“Did you talk to him?” Hermione asked as they walked to dinner a week later.
She’d been waiting anxiously for Harry to confront her, but no such thing had occurred yet. Ginny sighed, reaching up to run her fingers through her hair.
“I couldn’t, Hermione,” she began, shaking her head, “You should’ve heard him. It was horrible.”
“What happened?” she asked, concerned, her eyebrows knitting together.
“I brought him up to my dorm to talk, and I brought up how Draco and you had become closer. Not necessarily friends, but not enemies. How you used first names and acted civilly. He quite nearly exploded. Had it been mid-day and not ten o’clock at night, I’m sure he would’ve yelled. He has to warm up to the idea. Hermione, he’s still thinking about those Horcruxes. I just know Dumbledore is going to make him go out again and look for them. I’m so afraid. And the idea of you being civil with Draco makes him mental because, well, because of what Draco is
. He knows. A lot of people do, if merely by suspicion. It’s crazy, Hermione. I don’t know how I’m going to stop him if he tries to leave.”
“You can’t. I didn’t know it was all that serious.”
“I hate to put it like this, but it’s because you weren’t there over the summer, Hermione. You didn’t see him, didn’t watch him leave in the dead of night. He’s already found another one and destroyed it. Hermione, it’s really bad.”
“Okay. Don’t tell him, then. I’ll figure out something. What?” she added with a high laugh as the boys sat down and gave them curious looks.
“Nothing. You two are just acting all suspicious and secretive,” Ron muttered, shrugging, “Just girl stuff, I guess.”
He turned to Harry, immediately engrossing him in conversation, and Hermione sighed. She hated having to lie.
September happened. It happened with grace, with destruction, and with heartache. Every moment that passed in fake public hatred stabbed the couple in their united hearts, though it made them even stronger in their haven that was the Heads House. It was mid-October when things got rough.
“Ugly Mudblood,” someone grunted suddenly, and Hermione was nearly knocked over on her way to Potions.
She looked around, Harry catching her elbow as she stumbled.
“You okay?” he asked her as Ron stopped with them, searching the throbbing crowd of students.
“Yea,” she answered hesitantly, eyebrows meeting as she glared at the passing students, trying to find the culprit, “Just keep walking. It was nothing.”
Not five minutes had passed, and the same event occurred. This time, Hermione whipped around faster, grabbing onto Harry as she tripped, and he pulled her up hastily. She was spared having to look for the bloody annoyance, however, as the students suddenly screeched and threw themselves out of the way. Vincent Crabbe crashed to the ground, sliding out from the crowd and smashing into the wall.
“DO IT AGAIN!” Draco roared, wand held in a white-knuckled fist as he pushed through people and stalked toward the crumbled figure.
“What the fuck
, Malfoy?” he yelped, struggling to get up.
Draco hexed the wall in his anger, blowing a hole through it as he threw his forearm against Crabbe’s throat, pinning him to the wall once he’d stood up.
“Do it again
,” he hissed, “and I will hand you over on a silver plate
His voice was even, dangerous.
“Like you even follow our Dark Lord anymore,” another voice sneered to his right.
Fuming, Draco turned to face the speaker, and Daphne met his steely gaze with a confident smirk. Crabbe suddenly shoved Draco off him, only to be hexed back into the wall. He sunk to the ground, unconscious, and Hermione broke away from her two friends, shoving through the watching crowd.
“Your lover’s on her way to save the day,” Daphne continued, crossing her arms and arching an eyebrow.
“Clear out!” McGonagall’s voice rang out through the students.
They started to shuffle out of her way as Hermione finally broke out into the circled area of space.
“Go,” Hermione hissed, pushing Draco hard in the chest, “Move. Now.”
He didn’t respond at first until she reached up, grabbed his jaw, and forced him to look at her.
“Don’t make me—”
She didn’t have time to finish his sentence as he took her hand and they were off into the crowd. McGonagall shouted for order as the students blinked in confusion and waited for her to finally make her way through. Draco was fast, but Hermione was able to keep up, following him as he darted past people, and they became a blur. Finally, they turned down an empty hallway, but that didn’t stop him. Only when they reached a classroom did he react. He charmed the room to silence it, let go of Hermione’s hand, and threw a violent hex at the nearest object. The desk went flying as he stormed off to the opposite side of the room, hands in his hair.
She didn’t say a word, just watched as he shook his head and dropped his wand. Waves of anger rolled off of him uncontrollably, and Hermione tried to project a mood of serenity, but to no avail.
“Draco,” she tried, but stopped when he put up a hand.
