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Return After The War by fromtheashes248
Chapter 3 : Annoucements and Settling In
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 22

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A/N: Well, here you are, Chapter 3. See, I told that not all of my chapters would be named in threes. Although, I do have to confess that the old name I had for this chapter was a triple, but then the chapter was WAY too long, and I had to cut it in half. Nobody has been complaining about the chapter length (in fact, some people have been happy about it!), so I’m not worrying about that anymore. But there is a point where you have stop. But luckily, because I split it, the first half of chapter 4 is already written, so there you go. Also, I finally worked out all the kinks in the story on paper, so I should be able to write the chapters quicker, and therefore hopefully update faster, although that all depends on how long the wait is in the queue, so… Again, is there anybody out there that would like to make me a banner? I will love you for all time! Anyway, here it is. Enjoy!!!

Chapter 3: Announcements and Settling In 

As the Sorting commenced, Hermione took a moment to look around the Great Hall. This was her last year at Hogwarts, after all, and she intended to savor every moment of it. She was surprised at the number of Slytherins that had returned to school. Many of their parents, she knew, had been Death Eaters. She noticed that neither Vincent Crabbe nor Gregory Goyle had returned, amongst others. But Pansy Parkinson was there, as was Blaise Zabini. Although, as far as she knew, none of Zabini’s relatives had been involved in the war on either side, so she supposed he would have no reason for not returning. And from what she had heard, Pansy Parkinson’s entire family (parents, cousins, aunts, uncles) had fled the country at the beginning of the war. Hermione didn’t know whether Pansy’s family had been fleeing from Voldemort or from the Order, but regardless, it appeared they had returned. And Draco, of course, was there, sitting alone at the end of the table. He looked horribly lonesome; he didn’t even clap when someone was sorted into Slytherin.

Suddenly, Draco looked up to see Hermione staring at him. Their eyes locked for a moment before Hermione looked away, though she knew he was still looking at her. She could practically feel his eyes on her. What is going on with me? I can’t breathe when he looks at me like that. Why is he looking at me like that? This is getting out of hand; first he’s flirting with me, then that dance… She looked back to him, glaring, telling him without words that she wanted him to stop. He only smirked, winked, and turned to watch the Sorting, as though he was suddenly fascinated. What the hell was that? she thought. He didn’t seriously just wink at me? Did he?

“Come on, can’t they just get it over with? I’m starving,” said Ron, who was sitting across from her, breaking her chain of thought.

“You ate on the train,” said Ginny, who was sitting on Hermione’s right. “Twice. You can wait a few minutes before stuffing your face.”

“Why is it taking so long, though? It was never this long before.”

“I told you, Ron, there are twice as many first years this year. Of course it’s going to take a while,” Hermione answered. She gave him a small smile. “It should be over soon, though.”

“I hope you’re right.”

She was; before long, platters of food appeared on the House tables, making Ron and Harry both groan in delight as they put a bit of everything they could reach onto their plates. The feast was, as usual, marvelous, but Hermione couldn’t help glancing over at Draco every now and again. He wasn’t staring at her anymore, but he had gone back to looking lonely. She felt sorry for him, which was entirely surprising. She had never thought in her wildest dreams that she would ever feel sorry for Draco Malfoy. As the desserts appeared (and she grabbed herself a bowl of chocolate ice cream), she noticed that Pansy kept throwing dirty looks in Draco’s direction, which annoyed Hermione immensely. At least he chose a side to fight on, she thought to herself. You and your whole family ran like cowards, not that that surprised anyone. She wanted to give Pansy a piece of her mind, but knew that as Head Girl, it wouldn’t do to start yelling at a fellow seventh year.

While Hermione believed that the reason for Pansy’s dirty looks was Draco’s change of sides during the war, Draco himself knew the real reason. A few days before the start of term, he had been walking around Hogsmeade, purchasing some supplies for school, when Pansy had run up out of nowhere and embraced him.

“Oh, Draco, I was so worried,” she whispered; she sounded near tears.

