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Return After The War by fromtheashes248
Chapter 1 : The Reunion, Reminiscing, and The Request
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 34


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AN: This fic is about the Trio’s final year at Hogwarts. It is NOT HBP compliant in that Dumbledore is not dead, Snape was loyal to the Order of the Phoenix until he was killed by Lucius Malfoy on a mission, and Draco joined the Order after the end of his sixth year. We will also find out that during their sixth year, the trio noticed a change in him, but that will come later. Any musical lyrics that are used throughout the course of the story will be given credit at the end of the chapter. Okay, I think that’s all you need to know right now. Enjoy!

Chapter 1: The Reunion, Reminiscing, and The Request

Draco Malfoy sat alone at a table in the back of the Great Hall, slowly nursing a fire whiskey. Every so often, one of his hands came up to rake through his pale golden hair in the attempt to keep it out of his smoke-grey eyes; he knew he should get it cut, but he hadn’t had the time to worry about it of late. In the middle of the room, groups of people were standing around talking, laughing, and anxiously awaiting the arrival of tonight’s honored guests. Draco knew that he should be enjoying himself; this party was after all Dumbledore’s way of celebrating the fall of the Dark Lord one month ago. It was a way to let loose and be carefree for once after a year of intense fighting and much loss, and to simultaneously celebrate the re-opening of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry the following week.

At the end of Draco’s sixth year, the school governors had decided that the wizarding world was too dangerous for the school to remain open. In the year following the school’s closing, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger went off to destroy the remaining horcruxes, and the Order of the Phoenix had continued to work in the fight against evil. The Trio had returned, successfully, in the middle of July, almost year to the day after they had originally left. A week after their return, all the fighting and all the work had culminated in a fierce battle on the grounds of Hogwarts. During this battle, Potter had destroyed Voldemort (Draco still wasn’t quite sure how he had done this, since he knew Potter hadn’t used the Killing Curse), and the Death Eaters (those that weren’t dead, of course) were shipped off to Azkaban to rot. This occasion was supposed to be a cheerful one, commemorating the courageous that had fallen and paying tribute to those that had fought so bravely in the Time of Darkness.

But Draco wasn’t feeling particularly festive. Perhaps this was because he felt so out of place. Despite having joined the Order over a year ago, and though those he had fought with now trusted him, many still greatly disliked him. He couldn’t really blame them, though; most members of the Order remembered him from his school days. He knew he had been an egotistical prat (still am, he thought to himself, smirking), and he of all people understood that old resentments die hard.

Or perhaps it was because the last time he had been on Hogwarts grounds he had been involved in a vicious battle during which he had killed his own father. The man had beaten Draco and his mother since before Draco could remember. In the end, Lucius Malfoy had killed his own wife because she had left him to go into hiding with the Order; this was the thing that really spurred Draco’s needed for revenge. And though he felt no remorse for the man that had destroyed so many lives, including Draco’s, the memory was still not a happy one.

Or, he could be feeling out of sorts strictly from nerves, although he was loathe to admit that he was nervous. Not about tonight, but about returning to Hogwarts in a week. He knew well that he wouldn’t be accepted anywhere, not within his old House and not within the rest of the school. Dumbledore had urged him to return to Hogwarts, saying that he had an important role for Draco to fill, but this wasn’t the real reason that he was returning. He knew that his mother had wanted him to finish his schooling if possible, and he hoped that by fulfilling one of her last wishes, he would not be so consumed with guilt for not being able to save her when she truly needed him. If he hadn’t begged her to come with him, she might still be alive. He had only wanted to protect her, and by doing so he had only put her in more danger.

Draco was interrupted from his musing by the sound of clapping taking over the Great Hall. The only thing that could bring that sort of reaction from this group was the arrival of the Golden Trio. Potty and Weasel, and that know-it-all Granger. War heroes though they may be, Draco still felt somewhat bitter towards them. He might admire the hell out of them for what they had done, but a part of him still hated what they were. They were loyal and brave, loved each other completely, willing to die for one another, eternally connected, real honest-to-God friends. They represented everything that Draco wanted to be and believed he couldn’t be. And everything that he had never had, and believed he never would. The only person that had ever truly loved him was his mother, and she was gone. He was utterly alone now, and the thought thoroughly depressed him.

