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Through the Son

Chapter Text

 

Prologue

 

Broken by the war that has been, the Ministry of Magic is left with no choice but to force upon the Marriage Law in order to reproduce the lives lost at the war.

With scarcity in their race and kind, the Purebloods - despite of all their repugnance to marry and consummate with Muggle-Borns or Half-Bloods - succumbed to the law in fear of becoming instinct with the condition that the Pureblood status will remain dominant in all aspects and above the social status. 

Scorned, abandoned and devastated with all the lives the ones she love she has lost, she is almost left with nothing.
Almost.  
Nothing but her will and wits to survive a world that is now withheld from bloodshed and unruly power, she knows that the only way is forward. 

Consumed and blinded by her own wrath, she will stop at nothing to avenge the loved ones she lost and take revenge to the one man who has made them all suffer.

Lucius Malfoy, elite, wealthy and untouchable - he was able to claim their lives back and reinstate his status in the Dark Lord's good graces by showing loyalty to the Dark Lord before everyone's eyes. 
 
Narcissa Malfoy's outright betrayal to the cause of the Dark Lord earned her a death sentence that was bestowed by her own husband who unblinkingly took her life without remorse to prove his loyalty and gain the Dark Lord's trust once more. 


Hermione Granger's hatred for the lives she lost has grown strong enough to withstand any doubts, remorse or even fear to hold back in her plans. 

 

An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. 

 

She will stop at nothing to slit the Dark Lord's most loyal servant's neck and spill the blood it so deserves. 
But she also knows that her plans are futile unless she gets closer to her target which is the most difficult part of it all 

But there is a way. There is always a way. 

Draco Malfoy feels abandoned by the world and his own father who has killed his beloved mother in front of him. 
With a face destroyed by the Dark Lord as his punishment to Narcissa before being killed, he is desperate to find solace and rest for his restless soul. 

Without anything to lose anymore, she will use everything she has to offer to entice the now depressed, alone and devastated self-loathing boy she has grown to hate all her life. 

For the brightest witch of her age knows that the only way is forward. 
For she knows the her plans will only be executed once she is ready to give up everything. 
 
It wouldn't be easy and she must remain focused in her mission for she only got one shot at it. 

 

Will she fully succumb to her hatred in order to avenge her love ones and fill the surging emptiness in her soul? Or will she find peace and comfort in the arms of the boy whose blood she is trying to erase from the world? 

 

There is nothing more painful and dangerous than a woman scorned. 

And she knows that to fully accomplish taking the life of the Dark Lord's most loyal Death Eater - there could be only one way. 

And the only way to the father is through the son.

Chapter Text

Chapter One

Paris to London

 

The war has come and gone.

Deaths from both sides have been noted in history forever.

Heroes – both dead and alive – have been given their rightful rewards and Order of Merlin.

The Dark Lord’s most notable loyalist have succumb into hiding or had faced death in the hands of the Order or have been captured to be taken into Azkaban.

And in Azkaban they await only for two things – the years they would have to serve before the Dementor’s Kiss or the days they would be in trial for immediate penalty of the Dementor’s Kiss.

But there are those of course, who will inevitably escape with the wealth and power they still have and certain evidences provided for that sufficed them enough for years in Azkaban but not enough to earn the Dementor’s Kiss.

 

The Malfoys were an example.

Despite of all the evidences that pointed towards Lucius Malfoy and his families’ ties with the Dark Lord and his inner circle, had merely earned years in Azkaban – mere seven years to be exact.

His status as governor and the evidences he quickly surrendered and the names of other loyalists and those liable in the reign of the Dark Lord both from the First Wizarding War and at the Second Wizarding War earned him the years but enough to let him evade the Dementor’s Kiss.

 

Of course many rallied – but he was once governor – high order governor – of Hogwarts and a high Ministry of Magic official – positions enough to earn him rights to evade such fate.

But of course it was the law and as long as he was seen stripped of his wealth and power, people and their commotion against the decision would slowly die down.

The Malfoys lost about half a billion of their wealth for all the dues they had to pay to the victims and families of the victims, for government taxes they owed, for land, business and infrastructure illegally built under their name and many other black market transaction they were able to do for many years because of their name and wealth.

 

But of course, half a billion was still more than enough to give a very good life to the only Malfoy left

Draco Malfoy.

Without a mother by his side, he had to learn to live life the hard way.

Months right after the war, Hogwarts had been reconstructed back into its full glory with all the help it could possibly get and so by the coming school term, it has reopened.

As expected, Harry Potter and his friends in their respective years returned to the school to continue their academics and for Harry’s batch, to finish their final year.

Despite that Harry and Ron were reluctant to return, a certain individual pointed out that their dreams of becoming Aurors were never going to be until they finish their academe.

The duo returned to school with their best friend – the brightest witch of their age – Hermione Granger.

 

It came as no surprise to all when Hermione Jean Granger finished her year at Hogwarts with beyond excellent grades.

She had earned the Gryffindor House more then enough points to win the House Cup for their final year, had academically excelled in all their subjects and had been the one with highest grades in their batch and the student who has achieved academic excellence with such high grades from the last twenty years at Hogwarts.

 

Hermione Jean Granger were given enough grades and awards to get any job and career she would want without having to actually undergo training and individual application.

 

As things were bright for the Golden Trio, it was different towards Draco Malfoy and his Slytherin friends.

Not every Slytherin returned to Hogwarts – especially those who had parents or relatives who had been actively supporting the Dark Lord and had been found guilty of committed crimes.

 

Most never returned to school and some transferred at Durmstrang Academy.

But Draco Malfoy returned to Hogwarts.

Not because it was the only school that seemed to actually want to accept him but because it was the only school he knew his mother would have wanted him to graduate.

 

Draco Malfoy had used what was left of the Malfoy’s net worth to give back to all the victims of his family and to pay certain dues he knew that they owe.

What he had used in his schooling was what his mother left of him – the Black net worth.

It wasn’t as much as what was left of him as a Malfoy, but it were still more than enough to last him more than a few lifetimes.

He swore never to touch for himself what his father had left of him.

It was blood money as he would have called it.

Closing eyes and ears to everything and everyone that seemed to bully, mock and curse his existence as a Malfoy at the halls of the castle, Draco graduated from the school with good honors.

 

He had left the Quidditch Team in his final year. He didn’t want any encounter with Harry Potter and his lot other than the classes that he inevitably had to.

Harry Potter never spoke to him, bullied him, nor did he encourage any of the mockery he had received.

 

They never really talked.

The boy seemed to be waiting for him to say something about how he saved his life at the Battle of Hogwarts.

 

Draco was cowardly enough to admit he was not going to try and get anywhere near the lot.

He wanted to graduate physically whole from the school.

And so he focused on his academics – which seemed to be an effective way for him to gain back his life.

He was able to excel in his studies in ways he didn’t imagined.

He was able to put himself into an academic class and study routine without being distracted by other things.

 

He excelled beyond the other Slytherins and was even third in grades among those who graduated.

Granger came first of course, a Ravenclaw came second and he, Draco Malfoy, came third – which was more than a surprise to both students and staff of the school.

The teachers put it that he was trying to prove himself that he was nowhere like his father.

His peers placed it as something else.

But he didn’t care.

He just wanted to get out of the school and graduate with the grades required so he could enter an apprenticeship at St. Mungo’s and become the Healer he thought he wanted to be early on.

 

Not to everyone’s knowledge but it was professor Minerva McGonagall who saw his possible potential at the field and who has informed and given him an application paper in regards to the subject.

He didn't want to take it and he had reservations with the old woman. Though, he had to admit that she was the one who sent her a letter a month before the term began asking and inviting him if he so chose 

Draco was beyond flabbergasted as he knew no other school would take him and Durmstrang was already out of the question as Hogwarts had always been his option. 

 

He had to make choices and with very limited resources and connections he now had in his life, he accepted the letter, replied in thanks, and stated he would be there come the start of term. 

A reply was soon sent and he had his usual Hogwarts letter and books of things to be brought with him and the list of extra subjects he could take and the form for the special subjects he needed to take if he was to apply later in life as Healer. 

 

He didn’t want it and he didn’t want to accept it thinking that no hospital would ever want to work with a Malfoy.

But he earned enough grades for himself to earn a ‘yes’ at the hospital right after he graduated. 

And so a year of apprenticeship came into his hands and soon after, another year of residency and scholarship was offered to him from Denmark – from a doctor whom he met at St. Mungo’s while he was doing his apprenticeship.

 

It excited him beyond anything and scared him as well.

He was going to be away – for about four years – from London and everything else that reminded him that he was a Malfoy, that he was a big part of the war.

 

He accepted it.

 So right after his apprenticeship, he flew with the old man towards Denmark for his four years of practice and residency to become a Healer.

 

The four years had come and gone quickly.

Draco had used his wealth as a Black and his academics in order to survive life in another country.

 

It wasn’t easy but neither was it that difficult because he was open to the many opportunities of trying to live a new life and trying out everything else that there was that the world has to offer him.

He learned to deal with many things without the life he was used to.

He didn’t have servants so he learned to live on his own.

He had patients and co-Healers who were Muggle-Born and some were Squibs – and he had to deal with them with his best foot forward which taught him after all those years – that they weren’t a disease to be stayed away from like his father had raised him to think.

 

Four years had passed and Draco Malfoy was given a Healer position job at Paris that he could take and stay with for the rest of his life.

It was another opportunity of a lifetime that he jumped into.

Parisian life was quite different and a little more difficult than he thought it would be, but at least, he was getting somewhere in his life.

And this is where he stayed and was willing to stay until he had received news that his father’s sentence is over and that in a few weeks he would be released.

 

Draco didn’t want to go home.

Paris was his home for about two years now.

He had grown to know the place, like his job and even love the people around him.

He really didn’t want to go home.

 

But he had to go home.

He didn’t want to babysit his father but he needed to ensure that Malfoy senior would not do anything that would taint the reputation he had come so far to rebuild.

 

 

 

 

 

7.24am Paris to London flight

Draco closed his eyes and sighed heavily.

 

His flight was within two hours from the moment he was reading it.

He wanted to crumple the ticket in his hands but he couldn’t.

 

Because he had bought it with his own blood and sweat. He learned through the years, anything he earned by blood and sweat was worth keeping and using at its full extent.

He had made all the arrangements of his flight and his arrival.

 

He wasn’t – not even by the god’s name – was he ever going to stay at the Malfoy manor with his father.

The estate had been well-kept through the years – it was one of seven estates left of the Malfoys from about the thirty they used to have across the globe.

 

And he was nowhere staying in any of the estates.

 

He had lived in rooms, dorms, small flats and apartments in the places he lived as he studied and worked – he could possibly live in the hotel for a few months as he had learned never to stay in any of the estates left of them through the years.

He had worked for enough money for him to be able to stay in a hotel for a few months and he still had money from the inheritance from his mother’s side – surely he wasn’t going to go down and stay in the sewers.

He sighed heavily and stared over at his golden pocket watch.

The glass reflected the side of his face and he closed his eyes and quickly closed the watch again.

 

He didn’t need to see that. 

 

Draco had nothing to do but wait.

It was a very short flight but he already felt like he is about to be dragged into a hell that he’d had to live with for the coming months.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“What the fuck is this?!” screamed a voice. “It’s 2005, Harry! It’s not the 18th century!”

Harry looked up from his table and the bagel he was eating.

Hermione was standing furious by his door and holding a parchment in his hand.

“What’s wrong?” he asked as he ushered her to come in.

Hermione was red in the face and was looking at Harry.

“I told you that this was going to be passed – did you even do anything about it?”

Harry looked up at her and stared at the parchment in her hand.

She was livid, she was beyond furious.

And he knew why.

 

“Er-“

“What ‘er’-?!” Hermione asked again shoving the parchment over his desk.

 

It was a large memo and notification to all officials, officers, members and staff of the Ministry of Magic regarding the Marriage Law that was to be passed very soon.

“I already raised my petition-“

“Really?” Hermione asked him folding her arms. “Really, Harry Potter?”

 

In truth, Harry did raise a petition against it time and again.

But the law – their world – just demanded greatly of it.

It wasn’t easy to explain to her given she had a very different perspective on things.

Harry had talked to the present Minister of Magic – Kingsley Shacklebot – about it.

And the man couldn’t do anything.

The Wizengamot’s vote was eight out of twelve heads.

Governors of Hogwarts also agreed to it just like the other officials.

 

There were only a handful of people who actually didn’t agree to it – Order of the Phoenix members and certain Hogwarts staff members.

 

“’Mione-“

“Don’t ‘Mione me!” Hermione spat at him. “Harry! Wake up! They’re going to ask us to marry someone we don’t like!”

Harry gaped at her with a raised brow.

Hermione stared and then she became more furious.

“Fine!” she wailed at him. “They’re going to ask people – single like myself – to marry someone I don’t like!”

“Hermione, look –“ Harry began walking to her side over the table and touching the side of her arms gently.

“Harry-“

“’Mione, listen to me – I’ve read all the memo on this and I’ve read the possible rules and scenarios-“

“Really-“

“And they are not that bad. Both parties will get equal rights and will get the partners that most fit their-“

“I don’t care about getting the fit partners!” Hermione said shoving his hands away. “Harry – my point is that – I do not want to be married with someone I absolutely do not like!”

“Hermione, there are so many single people out there that you might just-“

“This isn’t my point!” Hermione wailed back at him. “Harry, please.”

 

Harry stopped touching her.

 

He looked back at her as she sat back over the comfortable couch he had in his office.

He understood her completely.

But she had to understand the laws and what it demanded of the society at the moment.

Seven years it had been but they had grown at loss in numbers.

Their kind had to reproduce.

 

A few years back, Harry alongside other Aurors and Order members had found a secret hideout of Death Eaters who had been mass producing – from the time of the war – until the few years after it, a couple of medicinal potions that disabled Muggle-Borns to produce children.

They weren’t sure how it went out to the market and to which individuals these were sold but they were sold nevertheless and had been giving alarming results.

 

For the loyalists of the Dark Lord, Purebloods were the only kind worth existing.

And if there were going to be Muggle-Borns or Half-Bloods, then it was better never to reproduce again.

 

Severus Snape miraculously outlived Nagini’s lethal fangs.

And though he survived and had spent a few weeks at St. Mungo’s, he also spent a good few months at Azkaban until Harry Potter and some Order members gave testimony of where his loyalty truly lies.

He was given  a pardon, several thousand of galleons as reward but he was stripped off his position at Hogwarts.

 

It wasn’t something he disliked anyway.

 

He wanted to live a new life and wanted to leave London for as long as he could remember.

Last of what they heard of him, he had gone into another country and was doing further research in his forte.

It was then that Harry had to force himself to write to him to return to London to check a few of the potion samples that were found.

 

Snape didn’t want to help but given that it sounded like he was the only person able to help, he asked Harry to send him several bottles.

The letter arrived three days later.

More like an essay actually.

 

Snape had given Harry all the facts he had to know on how dangerous the potions they had found.

He gave Harry the ingredients and how it may have been brewed and the possible consequences of the potions when drank.

 

Severus Snape was the one who discovered the effects of the potion that had been mass-distributed by unsuspecting victims.

Since then, they had been exchanging letters as he continued to research to find a cure to it.

 

A few years later, there was still no cure to it and so the Ministry of Magic alongside MACUSA had decided to bring forth the only solution possible to avoid extinction of their kind – A Marriage Law.

It didn’t matter if they were Purebloods, Half-Bloods or Muggle-Borns.

 

They had to marry and reproduce as fast as possible to evade what would become of them if the population wasn’t reproduced.

 

“I’m going to write a letter to professor Snape about this.” Hermione said angrily pointing over the parchment. “I told him I could apprentice him to make his work fast-“

“Er – he already sent me a Howler about this.” Harry slowly admitted avoiding her gaze.

“He what?” Hermione asked, eyes wide.

“He sent me a Howler. He’s also furious about the law but well – we can’t do anything and everyone thinks I can do something-“

“Because you’re Harry Bloody Potter!” Hermione snapped at him.

“Hermione, I already told you-“

 

But Harry stopped.

There was an insistent knock on the door.

 

Before Harry could speak, Hermione pulled her wand out and pointed at the door.

“What?!” she angrily screamed without meaning to. “We’re talking in here!”

It was her assistant who had followed her all the way from the seventh floor up until Harry’s floor which was on the fifteenth.

“What?” Hermione asked angrily.

 

Her assistant coward a little.

Her boss was rarely ever angry but when she was, she really was.

 

“The books you ordered abroad had some problem at the airport and they’re asking a fine for it-“

“They what?!” Hermione asked grabbing the note from her and reading it.

 

Her eyes went wide.

Because of the memo very early that morning, she had forgotten that a collection of very rare and expensive books she has ordered were to arrive today.

 

 “Maybe you need to pick them up?” Harry suggested walking behind her and reading the letter over her shoulder.

“Shut up.” Hermione said shoving the note over Harry’s chest.

She looked up at her assistant trying to breath out her stress.

 

“Alright. I’m sorry for yelling. I’m so fucking stressed out. Can you make a call or something – anything – to ensure that they do not do anything to those books until I get there-”

“Alright, Miss Granger, I will do that.-“

 “How about we pick them up?” Harry suggested with a big beam.

“No.” Hermione snapped at him poking over his chest. “You stay here. You fix that.”

 

Hermione stared over the parchment again and then back at Harry.

“’Mione-“

“Fix that.” Hermione repeated with glinting eyes. “I tell you, Harry. There is no fucking way I’m ever going to marry anyone that I do not love.”

“But-“

“You know how hard it has been all these years, yes?” she asked turning to him.

 

This time, it hurt Harry even if she didn’t yell.

He knew what he was talking about.

He knew of the losses she has endured all this years and he was the only one who remained.

Hermione’s eyes softened at the sight of Harry.

They only had one another for all these years.

Best friends as they were, they had one another after everything.

 

“I’m sorry.” Hermione said suddenly embracing him. “I didn’t mean to yell at you-“

“It’s my fault.” Harry said embracing her back and kissing her forehead. “I’ll do something about it. Go get your books at the airport.”

“I’ll get back here at the office the moment I fix that.” Hermione said as Harry gently used his fingers to dry off the tears threatening to fall at the side of her eyelids.

 

Hermione nodded at him and kissed him over the cheek.

 

“I’ll be back as fast.” Hermione said moving from him and pacing fast towards the door.

Harry sighed and stared over the large memo over his table.

He felt extremely bad at making that empty promise.

 

For no matter what he does, even if he was Harry Bloody Potter, he knew that the law was going to be passed and it was going to commence sooner than everyone else thought.

 

 

 

 

 

Half an hour later, Hermione had arrived at the largest airport in London.

She had come with a collected mind and body despite that it were still boiling from the thought that the Marriage Law was to be passed and Harry wasn’t doing anything about it.

She went from cashiers to registrars, window after window to inquire where her books had been taken and what she could do about the problem it was causing to get them out of the airport.

But soon, she was losing her patience.

She had been asked to stay at the lobby – near the people waiting for the relatives or friends or love ones to arrive – from the coming flight that morning.

 

She was furious.

 

She had been standing, sitting, walking around and about but nobody was meeting her at the said place to talk about the problem with her books.

 

Finally, when someone met her up they asked her to sign a couple of papers and asked for her ID to be handed over.

 

However, in her haste and anger, she accidentally handed over her ID as “Ministry Worker Hermione Jean Granger” instead of her usual Muggle ID that she used.

She was then taken into another lobby and was asked to wait for someone to see her because of her ‘suspicious’ actions and use of ‘fake identification card’.

 

Of course she got even more furious about it but she couldn’t really explain to them what the ID was for and where she was legally using it and how it has become a true ID.

She had been asked to wait in another line for what seemed like forever.

 

But what really made her blood boil at its fullest extent was when two airport officials were tagging along a very important looking blonde man who cut her through the line and went ahead of her just when it was her turn to talk to the office of assistance.

 

“Excuse me.” The officers said dragging the blonde man passed the long line who were all angered.

Everyone at the line protested but the blonde man didn’t seem all too happy either to be dragged ahead of the line and draw much attention.

 

“He’s a doctor. He has some identification problems but he can’t be delayed or lives would be lost.”

“What the mother of fuck.” Hermione angrily whispered as they pulled the man ahead of them and brought him inside the office where people had been lined up to wait.

 

Hermione looked around her and saw how furious everyone else seemed to be.

 

They all had identification card problems, loss of passport, had been snatched with something and all other possible airport trouble.

 

But she was not – not in the name of Merlin – would let someone get ahead of her just because they think they were that important than the rest of them.

 

“Miss?” the officer by the line asked as she started walking forward the double doors. “Miss, wait you can’t just-“

“You’ve got to be bloody kidding me.” Hermione muttered anger rising inside her.

 

The officer tried to stop her.

 

“Oh, move over.”  Hermione angrily said shoving the official away and with a secret whip of her wand, she stunned the officer and went forward the double doors, marching with all the anger, blood and sweat wrenched up all over her.

Chapter Text

Chapter Two

Seven Years Later

 


It was raining.

But it was June.

It has been a month since the Battle of Hogwarts.

The Daily Prophet and other articles and pamphlets came out that morning and almost everyone had a copy.

 

In celebration and memoriam of the occasion, each had a list of witches, wizards and even famous creatures alike who had been a hero of the war were listed and plastered everywhere.

It would take more than weeks and months to move on from the great loss of the Wizarding World especially at the region of Great Britain.

 

There was a tinker and sound of the bell and Hermione looked up as she drew the copy of the Daily Prophet under the table.

It was just Harry.

 

She relaxed in the quiet and almost empty Muggle café.

 

Harry’s eyes roamed the café and he quickly saw her and went straight to the corner table by the window where she usually sat.

“We’re going?” he asked her although he sat down in front of her.

 

Hermione took the newspaper copy from under the table and flattened it out onto the table and carefully folded it to hide the moving pictures over the pages.

 

“Give me a moment.” Hermione said as she focused on folding the paper.

Harry stared.

 

She had been crying again.

They had spent the morning at the grounds of Hogwarts at a ceremony in commemoration of the battle that took place at the grounds.

 

They were greeted by professors, Ministry officials and some Auror and Order members who came at the ceremony.

Harry was obliged to give a small talk and was also obliged to talk to several of the people present at the ceremony.

 

Hermione remained by his side and spoke only when spoken too.

 

The Weasley’s – or rather who were left of the members – were there as well.

Despite that they treated both Harry and Hermione family, Hermione found herself withdrawn from them.

 

George and Percy had been injured severely.

Fred Weasley had passed at the battle.

 

It was the hardest death Harry and Ron had to face.

But it was very different for Hermione.

Harry had decided that he’d wait for her to return to her old self but until then, he would just be there.

 

It was the most painful thing Harry has ever seen in his life – to see her cry at the death of her parents.

She had left them and Obliviated them in fear that the Dark Lord and his followers will turn to them for information of her to find Harry.

 

She wanted them not to remember her so they could be safe.

But she was terribly wrong.

 

The weeks that they were looking for the Horcrux, the death toll had risen as the Death Eaters attacked cities after another – relentless and reckless if it were still within the boundaries of their world or of the Muggle World.

 

A mass Muggle attack at Europe that was thought of to be terrorism broke out and one of the first victims to die on the spot of the explosion of the hospital were Hermione’s parents.

They were at a restaurant right across the hospital that had been blown up by the Death Eaters.

It was three days after the battle that Hermione found out about it when Kingsley opted for an Order meeting that included the trio.

 

He had given them a list of Muggle casualties to find out if there was anyone that Harry or Hermione knew of.

The next thing they knew, Hermione had completely passed out at the other end of the table and a few hours later, they had to restrain her by magic as she screamed and cried at the loss she didn’t know of happened many weeks beforehand.

 

She blamed herself and Harry had to stand by her side and watch her wake up in the middle of the night in the night crying and screaming for her parents.

 

Days and nights and her cries slowly died down.

Something had slowly changed in her. 

He never knew what exactly but he knew that something had died inside of her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Harry was sitting behind his desk and finishing his lunch while reading Ron’s letter to him on how he was enjoying his year long vacation with Ginny at her work travels and duties for the Quidditch team she was presently coaching.

 

It has been seven years and the changes came too fast.

 

Two years after the battle, the Weasley’s had travelled across countries.

 

They’ve visited Romania first and then worked their way around Australia and a couple more of countries using the money that had been awarded to their family by the Ministry of Magic and for the damages loss as law in the Wizarding government.

 

It was their way of helping Mrs. Weasley and George cope at their loss of friend.

 

It wasn’t something easy to let go but like every other survivor in the Wizarding World, they had to move on from the loss of their loved ones.

 

It was when they were at Paris, France that things seem to turn for the better for the family.

Soon after living at the large place of Fleur, the family decided to stay for a couple more of months at a house that Bill and Fleur had been investing on.