“Really,” Draco replied sarcastically, removing her hands from around his neck and setting her firmly away from him. “You certainly had on odd way of showing it, disappearing for a year the way you did.”

“Draco, you know my father - ”

“I don’t want to hear it, Pansy; you and I both know you never believed any of what Voldemort preached. You could have fought against him; you chose to run. For months I thought one of my best friends was dead because you didn’t even have the decency to tell me that you were leaving.”

“Draco, I - ”

“I don’t want to hear it,” he said again. He turned and walked away, feeling slightly ashamed because he knew that she was crying behind him.

“You don’t understand,” she called out, tears in her voice. “Let me explain.”

But he just kept walking as though he didn’t hear her. When he got back to his flat, he poured himself a shot of fire whiskey, trying to convince himself that no excuse she could give would be good enough.

Sitting in the Great Hall, he silently berated himself for what he had said to her. But her betrayal had cut him, deeply. They had known each other since they were children; she was the only real friend he’d ever had. They had tried to date, but it hadn’t worked; for Draco, it was like kissing his sister, and she had admitted that she felt the same way. She was the only one that he could talk to about his father’s abuse, and he had believed that he could always rely on her, as she knew she could rely on him. But then she had disappeared, and when he found out that she fled the country without a word to him to let him know that she was all right, he felt angry, betrayed, as though their friendship had been a lie. He wasn’t ready to forgive her.

When Dumbledore stood up to speak, Draco felt vastly relieved that the night was almost over. All he had to do was get through the speech; after that, he could disappear into the Heads’ dormitory, away from all the staring and sneering. He realized that Potter had dealt with the same sort of unwanted attention everyday since he had walked through the doors here, and would likely have to deal with it everyday for the rest of his life. Well, at least he’s used to it by now.

“Welcome back everyone!” Dumbledore’s voice broke through Draco’s musing, and he shifted his attention to the Headmaster. “It is a pleasure to be here again, greeting all of you. I have some Start of Term notices to give you all, and there are quite a few things I need to address, so if you would all try and bear with me. I will get through this as quickly as possible. First of all, Mr. Filch has asked me to remind all of you that all products of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes are absolutely forbidden and will be confiscated and destroyed immediately if found. Also, a reminder that the Forbidden Forest is forbidden to all students; there is a reason we don’t want you going in there.

“I would like to introduce this year’s Head Boy and Head Girl. If you would each stand when I call your name. Our Head Boy this year is Mr. Draco Malfoy, of Slytherin.” There was a polite smattering of applause as Draco stood up. No one was very excited at the idea of Draco Malfoy being in charge. “And our Head Girl this year is Miss Hermione Granger, of Gryffindor.” The applause was much more pronounced when Dumbledore said Hermione’s name; everyone knew the role that Hermione had played in the war. The Gryffindor table exploded with cheers, and even members of Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were loudly voicing their approval. Hermione stood up, blushing in a very pretty manner and smiling shyly. It took a moment for the Great Hall to quiet again even after Hermione had regained her seat.

“Luckily, many of your professors were able to return to teach you. Some, however, are no longer with us. While we mourn their absence, let us remember that they were never happier than when they were in the classroom, helping to expand young minds. I take great pleasure in welcoming back Professor Slughorn, who will be taking over the position of Potions’ Master and also has agreed to be the Head of Slytherin House.” Another round of polite applause was given to Slughorn, who rose from his seat only to bow gracefully to the crowd.

“I also am quite pleased to welcome back Professor Remus Lupin as our Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher.” The cheering was quite heavy on the Gryffindor side of the room at this news. “Many of you will notice that his chair is empty. Do not fret; he will join us by tomorrow morning for classes. I am very happy to announce that his wife gave birth to their first child this morning and he is spending some time with his new family.” Many people called out asking what they had. Dumbledore responded with a wide smile, “They had a perfectly healthy baby girl; they are naming her Lily.”

