Chapter 2 : Friends
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The train ride was uneventful until Draco finally opened the right compartment door.
“Malfoy!” Blaise Zabini shouted, jumping from his seat and skipping around people’s legs to confront him, “Where have you been all summer? I kept owling your house, but I never got any response, except for the one time your mum wrote back and told me to stop bothering. I thought you’d died!”
“I’m fine,” Draco promised, rolling his eyes, “Can I talk to you? Privately?”
“Of course. Guys, I’ll be back.”
He didn’t wait for a response, but instead shut the door behind him, motioning for Draco to lead the way. He took them back to the Heads compartment, which Hermione had skillfully avoided, except to say a quick hello and let him know she’d take the first rounds.
“I spent the summer at Hermione’s house,” he said quietly as he charmed the door to lock and silence.
“Hermione Granger?” Blaise asked in shock, sitting, “Like, the Mudblood?”
“Yes, the Mudblood,” he spat, glaring at his friend.
“Are we treating this as a good or bad thing?”
“Both,” he confirmed, sitting and putting his face in his hands, “As always.”
“How did you end up there?”
“My father. He knew, he figured it out.”
“That you like her,” Blaise confirmed, nodding, “And so your mother found out that he knew and forced you to leave.”
“She wanted me to go to Hermione’s or Andromeda’s. I was at both. Spent June, July, and half of August with Hermione, then left to Andromeda’s so she could go spend the rest of August with the Weasley’s. Ginny and I are, not friends, but we don’t hate each other. It’s strange. Hermione and I are… good friends.”
“So that’s the good part. The bad part is that your father knows, so Voldemort knows.”
“Exactly. Right now, I’m in danger.”
“So your mum thought Voldemort would come after you and kill you. It makes sense. How are things now?”
“She’s bloody angry with me. She didn’t want me to leave, but she would’ve missed out on time that she always spends with Potter and Weasley, so I just left. I’ve written her since then, but she’s only responded twice, and furiously. She barely spoke a word to me today.”
“Malfoy!” Hermione’s familiar voice suddenly shouted from outside the door, “Open it!”
“Are you letting her know that I know?” Blaise questioned as Draco stood.
“More than likely. I had lunch with Ginny and her. Bloody crazy,” he laughed, opening the door and stepping aside so she could storm in.
“I don’t know who you think you are, but—oh. Zabini. Hello,” she cut herself off, swallowing audibly.
“It’s okay. He knows,” Draco mumbled, locking the door again, “You and I need to talk.”
“I don’t want to talk to you! And how much does he know?”
“As much as Ginny.”
She had no retort to this, for which he was satisfied.
“Look, just hear me out, okay? Please?”
“Fine,” she grumbled, crossing her arms.
“I can leave?” Blaise offered, standing.
“Thanks, mate. I’ll see you at the feast.”
Blaise just nodded and clapped him on the back on his way out. Draco sighed, sitting where his friend had been.
“It’s okay, Hermione. Blaise isn’t going to say anything.”
“I didn’t know you were good friends with him. Well, I guess, I didn’t really think you were close friends with anyone, not even those brutes Crabbe and Goyle,” she muttered, sitting opposite him.
“Brutes is a very accurate description,” he laughed, leaning back.
His smile was contagious, and she had to break her angry façade, “Why?”
“Because I wanted you to have fun, because I didn’t want to cause suspicion,” he offered, cocking his head to the side.
“I missed you, you arse,” she mumbled, crossing the short distance and sitting next to him, letting their bodies touch.
“Trust me, I missed you, too. Every day was torture,” he whispered, lifting his arm to rest around her shoulders and pulling her closer.
“Where did you go?” she asked quietly, letting her head drop to his shoulder and closing her eyes.
“Andromeda’s. Tonks’ mother.”
“Fair enough. Narcissa is friends with them?”
“Very good friends. She figured it best to remain tied to the good side for at least my sake.”
“She was smart.”
He didn’t respond, simply held her closer, resting his chin on her mess of curly brown hair and staring out the window. They’d cuddled close like this plenty of times, though neither would ever admit how comfortable and correct it felt. He loved the feeling of her small, warm body so close to his tall, frigid one. She felt so delicate, so breakable in his arms, and he tried his best to hold her tight, to give her the comfort in his strength. And she felt welcomed, entirely at home, tucked away against his chest. Sometimes, they’d even laid together, silence wrapping around them or small conversation flitting here and there.
