Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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Just answer this one tiny question so that I may finally begin to understand : What good is this bed if you're not lying in it?
-Tyler Knott Gregson
He slowly reached one delicate porcelain hand out toward the man in front of him, letting his fingers slide along the biggest scar that marred the toned torso, watching the muscles ripple. His fingers avoided the fresh cuts; he liked to pretend they weren’t there. He marveled at the careless way the almost platinum hair hung slightly in his face, shadowing the surprisingly gray eyes. Sighing, he dropped his hand and turned away from the mirror and the constant reminder that he was never again going to be who he once was. He quickly slipped into his Hogwarts uniform, carefully avoiding his reflection, knowing that the Express would be pulling into the station any minute. He had already wasted enough time dwelling on what he couldn’t – wouldn’t - change.
When the whistle sounded, Draco slipped out of the lavatory and into the throng of students rushing toward the nearest exit. Many slid out of his way. His Head Boy badge combined with his scornful expression and reputation made the other students, especially the first and second years, eager to stay out of his path. He felt the eyes on him as soon as he stepped out onto the platformand knew instantly who they belonged to. He was suddenly thankful for the Malfoy mask he had long ago perfected; it hid his desperation, his embarrassment.
He entered the Head’s carriage at the front of the line and tried frantically not to search for the eyes in the crowd. He felt his resolve weaken slightly as he glanced out the window not once, not twice, but three bloody times. He couldn’t find them, nor could he feel the eyes any longer. He felt surprisingly hurt. Draco heard a sharp intake of breath and quickly realized that the head girl, unsurprisingly it was Granger, was sitting across from him.
Was she already here or did she just join?
He didn’t know the answer, but he wanted to. He needed to know how much she’d seen. Not that it mattered; she was the type to think what she wanted no matter what he said.
Slamming the window curtain shut in frustration before shutting down his feelings, he spent the rest of the ride staring at the gloomy velvet drape but seeing only a tangled mass of unruly black hair.
Hermione was confused by the boy that joined her in the carriage. This was not the arrogant, sure of himself Malfoy who had switched to their side during the last year of the war. While she was thankful that he didn’t seem to be the same bullheaded kid that strutted around Number 12 like he owned the place, she couldn’t help but wonder at the change. He looked, behind his façade, to be broken. His eyes flitted once, twice, three times to the window and the crowd beyond before he roughly pulled the curtain shut. His eyes and his face becoming impenetrable once more. She had never known Malfoy to show any kind of emotion; he was always guarded.
Whatever hurt him, it broke him.
She thought back to the summer after the sixth year. Snape had turned up with the Malfoy family late one night. Lucius and his wife looked frightened, but not once did Malfoy ever show that he was anything but sure of himself. McGonagall and Lupin had administered a dose of truth serum, with the Malfoy’s consent, and the family had sat through a seven hour interrogation. They had learned many things about what Voldemort was planning, Lupin said later, but Hermione never learned what made the family come to the Order for protection or what had persuaded the Order to accept them. She was told that Lucius and his wife had returned to Malfoy manor in order to further spy. Malfoy was left behind, although why Hermione was never found out.
She was brought sharply out of her thoughts by a soft touch on her knee. She looked up, shocked to see Malfoy leaning over, his index finger floating about two inches above her knee.
“I did not mean to startle you,” he said softly. “We are at the castle and you did not respond when I first spoke.”
She knew she looked shocked. His voice could almost be described as kind, not at all like the arrogant drawl that usually spewed from his mouth.
“Uh, thank you.”
She was glad she had chosen to be polite when he responded with a very tiny smile, “You are welcome, Hermione.”
She knew her moth was hanging open but she couldn’t close it. Despite their time sharing Number 12, he had ever bothered to respond to her pleasantries, usually only acknowledging her when given no choice otherwise.
Ron and Harry poked their heads in, nodding slightly to Malfoy before telling her to hurry up. She watched as Malfoy’s face grew harder, colder - more like the boy she had once punched.
“Potter, Weasley.” he said bitterly – Why bitter to them and nice to me? – before evacuating the carriage in what she would have called a hasty fashion, had he not done it in a way that looked oddly graceful.
“Come on then, I’m starving!” Ron begged as she took a long moment to gather her things.
She laughed, pushing thoughts of the blonde Slytherin away. Ron always thought with his stomach. It was nice some things never changed.