“Now, to inform you all of some new rules and policies that I think you will all be delighted to learn of. Please hold your applause until I am finished. From now on, the village of Hogsmeade is open to all sixth and seventh year students to visit on any weekend they would like, starting after dinner on Fridays and continuing until curfew on Sundays. In the spirit of promoting Inter-House unity, you are no longer required to sit at your House tables during meal times; you are free to sit wherever and with whomever you so choose at any table you wish. Only during special occasions, such as the Halloween Feast and so on, will you be required to sit with your own House. Along with this, there will now be a “common” Common Room located next to the library where all students from all Houses are encouraged to spend their free time in between classes and before curfew. Do not worry, however; each House will still maintain their own Common Room as well. I’ll give you all a moment to discuss this most exciting news with those seated around you,” he finished, his eyes twinkling with laughter. The Hall immediately burst with the sound of students conversing. This was unprecedented, and, quite frankly, very cool.

Dumbledore raised his hands a couple minutes later, calling for calm. “Now, I would like to take a moment to remind everyone why we are able to be here tonight. Though the war itself has ended, the pain and grief that came with it has not. Many of you have lost family and friends; I hope it is a comfort to know that you are surrounded by people that support and love you while you are here. However, there would be much more pain and grief, much more death, if not for the fall of the Dark Lord Voldemort” (most every person in the crowd flinched instinctively at the sound of his name, even though there was no more reason to fear it) “last month. I believe we owe a debt of gratitude to the people responsible. Ronald Weasley, Hermione Granger, Harry Potter, would you come up here please?”

The noise in the Great Hall was tremendous as Harry, Ron, and Hermione made their way up to the Head Table; it had never been so loud in Draco’s memory. He applauded along with everyone else while each of them was given an Order of Merlin, First Class, and an Award for Special Services to the School. Weasley went first, blushing profusely, his face almost as red as his hair. Then Hermione went, positively beaming with tears in her eyes. And then Potter, at which point the noise in the room seemed to double. People were pounding on the table (which was causing silverware to fly in every direction), stomping on the floor, some were even screaming. As he shook Dumbledore’s hand, Potter leaned forward and said something to him. The Headmaster nodded with a small smile and raised his hands, calling for calm once again. It took a few more minutes before it was quiet enough for Dumbledore to speak.

“Harry has just reminded me of one more person that was of great importance. He was the only person to switch sides while the tide was still in the Dark Lord’s favor. Not only did he join the fight at great personal risk providing us with invaluable information, he was instrumental at stopping more than one Death Eater assault before it could begin. He, like many of you, also suffered a tremendous loss, and still he carried on fighting.” The Hall was absolutely silent; everyone was wondering whom Dumbledore was talking about. “Draco Malfoy, would you join us, please?”

No one moved or made a sound. Only those connected to the Order of the Phoenix would be aware of Draco’s involvement in the war, so almost everyone in attendance was stunned to hear his name. He stayed planted in his seat, momentarily paralyzed with shock. He looked up at Hermione as if to ask if he had heard the Headmaster correctly. She nodded at him, smiling with tears in her eyes again. Draco stood up and walked slowly to the Head Table. He could feel hundreds of eyes on him; it was quite unnerving.

As he shook the Headmaster’s hand, Dumbledore said quietly, “I was going to give these to you in private, Draco, but Harry believes, and I quite agree, that you deserve to be recognized for all that you have done for the Wizarding world in the past year.” He presented Draco with his own Order of Merlin, First Class, and an Award for Special Services to the School, two items that Draco had never dreamed would be in his possession. Then the Headmaster stepped back and Potter came forward to shake Draco’s hand as well. At this point, everyone in the Hall seemed to realize that what he or she was seeing was real. They all started cheering again, although not as loud or hard as they had for the Trio.

As he shook Harry’s hand, Draco smirked and said, “I don’t know whether to thank you for that, or punch you.”

“Hey, at least it got the attention off of me for a change,” Harry said with a smile. “Seriously, though, you deserve it, mate. Everyone needs to know what you did for us.”