He supposed he should make his way towards the front, listen to Dumbledore’s inevitable speech, clap when necessary, and then he could get the hell out of there. Back to his flat in Hogsmeade where he would (he knew) hide until it was time to return to Hogwarts in a week’s time. Thinking of his lonely little flat made him even more depressed and he just wanted the evening to be over.

Just as he stood up, a sudden hush fell over the crowd. Glancing around, he realized that everyone was looking in his direction and the reason shocked him, though he managed not to let his surprise show and simply raised one inquisitive eyebrow. Standing on the other side of the small round table was Harry Potter, the last person that Draco thought would be paying him a visit. He supposed the two standing behind Potter were Weasley and Granger, although he couldn’t know for sure; the only light was from the few candles in the middle of every table, and they were in shadow.

Draco took a moment to study the boy in front of him, and Harry did the same. Potter looked almost the same as he had when they were in school, and yet… there was something different about him. He hadn’t seen Potter since the battle and then only at a distance. His eyes were still bottle green, though they were somewhat guarded now, and it was obvious just by looking at them that he had been through something unspeakably heinous. His hair was still jet black and as untamable as ever, it seemed. He was taller, certainly (he looked to have caught up to Draco’s 6’3”), but that wasn’t it. And suddenly Draco realized what the difference was; it seemed the events of the past year had made a man out of him. Draco would have been surprised to know that the same thoughts were running through Harry’s mind. And Hermione’s as well.

The last time she had seen Draco he had been standing over the lifeless body of his own father. His face had been haunted and filled with a terrible sadness, and yet at the same time, there had been something akin to relief, something almost triumphant. Most surprising was the Hermione had understood everything the he had been feeling and had pitied him in that moment. She would have sworn that she had heard him say quietly, “It’s over,” but that wasn’t possible. The battle had ended only moments before and the noise was tremendous. She would have had to be right next to him in order to hear him say anything at all. Draco and his father had been some of the last still dueling. There had been a jagged gash down his left cheek that must have made it painful to speak, but Hermione would swear that she at least saw his mouth form those words. And she had realized in that moment that it was a man standing in front of her; not a boy struggling with his present, but a man dealing with his past. She shook herself and brought her thoughts back to the present to watch what was happening before her. Harry had told her what he was planning, but she was slightly worried about how Draco would react. They may no longer be enemies, but she knew that old resentments die hard.

Draco was waiting for Harry to make the first move. He had no idea as to why Harry Potter was standing in front of him, and he sure as hell wasn’t in the mood to fight with Boy Wonder. Just then, the unexpected happened.

“Thank you,” Harry said quietly. And then he stuck out his right arm, clearly intending to shake Draco’s hand. Draco was taken aback, to say the least. But he let none of his surprise show.

“You’re welcome,” he said calmly. He took Harry’s hand in his own and shook it briefly.

“I was sorry to hear about your mum,” Harry said, again quietly, as though he knew everyone in attendance was listening and he wanted the conversation to be completely private.

“Thank you,” Draco said shortly. He definitely did not want to get into a discussion about his mother with Potter, although a voice in the back of his head was telling him that Harry, more than anyone else, would understand what it was like to lose the most important person in your life.

Harry, sensing that Draco didn’t want to get into anything, simply said, “Look, with everything that’s happened, I’m asking for a truce, on both sides. Let’s let this year be peaceful, yeah?”

“Yeah.”

“Well then… see you.”

“Yeah, see you.” Well, that was odd, Draco thought to himself, but he was in for another surprise. Ron Weasley then stepped forward, stuck out his hand, and shook Draco’s hand very briefly. Draco was somewhat amused, although he admitted that he probably felt the same way as Weasley did; there would be no loss of love between the two of them.