 

A couple of months of touring more, getting to know the environment and the culture and soon the Weasley’s came into a decision of staying there for another year or two.

The paper work were quite easy given that they were known to be Aurors and Order members at the Wizarding society. The Muggle government and society was also easy to get into given that Bill married a French woman who had a good family and reputation at the city.

 

Bill and Fleur together with Percy and Charlie’s savings helped buy a small house for Mr. and Mrs. Weasley just a few streets down to where Fleur and Bill and Fleur’s family lived.

 

Charlie would stay there from time to time but work sought him to travel across so he didn’t really need a place to stay.

Ginny had finished her academics and had been quickly hired in local and then international Quidditch leagues that demanded most of her time to be away from home and to travel as well.

Percy had continued to work at the Ministry of Magic but soon decided to be transferred at Barcelona, Spain where he felt a bit more fit to work but consistently wrote letters to his family.

George was the one who had the hardest time going back to his life.

He stayed with his parents and were constantly visited by the others and had always travelled back to London to Harry and Hermione where he felt most at home.

 

He ran the business for a few more years and soon became too busy to remember that loss he had endured in his life.

It was quite hard but he, like the others, had to move on.

The moment they graduated, Harry had decided to join the Auror training from which he and Ron signed up for.

 

The months of training paid off well and just a year or two later, they had been given their official badges as Aurors and soon with his hard work and efficiency at the department, Harry had been offered the position as head Auror.

Ron had been vouching for him to get the position and right after Harry was placed in position, he asked Harry to give him permission to be reinstated in the Auror department that travelled.

 

Harry was suspicious but he knew that Ron always wanted a reason to travelled.

He signed the documents and after a few months and years of doing well in his department, he wrote a letter to Harry to allow him a year worth of vacation so he could enjoy himself with Ginny.

Harry allowed of course knowing that Ron needed and deserved this and a lot more after everything that has transpired at the battle.

He was still lost somewhere and this was his way of coping.

 

And being the best friend that he was, Harry signed the document and allowed him a year worth of leave of absence that was never usually granted just so easily.

 

And so, Harry was left with Hermione.

 

They’ve been best friends for as long as Harry could possibly remember.

They had both graduated with good grades and Hermione, despite all her losses, managed to cope well at school despite of her nightly mourn and sudden outbursts from time to time.

 

It was Harry and only Harry who had seen all these and this side of Hermione Jean Granger.

He had stayed right by her side and tried to comfort her and give her everything that a best friend could possibly hope for.

 

They tried once or twice even to date romantically but it never somehow worked that way.

There were no fights nor arguments, but Hermione always seemed to think that she has been too damaged inside that she couldn’t possibly settle in full of loving Harry.

Harry kept reminding her that dangers were no longer around and that he would always stay with her but Hermione, traumatized still by the loss of her own parents, couldn’t bring herself to the point of moving forward and settling for a happy ending.

 

Still, Harry remained by her side despite all of it for he knew that it was the only thing he could give her after all the loss and pain she has endured.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Excuse me!” Hermione called out as she entered the double doors and passed through the threshold.

The moment she crossed the other room she was taken aback to find herself in a very quiet room.

It was filled with windows and a few people were lined up quietly and a row of almost empty chairs were occupied but certain people.

She had called out with a loud voice thinking this room was going to be as crowded as the one she had just left.

She stopped on her tracks to find the guards holding the so-called ‘doctor’ and leading him towards one of the windows.

 

They were heading towards a window that lined up people who had identification card problems.

“Ugh.” Hermione gritted her teeth walking forward them. “Excuse me, I have to go to that line first because I was first in line.”

She walked passed that without looking back and lined up towards the window they were about to line to.

 

The personnel behind the window looked up at her with a strange look.

“Yes?” the young man had asked her.

“I have ID problem.” Hermione said laying across the window the documents.

The young man read her documents and stared up at her and then gave her a curt smile.

 

“Please wait for a while Miss Granger, I need to just handle one emergency for a bit-“

“What-“ Hermione asked and the young man stood from her chair and gestured behind her.

 

The guards walked forward with the blonde man.

“No.” Hermione demanded banging her fist before the window.

 

Some people stared.

 

“I was here in line first.” Hermione angrily said. “I’m sorry, I’ve been here for hours and I won’t allow him to just cut the line-“

“We’re sorry. It’s just that we give privileges to doctors and other important professions and disabled individuals for this line. We will handle yours right after Miss Granger-“

 

Hermione was gently shoved aside by the guards who already felt irritated by her attitude earlier on.

Hermione moved forward again and raised her hand to push the guard away when a hand held her up gently.

 

She looked up with a furious gaze.

“I'm sorry." a voice came. "I didn’t mean to cut you off the line.” the familiar voice said.

 

Hermione’s eyes widened beyond its usual limit as she turned to the person.

 

Her mouth fell open but no words came out.

Her heart was pounding quite fast.

She barely felt it when the blonde slowly lowered her hand down.

She couldn’t put the words out of her mouth and just couldn’t say it but it was surely happening before her eyes.

 

“Excuse me, I’m sorry.” the blonde man said as he turned to the window. “Please do help and assist Miss Granger first. I am not here for any emergency. I had a problem with my ID but I could wait. I have no emergency at the moment. I also have to take this call as this may be more important.” 

 

The young man stared at him in reluctance but he nodded.

 

The guards moved away and let Hermione pass but she was unmoving, eyes wide and gaping wordlessly towards the blonde man who had just walked away from her and the window as he started dialing something over his Muggle mobile.

 

“Miss Granger?” the young man called out to her with a questioning glare. “Shall I assist you?”

“What?” Hermione said eyes still on the blonde man who had left the room for a while.

“How can I help you?” the man asked again. “Is there a problem?”

 

Hermione looked back at the young man and then back at the guards then back at the window again.

 

“I’m sorry, who was that?” she asked unable to control herself.

She couldn’t be mistaken but it was close to impossible.

Last she’s heard is that he was in Paris, France or something like that.

 

Did he not recognize her?

 

But he called her by her last name.

She could and would recognize that blonde beauty whenever and wherever possible.

 

He may have looked different but she was dead sure it was him.

He was wearing a handsome pair of Muggle clothes and was holding a mobile phone – a Muggle object.

 

He also wore squared spectacles.

And he smelled terribly nice.

Hermione blinked and shook her head.

 

She was almost so sure who she had just seen.

Sure there was what looked like a scar of a burnt over the side of his once handsome face but she couldn’t be mistaken.

“I’m sorry.” Hermione said unable to stop herself. “Can you like-“ she looked back at the door where he disappeared.

 

“Miss Granger?”

“I’m sorry – I need to – can you hold that line for me – I’ll be right back.”

And without another word, Hermione staggered out of the window and literally ran back towards the door where she could swear that it was Draco Malfoy that she had just encountered a moment ago.

Chapter Text

Chapter Three

Curiosity

 

“I mean, I’m serious.” Hermione’s voice came from the kitchen. “Like bloody serious, Harry.”

She only heard a mumble from the other room.

“Are you listening to me?” she called out over the pan she was cooking their dinner from.

“I’m listening!” Harry called back.

Hermione wasn’t really convinced.

She put the spatula down and walked to the other room.

Harry was in the small dining table half finishing the nachos bowl she had prepared earlier for their pre-dinner snack and was reading a copy of the evening edition of the Prophet.

Harry looked up at her furious state by the doorway.

“Hi?” Harry asked smiling at her.

She wasn’t smiling back in her Ministry uniform and apron over it.

It was Hermione’s flat and Harry had been staying there from time to time.

 

They’ve dated several times and he’s slept over since then and even after Hermione decided that things weren’t going well, Harry was more than welcome to stay at her flat to eat, hang out or sleep over especially when he came late from work.

Hermione never questioned it despite that he really lived a few houses away from her.

But she didn’t say anything.

She always liked his company and for some reason, she knew deep down that Harry purposely made this a habit because he never wanted her to be alone especially in those days and nights where she’s had an outburst when she recalls the memories of her parents.

 

Tonight was like one of those nights where Harry decided to bunk into her place.

She didn’t go back to work anymore and sent him a note that she was going to have to tell him the following day about what happened and that there was something she needed to tell him.

Harry was of course more than curious about it.

He quickly wrote back to her and told her that he’d go and buy some grocery on his way back from work and bunk in her place for the night because he had a couple of work he has to do and he didn’t have time to cook and he’ll probably just sleep if he gets home into an empty apartment.

 

Hermione welcomed him and told him that she’d make some nachos, pasta and some stirred beef with vegetables for him and tell him the story over dinner.

Harry arrived an hour earlier than expected and had immediately started on the nachos as Hermione began telling him the story of how she managed to fix the problem with her books but how she was very sure that she had encountered Draco Malfoy earlier that day.

 

“Are you listening?” she demanded by the door.

“Yes.” Harry quickly said swallowing the nachos in his hand and smiling at her.

She looked suspicious.

“No.” Hermione said. “You’re not listening.”

“I am listening to you!” Harry protested.

“I just told you that I saw Draco Malfoy at the airport today.”

“Yes, I heard you say it.” Harry said looking back at her.

Hermione’s eyes narrowed.

“You don’t look surprise to me.” Hermione commented folding her arms.

Harry blinked.

He should not have because that immediately gave Hermione an impression on something.

“There’s something you’re not telling me.” Hermione pointed out. “Did you know he’s in town?” she asked.

Harry didn’t answer.

He blinked again and moved uncomfortably around the dining table.

“Harry?” Hermione asked again walking forward the table and standing across from him.

“’Mione.” Harry began unable to sound guilty. “Well it’s London and –“

“I knew it!” Hermione exclaimed. “It was him. And you knew? You knew he’s in town?” Hermione asked him.

This time, Harry slightly paled.

 

There was something in his eyes that told Hermione that there was something else he wasn’t telling her.

“What’s wrong?” she asked suddenly serious. “Spit it out.”

Harry looked reluctant but he also looked like he didn’t have a choice.

“Look, I just also found out about it.” Harry sighed taking out the copy of the newspaper in his hand and laying it over the table.

Hermione glanced down at it and back at Harry.

“I didn’t know about it as well.” Harry said pointing over the evening headline. “I just owled Kingsley and he kind of.. sort of confirmed.”

“Confirmed what?” Hermione asked taking the newspaper from the daily and reading the headline.

Harry watched closely and waited, ready for the blow to fall as he slowly observed her reaction.

“I swear to you that I didn’t know about this one and that-“

“When was this out?” Hermione demanded reading the headline. “Is this why he’s in town?”

“Probably.” Harry said staring at her facial reaction. “I think that’s why Malfoy flew in today.”

 

The evening headline read about Lucius Malfoy’s sentence being read over again at three that afternoon that he was to be released within seven days.

Draco Malfoy had obviously been given a head’s up a few days early or so for him to return to town for the release of his father.

 

“Hermione?” Harry asked slowly watching her.

Her eyes were kept focused over the large pictures of Lucius Malfoy.

One was in his glorious days and one was the one picture he had in Azkaban prison.

She was silent as she kept her eyes over the article on how the sentence was over and that he would be released in a few days.

The article also read the crimes he has committed and the date of the trial seven years back and which crimes he was sentenced for.

One of the crimes were of the mass murder in the Muggle community from which Hermione lost her parents to.

 

“Mione?” Harry’s voice came again.

He was beginning to be worried about her loss of reaction again.

“’Mione, if you’re-“

“Sorry, what?” Hermione said shoving the paper back over the table. “I’m sorry. I think the cream of the pasta sauce is burning. I’ll be back.” Hermione said quickly walking out of the dining hall.

Before Harry could say anything else, she walked out and heard her go back to her cooking.

He was silent as he listened to her movements.

Nothing was breaking but he was more worried when she was that way.

There was a time from which Hermione had gone through a phase that she didn’t want to talk to anyone and kept herself for about weeks and months in her apartment.

 

It was only when he talked to her that she let herself out and returned to the world again.

No amount of convincing from the Weasley’s and not even Fleur or professor McGonagall helped her out of it.

It was him, Harry Potter who had helped her out of it.

Since then, Harry knew and had decided that he would look after her.

That he would, the best of his capabilities would watch over her no matter the consequences.

He felt greatly responsible for the great loss in her life.

And so he swore that he would remain by her side for all the days and nights she would need him – and even those days and nights that she didn’t want to.

He was after all, the only one she’s got left.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draco entered the large suite he had reserved for himself.

It was a nice hotel in the middle of London and was easy access to everywhere he needed to go while he stayed in town.

The room wasn’t as elegant nor as large as a villa-size would be.

It was big enough to give comfort to him and his needs.

He was hoping to stay in only for a week and two weeks maximum.

He didn’t want to stay at London – he had a good life at Paris where he is able to work well with people and had a good life that was both peaceful and away from what has been in the past years.

“Thanks, mate.” Draco said as he handed over a large amount of tip for the good service that he had received since his reservation and arrival.

 

His suite consisted of a bedroom with a large and good view of the city, a large bathroom, a spacious wardrobe for both his clothes and shoes and another room that consisted a small dining and kitchen type area.

A good room service meal was already waiting for him at the other room.

Despite of the reason that he was at London and the stress he was reeling over, he tried to think of this as a small business seminar he needed to attend to.

He’s done that loads of times.

He had attended seminars from across the globe and had learned a thing or more to help him get better in his career as a Healer.

He stayed in rented flats, rooms and hotel accommodation that was either organized for him or he organized by himself.

 

He was used to the life of tending and taking good care of himself.

It was something he realized he immediately needed to get a hang on.

After all, he was no longer a Malfoy golden boy.

He wanted to be known as Draco Malfoy – an expert and good Healer and not some Death Eater’s son who knew nothing about life and the way of living.

Draco sank over the large four poster bed and tried to relieve the day.

He was too tired from the airport and from the first errands he had to go through that day.

 

From the airport, he went onto a quick conference while his things were taken from the airport and straight to the hotel leaving him with only his large hand carry bag that contained a few clothes, his work belongings and some work documents and a large and thick planner he had bought from Paris two years ago.

From the conference, he went straight to the Ministry of Magic where he was expected to show up to get the schedule of his father’s release and the itinerary and errands he had to go through before his release.

 

Most importantly, as part of the deal of him not being sentenced by the Ministry of Magic since he was underage and under mere influence by his family, Draco had been constantly ordered to register his wand back and forth whenever he visited any country.

At the MACUSA when he visited the United States he had to register his wand and make an appearance to let them know he was there.

 

At Denmark and at Paris and any other country he visited and stayed in, he had to register his wand so the Magical government would know that he was in that particular country.

Back at London, he needed to do the same thing at the Ministry of Magic.

He tried to do his best to do everything without drawing much attention to him especially at that very place where he and his family was well known.

He was back at London and things would definitely be not as peaceful as it has been in the past several years.

He then went straight to Gringotts to exchange some of his Muggle money and withdraw a couple of his Black money that he would use around.

It was an exhausting day because he had to tend to all of it by himself but it was something he had taught himself to get used to.

 

And finally at eight that evening, he was in his hotel room and ready to gobble down his dinner and have a good rest before the following day’s to-do.

He closed his eyes and sighed heavily.

 He couldn’t take the image of Hermione Jean Granger back at the airport earlier that day.

 

Yes, it was her.

 

It was her and she was more than surprised to see him at the airport.

He was also beyond flabbergasted but he didn’t want to make a scene or make himself known around that he as back or anything that would draw attention to him.

He dealt with her at the most discreet way possible.

He knew she would follow him right after and so without any choice, he had to Disapparate onto the next corridor to avoid any conversation or confrontation with her.

He knew of what his father has done and despite that it wasn’t his fault, he felt guilty about it.

He felt guilty about everything that his father has done to anyone and everything he has done in the war even if he wasn’t literary involved in it.

 

He despised being a Malfoy.

 

And for some reason, he feared seeing her or coming face to face with her.

She was a friendly face and a nice one to look back at the good times he himself had at Hogwarts.

But he was conflicted deep down and she was part of the life he was trying to turn away from.

But Draco grinned to himself.

He did like the idea that he bumped into her that morning and was more than happy to see a familiar face the moment he got back into London.

 

Draco would never admit it to anyone else and not even to himself but he knew deep down that he was somewhat wondering when was the possible moment from which he would encounter her again and for some reason, he was looking forward to it.

Chapter Text

Chapter Four

An Accident

 

 

“Why are the pancakes burnt?” Harry asked, looking over his work desk that morning.

“Are you going to eat that or are you going to be ungrateful?” Hermione asked, placing down a hot cup of caffeine over his desk as well.

“Sorry.” Harry quickly said, looking over the packed brunch she had made for him and picking out the pancake with the least burns over it.

 

Hermione was standing over his desk with her hands over her Ministry Worker uniform.

“What?” Harry asked looking up at her halfway through returning to his reading of the day’s paper.

Hermione only raised a brow at him.

“What?” Harry asked again taking a second bite from the pancake. “I’m eating the pancake you-“

“Don’t what me.” Hermione pointed out. “I’ve given you your breakfast as usual. Now tell me what you’ve done about the issue yesterday.”

“Issue?” Harry asked her. “What issue?”

 

Hermione looked furious and Harry had to straighten himself over his chair and try to look as serious as possible.

“Seriously?” Hermione asked, taking out her wand.

 

Harry’s eyes widened but she only used a Summoning Charm and the edition of yesterday’s paper came into her hands.

She placed it over Harry’s table and made him read the article about the Marriage Law.

Harry stared and his eyes narrowed.

He looked slightly annoyed for a moment and then he stood up and folded the paper away.

 

“I already told you.” Harry said. “It’s going to be passed whether we like it or not. I’ve done my best but it seems there are no ways out of it and besides they’re putting conditions that are likely to even out or make things equal on all or both parties-“

“That’s not my point here.” Hermione protested walking after him as he walked around his room trying to avoid her gaze.

“Hermione, do you really think I’d like to get married with someone I don’t like either?” he asked her seriously.

 

Hermione stared at him, unconvinced despite his charms and truth in his words.

“Bloody hell. You’re Harry Potter-” Hermione said, poking him over the chest and advancing towards him. “You will likely get the best out of this.”

“Is that the problem?” Harry asked her with a weird look and smile over his face. “That you’re scared you’d marry some oaf out there or some Pureblood who disgusts  you?”

 

“No.” Hermione said, but her eyes told him otherwise.

They’ve known one another for so long that Harry knew if she was lying or half-lying or telling the truth about something.

He was sure that even if her put up reason to the world is that ‘it wasn’t fair to get married to someone you didn’t love’ he knew that she was very much worried of not getting the upper hand of the situation and issue at hand.

 

“Hermione.” Harry groaned at her as Hermione started to turn away from him.

“That’s not my reason.” Hermione said shoving his hand away from her.

 

But Harry smiled and grasped her arm quickly and pulled her to him.

Hermione looked away from him, trying to avoid his gaze through their close proximity.

If someone enters, one would think they were doing something inappropriate in a Ministry office in office hours.

 

“Hermione, look at me.” Harry said forcing her to look back at him. “Is that what this is? That you’re scared that you’re going to be matched up with some bloody Pureblood that-“

“You know that my reason is about this not giving equal rights.” Hermione snapped at him but he was trying to catch her gaze with a knowing smile.

“Okay, let’s give it that you are also very concerned about equal rights on this – but do tell me, Hermione Granger – you’re also worried that you would be matched up with someone you absolutely do not like, yes?”

 

Hermione didn’t answer.

She was gritting her teeth and her silence told Harry everything he needed to know.

He almost laughed at her.

He gripped her by the side of her arms and made her face him.

 

“Bloody hell.” Harry said trying not to smile too much as to not offend her. “You’re worried about that?"

“Harry-“

“You think you’re the only one who’s bloody scared and worried??” Harry asked her. “You think Snape is not?”

“I really don’t care what he-“

“You think Neville isn’t worried as well? He sent me an owl and asked me already if I can-“

“Harry, what I’m trying to say-“

“And how about Charlie – you think he’s all happy with getting himself-“

“I’m trying to say something-“

“And how about me?” Harry suddenly asked her. “You think I’m not worried I’m going to be paired up with some Pureblood whose nose is as bad as their attitude?”

 

Hermione looked up at him and sighed heavily.

“You don’t get what I’m trying to say here.” Hermione simply said with a frown.

Harry smiled at her.

 

“You also don’t get what I’m trying to say.” Harry said. “You’re putting this as a problem when there’s an easy solution to it.”

“Really?” Hermione asked with a raised brow. “And what is that Mr. Harry James Potter?”

“Marry me.” Harry said with a proud smile. “Marry me, Hermione and we solve both our problems.”

 

Hermione looked angered beyond she was already.

She tried to push him away but Harry only laughed and kept his hold on her.

 

“I’m not in the mood to joke.”

“You think I’m joking?” Harry asked her. “I’d marry you, ‘Mione.” Harry seriously said.

 

Hermione looked away again and despite that Harry felt hurt for a moment, he didn’t show it to her.

“Hermione?” he asked with a kind smile.  “Wouldn’t you want to marry me?”

“We’ve already talked about this.” Hermione said trying to free herself from him.

“So you rather get married to some git out there?” Harry asked her with a mischievous grin.

 

Hermione didn’t answer.

 

“What if the law matches you up with professor Snape?” he asked her with a smile. “Would you rather have that?”

“Oh, don’t be ridiculous-“

“One attributes of their pairing people is in accordance of their magical abilities and intellectual capacity. And with your attributes and Snape’s, I don’t think they’ll  around the issue of your age difference-“

“Please.” Hermione said with a smirk. “I think Professor Snape would rather get himself bitten again by a snake than marry me.”

“Oh you wouldn’t know.” Harry said. “Would you?”

“Harry, I’m trying to think of a way to solve this major problem that you don’t seem to take seriously.”

“I’m taking it seriously.” Harry said letting her arm go and letting her get to her things from the couch where she dumped them over.

“No, you’re not.” Hermione said slinging her small bag with her and taking some documents from the couch with her.

“I’m asking you to marry me.” Harry said leading her to his door again.

 

Hermione sarcastically laughed at him.

“What a great indecent proposal this is, Harry.”

“Would you like a candle lit dinner then?” Harry asked placing himself over the door to stop her from getting out.

“Move away.” Hermione said with a smile as she shook her head.

“Oh come on.” Harry said refusing to move from the door. “Candle lit dinner? Roses? I can cook for you-“

“We both know you burn things in the kitchen.”

“No, I don’t.” Harry said. “I’m used to Muggle cooking just the way you want it-“

“Harry, I need to get back to my office. Break is over.”

“It’s only half past eleven-“

“And I’ve been late for my own work because guess what, I needed to make you breakfast because you forgot to take yours.”

“I didn’t ask you to.” Harry smirked at her.

 

Hermione looked furious.

“I mean, I’m more than grateful. You see, you’ll make a really, really good wife-“

“I’ll see you later, Harry.” Hermione said pushing him away from the door.

 

Harry laughed and moved away from the door and let her out.

“So, I’ll see you later?” he asked her opening the door for her.

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Candlelit dinner with roses and all?” Harry asked, stealing a kiss from her cheek before she ducked away.

Hermione hit him with the file in her hand but she laughed nevertheless.

“You try and do that and I swear, I’ll hex your balls off.”

“Oh, I’m so hurt.” Harry called out after her. “And very much enticed to have you see them again.”

“Shut up!” Hermione called over her shoulder trying to restrain her laughter as people she walked passed down the corridor and desks were all staring at her direction from the office she had just left.

 

They had been item for years since they graduated from Hogwarts and it didn’t need a ring around  either of their fingers for people to think that they have been love birds for as long as they had been friends.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hermione had been walking with all her office things in her arms when she heard a commotion down two corridors from Harry’s office.

There was a crowd that was seemingly hovering over something or rather someone.

Camera flashes already told her that these were people from the Daily Prophet and probably hovering on some victim again.

And then she saw it, a tall blond man in the middle of the crowd that was moving forward her direction.

 

She didn’t know why, but she quickly panicked at the sight of the blonde and the crowd that was quickly following him towards her direction.

 

Hermione cursed.

 

She didn’t want to be bothered by the Daily Prophet should they see her – they had been dying to get an interview with her too and an exclusive with her in regards to anything or everything there could be asked about the war, about Harry Potter and about the two of them.

 

“Bullocks.” Hermione muttered, looking in either direction of the corridor she was in.

 

One end was a complete blank dead end and the other was filled with a line of inquiries.

There was only one way out.

Without really thinking, she pressed for the elevator and waited with her wits to enter it and disappear from view.

It opened just in time as the crowd neared and she literally jumped inside with all her belongings.

In her shaken state, she managed to fumble on a few buttons for a floor but before the doors closed, it was halted down by some sort of magic.