She crossed her arms over her chest, waiting patiently until another five minutes ticked by.
“We’re going to be late for Potions if we don’t leave,” she finally sighed.
He turned around, and her face fell dramatically. Though his features were composed, his eyes spoke a world of sadness. He had no control over the absolute agony that ripped through his icy pools of grey, and Hermione was instantly compelled to comfort him.
“Talk to me,” she whispered, touching his cheek gently with her fingers.
“I’ve called you that,” he answered, shaking his head and turning away from her, “I’ve said
that to you.”
“Draco,” she scoffed, though she knew she’d always carry pain in her heart for the cruel words he’d uttered to her over the years, “We’re different now.”
He shook his head, put his back to her again, took a deep breath, and pocketed his wand.
“We’re going to be late for Potions,” he muttered, taking her hand and leading her away from the room.
She didn’t say a word as she felt his fingers interlace with hers, and she was shocked into silence as he opened the door and pulled her out without even looking.
“Draco,” she finally hissed, squeezing his hand.
“I know,” he mumbled, tightening his grip, “Just. I need you right now.”
She nodded, stepping closer to him as she did. The halls were mostly empty, and they were able to safely navigate their way to the dungeons.
“Wait,” he whispered only a few yards from the doors.
There were a few students milling about outside, and Draco sighed as they found shadows, leaning Hermione against the wall.
“Living outside those walls without you is so hard,” he whispered, touching his forehead to hers and closing his eyes, “I want to just grab you and kiss you in front of everyone sometimes, but I know I can’t,” he continued, lacing his fingers with hers, “I want to love you, right in front of the whole school.”
Hermione swallowed a lump in her throat at his words. Love. Something she wasn’t ready to admit, but something that she knew existed in the pounding of her heart, the tumbling of her stomach, and the fireworks, explosions, crazy butterflies.
“Draco,” she whispered back, turning her chin up and their lips met, hot and cold, fire and ice, passionate.
“I love you,” he finally said when they parted, squeezing her hands, “I can’t ignore it any longer. I love you so much.”
She took in a long breath, memorizing his face and soaking in his scent before she spoke, “I love you with all my heart, Draco. But, are we ready for this?”
“No,” he admitted, sighing and pulling away, “We aren’t. Can we spend the night together, though? Just us. We haven’t in a while, and I miss you.”
“Of course, darling,” she whispered, leaning forward and kissing him delicately, “We’ll go to dinner early. Then we can have the entire night to just us.”
“Okay,” he said with a smile, and it seemed as though his entire face lit up, “Just us. You go in first. I don’t mind being late.”
They shared one last kiss before Hermione stepped away from the shadows and headed toward the Potions room. The stares that followed her from the door to her seat were not welcome.
“What’s with everyone?” she whispered as she sat down, and then realized that Harry and Ron were staring at her in equal confusion, “What?” she exclaimed a little too loud, glaring at them.
,” Harry began slowly, “was that about?”
“Was what about?” she asked, and then remembered how she’d pushed away from them, shoved through the crowd, and how she’d gotten right in Draco’s face, demanding he leave, and how he’d grabbed her hand and ran off with her. She remembered, and her heart sank.
“You. Malfoy,” was all he could manage, and Hermione noticed his hands were balled into fists. Ron’s ears were red, and his eyes were dark.
“I don’t know,” she admitted, looking down, “I wasn’t thinking.”
, Hermione,” Harry hissed, “Of all people. Malfoy
. What possessed you to help
“He was defending
me!” she said under her breath, turning her angry eyes to him, “He didn’t deserve whatever McGonagall was going to say.”
“Oh? So you’re on his side now?” Ron jutted in, shaking his head, “Malfoy
“I heard you the first time,” she snapped, straightening, “It was just one time. Let it go.”
“Ginny told me you two were being civil, that you didn’t hate each other.”
“I never said I didn’t hate him,” she said a little too quickly, turning back to them, “We just decided to come to an agreement, make a truce.”
,” Harry nearly spat, unclenching and clenching his fists, “A fucking truce, Hermione.”
“Harry!” she exclaimed, and then stopped when someone cleared their throat in front of them.
The three looked up to see Snape standing above them, eyes narrowed.
“Detention. One week.”
“But, sir—” Ron began.
“Two weeks, Mister Weasley.”
He quickly shut his mouth, sulking as Snape walked off, black cloaks billowing around him. The class went on uninterrupted, and, though Hermione tried to quickly dart away from the boys, they blocked her exit and forced her in between them. They didn’t say a word as they continued on through the halls to Charms, and Hermione was becoming increasingly nervous as they glanced at her out of the corners of their eyes every so often. She just wished they would yell at her so she could fight back. But this, this she couldn’t defend herself against.