Then Hermione Granger stepped forward. Suddenly, Draco was finding it rather hard to breathe, and his heart was suddenly racing in his chest. Despite his shock, he could help but think, damn. It looked like Potter wasn’t the only one who had done some growing up in the past year. This was not the same flat-chested, frizzy-haired, bookworm girl that he had known in school; this was a beautiful woman. She had filled out in all the right places, but she was still slender with a grace that he had never noticed before; probably because right now she wasn’t hunched over a piece of parchment studiously taking notes or carrying around twenty pounds of books. Her hair had lost all traces of frizzy-ness and now hung in gorgeous curls down her back, stopping just blow her shoulder blades. She was wearing a siren red dress that delicately hugged her every curve and stopped just above her knees. Had he truly never noticed how lovely her knees were before? And there was a self-awareness in her honey brown eyes now that had certainly not been there the last time he had seen her.

She too held out her hand, and Draco took it out of pure instinct because his brain seemed to have stopped functioning properly. He couldn’t help but notice how perfectly her hand fit into his and how smooth and soft her skin was. How had he never noticed how lovely her hands were, long slender fingers, devoid of rings and polish? How had he never noticed how full her lips were, or how beautiful her eyes? He knew she was speaking, those delightful lips were moving, but for some reason he couldn’t hear a word. He had a sudden urge to take those lips with his own. He mentally shook himself and said, “What?”

“I said I was sorry about your mum,” she answered softly, wondering why he was staring at her the way he was.

“Oh, um, thank you,” he said, trying not to stumble over his words and feeling like an idiot. He had never reacted to a girl this way before. You’re Draco Malfoy, for Christ’s sake, get a hold of yourself! This is Hermione Granger we’re talking about here. But she had such a lovely voice…

“Malfoy?”

“Yes?”

“I, um… can I have my hand back?” she said, trying not to sound so breathless. The feeling of his skin against hers was making her whole arm tingle, and those smoky eyes were coursing over her, making every part of her tingle. He was looking at her like she was his favorite treat and he hadn’t eaten in weeks; like he wanted to devour her. She wasn’t far off the mark. It’s Draco Malfoy, Hermione; he shouldn’t be making you feel like this. Calm yourself down.

“What? Oh, sorry,” he said, releasing her suddenly. Merlin, he felt like an idiot.

“Um, I’ll see you around school, then?”

“Yeah, I’ll see you around.”

As she walked away, he couldn’t help but notice how her legs seemed to go on for days, or how her hips swayed slightly as she walked. Again, he noticed how graceful she could be. His hand was still tingling. He smirked, knowing he wouldn’t be such an idiot the next time he saw her. Maybe this year won’t be so bad after all…

************************************************************************

Ron had watched the entire exchange, including the way Malfoy had watched Hermione walking away. And he didn’t like it one bit. Ron knew that look; it was in his own eyes every time he looked at Hermione. He was still waiting for her to come around since she had broken things off between them last winter.

He put his arm around her waist, a bit possessively maybe, and turned around to glare at Malfoy, who simply smirked at him. So, she’s taken, then, Draco thought to himself. Pity… or no, maybe not… 
Hermione smiled up at Ron and gently disentangled herself from his grasp. She knew that he still felt for her, and she wished he would stop. She had broke things off last winter for multiple reasons, the biggest being that she had realized how she really felt about him. She loved him, deeply, but she wasn’t in love with him, and there was a big difference. She remembered how it had started.

They had been fighting about… well, something. To this day she couldn’t remember what it was, something ridiculously stupid surely, but she remembered how it had ended. Looking back now, she wondered that the sexual heat between them hadn’t simply set them both aflame when it had finally been released. One minute she had been calling him a thickheaded prat, and the next she had been up against the wall of her bedroom in Grimmauld Place being ravished by one of her best friends. And it felt wonderful. Her last clear thought before she fell into absolute bliss was that Lavender Brown had taught him well.

Ron had grabbed her by the waist and simply crashed his lips to hers; quite a smooth move for Mr. Ronald Weasley, and not something that Hermione had expected. She had always thought their first kiss would be slow and sweet, awkward and tender. But this was much better. Finally, she thought as she ran her hands up his strong arms and tangled them in his red hair. She had been completely unaware that she had been moving at all, and she let out a gasp when her back suddenly hit the wall, allowing Ron to deepen the kiss. He caressed her tongue with his while running his hands up her back from her waist. His thumbs brushed gently against the sides of her breasts before his hands became tangled in her hair. Hermione thought she was going to explode; she pushed herself more firmly against him and began to moan low in her throat.