“Mate?” Draco said, quirking one eyebrow. “Are we pals, then?” he added sarcastically. “I’m so looking forward to our first gossip session.”

Harry laughed. “Don’t press your luck.”

“Well, I think I’ve given you all plenty to think about for the night. If our prefects will assist the younger students in finding their dormitories, I think you can all be off to bed. Remember, classes begin first thing tomorrow morning.” The sounds of people walking and talking excitedly filled the Hall as students headed out. Dumbledore said quietly, “Hermione, Draco, if you would like to join me, I’ll show you to the Head dormitory.”

Hermione bade Harry and Ron goodnight and joined Draco in following the Headmaster out of the Great Hall.

“I don’t like this, Harry. I don’t like this at all,” Ron said after Hermione was out of earshot.

“What don’t you like?” Harry responded as they set off in the direction of the Gryffindor dormitory, though he was pretty sure he knew what Ron’s problem was.

“What do you think?! Hermione is going to be living with Draco Malfoy! It’s a bad idea. He’s been staring at her all day. He’s been, you know, checking her out.”

“Hermione’s a big girl, Ron; she can take care of herself. Besides, it’s not like they’re going to be sleeping in the same bed or anything. They’re basically just sharing a Common Room.”

“But she’s not safe around him.”

“Of course she is! Malfoy’s not going to do anything to hurt her.”

“How do you know, eh? What if he’s only pretending that he’s changed? What if it’s all an act; what then?”

“Ron, do you honestly think that Malfoy joined the Order almost two years ago hoping that he would be able to harass Hermione some time in the distant future?”

“No, but --”

“His mother was brutally murdered by his own father, whom he killed a few months later… he’s a totally different person, Ron. Hermione’s safe with him. And besides, you know that if Malfoy did try anything, which he won’t, Hermione would curse him quicker than he could blink. She’ll be fine, I promise.” They reached the portrait of the Fat Lady. “Do you know the password?”

“Yeah, Hermione told me earlier. It’s ‘lethifold.’” The portrait swung open and they made their way to the boys’ staircase.

“What the bloody hell is a lethifold?”

“Hermione said it’s some sort of cloak thing that eats you alive while you sleep.”

“Fantastic. And did Hermione happen to mention why the Fat Lady choose this as our password?”

“Apparently she’s on some new animal kick.” Ron shrugged as they entered the dormitory. The rest of the boys were already in bed. As they settled in, Ron said, “You really think that Hermione is safe around him?” Harry didn’t have to ask whom Ron was referring to.

“Yeah, I do; and if she isn’t, we’ll deal with it, won’t we?”


“Come along, you two; we haven’t got all night.” Dumbledore lead an eager Hermione and distracted Draco up the marble staircase. “Actually, I suppose we do have all night, but I doubt you’d enjoy spending the whole of it searching for your rooms. Am I correct?”

“Yes, sir, I believe you are,” Draco answered absently. He couldn’t help but notice how the back of Hermione’s skirt swayed and bounced as she walked ahead of him. His appreciation of the Hogwarts’ uniform was growing.

When they reached the fifth floor, they turned down a corridor that Hermione had rarely visited. After all, the library wasn’t on this floor and there weren’t any classrooms nearby. Harry was more likely to be familiar with it; he had done far more nighttime wandering than she had, after all.

They stopped in front of a pair of double doors located all the way at the end of the corridor. Draco knew from personal experience that these doors weren’t actually doors at all. “Isn’t that a trick door, sir?” Dumbledore just turned to look at him. “I thought it was just a wall; it doesn’t open.”

“Really? Shame; here I was thinking that it was the way into your dormitory,” he said with a smile. “Why don’t you place your wand tip against the keyhole, Miss Granger?”

“Of course, sir.” Hermione did as she was asked. The moment her wand was up against the keyhole, a little shock zipped up her arm and back down again. She let out a little “oh” of surprise. “What just happened, Professor?”

