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Return After The War by fromtheashes248
Chapter 2 : Longing, Dancing, and Traveling
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 36

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A/N: Well, here’s Chapter 2, I hope you enjoy it, another long one! Sorry about the wait; I sort of had a little writer’s block. I think I kinda felt like I had to wait until my first chapter was validated before I could finish writing this one. I guess I didn’t want to jinx it. Silly, I know, but still. Anyway, if there is anyone out there that would like to make me a banner, I would really, REALLY appreciate it. I have no talent whatsoever in that area, and I’ve seen some banners that are just… wow. I could never do anything like that. Also, I’m changing the break-up, if you want to call it that, of Harry and Ginny, though I’m not going to get too deep into it in this chapter; I’ll save that for later. Obviously, if I’m not following HBP, then they weren’t at anyone’s funeral, and besides, it helps my plotline. Anyway, now for the real reason you are here, the story. (By the way, not all of my chapters will be named in threes; it just seemed to work for these two.)

Chapter 2: Longing, Dancing, and Traveling 

Harry hadn’t heard much of Dumbledore’s speech (his mind was somewhere else completely), not that he really needed to. The Headmaster had told Harry that he was simply going to welcome everyone back and wish them all luck for the coming school year. There was no point in dwelling on the past tonight; it was supposed to be a celebration. But at the moment, Harry couldn’t help but dwell on the past a little, especially when it came to a certain redheaded young woman currently dancing with one of his best friends. Hermione and Ginny were in the middle of the Great Hall with a bunch of other students, dancing and singing along to some Muggle song about humps (whatever that was supposed to mean, he wasn’t really paying all that much attention to the lyrics), and he and Ron were sitting at a table by themselves drinking butterbeer. Harry felt a strong sense of déjà vu; this was very much like the Yule Ball in fourth year. Mainly because he and Ron were both yet again not dancing, and because they were both yet again longing for the girls they didn’t have.

Even when he was living in the Muggle world, Harry had never really paid attention to any specific kind of music; what was the point? Hermione had a fondness for Muggle music, though, especially the American stuff that some cousin or other had turned her on to. Though Harry had to admit that some of the edgier stuff that Hermione had exposed him to in the last year was rather good, he wasn’t all that keen on the sort of thing that was playing now. However, as Ginny moved her body perfectly in tune with the beat, Harry thought that perhaps this kind of music did have some merit. Her dress was a slim column of emerald green that got all of it’s shape from the person wearing it, and Ginny gave it plenty. Her bright red hair was piled artfully on top of her head and she had done some girl-thing to make her eyes look bigger and her mouth more tempting (although Harry felt that it was plenty tempting all on it’s own, without the cosmetics). As she laughed with Hermione, Harry thought she had never been so beautiful. Not quite true, he thought with a small smile of remembrance, she always looked quite lovely in my sheets, not to mention when she would wear nothing but my Quidditch jersey… Stop, Harry, she’s not yours anymore.

No, he wasn’t allowed to think about her like that now. After leaving her the way he had, he had no right to want more from her than friendship. When they had been together, he had been deeply in love with her, and she with him. They were both aware of the other’s feelings, though the words had never been said. But Harry very much doubted that she felt the same way about him anymore; how could she? Even now, over a year after the fact, he was still uncomfortable in her presence, which was a definite problem. Ginny was Ron’s sister and Hermione’s only real girl friend; obviously she would be around quite frequently in the coming year. He would just have to get over it; she certainly seemed to. Ginny seemed perfectly fine whenever she was around him, and he told himself that her comfort with him was probably for the best, even though he had to admit that it did slightly annoy him. She had moved on he was sure, and he knew he should do the same. The only problem was the she was the only person he wanted to be with.

The fact that he wasn’t supposed to think of her didn’t actually stop him from thinking of her, and it was maddening. A small part of him had hoped that if he survived the war, they could be together again, even though he knew it was foolish to think that. He had only left her to protect her. Harry wasn’t stupid; he knew that Ginny wasn’t one to sit around on her hands while others did all the work. He knew full well that she would be doing her fair share of fighting, despite the wishes of her parents, and he also knew that she was fully capable of defending herself should the need arise. She was quite good at dueling, in fact; he should know, he taught her. But by being with her, he was putting her in unnecessary danger; Ginny would become a target. Voldemort would turn her into a tool to use against Harry, and he couldn’t allow that to happen. He remembered the night he had left her, how angry she had been, how tears had run down her cheeks unchecked as she swore at him. Hurting her would keep her safe, though it had nearly killed him to do it.

