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Love and Forgiveness by HarryGinny4eva
Chapter 4 : Chapters 8 -9
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 10


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Chapter 8
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Disclaimer: Many thanks to JK Rowling for her wonderful works. They are hers and hers alone. I have only borrowed her characters for a while and built my own little fantasy around them. There is no pay involved for me in doing it.



Hermione helped Beth straighten up her place and then they sat around for a while comparing notes. It was nice for Hermione to be able to talk to someone so freely about things. Plus, she got to hold on to her high from Draco’s kiss for a while longer. She and Beth compared their kisses and giggled like schoolgirls. While Hermione described hers as tender, surprising, and toe-tingling, Beth could only keep saying, “Hot!”

It was a little after noon when she finally apparated home, a huge smile on her face.

“Supwise!” small voices called out.

She let out a scream of fright at the appearance of people in her living room and before she could recover fully two tiny blurs hit her in the knees, “Aunt Mione!”

“Teddy? Jamie?” she said slowly, “What? Uh, hi.” She bent down and scooped them into her arms as her eyes collided with Ginny’s.

She jumped again when she heard Harry’s voice from her left, “I guess we really did surprise you, huh?”

She laughed nervously and stood up, “Yeah, you did. So, hi. Um, what brings you guys here again so soon?”

Ginny looked away and started to fuss with Albie’s diaper. Harry sighed heavily and answered, “Well, I got back from my retreat and Ginny gave me an earful about you. Then, we had a bit of a row about things. Then Molly got involved. She rightly suggested you two needed to talk. One thing led to another and we thought it best we come over so we could all talk.”

Hermione turned to where Harry had indicated and saw Molly in her kitchen doorway, an apron already wrapped around her motherly form.

“Oh, I, um, okay.” Hermione looked from Molly to Harry to the top of Ginny’s bent head and felt her giddiness ebbing away. “Well, let me go change.”

Before she could leave the room though, Ginny spoke with her head still down, “Um, Mione, we’ve been here a little while and you got a message on that phone machine thing a little while ago. We didn’t mean to listen, but we were here and, well, um, you should probably listen to it.”

Confused, Hermione walked over and pressed play.

“Hi. It’s me. Draco. I know I just left you, but I wanted to tell you again that I had a great time this morning. And, I am really looking forward to seeing you again soon. Call me later if you want to talk or anything.” Then she heard his deep chuckle as he added, “Oh, and since I didn’t ramble this time, can we pretend this is the first message I’ve ever left for you? Bye Hermione.” Beeeeeeeeep

Hermione giggled at the last part of his message and smiled as she looked up. Only then did she remember two very important things. First, she wasn’t alone. And, second, three of the people standing in the room with her would not have been happy to hear that message the first time, much less the second.

With a deep sigh the smile fell from her face and she pressed save on the machine. Without looking at any of them, she said heavily, “I’ll be right back.”

She shut her bedroom door just as she heard Teddy ask, “Who’s Dwaco daddy?”

Her brow lifted in surprise when she heard Harry’s reply, “I think he’s a friend of Aunt Mione’s. Come on, Champ, let’s see if we can find some cartoons on this TV?”

She flopped on her bed let her mind wrap around the arrival of her friends.

Hmmmm, a friend of mine, huh? Seems Harry has learned to control his anger. I wonder how long I can stay in here before they come in after me? Seriously, why now? I love them both, but I was actually happy for a whole morning! Well, time to face the music. Wait. Why am I the one who has to face anything? I haven’t done anything wrong, dammit! Yeah, he was a git and a prat and an ass in school, but he’s not that person anymore. I can like him if I want! And, I do, I think.

Their kiss came back to her and a soft smile lit her face again.

Yes, I do.

She changed her clothes and straightened her shoulders before she went to her door. Her righteous indignation flowed through her as she wrenched the door open a bit harder than she’d planned. And, she saw everyone in her living room flinch.

“Sorry,” she mumbled. “Can I get you anything to drink or whatever?”

Harry walked over and hugged her, “No, we already raided your fridge and Molly made the kids sandwiches.” Then he leaned down and said softly, “Relax Mione. We’re okay.”

Her eyes flew to search his and she relaxed when all she saw was love and support looking back at her. Then she risked a glance to where Molly and Ginny sat cooing at Albie.

“Okay, then.” She was unsure what to say or where to start, so she simply stood there wondering how to get the conversation started.

Molly saved her when she stood up and said, “Okay boys. Time to go to the park, like I promised.”

