Chapter 1 : And So it Begins...
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Oh, and I think we all know that I own nothing except the storyline.
Updated: January 29th, 2011
Hermione Granger. Smart, perfectionist, and in her 7th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizarding. The Head Girl had welcomed returning to her academic schedule after the fiasco that would have been her seventh year. With Voldemort gone for good, and surrounded by friends, Hermione felt peace for the first time in a long time. Of course, she still had to deal with a few people who simply couldn’t accept change, most of them coming from pureblood families, but she found herself taking everything in decent stride. In fact, Malfoy retaining his jerk-like personality throughout the entire ordeal had been a relief. It had brought her a certain peace of mind, knowing that some things were left unchanged by the war. If she hadn’t had to share close quarters with him, her 7th year would have been perfect so far.
Draco Malfoy. Pureblood, intelligent, and in his 7th year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizarding. The pureblood had also been appointed to be a head of the school. Perhaps the last showing of his family’s power in the wizarding world. Though, despite his irritable attitude, he had proven suitable for the job. He was outranked only by Hermione grade wise and had for the most part been a responsible person, though not an entirely honest person throughout his school years. Many suspected that Dumbledore had appointed him Head Boy to try to fuse the gap a bit between the Gryffindor and Slytherin houses, as well as between muggle borns and purebloods.
Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly working. Draco still sneered at Hermione’s presence when they were within touching distance from each other, and his snide remarks had not ended, though they were a bit less frequent. All in all, the pair of Heads did a decent job of staying away from each other. Hermione often spent her time in the Library or the Gryffindor common room, while Draco spent his time in his dorm and the Slytherin common room. They only spoke to each other about Head business, except for Draco’s scathing comments on occasion.
Unfortunately, all this was about to change. The Holidays were approaching quickly at Hogwarts, and nearly all the students were leaving. In fact, Draco and Hermione seemed to be the only students above 5th year who were going to stay at Hogwarts over the holidays. Hermione’s parents were going on a second honeymoon, and while she had been invited to stay with Harry, Ron, and Ginny at the Weasley’s, she had politefully declined, not wishing to stir up any sense of awkwardness with Ron. Their falling out had been a difficult one, and, while they were still very close friends, their friendship was at times laced with awkwardness, as it was apparent that Ron had not quite gotten completely over her yet. Draco was staying for the mere fact that he hadn’t anywhere to go really. His mother had been sent to St. Mungo’s after a severe mental breakdown following the war and wasn’t even allowed to have visitors. His father had been banished to Azkaban for the rest of his life for cavorting with the Dark Lord. Draco wasn’t about to go back to an empty manner filled with annoying house elves and little light all alone for the holidays. He’d decided he would rather stay at Hogwarts.
Hermione sat in the comfort of the Head’s common room, letting the afternoon light streaking in through the windows provide her with ample reading light. A small fire was ablaze in the fireplace, giving off just enough warmth as she lounged in an oversized comfy chair with a large book resting on her lap. She took a moment to look around the room, reveling in the peace. Dumbledore was a wise man. He had chosen colors that reflected neither of their houses as to avoid any conflict. However, when she was here alone, she noticed that little things changed. The reds became more scarlet, a few items began to shimmer with a gold light, and the large carpet on the floor developed a Gryffindor crest and changed to Red and Gold. Normally, it was just a boring black fuzzy carpet. Hermione wondered if the room changed to green when Draco was here alone. She assumed that it probably did, and resumed her reading.
Classes were finished for the semester and everyone had already departed that morning for their holiday location of choice. Essentially, the Heads had the day off. Actually, they had the next three weeks off. There was nothing more to look after for the rest of break, as the Heads weren’t actually required to stay over the holidays. This left Draco with little to do and pacing the halls of Hogwarts. He turned a few thoughts over in his mind as he walked. None of his ‘friends’ had stayed over the holidays, which meant going to the Slytherin common room would be pointless. Going to the library without a reason literally made him shudder. Sure, he was smart and liked to learn, but going to the library simply because he had nothing to do? He was far above that. His face lit up when he thought about going flying, only to fall when he realized that his broom was being repaired after an unfortunate lightning incident when he had insisted on practicing in a storm.
He grumbled incoherently under his breath. He wasn’t just going to stalk the halls all vacation! With a resigned sigh, he turned down a hall and headed for the Head’s dorms. He knew that Hermione would probably be in the common room, seeing as he had watched her say goodbye to her friends this morning when he had seen Pansy Parkinson off. He nearly shuddered at the thought of her name. Sure, they were dating, but that didn’t mean that he actually liked her. It just meant that his parents liked her. If forced to be honest, Draco would liken Pansy to a mildly attractive mosquito: annoying as hell and impossible to satisfy.