“What are we doing?” Draco asked after what seemed like an eternity, his lips whispering against Hermione’s soft curls.
She didn’t respond immediately, but instead sunk deeper against his chest, relishing in the warmth that wrapped around her heart and curled her toes.
“I don’t know. I don’t want to know.”
He nodded, because he didn’t either. He touched the top of her head with his lips, which startled her slightly.
“Draco, why? Why now?” she wondered, sitting.
“Because now,” he started, retracting his arm from her shoulders, “Now I’m not so sure of who I am anymore.”
“How do I know you’re not just going to go back again? How do I know this isn’t just a farce?”
“Because,” he struggled with his words, and the comfort to speak came when she touched his long pale fingers, her warmth to his ice, “Because I don’t want to go back. I want to be with you.”
It was a moment that would change them forever, and if the train hadn’t suddenly started to slow, it would have continued.
“We have to get our things ready,” Hermione suddenly said, straightening and standing, brushing herself off.
“Shit, you didn’t do your rounds,” she swore, looking around the room in confusion, “I hope they’ve behaved.”
“I’m sure they’re fine,” he assured her, watching her gaze move everywhere but to him, “Hermione, just sit a moment.”
“I can’t believe we’re already in our seventh year. There’ll be so much to do. And Heads, too. It’ll be interesting,” she muttered more to herself than anyone, and Draco stood, sighing.
She reached up to the section above their heads and began to pull out her trunk, but Draco quickly intercepted her, touching her hands lightly.
“You’ll hurt yourself,” he murmured, lifting the trunk out for her and setting it on the seat.
He did the same with the rest of her belongings before turning to his. Once they were all down, Hermione nodded and began to sift through everything, double-checking. The train slowed to a stop, causing her to look up.
“We better go. They’ll want us to help direct traffic,” she stated matter-of-factly.
He nodded, starting to let her leave until he gave in, sunk into his wants, and his fingers curled around her wrist. He didn’t pull her to face him, didn’t tighten his grip until it hurt. He wanted her to accept him, to allow him. She swallowed the lump that had been forming in her throat, closed her eyes, and slowly turned, opening her brown eyes only to stare at the carpet.
“We can’t do this,” she whispered, looking up into his icy blue eyes.
She saw so much there, saw that his wall was completely gone, and he was so vulnerable to her. She’d experienced this Draco over the summer, this exposed and softened Malfoy that she never thought could possibly exist. But it did, much to her surprise, and she’d grown very fond of the man beneath the frigid façade.
“Though I’m not sure I care that we shouldn’t.”
“Shouldn’t or can’t?” he had to confirm.
“Shouldn’t,” she allowed, and her jaw tilted upward, just a little.
He took it, and she sighed into him, her lips responding as his cool, slim mouth touched her full, warm one. His fingers remained on her wrist, and they were motionless against each other, a slip of air separating them. It was chaste, a first kiss. It wasn’t what they wanted.
“Hermione,” he sighed, releasing her wrist and cupping her face as they parted, staring longingly at one another.
He waited, heart thudding loudly in his chest, and it felt like an eternity before she finally succumbed and her mouth was on his again. Her arms looped around him, fingers lacing behind his back, and he kissed her deeply, passionately, lovingly. They molded against one another, pressed against the wall, and they moved as one, mouths and hearts ignited with fiery pleasure.
They parted for air only twice, but their bodies moved closer and closer, and Draco let his fingers mesh in her beautiful curls as he tasted her, so sweet and perfect. Hermione melted in his strong arms, secure and in love and full of desire. They would never have separated, but fate had other ideas.
“Hermione!” a familiar voice yelled from in the hall, “Hermione, where are you?”
“Hermione!” a second voice shouted, and she shook suddenly as Draco left her lips.
His forehead met hers, and he let out a long breath, minty and cool.
“Draco,” she began, and her knees buckled.
He shot backward so she wouldn’t hit him before falling next to her, pulling her into his arms.
“It’s okay,” he whispered as tears ran unabashed down her face, “It’s okay. I promise.”
“They’re going to hate me.”
“They won’t know,” he assured, holding her close to him and composing himself mentally, “It’s going to be okay.”
