AN: It helps keep me motivated with the stories when I know they are being enjoyed, or change it up if something is wrong. So truly, thank you for your time taken to review. Clumsy!
AN2: Just to let you all know, the first week of July the queu is closing so that the administrators can have their vacation so there won't be any new chapters at that time. I hope to get more of the story validated before that time since it's done and as soon as one gets validated another chapter goes in line. So please don't leave the story during the break!
Hermione awoke slowly, feeling strangely at peace. Well that is until she realized she was tangled up with a very warm body, so she turned her head and came face to face with Draco. His grey eyes were open and staring intensely into her dark brown ones and the look in them had a blush heating her cheeks, and a warm tense feeling in her stomach, one she hadn’t felt in a long time. That feeling made her finally own up to being very strongly attracted to him. Admitting it to herself, though she wouldn’t tell anyone else, made her feel better about the whole thing, now that wasn’t so hard after all. As she was thinking this, her eyes strayed down to his lips and then quickly back to his eyes, which held a different look than she remembered ever seeing there before.
Draco woke up because she was talking in her sleep; she was also rubbing his body in her sleep. She was quite affectionate in her dreams apparently. She had run her hands up his chest at one point, another had her hands running through his hair, not that he minded in the least because he had always loved his hair being rubbed. He’d also written her off as a prude years ago, his reasons for doing so he doubted she’d believe, but the dream she was having said otherwise, she certainly wasn’t shy in her dreams!
He was actually a little sorry when she showed signs of waking up. He could have removed his arms from where they lay holding her in her sleep when she rolled away from him in her sleep right before waking. Instead he pulled her closer, deciding to let the chips fall where they would. He needed to see her reaction, because he couldn’t fight this attraction he had to her much longer.
So when she softly turned over in his arms, he watched many emotions play through those soulful eyes of hers. Tranquility turned to surprise turned to embarrassment, then shock, then the beautiful brown eyes started warming up and he understood that last emotion for exactly what it was. It didn’t hurt that he’d also heard her call out his name a few times while she’d been asleep, but she didn’t need to know that!
When her eyes dropped down to his lips, then looked back at him he decided the hell with it and moved closer. She stiffened up at first, but made no move to stop him either, and he watched her eyes the whole way, and when he was just a breath away from the kiss……..
Rich was at the mouth of the cave. “Mr. Malfoy, Miss Granger, is it alright for me to enter?” He asked and Hermione stood quickly, the mood shattered.
Draco groaned softly, “Sure Rich, come on in.”
“I am here to check on your injury, I brought a few supplies to help the healing along, although you need to stay off of it for another day, it does shorten the healing process. Miss Granger did a good job healing you.” He told Draco.
Draco and Hermione looked at him in surprise wondering how he even knew about the injury let alone the fact that she had healed him.
“We have been watching all the pairs, yours isn’t the only accident that occurred since I left you here yesterday. Mr. Potter, Miss Jones, and Mr. Davis all had incidents as well.” He informed the pair.
Hermione gasped, and was overcome with a feeling of panic! She’d spent too many years protecting Harry to be able to let it go very easily, it was always her first instinct with him. Rich seemed to read the fear in her eyes, for he held up a hand.
“They are all just fine. Miss Smithson, Mr. Zabini, and Miss Burns were all very good at taking care of their partners. Mr. Malfoy here had the worst of the injuries anyways, and you know how well he is, so no need to worry. Now, I am going to leave these potions for you Mr. Malfoy and you are to take one swallow every hour on the hour, understand? Tomorrow you will wake up feeling as good as new.” He told Draco, who nodded. He was worried about Hermione, she had walked to the far back of the cave and was sitting quietly, keeping to herself.
Once Rich had left again, Draco took his potions and then stood with difficulty and started to make his way over to her but after the first three steps though he hissed in pain, which made her look up.
“What the hell are you doing?” She asked sternly, rushing over to him. “You’re supposed to stay off that ankle until tomorrow! What are you thinking?” When he was settled on the blankets again, he patted the blanket next to him inviting her to sit.
“I was thinking that you looked a little sad, or upset and maybe you would want to talk about it?”
“Thanks, but I’m just worried about him, that’s all. I’m sure he’s fine or this whole exercise would be halted. It’s just that after so many years of looking after someone, it’s not easy to just shut it off.” She explained. He nodded at her to continue. “He’s basically my brother, and when he’s hurt I want to help him.” She just shrugged as she faded into silence.
“Look, I know this isn’t easy for you, but Jenny is really good with healing spells. I know you don’t know her well, but he’s in safe hands, I promise. Almost as safe as the hands I was in, thank you Hermione for helping me. I know I don’t deserve it, but I’m grateful just the same.” He said sincerely.
She looked at him puzzled. “What do you mean you don’t deserve it?” she was truly confused.
“I meant exactly what I said, I don’t deserve it. I hope to one day, but I haven’t earned it yet.” He stated simply and very quietly, almost a whisper.
She shivered without knowing why and reached out to him, because for the very first time since they were eleven year olds on the way to Hogwart’s he looked haunted, deeply haunted.
She wrapped her arms around him and tried to comfort his soul with her hug. It’s all she could think to do, and she really didn’t think much about it before she did it, it was just in her nature to try to help.
