Draco Malfoy had exhausted all his options, and that confrontation with Ron Weasley had turned out badly for everyone. He hadn’t another clue where to find Hermione, and Weasley had deserved everything he’d gotten. While sullenly shuffling his feet on his way back to the Slytherin common room, realization dawned on him faster than he could have uttered “Lumos!”
Why didn’t I think of it before? Probably because I don’t go there that much, he thought sheepishly. Hermione’s toes would probably curl if she knew how borderline his other marks were, let alone his Defense against the Dark Arts marks.
Draco knew where Hermione was hiding: The library! Knowing her, she was probably bent over a sixteen-inch parchment writing repeatedly, I will not slap students in class. Or maybe, I will not throw ingredients into other students’ potions. Draco smiled at the thought.
Draco entered the library, scanning the tables quickly for her. So far, no sign of her. He had missed two days of classes, and upon his return, Hermione had been missing. Neither had he seen her in the Great Hall at all during mealtimes. He’d asked all around, and no one could tell him where to find Hermione. Rumor had it she thought she was the reason for Draco’s accident. But he was fine, nothing that Madam Pomfrey wasn’t able to fix. He still had the last vestiges of the bruise inadvertently inflicted by Potter at the Quidditch match, and he still had to keep his arm in a sling for few days, but she had mended his cracked ribs without a hitch. Draco didn’t even care about the Quidditch loss; there were still three more matches, and besides, he had much more important things to think about. He’d been obsessing about it since he’d awakened in the hospital wing aching and bruised.
How would Hermione react when she found out he’d gotten his memory back? What would she say when Draco told her that he remembered every minute, every second of their moments spent together, especially what they had shared that very last day in the Room of Requirement? Draco couldn’t stop the smile that came to his face when he thought about that.
What would Hermione think when he told her that during their short amount of time together, he had come to love her beyond his capacity to comprehend? That he was willing to change his ways for her? That he had already started doing so?
He walked through the library, all the way to the back, by the Restricted section, and there she was, sitting by herself, her head resting on her arms, fast asleep.
She was so beautiful. He felt a twinge of painful regret, remembering all the mean, cruel things he had done and said to her, not only before all this had happened, but after as well. He hoped beyond all hope that he would be able to make Hermione realize that her mistake had changed his life for the better.
Draco felt a sensation akin to flobberworms crawling around in his stomach. He was nervous! He couldn’t remember a time before now that he hadn’t just been so stupidly arrogant and self-absorbed that he felt invincible. If I could do it then, I can do it now, he thought, and placed a hand tentatively on Hermione’s shoulder.
The sleeping Gryffindor jerked awake and blurted, “I’m sorry, Madam Pince, I must have fallen asleep–”
Hermione turned her head, her eyes blurry with sleep, and saw not the librarian, but a certain tall, platinum blond she’d successfully avoided for the last few days. Hermione snapped to attention and bolted upright.
Hermione felt heat spreading across her cheeks, having been taken completely off-guard, and she asked, “Draco–what are you doing here?”
Draco said, trying to ignore that flobberworm feeling, which had gotten twice as bad now that she was awake, “Well, er—what does anyone come to the library for? Where were you today? You missed Snape’s thoroughly engaging lecture about the dangers of delving too closely into Dark magic,” he finished sarcastically. He noticed something was making her quite uncomfortable; Hermione had closed the book she had been using as a pillow and held it against her chest protectively, as if it were a shield.
Hermione cleared her throat and lied, ignoring his question, “I thought you were still in the hospital wing. Are you all right?”
Am I all right? Not without you, love, Draco thought, feeling a sharp, intense desire to grab Hermione’s book-shield and throw it, and take her in his arms and hold her close to him. Not an easy thing to do when you’ve shattered your arm into twice as many pieces as it started with. He’d also probably scare the wits out of her, judging by the look of complete horror on her face.
“No, I’m not all right,” Draco complained, pulling out a chair and settling down carefully; he was still a little sore. “I’ve been trying to find you all day.”
Hermione let out a bitter laugh. “What for? Draco, actually, there’s something I have to tell you. You getting hurt was my fault. You crashed into the bleachers because of me.”
Even though Draco could see the sadness in Hermione’s eyes, he thought this situation was somewhat funny. Their roles were reversed. Hermione didn’t know that he knew what had happened. Draco would play along a little longer. “Why do you say that?”
Hermione was clutching her book so hard her knuckles were white. She took a deep breath, and spluttered, “Because—because I was so angry at myself and at you that I couldn’t even get the nerve to tell you–”
Draco gave her a small, knowing smile, his blue eyes sparkling with laughter, and said at the same time she did, “About the love potion.”
