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Chapter 1 : One.
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I fell back on my bed and scrubbed my face with my hands, staring at the canopy. I thought Eighth Year would be okay. No, better than okay, I'd thought it'd be great. No more Horcrux Hunting in the wilderness or Voldemort stress. For once, Harry, Hermione and I would be able to focus wholly on our studies, not be worried about Voldie’s next attempt to kill us or come back to power.
But since the first day, all I could notice was how gorgeous Hermione had gotten. I mean, I’d been noticing for a while, since around the time of the Yule ball, but on that day at Kings Cross it’d just hit me. Like I’d run into the barrier and it’d been sealed just like Second Year. All the air just, whoosh, gone.
Of course I’d cocked it up and just stared open mouthed at her, to which she smirked, a faint blush spreading over her cheeks, and told me to close my gob, or I’d catch flies. Then she’d led Harry, Ginny and I onto the train to find Neville, Luna and the rest of the gang as if nothing had happened.
It was no surprise that she’d been made Head Girl, and she had to leave half way through our catch up to change into her robes, find the Head Boy and hold a meeting with all the prefects, which left me to reminisce about her, her, her, and more her. It really was like the minute I saw her, she’d just flooded my mind and wouldn’t leave.
I spent the rest of the train ride in conversation with the rest of our compartments contents, but my mind was never fully on it. A little bit would be wondering about how the meeting was going, or if she was patrolling the train, or something or other about her. Harry had cast me a funny look now and again, but I smiled back and nodded, letting him know I was okay, to which he nodded slowly in reply and went back to whatever conversation he was in before.
I sat back, and was left alone until that night after the welcoming feast.
“Ron, are you in love with Hermione?” Harry asked, sitting down on his bed and taking off his glasses.
“You what?” I asked, bolting upright and being effectively broken out of my Hermione Haze.
“I said, are you in love with Hermione?”
“Why?” I asked, wringing my hands in my lap.
“Because you’re acting exactly the same way I did when I discovered how attractive your sister really was.” He said, grinning lopsidedly at me and getting settled.
“Oi, don’t talk about my sister that way.” I said, grinning back all the same. “And I dunno. I can’t stop thinking about her, and she really is gorgeous Harry, I mean, even you must see it and you only have eyes for Ginny." I said, giving him a pointed look to which he nodded. "And she’s so smart and… she’s just perfect, and I’ve never met anyone else like her. No one else could ever compare to her.” I said, flopping back. “It’s pretty deep, mate, but I wouldn’t call it love. Not yet.”
“Well, good luck.” He said, “The road of love is never easy. Look at me and Ginny, it took a bloody war to finally sort out our relationship.”
“Harry. What if she doesn’t like me back?” I asked, a small seed of panic firmly lodging itself in my brain. “I mean, we kissed and then haven’t mentioned it since. Or spoken properly about it. So maybe she doesn’t like me back. Oh Merlin, she doesn’t, does she Harry?”
“Ron, calm down. You haven’t spoken properly full stop. She’s been dealing with her parents all summer and hasn’t had a proper conversation with either of us. It been all Owls and hasty fire calls. She probably wanted to sort it out face to face. And that doesn’t mean you can bring it up. Let her start the conversation, okay? Now stop worrying and go to sleep.” He said, rolling over and pulling the curtains shut. “G’night, Ron.”
“Night, Harry.” I muttered, lost in thought.
I waited a full two terms before bothering Harry about Hermione again.
“Harry.” I said, staring at the canopy.
“She hasn’t brought it up.”
“Who hasn’t brought what up, Ron?” He sighed,
“Hermione. She hasn’t brought the kiss up. At all.”
“So I think I might be falling in love with her, you twit, and if she hasn’t brought it up, it means she doesn’t feel the same way. Not in the slightest.” I said angrily. But then I paused. “Or at least I think it does.”
“Then you bring it up Ron.” He yawned. “Maybe she’s waiting for you to make the first move. Like a chess game. Initiate the whole thing.”
“Yeah… Maybe…” I mumbled. “Thanks, Harry.”