Harry wasn’t the only one that was missing something they no longer had. Ron, also, was thinking about someone he was still in love with, although obviously he was thinking of Hermione. But Ron’s thoughts weren’t in the past; he was thinking towards the future, specifically about the rest of the night. He was waiting anxiously for a slow song to start playing so that he could ask Hermione to dance with him. One of his favorite memories of the time they were together was when Hermione had taught him to slow dance.

He had been trying to be suave and charming one night while she was listening to some old Muggle music. She was homesick, she said, and the music reminded her of when she and her father would dance around the living room when she was young. Trying to make her feel better he had grabbed her and tried to dance. But a moment later, Hermione had declared him absolutely hopeless and she began to teach him. He had been surprised by how graceful she was; apparently she had taken some Muggle dance classes when she was younger, and they had certainly paid off. He remembered Hermione telling him that when it was done right, dancing was one of the most seductive and romantic ways of being intimate with someone without actually shagging them (though he and Hermione had wound up on the floor of the room for the rest of the night shagging). He knew that it was one of Hermione’s best memories as well; she had told him so.

He felt that if he could recreate that moment again she would remember all the good things and want to get back together. Well, obviously not right away. This was Hermione, after all; she didn’t eat breakfast without thinking it through first. She would undoubtedly want to take the time to think through possibly starting their relationship up again, but at least it was a step in the right direction. Besides, it had been too long since he had held her in his arms. Sometimes what Ron wanted most was just to be able to hold her again, to know that she was his again. All he had to do was wait for the right song…


Hermione was having the time of her life. She absolutely loved to dance; she never felt freer in her life than when she was dancing. And the fact that multiple male eyes were on Ginny and herself was exciting. Even though she wasn’t interested in dancing with anyone, it wasn’t something that Hermione had ever really experienced before and she was enjoying the attention. Ginny was obviously having fun too, which relieved Hermione immensely.

Ginny had confided to Hermione that she wasn’t yet over Harry; she had been waiting for him to return, sure that when he did, he would want to get back together, to pick things off where they left off. But when he returned, he had avoided her. Even after the final battle, when they were all safe again, he hadn’t made a move, and she wasn’t about to throw herself at him when she was positive his feelings had changed. Though Hermione knew how Harry felt about Ginny, she hadn’t told the girl the truth; she didn’t feel it was her place to say anything. If they were supposed to find their way back to each other, then they would. And Hermione knew how Harry was; he would say something eventually, he wouldn’t be able to help himself, especially if Ginny started dating again. The only thing that had held him back last time had been fear of Ron’s reaction, but he didn’t have to worry about that now.

But right now, Hermione had bigger things to worry about besides Harry and Ginny’s respective love lives. Ron had been stealing glances at her all night and she knew what he was thinking. He was going to ask her to dance with him if a slow song ever played, which, thankfully, had not happened yet. She couldn’t dance with him, because it wouldn’t be simply dancing. He would be expecting more and she didn’t want to hurt him by refusing. But luckily, she had thought a way out of this dilemma. Maybe this wasn’t the best time to be asking, considering that they were both out of breath and overheated (Hermione had performed a simple charm on both of them to stop them from sweating), but it was now or never.

“Ginny, I need to ask you a favor.”

“What?” Ginny responded with her eyes closed as she continued to dance. She, like Hermione, was aware of the eyes on them and was hoping not to make eye contact with anyone. It would only encourage them to come over to where she and Hermione were, and Ginny really didn’t feel like dealing with any random guys right now.

“Well, you know that your brother still likes me, yeah?”