Harry couldn’t help but to look around as he entered the great hall. Ginny tugged gently on the arm he had wrapped securely around her waist, guiding him over to what had become, in the last few years, their usual section of Gryffindor table. He knew she was excitedly talking about the Quidditch tryouts and who would be trying out for what, but he couldn’t make his mind focus on what was usually one of his favorite subjects. Harry was grateful when Hermione and Ron joined him, knowing that Ron would take up talk of the sport while Hermione would be too busy pouring over her ‘Head Girl To-Do List’ that she had written up to notice his silence.
Harry sat silent through the sorting, clapping half-heartedly when a new student was placed into his house. He was pleased when the sorting finally came to an end and the golden plates strewn across the table filled with food. He realized, surprised, that he was actually quite hungry. He hadn’t felt like snacking on the train, despite the large amount of pastries and chocolates that Ron had bought. Despite his hunger, he didn’t pay attention to what he loaded on his plate, nor did he bother to join in with Ron’s astonishingly verbose praise of the food. He dreaded the end of the feast, knowing he would have to depart the Great Hall and join his girlfriend in the common room, pretending nothing was amiss. The headmistress ended the celebration much like Dumbledore always had, listing off what students couldn’t bring on school grounds (obviously Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes made the top of the list) and where students couldn’t go (nothing was off limits inside of the castle, except the parts still being renovated) before announcing whom would be occupying the Head Boy and Head Girl positions.
When Hermione’s name was said the entire student body broke out into applause, the long scarlet and gold table rushing to their feet to support their own. Harry was thrown by the smattering of applause that followed the Head Boy’s name. If Draco Malfoy had been declared Head Boy two years ago, the headmistress would have had a mutiny on her hands. However, word of Draco’s help during the final year of the war had spread among Great Britain, and the world beyond, largely due to the interview Harry had allowed the Quibbler to publish, giving the public insight into the troubles that the Malfoy family went through and the important role they had played in helping The Order win the war.
Harry found himself staring at the blonde as Draco made his way to the front of the hall to join Hermione. He was once again wearing the mask the showed no emotion, making it hard for Harry to remember the way his eyes would sparkle when he cracked a genuine smile. Just thinking about that made Harry smile slightly.
“Oh, look Ron,” Ginny said, breaking through Harry’s thoughts. “Harry decided to join us.”
Ron laughed as Harry dodged the playful elbow that Ginny was directed at his ribs.
“ . . . and you will be required to oversee one prefect meeting per month.”
Hermione was diligently taking notes as the headmistress outlined their Head duties while Malfoy sat in the chair next to her, seemingly paying no attention. Shaking her head slightly, she repressed her annoyance and went back to focusing intently on her notes.
“School unity and solidarity will be a big focus this year. You, along with the help from the prefects, will organize at least three school events that promote socializing with students from other houses. In addition to that task, you’ll be in charge of organizing an alumni event, held at the end of the year, to celebrate Hogwart’s restoration.”
Hermione stopped scribbling momentarily to stifle a wide yawn, secretly hoping that the headmistress would finish soon. She was weary after the day of traveling and wished nothing more than to head to Gryffindor Tower, crawl under her warm blankets, and sleep. The Hogwarts blankets were incredibly thick and warm.
Maybe I’ll get some coco or tea. A biscuit or two couldn’t hurt either . . .
A light touch on her arm brought her back to the moment at hand. Quickly she realized that Malfoy had, for the second time that day, touched her kindly. Shell shocked, it took Hermione a moment to process what McGonagall was saying.
" . . . separate quarters for the Head students. Miss Granger, your opinion?”
“My opinion, Headmistress?”
“Mr. Malfoy has said that it will not be a problem for the two of you to share a living space. Do you agree?”
“Headmistress McGonagall was explaining that she thought it would show the school unity if we were able to resurrect the tradition of a joint Head’s dorm and present a united front to the rest of the students.”
Hermione looked at Malfoy, just managing to keep the shocked expression off her face. He had explained something to her without a shred of condescension. Recovering, she said, “Of course, Headmistress. I am certain we will be able to make the living arrangements work.”
Hermione almost missed the small smile Malfoy shot at her.