“Welcome, Ron. Night.”
“Night… Wait, how do I bring it up?”
Harry sighed again. “I don’t know, Ron, just… just ask her outright.”
I snorted, “What, ‘Hey Hermione, remember that time we kissed in the Chamber of Secrets after destroying a piece of Lord Voldemorts soul? Did that change the way you feel about me at all? Because I think I’m falling in love with you.’ Yeah. Nice plan, Harry.”
“Sure, why don’t you do that?”
I paused. “Because it’s stupid, Harry.”
“Well I am half asleep, Ron. What did you expect? A perfectly thought out, logical plan on how to determine the way Hermione feels about you?”
“Now that’s stupid, Ron.”
“I know.” I said, scrubbing my face with my hands. “G’night.”
“Night, Ron. It’ll be better in the morning.” He mumbled, before rolling over.
“I hope so.” I muttered to myself, before getting comfortable.
It was another term and a half before I took action. It’d just passed 11:15 when I asked Harry for the Map and the Cloak.
“Why?” He asked suspiciously.
“Because I need to find someone.”
“Because I’m going to talk to her.” I said quickly.
His eyebrows rose in surprise. “You mean you’re finally going to ask her how she feels about you? After months of moping and speculating you’re finally going to do something?”
“Yes.” I said, grinding my teeth. “Now where are they?”
“Bottom of my trunk.” He said, grinning to himself.
I dug them out, shook the cloak out a bit and opened the map.
“Hermione, Hermione, Hermione…” I muttered to myself as I scanned the map. “Aha. Hermione Granger, 7th floor corridor. What’s she doing there? There’s no classes up there tonight.”
“She’s Head Girl, patrols and that.” Harry said, chewing on the end of his quill.
“Oh yeah. Well I’m gonna go talk to her. Wish me luck?” I asked, pulling the cloak on and stashing the map in my pocket.
“Yeah yeah, g’luck mate.”
I scowled, before hurrying out of the dorm and into the castle.
Eventually, I reached the 7th floor. The staircases were playing about, and I was wheezing by the time I reached the long deserted stretch. I pulled the map out of my pocket, and checked where Hermione was. She was in the small, end classroom alone and un-moving. I was instantly suspicious and I rushed down there, hoping to not find her petrified on the floor or something horrible.
Instead I found her sat on top of a table, staring at the open and empty doorway expectantly. I took a few steps inside the classroom and looked around, there was nobody else here, as the map said, and she was obviously waiting for someone so I left. I was halfway down the corridor when I heard someone’s footsteps behind me. I whirled, and saw a blonde head disappear into the classroom and the door shut.
“Malfoy.” I muttered to myself, and started back up to the door. I was about to barge in when I realised something.
Malfoy was the person she was waiting for.
So instead of walking away, like I should’ve done, I sat down, and cast a hearing enhancement spell on myself, all the while feeling slightly guilty for eavesdropping.
“You’re late.” Hermione said, getting down from the table and crossing her arms.
“Second floor rounds were taking longer than expected. Hufflepuffs are in heat, apparently.” Malfoy snickered.
“Don’t mock them!” Hermione laughed, “They’re entitled to a love life.”
“As is everybody else, Hufflepuffs just look funny when engaging in theirs.”
“It’s because they’re so innocent and… bumbling 90% of the time.”
“They’re far from innocent. Believe me. I’m sure they secretly lead very exciting lives.”
“Just like us?” Hermione asked stepping closer to him.
“Yeah. Like us.” Malfoy said softly, cupping her face and brushing her cheeks with his thumbs. He leant forward and gently brushed his lips over hers. She brought her hands up to his forearms and leant forward as he leant back, catching his lips again.
“Will it always be like this, Draco?” She asked suddenly, startling him. This was the first time she’d asked this. “Always sneaking around and secrets and empty classrooms?”
“No. I promise. One day soon it’ll be different. We won’t have to hide.”
“What about… No, forget it.” She said, pulling away and turning to look out the window.”