Ginny opened her eyes to look at her friend. It was obvious that Hermione was uncomfortable with the way Ron still felt about her, but Ginny wasn’t sure what she could do to help. “Hermione, I swear, I’ve tried to make him understand that you don’t feel like that about him any more, but he won’t listen to reason. He just says that I don’t know what I’m talking about. That stupid prat, he’s so self-concerned --”

“No, Gin, it’s not his fault. Things were pretty good between us for awhile there, and I… I think that I really hurt him when I broke things off. I don’t want to hurt him again.”

“Hermione, you can’t be expected to walk on egg-shells around him forever. Be blunt if you have to be, just make sure you get your point across. Although, with Ron you might have to be extremely blunt, he’s so dense, you know --”

“He’s not that dense.”

“Oh, yes, he is. And he’s in denial, so --”

“Listen, I understand what you’re saying, and I know you’re right. If I comes down to it, I will be forthright with him, completely and totally honest,” she started playing with her fingertips, a sure sign to Ginny that Hermione was extremely uncomfortable with the thought. “But I can’t do it tonight. We’re supposed to be celebrating, it would just be mean.”

“Yeah, I know,” Ginny said, relenting. “So, what’s this favor, then?”

“Well,” Hermione stared twisting her hands together nervously, “when he and I were together, I taught him how to dance, and we sort of wound up --”

Ginny held up her hands and stopped dancing completely. “Stop! Don’t say another word! I don’t want to hear anything about yours and Ron’s sex life, Mione, I’m serious.”

“Sorry, anyway, I know that he’s going to want to dance with me and I don’t want to have to turn him down or make up some stupid excuse, so –”

“There’s an awful lot egg shells around here,” Ginny mumbled.

Hermione continued as though Ginny hadn’t said anything, “So I was hoping that should a slower song come on, you could maybe start dancing with him first?”

“Oh, for the love of Merlin, Hermione!”

“Come on, Gin, you know how he gets! If you ask him first, then he won’t be able to ask me and I can go sit down. Please?” When Ginny hesitated, she said, “I’ll help you with your Transfiguration essays this year.”

“That’s not the best bargaining chip, Mione, you do that anyway… Fine, but only once. I’m not dancing with him all night.”

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!” It wasn’t the best idea, and chances were that it wouldn’t work, but Hermione instantly felt as though a small weight had been lifted just knowing that she had some kind of plan. “Come on, I’ll buy you a drink.”

“Make it a fire whiskey,” Ginny said as they walked off the floor. “I have a feeling I’m going to need it.”


Draco was enjoying watching Hermione Granger slither around on the dance floor, though he didn’t feel much like dancing, himself. Well, that wasn’t entirely true; he would have been more than happy to be dancing with Granger, but he doubted she would accept. Especially since the Muggle music that was currently playing required quite a bit of close physical contact that Hermione probably wouldn’t want to experience with him.

For about the first five minutes after Hermione started dancing, Draco had been in a state of shock. Not only because he hadn’t known she was able to dance (although finding out that she could was a surprise in itself), but because of the way she was dancing. His mouth had gone dry and he thought his eyes might have crossed out of pure lust. Her movements were incredibly seductive, and she only more tempting since it was obvious that she wasn’t trying to be sexy. She was simply dancing with a friend, having fun; her sensuality was natural. When she flicked and swished her hips in time to the music (whether that music be Muggle or Wizard), he wanted his hands on them. When she gathered her hair in her hands to get it off her neck for a moment, he wanted to lay his lips on the newly exposed skin. If she licked her lips, leaving them looking moist and even more tempting than before, he wanted his mouth on hers. He wondered what she tasted like and wanted very much to find out. He just plain wanted her, and he couldn’t recall ever wanting a girl this intensely before.

He had asked himself multiple times why he hadn’t left yet; he had been planning on leaving right after Dumbledore’s speech, which had been mercifully short. But then the music had started and, well… he refused to admit, even to himself, that Hermione was the reason he hadn’t gone. He told himself that he simply wanted to get reacquainted with Hogwarts before returning next week, or because as Head Boy he should set an example of responsibility by not skipping out the first moment that it was possible to do so. But these were lies, and without even realizing it, he was trying to think of a way to ask her to dance. If only they would play a bloody slow song…

“He’s doing it again.”


“Malfoy. He’s staring at me again.” And she was trying desperately not to stare right back.

“Why shouldn’t he? You look hot.”

