I smiled as I heard the husky voice whisper in my ear. Arms encircled my waist from behind and I sighed in contentment as I leaned back against a solid, muscular chest. I was too tired and worn out to care about any of the stragglers that might see us. It was going to come out soon anyway. By morning it’d be all over the school in various forms. I was betting by tomorrow night it would be a known fact that Draco and I were ripping each other’s clothing off right there in the courtyard. I smiled and turned to face him.
“You’re pretty dashing yourself.” I said quietly as I slipped my arms around his neck, “You know what you just did, don’t you?”
“If you mean to ask if I know that I just threw us to the wolves, yes.” Draco stated simply as he began to sway to music that was only heard inside his head.
“It’ll be hell tomorrow. Luckily, it’s the weekend so maybe it won’t be so bad on Monday.” I rested my forehead against his collar bone as we swayed together. He pulled me closer and rested his cheek on the top of my head.
“I know, love. We’ll be okay. I told you I’d be there to catch you if you fall. Just keep your chin up and ignore them. Hell, start docking points for every look they throw at you. Bloody nosy bastards, they are.”
I laughed quietly at his careless attitude, but then took on a more serious demeanor, “How do you do it?”
“Keep your head up. I’ve heard some of the rumors throughout the past years. Most of them aren’t the slightest bit pretty. How do you keep yourself together?” I asked as I looked up to study his face.
He didn’t answer immediately. His eyebrows slanted together and his lips turned down at the corners. His eyes faded out of focus. He seemed to be remembering some unpleasant experiences.
“I just realized that I was above them.”
I snorted at the typical Malfoy response.
“No, really,” Draco said with a small smile,” I don’t mean that in an arrogant way. I was above that type of behavior. I am above that type of behavior. If people have nothing better to do than waste their time spreading nasty stories, why should I care?”
“Oh. That’s a great philosophy, actually.” I said softly as I smiled, “I may have to try it out for myself.”
“Let me know how it goes. If it doesn’t work, tell me why and I’ll go find the ruddy bastard who proved my philosophy wrong.”
I shook my head and pulled myself closer against his chest, “You’re great, you know. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad you got chosen as Headboy. We have a nasty past, but it seems that our future is looking up.”
I felt Draco tense up and I raised my head once more to see a blank look schooled onto his face, “What is it?” I asked
“…Our.. future.” He muttered after a moment.
“Oh, Draco, I’m not trying to rush anything, I swear! I just meant that our newfound friendship seems to be working out. I’m not talking about kids or marriage or any of that. Not yet at least – “
“Yet?!” he squeaked as his face blanched
“Or – or – not at all! No kids. No marriage. Just a slow, steady friendship! Yeah. Yeah, nice and slow – “
I was cut off by an angry voice from behind me.
“What the bloody hell is this?!”
“Oh, shoot. They just had to see us tonight, did they?” I mumbled as I took a deep breath and turned around, “Hey, guys.”
“Hey, guys?! That’s all you have to say for yourself?!”
“Hey, Potter, why don’t you just shove it up –“ I cut Draco off with a look that spoke of some major implications if he kept talking.
“Harry, just listen to me –“
“No. No, I will not just listen to you. Not right now, Hermione. I asked you if there was something going on between you two! You lied to me!”
“Harry James Potter, you listen to me. I did not lie to you! I said that we weren’t shagging and we’re not!” I shouted
“This isn’t much better, Hermione!” Ron cut in angrily
“Oh, Ronald, don’t even start. I saw you the other night with Lavender in the library. You were as close to her as you could get without impregnating her.” I snapped as Ron turned red.
I stared coldly at the boys before me. They stared back, but it was more out of stubbornness than anger now.
“Now. You two have known me since we were eleven years old. You know almost everything there is to know about me. Have I ever, ever, made a rash decision? Or a bad one for that matter? Have I ever done something that I have not thoroughly thought out? Well?” I asked quietly
“No.” they mumbled together
“Correct. So, based upon those facts, do you really think that you, you two, of all people, have the right to judge me and the choices I make?”
There was silence as the boys physically fought to hold themselves together.
“Why him? Hermione, why did it have to be him?” Ron whined as he threw a glare at Draco
“Because I’m not you, Weasel.” Draco snapped
“Draco, not now, please. I know that this isn’t going to be easy. For any of us. I’m not asking you to like each other. I’m not asking you to be friends. All I want is for you to be civil to one another.” I pleaded as I looked between all three boys. Grudgingly, they all nodded their agreement, “Okay. Thank you. Harry, Ron.. I love you both so much. We’ve been friends for years and I haven’t agreed with most choices that you two have made, but I let you make them. Please, just give him a chance. I want this.. I want him.”
Harry and Ron cringed, but nodded.
“Draco, I know you don’t like them either, but they are my best friends. If you want me, you get them, too.” He grimaced, but nodded as well, “Great! Now, lets get inside, yeah? It’s late.”
I led the boys back into the castle. Harry and Ron gathered me into a group hug and said their goodnights. I watched warily as they turned to look at Draco. Harry made the first move and offered Draco his hand. Draco cautiously took it and stepped back as soon as the handshake was over. Ron didn’t offer his hand, but he didn’t make any snide remarks either. I sighed. It would take time, but I knew they could do it.