 

Hermione looked up with dreadful eyes but before she could comprehend what has happened, someone yelled for her to hold the door and then someone, a blond blur burst inside and whipped a wand and closed the elevator doors and it started to move before the crowd of Daily Prophet people came.

 

“Thanks.” A breathless voice said. “Sorry, didn’t mean for the spell to hit anyone. Those reporters are a menace. Are you alright? Did I hit you?”

 

The blonde looked up at her and Hermione met his surprised and terrified gaze as well.

 

“Malfoy?” Hermione asked looking up at him.

 

She was sure it was him and at the same time, not the boy she had known in those years.

Yes, he looked as dashing and tall as he could possibly be but his once very handsome and flawless face was no more.

A burn at the side of his left cheek was very much visible.

It doesn’t take a genius to know that it was done by Dark Magic and therefore could no longer be healed no matter.

 

“Granger?” he asked looked back at her with the same surprised and utmost expression that she was wearing.

But before Hermione could answer, there was a loud sound that was like that of an explosion and before they both knew it, lights had gone out and the elevator took a very sudden and abrupt stop that left the two of them being thrown over at either side of the elevators.

 

“Lumos!”

 

Hermione took out her wand but Draco was a lot faster with his reflexes.

 

“Bullocks.” Hermione said again as her things fell all over the elevator floor.

Draco lifted the light over to her direction to help her see the things she was gathering in her armful.

“What’s going on with the elevator?”

“It’s been broken since the other day.” Hermione said. “This is the fifth time it’s happened and the second time it’s happened to me.” Hermione angrily spat at him.

He looked slightly off at the way she spoke to him but then again, she was hardly his concern at the moment.

“So what does that mean?” Draco asked as he lifted the light around to help her see her things clearer. “Are we stuck here?”

“Obviously.” Hermione snapped at him standing up from the floor and taking her things with her. “Take that light off from my face!”

 

Draco looked completely taken aback but he didn’t say anything.

He gently lowered his wand away from her and back away from her lashing outtake.

 

“How long does it take to fix?” he asked her gently.

“Forever.” Hermione said whipping her wand out and igniting it as well.

 

The elevator took a brighter turn and Draco immediately saw the stress in her face.

But there was something else.

A flicker of what looked like nervousness and fear in her eyes.

 

“Are you alright?” he asked her concernedly.

“What do you think?” she snapped back at him giving him a dark look.

 

Draco looked completely offended this time but he didn’t say anything.

“I told you to get that fucking wand off my face.” Hermione lashed at him, pointing over his wand.

Draco held it out to give better light but it wasn’t directed towards her.

He only sighed and took a few steps backward from her.

 

“So how long does it take for them to fix this and realize that people could be stuck here?” Draco asked moving around the elevator and checking the walls with the light of his wand.

“I told you it takes forever.” Hermione said, moving herself at the end of the elevator and standing completely still. “Don’t walk around.”

 

Draco’s eyes narrowed and he looked back at her.

Even through their limited light, he could see her face turning pale and her expression turning in obvious fear.

“Are you alright?” he asked her again unable to stop himself. “Are you feeling sick?” he said.

“Don’t move around!” Hermione warned him pointing at his feet as he took two steps forward her.

Draco looked completely bewildered.

 

He looked down over his feet then back at her and then at the elevator around them.

 

She was scared.

 

She was dead scared of small spaces.

He wasn’t sure why he’s done it but he suddenly made one leapt.

It wasn’t a large one but it was enough to slightly shake the elevator.

Hermione made a small squeal and then she pointed her wand directly at him.

 

“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” Hermione asked him. “I told you to stop moving-“

“Are you scared?” he asked her but not unkindly. “In small spaces?”

He wasn’t a genius but it also didn’t take him to be a Healer to tell that Hermione’s expression told him everything that he needed to know.

“Granger-“

“Don’t come anywhere near me.” Hermione warned him sinking at her end of the elevator. “And just don’t move for crying out loud-“

“We’re safe in here.” Draco said taking one gentle step towards her. “And I bloody think that if we send out help or something they’ll know something has happened-“

“They already know.” Hermione told him. “They’re going to fix it but it will take time so if you will just please goddamn sit down and don’t make any movement that might make this thing fall off.”

 

Draco looked at her.

 

He hardly think that something as an elevator was likely to kill them or just fall off even if it was broken.

They were, after all, at the Ministry of Magic.

And in the magical world things just don’t fall apart without any magical resistance.

She was just scared and that was very much obvious at the moment.

“Alright.” Draco gently said backing away and sitting at the other end of the elevator. “Just calm yourself down-“

“I’m fucking calm.” Hermione snapped back at him.

 

Draco almost laughed out loud at her expression.

But before he could say anything else they both heard it.

Their eyes caught one another and the constricted feel of panic and fear both passed them.

The alarming sound of something big and metallic breaking.

The sound of nails unscrewing or some sort of attached metals breaking completely.

 

Hermione wasn’t sure anymore what has happened next for all she knew was that she was entirely screaming as they both felt the sudden free falling of the elevator that unhinged from its posts.

There was a loud crash, a very hard tug around her arms and the familiar feel of magic around her and then a deafening sound around her and something heavy tugging around her body.

Hermione wasn’t sure what happened next but before she completely blacked out she could hear panicked voices, she sound of metal being lifted and moved around and then the feel of something heavy over her own body that had protected her from some large piece of something from falling completely over to her face.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Five

Roses Are Blue

 

 


 

“I’m dead.” she miserably thought as she saw nothing but white-light overhead. “I’m dead, I’m dead.. I’m dead.. oh god, I’m dead.”

“You’re not dead.” A voice came from her side.

 

Hermione tried to move her body, but she could barely move.

There was pain all over her body but she was somewhat grateful that she could feel something.

It would only mean that she was indeed alive.

She tried to feel her surroundings until she felt a pair of warm hands cover her left hand.

 

“You’re alright.” Harry’s voice came. “You’re doing well but you need to lie in for a few more hours.”

“Harry?” Hermione asked trying to open her heavy eyelids. “Harry?”

“I’m here.” Harry said gently pressing her hand. “I’m just here.”

“What happened?” she managed to say.

 

Her eyes were still heavy but she could slowly open them and her blurred visions were slowly clearing.

 

“You’ve been out for a few hours.” Harry said. “You’re still here at the emergency room because they want to make immediate tests on you. You’re at St. Mungo’s.”

“What the fuck happened?” Hermione managed trying to move more but the pain in her body was stopping her.

 

Her head also felt like menace.

“Elevator at the Ministry gave away.” Harry explained to her. “Lucky that you’ve been saved.”

“Saved?” Hermione asked him trying to recall what has happened. “You saved me?”

“Nope.” Harry dryly said. “Someone else did.”

 

Hermione opened her eyes fully and forced her visions to clear away.

She tried to recall what has happened in the past hours and why she was in such great pain at the emergency room of St. Mungo’s.

It took her a while but soon, she recalled what exactly has happened.

 

“Oh gods.” she gasped looking and moving around her to reach for Harry’s hand. “Harry – Malfoy – he was-“

“Not yet well.” Harry said over her.

 

He was standing by the bed and was looking more concerned about her.

He gestured behind him as another bed a few feet from Hermione’s was placed.

Someone unconscious was lying over it.

 

“Oh gods.” Hermione gasped painfully as she made a sudden movement that made her feel dizzy and gave more pain along her arm.

“He’s still knocked out.” Harry explained moving to block her view of him. “But he’s alive. And I think he’ll be fine.”

 

Hermione breathed heavily trying to calm herself down and recall everything else she could try to remember.

“The elevators.” Hermione said pressing Harry’s hands. “It was – it just – I’m not sure –“

“They were fixing it when you got into it.” Harry said. “They were just about to place the sign that it was going to be under construction when you got into it.”

“Malfoy followed me.” Hermione bitterly said. “He entered the elevator – tried to catch up on it.”

“Well, I can’t believe that I’m going to say this but good thing that he did.”

“Why?”

Harry looked down her completely oblivious expression.

“Well, if he didn’t I’m sure you’re dead by now as you would have been hit full blast by the metal that got unhinged when the elevator gave away. You would have probably been squashed face first, ‘Mione.”

“He – wait, what?”

“He saved your life.” Harry pointed out. “Malfoy just saved your life.”

 

Her head spun a bit more than she wanted it as she tried to comprehend what he just told her.

“It couldn’t be-“ Hermione said. “We were – across one another and-“

“Nope.” Harry said shaking his head. “You two were found together – he was actually on top of you.”

“He was what?!”

She looked up at him and gave him an angry look.

Harry tried to keep his face straight as he could just tell how angry she was and the only reason she was suppressed from blowing up there is because of the pain she was feeling inside her head.

 

“This isn’t funny.” Hermione angrily said. “I don’t find anything funny at all.”

“Nobody finds this funny.” Harry reminded her. “You should go back to sleep and get some rest.”

“Once I’m better I’m going to forever erase that smirk over your face.” Hermione spat. “I could barely move, Harry. This is nowhere funny at all.”

“But he saved your life.” Harry said. “Did you know the git took the full fall of the metal?”

Hermione opened her mouth to say something but Harry gestured for her to lay back down calmly as he continued to speak.

“He’s lucky to be alive – the bastard.” Harry said and there was a strange concern in his voice. “I’d be very surprised if he can still walk after that. I guess wild grass never dies easily.”

 

A look of concern passed Hermione’s face.

 

Draco Malfoy had just saved her life and now he was at the point where he could be invalid because of what has happened – because he saved her life.

 

“You mean he hasn’t gained consciousness?” Hermione asked him gesturing at the bed next to her.

“Nope.” Harry answered as he sat on the chair next to her bed. “But I’m surprised, really for what he’s done. You know that you two were found in a position that obviously pointed out that he purposely placed himself over you in order to save you and evade the idea of the metal flattening you out and killing you on the spot.”

 

Hermione’s eyes narrowed, but she didn’t say anything.

She could hardly move and speak and think clearly.

 

And now, she was as shocked to find out that Draco Malfoy had just saved her life.

No, maybe it was some sort of humanistic reflex.

Humanistic reflex?

Malfoy?

Anywhere with humane attribute inside of him?

Seriously.

As far as she knows, there was nothing ever humane about Draco Malfoy.

 

 

 

 


 

“You’re not eating.” Harry said entering her private ward a few days later. “You’ve got to finish your dinner.”

Hermione looked up at him from her bed where she sat by her dinner tray.

Harry closed the door behind him and raised what looked like some Chinese take-out.

He walked wordlessly across the room and placed the package at the end of her bed.

 

“Would you rather have some of these?” Harry asked with a smile. “There’s technically nothing wrong with your digestive system so you’re actually on some freedom diet.”

“Aren’t you going to get fired?” Hermione asked as she picked out the blueberries from the dessert cup from her tray.

“Fired?”

“Yes.” Hermione said. “You’ve been spending a lot of time here at the hospital. I told you already that I’m good.”

“It’s only been four days, ‘Mione.” Harry said as he began preparing the Chinese take-out over the tray for them to consume.

 

Hermione stared at the two take outs he was preparing for the two of them.

He obviously knew her enough to know that she wasn’t really going to eat the hospital food.

 

“That’s long enough.”

“I’m the Chosen One.” Harry said winking at her.

“Not funny.” Hermione replied although she did smile, but had hit him by throwing the plastic hospital fork towards him.

Harry evaded it and smiled down at her.

“How’s your arm?” he asked, for staring down at her right arm.

 

Other than the slight injury, she was free to leave the coming weekend on the condition that she takes all her prescription on time and that she returns twice a week for her therapy at the hospital.

“Well, if it hasn’t been casted I would like to try if I can hex your balls off, Potter.” Hermione said making minimal movements over her casted and bandaged right arm.

“Easy, Granger.” Harry said, licking his bottom lip after tasting one of the Chinese dishes he opened.

 

 

The smell wafted all throughout the elegant room.

“This smells so good.” Hermione said as Harry prepared a platter of it for her. “And it’s really going to smell around here.”

“We can magically clean it later.” Harry said placing a napkin over her hospital gown and helping her with her left hand to start eating.

He removed the hospital dinner aside and organized the Chinese dinner he had for her.

“I told you to get me a simple room.” Hermione said as she stared around the room that has housed her. “I don’t have money to pay for this.”

She had been kept at the emergency room for the past three days.

Harry swallowed a mouthful of the delicate dish and stared up at her with a reluctant look over his face.

“What?” Hermione asked seeing the question in his eyes. “What is it?”

“Nothing.” Harry lied quickly looking away from her. “Try this shrimp out with-“

“What is it?” Hermione asked placing her utensil down and staring back at him.

“It’s nothing.” Harry said staring at her. “I tell you-“

“Where’s my bill?” Hermione asked him. “Did you pay for my bill?”

“No.” Harry replied. “I was planning to.”

“Well don’t tell me you went downstairs to just buy food somewhere?” Hermione asked him. “I asked you to go downstairs to get and check my bill.”

Harry looked completely defeated.

 

 

He swallowed again and stared at her knowing there was no point of lying.

“Well, you see you’ve got no bill to pay.”

“What do you mean?” Hermione asked him as she moved forward with difficulty. “Are they housing me for free?”

“No.” Harry said. “I asked you to be transferred to a simple room – like you’ve requested – when they said you could leave the emergency room. But they had me sent you here because they said it’s been reserved for you – paid for, together with all of your bills and the first twelve sessions of your rehabilitation for the therapy.”

 

“What?” Hermione asked eyes wide.

 

Harry had to hold onto the tray as Hermione moved around in surprise and had hit the tray with her large cast.

 

“What do you mean?” she asked him again, eyes wide.

 

This time, she looked absolutely aggressive and slightly angered.

Harry swallowed a spoonful and sighed heavily.

Hermione didn’t let go of his arm.

 

“What’s going on, Potter?” she slowly asked.

“Someone obviously paid for your bill.” Harry said unable to lie and keep it from her anymore. “There’s no bill to pay and I wasn’t able to pay it before whoever paid it for you.”

“Who would pay for my bill?” Hermione asked incredulously. “This must be a very expensive room and not to mention one therapy is worth a lot knowing it’s from St. Mungo’s and I’ve been paid for twelve sessions.”

“Well just be grateful.” Harry said trying to brush off the subject. “At least you don’t have to use up your savings over some medical expense-“

“Yes, and what if someday the bill goes and blows up right at my face and I have no money to pay for it?”

Harry didn’t answer her.

He was as clueless as she was.

“Is there no way to find out?” she asked shoving Harry’s hand away from her as he attempted to give her some of the take out.

 

Harry shook his head.

 

“I tried.” Harry said. “I tried asking around, tried asking in the different offices since you’ve been transferred here. Nobody could give me information. All they could say is that you’re all well and paid together with the therapy and that you just have to get out of the hospital over the weekend and follow your Healer’s instructions on what to do next.”

 

Hermione stared at him not content with his answer.

How could he be content and satisfied with such answers from the hospital?

Was he not concerned of the person who anonymously paid for all her bills that were obviously nowhere near cheap?

 

“’Mione, don’t think about it, please.” Harry’s voice pulled her back into reality as he ushered her to eat. “It may have been some sort of blessing. Someone might just have some kind heart to give you off something like that. It could happen, you know. I mean, it’s not like they don’t know what you’ve done for the war.”

Hermione didn’t say anything anymore as she accepted the food Harry moved towards her.

She slowly began to eat with her mind still wandering off on whoever was kind enough to pay for all her bills and would want to remain anonymous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Are you sure that they have no way of finding out it was me?”

“Quite sure, young master.” answered the Healer as he bowed.

He watched as the assistant Healers and other Medi-Witches moved around and changed the bandages around him.

 

“How long do I have to remain on bed rest?” Draco asked as he was assisted around in his large suite back at the apartment he had been able to buy within the few hours that he has gained consciousness at St. Mungo’s.

 

Draco gained consciousness the day after Hermione did.

He had quickly requested his condition to be kept secret from the mate he had at the emergency room ward.

And so, given all the money he has, all his requests were followed smoothly and without question.

He was transferred to a private ward at the middle of the night where Hermione was in deep sleep and Harry was snoring his head off at the watcher’s couch.

He was transferred to a room of his own where he was tended to by private Healers upon his request.

Some broken limbs and a few gashes and wounds here and there but nothing detrimental and worse than he had expected or as was first diagnosed of him.

 

Once he was able to ensure that he could be out of the hospital because he could be healed outside St.Mungo's to avoid murmurs from the public, he quickly requested a transfer.

He asked his wizard servant from the Malfoy Manor to buy him an apartment within London and asked the same servant to buy him all the basic needs for a living he would need and everything else that the Healers would need for his transfer.

Sooner than expected, he was transferred out of St. Mungo’s in the midst of the night and back at the apartment bought for him.

Healers and Medi-Witches tended to him at his new apartment in order to ensure that his healing process was sped up.

The moment he could slowly move his arms again, he quickly requested for his and Hermione’s bills.

 

He signed and paid for everything and hearing that Hermione needed to be sent on therapy like him, he paid for the first set of therapy that Hermione needed and requested all his deeds to be kept anonymous.

With the name and money that he has, every bit of his requests were given.

 

“Two more weeks or so, young master.” the servant entered and served tea for him and for the Healers in the room.

Draco nodded quietly and contemplated things.

“I have plans organized before this incident, I would like everything-“

“Everything has been rearranged, young master.” the old servant said with a smile for the boy. “You only need to rest.”

“Thank you.” Draco said taking a small sip from his tea.

He was still in a wheelchair and wouldn’t be able to get out of it for at least two more weeks of therapy.

His didn’t have any cast around his arms but a bandage was still heavy around his head and around his ribcage that has been hit hard by the fallen metal.

 

Other than the consistent pain he endured once the pain killers subsided, he was well-tended to and give or take half a month or so and he would slowly regain his strength in a faster pace.

 

“Please make sure that Miss Granger never finds out that I was the one who paid for everything that she had.” Draco instructed over the people inside the room.

“Done as you wish, young master.”

“Please update me as well for her recovery process and the progress of her therapy.”

“As you wish.” the head Healer tending to him answered. “I would be providing the schedule of her therapy. Once your weekly therapy here is over, would you like to proceed taking it at St. Mungo’s?”

 

Draco stared at his cup of tea considering the question.

“Is it likely that I would see her?” he asked slowly.

“Yes.” the Healer honestly answered. “There is only one large department where therapies are done. But if you would like to continue it here at your place or proceed with a private schedule at St. Mungo’s that will not collide with her schedule, I’m sure I could make a couple of arrange-“

 

“I’ll think about it.” Draco answered him with a slight nod. “Let’s take one step at a time. I could barely comprehend what has happened to the both of us. Give me time to reorganize my thoughts and access things. I have other things in my mind to tend to.”

The Healer nodded coherently at Draco’s request.

There weren’t much things in his head that he needed to tend to.

In fact there were only two things running inside his head.

The first one was why he had decided to pay for all of Hermione’s expenditures and why, he wanted to be kept anonymous for all the kind deeds he has done for her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Miss Granger, your signature please?”

Hermione looked up and groaned.

 

Another full bouquet of flowers were delivered in her office.

It has been half a month since the elevator incident.

She was back in her normal routine home and office routine and was almost back in perfect health.

She still had three therapy sessions left that she was finishing at St. Mungo’s but other than that, she was all well.

 

Today was her second day back at work and on her first day back, Harry had connived with the rest of the departments for a welcome-back party that lasted half the day.

 

Gifts of sorts were given to her including bouquets of roses and flowers.

Half of the gifts were taken to her home and the other half like the dozens of fresh flowers had to remain back in her office at the Ministry.

Hermione signed her name over the wizard’s log book and moved back to her table to give him a tip.

“Oh, no need, Miss Granger.” the young wizard said. “I’ve already been generously tipped by the sender.”

“Really?” Hermione said with a shrewd look over her face.

 

Honestly, it was her first time to decide to give a tip from all the flower deliveries and get well soon cards and gifts of sorts thrown her way.

“Yes, Miss Granger.” the young wizard said with a smile.

“Well, that person must be very generous.” Hermione said excitedly staring at the large bouquet.

Her eyes slightly narrowed as she could barely find the card around the roses.

 

In fact, she was slightly surprised with what has been sent to her.

Of all the flowers and roses given to her this was the only blue ones given to her.

She had received red and white roses from Harry, had received flowers of sorts from different people and all had a card on them with a greeting and their name on it.

But this one was blue and didn’t have a name on the card she could barely find.

“Wait!” Hermione called back at the young lad. “This was ordered by? I couldn’t find a card.”

The young lad stared at her for a moment then shook his head.

“Sorry, Miss Granger.” he answered shaking his head. “I’ve only been given that and an envelope of generous tip to ensure I deliver it here and on time while its all fresh. They’ve been freshly picked.”

Hermione opened her mouth to ask further but the lad had nodded at her and had disappeared right out of her office door.

 

She stared back down over the roses and moved it around looking for the card.

Finally, she’s found it stashed deeply beneath the fresh blue roses.

She quickly let go of the bouquet and excitedly read through the card.

“Hoping for your fast recovery.”

 

And then that was it.

 

She turned the card over and around but there was no name on it.

The type of scrawl was however quite familiar.

She wasn’t sure where she’d seen it but she was sure that she’s seen it somewhere before.

She grabbed the bouquet in her hands again and inhaled the tantalizing smell of the blue roses.

They were indeed very fresh.

Hermione stared back at the card in her other hand.

It was a really familiar scrawl.

Somewhere in her Hogwarts days she was sure of it.

Was it Harry’s handwriting and he was somehow trying to be romantic towards her again?

But before she could really try to remember how Harry’s signature and handwriting looked like, there was a sudden noise and burst by her office doorway.

 

 

“Surprise!” called out a voice by the doorway.

Hermione looked up with a narrowed gaze and saw Harry standing by the door holding a large box in his other hand and a fresh bouquet of red roses in his other hand.

The joyous and excited look upon Harry’s face slowly faded as he stood there and his green eyes fell over the blue roses and card in Hermione’s hands.

Something in the way of Harry’s change of expression told Hermione that he was the one that was surprised upon his own arrival.

Chapter Text

Chapter Six

Therapies

 

“Harry?” Hermione called out over the cashier at the café. “Harry!”

Hermione called out louder in Harry’s direction.

He was seated in their usual seat at the café down the street from the Ministry.

It was where they usually take their lunch break or have a quick dinner before going home.

Harry was apparently still determined to not talk to her about what happened that morning.

He was pretty much excited with a bunch of pastries in hand and some freshly picked roses for her only to find that some anonymous person had sent her flowers that were a rare type.

 

 “Oh, seriously.” Hermione rolled her eyes.

She turned back to the cashier and thanked them over the  register for her change and stalked back over their table as they waited for their order.

“Are you seriously, seriously not going to talk to me?” she asked tossing her purse over the table and sitting across him.

Harry’s eyes were transfixed as he played with the small keychain of his desk drawer back at his office in the shape of a small Golden Snitch.

Hermione rolled her eyes again.

 

“Seriously?” Hermione impatiently said, staring down at his childish attitude.

He was wearing a full scowl over his face and was determined not to talk to her.

“You know I’ve got plenty of work upstairs.” Hermione said, folding her arms. “If you’re not going to talk to me I better have my lunch as a take out.”

Hermione started to stand from her chair, but Harry grabbed her hand.

 

“Wait.” Harry pleaded.

Hermione looked back at his crestfallen face.

“What is wrong with you Mr. Harry James Potter?” she asked annoyed at his attitude.

A waiter interrupted them as she served two full glasses of juice for each of them, a steak meal for Harry and pasta for Hermione.

 

She smiled at the witch and then returned her scornful look the moment the witch was out of sight and earshot.

“What?” she asked. “Speak to me. What the bloody hell is wrong with you?”

 

Harry didn’t answer.

He stared over their ordered food and was still wordless.

Harry had just delivered the pastries back into her office and laid the roses over her table.

 

Hermione was beginning to tell him about the blue roses and the card when he interrupted her with a scowl and told her that he had something else to do that morning and walked right out of her office without another word.

 

It took Hermione a few hours later to realize that there was something bothering and bugging Harry and he was purposely refusing to talk to her.

She had asked her all the way down from their departments until the café what could be wrong but he firmly refused to answer her.

She was losing her patience with him.

“Are you going to spit it out or am I going to have to walk out of this café?” she threatened him.

Harry looked up at her with an unmistakable question and worry over his face.

“I just want to know who gave you those roses.”

Hermione opened her mouth for a retort that wasn’t fitted to what he had just told her.

Her eyebrows raised.

“I already told you.” Hermione sighed in frustration. “I have bloody no idea who it came from. There was a card and I thought at first that it was from you.”

 

“You bloody know I don’t write that way.” Harry reasoned out with his eyes narrowed

He pulled out the card from his pocket that he had obviously taken from her and crumpled away.