Hermione smiled as Teddy jumped up and down yelling, “Carousel, carousel.” But, her smile turned to shock when three year old Jamie clapped and shouted in glee and everything in the room turned rainbow in color.

Even Ginny laughed, “Sorry about that. But, I did warn you.”

With an experienced flick of his wrist, Harry set everything back to its normal color and handed Molly a large diaper bag.

“You remember how to get there and everything? You’ll be alright?” he asked worriedly.

Hermione grinned at his fatherly worry and smiled outright when Molly answered indignantly, “Harry James Potter, I raised seven children, I think I can manage my grandchildren and moving about a few blocks in this city!”

“I know, Molly, just be careful okay?” Then he bent down on one knee to face Teddy, “No magic. No making Grandma yell at you. And, you help her take care of Jamie okay?”

He put his little hands on his hips in a perfect imitation of Harry, “I know Dad. Can we go now?”

“Sure thing,” Harry smiled and ruffled the child’s hair as he stood. “Thanks again, Molly.”

“Of course,” Molly answered. And, finally giving Hermione a clue as to why she was there, she smiled lovingly at Hermione and added, “We’re going to be gone a while, so take your time getting Gin’s head on straight! Bye now.”

With that she took the boys’ hands and left the apartment through the front door.

Wait! Molly’s okay with this? And, Harry? Huh?!

As if he could read her mind Harry laughed softly, “No need to pinch yourself, you’re not dreaming. Come on, sit down.”

Hermione slowly made her way over to the chair and perched on the edge, while Harry relaxed back on the sofa. The silence weighed on all of them as Ginny took her time putting Albie in his rocker. Then she joined Harry on the sofa and looked at her clasped hands.

“So, you and Malfoy, huh?” Harry asked, breaking the quiet.

“Um, well, he, that is I, I mean, well yeah, but it was only one date. And, I’m sorr...No, I’m not sorry. But, it wasn’t even a date really, just the four of us jogging and, well we ate, but I mean Blaise and Beth were there, too, so, well, I...” she trailed off not knowing how to explain things properly.

She heard Ginny take a deep breath and braced herself for the onslaught. She noticed Ginny glance up at her and then drop her eyes again before she spoke.

“Look, I’ve been forced to think a lot about this and Mione, I’m sorry. I should have listened to you and not jumped all over you. I guess it’s still hard for me to see beyond the past. I still see the beaver teeth he gave you, the way he treated you, the names he called you. I watched him and his cronies make all of your lives hell for years and I, well I guess I overreacted a little. I mean, I love you and I trust you, and your judgment, so if you say he’s changed, and even Mom and Harry suggest that it could be true, then, um, I guess I can deal with it. For you, I mean. I want you happy and if dating Malfoy makes you happy, then I will not make things more difficult for you.”

“Oh, Gin,” Hermione whispered.

Ginny’s tearfilled eyes finally lifted to hers and she grabbed blindly for her husband’s hand as she continued, “But, promise me one thing, okay?”

“Of course.”

“Well, I’m not saying he will, you understand, not at all, but if he hurts you, ever, in any way, you’ll tell me?” the fiery red-head asked softly. “I want us to still be able to talk about everything, Mione. I wouldn’t want you to think you have to hide anything from me, from us, just because I can’t, as you said, grow up.”

Hermione rushed over to hug her. They shared tears and a hug as they made up and then Hermione turned to Harry and sat back down.

“And, you?”

“Well, I know things about him that you two don’t, from work. Both good and bad. And, it’s been a long time, but the last time I spoke to him I realized he wasn’t the same kid we knew. The war changed everyone, like I told Gin. We’ve all changed, why wouldn’t he? I do admit to being initially shocked when she told me about you guys meeting up with him and Blaise at the club though. But, only because I never thought he would have the guts to approach you.”

At her surprised look he answered her unspoken question, “Yes, I knew he was here. We keep tabs on everyone who was involved back then. I was the one who made sure he got the letter from USWU first. I couldn’t stop AWU from accepting him, but I hoped he would jump at whatever came first and I got my wish.”

“And, you didn’t say anything?!” she asked more than a little upset that he had kept that from her.

“I’m sorry. But, we were so busy just watching everyone and keeping tabs on everything that the only thing I was thinking at the time was to keep him and Blaise away from you. You had enough to deal with after The Fall. I didn’t want you worrying about him, too. Then, as time passed and you starting becoming yourself again, I just didn’t want you to have to deal with it. So, yes, I kept it from you and before you jump all over me you should know Ginny already did.”