Draco slipped his hand into mine as we made our way to the Heads’ dormitory, “So.. That didn’t go so bad. I didn’t get punched.”
I laughed, “No, you didn’t get punched, but it could have gone better.”
“How? How could that have gone more smoothly?” Draco asked incredulously
“Well, they could have accepted you with open arms..” I trailed off
“Right. And you can live for three days without a book.”
I smiled up at him and after a few moments, he glanced down at me, “What? Why are you smiling at me? It’s creepy.”
“I am not creepy!” I stated indignantly
“No, you, yourself, are not creepy. The fact that you’re staring at me with a silly smile on your face is creepy, though.”
“Oh, hush. I’m just.. I’m just glad that we’re giving this a chance. I never thought that Draco Malfoy would have a good side. I’m.. I’m happy that I’m getting the chance to see it.” I blushed as I looked down at my feet moving along the hall.
“Hey. Hey, look at me.” Draco said softly as he pulled me to a stop. A hand on my cheek made me raise my head. I took a deep breath and looked into his silver eyes. They seemed to be swirling and I was immediately entranced, “I’m not good with emotions. I will most likely hurt you unintentionally. I will say mean things because I get scared easily when it comes to relationships. My father will never accept you. My mother will love you with all the love a mother has for her children. I’m not trying to scare you off, I swear. I’m just telling you that this will not be easy. We will be ridiculed. We will be hated. We will be accepted eventually. I just need you to know that I’m prepared for that. I want this, Hermione. Merlin, I don’t understand it, but I want you. I’m drawn to you. I tried to fight it at first, but there’s just something about you that won’t let me go. You’re stuck with me and I will be right here for as long as you’ll have me.”
“Oh, Draco, you silly boy. Of course I’ll have you. I’m not scared of your family or friends. I’m not scared of this school. I’ve always been a sort of outcast and I know how to keep going. I want you. I want you for a long time. I don’t know what it is about you that’s got me hooked, but you’re stuck with me too. You silly, silly boy.” I said with a giddy smile, “I’ve never been in a serious relationship, but I want to be with you. These feelings I have are so strong and I don’t know how to handle them, but I’m not going to run from them. I faced down Voldemort, for Merlin’s sake. I can deal with a few crazy, rude students.”
He leaned down to place a gentle kiss on my cheek, “Come on. Let’s go to bed. We’ve got a long day tomorrow.”
I smiled and wrapped my arm around his. We walked back to the common room in a comfortable silence. I didn’t want to go to my own room. I didn’t want to let him go; not when we’d just made up our minds, “Hey, Draco? Can we.. can we sleep in here? I don’t.. I don’t want to sleep anywhere but beside you.”
“Sure. Go on up and get ready for bed. I’ll get us set up down here.” He smiled at my blush and I heard a low chuckle as I darted into my room.
I sank down on the sofa as Hermione’s bedroom door shut with a soft click. I could hear her rushing around, trying to find something to sleep in. I let a small smile grace my features. She really was adorable. Looking back, I wondered how we’d even gotten to this point. We used to be so.. so hurtful and mean to each other. I’d said some really nasty things to her; I’d even done some really mean things to her. Given, she did break my nose in third year. Merlin, that hurt. I winced as I remembered the pain that she had inflicted. I’d deserved it, though. I shook my head and stood up to arrange the common room. I transfigured the sofa into a large bed and then wandered into the kitchen. I smiled as a large plate of cookies and two glasses of milk appeared on the table. I grabbed them and walked back out to the common room. Hermione was already sitting on the bed, staring into the fire, her chin resting on her knees that had been drawn up to her chest. I took a moment to take her in. She’d changed into a tight white t-shirt and loose black and silver flannel pants. Her hair was pulled up into a messy bun and the firelight reflecting in her eyes made her look surreal. I slowly walked across the room, careful not to spill the milk. I slowly sank down beside her, snapping her out of her reverie.
“Cookies?” I offered
She took one with a quiet laugh, “My dad used to always bring me milk and cookies before bed. Back before I came here. Mum would read me a story and tuck me in and then dad would sneak in with some cookies.”
“What are your parents like?” I asked, fascinated. My own father was never really loving, but my mother would shower me with affection.
“They’re both dentists. They work on people’s teeth. They’re great people. I always knew I was loved; even when I was in trouble.”
“Ha. Trouble? You got in trouble?”
“Despite popular belief, I’m a hellion outside of school. When I was smaller, I’d hang out with the neighborhood kids and we’d run around pranking our parents all the time,” she said with a wistful smile.
“Huh. So the bookworm has a wild side.” I murmered
She slapped my arm lightly, “Don’t you tell anyone that. I have a reputation to uphold.”
“Well, darling, I hate to break it to you, but I think your reputation is ruined. You’ve been seen snogging me.”
“I’d think that’d ruin your reputation more than mine.” She teased
I shook my head and bit into a cookie. It was going to be a long week, I knew. I was happy to have this night. This one night before all hell broke loose. This one night of peace and happiness before I had to face the world tomorrow. But I knew it’d be okay. Hermione was going to go through the same stuff I was. We had each other, at least.