do a horrible job of it."
He rolled his eyes. "Since when were you the expert?"
She shrugged. "Since my closest Muggle friend is."
His eyebrows lifted. "And that means you automatically know when someone is or isn't."
"I'm not usually spot on. But you make it easy. You practically have it written across your forehead."
"You do! Admit it. Just admit it."
"Fine! You're right! I got engaged yesterday. How you can tell, I don't know. But jeez. Of course my godfather doesn't know. I haven't had the chance to tell him yet." He crossed his arms over his chest. "We're trying to keep it a secret, mind you, so don't go blabbing it to your friends. Not even Blaise knows yet."
Hermione gaped at him. Engaged? That's definitely not what she thought. She thought he was trying to hide the fact that he was gay. But she supposed it was just as likely that Malfoy was a rich man with decent taste. That didn't explain the comments about Severus, though. "Engaged?"
"To Astoria Greengrass."
"To a woman, nonetheless."
Draco frowned. "Yes?" he said. It sounded more like a question than a statement.
"Could have fooled me," Hermione mumbled back.
Draco nudged her with his elbow and motioned down the hall. "Care to walk and talk? I have a feeling that breakfast is over and I really don't want to be seen just yet."
"How do I know you aren't planning on murdering me and hiding my body?"
"You don't," he said casually, throwing another wink her way. He started down the hall.
She thought for a moment before running after him.
"So how has life been treating you, Granger?" Malfoy asked conversationally when she fell into stride beside him.
"Well enough, I suppose," she said, staring down at her feet as they walked. "How about yourself?"
"Well enough, I suppose," he repeated. She glanced up at him. He was staring straight ahead and smiling slightly. "I've been forgiven of all the wrongdoings I did during the war, I'm engaged to a very beautiful woman, and I'm living rather comfortably."
"You aren't happy, though." Hermione had taken a stab in the dark but the frown that suddenly appeared on his mouth told her she was right.
"How you manage to read people without fail has always impressed me."
"I'm not very good at it, though," she said. "You're just a very readable person."
He smiled a little at that. "Maybe I am. I always have been, I think." He sighed. "You're right, by the way. I'm not exactly happy."
"Why should I tell you?"
Hermione shrugged. "You don't have anyone else to go to." Another guess. Another frown.
"You're supposed to hate me, you know. You're supposed to hate me for what I did and hate me for who I am."
"You're not a bad person," she said thoughtfully. "You were just steered the wrong way."
"Severus says the same thing," he said with another sigh.
"He's right," she said. "I'm willing to listen, you know."
"Alright," he said. "I'm not happy. In fact, I'm miserable. My parents are locked up for good, and while I do think that they got what they deserved, they are still my parents. I have a ton of money, but nothing to do with it and no one to spend it on. I don't like that."
"You donated to the school, didn't you?"
He nodded. "I wasn't sure what else to do," he answered. "I still don't really know what to do. My life is going no where."
"You're getting married."
"We hate each other," he said. "It was an arranged marriage. I was destined to marry her the moment she was born. We really can't stand each other. She hates me for what I did during the war. You know, she had wanted to join the Order but her parents wouldn't let her."
Hermione frowned. "She hates you for being a Death Eater," she said.
He nodded. "Exactly. And I don't exactly like her, either. She's... well, let's just say she's not really my type."
Hermione smirked. She'd been right. "So you are."
Realization dawned on his face. "Oh," he said. "Oh."
"I knew it," she said. "Like I said, you do a terrible job of hiding it."
"Merlin," he said, laughing slightly awkwardly. "How'd you know? Yeah, she's not my type because yeah, I'm gay."
"I knew it," she repeated. "Like I said, I have a Muggle friend who is. He's out, though."
"How'd you know? You're honestly the first person to guess. Not even Severus guessed. I had to tell him."
"It's hard not to guess when you're talking about how good looking Severus is."
He laughed again. "Oh, Little Severus. I guess that would have made it a little more obvious. Again, not my type. Not exactly good looking, either. Like I said there's just-"
"Something about him," Hermione said, finishing his sentence. "Yeah, I know."
Draco smiled down at her. "Oh, I know you know. Let me guess. His smile."
She frowned. "You didn't even see him smile."
"Older Severus looks about ten years younger when he smiles."
"I knew it," Hermione said, grinning.
Draco nudged her again. "I have a feeling we're going to get along just fine, Granger," he said.
"Hermione," she corrected him.
"Draco," he said, reaching a hand towards her again. This time, she willingly took it. "Draco Malfoy. And not the arrogant bastard you knew in school."
"No, you're a completely new arrogant bastard, aren't you?"
He grinned. "Sure am."
They fell into silence for a few moments. "Have you seen Harry since the war?"
Draco shook his head. "Only pictures and articles in the paper. He looks good, though."
"No flirting with him. I'm certain he doesn't swing your way."
Draco laughed and shook his head. "That's not what I meant. I mean that life has treated him pretty well since the war. He looks like he's recovered."