Hermione laughed a little, but then answered, “Okay, I get what you did, but I don’t agree with why. After all we’ve been through together I can’t believe you didn’t think I could handle that. I’m a big girl, Harry. I can protect myself.”

“Hey, I, of all people, know that!” he said as he sat forward and grabbed her hand. “But, I didn’t want you to have to handle it. You were strung so tight after everything; so paranoid, scared, sad, hard. You didn’t trust anyone or anything. And, you never spoke to anyone outside of us and the other Order members. You jumped at the smallest things and you and Ron had, well...you just had so much to get over. You just weren’t yourself anymore and I missed you. Call me selfish, but I wanted my best friend back. I was overjoyed when you finally took charge of your life again and started to come back to me. I couldn’t be the one to cause that all to come back. I’m sorry, but I just couldn’t.”

Hermione squeezed her friend’s hand, but before she could say anything Ginny laughed a little, “And, just think, you and Malfoy wouldn’t be getting together now if you had known about him all along.”

“I guess not,” she smiled.

Ginny asked softly, “So, we’re okay?”

Hermione smiled a real smile at her friends, “Yeah, we’re okay.”

“Thank you,” Ginny smiled back. “So, um, can I ask a question?”

“Sure,” Hermione answered as she blew out a breath. “Shoot.”

Ginny grinned and curled up next to Harry, “Care to explain how this all happened? I mean, how’d you go from hating to dating and from Zabini to Malfoy in just three days?”

For the next couple of hours she filled them in on all that had transpired. They laughed and joked and Hermione rejoiced in being able to share her life with them finally. Things felt right.

She and Ginny shared a laugh at Harry’s overprotective behavior when he called Molly to check in for the third time. And, they teased her good-naturedly over her new affinity for Slytherins. When Molly returned later in the evening it was to find a very happy Hermione holding Albie and giving him his bottle, while Ginny and Harry fought over the TV remote.

‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’

After dinner Molly said her goodbyes and flooed home. Since things were back to normal between them, Hermione asked them to stay. It made no sense for them to go back home before they got to see Snoop and Ron, who were due back the next day. And, although it remained unsaid, they each felt Hermione needed the extra support around when Ron found out.

Ginny put the children down in Hermione’s second room, which they transfigured into a nursery for the night, and the three sat around talking and playing board games. It was almost ten o’clock when her cell phone rang.

She saw the name on the readout and glanced nervously at her friends. It was time to put their understanding to the test.

“Hey,” she answered.

“So, I guess my amazing kiss didn’t deter you from him, huh?” she heard him purr.

“Uh, sorry Blaise, but no,” she laughed. She hoped he was joking and realized he was when he laughed in return.

When Ginny and Harry both turned to look at her, she looked away before continuing, “So, uh, what are you doing home and calling me on a Saturday night?”

“Well, all that getting up early and running crap made me tired. I don’t know what you guys see in it,” he laughed.

“You get used to it,” she answered. “Um, look, I have company right now, so I really can’t talk, but...”

“Oh really?” he interrupted. “Should D be jealous?”

She laughed, “No, nothing like that. Harry and Gin came over to surprise me today.”

She heard him pause before he answered, “Oh. Well. Oh. Do they know it’s me?”

“Yes.”

“Oh, okay, well, um, I guess I’ll let you go then. Don’t let them give you too hard a time, okay?”

She smiled at the protectiveness in his voice, “No worries. They...”

Harry then surprised her when he called out, “Hermione, tell him hello.”

“Um, Harry says to tell you hello,” she repeated.

“I heard,” he said with a laugh. “I almost choked on my gum.”

Her jaw dropped when Ginny added softly, “Maybe you should invite him, them, over for lunch or something tomorrow. Might as well get to see this change for myself, right?”

She let out a garbled laugh when Blaise said in her ear, “Hell just froze over, right?!”

‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’

“Jamie, stop hitting your brother!” Ginny demanded.

Harry, without even looking up from his morning paper, added, “Boys!” And, Hermione held back a giggle at seeing her friends be so parental, while the boys ignored them completely.

She continued to layer the items on her lasagna for their luncheon, “So, anyway, Beth should be here any minute and she says she wants Harry to teach her Wizard’s chess.”

Ginny teased, “Well, at least he’ll finally have someone he can beat.”

“Hey!”

“Relax, love, I was kidding...mostly,” Ginny answered.