That sound had brought them both crashing back to reality. Ron pulled back first, and looked deeply into Hermione’s eyes, praying that he would find acceptance of his actions there. He didn’t know what had finally forced him to grab her like that, the way he had been wanting to for over two years now. He knew she had enjoyed it as much as he had, and he was prepared to start fighting with her again, if necessary. But she gave him a small smile and pulled his head back down, causing their lips to meet with even more passion than before, if that was possible. He smiled against her mouth. Finally, he thought, before losing himself in her again.

He trailed open-mouthed kisses down her neck, flicking his tongue against her skin as he went. Hermione started moaning again. Ron’s hands somehow found their way underneath her button down t-shirt, and the second his fingers began tracing the bare skin of her back, she gasped aloud, shocked by the intensity of what she was feeling. The entire night she had spent with Viktor Krum, dancing and kissing shyly, had been nothing in comparison to what she was feeling now. She raked her fingernails lightly down his back, causing him to groan while working his own personal magic on her earlobe. He brought his mouth back to hers to renew is assault on her mouth. Her lips were slightly swollen and still tingling from before, and she welcomed him back gratefully.

Before she knew what she was doing, she was pulling Ron’s shirt up over his head, their lips parting only long enough to discard the offending article of clothing. As their lips met again, Hermione ran her hands up his chest, realizing that she finally had a reason to appreciate Quidditch. Two years of training had done wonderful things to his upper-body. He quickly unbuttoned her shirt and lightly ran his fingers between the valley of her breasts and down her flat stomach, at which point she began to quiver uncontrollably. He bared her right shoulder and set his teeth to it delicately. Her knees became weak, and the fact that she was pressed up against the wall was the only thing keeping her upright. Ron could barely believe his luck. The girl he had been dreaming about for two years was finally in his arms.

Hermione was shivering deliciously against him. He wanted desperately to feel her bare skin on his, and was fully intending to help her the rest of the way out of her shirt when Harry burst through the door, having been completely oblivious to what was happening behind it. Ron and Hermione jumped apart guilty, as though they were little children caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Harry took in the situation quickly; both his friends were looking very flushed. Ron’s shirt was lying on the other side of the room and his hair was quite tousled, courtesy of Hermione’s hands. Hermione’s hair was also ruffled, though not as much as Ron’s. However, she was much more conspicuous looking; her shirt was completely unbuttoned and one of her shoulders was exposed, her lips were swollen from Ron’s assault, and there were quite a few of what looked suspiciously like bite marks trailing down her neck and on her earlobe.

“I was, er… I’m gonna… I’ll just, er… yeah,” Harry stuttered as he backed out quickly. He didn’t close the door all the way behind himself, however, and Hermione distinctly heard him mutter, “About bloody time.”

She giggled shyly, suddenly self-conscious about the fact that the only thing covering her was a bra, and not her most flattering one at that. She began to re-do the buttons on her shirt.

Ron cleared his throat loudly. “We, er… we should talk about this,” he said, sounding nervous.

“Yes, we really, really should.”

And they had. As much as a cliché as it was, they had talked for hours, all through the night. They has admitted their feelings for each other and discussed what would happen since they had… exploded like that. A couple of nights later, they slept together for the first time. Though Ron had shagged Lavender back in sixth year, Hermione had never been with anyone before. She was terrified, but Ron was lovely about it. He was sweet and gentle, holding her gently when it hurt, and making her cry out with pleasure when the pain stopped. Looking back, Hermione was glad that Ron had been her first; she trusted him almost more than she trusted Harry, and that was saying something. Every time he looked at her, she shivered. Every time he touched her, even in the most innocent of ways, even if it was accidental, she trembled. It was everything she had always dreamed it would be.

