Chapter 16 : Chapter 16
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"M...Malfoy?" Ron stammered. "You're joking, she's joking." He said, looking to Harry for reassurance. "You're just pulling our legs. Come on, just tell us who you're really going out with."
"Hermione, is this a joke?" Harry was looking at her, his expression unreadable.
"No, it's not a joke. Draco and I have grown closer this year and we've developed feelings for each other. I really like him Harry..."
"Oh! Draco and I is it now?" Ron's face was very red. "So you're snogging a Slytherin then. And not just any Slytherin; Draco bloody Malfoy. You do remember Malfoy don't you? Called you a mudblood more times than I've changed my pants, tried to get Hagrid sacked and buckbeak executed, you punched him in third year? That's the person you want for a boyfriend? I thought you were smart Hermione."
"Ron, please, just listen." Tears were forming in Hermione's eyes. Ron walked straight past her and left the room. She looked at Harry who was avoiding eye contact with her.
"Harry..." she whispered.
"I just don't get it Hermione. Why him?" He spoke to his feet rather than to her.
"You don't choose who you have feelings for Harry. This year with Draco, he's been like a different person. He's not the bully that we knew. He hates that part of his life now. He told me he wants to be a better person; that I make him want to be a better person. Please Harry, please don't hate me, not you too." She begged him.
"I don't hate you Hermione, I never could. Neither does Ron. He'll calm down, you know what he's like. Just answer me this; does Malfoy make you happy?" He finally looked at her, she nodded.
"Then it's fine with me. I'm not thrilled about it; far from it. But you deserve to be happy. If he puts one toe out of line though, hurts you in any way at all, so help me Hermione I'll..."
She interrupted him, "I know, you'll hex him into oblivion. You have my permission, but for what it's worth, I don't think he will. Oh, thank you Harry." She rushed forward and hugged him tightly.
"Ow, Hermione. You're crushing my ribs." She smiled apologetically and let go."I'll go talk to Ron, make him see sense."
He left the room and seconds later Ginny entered, an extendable ear dangling from her hand.
"I knew it!" She squealed. "I knew you and Draco liked each other. How did it happen? Has he kissed you? I want to know everything!"
"I promise to tell you later Ginny, I need to see Draco, where is he?"
Moments later Hermione knocked on the door of George's room and peeked her head around the door. Draco was lying on the bed staring at the ceiling.
"Hermione! How was it? Do they want to kill me? Are they mad at you?" He quickly sat up and pulled her towards him so that she was sitting on the bed next to him.
She sighed. "Harry's fine, he's not exactly delighted but he's accepted it. Ron is really mad. He stormed out before I could even explain properly. Harry has gone to talk to him now. It's probably useless though, Ronald is so stubborn." Draco didn't say anything but hugged her comfortingly.
A little later Mrs Weasley had called them all to the kitchen for lunch. Ron was there but sat at the farthest end of the table away from Hermione and Draco. Harry sat opposite them, next to Ginny. Initially, he was very quiet, but when Ginny began speaking to Draco, as she was used to doing, Harry joined in with their conversation, which had turned to quidditch.
Mrs Weasley served turkey stew made from yesterday's leftovers, it was delicious. Draco was on his fourth helping when Mrs Weasley spoke to him.
"So, Draco. I hear you and Hermione have become somewhat of an item?"
He swallowed his mouthful of food. "Er, yes Mrs Weasley." He seemed a little shocked that she was speaking to him.
"That's lovely dear. A bit of love is what we all need after this year. I said the same thing to Ronald when he brought Lara home. What a nice girl. Is she coming today Ron?" She looked at her son who was angrily staring at his stew. He nodded but did not look up. Mrs Weasley shook her head and said nothing more on the subject.
Not long after they had finished lunch, Lara arrived. She was still in her lime green robes that she wore at work. Everyone was relieved to see Ron cheer up a little upon her arrival.
Hermione soon managed to get Harry alone to ask him about Ron, although judging by his behaviour at lunch, she could guess that his opinion of her relationship with Draco hadn't changed.
"Sorry Hermione, he's still really angry. I think he just needs some more time to calm down. I've asked Lara to talk to him about it though, he seems to listen to her more than anyone else." Harry told her.
After several days of the silent treatment from Ron, Mrs Weasley was making dinner one evening and everyone was helping to set the table. Ron asked Hermione to take a walk with him. She followed him outside and past the chicken coop, afraid to be the first to speak.
Finally, he stopped and looked at her "I'm sorry Hermione. I overreacted. It's just, after everything that's happened with Malfoy and us, I just don't get what you see in him. But I want you to know its fine. If you think he's changed then I have to accept it. I mean, I started going out with Lara and didn't even think about you or how you would react. Lara told me that I should have been more sensitive about your feelings or something. You know, because we used to go out. Anyway, what I'm saying is, I'm sorry. Sorry for being an arse and sorry for not writing to you about Lara and making Harry do it. And if Mal- Draco makes you happy then I'm happy for you. Just be careful, yeah?"
Hermione could feel a lump in her throat. Ron was never one to talk about feelings; not in all the years Hermione had known him. She knew if she tried to speak she would cry and that would make Ron really uncomfortable, so she simply nodded and hugged him.
The rest of the holidays were more enjoyable now that everyone was happy. The boys, Ginny and Lara spent some time playing quidditch. Hermione watched, happy that Draco was included in their matches, although she did catch Harry and Ron arguing over whose team he would be on.
When the time came for Ginny, Draco and Hermione to return to Hogwarts, none of them were particularly thrilled about it. Hermione had drawn up her usual revision timetables, as she and Draco had their NEWTs coming up and Ginny would be taking her end of year exams.
It was with a heavy heart that, in the new year, they said goodbye to Harry and the Weasleys at Kings Cross and boarded the Hogwarts Express.
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