 

Hermione didn’t seem bothered that he did that but was more concerned upon his attitude towards her.

“Well at least we both now know it wasn’t from you.” Hermione spat back tossing the card carelessly at the other end of the table.

Harry seemed to calm down at her gesture.

He looked up at her stern looking face.

“Well?” Hermione asked him again.

“Well..” Harry sighed heavily “Well sit down so we can talk about it.”

“Wow, now you would like to talk?” Hermione said although she sat down too and began her lunch.

She moved around the table and handed him a napkin while he handed her utensils and Hermione began slicing up the meaty, juicy and well-done steak over Harry’s plate.

They had always been like that towards one another.

Despite their short-comings or rather Hermione’s mood swings most of the time, they delicately and in detail, attended to one another’s needs.

 

Harry finished tossing her pasta and Hermione finished slicing up the steak in bite sizes.

Hermione then proceeded in putting a fair share of her pasta at the end of Harry’s plate while Harry went on exchanging their glasses because Hermione ordered for the fresh banana and mango smoothie while he ordered the other glass of juice.

They ate in silence for a few minutes.

Hermione watched at the way Harry ate the pasta and the steak altogether.

He had missed their morning coffee and pastry together out of his spite.

“So.”  Hermione began halfway through both their meals. “Are we talking?” she asked.

Harry groaned in a mouthful of his pasta and steak.

“Well isn’t obvious that I wanted to know who gave you those bloody roses.”

 

“And it’s also very obvious that I don’t know. I think we both read the card. There was no name on it.” Hermione shot back at him.

“Well, what’s with the effort and the mystery?” Harry asked her tossing the pasta around his plate again. “What’s with all the attention this person is trying to seek?”

“Well how am I supposed to know that?” Hermione answered him. “I haven’t got any clue on who could have sent me that.”

“They look expensive.” Harry commented with a raised brown and an obvious annoyance over his face. “It looked a lot like effort and gold put together.”

“Well the effort would have been much appreciated if that person actually let himself be known than act like a total lunatic or stalker in my opinion.”

“There was an effort of money all over, ‘Mione.” Harry muttered rolling his eyes. “What are you being so ungrateful of?”

Hermione opened her mouth in the form of a retort until she realized what it was all about.

 

She lowered her utensils and sat back over her chair.

For a few moments, she just folded her arms over her chest and stared at Harry in the most ridiculous way.

“What?” Harry asked her annoyed and conscious as she sat opposite him staring back at him as if he was mad.

“Are you serious?” Hermione asked, aghast.

“What?” Harry repeated, lowering his utensils and wiping his mouth with the napkin across the table.

They exchanged glares.

Harry blinked and looked away.

“Are you jealous?” Hermione asked him at the verge of laughing at him. “Are you seriously jealous over that?”

“I’m not jealous!”

But the bloom of red over his face told Hermione everything she needed to know.

 

Her eyebrows raised so high that Harry turned a tad bit more of red over the face.

He tried to avoid her gaze.

“That’s it, isn’t it?” Hermione said with a scowl. “You’re out of your marbles. You’re jealous over some unknown person who sent me those roses.”

“Jealous?” Harry repeated. “Oh please, why would I- “

“Look at me, Harry.” Hermione challenged him. “Look me in the eye and tell me you’re bloody not jealous.”

“I’m not jealous.” Harry spat at her, looking her for a very brief moment at the eye.

Hermione tried not to laugh.

She bit her lip and tried to look serious over her bestfriend she had known for so long.

“Harry.” Hermione said in a more gentle voice but one that was constricted from laughing.

She moved her hand across the table and tried to reach for his hands.

“Harry, please.”

“It’s fine.” Harry snapped returning to his steak. “It’s nothing. If you say it’s nothing then it’s nothing.”

Hermione looked at him knowing that he wasn’t likely to sleep tonight thinking about it.

“They’re just roses.” Hermione said moving her hand across the table to hold his.

Harry’s hand stayed stiff.

But after a few more moments of Hermione trying to rub the back of hers over his, his hand softened and opened up on its own accord and let her hold his hand.

 

“Look at me.” Hermione gently said. “Harry.”

Harry sighed heavily then he looked back up at her.

His eyes softened at the way she was looking back at him.

She only stared quietly at him.

Then Harry nodded and rolled his eyes at her.

Hermione smiled.

 

“I’m sorry.” Harry said swallowing a mouthful of the mashed potato. “I’m not an idiot.”

“You’re not an idiot.” Hermione assured him with a smile. “You’re only trying to watch over me. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”

“I just don’t like the idea that someone sent you something like that anonymously.” Harry said finishing the mashed potatoes. “We haven’t even figured out who paid for your bills.”

 

There was silence between them.

 

Hermione sighed heavily.

“I could have admirers too, you know.” Hermione coyly said with a sheepish smile trying to nudge Harry out of his serious state.

 

He still didn’t smile.

His eyes were fixed on her.

“What?” she smiled at him. “You’re Harry Potter – Chosen One and I am  - Hermione Granger after all, the brightest witch of my age.”

 

Hermione winked at him trying to fake some boastful smile at him.

Harry’s eyes lit up at an idea.

“Could it be?” he suddenly asked her. “I mean, it’s possible-“

Hermione stared at him for a moment then her jaw dropped.

 

And then their eyes suddenly widened and they gazed up at one another with that look over their faces.

“No.” Hermione gasped at him. “It couldn’t be.”

“It’s possible.” Harry said looking shrewdly back at her. “I mean. They’re both anonymous.”

“That’s too much.”

“It’s being generous.” Harry pointed out. “Very generous.”

“It’s over expensive.” Hermione pointed out as well. “It couldn’t be the same person.”

“Would you like to bet?” Harry offered her with a smirk.

“No.” Hermione spat at him. “This is ridiculous.”

Harry finished another mouthful of his steak.

“Are you going to eat your pasta?” he asked her with a smile.

“Yes.” Hermione answered darkly, quickly forking her pasta seeing the look of hunger over Harry’s eyes.

They ate for a moment in silence realizing how hungry they both were.

“But seriously.” Harry said as he nearly finished his steak. “What if it’s the same person?”

“It’s not-“

“What if.” Harry repeated, emphasizing the two words. “What if, Hermione.”

Hermione’s eyes narrowed.

“I don’t know.” Hermione said, shaking her head. “We don’t even know if that person is some quack-pot out of the St. Mungo’s ward.”

Harry gave a laugh that made Hermione feel annoyed but she smiled all the same.

 

“Hurry up.” Hermione said as she placed half more of her pasta on Harry’s plate knowing he liked what she ordered.

“What’s the hurry?” Harry asked her.

“Let’s finish up early. I have a therapy, remember?” Hermione reminded him. “And you told me the last time that you’re coming with me today.”

“I did?” Harry asked slightly confused.

 

Hermione’s face turned.

She shot an angry glare.

“Alright, alright. I did say I’d accompany you.” Harry said jokingly remembering his promise.

“So you finish up. And let’s go upstairs and finish an hour early so we can go to the therapy and finish up early and I’ll make dinner for you.”

“Make some steak.” Harry said with pleading eyes.

“You’ve just had steak, Harry.” Hermione pointed out.

“Come on. It’s my favourite.” Harry pleaded back at her.

“I don’t have steak at the moment.”

“We’ll buy.” Harry said with a sheepish smile. “You’ll make some good dinner.”

“You’re taking advantage of my kitchen.”

“And then you’ll make some pudding too.” Harry beamed at her. 

“You’re also taking advantage of me.” Hermione shot back at him.

“You’re taking advantage of my precious time.”  Harry pointed out with a smirk.

“Your precious time?” Hermione repeated unbelievingly. “You don’t do anything in your office!”

 

Harry stared back at her.

“I do very important work, Miss Granger.” Harry said with a smile. “I’m Head Auror.”

“And you use your time sending me owls even if we’re a few floors apart, you keep appearing in my office just to ask what I’ll make for you for dinner or what time we would go home together, you spend a lot of time-“

“Alright, alright, I get the point.” Harry said shoving his hands up in the air.

“Would you like me to continue?” Hermione asked with a smirk of her own.

“No.” Harry said with a frown.

His emerald yes lit up.

Hermione stared at his sheepish grin.

“No.” Hermione sternly said.

“Please?” Harry smiled at her. “Steak tonight?”

“Whatever.” Hermione said rolling her eyes as she began to fix her bag before they leave.  

They stared at one another but nevertheless, Hermione nodded and agreed.

Harry smiled contentedly back at her knowing that she wouldn’t say no.

“I probably have to go to my apartment first to get my stuff.”

“Your stuff?” Hermione asked him. “Your stuff?”

 

“Well, if we’re making late dinner I should probably sleepover.”

“That’s not part of the bargain.” Hermione said with an upturned expression. “You’re definitely taking advantage of my apartment.”

“You made me angry today.” Harry reminded her with a feigned hurt look. “You should make up for it."

“I made you angry?” Hermione repeated. “I made you angry?”

“Yes.” Harry nodded as he finished the pasta over his plate. “You made me feel really bad.”

“Oh, really?”  Hermione said hitting him over his shoulder. “I made you feel bad?”

“Yes.” Harry said with a childish grin. “With the roses and all.”

 

“Oh please.” Hermione said with a smirk over her face. “If you’re staying in tonight you better make breakfast in the morning.”

“Deal.” Harry quickly agreed with a gleeful thought at the prospect that he could sleepover again at Hermione’s place for the night.

 

Her flat wasn’t as big as his and he usually slept by her very large and comfortable couch by the fireplace.

 

Even if they never talked about it, he was much of a gentleman to understand that her room was out of bounds.

“Deal then.” Hermione said with a wicked smile, anticipating the breakfast that Harry has always owed her after all the brunches she made with effort for him to make sure that he doesn’t miss any meal in his busy schedule.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Young master, your appointment for your therapy will be for today.” Draco’s servant reminded him as he prepared Draco’s breakfast over his dining area at his newly furnished apartment.

Draco nodded at him as he read through the list of things he had to do for the day.

“I thought I had asked it to be moved?”

“There’s no other schedule for the week, young master.” the servant said.

Draco’s eyebrows quirked.

“Why can’t I move my schedule then?” he quietly asked as his eyes turned back over his list.

“You have a full schedule for the coming two weeks.” the old man answered him. “And we can’t delay your therapy to ensure you recover on time. I apologize for this inconvenience.”

“It’s not inconvenient.” Draco quietly said thinking hard how the afternoon was going to be. “Well, not for me atleast.”

The therapies had gone through and had taken much of his time as he had to move it in several occasions because he was making sure that it does not collide or coincide with Hermione’s schedule.

The problem was that Hermione kept changing several of her scheduled therapies and his informants had to change his to make sure they don’t see one another at his request.

He wasn’t sure why he was hesitant upon seeing Hermione but he felt that it was a need to be done.

Although admittedly now, he knew that one way or another he was going to see her whether she liked it or not.

 

 

 

Harry bid Hermione farewell with a goodbye kiss outside the ward where her therapy was going to take place.

They’ve decided upon that Harry will buy the dinner and breakfast ingredients while Hermione was in her session in order to save time and effort.

“Be here after three hours.” Hermione reminded him giving him a dark look.

“Yeah, I will.” Harry said with a smile. “I’ll be right back on time.”

“Bring me coffee-“

“Dark. Triple shot. No sweet blend. Yes, I got it alright, Miss Granger.”

Hermione chuckled and nodded at him.

They both looked up as two Medi-Witches called Hermione’s name and ushered her to enter the double doors at the other end of the room.

 

“I’ll see you later.” Hermione said, giving him a small kiss on his cheek.

Harry nodded and watched her disappear at the other side of the door.

 

One of the Medi-Witches handed Hermione her hospital robes she had to wear in her therapy sessions.

“We hope you don’t mind if someone else will be joining your therapy today, Miss Granger.”

Hermione looked up and saw the Healer tending to her sessions.

“No, it’s alright.” Hermione said who had her sessions alone before that day. “It’s fine with me.”

“We tried to move some schedules but they were tight this week but don’t worry we’ll do our best it won’t happen again.” she said. “And we have to do the therapy in this large room as the other one we usually use is being isolated and disinfected for three days.”

“I don’t mind.” Hermione said, depositing her things at the deposit box by the counter. “It’s fine, don’t worry about it.”

“Thank you, Miss Granger.” The Healer replied, handing her a sheet of paper she always signed before taking the therapy as their record at the date and precise time for which she had her therapy.

 

She looked around the room.

There were an array of beds where the stretches and warmups may be done.

Mats were placed all over the floor and there were therapy chairs and some voluminous amount of towels, various sized pads and so on and so forth.

She walked over to one of the beds and laid over the dress robes she had to wear.

She limped to the other side of the bed and settled.

She closed her eyes and sighed.

The silence around her calmed her down.

“Right.” Hermione said looking around the large room. “I guess I could dress here and wait.”

Hermione limped over the other side of the bed and had begun unbuttoning her clothes to change into the hospital robes when someone had cleared his throat at the other bed, hidden beneath a curtain.

 

“Wait, don’t do that here.”

 

“What the fuck.” Hermione gasped grabbing her hospital robes and clutching it over her chest where her upper undergarment was halfway visible already.

She was breathing hard and fast.

“Who’s there?” she demanded still clutching the dress robes tight over herself.

There was no answer but there was a movement and some noise like someone had great difficulty shifting positions at the other side of the curtain.

“I said, who’s-“

“Relax.” answered the familiar voice. “You can dress now. My back’s turned. The curtain was sort of see-through.”

Hermione’s eyes widened as she quickly gazed up at the curtain.

She had barely noticed the details.

It wasn’t really see through but if you take a focused and close look one could indeed see through the other side.

Her eyes narrowed.

Someone tall was sitting at the other side over a bed with his back turned to her.

He was also in dress robes.

 

“Well I’m not going to dress if someone else is here.” Hermione said haughtily trying to see through the curtain. “Especially if it’s a boy.”

“I thought you said you didn’t mind?” the voice said. “I heard you say it.”

Hermione opened her mouth for a retort but realized that she indeed knew that voice.

“Well I’m not going to dress here if you’re in there.”

“You did hear what the Healer said about vacancy of rooms today, didn’t you?”

The voice was clearer and slightly sassy this time.

 

Hermione curled her fist.

 

 

“I said I’m not going to undress if some man is in the same room.”

“Well, suit yourself.” the voice answered with a hint of sarcasm. “I didn’t mind you when I was dressing up here. And honestly, I’m not interested.”

 

Hermione’s face turned red but she tried her best to contain herself.

“Well, I rather wait that you’re done before I get to my business.”

“Two more hours is a long way to go. Maybe you’d like to sleep in over that bed at your side.”

“You don’t tell me what to do.” Hermione shot back.

“I’m not telling you what to do.” the voice answered. “I’m only suggesting.”

Hermione was furious now.

 

The more the conversation took place, the more she felt angered and irritated.

“You’re really disrespectful especially to women, aren’t you?” Hermione coldly said.

A slight movement.

“Me?” answered the voice. “Disrespectful? I’ve turned my back and kept this curtain closed down this whole time and just to remind you, I let my presence be known before you started undressing yourself.”

“But you-“ Hermione began but was interrupted.

“If I wanted to do something stupid and disrespectful I would have kept myself quiet here the whole time and merely watch you undress right before me without you ever knowing about it.”

Hermione was silenced.

 

He had a point.

 

Hermione opened her mouth to say something again when the door opened and the Healer had returned.

She looked at Hermione who was still not dressed up.

“Miss Granger, you need more time to dress?” she asked as she entered bringing in two pair of body pads for the therapy.

Hermione watched her place her pair of pads at the end of her bed and walked to the other side of the room behind the curtain.

“I’m sorry, Healer Jones.” Hermione began to state her concern, “But I’m not going-“

“Hold on, Miss Granger.” Healer Jones said walking to the other bed. “Mr. Malfoy here are the extra pads you’ve requested-“

“Malfoy?” Hermione incredulously repeated raising her eyebrows.

 

She shot a glance back at the curtain.

Her eyes went very wide at the realization.

Healer Jones was saying something behind the curtain and was obviously adjusting something on the bed.

Hermione was furious.

 

She threw her dress robes back over the bed with the pads and limped over at the other side of the bed and dragged the curtain open with all her might.

 

“What the mother of-“

“Language, Miss Granger if you please.” Draco’s voice came with a knowing look over his pale and pointed face.

Hermione felt that she had just been bathed in ice cold water.

Healer Jones was adjusting the pads beneath Draco’s bandaged legs.

 

He was sitting over the bed, legs stretched out over the pads as he finished closing in the buttons of his hospital dress gown.

 

Hermione’s eyes was so wide she looked like she was about to throw up.

So that’s why she knew that voice.

 

She knew the disgusting vermin laid down at the other bed.

“What are you doing here?” she asked angrily. “What is he doing here?”

 

She turned to Healer Jones in such an obvious way that she was restraining herself from yelling at the older woman.

“I’m sorry, Miss Granger.” Healer Jones quietly replied. “Please keep your voice down. And you said that you didn’t mind having company today as there are no other rooms-“

“But Malfoy-“ Hermione said pointing at Draco’s direction, “This is Draco Malfoy.”

“Woah, hold on Granger.” Draco said with a feigned hurtful expression. “You speak as if I have some incurable disease here. I’m only here for my therapy.”

“Your therapy?” Hermione repeated with a mock over her face.

“Yes.” Draco said with a raised brow. “I need therapy for an accident I’ve endured days ago. Should I remind you of it?”

 

Hermione didn’t say anything.

 

She was shaking in anger and it was so obvious that if she could only move fast, she has already reached out for Draco and hurt him with her bare hands.

“Well, are you just going to stand there?” Draco asked, nodding and thanking Healer Jones for finishing her his bandages and helping him with the bed pads for his back.

 

Hermione kept herself restrained.

But she looked like she wanted to throw up as well.

“There are no other rooms and beds, Granger.” Draco said as he laid himself back comfortably over the bed. “And you do know that you need that therapy done before it procures future damage on you.”

 

Healer Jones looked back at Hermione direction waiting if she would proceed into the therapy for her.

“Fine.” Hermione angrily spat at Draco. “Do not make any sound. Do not disturb me and most importantly – do not talk to me.”

And with that, she pulled out their curtains back and limped painfully back over her side of the bed and laid herself down, waiting for Healer Jones to tend to her and begin the therapy.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter Seven

Books and Borders

 

 

 

 

“Why the fuck are you even here today?”

 

It wasn’t even yet fifteen minutes into the therapy session when Hermione – angry, impatient and annoyed as she was drew the curtains back.

 

“Sorry?” Draco quietly asked back drawing his own curtains back and looking up at her.

 

He was reading something over his side of the bed.

 

Hermione’s eyes quirked at the sight of him.

 

 

 

“What are you reading?” she bluntly asked unable to stop herself and her curiosity.

 

Draco’s eyes lit up and she immediately felt stupid.

 

She shook her head and looked away from him.

 

“Neverm-“

 

“Seven Series of Celestial Brews.”  Draco said nodding towards the book in his hand. “I’m only on chapter four. I’ve been bringing this book every time I need to kill time so that--“

 

“How did you get ahold of that?” Hermione asked unable to stop the bulge in her eyes.

 

Draco looked back at her, astonished as he could possibly be.

 

“I’m sorry?” Draco asked her without looking nor sounding sarcastic. “I bought it.”

 

 

 

He casually answered as it was the most obvious fact in the world.

 

“Bought it?” Hermione repeated with a raised brow, obviously disbelieving.

 

“Bought it.” Draco repeated matter-of-factly showing her the cover of the book.

 

He could already sense not only her curiosity with the book but the intensity of question in her eyes.

 

“It’s not yet out.” Hermione pointed out in a haughty way.. “Not yet until-“

 

“Until four more months.” Draco supplied her with a small smile.

 

He wasn’t trying to boast nor was he trying to gloat but for Hermione it looked and sounded just like that.

 

 

 

“I know that.” Hermione said indignantly. “I just don’t understand how come you’ve-“

 

“Why I’ve got a copy?” Draco asked her finally getting it out for her. “Mother is friends with the publisher and I (change I’ve to I) met the author herself a few years back.”

 

Hermione’s eyes dilated and burned back at him.

 

Draco wasn’t sure if it was his presence in the room or the book in his hand that she was obviously getting irritated about it.

 

He figured that it could be both.

 

 

 

“Whatever.” Hermione finally said shaking her head. “Of course, you’d have anything you want- “

 

“I paid for an advance copy – “ Draco said, unable to stop himself hearing her snide comment.

 

“I didn’t say you didn’t.” Hermione snapped back at him. “I’m just surprised that you got it already-“

 

“Well, I’m just saying-“

 

“It’s just a book, Malfoy.” Hermione said his name with such hatred Draco could swear she was so murderous at the moment.

 

“Yeah, well would you like to have a look at it?” he genuinely offered her.

 

 

 

Her eyes shot up at him and she looked both angry and insulted this time.

 

 

 

“I’ve already ordered one myself, thanks.” Hermione said. “I’ve only got to wait like the rest of the mortals of this world and get the book with her signature-“

 

“I know.” Draco said. “I suggested that she give out the first fifty copies with her signature on it.”

 

Hermione looked red in the face and ready to strike if she wasn’t bandaged and tangled all over the sheets as the wires of potions that eased through her due to her therapy.

 

 

 

Draco looked up at her as she struggled to say something but was thinking if she should just not.

 

“Are you alright?” Draco slowly asked her concerned at how her face was turning red.

 

She didn’t answer but she looked ready to murder him any moment now.

 

He looked down at his book and moved it towards her as an offering.

 

“Would you like to see it?” he asked kindly. “Would you like to read it?”

 

Hermione now seriously looked vindictive.  

 

He wasn’t sure why exactly but he only really and kindly want to give her back the book and show it to her.

 

“I said, I’ve already ordered mine.” Hermione answered him. “Now, if you don’t mind – keep your business to yourself and don’t disturb me.”

 

Draco’s eyes narrowed.

 

He had been keeping his business to himself and she was the one who pulled up the curtains and started talking to her and started throwing questions at her about the book.

 

 

 

Draco opened his mouth to say something but Hermione pulled the curtains back in place and struggled over her side of the bed and turned her back at him.

 

 

 

He wasn’t sure why.

 

 

 

But as he knew they still had a few more hours to stay together he could only smile as he returned his attention to his book.

 

As he did so, an unconscious smile spread across his face that wasn’t demeaning in any way.

 

He only smiled as he ran his eyes over the words that somewhat didn’t make sense to him no matter how many times he read it for the next couple of minutes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                                  

“I am never- NEVER- going to have my session on this day.” Hermione said as Harry picked her up from the hospital ward.

 

They had gone straight back down to the cafeteria and he bought her a bottled water and a bagel.

 

She roughly limped around with him and was looking like something had been stolen from her.

 

Harry didn’t bother asking knowing that he’d get the bitter end of the stick if he tried to.

 

He’d wait until she would want to talk about it.

 

They were just halfway out of the cafeteria when she started to speak to him just because they passed Malfoy at the hallway leading to it.

 

He was alone and was reading some document.

 

She wasn’t sure if he’d seen her but she was sure hell pissed to see him off.

 

“Malfoy?” Harry slowly said as he led her out of the cafeteria and down the hallways of the hospital.

 

“Fucking bastard. Gloating all over the place.” Hermione muttered angrily.

 

Harry held her gently around the waist but she was limping with such force that he knew she was unconsciously hurting herself.

 

“Why are you in a hurry?” Harry asked her knowing the answer anyway. “You wait in the lobby. I borrowed Bill’s car so I can just drive us down the-“

 

“Why can’t we Apparate?” Hermione asked turning angrily back at him.

 

 

 

She stopped.

 

 

 

Harry looked slightly offended but he didn’t say anything.

 

“Sorry.” Hermione said shaking her head and sighing. “I didn’t mean – why aren’t we Apparating?” she asked gently this time.

 

Harry shook his head.

 

 

 

“The Healers advised we don’t with your unsteady health at the moment.” Harry patiently explained to her.

 

“We’ve already Apparated several times since this happened.” Hermione said. “Why are we-“

 

“The Healers just advised me.” Harry said with finality in his tone. “It’s either that or you get yourself splintered.”

 

Hermione obviously wanted to say something against it but thought better of it.

 

“Look at Malfoy.” Harry said. “That’s why his assistant is always around. He couldn’t just appear and disappear because he obviously had also been advised the same thing-“

 

“With or without an accident, Malfoy always needs someone to tend to him. Fucking spoiled brat.”

 

Hermione’s face was red again.

 

 

 

Harry wasn’t sure if he was to be amused by her attitude but he was sure that she would strike him if he shows any sign of how he felt towards her present facial expressions.

 

“Nothing’s funny.” Hermione said looking back at him as if reading his thoughts.