He reached the door to the Head’s quarters, located behind a painting of Helen of Troy and her lover Paris. At the moment, they seemed to be bickering. Draco rolled his eyes. For a pair of lovers, all they ever did was fight. It reminded him of Pansy and himself. They paused for a moment when he pushed the painting aside and tapped on the wall three times with his wand and said the password. He almost smiled at the memory of choosing it. He had, of course, wanted a password that would have insulted Hermione. Something along the lines of “Purebloods forever” or “I hate Gryffindors.” But since they had to agree (and after a lot of fighting, they did), on “Paris, SHUT UP.” Their inspiration had been, of course, the painting, for Helen and Paris had fought non-stop throughout their brainstorming for a password process. This way, they could yell at the painting and open their door, and no one would be the wiser that “Paris, shut up” was the password! Draco grudgingly admitted to himself that it had been Hermione’s brilliant idea.
The wall vanished beneath his wand to reveal a short corridor that lead to the common room. When Draco was within ten feet of the door to the corridor, everything that might have been construed as a Gryffindor item or color reverted back to its original. Hermione only noticed this when the brilliant red and gold carpet before her turned black before her very eyes. At that instant, she knew that Draco must have been coming. She nearly closed her book and dashed up the stairs to her room before she had to deal with that mess, but then her Gryffindor spirit kicked up. She was comfortable, and she wasn’t going to be chased out of her own common room by Draco Malfoy. Hermione settled herself deeper into her chair and continued reading, determined to ignore the blond menace that she was about to encounter.
Draco walked through the corridor, stopping short at the entrance to the common room. He hated it when this happened. It didn't happen often, but when it did, it was torturous. There she was. Reading. He mentally kicked himself for noticing, but if there was anyone who could make reading look that interesting, it was Hermione Mudblood Granger. It was impossible for him not to notice the many appealing features her body had come to possess. Draco stood still and silent, observing the way her long legs dangled over the side of the chair she was sitting in and how the afternoon sunlight streaking across her honey brown hair made it shine. She had changed since sixth year. A lot. And he hated noticing it. He hadn't noticed during the war considering he had been far too busy being a double-agent for Dumbledore (after failing to kill him) to notice the maturing of one Hermione Granger. Her hair had become less frizzy, probably due to some cosmetic charm she had learned over the summer from Cosmo Witch magazine. Her thin frame had filled with curves that were making up for lost time now that she wasn't starving herself on the run from Voldemort.
After what seemed like an eternity, but was really only a few seconds, Draco entered the common room. Hermione glanced up at his arrival, her warm brown eyes flicked to his pale blue ones before returning to her book. She ignored the strange look on his face as he sat on the couch in front of the fire place, adjacent to the chair she was sitting in. She couldn’t figure out why he was doing this. She felt a sort of tension begin to build in the awkward silence, but refused to be the one to break it.
Draco sat in the chair, observing an invisible pattern on the floor. What he was doing, he wasn't quite sure. Suddenly, it had struck him that he was utterly alone for the holiday. Surely there would be some way to keep himself entertained during the next three weeks, but he could think of nothing. Nothing that didn't involve Granger. Draco's sharp features narrowed as he concentrated on a plan. Perhaps he'd have a little fun with the mudblood. She'd always been the matronly one of the golden trio, hadn't she? Draco held back a smirk. He'd befriend her for the holiday, make some lame apology about the past, and use her for entertainment while everyone else was away. The moment his friends got back, he'd forget she even existed again and she'd never own up to giving him a chance.
With any luck, he'd find some dirt on her prat friends while he was at it.
When Draco spoke, his voice sounded strained. Clearly, forcing himself to sound amicable proved to be somewhat of a challenge. "Hello, Hermione."
Hermione raised an eyebrow and her eyes flicked to his once more. She fought the urge to raise an eyebrow at him skeptically. He had called her Hermione. He never called her Hermione. It was always ‘Granger’ or ‘Mudblood.’ She figured he wanted something. “Hello, Draco. What can I do for you?” His first name felt strange in her mouth. She never called him Draco, just like he never called her Hermione.
Draco didn’t really know how to respond. He had never actually tried to hold a conversation with a muggleborn before. Sure, he had spoken to them, but always calling them names or fighting with them, never trying to start some kind of kinship or friendship or whatever the name for this was. “Uhm… What are you reading?”
Hermione was fighting that skeptical look more and more as he spoke. What did he care what she was reading? Hesitantly, Hermione answered. “It’s called Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It’s a muggle fiction book about magic.”
Draco couldn’t help but scoff when he heard that magic was considered fiction in the muggle world. Clearly, they didn’t know anything. Hermione took his scoff the wrong way. “If you’re only here to make fun of my book then you can leave.” Her eyes were hard this time when she looked at him.