Hermione shrugged. "Mostly, I suppose. He's been doing better, yeah."
"That's good." He paused. They stepped into the courtyard. Students had begun to mill about, double taking at the sight of the pair. "Shall we go find somewhere a little more secluded?"
"I wouldn't have been able to, you know."
"Been able to what?"
"Do what Potter did. I admire him for it. He's got guts that no one else really has."
"He had to. I'm sure that if you were in the same situation, with not only the Wizarding world but the Muggle one as well resting on your shoulders, you would have done the same."
Draco shook his head. "He was prepared to die," he said. "I don't think I would have been able to do the same. I'm terrified of it. The end, I mean. He was ready to embrace it."
"To save the people he loved and cared about," she said. She thought for a moment. "Harry always says that he wouldn't have been able to do what Snape did."
Draco laughed. "No one could have done what my uncle did. Not even Potter. Not even Dumbledore, I think."
"Probably not," Hermione agreed. "He was prepared to die, too. But he wasn't prepared to do it just once. He was waiting for it everyday for twenty years."
"He's a coward, though," Draco said. "That man is a coward who happened to be given an opportunity to be great."
"That makes him brave."
"A brave coward," Draco agreed. "A very brave coward."
"And a great man."
"Careful, Granger," Draco mock scolded. "You might start sounding as though you like the man."
"I don't exactly despise him."
"And you trust him."
"With my life, I think."
Draco hummed. He glanced at the watch on his wrist. "You don't have classes today, do you?"
"It's Saturday," Hermione said.
"How does a trip to Hogsmeade sound?"
Hermione smiled. "Sure," she said.
"You know," Draco said, "You're rather easy to talk to. I think I see why Potter and Weasley like you so much."
"At first, it was because I was smart and knew the answers to all of our homework."
Draco laughed. "They realized what they were missing, though."
"Eventually," she answered. "Shall we?"
Draco nodded and they started towards the gate of the castle. "Thank you," Draco said suddenly.
"For talking with me. When my uncle told me who it was that we were meeting, I was afraid you were going to leave the moment you saw me."
Hermione nodded. "I thought I was going to, too, to be honest. It was the fact that Snape had been the one to call you there that made me stay."
"You do trust him."
"Good thing, too."
Draco hummed again. "Yes, it is."
A comfortable silence fell over them again. They had nearly arrived at Hogsmeade when Hermione spoke up again. "You were talking about Blaise before. Do you two still talk?"
"Yeah," he said. "On occasion."
"You guys were pretty close in school, weren't you?"
Draco shrugged. "We were... well, it doesn't really matter what we were now. What matters is that we're friends now, however tentatively."
"He was given the same pardon as you."
"Yes, although he deserved it way more than I did. He did as little as he could for the Death Eaters. He didn't even ever take the Mark."
"But you did?"
"At the end of our sixth year." He pushed his sleeve up just enough to show her the bottom of the Mark.
"So Harry was wrong," Hermione breathed.
"Did he think I'd taken it earlier?"
"He thought you'd taken it before our sixth year."
Draco shook his head. "I almost did. But the Dark Lord wanted me to prove that I was loyal."
"The Cabinet," Hermione said softly.
"Yeah, the Cabinet."
Neither of them mentioned the other part of his task.
"Anyway, Blaise is living the life in America. He met a nice man out there and is living happily with him."
"He's gay too?"
Draco chuckled. "Yeah. We were sorta together in school. Sort of. It was all a little complicated."
Hermione laughed. "Our school years in general were a little complicated."
They had reached the Three Broomsticks. Draco held the door open for her. They found a table towards the back. "Would you like something?"
Hermione frowned. "Would you like me to order?"
Draco flushed and shook his head. "We're... on better terms now," he said. Madame Rosemerta had spotted them and waved warmly to Hermione before frowning at Draco.
"Alright, if you say so. I'll take a Butterbeer."
He returned a few minutes later with two Butterbeers. "Here you are," he said, placing one in front of her.
"Thanks," she said.
"You're welcome," he answered, smiling warmly at her.
"I like this you a lot better than the you in school."
Draco smirked. "I like me better, too. I don't have to pretend or be something I'm not. It's a refreshing change."
The door to the Three Broomsticks opened again and a loud, familiar voice began talking a bit louder than what was really necessary. "Don't say it like that, Harry! That makes it sound as though it was my fault! We both know it wasn't."
"Oh, Merlin," Draco sighed upon seeing Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley make their way into the small pub.
Before you all tell me that Draco and Hermione are being totally OOC, let me explain why I think they aren't. Draco screwed up in his school years. He knows he did and is sorry for it. He wishes he didn't. Well, what's done can't be undone, but something he can do to redeem himself is be kind to the Golden Trio. And in this case, specifically Hermione. In Hermione's case, she's our beloved Hermione. I have a feeling that she would be way more open to accepting Draco's apology and start a tentative friendship with him than either Harry or Ron. She just seems like that sort of a person to me. Forgiving and what not. :)
Anyway, there's my explanation.
Thanks for reading!