 

“I didn’t say anything.”

 

“You were thinking it.” Hermione pointed out with a scowl.

 

Harry brushed her cheek with the back of his hand.

 

“Come.” Harry offered her his arm. “Let’s go get the car and then we’ll drive down the place where you love that sundae we always get  you feel somber-“

 

“When I feel somber?” Hermione chuckled as her eyes lit up at his invitation. “Or when you were feeling all emotional over your girls?”

 

“My girls?” Harry repeated with a hearty laugh.

 

“Yeah. Your girls and all the girls that broke your heart, Harry Potter.” Hermione replied tapping the end of his nose with her fingers.

 

Harry grabbed her hand to stop her.

 

Hermione looked back at her but the look over Harry’s face made her laugh fade a little.

 

“I’ve only ever had one girl in my life.” Harry said without any trace of humor any longer. “And for the record, you’re the only one who ever broke my heart like that.”

 

 

 

The smile from her face completely faded.

 

Guilt suddenly spread all over her face.

 

 

 

“Harry, I didn’t-“

 

“Come on.” Harry said pulling her closer and kissing her over the forehead. “I’m really dying to get those chocolate fudge with all the extra toppings the owner gives us just cause he thinks I’m gay and hitting on him.”

 

He chuckled and smudged his forehead over hers.

 

Hermione smiled back up at him and embraced him for what felt like forever for Harry.

 

“Come on then.” Hermione said. “I’m not paying. You owe me one.”

 

Harry chuckled as he braced her all the way down the grounds until the lot where he left the car that Bill had lent him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“So they’re not together?” Draco slowly and casually asked as he forked the steak and vegetables over his platter.

 

He tried, as much as he could to sound as if it was an ordinary question and he wasn't fishing. 

 

 

 

Damnit. 

 

He was fishing about her. 

 

 

 

Why? 

 

 

 

His assistant had just finished serving him his late lunch and had placed a couple of newspapers over the table.

 

The flat he owned was large, nice and quiet – exactly what he wanted for himself and nothing with the morose feel and vibes that the Malfoy Manor always had.

 

He had this for himself and had no one to owe it too.

 

He bought it with his own money and could not be more proud of himself for it.

 

“No, Young Master.” the servant answered him. “They have been an item a few years back – perhaps one of those usual and old relationships that come out of friendship-“

 

“But nothing now?” Draco slowly said turning another page of the newspaper he was reading.

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Quite…sure?”

 

“Very sure, Young Master.”

 

 

 

Draco’s lips turned into a small curl and he could swear that through his peripheral vision, his man servant just chuckled before hiding it into a cough and straightening himself.

 

“Is there anything else you require?” he gently asked him as he refilled Draco’s mug with coffee.

 

“No, I’m fine.” Draco said placing the paper away and stopping him. “I can do that. Please.”

 

His voice was gentle as he smiled up at the servant.

 

The old man nodded at him.

 

“I will require you back in a week just to have the place cleaned or so.”

 

“Are you sure Young Master that you don’t want nor need me here on a daily basis?”

 

“I’m quite sure. Not that I don’t want your presence around or anything.”

 

“I know sir.” he replied with a gentle smile. “It’s just that – you’re paying me the same amount or rather a bit more than what your mother has paid me all these years and I’m not even giving back the same service to you as I did back then.”

 

“You’ve been with us for so long that I deem it this way. Please.” Draco said with a small smile. “I will call you when I need you. As I’ve said, I’ve been under so many planned and controlled things my whole life – I would like to take some things in my own hands even if that means I’d have to wash my own dishes.”

 

The old man chuckled at him and nodded.

 

“You just wave your wand and the dishes will do themselves up.”

 

“Yeah, well, that.” Draco answered with another smile.

 

He sighed heavily and turned over his meal and over the large and empty table for himself.

 

After a while the servant cleared his throat and stared down at him with curious eyes.

 

“Do you require me to find a way Young Master to have you meet her again?”

 

A slight arch appeared over his eyebrows that quickly vanished.

 

“No, it’s fine.” Draco said although he looked unconvincing and he sounded indifferent.

 

“You will see her again, yes?” he asked slowly.

 

“Well, if our sessions’ schedule will come up together again I might see her or-“

 

“I do have her office contact details at the Ministry and I do know her job in the Minsitry.”

 

Draco’s eyes looked up at him in question.

 

He old man chuckled and slowly placed a small parchment over the table.

 

Draco opened his mouth to say something but the old man shook his head.

 

“”I know you too well Young Master.” he said. “She’s your old school friend-“

 

“School mate.” Draco corrected his eyes over the parchment. “And we’re not even close.”

 

“Well, you can surely change that now.”

 

“I called her Mudblood.” Draco reminded him.

 

The old man didn’t look concerned at that history at all.

 

“Used to call her.” he corrected him. “Would you call her that now?”

 

“Of course not.” Draco automatically replied. “That’s ridiculous. That was stupid, unethical and a completely wrong way to view the magical society.”

 

“So you will go down to her office and see her again?”

 

“No.” Draco said indignantly. “Why did you even look this up?”

 

 

 

Draco pulled the parchment and held it up.

 

The old man only smiled and shook his head.

 

“I was slightly bored, Young Master with nothing to do for you.”

 

 

 

“I could have you do many other things.” Draco implied at him. “You don’t need to stalk her.”

 

“I didn’t stalk her.” he replied before taking Draco’s only half empty and done platter. “You were asking about her so I just did the whole job myself.”

 

“I didn’t – you weren’t-“

 

“You’re welcome, Young Master.” the old man said. “Now if you don’t mind, I’ll clean this up now. Take your rest. I’m quite sure that you do need a lot of thinking – oh, I mean resting.”

 

And with that, he walked away and left Draco in his small dining area both stricken and confused at his wake.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What with her barely walkable body, Hermione made it half past her usual time at the Ministry office.

 

She was both looking pissed and exhausted.

 

She had missed a couple of important things that morning and had definitely missed her morning breakfast with Harry.

 

He was already out of the office in an errand and had only left her a note that he’d be back before lunch time.

 

She threw her bag over her couch and limped over her table.

 

She’s barely settled herself when she saw a thick package over the table.

 

It was wrapped in red and gold but no card over it.

 

Gryffindor colours.

 

How sweet can Harry further get?

 

 

 

“That idiot.” Hermione said feeling around the wrapping and inhaling what already told her was a sweet good book. “He could have just given it to me over lunch.”

 

Excited, she quickly took off the golden ribbon and discarded the red wrappings over the table.

 

For a moment, she thought that it was the last book she’s seen in the large bookstore at Diagon Alley that she last visited Harry.

 

But seeing the rare kind of binding and the cover she’s only seen once before made her eyes narrow.

 

 

 

A click in her tongue.

 

“What in the mother of..” Hermione muttered as she stared at the back cover and quickly held the book the other side.

 

A copy of the same book Draco was reading back in the hospital a week ago.

 

The smell of the new book and parchment answered her hunger for something new to read.

 

Daunted and confused, she opened the book.

 

 

 

A card fell out.

 

 

 

But before she could read it a large and neat scrawl over the book had been written:

 

 

 

‘To Miss Hermione Jean Granger,

 

I am highly pleased to hear that you have been looking forward into having a copy of my latest work.

 

An advance copy for you so that you don't have to wait that long for its actual release date.

 

Do send me your opinion about it, won't you? I

 

I heard your love of books and it isn't a secret how your brilliance has helped a lot of cause.

 

I shall await your response.

 

I hope you enjoy this thoroughly as you burn the nights away.

 

Would love to meet you when I travel to your town within a few weeks.

 

Cheers to the brightest witch of this age.’

 

 

 

 

 

And then at the end was a large signature of the author herself.

 

 

 

Hermione’s hand was shaking and her heart was beating wildly.

 

She wasn’t sure if she was going to somersault in joy and excitement like a little child or if she was going to throw some throes upon the arrival of this unexpected gift.

 

 

 

Ofcourse it was him.

 

It could only be him.

 

 

 

The bloody, motherfucking, goddamn git and bastard, Hermione thought.

 

And then she remembered the card.

 

She quickly bent down and picked it up to read it with the book still in her hand.

 

 

 

“Very informative and very useful.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed it and I’m quite sure you would do so as well.

 

See you around, Granger.

 

  1. L. M”

 

 

 

Hermione’s hand was now shaking out of anger.

 

She crumpled the notecard and threw it over her bin.  

 

 

 

"Granger now, is it?" Hermione angrily spat out. 

 

 

 

How could he.

 

How could he call her that. 

 

How dare he tell her how to feel about a book.

 

 

 

How could he-

 

Her brown eyes suddenly widened.

 

 

 

“Fuck.” Hermione whispered putting the book aside and diving towards her trash bin. “Are you kidding me.”

 

She had just realized something as she scavenged the notecard that she just threw away.

 

 

 

That handwriting.

 

That goddamn handwriting.

 

 

 

It just couldn’t be.

 

Could it?

Chapter Text

 

Chapter Eight

Hot and Cold

 

 

“Why are we irritated today?” Harry slowly asked about Hermione’s off mood as she entered his office by lunch time.

 

She had come from her usual therapy session at the hospital.

 

She was way better now.

 

 

A week it has gone since her encounter with Draco and since she has received the book he has obviously sent her.

 

“Did you see Malfoy?” Harry asked as he removed his things from the long couch in his office and let Hermione lay there, helping her lift and stretch out her injured leg.

 

“No.” Hermione snapped at him, tossing her purse and a paper bag over the carpeted floor.

 

Since she has received the book, she had been bringing it along with her to her therapies.

 

Not to read it but to wait until she sees Draco to shove it right back at his face.

 

They weren’t sure, but she and Harry now had a hunch that he was the one who sent her the get well flowers.

 

Despite that they could no longer find the first card, Hermione swore to Harry that the handwriting was uncanny to the one she received with the book.

 

 

 

 

 

“So what’s wrong?” Harry asked opening a bag of chips and opening it and offering her one.

 

“I told you that this isn’t healthy and you shouldn’t eat this.” Hermione said taking the bag anyway and eating from it. “You should stop eating this.”

 

Harry smiled at her and offered her a bottle of cold tea he bought and saved for her from the cafeteria.

 

“You know how I hate this one.” Hermione said, taking the bottle from him.

 

“The Healers said that it’s going to boost your energy back. It’s only two more weeks for that.” Harry said with another smile sitting at the end of the couch.

 

He gently pulled her leg over his lap and began creating small and soothing circles and lines along it.

 

Hermione exhaled deeply, reeling in the comfortable and relaxing sensation he was giving her.

 

“I just don’t understand why he’s suddenly not having his therapies.” Hermione said as she hungrily ate the bag of chips. “I mean, as far as I know of he has a month or half a month to go for it.”

 

“How do you know?” Harry slowly asked, eyebrow raised.

 

“I asked.” Hermione replied and a slight glow appeared at the side of her cheeks.

 

 

 

She looked away from Harry pretending to look for the bottle over the couch where she just tossed it aside.

 

“Right.” Harry said, continuing to gently massage her leg as slow as possible as to not create further injuries.

 

“I haven’t been fishing about him.” Hermione defensively said seeing the look over Harry’s face. “I just thought I should check if we would collide with schedules and-“

 

“Hermione, you don’t have to explain yourself to me.” Harry said with a smile. “And I also heard news that he might not be in town.”

 

Hermione opened her mouth to ask him when a knock came upon the door.

 

Harry’s assistant arrive with two paper bags of food.

 

 

 

He nodded them to be placed over his desk and thanked the assistant who left without another word but with a mere smile seeing the two of them.

 

“You do know people are still talking about us, don’t you?” Hermione asked, inhaling now the smell of warm and fresh sandwiches and pasta from the bag that Harry ordered for their lunch.

 

“Yeah.” Harry replied with a splendid smile over his face as he finished up with her leg and stood up to wash his hands so he could prepare their lunch.

 

Hermione could hear him washing his hands at the back bathroom as he hummed something unfamiliar to her.

 

“You’re enjoying this.” Hermione pointed out sitting a little straighter over the couch.”

 

“Enjoying which?” Harry asked turning back to her and wiping his hands with a towel.

 

“This.” Hermione said pointing at herself and around the room. “That people are still talking behind our backs and talking about the two of us.”

 

“The two of us?” Harry slowly asked her with a brightness in his eyes.

 

 

 

Hermione rolled her eyes.

 

“It’s not as if you don’t know that people are still talking, wanting and thinking either we’d get back together or are secretly back together.”

 

“Is there anything wrong with that?” Harry asked her.

 

“But it’s not true.” Hermione slowly said as if explaining to some eleven year old. “You know we’re only friends now and it’s not true.”

 

“Let them be.” Harry said. “Let them spread rumours.”

 

“Exactly, Harry.” Hermione pointed out as he came back to the room and he began preparing their meal. “They are rumours. Shouldn’t they be corrected?”

 

"Corrected?” Harry asked her taking out the two sandwiches from the bag and the two packed pastas. "Why don't you correct them?" 

 

“Why don’t I?” Hermione asked back. “No, why don’t you?”

 

“Why don’t you?”

 

 

 

They stared at one another.

 

It was not going anywhere.

 

 

In truth, Hermione couldn’t bring herself to say something up to the crowd that might hurt Harry even in the slightest way possible.

 

And Harry, obviously in great gracious relish of the rumours about them still being an item, would not a chance in the world say anything about it or even try to correct it.

 

“How about we don’t talk about them and just eat?” Harry said placing a tray in front of her so she may start eating. “Besides, it’s not like we’re not doing anything that couples don’t do.”

 

“We don’t sleep together.” Hermione pointed out reaching over for her tuna sandwich.

 

“You don’t want to sleep with me.” Harry corrected her with a peevish smile. “I never said I didn’t want to sleep with you.”

 

Hermione looked up at him.

 

 

It was always a joke that ended this way.

 

 

“Harry.” Hermione said with a sigh. “We’ve already talk about this.”

 

“I know.” Harry said turning away from her and pretending to take out his meal from the table. “You started it.”

 

Hermione stared at him.

 

She knew that tone too well.

 

“Harry, please-“

 

“It’s fine.” Harry said smiling and sitting up in front of her. “Anyway-“

 

“Yes, anyway – Malfoy. What about him?” Hermione asked, completely forgetting their first discussion and quickly moving on to Draco Malfoy topic.

 

“I’m not sure. But I just heard it this morning that he filed for some sort of permission to go out of London for like two weeks.”

 

Even if Draco didn’t go to Azkaban and had done his services to the Ministry of Magic and to Hogwarts, he wasn’t still fully pardoned easily.

 

Every time he travelled out of London, he had to file up a couple of documents asking for permission to go out of town or abroad.

 

 

 

It was something akin to being put in a house arrest at London.

 

It was a difficult process to adjust to at first since he had always gotten away with going anywhere and now, he was closely monitored for where he wanted to go.

 

He also had a list of Apparition points given to the Ministry and anywhere he used magic to Apparate and Disapparate that wasn’t on the list, he would be sent a note by the Ministry to be summoned and questions about the said activity.

 

It wasn’t easy.

 

But Draco succumbed to all these conditions without question in order to survive and live harmoniously with a society that wanted him to be seen only at Azkaban for which he evaded gracefully thanks to her mother who lied to the Dark Lord about Harry’s death.

 

It was the small act of a mother that saved him and his mother from being taken to Azkaban.

 

Lucius was already sentenced long before that and so Azkaban was a place that he deserved without any question.

 

 

 

“Two weeks?” Hermione repeated with a scandalized look over her face. “Two weeks?!”

 

“Er – yes.” Harry slowly said observing her eyes that was widening and narrowing back and forth. “Is there something wrong if you don’t see the man that has been annoying you half your life?”

 

“Two weeks.” Hermione breathed out taking a large bite from her sandwich.

 

She rolled and eyes and chewed and swallowed and Harry wasn’t sure if to be amused or worried about her.

 

“Mione?”

 

“Two freaking weeks.” Hermione said swallowing. “That will mean that I won’t be seeing him in the hospital for that long?”

 

“Yes.” Harry said. “Actually just another week. This week was the first-“

 

“He’s missed his therapy sessions.”

 

“I’m sure he’ll get by.” Harry pointed out. “I’m sure wherever he’s going he can most probably pay some hospital or so to tend to him as to not miss any-“

 

“I didn’t know that.” Hermione said looking sharply back up at him

 

“Are you supposed to know about it?” Harry asked her. “Wait. So what if you don’t see him in for two weeks?”

 

Hermione opened her mouth but then no excuse came out.

 

She wasn’t sure really what annoyed her.

 

“Well.” Hermione began trying to find an answer in herself. “Well, you know – so I can-“

 

“So you can..?” Harry slowly asked looking for something to suggest to her.

 

“So I can..” Hermione said fidgeting for more words. “So I can probably..”

 

“So you can probably what, Hermione?” he asked finishing half of his first sandwich.

 

He looked down at her.

 

It was ever so rare that she was lost for answer or words.

 

Hermione shook her head and indignantly cleared her throat.

 

“I wanted to return the book.” Hermione said pointing over the paper bag she threw aside. “I want to give it back to him and tell him off about it.”

 

“And ask her about the flowers?”

 

“And that.” Hermione said pouting and crossing her arms over her chest.

 

She has never looked that frustrated in a very long time.

 

“Are you sure that’s the reason?” Harry asked.

 

“Of course.” she snapped at him. “What else do you think?”

 

“Nothing.” Harry said handing her the fork for her pasta. “It just sounds to me like you really want to see him.”

 

“I do want to see him.” Hermione shot back at him. “So I can shove this book right up his arse.”

 

“You’ll do that?” Harry asked with a sheepish smile.

 

Hermione shot him another look.

 

“If you’ve forgotten Harry James Potter, I’ve gloriously punched him in our third year.”

 

Harry was struggling not to laugh hysterically at that moment.

 

Who would forget what she’s done to that boy that has always been a bane to their existence?

 

“I’m not scared of him, you know.”

 

“I know.” Harry said looking up at her. “I know that.”

 

“I’ll confront him.” Hermione determinedly said. “And in truth, I’ll punch him again if the event calls for it.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In truth was that, Draco’s trip had only lasted about four days.

 

He went to Germany for a business trip.

 

An old German had finally taken interest in a small house his mother owned back there and that being sold within those days, he returned to London with another large amount to add up to his fortune.

 

The trip was really supposed to last for two weeks seeing he wasn’t sure if he had to make a few days to get to know the old man better and convince him thoroughly with the deal.

 

But he had insisted things to be quick and short as he also had to go to Switzerland for a farm he was looking forward into buying.

 

And so upon Draco’s arrival, the following day he met with the old man and show him photographs, blueprints and the history of the house.

 

The old man met him in his own large villa at Germany.

 

He fed Draco with a good amount of traditional German meals.

 

Draco had been slightly formal at first but things didn’t turn out with his usual business façade.

 

His business talks didn’t even seem to work as they should have done so with the man.

 

Because what made the man convince that his place at Germany was a place to buy was Draco’s story.

 

He had admitted to the old man that his father was in prison and well, the rest and bits of his family’s history.

 

The old man seemed to be taken in by his outstanding perseverance to be unlike his father and to stand on his own and change the ways he has grown up with.

 

The old man turns out to be a scalawag who had ran away from his own father and had made it on his own simply because he didn’t want to marry a girl that his father has arranged for him in order to gain the largest wine distillery at Northern Germany.

 

A wine was then brought in to them and he showed him that his success came about when he matched and overthrew the once largest and best-selling wine in all of Northern Germany.

 

“Strive my dear boy.” the old man said in a very bad English and German accent. “When you strive hard – very hard to want you want, you will get it. You see, once you’ve decided, you will be surprised at how the universe will follow through with all your plans.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draco had let another week past without having to go to his therapy sessions.

 

In Germany, he had undergone a different type of suggested therapy that’s why hs trip lasted for two more days.

 

Getting back to London, he felt more in shape than the past weeks that he had been having his therapies.

 

He noted to his assistant to get him a schedule for the coming week.

 

He had been trying so hard to be quite busy since he got back.

 

For some reason, he was bothered with himself.

 

He did send her the book and had asked the author to send a signed note for Hermione.

 

He wasn’t sure why he did it but he did it anyway.

 

He felt quite stupid about it for there was absolutely no reason for him to do it but he still did so.

 

There was guilt in there the moment he decided to do it last minute; the kind of guilt he had been trying to live out from since he changed his course in life.

 

He was trying to make up for all the years he bullied her despite knowing that a book, even with its author’s autograph, will never make up for all the years he pained her emotionally.

 

And so, his hiatus from her was done on purpose.

 

 

 

He couldn’t bring himself to show his face to her knowing that she’d definitely ask about it.

 

She would surely ask him, argue with him, mock him and if any worse, would eventually hex him for it.

 

He didn’t want any of those things.

 

He didn’t want to see her angry at him.

 

He didn’t want any further complications between the two of them while the circumstance had been hot right out of the pot.

 

And so, it had been almost a month since he saw her and since he decided to go back to his therapy.

 

And just incase fate was still cruel to him, he’s likely to see her within the week.

 

But that plan had gone haywire the moment the strong snow storm came one night.

 

He was stuck like a lot of other witches and wizards in a café at the Diagon Alley.

 

 

 

Stranded by the rush hour after his business meeting, he sat at the end and most corner part of the café with his documents, a couple of newspapers when he saw her coming the moment the café door’s bell rang.

 

She was wearing her Ministry of Magic uniform, disheveled, soaking and looking extremely harassed by the weather outside.

 

The café was full.

 

He sank back even lower at the darkened area to ensure that they did not encounter one another.

 

Behind his paper, he carefully and curiously watch her line up in the long line of people buying something warm to drink the night away.

 

She was shoving and scuffling off the snow from her uniform and poor-looking cloak under the snowstorm.

 

He wanted to offer her the small seat next to him but thought better of it.

 

He didn’t want a scene and Hermione was surely going to make a scene.

 

He watched as she struggled to get her purse out of her bag.

 

 

 

Loud clanks.

 

The galleons had rolled all over the floor and Hermione bent forward to pick up the fallen galleons as people after another passed her without even helping her and if any, making her movements and situation by the floor even worse.

 

 

 

He almost smiled at the sight of her.

 

It was taking every bit of his energy and discipline of the mind to not get up and help her and offer her the seat next to him.

 

And then it suddenly happened.

 

He had lowered his paper halfway down his face as he watched her and Hermione suddenly looked up as if she sensed someone looking up at her.

 

Her eye narrowed and eyebrows quivered.

 

Draco quickly put the paper right back over his face to hide himself.

 

 

 

Too late.

 

Hermione had obviously seen him and was already making her way right across the room towards him.

 

But she might have been too determined and focused that she didn’t see a waited passing by holding a tray of cold glass soda and a platter of warm lasagna.

 

She collided straight up with the young wizard and the soda and pasta collided straight up to her.

 

 

 

Hermione screamed in shock of the ice-cold liquid pouring all over her chest while the lasagna drenched her whole front.

 

The waiter gasped in horror and fear.

 

Some people noticed and looked their way but nobody helped.

 

The wizard apologized nonstop to her and quickly placed his tray aside to help Hermione who skidded back over the floor.

 

Hermione was cursing under her breath and shaking her snow and pasta filtered hair and trying to dab away the soda over her uniform.

 

It had been a very unlucky day for her.

 

 

 

She entered the café drenched in sweat and snow and now she was going to exit it with an additional smell of pasta and soda to go.

 

She was struggling and straining herself to get up to the floor and out of the muck of mess she’s drop herself onto.

 

 

 

She looked helpless and she looked like she wanted to cry.

 

 

 

“Bloody fucking hell.” Draco muttered, quickly grabbing his scarf from the table.

 

Before he could realize what he was really doing, he stood up and rolled up his sleeves and grabbed his scarf from the table and rushed towards Hermione’s aid who was obviously in dire and desperate need of some prince charming.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter Nine

"Editions"

 

 

“Just so we’re clear, I didn’t need your help.”

 

Draco could only stare back at her astonishingly as she shoved the hand towel back at him.

He had spent the last fifteen minutes standing outside the girl’s bathroom at the café being told off by Hermione how she was in a good condition and that he didn’t need his help.

 

But she did need his help.

 

She had taken the faceless hand that was first offered to her from the muck she had literally fallen into.

Only to find herself thanking him and quickly cursing him the moment she was able to get back to his feet and had come face to face with the man who owned the hand and arm she was bracing on tightly for the past ten seconds.

 

“Are you done in there?” Draco asked making sure she was done in the aisle.

“What do you think?” Hermione snapped at him, walking over towards the sink outside with a large mirror.

 

He folded the towel away and quickly returned it back over the used towels in the girl’s look of the café.

He turned back to her and saw her washing her hands all over again and was still looking enraged not by what happened but by the sight of him.