“Ginny! It’s weird. This is Draco Malfoy, the boy who made my life hell for five and a half years! It’s sort of freaking me out.”

“So what if he’s staring at you, Hermione? If it’s making you uncomfortable then just ignore him. I should think that after dealing with him for so long you would know how to do that.”

“It’s not that I’m uncomfortable or anything, it’s just weird. If I didn’t know better… oh no!”

“What?” Alarmed by the sound of fright in Hermione’s voice, Ginny stopped dancing. Then she realized that the music had changed. Oh shit…

“Bugger, here comes Ron! GO!” She gave Ginny a small shove towards him.

“Jesus, you’re pathetic, you know.”

Ron arrived. “Hey, Hermione –”

“Hey, dance with your little sister, Ron,” Ginny interceded.

“But -”

“Come on,” and she dragged him off to the other side of the Hall.

“What did you do that for? I was about to ask Hermione to dance!”

“I know, and she doesn’t want to dance with you, you stupid git! You have to stop trying to win her back,” she said as they twirled gracefully around the dance floor. Wow, Hermione really did teach him how to dance… I wonder if she taught Harry as well… oh, Ginny, stop thinking about him! He doesn’t want you anymore! 

“You don’t know what you’re talking about, Gin.”

“Fine, don’t listen to me! Let’s just finish dancing, yeah? I didn’t know that you could.”

“Hermione taught me,” he said quietly.

“I know,” she whispered, lowly enough that he wouldn’t hear. She gave him a small hug. Oh, sod it; here comes the sympathy.

On the other side of the Hall, Hermione was silently congratulating Ginny and herself on a well-executed plan. She did sort of wish she was dancing, though. “At Last,” especially when sung by Edda James, was one of her favorite songs.

“Care to dance, Granger?”

Hermione spun around to see none other than Draco Malfoy standing behind her. To say that she was surprised was an understatement. She was sure she had heard him wrong. “I beg your pardon?”

“I said, would you care to dance?” He was terribly nervous, though he didn’t let it show. He felt like there were clichéd butterflies fluttering in his stomach. When she said nothing, only raised an eyebrow at him, he smirked characteristically and said, “I don’t bite… unless you want me to, of course.” Much better, Draco.

Hermione couldn’t believe her ears. Is he flirting with me? No, he couldn’t be. “I don’t think that would be a good idea.”

“What? The dancing or the biting?” he said with a small smile.

“Both,” she replied. He was flirting with her. She was trying not to smile in return. He was really quite attractive when he smiled. But those were dangerous thoughts that she should try to steer clear from.

He decided to try a different tact. “Why, Granger? Come on, it’s only appropriate for the Head Boy and Girl to dance together.”

“You took Dumbledore’s offer, then?”

Draco merely raised his brow. “I’ll answer if you dance.”

She crossed her arms in a stubborn fashion. With a small smirk of her own, she said, “I’ll dance if you answer.”

“Yes, I took the job. Shall we?” He held out his hand, thankful that his palms hadn’t started sweating.

“Sure.” She took his hand and slid lightly into his arms. She placed one hand in his and the other on his shoulder as he slipped one of his around her slender waist, stopping at the small of her back. He pulled her more firmly against him, looking directly into her eyes. He was immediately surrounded by her scent; cinnamon and vanilla, spicy and sweet at the same time. The combination was killing him, a contradiction that fit her perfectly.

Her breath began to shudder as they started to dance fluidly. Well, he certainly knows what he’s doing. Her reaction to him was absolutely ridiculous. How could a person feel this much heat without exploding? How could she hold it in?

She managed to tear her gaze away from his long enough to regain some of her composure. Say something, Hermione, he’s going to think you’re a complete idiot. She didn’t stop to ask herself why she cared what he thought; she was too worried about sounding like a prat when she opened her mouth. But then maybe it would be better to just keep her mouth closed; finish the dance and get the hell of there before she did something stupid. But Draco began to speak before she was able to decide on a plan of action.

“So, Granger, where did you learn to dance?” Great, real smooth, Draco. You are quite the conversationalist; no doubt she’ll fall right at your feet after that one. Hermione didn’t think it was stupid, however; she was just glad to be able to concentrate on something other than the little fires that seemed to be burning wherever her skin touched his.