“That, Miss Granger, was the door’s way of getting to know you. Mr. Malfoy was quite right when he said that it was a trick door, but luckily for us, I know the trick for getting in. The door will now open for you, and it will only open for people that have “introduced” themselves to it in just this way. Your friends are allowed to visit you, of course, but in order to do so, they must do the same thing you have just done. Now, while you can tell them how to get in, they can’t tell anyone else. Only the current Head Boy and Head Girl (and myself, of course) are able to say aloud, write down, or in any other way communicate to others the way into the Head’s Common Room and dormitory.”

“That’s sort of like a Secret Keeper, isn’t it?” Hermione said thoughtfully.

“Indeed, Miss Granger, indeed. Mr. Malfoy, if you please?” Draco repeated Hermione’s gesture and felt the zap of the door “getting to know him” course through his arm. Then he just stood back, as though waiting for something.

“A door can only be walked through if it is opened,” Dumbledore said with a smile.

“Together?” Draco questioned, looking toward Hermione for an answer. His gesture left her a bit taken aback; she would have thought he would jump to open the door himself first. Instead, he was offering to share the moment, probably because he understood how important this was to her. She smiled softly at him; it was sweet of him to think of that.

“Together,” she nodded in agreement. They each grabbed a doorknob and pulled. What they saw surprised them. There was a portrait of a beautiful woman with pitch-black hair sitting alone in a vibrant meadow. She looked toward them as the door opened.

“Hello,” she said. Her voice was quiet and serene, but her violet eyes were filled with sadness. Hermione wondered who she was and what had happened to her.

“Hello, Sarah. How are you?” Dumbledore asked.

“As I always am, Headmaster,” she said with a sad smile. “Are these two the new Head Boy and Girl?” Her accent was odd; Hermione couldn’t place it.

“Yes, indeed. This is Miss Hermione Granger, of Gryffindor -”

“Ah, a member of my old house. It is a pleasure to meet you, Miss Granger.”

“And you, madam.” Hermione answered, fighting the urge to curtsy. With every passing second, the feeling that she was in the presence of royalty was growing.

“And this,” Dumbledore continued, “is Mr. Draco Malfoy, of Slytherin.”

“A Gryffindor and a Slytherin?” Sarah’s eyes were lit momentarily with amusement, but the sadness soon returned, and if Hermione wasn’t mistaken, a slight bit of anger as well. “What an interesting pair you have selected, Headmaster. And might I add,” she shot Dumbledore a sharp glance, “not very subtle.”

“I assure you, Sarah, my choice had nothing to do with your situation. You should know me better than that.”

“My deep knowledge of you, sir, is what makes me suspicious,” she said, crossing her arms and staring daggers at him. Hermione was at a complete loss. Her “situation?” What are they talking about?

“Regardless, these young people are tired and wish to go to bed. Aren’t you?” He looked pointedly at them.

“Oh, yes, sir. Of course,” they answered quickly. Draco was trying not to laugh at what he was seeing. “We need the password, though, sir,” he added.

“Of course, you’re right, Draco. The password is ‘forgiveness.’”

“Oh, you’re absolutely ridiculous, Dumbledore! Why -”

“Please, madam, I’m not sure what’s going on, but I really would like to go to bed,” Hermione said pleadingly. It was obvious that Dumbledore wanted to get out of there, and she felt honor bound to help him out. Besides, she really was rather tired.

“Of course, my dear; I’m sorry. I’m not done with you yet, Headmaster.”

“I never doubted for a second that you were, Sarah,” he said with a small bow in her direction. Sarah allowed herself a small smile as she swung the portrait open.

Hermione gasped with happiness at what she saw. The Common Room was gorgeously decorated, outfitted with a mixture of her and Draco’s house colors. The room itself was larger than the Gryffindor Common Room was, yet somehow, more cozy. There was a large fireplace of white marble that already had a fire blazing in it. In front of the fireplace, there were two armchairs that Hermione felt she could easily fall asleep in and a very large, comfortable looking sofa. One armchair was scarlet with gold piping (obviously meant for her), and the other was a green with silver piping (obviously meant for Draco). The sofa was striped with scarlet and green, and there were gold and silver pillows strewn across it. The table was a beautiful antique; dark wood that shone with a high gleam of polish. The walls were lined with books on every subject, and she thought she could happily burrow into this room for months just reading. To Hermione’s right, there was a small, fully stocked kitchen, which delighted her; she enjoyed cooking. Then she noticed there was someone in the kitchen.