“Hermione,” Blaise suddenly appeared in front of them, causing them all to halt abruptly.
He smiled warmly, bowing at the waist, and, when he straightened, he winked and leaned forward.
“I bring a trinket,” he whispered, low enough so that only she could hear, “He wishes you love.”
He reached forward, taking her hand, and he was quick to press a folded piece of paper into her hand before stepping back, closing her fingers, and lifting her hand to kiss it. She watched all this unfold in horror, and she could practically feel the shock and anger emanating off of her two best friends.
“Harry. Ron,” he acknowledged as he straightened again.
He nodded his head at each of them before disappearing, and Hermione was quick to run forward, not looking back as they both didn’t move. She quickly found her regular seat in Charms, opened her book, and looked back down at her hand. Her curiosity overcame here, and she quickly unfolded the note, careful not to tear it.
I love you.
It was written in Draco’s familiar scrawl, and just the sight of his elegant writing brought tears to her eyes. She’d ignored him constantly in the last weeks of August, infuriated with him for leaving. She’d only written twice, and to yell. But it made her mad. When they could have loved together, been together, he’d left. She knew why, but she still wished it had all happened differently.
“Hogsmeade trip this weekend,” Harry mumbled, sitting down, “We’re going, right? It’s the first one.”
Hermione looked up in shock. He wasn’t yelling. She watched him look at Ron, and understood. They would talk to her later. Lunch was silent. Ginny noticed, and, before she could even attempt to take Hermione away afterward, the boys were directing her out of the castle. She sent a worrying glance back at her friend, and the redhead just shrugged and sighed, walking away.
“Don’t even tell me you and Zabini are friends,” Harry began as they reached the Quidditch field.
“We’re not friends, we just—”
“You two were pretty cozy,” Ron interrupted, shaking his head, “What’s going on, ‘Mione?”
“Guys, it’s nothing,” she tried to reason, but even she knew how weak her voice sounded; she lacked every ounce of conviction she wished she had.
They sat a few rows up from ground level, and a silence fell around them before Harry spoke again, “What’s going on?”
Hermione sighed, rubbing her face.
“It’s nothing,” she said from behind her hands, “It’s just difficult. Draco and I live in the same house now, and we’ve had to get along or else we’ll end up killing each other. I don’t know what the hell that just was with Blaise. He’s weird sometimes. But Blaise and Theo are always in there, it just became natural that we formed a truce, too. I don’t know, guys. I just don’t know.”
She was glad for their silence. She’d had time to think of a good lie. After the lie, they didn’t say anything for a little while, and she felt as if they were silently communicating.
“I don’t like it,” Ron was the first to speak, “I think it’s weird. And it’s only hurting us. Hermione, we don’t need that right now. Harry’s got enough on his plate as is with the Horcruxes, and now you’re adding in a Death Eater
, maybe three.”
“Blaise isn’t a Death Eater,” she scoffed, shaking her head.
“How do you know that?” Harry shouted, standing, “How do you know they’re not just doing this to get information, to infiltrate all that I’m trying to do?”
He was pacing, and Ron wouldn’t look at her.
“How do you know that you’re not just a pawn in some game that Lucius thought up? That you’re not just a piece that they’ll dispose of as soon as they’ve got what they want? Malfoy is malicious, Hermione! He always has been, and he always will be! No truce
is going to change that! Just because you live in the same house as him, just because the two of you are Heads now means nothing
. He is still the slimy git that he always has been, and that’s never going to change. You’re acting as if you know
them, as if you… hang out with them,” he concluded, stopping and spinning on his heel, “How much time exactly do you spend with them? How did it get to the point that you’d even made nice with his friends
?” he spat the last word, stalking toward her and bending so that he was at eye level, “What aren’t you telling us?”
He was too watchful, too intuitive. She couldn’t lie to him.
“He spent the summer at my house,” she finally admitted, ducking around Harry and hurrying down the rows.
The explosion that she expected didn’t happen when she thought it would. It took a few minutes before Harry processed exactly what she’d said and, even when he did, he still stood, blinked, and cocked his head.
“He?” he asked, and she knew that he desperately wanted an answer she couldn’t give.
“Draco. He was at my house from mid-June to mid-August. That’s why I didn’t go to the Burrow sooner.”
Ron was already getting up. He went right by Harry, put up a hand when she tried to talk to him, and kept storming off. Harry was soon to follow. And Hermione stood there in the chilly September air, wishing for everything to change.