“I took classes when I was younger,” she replied huskily. The sound of her throaty answer took Draco’s desire to another level. He imagined that she would sound like that right after waking up, or perhaps right after shagging… Hermione cleared her throat quietly, bringing him back to the moment at hand. “I love this song.” Oh, wow, Hermione, that was a really witty thing to say. He must be utterly blown away by your linguistic abilities.

“Yes, it’s definitely one of the better songs of that time, in my opinion.”

She was distracted enough to look into his eyes again. “You know this song?” she said, sounding shocked.

“Yeah… so what?”

“But it’s a Muggle song… an American Muggle song… an old American Muggle song.”

“Forgive me, I must repeat myself – so what?”

She giggled, and the sound surprised him. She was so damn cute when she giggled (her nose scrunched up the tiniest bit and her eyes twinkled), and he found himself enchanted by her. He resolved to try to make her giggle as much as possible in the future. “Sorry, I just never expected you, of all people… wherever did you hear it, anyway?”

“My mother enjoyed American Muggle music from that time.”

“Really?” Again she was surprised, although it made perfect sense. Where else would he have heard it? Certainly not around his father.

“Yeah, although she obviously didn’t listen to it when my father was around. Only when he was gone for business or the like, then she would drag out all her old albums and listen to them over and over on this incredibly old phonograph that was in the attic. She taught me how to dance to this sort of music when I was young.” He was rather startled that he had given her that information so freely, and he was especially amazed that talking to her about his mother didn’t hurt at all. Rather, it was nice to be able to talk about her in some way.

Hermione smiled at him. “What a lovely memory to have. I have a similar one with my dad, although I doubt your mum let you dance with your feet on top of hers.” The music had changed again, another slow song that Hermione didn’t recognize; she thought it was most likely a Wizard song.

“No, that she didn’t,” he responded, smiling at her again. She was forcibly reminded how attractive he was when he smiled. She decided to change the subject; this conversation was getting far too cozy, although she marveled at how easy it was to talk to someone who, until recently, she had hated fiercely.

“I have to say, I’m rather shocked.”

“Oh? About what? My smooth dance moves, my charming demeanor, or my extensive knowledge of music?” He was hoping that she would giggle again, and he succeeded.

“None of the above,” she responded, laughter still in her voice. “I’ve been in your presence for nearly five minutes now, and you haven’t insulted me once.”

“Would you like me to insult you?” He could tell she was teasing him, and he decided to play along. He smirked, “I’m a little out of practice, so you’ll have to excuse me if at not at the top of my game.”

“No, it’s rather nice, actually. I was just wondering… you’ve changed so much,” she moved in for the kill, dropping her voice slightly and moving the tiniest bit closer, “perhaps you’ve lost your edge?”

She had given him an opening and he was ready to exploit it. Draco spun her away from him, still holding her hand, watching her smile slightly. “I may be a changed man, Granger.” He spun Hermione back to him a little roughly so that she wound up plastered up against him from her breasts all the way down to her knees, her free hand splayed against his firm chest. He pulled her up to her toes. “But I wouldn’t underestimate me if I were you,” he said, his voice an enticing growl, his breath breezing temptingly against the skin of her cheek.

She knew she was trembling, and she knew he could feel it. She also knew that the trembling wasn’t born out of fear, but out of lust, and she could tell he knew that as well. “I wouldn’t dream of it,” she said, her voice husky once again.

Her eyes were intense on his, and her mouth was unbearably close. She licked her lips nervously, and he instinctively lowered his head towards hers ever so slightly. She realized she was holding her breath, waiting for him to move. The music changed again, into hard, driving rock this time, breaking the moment.

He lowered her until her feet were flat on the ground, and slowly took a step away from her, although they were still very close and she was still in his arms. She wasn’t the only one near internal combustion. If he didn’t get away from her soon, he wasn’t going to be able to stop himself from ravishing her right there in the middle of the Great Hall, something he was sure she wouldn’t appreciate.