“What is it?”
“No, forget I said anything.” She said quickly.
“Hermione, tell me.” He said, wrapping his arms around her middle and resting his chin on her shoulder.
“What about after Hogwarts.” She said quietly. So quietly it was almost a whisper.
“What about it?” He asked playfully, and she elbowed him, a small smile on her face.
“I mean, will it still be this? Will there still be an us?”
“Well I hope so. I’ve got mighty complicated plans for us.” He said, pulling away and walking towards a bookshelf.
“What? Really?” She asked, unmasked happiness in her voice.
“Mhm.” He said, picking up an old Hogwarts a History.
“Tell me?” She begged, tugging on his arm, and dragging him towards a freshly conjured sofa.
“But I’ve just found this!” He whined, brandishing the tome. “I don’t think I’ve read this one..” He told her, flicking through the yellowing pages.
“Draco, please!” She begged again, snatching the book away from him and pulling him onto the sofa. “Please tell me.”
He eyed her, a smile growing on his face at the sigh of her impatience. “Okay. But you can’t laugh. At all. Not even once, or I’m stopping.”
“Okay, I promise.” She said, grinning from ear to ear and planting a quick kiss on his lips before leaning against him and watching his face intently.. “Go on! Start already!”
“Okay. Well, after Hogwarts I imagined you’d want a job straight away, what exactly I don’t know. A job in the Ministry possibly, working for Magical Creatures Rights or something along those lines, what with you having your Elvish Welfare obsession.” She swatted him lightly, grinning all the while. “Or maybe a book store or something, because you like those just as much. And I’d be a Curse Breaker, or maybe an Obliviator or maybe even do something unrelated to the Ministry. Like work with people who…” He trailed off then, and Hermione frowned a little.
“People who what?” She asked quietly. He was looking at his hands. She sat up properly and turned his face to look at her. “Draco, people who what?”
“People who’re like I was.” He mumbled, finally meeting her gaze. “People who’re stuck in the same place I was. Bad places, Hermione.” A fine blush spread across his cheeks. “I don’t want people making bad choices because they got themselves there.”
“Draco that’d be amazing.” She said, and he looked up again. She was smiling softly, and he pulled her back against him and planted a kiss on the top of her head. “Now get on with the story.”
“Bossy.” He mumbled, and laughed when she stuck her tongue out at him. “Okay, so we’d do any of those jobs, and I was thinking that we’d either re-do the Manor now that it’s mine, or we’d sell it and-”
“You’d sell the Manor?” She asked, shocked.
“Well, yes, if you’re not comfortable living there.” He replied.
“Really? You’d sell the Manor for me?” Her face transforming from shocked to happy.
“Of course I would. I don’t want you being unhappy or uncomfortable for the rest of your life. Or for however long it takes for you to admit you don’t like being there. But yeah, we’d either re-decorate the Manor or sell it and buy either one big house somewhere else in the countryside, or multiple houses. One house near your parents, one near your friends, one by the beach in Devon or Cornwall and maybe a few abroad. Each decorated to our mixed tastes, or maybe one of us decorates one half and the other the other half, whichever we decide upon when we buy it. You might find one you adore and want to make it how you’d always dreamed etcetera. And then, um…” He trailed off again, and shifted uncomfortably.
“What?” She asked, turning her head to look at him from his lap. Somehow she’d managed to wind up lying on the sofa with her head in his lap. “What’s next?”
“I don’t know if you’d want to hear it.”
“Come on, Draco. What is it?”
“Wedding.” He muttered.
“Our wedding.” He said again quickly.
She stared at him. “You’ve thought that far ahead?” She asked, and he nodded, watching her face to gauge her reaction. Her face was unreadable for a minute, until. “Get on with it then.” She said, smirking up at him. He let out a breath he didn’t know he was holding and scowled at her.