Hermione looked at him incredulously. “What? How do you know about–”
Draco took the book from Hermione, her fingers reluctant to release their grip, and he set it on the table. He said, “Hermione, be quiet for just one moment. I crashed into the bleachers because I got my memory back. Madam Pomfrey gave me a Memory Restoration draught; I convinced her I lost my memory because I collapsed and hit my head. What I thought was that you and Potter did something to me so I wouldn’t remember what we’d practiced, so that Gryffindor could take the Quidditch match.”
Draco paused, and Hermione watched his face carefully. She was just waiting for him to start berating her for screwing up his potion and making him do things he’d never have done on his own. But Draco’s face remained calm, that small smile still present. His voice, however, reflected his nerves.
“I remember everything. Everything. And it all came back to me in that split second when I was chasing the Snitch, when I saw you. I may have lost the match, but the consolation prize is well worth it.”
He leaned forward, and he pushed a stray tendril of blondish-brown hair out of Hermione’s face. She was staring at him, a dumbfounded look clouding her otherwise perfect countenance. There he was again, the Draco she had fallen in love with. Those beautiful blue eyes, the half-shy, half-mischievous smile. For Merlin’s sake, could it be?
Hermione could not believe what she was hearing. Draco had taken matters into his own hands, and now he knew everything. She stuttered, her brain struggling to form complete sentences, “So–so what does that mean–I mean–are you–”
Words were failing her. She was lost in those blue eyes, mentally treading water and gasping for breath, having forgotten how to swim. Or maybe the current was just too strong.
“So what that means is, could we—maybe—pick up where we left off?” Draco said, his voice filled with trepidation.
“What about Pansy?” Hermione heard herself say stupidly. Draco is asking to be with you! What do you even care about her?
Draco didn’t say anything right away. He looked down at the floor for a minute, pretending to be very interested in a tattered piece of carpet. Draco then turned his face back up and said, “All right, I guess I’m just going to have to show you, since you don’t seem to understand what I’m saying.” Draco leaned even closer to her, closer, closer, until Hermione could feel his breath on her cheek. His eyelids fluttered shut, and he brushed his lips against hers, just barely, like a dewdrop sliding off the tip of a petal before falling to the grass below.
Draco pulled back, and took Hermione’s hand in his own good one. He began, “I was finished with Pansy the day before Quidditch, and today I saw her snogging Blaise Zabini. But that’s beside the point.”
His voice finally lost its apprehensive waver. “I want you to be my girlfriend, Hermione. I know this is going to sound completely mental, but I always fancied you, slightly, since that day in third-year when you punched me in the face. That was a good shot, by the way.”
That statement elicited a nervous twitter from Hermione’s lips, but she said nothing. She could tell he had a lot weighing on him right now, and she wanted to hear every word of it.
Draco continued, “Well, anyway, I never told anyone. I even lied to myself about it. It went against everything I thought was important. I was so mean to you because I thought if you hated me, then I’d eventually hate you. It almost worked. Almost. Until that love potion. I dreamt about you. I thought about you all the time. Didn’t know why. Now I do. It wasn’t real then, but it is now.”
Hermione was flabbergasted. “You’re sure about this? You remember everything? That means you remember how angry Crabbe and Goyle were? Ron and Harry actually thought it was funny!”
Draco said, a amused smile plastering itself on his face, “Potter and Weasley, especially Weasley, will have to get used to it, and I’ll have to get used to them. I couldn’t give a damn what Crabbe and Goyle think. I don’t even think they can think! A lot of blockheads, they are.”
Draco caught her brown eyes in his blue ones, and his expression became serious. He said, “One more thing, love. I don’t just fancy you anymore. I love you. So what do you say? Do you want to be together, for real this time?”
At this revelation of Draco’s innermost thoughts, Hermione’s heart thudded harder in her chest. This was what Ginny had said could happen. Ginny had been right! He did have feelings for her before the love potion! She was absolutely stunned. She would have never thought it remotely possible. Neither would she have thought it possible that a completely unaffected Draco Malfoy was asking to be with her, was telling her he loved her. Anything’s possible, now you know. Go for it!
Hermione took Draco’s face in her hands, being mindful of his bruised side, and she watched Draco’s smile light his face once more. Her mind finally at peace with what her heart had already decided, she said simply,“I would love to.”
She kissed him firmly on the lips, and what was an innocent expression of affection quickly became a lot more affectionate. The sound of a woman clearing her throat a bit loudly behind them interrupted them.