“Well then.” They both took a few steps back, suddenly wary of one another and their reactions to each other. “See you in a week, Granger.” And with that he turned and walked away, leaving her standing in the middle of the dance floor, still shaking slightly, and wondering why she felt disappointed.


The morning of September 1st came faster than Draco would have liked. He had received a letter through owl post the morning before informing him that he and Hermione, after welcoming and introducing themselves to the prefects, were required to spend the rest of the trip in the Heads’ compartment. The note had also said, however, that though they had to stay there, they were perfectly welcome to have their friends spend the trip with them. Obviously, Draco had no one to join him, which meant that the carriage would be filled with Hermione’s friends, which meant that he would be spending the entire day surrounded by Potter and the two Weasleys. And he certainly wasn’t looking forward to that.

He was, however, very much looking forward to seeing Hermione again, especially after their dance, though this meeting would obviously not be as exciting as their last. He now knew that his attraction to her wasn’t one-sided, not to mention the added benefit of knowing exactly how her body felt pressed up against his. Quite the entertaining memory, that.

But he couldn’t think about that at the moment. Right now, it was his job to make sure that everyone was able to get through the barrier at Platform 9 ¾ without the Muggles noticing. Usually, it wouldn’t be the Head Boy’s job to worry about this. However, he had been reminded in his letter that there would be twice as many first years this year. He had therefore been appointed to make sure that they all got through the barrier while Hermione was on the other side (and he knew she was there because he had checked) making sure that they all got on the Hogwarts Express without trouble. So far, there had been no mishaps. Five more minutes and he himself could settle down for the long journey. Only after dealing with the prefects, of course. Why had he agreed to this?

“Malfoy?” Hermione had popped back through the barrier. She gave him a little smile. “I think you’re safe to come in now. We have to get to the prefects’ carriage soon.”

“Yeah, alright,” he answered, but she was already walking back through. He followed, noting how nicely her Muggle clothing fit her, watching her hips sway as she walked. She was wearing a pair of snug jeans that seemed to flair the smallest bit at the bottom, and a fitted black tank top with very thin straps. Her hair was loose again, a gorgeous waterfall down her back, and she wore no make-up. Luckily for her, her face was in no need of cosmetics. He very much hoped that she would be wearing similar items around the Common Room this year. The fact that her Head Girl badge was already pinned to her shirt only made him smile; it was so like her. His was still in his pocket.

After changing into his school robes, he made his way to the prefect’s carriage somewhat reluctantly, noting that Hermione had also taken the time to change. He thoroughly approved of the way Hermione’s uniform skirt and vest fit her now. After the train started moving, he spent the next forty-five minutes on auto-pilot, letting Hermione mostly run the meeting and talking only when necessary. A couple of years ago, Draco would have accepted this position as no more than he was due, and he would likely have abused his power. A lot had changed; now, he was still trying to get used to the fact that he was basically in charge, especially after a year of following orders.

On their way to the Heads’ carriage, Hermione felt she should say something. She hadn’t really spoken to him since the dance last week, but she decided no to bring that up. He seemed to have forgotten about the moment that he had almost kissed her, so she would do the same.

She had no idea how wrong she was; he had been mentally kicking himself all week for not closing the small distance between their lips and tasting her. But since she wasn’t acting as if anything had almost happened, then neither would he. He would simply wait for the right moment to make his move, and this wasn’t it.

“Listen…” she twisted her fingers together. “Did you get a letter from Dumbledore yesterday?”

“Yeah.” He stuck his hands in his pockets. He figured that was the safest place for them to be at the moment, otherwise he might wind up grabbing her. Being this close to her and not being able to touch her was driving him mad.

“Did yours say we were welcome to have friends in the Head Compartment –”

“Look, Granger, I already figured that your friends would be joining us. It’s not a problem.”

“Oh, good. Well, I told them where it was when I first got here, so they should already be there… Is anybody else coming?”

“You mean do I have any friends coming to join in our little party?” He laughed mirthlessly. “I wouldn’t count on anybody showing up for me.”

“Oh… well then… alright.” She walked ahead of him, giving him an excellent view of her backside. Unfortunately, Ron chose that moment to stick his head out of the compartment door, and he was all too aware of where Draco’s gaze was focused.

