Weeks passed by in a flurry of activity and examinations. Despite that, Draco and Hermione kept meeting almost every early morning at the spot they called comfort. Waking up early every morning had become a routine for them, a meeting they considered ‘secret’, and a growing attraction on both sides that they couldn’t deny.
Of course, no one had noticed it really, not even Pansy. Draco had done his best to keep the clandestine meetings clandestine while Hermione’s roommates slept through most of her early morning escapades.
This day had begun like the rest of the days prior. Only this time, Draco had circles under his eyes and Hermione was observant enough to notice them.
“Didn’t get enough shut-eye?“ she asked, conjuring two mugs of hot chocolate in the air.
Draco gratefully took a sip. “Thanks,“ he yawned. “I was- kept awake by their snores.“
She shrugged her shoulders, knowing full well how she saw his cohorts, those living and free abominations- she stopped her thoughts, afraid to spitefully comment about them and cause an early morning commotion between the two of them.
“What?“ he looked at her. “You can say what you want. I’ve gotten a bit used to it.“
“Only when you’ve gotten really used to it, she pressed on the ‘really’ with a smile.
He grinned. “They snore awfully loud.“
“Christmas is coming up. Will you be going home? she asked, blowing into her mug. The steam rose up and she welcomed the warmth.
Draco eyed her. “I’m still thinking about it. Are you?“
“Might,“ she said.
“Not going to spend the vacation with your friends? he asked, fighting the urge to say something mean about Weasel and Potty- especially Weasel though…
She rolled her eyes. “As if you didn’t know any better. Wait, you just want to heat things up, don’t you?“
He laughed. “Guilty. But really, aren’t you going to patch things up?“
“As far as I’m concerned, I want to have nothing to do with him, I mean- them.“
“Still hoping for a patch-up?“ he felt jealousy rise. He always had this feeling that Hermione still hadn’t gotten over that stupid redhead.
“It’s just that- Christmas was a time for the three of us to bond even more, “ she finally said. “And now, that’s gone. I feel there’s no need for a vacation with them, I need a vacation from them. Did your mum owl you so you’d spend Christmas home?“ she swiftly changed the subject.
He nodded. “I’d rather, spend it away from home. Christmas is bloody the same everywhere. How’s that for some Christmas cheer?“
“I used to believe in Santa Clause,“ she interrupted.
“Of course he’s bloody real,“ Draco said irritably. “He’s just too old by now. I used to laugh at those muggle Santas. All jolly good and fat and doing those horrible ‘ho-ho-hos’. The Santa I’ve seen was thin and in desperate need of relaxation. You muggle kids abused the Santa I know too much.“
Hermione’s eyes widened. “For real?"
“Yes, for real. I never got what I wanted, you know. I always got coal in my red sock,“ he grinned naughtily. “I was never a good boy per say. But mum and dad made up for it by giving me their presents.“
“I never knew- I mean I’m a muggle and a witch but I never gave it much thought-“
“Finally, something you don’t know,“ he laughed.
She grinned a bit. “I’ve never delved much into these kinds of things. I mean I read books and know stuff but-“
“Loch Ness, watcha’ think about it?“ he asked her.
“It’s- a prehistoric creature in a Scottish loch. But it’s never been seen even though scientific advances have been made to-“
“It’s cause you’ve never seen it. I have," he said impatiently. “There’s more than one. There’s a subterranean cave beneath the loch. Even though you muggles know the loch’s deepness, we wizards who’re a bit of experts on it know that there’s another entrance down its depths. That’s why you never see them. The Nessies are a bit of playful but shy. Sometimes they muster up the courage to go above their cave and into the muggle loch. That explains the sparse sightings.“
“Are you making this up?“
“What the hell do you think I am? A liar?“ he grinned. “Okay, I’m a liar but trust me, this one’s real.“
Hermione’s eyes widened further.
“You’re interested, aren’t you?“ he asked her.
“More than you know.“
“That’s for being a know-it-all.“
“I resent that. I just know a lot.“
He laughed. “Right, you’re a know-a-lot.“
“I’m making good use of the English language.“
“You need more bloody practice.“
“It’s just that growing up learning a lot of languages gets me all slow at times. Sometimes I feel like I’m translating everything into the languages that I know.“
“Languages? You can speak something other than English?“
“Quite fluently, yes. French, Italian and Gaelic.“
She smiled. “Finally, something that doesn’t squeal thick about you.“
“I hate that word. I’m not thick…just lazy and a bit distracted," he said. “Father always told me I should have outdone myself in school. I hate being compared to you, you know.“
“Don’t allow that to happen. Do something then.“
“I could chain you up with a thousand pound metal ball and throw you into the lake,“ he said laughing. “Or I could make you drink a draught of stupidity which I’m sure exists.“
“Which the professors will be suspicious of,“ she reminded him.
“Right. I forgot that part wherein a stupid day from Hermione makes all professors go suspicious. All hell will break lose to find that evil doer.“
She was quiet now. He looked at her and felt annoyed at what maimed her into silence.