Hermione laughed with them and added the cheese to the top. Ginny quickly scribbled down Hermione’s actions and asked, “How do you know how much to put on top?”

“You just do, Gin. Once you do it the first time you’ll...”

They all jumped a little when at the same time the doorbell rang, the fireplace bell tinkled, and a loud pop was heard from the living room.

“What the...” Hermione exclaimed.

Each grabbed a child and hurried into the living room where Ron and Snoop stood beaming at them. The boys screamed for their Uncle Ron, as Ginny and Hermione ran to embrace both. It wasn’t until the fireplace bell tinkled a second time and the doorbell went off again, that any of them remembered the other arrivals. In her joy, Hermione didn’t think as she flicked her hand towards the fire releasing the protective charm and went to open the door for Beth.

Wow, I almost forgot Beth. And the fireplace. Blaise and...Crap!

She opened the door and Beth bounded in with a cheery hello, but the silence that greeted her stopped her in her tracks.

Hermione saw the look on her friend’s face and couldn’t make herself turn around. The silence stretched uncomfortably, until even Albie felt the tension and started crying in her arms. Beth stepped around her, patted her on the arm and went into save mode.

“Hey guys! Snoop, you look fabulous! I see marriage agrees with you. Blaise, Draco long time, no see.”

Hermione slowly closed the door and turned to face the group. Harry and Ginny stood stiffly, each holding a child and trying to smile politely. Snoop stood still and looked from one person to another in shock. Ron looked to be holding his breath, while he flexed and fisted his hands. Beth had moved to stand next to Blaise and had her hand on his arm. And, when she finally let her eyes rest on Draco’s face, Hermione smiled. He stood straight and proud, looking at her with a mixture of hope, defiance, and support, and he held a tiny bouquet and a bottle of wine. His wink eased the tension in her shoulders and she pushed away from the door.

“So, this is an unexpected surprise,” she said brightly to Snoop and Ron. “I thought you guys wouldn’t be back until later tonight.”

When no one moved, she continued and edged toward the kitchen, “Sit, sit. We all want to hear every detail of your trip. Well, not every detail,” she laughed awkwardly. No one else laughed.

“Well, let me get everyone something to drink. Um, Draco why don’t you bring me that wine.” With that she slid into her kitchen and dropped her head into her hands.

She heard the door close behind her and felt his hands on her shoulders. He squeezed once and she leaned back into him. His hands slid down her arms to enfold her in a hug before he said, “I’m sorry. Want us to go?”

She spun around to look up at him, “No! I...”

At that point it seemed Ron had reached his breaking point.

“What the HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!”

Ginny gasped, “Ron, the children!”

His voice dropped a fraction, “I suggest you put them in the other room then, Ginny!”

From the kitchen all they could hear was the movement of bodies and the children complaining about having to go in the nursery. Hermione flinched when Harry yelled at them to listen to their mother, and Jamie started to cry. She dropped her head onto Draco’s chest and drew in a shuddering breath. As silence reigned once again in the other room, Draco put his hand under her chin to lift her eyes to his.

“Hermione, I’m only asking because I don’t want you hurt, not because of me. Are you really sure enough about wanting to try this, I mean see me, to do this now? If you are, then I’m in one hundred percent and behind you all the way, because I know I want to at least try this, whatever it is between us. But, if you would rather, you know, let it go for a while, then I’ll understand and B and I can....”

In answer she slid her hand up to his face and covered his lips with her fingertips to silence him. Then she smiled up at him, “I’m in.”

His relief was so clear on his face that she giggled a little.

“Well, then let’s pop this wine and go face the music,” he winked at her. “But, I think we’re going to need more than just this one bottle.”

‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’

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Chapter 9
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Hermione levitated the glasses on a tray, while Draco carried the now two bottles of wine and two of firewhiskey and together they entered the silent room of glaring adults. Their entrance seemed to act as a signal for the fight to begin as everyone jumped to their feet.