Two hours later, the pair finally exited the headmistress’ office for the night. As they meandered down the hallway, Draco couldn’t help but notice how much Hermione had changed since the end of the war. He hadn’t, until today, seen her since the Battle of Hogwart’s, but that time had been very kind to her. Her hair, once wild and almost always pulled back, hung down her back in thick, shiny curls. Her hair had maintained its volume, just had lost the frizz. Her skin was much tanner and he found himself wondering about tan lines. Uncomfortable with the direction his thoughts were headed and the silence that had settled over them, he awkwardly cleared his throat and then flushed slightly when she turned to look at him curiously.
“May I copy your notes?” He began, “I stopped paying attention after the first hour.”
Her laugh echoed down the empty hallway, “Of course. I stopped listening before that, but I have become skilled at taking notes on autopilot.”
“Oh, I forgot you don’t know muggle terms. I’m used to being around Harry. It’s when you do something automatically without conscious control. Muggles have captured this idea in their technology and use it in air travel.”
“Oh! That would be useful on brooms! Think of the uses during matches! It could be particularly helpful in Word Cup matches if -”
“Quidditch seems to be all you boys think about,” Hermione laughed, cutting him off. She almost nudged him playfully, the way she would Harry or Neville, but stopped herself at the last second. Despite his attitude toward her today, he might not take kindly to her initiating contact. After all, while they had stopped fighting during his time at Grimmauld Place, they were never what she would consider friends or even on friendly terms.
They talked candidly until Hermione stopped; motioning up the next staircase before saying, “I’ll have a copy of my notes for you when we move in to our rooms tomorrow.”
He watched her sway up the stairs, distracted by her hair and a tiny sliver of tan skin peeking out the top of her jeans. She'd been nice to him, almost like she let her guard down. That's an interesting concept - leting my guard down. Maybe? It had been nice - joking and laughing with her. Maybe he should let his guard down around her a bit more. After all, the last time he let somebody in, it was pretty great. Until it wasn't.
Hermione climbed silently through the portrait hole after murmuring the password -tinturn farm of all things - thankful that she would soon be in bed. She was startled to see Harry and Ron waiting for her in front of the fire.
“How was the meeting with the ferret?”
“Ron,” Harry reprimanded.
Hermione wasn’t surprised that Harry spoke up against Ron. He had often defended the Slytherin over the past two years, citing the courage it took to convince his parents to turn coat and the difficult circumstances of his life. She ignored the reprimand and proceeded to explain the headmistress’ plans to have multiple school events, promote interhouse unity, and for joint head dorms. She explained that more announcements would be happening in the morning at breakfast. She could tell both boys were losing focus as she spoke and, by the end of her short recap, had drifted off into the depths of their own thoughts. Coughing somewhat loader than necessary to gather their attention, she decided to find out what this was really about.
“I know you two didn’t stay up to hear about my night.”
Ron avoided her gaze while Harry produced a very wrinkled and smashed letter. When he did nothing but hold it, she took it from him, scanning it quickly.
“Mr. Potter, You have been accepted into the Great Britain Ministry of Magic Auror Training Program. . . Training commences the 10th of September. . . Please notify us of your decision by the end of the month. . .”
“Wait – what?”
“Ron and I both received this letter.”
“By the end of the month? This is from May!”
“Hermione they want us to train to be aurors!”
“But Ron, what about school? Harry, you can’t really be considering this?”
“Hermione,” Ron paused, waiting to finish until she had focused on him. “I’m going. They said if we pass training they will grant us our Hogwarts degree. You know I’m not fond of school like you. Bloody hell, ‘Mione, I’m not even half way decent at it. I wasn’t going to, I was going to tough it out and finish this year and be in next year’s aurors class, but being here today – the Great Hall – this isn’t for me.”
“Harry, are you - did you tell them you going to?”
“No. I just got Gin back, you know how rocky the last three or four years have been for us.”
Hermione sighed, knowing by the stubborn expression on Ron’s face that she couldn’t change his mind. After all, he made his decision already. She fought back tears as she moved to envelope the redhead in a hug, “You know I’ll support you no matter what, Ron. I just can’t imagine Hogwart’s without you! You’ll come for Hogsmead day, of course, and I know there will be holidays, too. Oh! And the fundraiser McGonagall wants at the end of the year, you’ll be there, right?”
“Come on, ‘Mione, you’re crushing me,” Ron laughed over top her head.
She pulled back slowly, wiping her eyes, “But we will still see you?”
“Yes! I promise.”
She pulled him into another hug, “When do you leave?”
I’d adore it if you’d drop a comment or two with thoughts (good or bad), please.
Until next time loves
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