“You’re getting too much like me.” He said, poking her in the ribs. She squirmed and batted his hand away, getting comfortable again. “Well I’d always imagined you’d want either a Summer or Autumn wedding, because you always say how you love the colours and stuff. We’d have it in the church near where you grew up, invite your family and friends, and I’d invite Mother and my friends and it wouldn’t be massive. Just big enough for the two of us, and we’d have just the essentials. It’d be a simple ceremony, no long-winded speeches or hymns. Vows we wrote ourselves and maybe Victoire and Teddy could be Flower Girl and Ring Bearer because you’d love that.” He was stroking her hair now, and was gazing out the window so he didn’t notice her slightly watery eyes. “You’d pick where we honeymoon, because you’d have some fantastic reason to go there. Something to learn or something you’d always wanted to see. We’d go for as long as you want, maybe even take a ‘gap year’ or whatever it’s called off work and just travel until you got sick of it and had to go back. And then if… If we did have kids, I wouldn’t want just one. You know as well as I do how lonely it is growing up as an only child. So I’d always planned to have two or more. No more than five though. Five’s too many. You couldn’t pay enough attention to each child if you had five. One would always feel left out. Inadequate, and I don’t want any child of mine feeling inadequate. And they’d grow up, and we’d watch, and we’d teach them everything they need to know until they start to teach themselves. We’d pack them off to Hogwarts one by one and find stuff to do when they’re all off there. We’d watch them graduate, then retire, and then just… Grow old together. Because that’s all I really want to do, Hermione, I just want to grow old and grey with you. It’s like that Smiths song you showed me, you know? ‘If a double-decker bus, crashes into us, to die by your side is such a heavenly way to die.’" He chuckled. "As incredibly cheesy as it sounds, it's absolutely true. Every word. Even if I’d died in the war, looking at you before I died would’ve been okay. If you’d been the last thing I’d seen, I would’ve died happily. Because.. Because I love you. You’re the most important thing in my life, and I’ll never stop loving you. Ever. I promise.” He looked down at her, and was met by the sight of a sobbing and maybe slightly hysterical Hermione Granger. “Hey, what’s the matter?” He asked, pulling her into a hug and holding her tight.
“You! You’re the matter!” She said into his neck. “You know exactly what I want and you’re so perfect and… and I love you too. And I want all of that. I want all of that with you. I want to grow up with you and get married to you and have kids and watch them grow up and grow old with you too… I want you and that’s about it.” She said, sniffling a little and holding onto him more tightly.
“Good.” He said, “At least you didn’t laugh. Or say that you wanted to leave me for Weasley.”
“No. Me and Ron are good friends, but that’s all I think we’ll ever be. Sure, we kissed and he’s sweet and he means well, but I think if we did get together, he’d have a completely different life planned out for us, and I don’t want whatever that is when I’ve got this. The kiss was just a spur of the moment thing, on my part. I had a small crush on him and I thought we were going to die so I went with it. But that was nothing compared to this.” She said, pecking Draco on the mouth. “And of course I wouldn’t laugh at you! How could I laugh at that description of my ideal life!” She said, grinning at him.
“I’m glad. Otherwise I’d probably die of embarrassment and heartbreak.” He said, pouting, causing Hermione to chuckle, which eventually became full-blown laughter. Draco joined it and soon they were both at it.
But Ron Weasley, Ron Weasley wasn’t. Ron Weasley sat shell-shocked on the cold flagstone paving the 7th floor corridor, un-moving and for the most part un-feeling. Eventually he stood up and managed to stumble his way back to the Gryffindor Common Room where he shed the invisibility cloak and glanced at the clock. 3am. He trudged up to the boy’s dormitory and stowed the cloak in Harry’s trunk. He pulled out the Marauders Map and looked at it again. Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy were still on the 7th floor, their two dots basically one. He returned the map to its simple parchment state, and changed for bed. He flopped back and scrubbed his face with his hands, staring up at the canopy.
He was trying to think of what his Mum had said to him as a child about eavesdropping. He knew there was something, but all he could remember was the constant reminder that cheaters never prosper. The same could be said for eavesdroppers, he guessed.
He eventually remembered as he drifted off to sleep, and he could almost see her berating him and tutting occasionally..
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