Draco nearly panicked. He didn’t want to make her angry already! If she were angry, he’d have no one to talk to for over three weeks, and that just didn't suit his plans. “No, no, I didn’t mean it like that…" Draco scrambled to cover up his mistake, "I just found it amusing that magic was in the fiction genre in the muggle world. It should at least be listed as a legend or something.” Hermione let the skeptical look take over her features. She wasn’t sure she could believe him, but the look in his eyes and the tone of his voice told her he was being honest. She nodded her agreement at his statement. Draco tried again. “Tell me what it’s about…” He saw that she was only about halfway through it. “So far, at least.”
Hermione looked at Draco with a sort of incredulous look. She couldn’t believe he was actually making an effort to be… civil. However, if he was willing to give it a try, so was she. “Well, it takes place in London during the 1800s. There are a bunch of theoretical magicians, but no practical magicians, save for one man who lives out in the country. When he is discovered, he becomes famous. He moves to London and makes an effort to try to revive English magic, though he doesn’t really want anyone else to do it… just to basically worship him for it.” Hermione shrugged. “It’s actually pretty dull so far. I don’t think I’m going to finish it.”
Draco nodded his agreement. “Yeah, I suppose actually knowing about the magical world makes reading about what muggles think of it quite boring.”
“They really have no idea.” Hermione said, exasperatedly. “Sometimes I wonder why we have to keep magic a secret from them. Most muggles love magic and the thought of being able to do it. I suppose it’s because the more people who know about it, the more chance there is for people to start abusing it…” Her voice faded abruptly as she realized that that probably wasn’t the best subject to approach with Draco Malfoy. His father was in Azkaban right now for abusing magic. She cleared her throat. “Anyways… uhm…”
Draco’s face reddened a bit when she started to talk about people abusing magic, then quickly stopped. He knew she had immediately thought of his family and the situation his father was currently in. He had also abused magic. That he knew. He suddenly felt remorseful. It wasn’t something he enjoyed. Draco interrupted her conversation topic searching. “Listen, Grang- Hermione, I know I’ve been a jerk to you for a long time… the past 7 years actually, considering school was kind of cancelled last year. I know I was on the wrong side too. I just wanted to… to…” He swallowed. This was foreign territory, but necessary to get in good with the witch, “Apologize. Since we’re stuck here together, we might as well get along.”
Hermione listened to the apology, making an effort to keep her jaw from hitting the floor. Draco Malfoy was apologizing to her! She never thought she’d see the day. All year he had been an arrogant prick, and now this. She was totally thrown off gua- wait a second. Her mind reeled at his last sentence. It all made sense. He didn’t actually care about all the things he had said. He only cared that they were stuck here together and that he had no other choice than to get along with her. Maybe he thought he could even get a booty call out of it. Her eyes hardened again. “You little git. You don’t care about how you’ve treated me! You only care that all your little pureblood friends have abandoned you here. I’m sure you expected me to be oh so grateful that you would stoop to talking to me, hmm? Well I’m not falling for your act, Malfoy.” She practically spat his name.
As Hermione ranted, Draco’s eyes widened. Boy did she have a temper. It even rivaled his mother’s, and it was a bit frightening. As Hermione stormed off to her room, book in hand, Draco sat on the couch in a bit of a daze. “Bloody Hell…” That had gone downhill far quicker than he expected. Sure, he knew she was insightful, but to see right through him that quickly? He'd have to work on his acting skills.
Hermione’s door could be heard slamming through the Head’s dorms as she reached her room. “That little prick.” She threw her book on the bed and began to pace. “How dare he! Thinks that just because he has pretty blue eyes and that white blonde and a bloody charming smile that he can just walk up, apologize, and all is forgiven. UGH! He’s as bad as Ronald.” Hermione fumed. If there was one thing she hated, it was arrogance. And Draco Malfoy simply exuded arrogance. She dropped on to her bed. Christmas was going to blow this year. She was stuck here with no one but Malfoy.
And then it hit her. No one but Malfoy.
She suddenly started to feel foolish for going off on him, her naturally compassionate tendency kicking in. Kind of how she felt for Neville every time his potions blew up on him. Malfoy was alone this Christmas too, and in a much worse situation than she was. She sighed, realizing her mistake. He had been genuine, and she had completely misjudged him.
Well now she just felt bad. Maybe Malfoy had changed. After all, he had switched sides in the war. She reasoned that if it hadn't been so sudden, it would have gone over better. He had probably wrestled with it internally for so long, though.
Hermione sighed again and buried her face in a pillow, embarrassed. She knew she should probably apologize, but her pride refused to surrender itself up to apologizing to Draco Malfoy, despite his apologizing to her. She decided to just wait for the whole thing to blow over and being a bit nicer the next time they were together. But wait… what if that was his plan? To befriend her over the holiday, make her reveal some horrid secret that she was harboring, and then expose her to the entire school. Once more, Hermione saw red before her eyes. It was just so… so… SLYTHERIN! And she was reasoning in circles.
So much for a peaceful Holiday at Hogwarts. All she wanted this Christmas, was to make it through without killing Draco. She was far too talented a witch to end up in Azkaban.