“Draco, I have an idea about why you feel like this.” She pulled back to look in his grey eyes once again. “You need to try letting it go. You made an adult's decision as a child, and followed a man who’s responsibility it was to show you a better way and didn’t. We all had difficult decisions to make, and we made the one’s we had to.”
“Why are you, of all people trying to comfort me? You have more reasons than anyone to hate me, and last week even, you did. Hell, last week I thought you were nothing but a bitter bitch. Maybe not without reason, but still, the point is you shouldn’t be taking care of me the way you are.” He vented.
“I don’t know how it happened, I think it had something to do with you catching me when you could have let me fall, but I decided I didn’t hate you as much as I thought I did. I made peace with our past and decided to leave it there where it belongs.” She told him honestly. “Maybe it’s the setting, who knows, but I would like to start over with you, and leave both our hatred behind. You know, we could end up friends, worse things have happened.” She laughed.
He smiled at her and decided he needed to explain a promise he made. “You remember when you were having your meltdown about the cliff? I promised I wouldn’t let you be hurt this time?”
“I should have stopped her Hermione. I was a coward, and I have hated myself so much since. I even hated you because I felt that way. I still have nightmares about it, you know. If I could turn back and relive any moment in my life, it would be that one. Nobody deserves what happened to you and certainly not for something as stupid as blood status.” He confessed, and then looked up at her.
Hermione didn’t know what to say, even if she could speak at the moment. So she did the only thing she could to comfort him in that moment, and reached for his hand and held it.
“It never really was about your blood status, did you know that? Not for Aunt Bella, and not for me. I was her pureblooded nephew and she tortured me at least twice a month! She never really required a reason, she was just a nutter, Azkaban broke her mind.” He continued. He couldn’t look at her for the rest of his confession so instead he looked down at their hands and started to play with her fingers.
“Do you want to know why I hated you?” He asked. “I will confess it if you want to know.”
“Please tell me.”
He took a deep breath and blew it out, “You chose him.”
“What? Who did I choose?” Hermione didn’t understand.
“Remember, I hated you before I knew your parentage, not after. The reason was because at first I wanted to be your friend, but you went with them instead. A few years later after you damn near broke my nose it became about something else altogether. I admired the courage behind the punch you see, maybe I already had the feelings then, I don’t know. What I do know is I wanted to be the one to take you to the ball, and Krum got to do it instead because I couldn’t. You wouldn’t have believed me if I had told you I’d crushed on you for a long time, you would have believed I was setting you up for something. So again you would have chosen someone else over me.” He looked up at her, she looked very shocked. He smiled a little.
“See, I fancied myself to be a little bit in love with you, but you never chose me and never would have chosen me over perfect Potter. So I hated you, and him, and Weasley for the same reason. It was always those two for you, with no room for anyone else, least of all me.” He finished.
“Draco, I don’t know what to say. That is honestly something I never thought to hear from you.”
He laughed a nervous laugh, “Yeah well, maybe after all this time, you deserve to understand, finally. I have liked you for a very long time. Probably from the very moment you hit me, and now I want to ask you something, if that’s ok?” He looked at her.
“Alright.” She said nervously.
“Why did you choose them over me? At the beginning?” He asked.
“Oh, I don’t think I did Draco.” She raised her finger to stop his protest. “Please, let me finish.” At his nod she continued her answer. “I never knew you saw it as that black and white, that I had made a choice you see. All I knew was the boy who was nice to me on the train one day suddenly hated me the next week. I never understood what I had done, just that we weren’t friends. I’m explaining this all wrong.” She said, and he was still playing with her fingers, distracting her.
“Go on, I’m keeping up.” He encouraged.
“Ok, well I guess the best way to explain it is to start from the time I started school. Not Hogwart’s, Muggle schooling starts at five years old. I never fit in, or had friends you see, even then I was a freak, in my entire life from that age, I’ve never been not hated for whatever reason. In the Muggle school I was disliked because I was different, this was a long time before I knew I was a witch. When I was being picked on, well you know we aren’t able to control our magic at that age, and I didn’t even know I had magic so I couldn’t explain all the strange things that happened, I just knew they happened around me. When I came to Hogwart’s I was so happy because I knew everyone there would be like me, we all had magic so I would finally fit in and have friends. Well then I found out that because I was Muggleborn I would still have the same problems, only this time I had Harry and Ron so it was easier. I didn’t know that you and Harry and Ron disliked each other for a few days, and didn’t know I was making a choice between you in your eyes. I just was trying to make friends in my House for the first time in my life.”
“I think I understand,” Draco told her.
“If you had talked to me then, I could have told you all of that. Although when Voldemort came back, that would have ended any friendship we had anyway. You wouldn’t have been allowed to have a Mudblood for a friend, and we both know it.” She said.
“So, do you think we can try now? If I can be your friend at all that is.” Draco said to her.
“What does that mean?” she asked, a little bit insulted as she grabbed her hand back from him.
“See, you misunderstand me again.” He smiled, taking her hand again. “What I meant Hermione is that I’m not that eleven year old boy now. I’m also not Potter or Weasley who grew up best friends with you. I am a guy who has liked you from the sidelines for a very long time and I’m not sure how to deal with that part of it to be able to be your friend.”
“Oh.” She said, frowning. “What if we just try getting to know one another in a positive way, wherever that may lead us, do you think that could work?”
Entwining their fingers he looked at her and smiled. “I would like that very much.”
AN2: Ok folks, how’d I do this chapter? Let me know!