She could have used her wand to wash everything off as he told her but she said that the stench remains sometimes and so she wanted to wash it all off the traditional way.

 

“Yeah, well – right.” Draco said moving himself as far as possible from her from the tight knit space they were in. “See you around.”

He was halfway down the hall that would lead him back to the café when Hermione called him back.

He slowly turned as she placed her wand over the side of the sink and was straightening up some tangled ends from her hair.

“Where do you think you’re going?” she asked with a venomous lace on her tone.

“Back at the café.” Draco answered her looking at her reflection from behind her. “Is there anything you require of me?”

“I require of you?” Hermione said in a mocked tone.

 

Draco raised his eyebrow.

 

“If you don’t need anything anymore, I would like to go back to my table and leave. If you’re going to use my table you I can wait for you there and save it for-“

“No thanks.” Hermione said “I’d rather leave this place.”

“Right then.” Draco said nodding at her. “Well, see you around Gran-“

“Not so fast.” Hermione said sharply turning to him with her wand up.

“Woah – woah, wait-“ Draco said backing against the wooden wall.

 

Even if he had his wand the tip of Hermione’s was already a few inches from his face.

It would take all the miracles in the world for him to be able to snatch his wand right up before Hermione could even finish any spell and bloody hell everyone knows how she was good with her spells.

 

“What did I do?” Draco asked her, arms raised against him to protect himself. “I just helped you-“

“Helped me?” Hermione repeated. “Help me? You’re the reason I got this-“

“Hey now just hold on that thought-“

“I got distracted when I saw you.” Hermione breathed out. “That’s why I didn’t see the waited-“

“You got distracted.” Draco pointed out at her, his blue eyes gleaming. ”You got distracted by me and that isn’t my fault.”

“But you-“

“Yeah, me.” Draco said. “Why would you be distracted by me in the first place?”

 

Hermione opened her mouth to answer it, but saved herself last minute.

It didn’t sound right when it came from him and there surely isn’t a good answer to that.

 

“Well?” Draco asked slowly. “You’re not answering me?”

“Well I was-“

“What would be any particular reason for you to be distracted by me?” Draco asked with an obvious gloat in his tone.

“Shut it, Malfoy.” Hermione said, pushing him back against the wall and walking away from him.

“Hey wait.” Draco said grabbing her by the arm. “Did you want to talk or something that you-“

 

Hermione was quick.

She shoved him right back up and soon Draco found himself neck to neck with the tip of her wand.

“Granger-“

“Give me a good reason Malfoy-“

“You said it yourself. You got distracted by me. You were heading my way.” Draco croaked out, eyes closed not wanting to become a ferret ever again. “What did you want?”

 

Hermione breathed out heavily staring at his position in comparison to hers.

She could see the small details and facial features over his pale and pointed face up this close.

She has never been this close to Malfoy ever before.

That didn’t feel right in a way.

She quickly let him go and Draco breathed and coughed several times.

She was looking right back at him as if now knowing what to say.

 

“Are we going to converse-“ Draco coughed out. “Or what?”

“Why did you send me the book?” Hermione flatly asked him.

 

Draco opened his mouth but thought better for a moment.

Just as he was to answer a couple had arrived and they obviously needed to use the bathroom that were behind them.

“Sorry.” Draco said quickly, pulling Hermione away from the door and leading her back towards the hall.

 

Hermione was already too shocked that he apologized to the couple and was even more stunned when he held her gently and pulled her away from the narrow way to the loo.

“Don’t touch me.” Hermione angrily said pushing him away as they reached the café again.

 

She walked from him and headed straight to his table at the corner part of the café as if it was her spot already.

Draco wordlessly followed her.

When he reached it however, Hermione was already halfway removing his things and placing them altogether aside.

 

He slightly felt irritated at her rudeness but didn’t say anything.

“What are you doing?” Draco asked him.

“You said you were going to leave.” Hermione pointed out. “So I’m helping you clean up.”

“I’m not yet done with my coffee.” Draco said taking a small pile of documents from her hands and sitting himself in front of her. “You can share the table with me if you would like.”

 

Hermione opened her mouth for an obvious retort when someone approached them.

“What?” Hermione snapped not meaning to.

The waiter and one that looked like the manager of the café were standing behind Draco.

“I’m sorry.” Hermione quickly said seeing the fear in the young waiter’s eyes. “I’m sorry. I was – it wasn’t-“

“We apologize Miss Hermione Granger.” the manager said. “Please accept our complimentary meal for you and your company.”

“Oh no wait-“ Hermione said but the young waiter were already placing two large mugs of the best tasting coffee at the café and two bowls of seafood chowder that was obviously great for the weather and two platters of Bolognese for each of them.”

“Please, Miss Granger. We apologize. Louis is a little new to our humble café and-“

“It’s really alright.” Hermione said with a kind smile. “It was an accident and it wasn’t – we’re not even-“ she began pointing at Draco but he already turned to the manager.

“Oh, Mr. Malfoy!” the manager said in surprise with his eyes widening.

“Randolph!” Draco greeted slowly standing up and shaking the old man’s hand. “How has it been, mate?”

“Mr. Malfoy I cannot express – you are here – it has been a very, very long time since you-“

“It’s fine. I’ve been away and been busy. Great place you have here and really good food.”

“Yes, yes hold on – Louis, please – this is Mr. Malfoy. Give him everything he needs – his mother was the one who helped me fund the café from its humble beginning. Without them this place would not be possible.”

 

The young waiter nodded and apologized again especially towards Hermione.

Hermione was speechless.

The manager was the owner.

 

Obviously.

 

And he looked genuinely pleased and grateful to see Draco.

He asked Louis to get them two platters each of their best selling fresh salads and a tray of nitbits to gobble on.

“Oh, really sir – it’s not necessary – it’s just-“

“Oh no miss. We have to - we do it as a way to apologize –“

“But –“

“And also, you’re with Mr. Malfoy. It’s a way to celebrate his return to London. This boy has grown up so fast.”

“Yes, thank you.” Draco said not wanting any more of the attention. “Sorry, Randolph, we need to attend to some busi-“

“Yes, yes. Of course. I’m sorry.” Randolph said, giving Hermione a knowing look. “I’ll be back in the kitchens. Wait for the food that I asked Louis to bring you. May you enjoy this lovely evening with your lovely date. Good night to the both of you.”

 

And before Hermione could even scream back at the man or protest, he had gone away and she was left with a Draco Malfoy who was starting over the pasta already.

She could have sworn that there was a gleam of delight in those eyes of his.

 

 

“Just so we’re clear this is NOT a date.” Hermione angrily spat at him as she hungrily gobbled over the pasta and the salad and drank from the large and tall glass of freshly made orange and peach juice.

 

Draco was staring astonishingly at how fast she was gobbling down the food before them.

She was obviously so hungry and tired from wherever it was she came from.

 

“I think you made a lot of things clear tonight, Granger.” Draco said offering her the platter of salad as she reached for it across the table.

 

Hermione eyed him angrily before grabbing it carelessly from him.

Some of the greens toppled over the table but she ignored it.

Draco reached forward to clean her mess but she didn’t say anything at all.

Draco quietly watched her.

He tried to eat half of the meal that were served for them out of respect for the owner of the shop who was a friend of his beloved mother.

Despite that Hermione looked like she had been forced to share a table with him, her hunger seemed to be stronger than the idea that she was sitting right across Draco Malfoy.

 

“Fuck the snowstorm.” Hermione said in a mouthful of pasta.

“Sorry?” Draco said looking up from something he was reading from the side of the table. “You were say-“

“I said fuck the snow..” Hermione said swallowing hard. “Are you deaf?”

“No.” Draco answered her back.

 

He didn’t mean to but his patience also had its limit.

 

“Seriously, Malfoy.” Hermione muttered under her breath rolling her eyes.

 

Draco looked around.

The café was still very full thanks to the snow storm.

There was no chance for him to transfer to another table and leave Hermione be.

He was staring back at her cold and angry façade.

“What’s wrong?” Draco attempted to ask her. “Why is your mood so foul tonight?”

Hermione’s eyes shot back at him.

 

“Or are you just really always like that?” 

 

She looked ready to murder again.

 

“I’m not in a foul mood.” Hermione indignantly said. “I was just so tired – and I was late for a meeting this morning, I couldn’t find this mug I had in our office kitchen and a lot more of other things and let’s add the fact that you’re been stalking me-“

“Stalking you?” Draco repeated unbelievingly. “Now wait there – I didn’t-“

“You sent me a book.” Hermione pointed out. “And flowers when I got out of the hospital.”

“I sent you a book because she was giving away a couple of advance copies to close friends and family.” Draco clarified to her raising an eyebrow. “And no – why would you or should I send you flowers?”

 

Hermione looked up at him and bit her lower lip.

She looked slightly humiliated for a moment.

She blinked it away and looked crossed again.

“Why should you??” Hermione asked lowering her utensils and pushing her plate forward the table. ”Why did you feel like you should?”

 

Draco opened his mouth to say something but no words came out.

His brains seemed to lag for a reason.

He wasn’t sure why he did send her those flowers weeks ago.

 

“Yes?” Hermione said. “You can answer me any moment now-“

“I sent you the book, Granger.” Draco said. “Nothing more, nothing less.”

 

There was a look of determination over his face that told Hermione she will only further humiliate herself if she doesn’t let it go.

 

“Some need to what?” Hermione said. “Send pity? Flaunt your money? Publicity?”

“No.” Draco. “I just thought you like books enough and that much to want an advance copy of something before the world reads it.”

 

That was it.

She had just reached the limit of his patience.

Hermione watched in awe and silence as Draco grabbed his belongings from the table and shoved them right back inside his bag.

 

“Where are you-“

“It was nice seeing you Granger.” Draco said slinging the bag around his shoulder without looking at her. “Have a lovely evening and do enjoy the fucking book.”

And before Hermione could do or say anything else, Draco had coldly turned away from the table and left her with an angry stance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You what?” Harry yelled at Hermione from the shower room. “He what?” he called out.

Hermione yelled something back at him from the room.

 

Harry splashed water all over his face three times before grabbing a towel and turning back to the room.

“Wait, what?” Harry asked him in what could only be interpreted as a surprised and confused tone at the same time.

 

Hermione tossed him his set of pajamas to turn into.

It was three in the morning and Hermione decided to go to Harry’s apartment instead.

She got half an hour ago only to find that he wasn’t home yet.

He had some overtime work to do and she had to mutter the spell that opens the wards of his apartment and let herself in.

She had made a good amount of soup for him in the cold weather and had prepared his clothes because she knows that he likes taking hot showers in such a bad weather day.

 

“I told you. You’re not listening to me.” Hermione said rolling her eyes.

“I’m in the fucking shower, ‘Mione.” Harry called back as he closed the door to change into the pajamas.

 

Less than a minute later, he returned to the room rubbing towel to dry his hair and in his favourite navy blue pair of pajamas that Hermione gave two Christmas ago.

She was sitting at the end of his bed with arms crossed and looking up at him as if he was now the reason for all her unfortunate encounters that day.

 

“What?” Harry asked her seeing her look at him in such a way. “What did I do now?”

“Nothing.” Hermione said standing up and walking forward to dry his hair instead.

 

Harry bent forward and lowered himself a little so Hermione could help him out.

“So tell me again what happened.” Harry said as Hermione rigidly dried his hair with the towel.

She rubbed all over his hair and recounted her story of the day with the most important part – her encounter with Draco that evening.

“Maybe he had a bad day too, Hermione.” Harry said as Hermione walked back to the bathroom and hung his damp towel up.

 

“What do you mean he had a bad day?” Hermione asked him walking back to the room with arms folded. “Were you not listening? I was the one having a bad day-“

“Lucius Malfoy won’t be released for another week.” Harry revealed to her with an utmost seriousness in his tone. “I think he’s not pleased that he has to stay for another week without him. That leaves him with the fact that he can’t leave the country or the city yet.”

 

Hermione looked like she wanted to say something but thought better of it.

 

She was obviously contemplating.

 

“How did you know this?” Hermione slowly asked him as Harry sat up at the middle of his bed and grabbing his glasses by the bedside table and throwing a set of parchment towards her.

 

“Some memos at our department.” Harry said as she began reading the notes over the parchment. “Don’t tell Kingsley I showed you.”

Hermione nodded as she quietly read through the parchments.

They were documents and order from the Wizengamot and Minister of Magic.

 

Apparently, instead of Lucius Malfoy being released on the said date he was promised and originally given, almost another month was needed for them to release him.

There were certain documents that needed to be issued and rechecked by the Wizengamot.

 

“I thought that he’s supposed to gain lifetime of imprisonment anyway?” Hermione asked without taking her eyes off the parchments.

 

Harry shook his head.

“I did ask that to Kingsley and well.. I’m not sure what to say about his answer.”

“What was it?” Hermione sharply asked.

She put the parchments back over Harry’s small desk in his room.

 

Harry looked at him as if he wasn’t sure if this classified information was alright to be shared to Hermione.

Well, she was Hermione Grange- it wasn’t as if he has not shared every single thing he knows in his life to her.

“Harry..” Hermione warned him folding her arms and sitting in front of him.

Harry looked conflicted as he struggled.

 

It was obviously an Auror Department’s classified information – and he was there again, beaten by Hermione and ready to divulge all the secrets he withheld

Hermione raised an eyebrow at him as she waited.

 

“Hermione, you’ve got to – you got to promise me – do not-“

“Do not tell Kingsley.” Hermione finished for him rolling her eyes. “I know, I know. I know already – we’ve gone through these things a lot of times and when did I ever tell him?”

 

Harry looked back up at her and sighed heavily.

 

“Are you going to tell me or not?”

Her words weren’t a question – her sentence was obviously a threat.

“Alright, alright.” Harry sighed heavily. “It was Narcissa Malfoy.”

“Narcissa Malfoy?” Hermione asked slightly confused. “What do you mean it’s her?”

“They took into accounts every single thing that the Malfoys had done and witnessed.” Harry slowly said meeting her eyes and knowing that she’s likely to think about this for days to come.

“And?” Hermione said. “That shouldn’t be enough to release them – to release him. In fact, if you’d ask me – they don’t deserve the freedom-“

“It was Narcissa Malfoy’s lie to Voldemort about my death that saved and evaded them from Azkaban.” Harry revealed fully to her unable to hold it any longer. “Her saving my life was enough to save their lives out of Azkaban as the Wizengamot thinks so.”

 

Hermione’s face turned red.

Her eyes blinked several times and her mouth was twitching.

She was obviously looking for words to protest on.

 

“Kingsley thinks and agrees of the same thing.” Harry slowly said seeing her reaction. “And..”

“And what do you think?” Hermione finally asked him with a sharp tone.

Harry sighed and resigned his answer to her.

“Well.. she did save my life.”

“So you think it’s okay?” Hermione asked angrily now. “You think it’s alright that they’re all walking free – that woman, their spoiled brat son and now Lucius is going-“

“I don’t think it’s okay, alright?” Harry said standing up from the bed and looking back at her knowing what was already spinning inside her brilliant head.

“Hermione.” Harry called at her as she moved to the other side of the bed.

 

She wasn’t looking up at him and was obviously out of interest to talk to him or be with him anymore.

 

“Seriously-“

“It’s fine.” Hermione said. “It’s fine. They’re the Malfoys. It’s bound to be that way, right?”

“That’s not what it is.” Harry said. “You know how Kingsley had worked so hard to put things in order and to gain fairness and justice for everyone-“

“Justice?” Hermione repeated with such flare in her eyes. “Justice? Do you understand-“

“Hermione-“

“Justice is when things that one deserves is given. I don’t see justice in this.”

“Please-“

“No!” Hermione angrily said turning to her. “At the first war they’ve gotten themselves out of it and this time, this time around they’re also gonna get away with everything? And for what? For what Harry-“

“For saving my life!” Harry screamed back at her. “She saved my life whether you acknowledge it or not!”

 

He stood up from the bed and they stared at one another at either side of the bed.

They both looked ready to hex one another.

Hermione was looking so angry and pained while Harry looked like he has lost all his patience to talk to her and explain things to her.

Harry was the one to first give away to feelings.

 

“I’m sorry.” Harry quickly said sitting back on the bed. “I didn’t mean to say those things. I’m ust tired. But Hermione you’ve got to-“

“I’ve got it.” Hermione said turning to her side of the bed and grabbing her scarf from the bed as she walked to the door.

“Where are you going?” Harry asked feeling slightly guilty.

 

Hermione stopped by the doorway but didn’t say anything.

She sighed heavily and slowly turned to him.

 

“I’m making hot chocolate.” Hermione slowly said turning back to him with a small smile. “Would you like some?”

 

Harry stared up at her.

She preferred to differ the topic and decided to put it aside like any other as usual.

 

“I’d like to.” Harry said giving her back a small smile. “Do you want me to go down and-“

“’l’ll make it.” Hermione replied walking to the door again. “I’ll call you when it’s done.”

 

And with that, she left him without another word and lost in his own thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another work week had passed.

 

it was quite uneventful and Hermione had done two therapy sessions without seeing Draco Malfoy.

As much as she hated to admit it, she was looking for him and hoping – for god knows what reason – to bump into him anywhere in the city again.

But he seemed like a grown up man who keeps things to himself since the war had been won over by the light side.

It was pretty obvious that he wanted to remain lowkey.

 

But it was one of those days that seemed uneventful when things suddenly turned up.

Hermione was finishing a couple of things right after her lunch and was about to begin on filing a couple of documents when Harry came to her office.

She looked up and saw the reluctant and worry over his face.

 

“Good time, bad time?” he slowly asked her entering and closing the door behind him.

She could already sense that it was not a good news.

“Something wrong?” she quietly asked.

 

Harry watched her put the documents she was holding but held onto the quill she had been using on marking certain things over the parchment she had been reading.

Harry looked away for a moment and looked hesitant.

“Harry.”

“Just don’t take it so much.”

“I’ll take whatever it is.” Hermione said folding her arms and staring back at him. “Spill it. What is?”

 

Harry blinked and cleared his throat out.

“Kingsley has received the order already from the Wizengamot.” Harry slowly began watching her reaction. “They’ve already agreed to let Lucius Malfoy out of Azkaban.”

 

Hermione’s heart skipped a bit but she didn’t immediately react.

Her eyes momentarily widened but she looked calm and controlled – contrary to Harry’s expectations.

 

“Hermione?”

“When?” Hermione slowly asked him. “When are they releasing him?”

 

The sweat over Harry’s forehead slightly increased.

“Malfoy was just at the Minister’s office.” Harry said. “He just signed a few papers and left.”

“Left?”

“He’s heading to Azkaban now.” Harry clearly said. “To get his father. They’re releasing Lucius Malfoy at three this afternoon.”

Harry wasn’t sure what reaction it was that he supposed Hermione would have; but it was entirely different from what happened.

His emerald eyes watched as her face paled for a moment and then had slowly turned red.

 

And then a snap.

 

He looked down.

Her eyes widened.

Then their eyes met.

 

Unconsciously, she had snapped in two the quality quill that she had been holding the entire time since Harry had gone into her office to tell her the news of Lucius Malfoy’s release.

 

Harry looked slightly alarmed.

But before she could say something another knock came.

They looked and the door slowly opened.

Hermione’s assistant was by the door and was looking uncertainly back at the both of them..

 

“What is it?” Harry asked letting her enter.

She bit her lower lip and was holding several copies of the Daily Prophet.

“Miss Granger, I’m sorry. But some people would like to interview you downstairs – or either of you.”

 

“Interview?” Hermione asked putting down the broken quill on her table. “For what? About what?”

She looked reluctantly at Harry but he gave her an assuring stare.

She handed over the newspapers in her hands to Harry.

 

“The first ones came out yesterday but you two weren’t here for the conference meeting outside and then the evening edition and then the morning paper – they were – some news reporters are downstairs.. they would like a word with either of you.. most especially you, Miss Granger.”

 

Harry and Hermione quickly divided the newspapers between them.

Harry and Hermione took a while to see and find what was the fuss were all about.

It was Harry who first caught sight and glimpsed what it were all about.

 

Some of the papers had Lucius Malfoy’s photos and Draco’s about his release at Azkaban.

 

But it was the same picture that had been taken and posted the previous day and printed again at the evening edition and that morning’s edition that stirred Hermione’s mood over the edge.

 

Harry looked up at her in alarm.

 

She was already red in the face and her hands shaking in anger

 

I’m going to kill him.” Hermione said throwing the paper aside.

“Hermione-“

 

“No.” Hermione angrily said getting her cloak and wand from under her table. “This is just too much. I’m going to murder him.”

 

And before Harry or her assistant could stop her, she was out of the door, heels and anger speeding up as she left.

 

“Bloody hell.” Harry said shoving the paper back to the assistant and checking if he had his wand inside his cloak, he quickly followed Hermione trying to remove the image over the paper they both just read

 

 

Plastered at the front cover that morning was a photograph of Draco and Hermione – taken at a certain café at Diagon Alley.

The article says it was taken during the night of the snowstorm just a few nights ago and found at the corner most part of the restaurant – as if not wanting to be seen nor heard by anyone else – was the unlikely pair bearing the headline that drove Hermione over the edge:

 

 

Draco Malfoy and Hermione Granger: Friends, Lovers or Secret Lovers?

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter Ten

Elevators

 

Draco was silent as silent could be.

 

He was outside the small Auror’s office based inside Azkaban itself.

He waited.

He checked his expensive and old looking pocket watch from his mother.

 

Seven minutes to three.

He tried to remain calm and composed.

He wasn’t nervous nor scared but was slightly anxious.

 

Once the door of his father’s cell opens, that was it.

 

He was to return to the Wizarding World community and that would be it.

 

Of course he wouldn’t tell him what to do but he would watch him closely.

He cannot tarnish the name Malfoy more than he already had years ago.

He had to admit that his father being released isn’t something he was delighted about.

If he had to be completely honest, it felt more like a burden to him.

But he’d never tell that to any living soul.

He knew his father very well and knew what he was capable of.

 

He would lay low for sure, but after quite some time, he would surely do something that would call the world’s attention back to the name.

He had worked so hard for years to make a name for himself – not for whose family he came from nor who his parents were or even what they’ve done in the Second War – no, he wanted a name known for what good work he had done.

 

He would never be able to detach the name Malfoy to the tainted truth it once clung onto, but he was determined to change what people know and think of him.

 

Girls may still swoon over him, but he kept himself detached from everything all these years because he wanted to live a life he could be proud of.

Not a life his father could be proud of any longer.

 

 

“Mr. Malfoy?”

 

Draco looked up.

A Ministry official and two Azkaban guards entered the room.

They were holding out a few parchments for him.

“If you would please sign these and then your father will be waiting two floors down from here.”

“Thank you.” Draco quietly said, taking out a quill from his inner pocket and reading through the parchments.

 

Final release papers to be signed to officially release his father.

In all truth, he could not sign it all – oh, he could just let him be and leave him be.

But he was family and he needed to make sure that his father won’t do something or anything crazy the moment he steps back into the society.

He needed to ensure the slightest bit of connection and control would stay there between the two of them.

It was the least he could do to save the name and reputation he has damaged so severely.

It were all still, for his mother.

 

Draco heavily sighed and began signing the three documents.

He stared down over the parchments as he finished.

It was still disbelieving that his father was just going to walk out of the prison – all for all the evidences he has surrendered and all for what his mother had done for them.

It were all because of Narcissa Black Malfoy.

 

 

 

 

“Thank you.” the official said.

He looked up at Draco and noticed the insignificance over his face.

Never had he seen all his life serving for Azkaban did he see a relative ever more morose to have pick up someone they love or family from Azkban prison.

 

“Mr. Malfoy did you bring the-“

“Oh yes, here. I’m sorry.” Draco said bending down and picking up a large paper bag.

“He will have him change downstairs in a moment before you see him.” the official said, nodding at him and pocketing all the documents he had signed.

“Thank you.  I will follow downstairs.”

“Three doors from the end of the staircase at the left corridor. Thank you and good luck Mr. Malfoy.”

And with that, he left Draco alone in the room to his thoughts.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You can’t be serious.” Harry said as they waited outside Kingsley’s office.

“I am dead serious.” Hermione said, tapping her foot impatiently as they waited.

From the office, Harry had to follow her all the way to the Minister’s office.

Hermione wanted a signed parchment of the visitor for her to go to Azkaban.

 

Since Kingsley became the Minister of Magic, anyone who had no official business or relative to Azkaban had to ask for permission from the Ministry of Magic and had the minister sign a document to be allowed.

 

They couldn’t allow any further casualties or any more escapes.

They have finally learned from the past.

 

“Kingsley won’t just give you a slip.” Harry pointed out at her. “Hermione this isn’t some library slip you can just ask for because you’re planning a visit to the place.”