But the honeymoon had only lasted for a few weeks. They would fight constantly, about stupid, little things and about important, big things. Every time they would fight they would wind up jumping each other. And though the shags were mind-blowing almost every time, and though they were a very… entertaining way to end a fight, they solved nothing. By the time Christmas had passed, Hermione couldn’t take it anymore. They had already been through so much while hunting for the Horcruxes; she couldn’t take fighting with Ron every five minutes. And the more she thought about what their relationship had become, the more she thought about what her feelings had become. She realized that she wasn’t in love with him. She loved him very much, but it wasn’t an all-consuming, want-to-spent-the-rest-of-your-life-with-that-person kind of love. And after all that she had seen, all that she had dealt with in the past months, she knew that if she lived through this war, that was how she wanted to be in love. She knew she wasn’t going to get that with Ron, and it hurt her very deeply to admit that to herself.

She told Ron a few days after New Years. She left out the bit about how she realized she wasn’t in love with him; she only told him that she couldn’t take the constant arguing. They had always fought; it was part of the way they communicated. But now there was an undertone to it that she couldn’t explain. “I’m afraid that we continue to be lovers, we won’t be able to stay friends,” she said. “I’m not willing to lose one of my best friends, Ron. I can’t lose you.”

“I don’t want to lose you either, Hermione.” Because he was afraid that if he argued for them to stay together he would lose her, he pretended to agree with what she was saying. And she had pretended to believe him. After a few weeks of tense awkwardness, things had eased back into the ways things had been before that day in her bedroom, except without all the sexual tension… at least on Hermione’s end. She was relieved she her reactions to him were no longer sexual in feeling. If he hugged her, she didn’t yearn for more; she simply felt comforted, the same as she felt with Harry. If he accidentally brushed against her, she barely even noticed. For Hermione, the moment and the feelings passed. But she knew that Ron was still waiting for her.

Now, standing in the middle of the Great Hall, sipping a butterbeer and waiting for Dumbledore to begin his speech (where is he anyway?), she realized her mistake. She should have told Ron everything that she had been feeling. Maybe if she had he would be over her by now. Maybe if she had, she wouldn’t feel so guilty.

A tap on her shoulder brought her back to the present, and she turned around to see who it was. Oh, that’s where he is, she thought.

“Hello, Professor.”

“Miss Granger,” Dumbledore nodded at her. “You look lovely.”

“Thank you, sir.”

“Would you accompany me for a moment?”

“Of course, sir.”

She wondered where they were going and realized that they were headed straight for Draco Malfoy, who was standing alone on the other side of the room. He saw Dumbledore coming toward him, but didn’t move to close the distance. She took a moment to allow herself to admit how attractive he looked in his dress robes. Okay, Hermione, stay focused. Don’t let yourself get distracted.

He had a sneaking suspicion about what that ‘important role’ was that Dumbledore wanted him to fill, and if it was what he was thinking, he wasn’t sure what he was going to say. Then he noticed Granger walking behind Dumbledore; his suspicions were reinforced.

“Mr. Malfoy, how are you on this delightful evening?”

“Fine, Professor, and yourself?”

“Good, good. Now, I’m sure you both know why I am talking to you.”

“Actually, Professor, I’m not sure,” Hermione said. Though she had her own suspicions, she was now almost hoping that she was wrong. Damn it, I’ve been working for this since I began at Hogwarts. I am NOT going to let Draco Malfoy ruin it for me! 
“Well, I would like to ask you two to be our Head Boy and Head Girl this term. Certainly I can think of no one more capable than the two of you. Not to mention the fact that before the school closed last year, you were both at the top of your year.”

Hermione was positively ecstatic. She had been dreaming of being Head Girl for the entire six years she had been at Hogwarts. Last year, when the school had closed, she had given up the dream, telling herself that it would never happen. But now, she was getting another chance. She wasn’t going to pass it up simply because she would be forced to share a dormitory with Draco Malfoy. Besides, they had called a truce, hadn’t they? It wouldn’t be that bad.

“I would be honored to accept, sir,” she said, positively beaming. And though Draco was preoccupied with his own thoughts, he couldn’t help but notice that when she smiled, the room seemed a little bit brighter, and he felt a little bit lighter inside.