Ron – WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON HERE?!
Ginny and Snoop – Ron, please.
Harry – Let her explain.
Blaise – Same hot head as always.
Beth – Maybe we should all calm down.
Hermione – Ron, I...
Draco – Cool it, Weasley!
Ron –WHAT DO YOU MEAN EXPLAIN?! TELL ME I AM NOT SEEING WHAT I THINK I AM SEEING!
Snoop – Ron, honey, please calm down. I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation for all of this.
Ginny – Would you stop yelling, dammit!
Harry – RON, WOULD YOU JUST LISTEN? GIVE THEM A CHANCE TO EXPLAIN.
Blaise – What’s it to you anyway, Weasley? They’re just seeing each other. It’s not a crime!
Ron – SEEING EACH OTHER?!
Beth – Hermione? Should I....
Hermione – Oh, Ron, would you just listen to me?!
Draco (tiredly) – This is so ridiculous!
Blaise – SO, WHAT OF IT?! D’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR HER OR SOMETHING?
Hermione, Beth and Ginny – Blaise!
Harry – Back off, Blaise!
Ron – WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON?!
Harry – Mate!
Draco – Shut it, Weasley!
Blaise – Stupid and crude!
Snoop – Hey!
Ron – YOU’RE SCREWING HIM?!
Hermione – Ronald, I am not SCREWING ANYBODY!
Ginny – Hermione. Ron. The boys!
Snoop – Wait, you lost it to Draco Malfoy?! I was only gone a week, HG! How’d this happen?
Beth – No, Snoop she hasn’t...
Harry – WOULD YOU JUST STOP YELLING AND LISTEN!

Hermione’s firm, “Everybody. Shut. Up!” silenced the lot. She took a deep calming breath and felt Draco’s hand on the small of her back giving her his silent support.

“Ronald Weasley, you will stop shouting this instant. You’re scaring your nephews! Ginny, go check on them please. Blaise, you will act your age and stop egging Ron on right now. Beth, would you please help Draco get everyone a drink? And, Snoop, if you just give me a minute, I will explain everything.”

Everyone, but Ron, mutely went about their assigned task or took a seat. Beth squeezed Hermione’s hand as she passed her and took the still floating glasses. Draco rubbed her back a little before he moved away to the counter to pour the drinks.

Hermione moved over to stand near Ron, “Okay, look. This wasn’t how this was supposed to happen. But, Draco and Blaise were INVITED here by me. And, Harry and Ginny were kind enough to give them a chance. Beth is here also at my invitation. You and Snoop...”

“YOU INVITED THEM HERE?!” he exploded again.

Her voice was a hiss, “You. Will. Let. Me. Finish!”

He opened his mouth to retort, but the look in her eyes kept him quiet. He nodded once stiffly.

“Now, you and Snoop know you are always welcome here. And, you know I love you both. I am sorry that this was how you got to end your honeymoon and that this is how you had to find out. But, and hear me clearly on this, Ronald, but, if you EVER act like this again, in my home again, in front of my guests, it will be a cold day in hell before I forgive you.”

He believed her, but wasn’t even remotely ready to accept the things he had seen or heard. So, he swallowed his initial reaction and nodded.

Then with a much more quiet tone, but a full on sneer, “So, would you care to explain what the two of them are doing here at your invitation?”

“Maybe you and I should go into my room to talk,” she answered and swept her hand in that direction.

He nodded once and stomped across the room. Snoop stood and looked unsure of what to do; stay with the others or follow her new husband. Hermione went over to her former roommate.

When she stood in front of her she said softly, “I’m really sorry about all of this. I know it’s not the right time, at least not now, but I do want hear all about your honeymoon. And, I’m glad you’re home. I missed you.”

“Missed you, too, HG,” Snoop hugged her back. Then she laughed a little, “But, Lucy, you got some ‘splainin to do!”

Hermione laughed a bit at their shared television show joke, “Don’t I know it? Beth can fill you in on some of it. And, Ginny and Harry I’m sure have their version. Keep things under control out here for me, okay?”

“Will do. But, um...” Snoop paused as if she wasn’t quite sure how to say what she was thinking. Then she sighed, “Don’t be too hard on him. He’s shocked, hurt, and confused, but he loves you. And, you love him. Remember that.”

“I know.”

Hermione glanced quickly at the others and turned to walk to her bedroom. Draco stopped her with a hand on her hip. She looked up at him and he leaned down to give her short kiss on her cheek.

“Chin up.”

She smiled sadly at him and squeezed his hand before she turned away and left.

‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’

It was only twelve steps, but the walk to her bedroom door seemed to stretch like it was a mile. She felt like she was walking the plank to her doom. And, she hated that she didn’t know what to say to a man who had been through so much with her. A man that she loved like a brother; respected, trusted. She knew his strengths and his faults. And, one of his greatest of both was his sense of loyalty. He was a good guy through and through. He was a forever Gryffindor and had a sense of righteousness second to none. After The Fall he had made it his life’s work to punish those who had fought for the wrong side. His work and dedication with the Magical Law Enforcement Force had propelled him from the bottom rung to Captain of his own squad in only three years.