“Hi, Ron. Hi Harry; I see you’ve settled in alright,” Hermione said as she walked through the door, seeing that her best friends had already changed. She looked about; this compartment was quite spacious, at least double the size of all the others. She noticed someone was missing. “Where’s Ginny?”

“She went to the loo to change,” Ron replied absently, watching Malfoy out of the corner of his eye. He didn’t like the appreciative gleam in Malfoy’s eyes, not one bit. “She should be back in a sec.” After saying hello to Hermione, Harry engaged Ron in a discussion about Quidditch. He knew what Ron was looking so pissed about and he thought it would be best to distract his friend.

“Oh, good.” She settled herself onto the plush bench next to Harry and started to pull out a book when she noticed that Draco was still standing at the door. “Are you coming in, then?” she said, quietly enough so that only Draco could hear her.

“Er… yeah.” He was feeling incredibly awkward, but not wanting to give Weasley the satisfaction of knowing that he felt out of place, he didn’t let his discomfort show. He sat down opposite to where Hermione was sitting, already immersed in her book, wondering what to do with himself. Just then, Ginny burst through the door. Harry's mouth dried up; it had been a long time since he had seen her in her uniform and he had forgotten how good she looked in it.

“Hey Hermione! How was the meeting?”

“Long,” she said with a smile. Ginny joined in with the boys’ Quidditch talk, though Hermione noticed that Ginny and Harry never spoke directly to one another; rather, they spoke around each other. She also noticed that Draco, though he was now calmly reading a book of his own, looked rather lonesome. I have to spend the year living with him; I might as well speak to him, she thought, so she drew him into a conversation about Head duties. Though for the first few minutes it was slightly awkward, they were soon talking freely about whatever popped into their heads, the others joining in as well. Everyone was perfectly comfortable with each other by the time they arrived at Hogsmeade Station.

Everyone except Ron, that is. He wasn’t happy that Malfoy was being so easily accepted by his friends; it just felt wrong. And he hated the stab of jealousy he felt every Malfoy made Hermione laugh. He should be the one making her laugh; he should be the one she was joking with. He thought he even detected some coy flirting on her part, though he tried to convince himself that his imagination was simply working overtime. Hermione Granger flirting with Draco Malfoy? The thought was absolutely ludicrous.

Draco, on the other hand, was quite happy with the circumstances. He thought that this must be what it felt like to have real friends, though he did feel that maybe his thought was slightly childish. Not only was he completely comfortable since he didn’t have to carefully watch his every action and word, but he was sure that Hermione was lightly flirting with him. He kept his new found happiness to himself, however. He simply flirted back and made conversation. He noticed that Weasley didn’t seem overly pleased with the situation, but, quite frankly, he didn’t really care.

As he walked into the Entrance Hall, he (for the first time) had a little bit of hope for the coming year, and he wasn’t about to let it go because Hermione’s ex-boyfriend was peeved by his presence; as far as he was concerned, Ron would just have to get over it.

As Hermione walked past him, she touched her fingertips to his arm briefly. “I’ll see you later, then?” she asked.

“Sure,” he smiled at her. She grinned back and started walking again. Potter nodded to him as he moved past, and Ginny even gave him a small wave. Ron, however, walked by without acknowledging Draco’s presence. Deal with it, Weasley.

A/N: Okay, I know that I said this chapter wouldn’t be as long as the first one… well, that didn’t work out like I thought it would. Sorry! This chapter is actually over 800 words longer than the last. Well, you don’t have to read it all at once; you can do it in sections if you like. And I will try to have it shorter the next time around, but I’m not making any promises. Even with the length, I hope that you enjoyed it! Please review!!! I love hearing what you guys think. So far, people have been happy, so I guess I’m doing an okay job. Now, I’m not sure how to do this, but I hope this is good enough: the first song I was referring to was, obviously, “My Humps” by the Black Eyed Peas. And the second song, the one that Draco and Hermione danced to, was “At Last” by Edda James. I’m going to be using lyrics from music in later chapters, so I hope this is the right way to cite them. Well, I’m off! I’ll update as soon as possible! ~Meghan
P.S. – the little comment box is lonely; won’t you help it out by adding a review? Thank you!

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