“Fantastic, Miss Granger, I’m sure you will do an exemplary job. Now, you have a choice to make about your room. As I’m sure you know (since you are the only person since the Chamber of Secrets was reopened to check Hogwarts, A History out of the school library), the Head Boy and Girl share a dormitory and a Common Room. I have to ask whether you would like your bedroom in the dormitory to be traditional decorations of your House, or would you like it to resemble your room from home?”

She would love to be surrounded by her old things. It would be a comfort that she hadn’t had in the past year. “I would like it to look like my room at home, sir, if that’s not too much trouble.”

“Not at all, Miss Granger, not at all. Now, I’m sure you’re simply busting to tell Mr. Potter and Mr. Weasley about this. You may go.” Clearly, Dumbledore wanted to talk to Malfoy alone; he still hadn’t said a word.

“Thank you, sir.” She sent Draco a questioning look, and walked off to find her friends.

“Well, Draco?”

“Sir, I’m not sure if I’m the right person for this job,” Draco said.

“Well, it is your right to refuse it, Draco, if you do not believe yourself capable. However, think of all that has happened in the last year, all that you have done. You have shown yourself to be a fine man, Draco. And I certainly trust that you are more than qualified to fill this position. I believe in you, Draco,” he put a hand gently on Draco’s shoulder. “It is time for you to start believing in yourself again.”

Knowing that Dumbledore had confidence in him filled Draco with the desire to live up to his expectations. It was not like with is father when fulfilling expectations was about the fear of failure and what would happen to him if he did not succeed. No, this was about proving to himself and Dumbledore the he was worthy of the Headmaster’s trust.

“Yes, sir. I except, then.”

“Excellent. Your mother would be proud of you.”

“I certainly hope so, sir.”

“Now, I would pose the same question to you as I did to Miss Granger, but I’m assuming that you would rather have the dormitory bedroom decorated in the traditional sense?” 

“You assume correctly, sir. I have no wish to ever see my former home again.”

“Well then.” There was a sudden burst of laughter near by. The sound was beautiful. Draco turned around to see that Hermione was standing with Potter and Weasley, laughing about something one of them had said. He was entranced by her. Merlin, she is absolutely gorgeous. How did I not see it all these years? He was suddenly filled with the desire to have Hermione laugh like that with him, smile with warmth at him. He wished he could walk over there, but he knew it would be awkward and tense. He preferred watching from a distance, for now anyway, when she was lovely and free with happiness. Besides, he thought, what would she want with me? 
Dumbledore noticed where Draco’s gaze had traveled. His blue eyes twinkled merrily. “She has grown into a lovely young woman, has she not?”

Draco jumped slightly when he heard the Headmaster’s voice; he had completely forgotten that Dumbledore was still there. The only person he had been able to see for a moment was Hermione. Okay, Draco, let’s just reel it back a little, here. “Er, yes. Yes, sir, she has.”

“Well, I must be off. I am told I must make a speech tonight, although I’m sure all you young people would much rather be celebrating then hearing me talk. I will see you on September 1st, then. I hope this year proves to you that you are deserving of what you want, Mr. Malfoy. Everything that you want.” Dumbledore’s gaze went back to Hermione briefly. “Do not expect everyone to judge you harshly, my boy. And even if they do, some things, as I’m sure you well know, are more than worth the fight.” He clapped his hand on Draco’s shoulder once more and walked off without another word, leaving Draco to ponder everything he had said.


A/N: There you go, the first chapter. Sorry it was so long, I just couldn’t stop writing. The other chapters shouldn’t be this long, although they may be; I tend to go a little too into detail and sometimes I get long-winded, but I’ll try to curtail that impulse! Please review and tell me what you think. This is my first fan fic ever, so if you’re going to criticize, please do so constructively! I’m not sure when the next chapter will be up, but I’m already writing it, so it shouldn’t be too long. It will concern the rest of this celebration and the ride abroad the Hogwarts Express. I hope you enjoyed the story! ~Meghan


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