She also knew he had an extremely strong prideful streak that ran through that tall body of his. It often got him in trouble and caused him more pain than necessary. He rarely backed down when he believed he was right, regardless of any apparent evidence to the contrary. He just kept digging in until he either proved to others he was correct in his gut feelings or embarrassed himself fully. And, she feared this would be the case again.

The look she received when she stepped around the doorframe froze her in her tracks. Disgust, pain, betrayal, disbelief, and simple anger all mingled on his mottled red face.

Then his words reached across the room to slap her in the face, “How could you?!”

Hermione straightened her spine and stepped in to close the door. With her eyes on his she cast a silencing charm on the room and moved forward to try and make him understand.

‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’

In the other room, the adults each had a drink and tried to force themselves to relax. The women had gathered around the counter and each looked into their drinks as they tried to figure out all that had transpired. The three men had fallen into chairs and the sofa and nursed their drinks in silence.

Finally breaching the uncomfortable stillness, Harry threw back his drink and turned his head to stare at Draco. When his stare was returned without rancor, but with curiosity, he took a moment to think about all he knew about the boy-turned-man who sat across from him.

Blaise tossed back his drink and reached out to pour himself another as he muttered, “Weasley’s still a stupid, arrogant ass!”

“B,” Draco admonished with a heavy sigh. “Leave it, okay?”

Blaise harrumphed, crossed his arms over his wide chest, glared at Harry as if everything was his fault, and then fell back into silence.

Each of the women watched the male interaction and then looked at each other. Ginny sat forward and said to Snoop, “Well. Okay. So, that didn’t go too well, huh?”

Snoop let out a nervous laugh of agreement and nodded, “I can’t believe this. We thought we’d surprise Hermione and thank her for taking care of the apartment and then pop over to see you guys.” Her eyes took on a slightly dreamy, wistful look as she continued, “Then we were going to celebrate our first night together in our new place.”

Beth reached out to put her hand on top of her friend’s, “Could still happen.”

“Yeah, right. He’s sure as hell not going to be in the mood now,” she laughed a little. Then she sobered and looked from one to the other, “Either one of you want to start filling me in?”

Ginny started with a small thoughtful laugh, “Honestly, I’m not sure. One minute she hated both of them, then she’s dating Blaise and now Mal...Draco.”

Beth said more to herself than them, “Well, she only really asked Blaise over to get her mind off Draco.”

“But, why?” Snoop asked the two women. “Why was she thinking about him at all? I thought she hated him. Well, until last week at least.”

Ginny replied thoughtfully, “You know what? I don’t think she even understands it. But, if you look at him objectively, which is hard for me believe me, he’s a smart, good-looking, can be funny, seemingly nice single guy. At least he looks that way now. And, they do have a lot in common...and a history.”

Snoop took a sip of her wine, “You think it’s one of those hate love things? You know like their hate covered their actual attraction or something.”

Beth shook her head and finished her glass. Then with a shrug she poured another, “No. I think they really did hate, or at least really dislike each other. From what she’d said about him before all this, and from some of the things Blaise has told me they were like oil and water in almost everything.”

“Well, actually they weren’t when you think about it,” Ginny said softly as she took a quick, thoughtful glance at the brooding man across the room. “I mean they were always at odds, but they were both also always a lot alike, too. Driven, strong in their convictions, goal-oriented, loyal, and obsessed with being right and being the best. It’s just their upbringings, friends, and goals were polar opposites.”

Snoop nodded, “Okay, maybe now that they aren’t on opposite sides, they have nothing to fight about anymore and that’s the attraction?”

“No, I don’t think that’s it either,” Beth said. Then she looked at Ginny, “I don’t know everything he put you guys through, although I know a bit. But, I think it’s simple chemistry, you know. They’ve both grown up and changed. They aren’t the same people anymore. And, their new selves just like each other. Like their drawn to each other or something.”

Ginny nodded slowly, “I guess that makes the most sense. And, maybe their long history made the falling for each other part easier in a way.”

When both women looked at her in question she continued, “Well, most of us have to take time to get to know someone when we start dating. I mean we don’t know anything about them and it’s new and kind of exciting, but it’s also weird and awkward. Maybe since they already know each other pretty well, each other’s faults, strengths, histories, and stuff, maybe it was easier to just, I don’t know, just fall, you know?”

Snoop lifted her glass in a toast and grinned, “Well, go Dr. Potter. I think we have a winning theory.”

