Chapter 11 : Chapter 11
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On the morning of the Hogsmeade visit and the dreaded meet with Harry and Ron, Hermione had a rare lie in. She had hardly slept a wink last night and the little sleep she did get was filled with nightmares that all ended with her being hexed by Harry and/or Ron.
She showered and dressed slowly and went to the Great Hall for breakfast. She found Ginny sitting with Draco and sat herself down next to them with a heavy sigh.
"Wow Granger, you look awful!" Draco said examining the bags under her eyes.
"Thanks a lot! You've just made this easier for me, now I can go to Hogsmeade and tell Harry and Ron that we're no longer friends and I was an idiot for ever thinking we were!" Hermione glared at him.
"Brilliant" he said with a grin, "I don't want to be seen with a zombie anyway" she raised her wand. "Kidding! Kidding! Hermione, it'll be fine. They've had weeks to calm down since you first told them. I'm sure they just want to hear it from you face to face and check you're ok. They're not going to disown you, you're their best friend. Besides, 'The Golden Duo' doesn't have such a good ring to it."
"Are you daft? Did you see Harry's letter?" She pulled it out of her robes, it was crumpled from her carrying it around with her all week and looking at it repeatedly as if it would change.
Draco simply rolled his eyes and tucked into his bacon and eggs, he knew there was no telling Hermione when she was in this sort of mood.
Ginny had nothing to say on the matter. She was sulking because there was a Gryfindor quidditch team practice today, meaning she couldn't go into Hogsmeade to see Harry.
By the time Hermione had mentally prepared herself and walked ever so slowly to Hogsmeade it was almost time to meet the boys. Draco had walked with her, though they walked in silence, and promised to meet her as soon as she was ready to. He went with her to The Three Broomsticks, wished her luck and then turned back towards the shops. Hermione took a deep breath and pushed the door open. A quick glance around the room told her that Harry and Ron were yet to arrive. She ordered a butterbeer (although the firewiskey was very tempting) and sat in her favourite booth, facing the door. She stared at her drink, watching the hundreds of tiny bubbles float to the top and meet the white froth. Each time the door opened her head shot up to see who had entered. Finally Harry and Ron arrived, and they weren't alone. Draco was with them, and not by choice by the look of things. Both Harry and Ron had hold of one of Draco's elbows and were frog-marching him towards the table Hermione sat at.
The trio sat down opposite her, Draco squashed in the middle, wriggling for more space but not attempting to leave.
Hermione sighed exasperatedly. "Is that really necessary?"
"Yes." Harry and Ron said in unison.
"Now Hermione, this is very important...did you send me and Ron a letter saying that you and Draco Malfoy, the Draco Malfoy who we have despised since we met him, were friends?" Harry asked, very seriously.
"Yes, and-" Hermione began but Ron cut her off.
"So clearly this slimy git has imperiused her." Ron said jabbing his thumb in Draco's direction.
"No, we-" Hermione started and was yet again interrupted, this time by Harry.
"I think you're right Ron. How can we reverse it? Hex him until he does it?"
Draco finally spoke up, "You pair of morons. I haven't put her under the inperius curse! You really think I want to rot in Azkaban like my Father? Look, you might not like it but me and Hermione are friends and we will continue to be friends whether you approve or not. It doesn't mean you have to like me, in fact, I'd rather you didn't. Hermione, tell them please so I can leave."
"Don't either of you dare interrupt me!" Hermione said menacingly, pointing at Harry and Ron. "Draco is right, we are friends at both of our free will. I'm not asking for the four of us to hang out together or even be in the same room after today. Just accept it, for me, please?"
"Fine. But we want to talk to you alone." Harry said, now looking at Malfoy.
"Brilliant, I'll be off then. See you when you're done Hermione." Malfoy said and nudged Ron, who stood to let him out, glaring the whole time.
Hermione relaxed a little now that there was no fear of a duel between the three boys. Harry was looking at her, a very worried expression on his face.
Hermione sighed, "Harry, I promise I am fine. This came as a big shock to me too, but Draco really is different now." She explained to them both about Halloween and how Draco's Father had died, prompting Draco to tell the truth about the trio at Malfoy Manor and not wanting to be reminded of it by going back there. When she had finished talking Harry and Ron were silent. Processing what they had just heard. Hermione waited patiently until finally Harry spoke.
"Fine. You're friends with Malfoy. I'm not saying I like it or that I trust him but I accept it. I trust you and your judgement Hermione, after all, you were always the brains out of the three of us. Just...be careful okay?"
"Yeah." Ron said, nodding. "And if that foul git steps out of line just once, you let us know."
Hermione smiled and nodded. She knew that Harry and Ron would never be friends with Draco but they were still friends with her and that's what mattered. "Thank you both. So Ron, how's it going with Lara?"
At this, Ron's face split into a grin. "Brilliant. She's...brilliant. She met Mum and Dad for the first time last week; they love her, of course. I was worried after the way Mum had been when Bill first started going out with Fleur-do you remember? But she adores her, even started teaching her the Wealsey family recipes! Not that she needs them, she's almost as good a cook as Mum is."
Hermione was delighted for Ron. Although he may not have realised it yet, he clearly loved her. For the next hour or so she listened to Ron talk fondly about Lara and Harry telling them about continuing to restore Grimmauld place. Hermione was thrilled to hear that he was planning on asking Ginny to move in there with him when she finished Hogwarts in the summer.
By the time they both had to leave, they were considerably happier than they had been when they arrived. Hermione hugged them both farewell and watched them apparate before leaving herself to find Draco.
She spotted his unmistakable blonde hair minutes later. He was coming out of Witches Boutique and carrying several bags.
"Still alive then?" He said when he had noticed her walking towards him. "Good, I'd never have managed Professor Slughorn's essay on my own! All sorted with Potty and Weasel?"
"Please don't call them that. And yes, everything is fine. They are no longer convinced that you cursed me and have accepted, begrudgingly, that you and I are friends."
"Good, I'm glad they aren't angry with you, I know how important they are to you." Hermione could hear the sincerity in his voice, it was actually quite touching. Realising that they were now standing in a crowded street just staring at each other, Draco quickly averted his gaze and cleared his throat.
"So...er...where do you want to go now?"
"Um, well, I don't need anything from the shops so, back to school? We could go to the library and get started on Slughorn's essay? There's some great books on medicinal potions in there."
"Of course, you would know! Come on then, lets head back." He said, starting to walk back to the castle and the warmth it provided.
"What's in all the bags by the way?" Hermione asked a few minutes later, noticing them again.
"Christmas presents, I like to be organised. By the way...you had better get me something good if you want to compete with what I've bought you" He said with a wink.
Hermione was in shock. He had bought her a Christmas present? Of course she would give him something in return, but what do you buy someone who has everything?
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