“Dobby! What are you doing here?” she exclaimed.

“Dobby will be your personal house elf this year, Miss Granger,” Dumbledore answered for the elf. “And before you say anything else (I know how you feel about elf rights), Dobby volunteered for this position when he learned that you would be Head Girl. And he will be getting paid extra for it.”

“Oh, well… all right, then. But I don’t know how much there will be for you to do, Dobby. I’m used to doing things mostly on my own.”

“Anything that you wants done, Miss, Dobby will be more than happy to do! Washing, cooking; anything you like! If you needs Dobby, just pull this cord, Miss, and he will come running right away!” He pointed to a thick rope hanging in the corner of the kitchen. The elf turned toward Draco. “Dobby heard of what Draco Malfoy did for Harry Potter. Thank you, sir! Thank you for helping Harry Potter, who is Dobby’s favorite person, sir!”

“Uh, you’re welcome,” said Draco, obviously uncomfortable with the elf’s praise. He remembered when Dobby had worked in the Malfoy Manor; he had often treated the elf cruelly. “Er, listen, Dobby, sorry about the way I used to treat you.” Dobby beamed at him.

“Dobby forgives you, sir! Dobby remembers the way sir was treated as well, and he understands, sir! Anything you is wanting, sir and miss, Dobby will be most happy to do!” And with a loud CRACK! he disappeared, presumably back to the kitchens.

Hermione was staring at Draco as though he had grown a second head. She had never thought she would see the day when Draco Malfoy would apologize, especially to a house elf that used to be his servant. And he had been nervous about it; it was like the old Draco Malfoy had never existed.

“What?” he said in a slightly defensive manner. Hermione realized that she had been staring at him.

“Sorry,” she said, embarrassed that he had caught her.

“I think I’ll leave you for the night,” Dumbledore said, his eyes twinkling merrily. He saw the sparks flying off the two young people, and he wondered how long it would take each to realize what was happening between them; this year was bound to be an interesting one. “Do either of you have any questions?”

Hermione jumped a little at the sound of the Headmaster’s voice; she had completely forgotten that he was there. “Oh, um… not right now, sir,” she replied. Draco shook his head, looking around the room almost absently.

“Well, then; your dormitories are clearly marked. I trust that you will sleep well. Hopefully, Sarah has fallen asleep and will not assault me when I leave the room. Goodnight to you both.”

Hermione wanted to ask what the Headmaster and Sarah had been talking about earlier, but he left the room before she had the chance to say anything.

“What are you looking so curious about?” Draco interrupted her thoughts.

“Just trying to figure out what Dumbledore and Sarah were talking about before, that’s all.” She realized that she was alone with Draco and she was suddenly nervous. She didn’t think he would do anything harmful to her, she was just unsure of how to act around him. “I’ll think I’ll head off to bed… it’s been a long day.”

“You can say that again.”

“Yes, well… goodnight,” she smiled slightly at him and walked through the door with the initials H.G. carved into it in gold. He walked toward the door that had the initials H.B. carved in silver, but before he could even touch the doorknob, he heard a high-pitched scream from Hermione’s room.

He ran as fast as he could and threw her door open, terrible images of her having fallen and broken a limb (or something to that effect) flashing through his mind. But when he opened the door, all he saw was Hermione spinning around her room happily, her outer robe lying discarded on her bed. He tried to detect if she was hurt in anyway, but the only thing he could see was absolute happiness all over her face.

“Granger, what happened? Why were you screaming?”

“Look at it!”

“Look at what?” He couldn’t for the life of him figure out why she was so excited.

