Hermione smiled, her head on his chest still. She sighed. "I always knew you were good on the inside, Draco," she said. He smiled and kissed the top of her head. "I never really thanked you for everything you've done the past couple months."
"Don't worry about it, Mi," he said quietly. "I would have done anything for you that day." He seemed quieter than usual.
"Penny for your thoughts," she whispered.
"I was just thinking about everything and one around is," he said, barely audible; Hermione had to strain to hear him. "About what everyone will say, how they will react..."
"Your parents..." she said, not even wanting to think about it. His father was a Death Eater, it was almost inevitable that he would be too.
"My mother likes you, though," Draco said, a laugh hiding in his voice. "I know what you're thinking about, though... About me being a Death Eater in the end..."
Hermione was silent for a moment. "But isn't it inevitable? Because you're father was one, won't you be one too?"
Draco shook his head. "My mother is doing everything in her power to keep me from it..." He sat up and looked her directly in the eye. "I promise you, Mi, I will neverfollow the Dark Lord; no mark, no nothing."
Hermione smiled a bit, and kissed him lightly on the lips. "We'll miss lunch if we don't leave now," she said. "I'll see you in the meeting." She kissed him again before bounding down the stairs and out the Common Room towards the Great Hall.
"Mr. Malfoy," McGonagall said. "You're quite positive you want to do this?" Draco nodded, but Snape spoke before he had a chance to.
"Minerva," he said, speaking for the first time, "Narcissa has been trying to do everything she can to keep them away from Draco. It will only last for so long." He looked at Dumbledore. "I see the way Draco looks at Miss Granger. Albus, if I could have done this for Lily, I would have; you know it's true. You helped me when my life was in grave danger, now I ask you to help Draco. I made the Unbreakable Vow to Narcissa that I would help her protect Draco from his father and the Dark Lord."
McGonangall and Draco stared at Snape; they couldn't believe what he was saying. Dumbledore just simply "You state a very well thought out case, Severus. No doubt in my mind had Mr. Malfoy not come forward himself, you would have said something?" Snape lowered his eyes, it was the truth; he would have said anything to keep Draco safe. "Very well," Dumbledore said. "Minerva, you and Mr. Malfoy will discuss and plan. Severus, you have a new partner; you must keep him safe and off of Voldemort's radar of possible traitors. And Mr. Malfoy," Draco looked up, "you must not tell anyone about this; not even Miss Granger."
Draco nodded. "I made her a promise that I wouldn't follow in my father's footsteps. What should I tell her if she asks?"
"You tell her it's taken care of," McGonagall said. "And if I know my niece, she will then come to me and we will go from there."
"Minerva is right, you must keep her safe. That's why you are doing this," Snape said, putting a hand on Draco's shoulder. He knew his favorite teacher was right. Hermione couldn't know anything...
The dinner owl post came in. Ginny and Ron received a letter from Bill and Fluer, who were on their Honeymoon; and Remus had sent Harry photos of his godson and a letter telling him how Teddy was just like Harry.
A beautiful snowy owl, almost like Hedwig, landed in front of Hermione. "Oh!" She took the box that the owl had set in front of her and opened up the piece of parchment attached.
I made you a promise that I intend to keep. I also promise you that I will love you forever, Mi... Nothing will happen to you as long as I am still living and breathing.
Ginny read the letter over her shoulder and smiled, she knew exactly who it was from. Hermione turned to her and smiled also.
"Well," Ginny said. "Don't just sit there! What's in the box? What did you get?" Hermione laughed a bit at the eagerness of her best friend.
When she opened the box, there was a Sterling Silver heart necklace, with an emerald in the center of the heart. She held it up, and flipped it over to see the words Forever and Always engraved on it.
She opened the locket, only to find that it could open into a Four Leaf Clover, holding four photo spaces. She smiled. "It's so beautiful," Ginny said. "That must have cost a lot! Not like it would be a big problem." She laughed a bit, as did Hermione.
Across the Great Hall, Draco was also receiving mail. It was from a tawny school owl, but it was mail none-the-less. He opened the piece of parchment.
You made me a promise today; and all I could do was happily accept it that promise. I felt terrible because I realize that while you promised to protect me, there was nothing I could do to give you a promise like that.
But after I thought about it in the Commons before dinner, I realized that there is a promise that I can make to you; forever and always. My promise to you is that I will love you and only you forever and always, for the rest of my life.
You've been there for me when no one else was; you make me laugh and you haven't really done anything at all.
I love you; and I'm forever yours.
Draco read and reread the note grinning. He looked up at Hermione, just as she opened her gift. He watched her face light up, and even smiled at Ginny's reaction. Hermione looked up and caught Draco looking at her. She looked back at Ginny and said something to her. Draco quirked an eyebrow at her; until he noticed Ginny take the locket, and put it around Hermione's neck.
Suddenly, Draco couldn't wait until he was in the Head's Commons with her. "So, did you really think I didn't know, Draco?" He looked at Pansy with a puzzled look on his face. Pansy rolled her eyes at him. "I know that you've been there for her since her parents died. Ginny knew because Hermione trusted her. Why didn't you trust me, Draco?"
He started to respond, but stopped. He thought about how he thought that she would flip. "I was... Afraid," he said tentatively. "I wasn't sure how you would react. Surprisingly, mum was quite calm about it; she likes Mi. We never told father, though..."
"Your best bet would to not say anything," Pansy said. She sighed. "I wish you had said something... I actually think that she's lucky to have had you to confide in." Pansy looked down. "I've actually liked her. But because of the whole Slytherin/Gryffindor thing, we were never really friends... Anyways, I think it's sweet, Draco. You've been a lot different since you two have been friends; and they're good changes." She smiled. "I promise, I want to be friends with her; and I want to see you happy. You're my best friend, Draco."