Each toasted the other and laughed as Beth and Ginny went back to filling Snoop in on the events of the week. Their relaxed conversation and tinkling laughter worked its way across the room and helped relax the men. As it was the first time Harry had ever conversed with either of the men opposite him in a conversational manner, their conversation was a bit different though.

As if he had come to a decision, Harry leaned back and closed his eyes, “You better prove worth all this, Malfoy.”

Draco let out a self-deprecating laugh, “We shall see, huh, Potter?”

“Why’s it always D who has to prove himself, eh Potter?” Blaise asked petulantly, more tired then angry. “I mean the past is the past, we can’t change it, and he paid his dues, in full. Why can’t we just let it go? Mione did.”

Harry quirked a brow and opened his eyes at Blaise’s use of Hermione’s nickname, but refrained from commenting. He looked thoughtfully from one to the other, “I’m willing to make peace and put it behind us, if you are. For her. She’s my best friend and I trust her. If she’s willing to put the past aside, I can.”

Draco looked at Harry searchingly and then sat forward on his chair. He pushed his hand through his hair and sighed, “Agreed.”

Then he swirled his drink and said softly, “I don’t even know how this all happened. I mean if you had told me two weeks ago that I would be falling for her, and going through all this, I would’ve...I don’t know, but I sure as hell wouldn’t have believed you.”

Harry turned his head to look at Draco, “So, what changed all of a sudden?”

“No idea, really,” he laughed a little. “I saw her in the club and everything else just kind of fell away, I guess. I didn’t think about the past or anything. I just saw her and...”

He stopped, clearly uncomfortable with all he had said in front of Harry. He and Blaise had spoken of it, but sharing his thoughts with Potter was a very different thing.

“Um, it just happened,” he finished.

Blaise looked to Harry, “So, tell me Pot...Harry, why are you willingly going along with this? Really.”

“I love her,” Harry said simply with a shrug. “Plus, I know more about you two than she does. I know what really happened back then. I know when Malfoy changed and why. So, if Mione, even without knowing all of that, can trust him, I sure as hell can.”

“Thanks, I think,” Draco laughed into his glass.

Harry smiled over at Draco and the two came to silent agreement.

A shadow passed over Draco’s face, “I never did thank you.”

“No need,” Harry answered dismissively.

“Well, thank you anyway,” Draco continued staring into his glass. “I don’t know how I would have gotten out things if Saint Potter hadn’t vouched for me.”

Because the nickname was said without rancor, Harry let it pass and raised his glass in Draco’s direction, “Well, I guess you’re welcome then.”

“You think she’s okay in there?” Blaise asked as he looked towards Hermione’s bedroom.

“She can handle herself,” Harry answered. “And, he would never hurt her.”

“Maybe not physically,” Draco sighed.

All three lapsed back into silence, each lost in this own thoughts. Then, Blaise looked over to the women and caught them giggling with one another.

“Okay, ladies, what’s so funny over there?”

‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’

“Seriously, Mione. How could you?!” Ron spat at her as she walked toward him.

“How could I what, Ron? Take a chance? Like a man? Grow the hell up and let the past go?!”

“You know what I mean!” he said into her face.

Hermione’s bravado crumbled when faced with his anger and she sat heavily on the bed to try and calm down.

“Look, Ron, I don’t know where this is all going. Or, why it’s happening. But, it is. And, I like it so far. I want to see it through.”

“But, it’s Malfoy!” he cried as he crouched in front of her. “Wake up! He’s DRACO MALFOY!”

She winced at his shout in her face, “I know his name, Ronald! And, I know as well as you do what he was like. But, he’s not like that now. And, you need to...”

“Need to what?!” he interrupted and stood to pace in front of her. “Forgive and forget?”

“Well, no, but...”

“Slugs.”

“I know, but...”

“Your teeth.”

“Listen...”

“Letting Death Eaters into Hogwarts!”

“Ron, he...”

“Tried to kill Dumbledore! Sided with Voldemort!”

“Okay, I was there you know!”

“But, you seem to have forgotten it all! And, what? Now, you expect us to all just let it go and give that sleazy, ignorant, prejudice ass a break? Why? When did he give us one? When did he EVER give you one?! And, he fought for and with Moldy Voldy! Or, did you forget that little detail in your lust to get laid?!”

She shot to her feet and balled her hands into fists to keep from hitting him. “Because you are angry, hurt, and confused, I am going to TRY and forget you said that, you pig-headed bastard!”