She grabbed Draco’s wrist and pulled him into the room with her; his skin burned where she touched him. “The room! It’s perfect! I know Dumbledore said that it would look like my room at home, but I never thought… it’s exactly the way I left it!” She started walking around, running her hands over a vanity table that was painted light green. “My father painted this for me when I turned eight, and my mother gave me this silver brush set the next year, and… and you couldn’t possibly care less,” she said with a slightly embarrassed smile on her face.

“No, it’s all right.” He thought her enthusiasm was cute. She spun around once again, her skirt twirling around her long legs. Tearing his eyes away from this delightful sight, Draco took a moment to study the room.

He was surprised by what he saw. He had expected it to be more… frilly, but he had been far off the mark there. It was feminine, without a doubt, but in a very bold way. The walls were painted a deep yet bright shade of blue. All of her furniture was light colored wood, except for the green vanity, of course. Her bedspread was a swirling mixture of jewel-toned blues (which perfectly matched the walls), greens, purples, oranges, and reds, a combination that should have been hideous, but somehow wasn’t. There was a bunch of squashy pillows piled on top of her bed that matched the colors in the quilt. An oddly shaped yet comfortable looking chair was in the corner (it was the same shade of purple that was in the bedspread, a shocking magenta), with a bright green pillow (which also matched the bedspread) lying in it. Over it hung a floor lamp whose shade was green and blue. The carpet was the same deep red as her bed. The overall affect was stunning; it should have clashed horribly and been completely unsightly, but it wasn’t. It was lively and vibrant, just like she was. “It suits you.”

“I know.” She beamed at him. “I love it; it’s absolutely perfect in every way.” Just then she gasped, looking toward her desk. “Oh my God! But that doesn’t make any sense…”


“My laptop, and all my CD’s and my CD player, and my Ipod as well… they’re all here, too. Why?”

“Your what? What’s a lap top? What’s an eye-pod?”

“Oh, well, a laptop is a personal computer… Do you know what a computer is?”

“Yes; I’m not totally ignorant of all things Muggle.” He looked at it; it was flat and square. “I thought computers were bigger, though.”

“They’re getting smaller everyday. And an Ipod is a Muggle device that plays music. CD’s play music, too.”

“Wait a tic… I thought Muggle inventions didn’t work in Hogwarts. Isn’t there too much magic around here for the, er… what’s it called?”

“Electricity?” she supplied helpfully.

“Yeah. Isn’t there too much magic for the electricity to work?”

“Yes, that’s why I can’t figure out why Dumbledore would put them – oh, look,” she said. She had opened the laptop while she was speaking and there was a note sitting on the keyboard. She read it aloud to Draco.

Miss Granger,
                I’m sure you are wondering why your computer and music are in your room. When you said you wished for your dormitory to match your room from home, I charmed your computer and the like so that they are now running on magic, not electricity. Therefore, they are in complete working order. I hope this pleases you and helps your final year here at Hogwarts be a pleasant one.
                                                                             Yours most sincerely,
                                                                                      Professor Dumbledore

“Oh my God! This is so cool!” Hermione exclaimed as she made to turn on her computer. It blinked to life. “I can’t believe this! This is AMAZING!” She turned the computer off again with a tap of her wand. She flopped back on her bed, grinning. Her skirt had landed high on her thighs, and she was looking directly into his eyes. “I’m so happy I can hardly breathe.”

Draco was having trouble breathing as well, although not because he was happy. She was utterly gorgeous. When she smiled, her whole face lit up and she became (in Draco’s eyes) the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She practically stopped his heart.

She jumped up suddenly. “Come on,” she said, grabbing his hand. “Let’s go see what your room looks like.”

“It’s probably nothing special,” he said, though he allowed her to pull him out of the room. “I asked Dumbledore to make it look traditional.” He was trying to ignore the feeling of warmth that entered him when her fingers had entwined with his.

“Well, let’s see what traditional looks like.”