“I don’t want to be away from you. Being at the Burrow was so horrible. I missed you every second I was there.”
“As did I.”
“I’m supposed to hate you.”
“Hermione,” he laughed, pulling them apart, “Do you know what is on my arm, what fate has decided for me? Do you know what I am, how dead I would be should my father find out what we are?”
“What are we?” she asked, completely disregarding everything else for now.
“We are…” he trailed off, unsure, “We’re friends. Maybe something more. We have to figure it out, but not right now. Your friends are looking for you.”
“Harry is going to find out.”
“I know,” he acknowledged, “But Harry isn’t as pigheaded as Weasley. I’m sorry.”
“No, you’re right. You’re right,” she repeated, shaking her head, “I have to go. Draco.”
He brought them together once more, and it was a short, beautiful kiss.
“Go. Let them know where you are.”
She nodded, and they separated, though reluctantly. He went to gather his cloak and a book, pushing his things away from Hermione’s as she opened the door. He listened to her call for them, and he watched her beautiful figure step out of the compartment and greet them. Sighing, he tucked his book inside his cloak, pulled the fabric close around him, and slipped out of the open doorway, sliding out of view into the exiting crowd. He wouldn’t let her hurt like this.
“Well?” Blaise elbowed him as Dumbledore nodded his head and the tables exploded with food and drink.
“Uh,” Draco paused, looking down, “We, uhm.”
“I get it,” he interrupted, nodding, “Eat. You look sickly.”
“So, Draco,” Daphne Greengrass suddenly drawled, leaning across the table, “How’s the parents?”
“Fine enough. Spent the summer away,” he replied shortly, “Blaise,” he went back to his best friend, “I don’t know how to go about this.”
“Is she accepting?”
“Of course she is,” he sighed, “She always has been.”
“True enough. And she knows about,” he paused to motion to his arm.
“She does. She has. As for the room,” Draco stopped to shrug, “It’ll be interesting.”
“Do they know?”
“Harry will,” he said in barely a whisper, “We’ll talk more after. Theo’s staring.”
“Are you telling him?”
“Probably. I need someone on my side besides you, no offense.”
“None taken,” Blaise laughed, straightening, “I understand completely. Want us to meet you an hour or so after dinner?” he continued more loudly, nodding toward Theodore Nott.
“I’d enjoy that.”
They left the topic at that, and Draco couldn’t help but admit that he felt better, at least a little. He smiled to himself, and turned his gaze upward, meeting Hermione’s across the hall. A brilliant smile spread across her lips, and his heart pounded. He felt warm, and happy, something he hadn’t felt in years. His blue eyes melted a little, and a sparkle touched them, if only briefly, for a hand fell onto his thigh, then, and his walls shot up, his face contorting into that of disgust as he dropped his gaze and looked to his right.
“Excuse me,” he spat, swatting Pansy’s hand away.
“Draco, I missed you this summer,” she purred, scooting closer to him as he lifted his arms up to avoid contact, “You never wrote.”
“I never do,” he hissed, trying to lean away from her, “Pansy, I’m not interested.”
“Oh, Draco,” she continued, crawling her fingers up his chest and tapping his mouth, “You’re always interested.”
“Pansy!” he exclaimed, startling those around him, “Get off me,” he finished in an undertone, glaring steadily at her.
She returned the glare, anger emanating off of her, “What happened to you?”
He returned his eyes to the table of food, but his stomach was empty, and he felt sick.
“Get out of here,” Blaise whispered beside him.
He needed no other encouragement, and he was soon letting one of the Great Hall doors shut quietly behind him. He collapsed against the wall, face on fire and heart ricocheting off his ribs. His knees gave out, and he fell down the wall, landing heavily on his bottom. He wanted to get away. He missed his home, his mother, his life. Everything had been taken from him, just because of a simple change of heart.
“Get up, Draco,” someone muttered, and he was suddenly pulled to his feet.
“I don’t know the way to the Heads house, so we’re just going to Slytherin’s common room,” the voice continued, draping an arm around his shoulder, “Can you grab the other one?”
“’Course,” another voice intoned, and he was lifted off his weak knees and was being dragged between his two best friends, two that he appreciated more than anything at this moment.
“What’s got him like this?” Theo asked quietly as they hurried through the castle.
“Hermione Granger,” Blaise replied, and Draco heard no more.
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