“I’ll have to ask you to leave, please. That sort of behavior is prohibited in the library,” Madam Pince said sharply.
Hermione and Draco burst into embarrassed laughter and vacated the library with a quickness, hand in hand.
After turning the corner, Draco stopped, and pulled Hermione into his arms, and kissed her again, their faces awash in the glowing light emitted by the wall torch above them. This time, there was no disruptive sound to announce the arrival of another disapproving teacher, the two felt him rather than saw him there. Of course, no one other than the Slytherin Head of House stood before them, shaking his head scornfully.
Severus Snape said, his expression a study in smugness, “Miss Granger. Mr. Malfoy,” he said, mocking disappointment. He sighed theatrically and continued, “I distinctly remember telling you to stay away from each other. Apparently, you do not. Ah, wait, allow me to hazard a guess, perhaps? I understand you were having a memory problem, Mr. Malfoy? Unfortunately, Miss Granger, who until now seemed to have a perfect memory, should have reminded you. Detention tomorrow night, the both of you. Six o’clock.”
Malfoy retorted, “With all due respect, Professor Snape, Hermione is my girlfriend and I won’t stay away from her. You can give me detention for the rest of the term, and I wouldn’t care.”
Snape looked mildly surprised at Malfoy’s indignance. He said sarcastically, “A match made in heaven, no doubt. I suggest you both get out of my sight before I take you up on your offer, Mr. Malfoy. Dismissed.”
With a final swirl of his cloak, Snape disappeared down the corridor as quickly as he had come, and Hermione said, affecting seriousness, “Draco, I don’t know how this relationship is ever going to work. I keep getting detention because of you.”
Draco shrugged, and said, “I guess I’m a bad influence.” He winked at her, and teased, “I imagine I’ll make a Slytherin of you yet.”
“Hardly,” Hermione giggled. “You have a better chance of escaping from Azkaban.”
Draco pretended to look wounded. “You mean you don’t think I could just talk my way out of there with my dashing good looks, and irresistible charm?”
“I never knew you had such a sense of humor,” Hermione said, feigning sarcasm. She leaned into him, allowing him to slip his good arm around her waist.
They continued down the hall, and Draco said conspiratorially, “You know, Granger, there’s a broom closet that Filch never uses around here somewhere, I’m sure of it. Ah, here we go!”
Draco turned the knob and pulled, but it didn’t give. He gave Hermione a confused look, and having only one hand to work with, he braced his foot against the wall for purchase and yanked again. With a crash, out tumbled Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley, both extremely red in the face, along with two mops, three brooms, and a bucket that instantly filled itself with water, sprouted wings, and commenced floating down the hall. The mops and brooms followed behind, mopping and sweeping frantically.
“Er–hello, Hermione. Hi, Draco,” Ginny said, getting to her feet and smoothing her messy strawberry-blonde hair.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to interrupt,” Hermione said, laughter in her eyes, “but we’ll be needing this broom closet. Looks like you’ve been in there long enough, anyway.”
Harry’s eyes went from Hermione to Draco, back to Hermione, and finally settled on Draco once more. “Malfoy,” he acknowledged, nodding almost imperceptibly.
“Potter,” he replied, returning the gesture.
Ginny gave Hermione a bright smile, nodded towards Draco, and said, “And you were so worried.”
Draco opened his mouth to ask Ginny what she meant by that comment, but Hermione silenced him with her own.
Harry could be seen smiling somewhat grudgingly, because although he had known this would be the end result, it was exactly what Ron Weasley had been hoping against. Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger. Boyfriend and girlfriend. Ron was not going to be thrilled, to say the least. But Hermione would find some way to placate Ron. They were all friends, right? Ron would get over it. Harry was sure of it.
He looked to Ginny and said, gesturing in Draco and Hermione’s direction, “This is definitely going to be weird.”
Ginny commented, “Weird? Ron is going to be really mad! Oh, well. He’ll live.”
Ginny observed Draco and Hermione, who were so captivated by one another that they seemed to have forgotten Harry and Ginny were still there. Ginny said, “Don’t you think they’re cute together? The most unlikely couple? Seeing them kissing all the time is better than seeing them fighting all the time, don’t you think?”
Harry sighed, and said, taking Ginny’s hand, and said, “I suppose so.” He yelled to get Draco and Hermione’s attention. “Hey! Malfoy! Hermione! You’ve got the closet, so go use it!”
Laughing, Hermione took Draco by the front of his robes and pulled him into the broom closet, and slammed the door shut.