“For Slytherin? It’s probably dark, dank, and gloomy… like the dungeons.” As she giggled, he opened his bedroom door and peered inside. It appeared he had been off the mark once again; the overall coloring might be dark, but his room was neither dank nor gloomy. It was cozy. The walls were a deep shade of Slytherin green. His four-poster bed was made of dark oak, and the bedspread was green with silver designs covering it. Draco was relieved to see that there were no serpents anywhere. There was a deep armchair in one corner, and a desk across the room from the bed, also made of dark oak. But the best thing about this room was that Dumbledore had somehow retrieved a picture from the Malfoy manor and had it framed and placed on the desk. It was a picture of Draco and his mother when he was five; she was holding him close and they were laughing. The picture was, of course, moving, but in that moment, his mother was eternally young and happy, and vibrantly alive.

Hermione let go of his hand and walked toward the picture. “You’re mother was beautiful.”

“Yes, she was.”

Hermione turned toward him, hearing the underlying sadness when he spoke of her. “You look very much like her.”

“No,” he said, the bitterness clear in his voice. “No, I look very much like my father.”

Hermione only shook her head. She walked until she was standing right in front of him. Inside she was shaking, just being this close, knowing that his skin was mere inches away from hers. “You have her eyes, and her heart,” she laid her hand on his chest gently. “And you have her goodness in you. You may look a bit like you’re father on the outside,” she touched her other hand to Draco’s cheek. “But you are nothing like him on the inside,” she whispered the last bit, her eyes staring directly into his.

The way Hermione spoke made it easy to believe what she said. He wanted to kiss her, but he couldn’t move, not wanting to break the spell that her eyes had him under.

She moved her head a bit closer, wanting to feel his mouth on hers so badly that her lips were already tingling with anticipation. Under her hand, she could feel his heart knocking in his chest. His hands moved up to gently frame her face. Her eyes fluttered closed and her body was vibrating as she awaited his assault.

But it never came. Instead, he pressed his lips to her forehead. Her knees nearly buckled and her heart melted; the gesture was so sweetly intimate (and so unexpected) that she couldn’t breathe. She opened her eyes to look questioningly into his.

“Thank you,” he said quietly. He was barely succeeding in keeping his voice from trembling with wanting her. Hermione Granger was in his arms, beautiful and willing, and he couldn’t let himself take her. With any other girl there would have been no hesitation, no second-guessing himself. But for some reason that he couldn’t explain, Hermione wasn’t like all the other girls that he had been with. She was special, she was important, and he wasn’t about to ruin whatever was happening between them by rushing through it. He took a small step back from her, never breaking eye contact.

“You’re welcome,” she responded, her voice husky with desire. She took a step back as well and cleared her throat. “Good night,” she whispered before scurrying around him and back to her own room.

He waited until he heard her door click closed quietly before letting out a shaky breath. He tried to convince himself that he had done the right thing. Maybe not for him, but definitely for her. If he had really gotten his hands on her, if he had gotten his mouth on hers, he wouldn’t have been able to stop until she was moaning beneath him. And it was way too early for that. That woman, he thought, is going to be the death of me.

Hermione felt like banging her head against the blue walls of her bedroom. Maybe that would knock some sense into her. This was the second time she had almost kissed him. What are you thinking, Hermione? This is Draco Malfoy, for Merlin’s sake! This cannot be happening. She firmly resolved to stop whatever it was that had started. All she had to do was stay out of close bodily contact with him. Because, of course, it was only a physical reaction… Right?

A/N: All right, there it is. I was going to have Hermione’s birthday in this chapter, but, like I said before, it would have been way too long, so that and other things will be in the next chapter. There are some funny moments coming, and I promise that something definite between Draco and Hermione will be happening soon! We will also find out exactly what happened between Harry and Ginny, and there will be some moments between them coming as well! Please leave a review!!! Everybody has been really lovely so far, and I appreciate the support more than I can say. ~Meghan
P.S. - About Lupin and Tonks' baby... they HAD to name her Lily. Maybe it's a little cliched, but I don't care. It was just too perfect! And by the way, I got "lethifold" from "Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them." Just so you know.

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