“Oh you watch me.” Hermione said, folding her arms over her chest. “You just wait and see that Kingsley gives me-“

“What the hell are you going to do there?” Harry asked her with narrowed eyes as he attempted to grab her.. “What are you planning?”

“I don’t know.” Hermione said. “I’m going to stop Malfoy.”

 

Harry whirled around to her. 

“Stop Malfoy?” Harry repeated, grabbing her hand and pulling her aside because she was impatiently walking back and forth and was blocking people that were walking around the busy corridor.

“Yes.” Hermione indignantly replied. “Do you have a problem with me doing that?”

“Yes.” Harry earnestly replied. “You don’t just walk there and ask and – Hermione, he’s going to be released whether you like it or not – it’s official, the Minister of Magic has-“

“That’s why we’re here!” Hermione angrily said. “To make Kingsley change his mind-“

“And are you out of your mind?” Harry angrily said grabbing her arm painfully and forcing her to face him. “Hermione- this stupid – this isn’t going anywhere – your vendetta against this – they’re not going to put back the lives we’ve all lost“

“Well, if you did something to stop this it wouldn’t happen in the first place!” Hermione screamed at him.

 

People that were walking by actually stopped and stared at them.

Hermione had called enough attention to draw people to stare.

Her face slightly turned pale.

 

Harry blinked and stared at her.

 

 

 

She wasn’t sure if he was angry or offended or both.

But he looked indifferent and was staring at her a if she had turned into some cat again.

 

“Harry-“

“I didn’t do anything?” Harry asked her letting her arm go. “I didn’t do anything?”

“Harry, that’s not-“

“You do know I’d jail anyone and have all the Dementors kiss them without trial if they’ve done so much as a small curse towards any innocent life back in the war, don’t you?” Harry asked her.

 

He never gets mad easily towards her.

No, never to her.

They always reasoned with one another.

 

He was always – always – patient with her.

And the gleam and glint in his eyes suddenly alarmed Hermione.

He had always been ever so patient most especially towards her, but at the moment, she seemed to have reached his limit of patience.

 

 

 

 

 

“That’s not what I meant.”

“Then what did you mean?” Harry asked her with a firm tone. “You’ve said it clearly – I didn’t do anything. What did you want me to do, Hermione?”

 

He called her by her name, not his term of endearment to her.

That alarmed her even more.

 

 

 

“Harry-“

 

The doors of Kingsley’s office opened.

Some Ministry officials walked out and they were called in by his assistant.

They stared at one another.

 

“Well go on.” Harry said putting his wand back inside his pocket with an angry stance. “Go and do what you came here for.”

“Harry, please.”

“I didn’t do anything, right?” Harry said, turning away from her. “Then by all means, do what you’ve got to do.”

“Harry!” Hermione called back with uneasiness and contempt in her tone and face as she stared at Harry’s retreating back.

 

 

 

 

However Draco imagined the encounter of seeing his father after his release from prison in all those years was nothing close to how he imagined it to be.

He stood alone in an empty room with his father for the first time in a long time.

He had changed into the clothes he had brought it – clean shaven, hair gauged back and well dressed.

 

A Malfoy that he always was.

 

 

The only difference was that his set of clothes that Draco brought in weren’t the most elegant once from his closet.

The boy seemed to either find it funny that way or had not put in effort to get his father the taste and kind of clothing he would like to have on that day.

Nevertheless, he didn’t say anything about his.

 

His eyes were stark cold as it had always been – deeply sunken and filled with the most despicable features he could have at the moment.

He aged quite a bit and had thinned – the most obvious sign of one being imprisoned at Azkaban.

Still, he held the proud chin-up glory as a Malfoy that he always had.

 

“Draco.” Lucius softly whispered. “How good it is to see you, son.”

 

 

Draco stared back at his father.

He was motionless as he stared at the man before him.

He wanted to feel pity, he wanted to feel anger.

But he felt neither.

 

He couldn’t even understand what he was feeling towards the man at that moment.

He knew that it was the Wizengamot who decided for his release, but there was a painful burden growing inside of him.

He felt like he was about to relinquish a very dangerous basilisk out into the world once more.

 

“Draco?”

His voice was deep and hoarse as he had not used it the normal way in a long time.

He looked weary, old, tired and ready to retire to his bed for a good amount of sleep.

Draco blinked away his thoughts.

He straightened up.

 

“Right.” Draco quietly said, moving his eyes away from his father and towards the door. “The Minister has provided us with a small back area we can pass to avoid the press that are obviously downstairs awaiting for you and ready to –“

 

Draco stopped.

Lucius had suddenly grabbed him by the arm and very tightly pulled him into an embrace.

His eyes widened in shock.

His brains seemed to lag at that very moment.

His father had embraced him, but for the fact that he had never embraced him in this way before – it was tight, warm, tumultuous and almost desperate in a way.

 

“Draco.” Lucius' voice sounded in need of him. 

“We should go down.” Draco simply said, unmoving and unwilling to place his arms around his father.

 

He knew he was waiting for something from him.

But he couldn’t give it no matter what kind of emotion or physical contact it was he needed from him.

 

“Draco –“

“We have to go.” Draco slowly said and as gentle as possible, he gently took his father’s arms off him.

 

Their eyes didn’t meet.

Lucius was closely staring at him and Draco did as much as he could to avoid his gaze.

Lucius’ eyes strayed over the burn marks over the side of Draco’s once flawless face.

A sharp pain passed him.

Literally not him, but it felt like it was his doing.

 

“Son-“

“We need to go.” Draco said sharply turning to him. “I have a meeting. I’m bringing you to the manor and then I have to go.”

 

Something faltered in the light in Lucius’ eyes but he didn’t say anything.

He nodded quietly and tried to clear his throat.

 

He straightened up and move himself a few inches from his own son.

Draco obviously didn’t mind the distance.

He looked like he had been forced to be there in the very first place – which wasn’t really far from the truth.

 

“Everything is settled back at the manor for you.” Draco said as they walked to the door. “All house-elves have been removed at the Malfoy manor premises and as we abide to law, we can never hire one.”

Lucius quietly listened to him as he folded up the sleeves of his suit to match up to his wrist as they seemed to be longer and bigger than the last time he wore them.

“Where did you get this?” he asked him.

Draco turned to him and stared.

He was obviously irritated.

“In your wardrobe.” Draco clearly said. “Where do you think I would?”

Lucius didn’t say anything.

“Were you listening?”

“Yes, I was.” Lucius quietly answered. “Anything else?”

“My assistant would be staying with you for a couple of days to tend to your needs as you adjust and as I await a list of possible people to work for you. If you would need something from me, you are free to Floo or send me-“

“You’re not at the manor?” Lucius said, stopping abruptly.

Draco was already outside the door and Lucius a step away from it.

Draco stared at him.

Did he forget that tiny detail?

 

 

“No.” Draco said. “I have not stayed in the manor for years.”

“That was understandable given the circumstances.” Lucius pointed out.

“I’m not staying at the manor.” Draco said in a low tone as if struggling to yell at him. “I have bought my own place and I am doing well there.”

Lucius’ eyebrow raised but he didn’t say anything at the subject anymore.

“And how do you supposed I deal with-“

“I have tended to the list of things I know you would ask and require for.” Draco simply said. “Everything will be settled and done by the time you are back at the manor. However you would have to wait for another month or two for you to be able to have full access once more to the Malfoy account at Gringotts.”

“And how do you supposed I live this way?” Lucius said, refusing to step out of the door.

 

 

Draco was losing his patience.

“As I’ve said everything has been and will be attended to. You would not need to worry about anything.”

Lucius still looked unconvinced.

Draco turned back to him.

“You are telling me, they have delayed my release and now that I am to be taken out, my accounts are frozen and would be delayed as well?”

“Yes.” Draco clearly said. “Is there a problem with that?”

“How do they supposed I live out there?”

“I will repeat it for the last time – you would be tended to; you shall be provided for.” Draco said and the anger in his voice was getting more obvious.

“Tended to?”

You’re not going to starve.” Draco pointed out in an almost bossy and sassy tone. “Is there anything you need to purchase for a quarter of a billion this afternoon at Diagon Alley?”

 

Lucius’ eyes glinted.

Draco was unmoving from his stance.

 

 

 

He could already feel all the differences in the world he had to face and he wasn’t even out of Azkaban yet.

“Nothing.” Lucius simply said, staring at his son who reminded him a lot of himself.

Draco looked back at him as if daring him to say something more, something else.

“Then let’s go.” Draco said, turning from him again. “I haven’t got all day for you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The waiting had gone nowhere for Hermione and she had to force her way back to Harry's office only to find him leaving early. 

He was obviously angry at her. 

“Harry!” Hermione called after him as she jolted down hallway after another following Harry.

“Harry!” she called out excusing herself from a couple of Ministry officials on her way. “Oh my god – Harry!” Hermione screamed.

 

But Harry didn’t stop.

He continued to walk away from her, walking to the opposite direction.

He left her in the room out of her offensive words.

Hermione had a last minute decision to make.

She chose Harry than to wait for Kingsley who seemed never going to get out of his meeting in his office anyway.

She was still as angry and irritated but she just couldn’t leave Harry to be angry of her.

She followed him out and about, down to floors and couple of screaming his name while the whole building stared at their direction.

 

 

“This is seriously degrading.” Hermione muttered to herself as she turned two corridors down.

She looked around and it was so obvious that Harry was heading for the secret elevator at the back to avoid people on the way out of the Ministry.

She clutched her chest as she inhaled a bit more of air as Harry turned at the last corridor.

She reached him just in time as he walked toward the elevator doors.

“Seriously.” Hermione muttered. “Harry, I’m sorry!”

 

It was the magic word.

 

Harry stopped on his tracks.

He stood there, unmoving with his back turned to her.

Hermione quickly caught up with him.

 

“I’m sorry.” Hermione breathlessly said, facing him.

He looked back at her.

There was no trace of hate in his face but pure confusion and hurt.

She had hurt him – time and again.

“I’m sorry.” Hermione quietly said reaching out to him. “Harry.”

Harry looked back at her as if thinking.

Hermione mentally counted in her head before Harry reproaches.

“I really am.” Hermione said. “It wasn’t – I was obviously out of line – that wasn’t what I meant and I would never tell you that everything you’ve done isn’t enough. Please.”

Harry green eyes settled on her.

His lips slightly twitched giving Hermione all the right signals.

He was contemplating but obviously at the verge of giving into her any moment now.

 

She took a step forward him and slowly reached for his hand.

He didn’t move away as she held it in her hands.

 

“I’m sorry, Harry.” Hermione quietly said, moving closer and looking up at him and meeting his eyes. “I didn't mean that..what I said.. that you didn't do.. I'm sorry.”

Harry closed his eyes and sighed heavily.

He pressed her hand back and pulled her to him.

“Bloody hell.” Harry quietly muttered, pulling her into an embrace and kissing her over her dark tresses.

 

Hermione sighed heavily too and sank in his arms.

She let him kiss her head and inhale her scent.

She too inhaled and could revel in the familiar and comfortable smell of him and his clothes on hers.

“You’re a terrible headache, do you know what?”

 

“I know.” Hermione replied, facing him. “I’m sorry.”

Harry looked down at her with utmost patience.

He could never find himself to be angry with her no matter how annoying or unreasonable she could be at times.

She was Hermione Jean Granger.

His bestfriend.

 

His love.

 

Even if she wasn’t his Hermione.

 

 

“Gods, Hermione. You’re going to be the death of me.” Harry muttered kissing her again over the forehead.

“Muffins and coffee?” Hermione offered with a gleam over her face.

 

Harry raised an eyebrow.

“Back to your senses?” he asked her, tightly squeezing her.

“Aw. I can’t breathe.” Hermione said, pulling herself away from him, but Harry didn’t let her go.

“I left my money upstairs.” Harry said checking his pockets suddenly.

“On me.” Hermione happily said. “I just want some fresh air too.”

“You’re not going to run amok anymore?” Harry asked her with a smirk over his face.

Hermione gently slapped him across the face.

“I hate you.” Hermione said, burying her face back at him.

“I’m sure you do.” Harry said, dragging her to the elevators.

“It’s not easy Harry.” Hermione said and there was sudden seriousness in her tone as she looked up at him. “This. All of it. What they’re doing – who they’re letting out – it’s like – it’s like they’re forgetting-“

“They’re not forgetting.” Harry pointed out. “Life is just.. well Hermione, life is just moving.”

“And that’s what you want me to do?” Hermione said her eyes narrowing again. “You want me to move on? Just move on? Just let Malfoy – he was the reason my parents-“

“I know what he did.” Harry said handling her seriously. “I know what he did and I know what he has paid for and what he hasn’t. But you’ve got to move forward. You’ve got to.”

“It’s not that easy.” Hermione said at the verge of tears despite the obvious anger in her eyes. “It’s not – do you know I still dream of them??”

“I know.” Harry whispered back at her. “You still cry out at night.”

“I can’t.. and it’s not.. it’s not very easy…and everything has been – and now this – and Malfoy..”

“That’s what I’m here for.” Harry assured her gently holding her hand. “That’s why I’m just here for you, ‘Mione. I’m never going to leave you.”

“Never?” Hermione asked with a reluctant smile over her face.

“Never.” Harry promised as he held her closer.

 

 

There was the sound of a bell and the elevator doors opened.

They made a step forward to get in but halted last moment.

Harry heard Hermione’s gasp and her grip that slackened from his hand.

 

His green eyes widened all the same but it was Hermione in his mind that blocked all thoughts upon seeing the pair who were stepping themselves out from the elevator at their floor stop.

Harry was sure that Hermione was almost not breathing at that very moment. 

They had come face to face with none other than Draco and Lucius Malfoy.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Chapter Eleven

Three Working Days

 

 

“Just ask her and then Obliviate her.”

“Do you want me to hex your balls off?”

 

Crabbe stared back at Draco with a pale face then

.

“I mean, just to get it out of your system, you know.” Crabbe quietly said.

“Get it out of my system.” Draco repeated staring angrily back at the fire. “How about I get the wits out of your system?”

Crabbe backed away when Draco held up his wand towards him.

“All I’m saying Draco is that-“

“What do you think, I’m having some booty call?” he angrily, estranged with himself as he first heard the term being coined by Ron and Hermione at one time he overheard them.

“Well what is it then?” Crabbe asked him with a stupid question over his face. “It’s not like Pansy can’t cater-“

 

But that was it.

 

Draco moved forward and ready to lash a spell at him with the door opened and Snape came in.

 

His black eyes roamed the room and quickly seeing Draco with his cronies he walked towards the largest couch near the fireplace.

He stared down at him and he quickly kept his wand out.

 

“What is this?” he clearly demanded from them.

 

Draco slowly lowered his wand.

 

“Your mother sent me a note Draco.” Snape spat at him. “You haven’t replied to her message.”

 

“I’ll do it tomorrow.” Draco coldly said. “The ball is in three days, Draco.” Snape reminded him. “Your dress robes should be here by now.”

“What do you care?” he asked his godfather. “It’s not like you have any taste.”

“What did you say?”

 

His black eyes glinted but Draco didn’t look anywhere intimidated.

 

“Nothing.” Draco said folding his arms and looking away from him. “Do you know if that French girl already has a date for the Yule Ball?”

“Davies.” Snape quietly replied watching him closely. “Ravenclaw.”

“I know the git.” Draco muttered. “Quidditch.”

 

 

 

He stared at his godson.

 

“Is something wrong?” he asked even if he already knew the answer.

 

Draco didn’t answer.

 

“Not everyone will go with a date to the Yule Ball, Draco.”

“Granger is going with that Krum.” Draco pointed out with glint in his eyes.

 

His godfather stared at him and he was silenced.

It looked like he didn’t mean to say those words.

 

“So?” Snape asked with a raised brow.

 

Draco looked up at him with a confused look.

 

His eyes wandered around, as if searching for a decent answer.

 

“Well, Potter is going.” Draco said.

“Obviously.” Snape said. “He is a school champion whether we all like it or no..” Snape pointed out folding his arms.

“Exactly.” Draco said his eyes suddenly wide. “There’s not a single represent of the Slytherin House. Are you not bothered by that?”

“Should I be?” he asked him. “Should I be bothered that our House isn’t included in all these foolish, mediocre and childish celebrations and games?”

 

Draco was silent.

 

“Should I remind you that there are bigger things out there that actually matter?”

He looked unconvinced but Draco didn’t say anything else.

 

 

“I’ll go to bed.” Draco said, snapping the book he had been reading earlier. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

But before he could leave, Snape grabbed him by the arm and forced him to face him.

“What?” Draco said grabbing his arm back and rubbing his elbows.

“Is this about you not getting one of the champions as date to represent our House to the Yule Ball or is this about Granger getting a date regardless of any House representation?”

 

 

 

Draco’s eyes flashed.

 

“How dare you.” Draco spat at him with glinting eyes. “How dare you – I would never – not in a million years would I ever associate myself with that filthy Mud-“

 

“HOLD YOUR TONGUE!” Snape angrily said.

 

He took a step backward.

They only glared at one another.

 

“I’m going to bed.” Draco said in a resigned tone. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

He walked from him with his book and Snape watched quietly as he disappeared to stairwell that led to the deeper chambers to his dormitory.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All Harry could remember was freezing on the spot as he tightly held Hermione to him.

 

They both stood in stunned silence as the doors opened.

 

Harry immediately caught Draco’s eyes who only gave him a very short nod right after panic crossed his eyes upon seeing him and Hermione.

 

Harry looked up to Draco’s father, but had barely glimpsed him because two Ministry officials who were escorting them out of the building quickly went out after them and gently ushered and  moved them out of their way.

 

Harry didn’t see whatever it was that was plastered over Lucius Mafloy’s face because his attention was over at Hermione.

 

She was silent, stunned as he was for a very brief moment.

 

Her eyes glinted and the only hint of life from her was her heavy breathing.

 

 

Aghast, Harry felt Hermione tug her arm from him the very moment that Lucius had been a step away from the two of them.

 

Let me go.” Hermione muttered through gritted teeth, her face turning red.

 

 

 

But Harry didn’t let her go.

 

 

He could almost hear her heartbeat – fast and unsteady.

 

Her whole body was stunned but it began to shake in anger upon coming mere inches away from Lucius Malfoy and his son who passed them.

 

There was no greeting from them nor any contact but Harry was sure he had missed something.

 

Hermione had tugged again but he held her tighter.

 

He knew that it wasn’t a good idea to let her go for as long as they were in sight – or even within the perimeter.

 

He held her closer, tighter. 

 

He’d rather receive all the lashing from her later than to let her go and have her do something they would both regret later on.

 

They both watched in batted breathes and unblinking eyes, the officials led the Malfoys down two corridors and then the sound of their footsteps ebbing away at the backdoor stairwell that would lead them out of the building from the back without having to meet all the press outside.

 

Draco never looked back their way again.

 

Neither did Lucius.

 

 

 

Silence.

 

“What the hell, Harry!” Hermione angrily said pushing herself away from him.

 

She mindlessly took her wand out of reflex and was staring at him as if planning to hex him.

 

Harry let her go, staring at her with avid eyes and waiting for her to attack.

 

He could just see it – the hurt and anger in her eyes.

 

Her tone was also very vocal on how she felt at that very moment.

 

She looked red in the face, ready to strike.

 

 

 

“Come.” Harry calmly said extending his palm up towards her. “Let’s have some fresh air and something to eat downstairs.”

 

There was a revulsion of hatred all over her face.

 

She shook her head at him, unwilling to take his hand.

 

“You could.. you could have let me.. just let me..”

 

“I couldn’t.” Harry gently said, taking one step towards her. “I couldn’t and I wouldn’t.”

 

His voice was gentle, warm and engaging her to him.

 

“Harry..” Hermione whispered, her wand hand shaking.

 

“Mione..” he softly whispered with a touching smile. “Come. Stay with me. I am here.”

 

And then she dropped her wand towards him as she dived into his arms as she burst into a mournful and painful howl of tears.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Malfoy Manor was nothing to what Lucius Malfoy could possibly recall.

 

He had always been very detailed about his manor and everything that he had purchased for it.

 

Apparently, despite the time he had not been there, he could possibly count the amount of silver and the precise ones that were missing.

 

But he didn’t say anything.

 

He didn’t say anything to Draco yet.

 

Some of his most expensive collection of antiques and artifacts were all gone, silverware of sort seemed to be missing as well and a couple of other things he could only know to be gone by his visual memory that remembers where things used to be.

 

The Dark Objects and artifacts were of course no longer in question as they had all been surrendered and taken by the Ministry of Magic.

 

It seemed that Draco had swiped away everything that had been too extravagant to be needed nor used, nothing of blood or historical value to the Blacks or Malfoys and practically anything and everything else that only shimmered for the world to see.

 

 

 

“I’ve left your room untouched.” Draco said as he led his father to his old office. “Nothing in here has been taken except of course for the artifacts that were confiscated.”

 

“Glad to know you had not completely rob off the Malfoy Manor, Draco.” Lucius simply said, sitting back over his large armchair.

 

He was silent and composed but deep inside, he was reveling and relishing the feeling of being back in this state again.

 

“I’ve never robbed the manor.” Draco pointed out as he waved his wand to put fire in the large hearth of the office. “I’ve only removed anything that wasn’t needed around here. Or rather everything you’ve robbed off from people.”

 

Lucius eyes him, but he didn’t say anything towards the boy.

 

Lucius’ eyes swept the room and he was right.

 

Nothing of value or what he needed were taken away except for his illegal artifacts and things that only flounced out his riches but were irrelevant, unused.

 

“The master’s bedroom stays intact and the same. But I’ve used one of the rooms to keep all of mother’s belongings.”

 

 

 

Lucius didn’t say anything.

 

It was possibly the first room at the West Wing where Narcissa always stayed.

 

It had been a sort of guest room which she had been always fond of as it overlooked her dearest garden.

 

It had then be turned into a comfortable room and space and a room that were filled with shelves and books of sorts.

 

Draco spent a lot of his time there if not the library when he was home for the Summer breaks and when he was a child.

 

It was also the room Narcissa would use and sleep in when a big argument would come between her and the man of the house.

 

Draco stared as his father’s eyes ran around the manor.

 

Lucius quietly walked towards a wall with nice tapestry and a long table with a long array of candles and other small antic of sorts.

 

He moved around to pick one of the candelabra up as his eyes scanned the rest of the table.

 

“I remember this.” Lucius’ soft voice whispered as he returned it back over the table while his lips pursed and his hands gently moved away from the collection. “I also remember that I had a few more pieces of these in display.”

 

His eyes moved up and met Draco’s.

 

“As I’ve said.” Draco firmly said. “I’ve rid the manor of things that don’t belong here and of things that needed to be surrendered to the Ministry of Magic.”

 

A gleam passed Lucius’ eyes knowing his most-prized possessions have been taken away without his knowledge and permission.

 

Not that he still had a say over them.

 

Draco impatiently shook his head.

 

“My assistant will arrive within half an hour and will help you around here. I would be going right when he arrives.” Draco said as he paced around the room making sure it was comfortable for his father.

 

Lucius watched him in silence.

 

 

 

“Dinner?” Lucius asked him. “Won’t we have a sort of dinner for this?”

 

Draco looked up at him.

 

It looked like he already expect his father to ask him this and he also looked like he had been contemplating to give him an answer he had been rehearsing for days.

 

“I have a meeting.” Draco simply answered him looking away. “I believe I already told you that before we get here.”

 

If Lucius had been disappointed, he didn’t show it to him.

 

He remained motionless and expressionless.

 

“I see.” Lucius said after a while as he stood from the armchair and walked around the room.

 

Draco stood there by the fireplace, eyes boring into the heat of the hearth.

 

Lucius walked around the room basking and inhaling everything around him.

 

“When shall we celebrate then?” Lucius asked him unable to stop himself.

 

Draco looked up at him.

 

 

 

“Celebrate?” he asked casually. “Celebrate what?”

 

“Celebrate, Draco.” Lucius said opening his arms up. “Is my freedom not to be celebrated?”

 

A hint of disappointment passed Draco’s eyes but it quickly vanished before Lucius could see it.

 

“I’m not sure.” Draco earnestly answered him. “I have two trips booked within a month. You know how careers go. So I am rushing a lot of things.”

 

“I know.” Lucius shortly said. “I believe I was the one who taught it all to you.”

 

“Then you do understand the lack of time I have at the moment.”

 

“I believe I also taught you that as a Malfoy there is always a way out of something you would want.”

 

Their eyes met.

 

 

 

Father and son all alone in their manor after a long time.

 

 

 

There may be uncanny difference in their appearances but the indifference was vastly obvious.

 

“I will make time for you when I can.” Draco simply said after a moment.

 

He could no longer take it.

 

He took his scarf from the chair and moved towards the door.