“Do you- do you think they’ll find out?“
“Yes, this,“ she pressed on. “A Gryffindor and Slytherin together make bad news really bad.“
“I haven’t given that thought at all. Are you afraid of the consequences this light fun will have with your future?“
“I’m light fun?“ she said, eyes widening a bit, doing the perfect imitation of a seven year old in surprise.
“Light fun and wonderful to my dreams,“ he said in all seriousness.
She thought she should laugh, but she didn’t. Instead, she smiled. “Don’t charm your way out of this serious question.“
“You really want to know what I think about this? I think I’ve never had this much fun in my entire life since I taught my fellow Slytherins to sing ‘Weasley is our King’. I’ve never had this much laughter since I saw my father slip on a sheet of ice back at the manor and I was five years old. I’ve never shared things to anyone this much before. You still want to know what I think?“
“I think you’re the reason why I don’t have horrid nightmares every night anymore. I now enjoy attending classes when you’re around. I eat better for Merlin’s sake. I’m not as horny as I used to be-“
She laughed right out loud. “Now that is nasty. But it doesn’t answer my question.“
He turned serious, really serious now and Hermione could tell, as his eyes turned into a darker shade of gray. “Yes, they will find out. I’m sure the reception will be frosty in my part and yours will be fiery rage. But for as long as possible, let’s keep this to ourselves. It will hurt my pride and yours eventually.“
“Do you want a happy ending?“
“This situation isn’t a bloody fairytale.“
“But do you want one?“
“Yes, I want a bloody happy ending. Merlin, I’ve wanted to taste happiness without the tang of bitterness for so long. Why? Are you going to give me one?“
“I don’t know.“
“It’s either yes or no.“
“I don’t know. Being with you is great, really it is. But I can’t assure you one with the present situation.“
“There’s a lot of these situations. How’s about loving me?" he asked in a commanding voice.
“You can’t tell me to love you.“
“It isn’t strong enough to be called love yet-“
“That’s fine. I like you too.“
“Stop this. This is getting uncomfort-“
“Yes, it is uncomfortable,“ he said casually. Then he took her hand in his and it was surprisingly warm to hold. “How’s about a good scream, huh? Let all that anger out before we trudge for classes again?“
“The winds will help,“ he assured her, leading her to a little clearing, a few meters above the sinister looking lake. “And I won’t push you. You’re wonderful to me; remember?“
She smiled and took a step beside him now.
“Ready? One, two, three… scream!“
And scream they did, from the bottom of their lungs, their guts, their souls and the pain both had experienced, combined. The shouts were drowned by the wind and they fought against the bellowing of the wind, still screaming nonstop.
With their hands entwined and with shouts louder than their hearts, this was freedom.
Harry woke up all of a sudden, thinking that someone was screaming for help from far away. He grabbed for his eyeglasses on the side table and looked at the clock. Six-fifteen in the morning. He pushed the curtains of his bed aside, sat and looked at Ron and Dean Thomas, snoring gently in their sleep. His feet recoiled from the cold floor and he almost cursed.
He had a bad dream. But that was all that it was, right? He had them sometimes. They were of his parents, Sirius and Dumbledore…nightmares had a reason to be called that, Harry thought over and over again, knowing that they were dreams that were horrid enough to be akin to reality. He hated death and didn’t want anyone else close to him die. It was a mantra he kept repeating to himself ever since he lost both Dumbledore and his godfather. Sometimes, he thought of dealing with Voldemort alone, with all the people he cared for far away from his malicious grasp, along with his cohorts’ menacing dependability. The question was how to do that, without alerting his friends’ senses.
His stomach grumbled. And he sighed and made his way to the baths and took a long warm shower and stood there, thinking of possibilities and regrets stored in his heart, that only he really knew of, even though Hermione and Ron told him to share what he felt or thought (Hermione was not only making him feel better, she was analyzing his dreams and emotions too).
He made his way down to the common room to see a beautiful morning sight. He smiled. “Hello, Gin.“
She smiled back. “Why are you awake this early? Bad night? she asked, her freckles looking adorable in the early morning sunlight coming from the windows.
“Hungry,“ he said simply. “Care to join me?“
“Sure,“ she said. “I hope they’ve made waffles with lots of butter and warm honey. How’s Harry Potter?“
“Your ex?“ he asked, smiling.
She grinned and jabbed his stomach playfully. “Yes, that horrid, horrid boy who made me fall for him.“
“He misses a redhead and wants her safe.“
“Are you talking about my mum?“
“It’s been a fairly good semester, hasn’t it been?“ Neville asked Hermione as she sat down beside him for dinner. “I’m excited for Christmas.“
The Great Hall shone bright with twinkling stars above the students’ heads and a warm fire kept the chilly air at bay as it merrily blazed in a grand fireplace. It was the night before everyone was to leave for the Holiday break.
“With your grandmother?“ Hermione asked.