“What the hell, Mione?! Why am I in the wrong here? We’re talking about Malfoy!”

“Again, I know who we’re talking about! But, dammit, Ron, it’s over. And, you know, as well as I do, that he suffered for his loyalties. And, his switch of them.”

“If he ever really switched,” Ron spat. “We still don’t have proof that he changed sides. We just have his word on all that the information he supposedly gave us. He was saving his own ass!”

“We have Harry’s word, too, don’t forget,” she reminded him acidly. “Or, don’t you trust him either?”

Ron stopped and stared at her as if he had never seen her before, “You are seriously standing in front of me, your best friend since forever, defending Draco Malfoy? I...I don’t even know you.”

“Oh, Ron, stop being so melodramatic!” Hermione stamped her foot.

Ron sighed and shook his head sadly at her, “I’m not, Hermione, really. Or, I don’t mean to be. But, if after all we’ve been through together, after all he put us through, after all he’s done to us, to you, you would choose him over me, over us, then you aren’t the woman I knew.”

He turned to leave and she jumped forward to grab his arm, “Ron, wait, we need to talk about this.”

“No,” he answered without looking at her. “No, we don’t. There’s nothing left to say. Goodbye Hermione. Call me when you’ve come to your senses!”

With that he wrenched the door open and walked out. It took a moment before the shock of what he had said wore off and she followed.

“Ron, wait.”

“Georgina, we’re leaving!”

Harry stood up as they reentered the room, “Ron, why don’t we...”

Ron rounded on him, “Don’t! Don’t you dare! Georgina, let’s go!”

“Honey, maybe we should...” she started from across the room. The look he gave her made her swallow the rest of what she might have said. With a sorrowful glance at Hermione she silently moved across the room to join him.

Before they apparated away, she turned to her former roommate, “I’m sorry, HG. I’ll call you tomorrow.”

The last thing they heard was his loud, “Harumph,” as they popped away.

“My brother, the ass,” Ginny mumbled.

Blaise grinned widely at her, but refrained from commenting when Draco caught his eye before he could.

Hermione still stood in the hallway leading from her bedroom. It wasn’t until Draco stood and stepped toward her that she snapped out of her shocked trance.

She held up her hand and shook her head, “No. Just give me a minute, okay?”

When he stopped, she tried to smile at him, but failed miserably. Then, she took a breath to stem the flow of tears, “I’ll be back in a second. You guys just relax, okay?”

“Mione?” Ginny said softly. “Want me to...”

“No, I’m just going to...I’ll be right back.”

The room again filled with silence. This time though it was charged with more pity than anger.

“I think we should go B,” Draco sighed.

“I think maybe, you...” Beth started.

Ginny surprised them when she said, “You really don’t know her all that well do you?”

Blaise jumped in to defend his friend, “What do you mean by that?”

“She means,” Harry said calmly from where he lounged in his chair once again, “that you two still have some things to learn about one another. The two biggest mistakes you can make right now are to either go in there after her or leave right now.”

Draco tried to relax faced with Harry’s apparent calm and sat back down. And, since he was torn between doing both of those things he took a deep breath and looked at the man he had considered until an hour ago to be his greatest enemy.

“Okay, Potter, what would you suggest?” his tone was bitter, but laced with such defeat that no one took offense.

Beth, who understood her friend pretty well decided to join in the conversation as she brought the bottle of wine with her to the other side of the room.

“I think she just needs a minute like she said; she needs to calm down, Draco. And, she needs to see that you aren’t going to run out, too.”

Blaise reached out and pulled Beth and the bottle of wine toward him, “Okay, so what do we all do while we wait?”

Everyone looked around at each other with no idea what to say. Then to the shock of many people in the room Ginny grabbed Harry’s firewhiskey, threw it back and looked at Blaise and then Draco.

“Well, this all started because we’re supposed to get to know you two, so start talking. Blaise, tell us about yourself.”

‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’

In her room Hermione heard the whole conversation and smiled through her tears that her friends knew her so well. And, she sent a thankful thought out to Ginny for continuing to try, for her. She wiped away the last traces of tears and moved to the mirror to fix her face. Then she straightened her shoulders and looked down at the picture of Harry, Ron and her from one summer at The Burrow.

“We’ll get through this somehow, Ron,” she whispered to his smiling, waving visage.

Then, she looked back up at her own image in the mirror, forced a smile and said to herself, “But, for tonight, I have guests.”

‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’ ‘’


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