Chapter 12 : Chapter Twelve.
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Later that afternoon, once she’d finished off all her homework for the weekend, Hermione hurried back up to the Room of Requirement. She was still feeling unsettled from her earlier run in with Malfoy. You’re nothing. Worthless. His words echoed in her head. She kept forgetting how horrible he could be.
After checking the hall was clear she walked swiftly inside the Room of Requirement. Draco was there as always. Hermione noted a few changes to the room. It seemed larger now and along with the couches, there was also a large double bed in the back corner of the room.
“You’re living in here?” she asked surprised. She’d never given much thought to where Draco went when they weren’t together.
“No one else is using the room,” he said, “I figured it was as good a place as any to set up camp,”
“But what if you get caught?” she asked worried.
“I’ve got the invisibility cloak,” he said nonchalantly.
She nodded, although she was still unconvinced that it was a good idea.
“So,” he began, “Are you ready to start putting our plan into action tonight?”
She nodded. Honestly, the idea of coming face to face with the real Malfoy again today was the last thing she wanted to do. Draco frowned slightly.
“Is everything okay?” he asked, “We can go over everything again if you want?”
“No, it’s not that. I just…” she trailed off. It felt strange confessing to him why she was upset when technically it had been him that had upset her.
“It’s nothing,” she said but her voice shook slightly.
His eyes softened and he sat down beside her.
“Hermione, tell me. You know you can trust me,” he said.
She was slightly taken aback by his comment. Could she trust him? He seemed to realise what he’d said.
“Well, actually, I guess you don’t know that,” he said quietly.
“Well… it was you actually. That upset me,” she confessed.
A bemused expression crossed his features and he seemed to understand what she meant.
“What did I do?” he asked.
She hesitated for a moment.
“The things you said. Well… they weren’t very nice. You told me that I was worthless. That I was nothing…” she trailed off. She felt her earlier tears return to her eyes again. She turned away to try and hide them but he didn’t miss a thing.
“Hermione,” he whispered, “I’m so sorry,”
He moved his hand up and brushed the hair out of her face and then continued on to softly wipe away the tears that had begun to fall down her cheek. Hermione felt her heart accelerate at his touch.
“I wish you could know how sorry I am. The way I treated you… It was horrible. There aren’t enough words to say how sorry I am,” he said, his hand still stroking her cheek. Hermione’s heart was beating even faster and she felt a slow blush start to creep across her cheeks. Reluctantly, she pulled herself away from him and took a few deep breaths, trying to recompose herself. Why was she feeling this way? Was it possible that she was developing feelings for him? She squeezed her eyes shut tightly for a moment, took one more deep breath and then opened them. He was still looking at her with deep concerned etched on his face.
“I’m sorry,” she said, “I shouldn’t have let it get to me so badly,”
“Don’t be sorry Hermione,” he said.
She looked up at him, gave him a small smile and nodded.
“Okay,” she said quietly.
They sat in silence for a few moments, not knowing what to say next.
“So, do you still think we should start putting the plan in motion tonight?” she asked him.
Definitely,” he said without hesitation, “The sooner we do this the better,”
“Alright then,” she said.
They sat silently again for a minute.
“Well then,” said Hermione awkwardly, “I guess I should get going,” She stood up and walked towards the door.
“Hermione,” Draco said. She spun around. He stood up and walked over to her.
“I really am sorry about this morning. I hate seeing you upset, especially when I know it’s my fault,” he said.
“It’s okay, really. I’m supposed to be a brave Gryffindor. I shouldn’t let a slimy Slytherin like yourself get to me,” she said with a small laugh.
Relief crossed his features and as he smiled he gave her that ‘look’ that she could never quite decipher. But today, it hit her. It was the same way her father looked at her mother, the same way Lavender had been looking at Ron recently. Hermione’s eyes widened in shock.
“What? What’s wrong now?” Draco asked almost frantically.
Was it possible? Hermione hoped that she was wrong.
“Draco…” she started uncertainly, “Were we… where you’re from… I mean, we’re not…” she struggled to find the right words. She took a slow deep breath. He was looking at her intently, mild confusion settling on his features.
“Are you… Are you in love with me?”
She felt herself blushing as she asked. She felt stupid for even asking but was surprised when she looked up and he was smirking at her.
“You always were the brightest witch of your age, Hermione,” he answered.
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