He smiled shyly. “She’s not that bad, especially on the holidays. She gives great presents.“
Ron and Lavender were missing from the Great Hall, Hermione mused. But her thoughts of them quickly dissipated when Draco came in, sitting across the Gryffindor table, amongst Slytherin ranks. He eyed her for a millisecond and she found it almost difficult to suppress a smile. She forced herself to turn away and continue the conversation that Neville had started.
All Draco had to do was look at her and it sent the smile in his head skyrocketing towards the galaxies that Professor Sinistra so loved to talk about. Then he forced himself to head back to earth all in a millisecond.
“You’ll be heading home, Hermione?“ Neville asked her.
“I’m not so sure…” she said, her eyes trailing towards the Slytherin table across her. She cleared her throat and forced a smile to Neville’s way.
“Blimey, shouldn’t you be going back to the Burrow like you and Harry always do when-“ he stopped and quickly turned red, stammering apologies the next.
“It’s okay Neville,“ Hermione said good-naturedly. “Really, it is.“
Neville continued murmuring ‘I’m sorry’ and Hermione smiled and patted his back.
“Don’t worry, I’ve gotten over that,“ she said and she quickly realized her mistake. “It takes time,“ she added. “But I will completely get over it.“
Neville’s eyes widened, thankful Hermione wasn’t sore over what he had said. Harry gave Hermione a grim smile as he spoke with Ginny continually, overhearing what had happened, but Ginny luckily didn’t hear, as she was busy animatedly discussing a Quidditch tactic.
After a bit of dinner, Hermione excused herself to the lavatories. She walked down a dimly lit corridor when something grabbed her from the darkness. She started to scream but a voice quickly calmed her down.
“It’s me,“ he said.
“Draco?“ she whispered.
“The one and only,“ he said in a low voice.
“What are you doing? “ she asked him, still whispering.
“I just wanted to get this.“
He quickly shoved her behind a large stonewall and kissed her nonstop. When he had pulled away, both were breathless. He was grinning and so was she.
“Was that supposed to be dessert?“ she said nearly laughing.
He smiled. “Sorry, couldn’t help it. How’s that for spontaneity?“
“We could get caught-"
“Or not. I’d better head back to the Great Hall; I’m staying for the Holidays. I know you are too.“
She felt a sudden thrill rush through her, knowing it would be a good chance to get to know him better than she could ever dream of. He squeezed her hand once and he walked away not looking back. She fought the urge to laugh out loud at the irony of it all. Here she was, giddy over a Slytherin bad boy when she knew that Harry and Ron felt differently- oh, sod Ron! This was her affair! But still, she couldn’t quell the fear that something might go horribly wrong with this very wrong romance.
“What’re you planning for Christmas break?“ Harry asked her as she entered the Gryffindor Common Room. She looked up from the entrance and shrugged. Harry, Ginny, Neville and some lower years were lounging about. Ron and Lavender were nowhere to be seen.
“She won’t come,“ Ginny said flatly.
Hermione sighed. “Times have changed, Gin.“
“I’m going to kill my broth-“
“It’s alright, ‘Mione,“ Harry said. “Just be sure to keep yourself on guard at all times. Owl me everyday all right?“
Hermione knew Harry was leaving for the Holidays, leaving for the Burrow. And she felt a sudden pang of detachment, knowing she would miss him terribly as she would miss Ginny. Missing Ron though, was something she would not do for a very long time.
She nodded. “I will.“
“Do your parents know that you’re staying here?" Harry asked her, his eyes narrowing a bit. “I don’t like the idea of you staying here without us-“
“They know. I owled them yesterday and they’re fine with it. I won’t be alone Harry, it’s not like everyone’s going home.“
He shrugged. “I just don’t like it. Christmas is supposed to be spent with the people you care for, not alone.“
She smiled at him. “You care too much. How’s about giving me a Christmas present instead?“
The night passed by quickly and before Hermione knew it, everyone was saying their farewells and she was hugging Harry tightly as she did to Ginny and Neville in the entrance hall. The carriages were waiting outside and the moving throng was getting stifling.
She waved back at them and as their carriage sped off too far for her eyes to see, the sound of shoes behind her made her break away from the feeling of loneliness.
“I hope you’re not crying just because they’re off for Christmas.“
“I’m not,“ she quickly said, resisting the urge to sniffle. He was standing before her, fresh faced and smiling. “Who’s left in your house?“
“Hmm…that revolting Theodore Nott and Blaise Zabini and some puny lower years. Now how about that? This might be the perfect Christmas yet.“
“You know, you shouldn’t be reckless even though more than half of the school population is gone. You still have your name to keep up to-“
“Oh shush it. With the lot of them gone, it’ll be like ripping through Christmas wrappers, “ he laughed. “See you later? You might want to start writing a letter to your friends on how fun your holidays are going to be.“
She sniggered and shook her head, determined not to lose herself over him.
A/N: Give me some love! ^^ thank you.