 

“I have to go. I’m sure my assistant will arrive any moment.” Draco said swiftly walking towards the door. “I might be late to my next errand.”

 

“Draco.”

 

Draco stopped but he didn’t look back.

 

 

 

Gone were the days when he cringe at the sound of that voice, of the tone he used upon him.

 

“I have to go.”

 

“I am proud of you.” Lucius softly said staring at his back. “Whether you believe it or not son, I am proud of you and what you have become.”

 

Draco remained still in the unwavering silence that soon followed.

 

Lucius eyes remained upon him.

 

And then when it felt to Draco that he wouldn’t say anything anymore he opened the door before him and left without a word and without even looking back.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It took Harry a few hours to calm Hermione down.

 

Instead of their supposedly fresh air and muffins, he led her straight back to her apartment.

 

She said she was calm.

 

He told her that he was going to make some soup and early dinner for them.

 

Hermione didn’t say anything and locked herself up in her room.

 

Harry was reluctant to leave her alone but he went to the kitchens nevertheless to make dinner – at least, as an excuse to be there until he was completely sure that she was going to be alright.

 

He moved around the kitchen, ears all alert for any sound that could be quite alarming.

 

He even secretly put up some wards around the place to alarm him if Hermione would attempt to leave the premises without using the front door or letting him know at the least.

 

 

 

He could hear the water from the shower streaming down continuously.

 

Halfway through his cooking, he went up the stairs to check up on her.

 

The sounds in the shower room told him that she was still inside doing her business.

 

He quietly left and returned to the kitchen.

 

He was nearly done when he heard her finish up and return to the room.

 

“Hermione! It’s nearly done!” he called up at the end of the stairs.

 

She called back that she would be downstairs in a few minutes.

 

Harry set the table and let the time pass.

 

It was half an hour before Hermione even went down to the kitchen.

 

He looked up at her with a forced smile.

 

She obviously cried in the shower room again.

 

 

 

She had changed into a pair of pajamas and had her hair slightly dried up and tied up in a messy bun.

 

“I made some mashed potatoes and vegetable, a bit of seafood chowder cause I saw shrimp at our fridge and then I stewed up some of the beef-“

 

“Thanks, Harry.” Hermione said taking a bowl of chowder and rounding up over at the edge of the kitchen.

 

Harry watched in silence as she moved around and about.

 

“You’re not eating?” he asked with disappointment over his face.

 

“Later.” Hermione said taking the bowl of chowder. “I need to read a file. I’ll be in the living room.”

 

“Alright.” Harry said. “I’ll just clear the table and all.”

 

Hermione didn’t even seem to hear him.

 

 

 

Her eyes were red in tear and she went straight to the living room.

 

She obviously wanted to eat in silence and wanted to be left alone but was too decent and in despair to throw Harry out of her apartment.

 

He didn’t need to read her mind to know and understand her.

 

This particular moment has already happened more than once.

 

After about two hours, Harry had taken his own dinner and had cleared the kitchens and washed up anything that he had used.

 

The place was left spotless.

 

He left the kitchen to check on Hermione back in the living room.

 

Harry walked and halted by the doorway.

 

She sat over the carpeted floor, silently crying as she stared back at the fireplace with a book opened up in her hand.

 

His eyes moved around the room and saw her chowder cold and untouched the whole time.

 

 

 

“Hermione?” he gently said walking to the room.

 

She didn’t look up.

 

She didn’t even seem to notice he was there already.

 

Harry closed his eyes and sighed very heavily.

 

He moved the bowl of chowder away from them and slowly knelt on the carpeted floor next to her.

 

“Hermione.” Harry whispered as he slowly moved his hand towards her that were still clasped around the book she was no longer reading.

 

His eyes passed the book and he could see spots and drops of tears all over the page that was open.

 

“Come.” Harry gently whispered to her as he took the book from her. “Come, let’s go to bed.”

 

Hermione let the book go as Harry closed it and placed it behind them over the couch.

 

 

 

A tear fell from her eyes but before she could dry it away, Harry moved his thumb under her eyes and wiped it away.

 

Their eyes met.

 

She didn’t say anything but Harry could already read all the raw emotions building up inside of her.

 

“Harry..” Hermione whispered as tears began sliding off from both her eyes now.

 

“It’s alright, I’m here.” Harry whispered as he held her hand into his and gently pulled her to him. “I am here.”

 

Harry placed a gentle kiss over her forehead as her tears streamed faster.

 

In a moment in Harry’s arms, Hermione had buried her face over his chest and her silent tears slowly turned into despairingly dreadful cries.

 

“I’m here, I’m here.” Harry kept whispered keeping her in place and brushing her back with his hands.

 

He gently placed both his arms around her to console her.

 

“Harry..” Hermione cried painfully. “Harry.. he got away with it.. Harry.. they’ve let him get away from all of it.”

 

Harry could only try to console and comfort her.

 

He kept whispering words of comfort and kept brushing her back as he held her closer and tighter to him.

 

 

 

He let her cry.

 

He let her cry to him like one of those nights before.

 

But this one was different.

 

This one had a different and heavier reason to it.

 

As he held her for hours until she had fallen asleep in his arm and he had to carry her without magic back to her bedroom Harry couldn’t help the tears at the sides of his eyes.

 

He laid her back over her bed and covered her under the sheets.

 

She was damn exhausted physically and emotionally.

 

She was drained from all of it and all he could do was be there for her because that was all he could.

 

He bent forward and kissed her over the forehead for goodnight and then pointed his wand over the small fireplace her room to warm the place.

 

He sighed heavily and moved towards the small long couch at the other end of the room.

 

He transfigured the pillow into a bigger one and one into a small blanket.

 

He buried his face over his hands as he sat there and stared at her sleeping form.

 

He slowly laid himself down knowing he was too tired as well for the day that he’d soon retire even in his outdoor clothing.

 

He stared up blankly over the ceiling.

 

He couldn’t help but feel angry with himself.

 

He was Harry Potter and he couldn’t even use that as she had hinted earlier to stop Lucius from getting out of Azkaban.

 

But the law was the law – they couldn’t break or bend it any longer.

 

And even if they could, they wouldn’t.

 

Not for all the righteousness they had in them; not for all the differences they had to the ones who once manipulated the same law for their own gain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following morning, Hermione arrived half an hour late at the Ministry of Magic.

 

She could have hated Harry for leaving her the morning after if not for the good breakfast he has made for her and of course the note he left her.

 

There was an emergency meeting by seven that morning and all Heads of Departments had to be there for the big announcement.

 

She read twice and wondered what it could be; if Harry knew what it was about, he would have told her.

 

But there was nothing in the note that says so meaning that Harry also had no clue about it.

 

Hermione entered the building with a cup of café in her hand, the other hand filled with a couple of work files and a bag slung over her shoulders containing more work readings.

 

Hermione greeted everyone a good morning out of habit as she was too occupied reading an article from one of her files.

 

She missed all the pair of eyes that went after her direction and followed her thoroughly.

 

Hermione reached their floor and found it unusually quiet.

 

Did she miss any memo or announcement if there was no work at their department for the day?

 

She headed straight to her office as settled her cup and her files there and wandered out back to her assistant’s desk.

 

It was empty.

 

No note, no nothing.

 

 

 

“Where is everyone?” Hermione quietly asked walking around the aisles, empty rooms, office and spaces.

 

She looked up and suddenly realized they were all huddled in the conference room.

 

She was to ignore it all when she saw Harry’s unmistakable messy jet black hair standing out from the crowd of people huddled over the table.

 

“Harry..” Hermione said quickly walking forward the office.

 

She burst into the room, eyes wide and surprised at the people around the room.

 

They were all looking at her as if she had some sort of disease or something.

 

 

 

“What’s going on?” she loudly asked as she turned the door open and entered.

 

Everyone was staring avidly at her.

 

Harry, in particular, was behind the head chair and was holding something in his hand.

 

A sort of list.

 

“Miss Granger.”

 

 

 

Hermione looked up to her assistant who looked slightly pale.

 

“What’s this?” she asked walking forward and staring at them.

 

They were staring at her as if she had that cat head again.

 

“Harry?” she uncertaintly asked scanning his gaze and then the room around her.

 

Her eyes then fell over the long table and several copies of the Daily Prophet were propped open over the same page.

 

“Am I missing something?” Hermione asked as she picked up the paper and scanned all over it.

 

Harry moved forward to take the paper from her but before he could even do so, her eyes widened and she gasped at a certain article – or rather the headline.

 

The colour over Harry’s face slowly faded as he watched her change of emotion.

 

“’Mione..” Harry uncertainly whispered.

 

 

 

Hermione’s eyes moved all over the paper, flipping a bit more of the pages and going back to the headline.

 

“MARRIAGE LAW TO TAKE EFFECT IN TWO WEEKS. ALL PUREBLOODS, HALF-BLOODS AND MUGGLE-BORNS ARE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT ALL INFORMATION. DEADLINE IN A WEEK. MUGGLE-BORNS ARE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT WITHIN 3 WORKING DAYS.”

 

 

 

Hermione’s eyes widened and narrowed and back and back again as she read through the article.

 

She looked up at Harry and the people staring at her.

 

 

 

It was true that she wasn’t the only Muggle-Born working at the Ministry of Magic.

 

But she was the only famous Muggle-Born who was known to fight for rights and equality for all people.

 

And the requirement implemented would force her and her kind to be the ones to submit into this inequality to the wizarding community.

 

“Hermione?” Harry said making a step forward and gently taking the paper from her.

 

Their eyes met.

 

 

 

They were thinking of the same thing.

 

She wasn’t even over and avertedly emotionally alright with Lucius Malfoy’s release from prison and now another large ball of surprise had been dropped off over her head.

 

Did she have some sort of bad luck at the end of her tail?

 

 

 

“Mione, I’ll talk to… I’ll talk to Kingsley.” Harry quickly said gently taking the paper from her and staring closely and worriedly back at her.

 

Worry was etched all over her face.

 

“I don’t think that..I don’t think that will..”

 

“He will listen.” Harry said. “This is the Wizengmot deciding – not him.”

 

“The Wizengamot has all the rights.” Hermione reason back to him.

 

She began retreating from him and from the room.

 

She tried to avoid everyone’s gaze this time.

 

 

 

That’s why they were all huddled in a corner because they were curious and perhaps angry at the decision that was announced that morning.

 

But even more so, they were most probably talking about her.

 

”It’s not going to help, Harry.” Hermione said, quickly walking out of the room.

 

Harry threw the paper back over the table and quickly ran after her outside the conference room.

 

He called her down the hall, but she didn’t look back.

 

He ran after her, calling at her tirelessly.

 

“Hermione.” Harry breathlessly said, catching up with her and grabbing her to face him.

 

“Two weeks, Harry.” Hermione said. “You have two weeks and I’ve got three days.”

 

“I’ll buy you time.” Harry quickly said. “I’ll talk to Kingsley.”

 

“Do you know what will happen once we all pass the required information?” Hermione asked him. “Have you read about it?”

 

Truth, Harry has read about it.

 

He knew and understood it by paper.

 

But he didn’t have a clue on how Hermione was feeling.

 

 

 

“’Mione-“

 

“No, Harry.” Hermione said gently shoving his hand from her. “In two weeks, once all information are submitted they’re going to come up with some sort of dramatic flare into picking people by name or whatever category is suitable for them and would be forcing all of us to some psycho-“

 

 “Hermione, please.” Harry said facing her again and rubbing her arm gently to relax her.

 

“This isn’t helping.” Hermione said and she was tearful again like the previous night.

 

“I’ll talk to the minister.” Harry assured her grabbing her in an embrace. “I’ll buy you enough time for the two weeks.”

 

“Two weeks isn’t enough time, Harry.” Hermione said wiping her eyes with the back of her hand.

 

Harry pulled her to him in a comforting embrace and kissed her forehead.

 

“Two weeks will be enough.” Harry assured her.

 

Hermione already looked very tearful and angry at the same time.

 

He knew how serious this was especially for her but he wanted to make her smile.

 

He doesn’t like her worrying so much anymore in her life at that point.

 

“Hermione.”

 

“Harry.”

 

“Would it help you if I tell you that the requirement to be read by the Wizengamot in regard to status are in alphabetical order?”

 

Hermione looked up at Harry.

 

 

 

She wanted to smack him right over the head.

 

She wanted to hurt him at that very moment.

 

She wanted to run away and cry her heart out.

 

And she also wanted to laugh at the pun he had intended. 

 

 

 

“Is that supposed to be a joke?” she asked him as he went over to her and embraced her from the back.

 

Harry hugged her tightly, reassuring her comfort.

 

“Trust me.” Harry said.

 

“I’m going to kill you if I end up with Severus Snape, Harry.” Hermione said as Harry placed his arm around her waist and Hermione reveled in the feeling of being in Harry’s arm.

 

“I told you a quick-fix solution for this, ‘Mione.” Harry muttered with a smirk in his lips.

 

Hermione elbowed him.

 

“I’m serious.” Hermione said.

 

“I also am.” Harry whispered against the part of her ear which she felt ticklish the most. “Marry me, we solve all our problems.”

 

 

 

Hermione only smiled back at him. 

 

She rested her forehead against his soft lips and sighed heavily. 

 

"Come on." Harry said. "Let's get something to eat. I'm so hungry." 

 

"Suddenly, you're hungry." 

 

"I need something to fill in my stomach if my heart ain't filled in." Harry said rubbing her forehead against hers too and taking her hand into him. "You break my heart everyday,, Do you know that?" 

 

 

 

And then he gently bumped his head into hers, nudging and forcing her to smile back at him as he held her hand to assure her that she wasn't alone through all of it. 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twelve

The Line

 

“I’m going to bed.” Draco coldly said as he stood up from their table.

“But ansy just went off for some drinks.” Crabbe said, looking confused up at Draco. “She’s gonna look for you.”
 

“Tell her I’m tired.” Draco said draining his glass and settling it back on the table.

“You’ve barely even danced Draco-“

“I said, I’m going to bed.” Draco sharply said, (comma) staring down at his two friends.

 

They looked up at him and nodded coherently.

 

“What do we tell her?” they asked him.

“Tell her to fuck off.” Draco said and without another word, he left their table and walked out of the hall with nothing but the coat of his dress robes and his disappointment for the night.

“Stupid ball.” Draco muttered leaving the double doors. “Stupid tournament.”

 

Draco walked out into the darkness of the corridors.

Almost everyone were still at the Great Hall thoroughly enjoying themselves at the Yule Ball.

But he wasn’t happy nor did he enjoyed the event at all.

The whole TriWizard Tournament was nothing but a show for him.

He turned corridors down still pissed when he had to stop at a sound he heard down a small stairwell.

 

He listened.

 

Someone was sobbing and muttering.

Who would be out and alone at this time when there was a full blast party back at the hall?

Curious, he slowly took his wand out and hid behind the shadows and walked closer to the sound of someone sobbing.

He peaked through and saw that at the top of the staircase was a shadow of someone.

 

A girl was sobbing.

 

 

He moved a few steps forward to see who was crying at this hour and at an event like this.

His eyes narrowed as all he could see in the darkened view was the back of the girl and her shadows casted upon from the torches against the walls.

 

The sobs were already fading.

“Stupid, stupid..” the girl muttered. “Fraternizing with the enemy. What an idiotic idea.”

Draco drew closer as he recognized the voice.

“Granger?”

The sobbing abruptly stopped.

 

Hermione was quick and alert.

He wanted to hit himself for being unable to keep his mouth shut. 

 

“Who’s there?” she boldly asked turning back to the shadows.

 

Draco was able to retreat back in the shadows.

He tried his best not to make any sound or any sort of movement.

Hermione heard him and any moment she decides to go to where she heard him, she’d definitely see him.

Draco held his breath as his heart thumbed fast repeatedly.

He wasn’t even sure why he didn’t want to show himself given he’d caught her in a sort of humiliating situation.

But for some reason, seeing and hearing her cry wasn’t something she wanted her to know that he’d seen.

 

“Hermione.”

 

Draco held his breath as Hermione turned her step around.

“What are you doing here?” Harry asked stepping out of the shadows from the other corridor. “I’ve been looking for you.”

Hermione turned to him and completely backed away from Draco’s direction.

He stayed where he was, frozen on the spot and carefully listening to their conversation.

 

“I’m on my way back to the dormitory.” Hermione lied to him drying her tears out.

“Are you crying?” he asked her walking to her.

 

A bit of silence but Draco could tell that Harry was wiping her tears away by the shadows he could see.

 

“Ron?” he asked her. “Krum?” Harry asked her.

“I’m fine.” Hermione said sniffing away the last of her tears. “Why are you here?”

“I was looking for you.” Harry said. “Got a bit worried I couldn’t find you and then I couldn’t find Malfoy.”

“Malfoy?” Hermione repeated. “What about him?”

“Never mind.” Harry quickly said but he obviously had something inside his head. 

“He didn’t look like he enjoyed tonight, did he?” Hermione curiously asked him.

 

Draco held his breath.

 

She didn’t sound like she was mocking him; she even sounded like she was wondering for his sake.

“Don’t know.” Harry answered. “Don’t care either.”

“Oh, come on.” Hermione said as Draco saw Harry help her lift the ends of her long gown as they prepared to go back to the dormitory.

“What?”

“I just thought he didn’t enjoy the party.” Hermione said. “Given that I always thought he likes this type of thing.”

“So?”

“I mean.. he doesn’t look.. happy..”

“He’s only not happy because he’s not in the tournament. If you’d ask me, I’d give him my spot the moment it’s allowed.”

“It’s not like that.” Hermione said.

“Then it’s like what?” Harry impatiently asked her.

 

Silence.

 

“I just thought that.. well everyone else is enjoying but he seemed out of it. I hope he feels better.”

“You hope he feels better?” Harry unbelievingly repeated.

 

Silence.

 

Something in Draco’s heart sort of ached.

“How many drinks did you have?” Harry asked her.

“it just seems that he’s not happy while the rest of the world is.”

“Since when was he ever happy when the world around him is happy?”

“Don’t be mean to him.” Hermione said, dragging him. “Come on. I want to go to sleep.”

 

Footsteps soon followed and it wasn’t after a long moment that it was gone did Draco moved out of the shadows with his mind still on what Hermione had said and his heart beating in a way he didn’t understand at all.

 

 

Hermione had grudgingly taken her documents with her in her bag that she tightly clutched under her arm.

She barely had any sleep at all but she was up and early and wanted to line up together with the rest of the Muggle-Born community who were required to submit their documents within the three days.

Despite that she was Hermione Jean Granger and part of the Golden Trio, she didn’t want to be labelled a VIP.

She, like the rest of the normal Muggle-Born community, lined up at the floor and office where they had to submit their requirements.

The office would especially open and entertain by seven that morning and getting there by 6.20am, she was already somewhere in the twenty-something headcount.

 

“Are you kidding me?” Hermione asked Harry as he took her to the floor.

He was still sleepy as hell but Hermione looked like she was going to make him sleep for eternity if he didn’t come with her to bring her to the office.

 

He had willingly taken her coffee and office things in his hands to bring down to her office once she was done with her requirement there.

“Come on, it’s going to move fast once the office opens.” Harry sleepily said. “Kingsley told me so that he’d make sure the process would be as painless as possible.”

 

“Yes, I’m sure.” Hermione said as she shuffled through her bag looking for something.

 

“He also told me that you could just submit yours directly to his office.”

 

“And I told him as well that I’m a normal person who can line up for myself, thanks.”

Harry laughed at her and kissed her over the forehead.

“I’m going to come back after an hour. I’ll have breakfast with me if you’re still not yet done.”

“Thanks.” Hermione said. “I’ll be fine. I’ll see you.”

 

Harry smiled at her and left her to her line.

Hermione’s eyes followed him until he reached a corridor and turned to the lift that would lead him to their office floor.

Once he disappeared from view, Hermione turned her back into the line where she was at the very end at the moment.

She tried counting off the heads that were ahead of her turn.

Her eyes narrowed then when she noticed one head that stood out.

Someone quite tall and had distinct blonde hairstyle.

 

“What the mother..” Hermione muttered trying to get a closer look as she painfully craned her neck up.

 

Her eyes widened.

Draco was surely the one halfway down the line ahead of her.

“Are you kidding me?” Hermione angrily said leaving her spot and walking forward with a loud stomp on her feet.

“Why are you here?” she demanded in a tone louder than she meant.

 

Some heads turned to her but she ignored them.

Draco’s eyes widened upon seeing her.

 

Hermione looked back at him.

He was slightly dressed down but he clutched a thick folder in his arms that signified that he was bearing the same requirements she had brought with her.

“I’m going to submit.” Draco patiently answered her. “I have to-“

“I know you have to.” Hermione said. “Why?”

“Why?” Draco returned the question.

“Why?” Hermione impatiently repeated. “Why today? Why now? Do you know that this is a Muggle-Born line?”

 

Some faces turned to her but she still ignored them.

Draco looked back at her as if she was the one being misinformed about something.

“Muggle-Born line?” Draco repeated. “I don’t think so.”

 

Hermione’s face turned up to him as if he had told her something offensive.

“Excuse me?” Hermione said facing him and crossing her arms before her.

 

Draco looked back at her as if wanting nothing more than that morning to survive the whole process and get out of there alive.

He didn’t need this kind of drama early that morning.

 

“I asked you.” Hermione repeated rolling her eyes at him. “Why are you here?”

“I’m going to submit requirements.” Draco said. “For the registry for the Marriage Law. Am I at the wrong line?” he asked her.

 

Hermione’s patience was ebbing away by the moment.

 

“Muggle-Borns are required to submit in three fucking working days.” Hermione explained to him as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.

“I read it.” Draco explained to her taking out a neatly folded copy of the Daily Prophet from under his clutched documents where the list of requirements have been printed.

“Exactly.” Hermione said. “So why are you here?”

 

Draco stared back at her as if unsure if he really wanted to answer it.

“For the requirements.” Draco simply answered her. “Didn’t you-“

“You’re taking up space from us!” Hermione wailed back at him pointing at both sides of the line.

Draco looked back at her as she began losing it.

 

 

People were beginning to start staring back at their direction.

“Taking up your space?” Draco repeated in a clueless manner. “Why would I be-“

“Because Malfoy, the Muggle-Born community has been asked and required to submit within three days.”

“It says that the Muggle-Born community is required to submit in three working days while the rest have at least two weeks to submit.”

“Yes. Exactly.” Hermione snottily said. “That wasn’t hard to miss.”

“But it didn’t say that the line within three day are strictly for Muggle-Borns, did it?” Draco asked her back

Hermione opened her mouth to say something, (comma)  but no words came out.

She looked around and up and down the line at the faces looking for anyone she recognized.

 

She found at least two who also worked at the Ministry of Magic and where both Purebloods and down at the upper part of the line was a Half-Blood she knew back at Hogwarts from the Hufflepuff house.

 

The colour over her face drained as she turned back to Draco.

She suddenly grabbed the paper from his hand and opened up at the page about the Marriage Law and the requirements.

Draco quietly watch with passive expression as her eyes darted back and forth looking for something that say that today was a ‘Strictly Muggle Borns Only Registry’ kind of announcement.

 

Nothing.

She pushed the paper back to Draco’s hands looking as if a bucket of ice had been turned over her head.

 

“Is there anything else?” Draco quietly asked her.

 

He didn’t say anything and he also did his best to look as passive as possible.

He managed and contained his emotions despite that he looked like he was already halfway into saying something unkind to her.

“Fuck off, jerk.” Hermione angrily said pushing the paper back to him and walking back at the end of the line where at least three people had already occupied her spot and she then didn’t have a choice as she was pushed three spots back down at the end of it.

Chapter Text

Chapter Thirteen

The Floo News

 

 

Harry was humming to himself as he finished off with the pasta sauce he was stirring in Hermione’s kitchen.

The day had been long and exhausting.

 

A work was landed on his desk that disabled Harry to go up to Hermione for the breakfast he promised and Hermione had ended up with a couple of documents to sign up for since she was a Muggle-Born and there were a couple of things that were needed from her in regards to her lineage.

 

“I mean, I thought this whole discrimination is over since you killed him.” Hermione said as she entered the kitchen wearing trying to knot the tie of her apron around her neck.

“Give it a few more months, ‘Mione.” Harry said as he gestured her to come closer to him.

 

He handed her the spatula he was using to stir the sauce to let her taste it the same time he gestured her to turn around so he could tie the knot of the apron.

 

“It needs a bit more of herbs.” Hermione said as she placed her pinky over the spatula to taste it while Harry tied the knot on the nape of her neck. “What, they’re going to dig up right up to my Medieval ancestors?”

 

He turned her around and Hermione moved the spatula to him.

Harry moved his ring finger over it and tasted it while Hermione stared up at him waiting for his answer.

 

“I think it tastes just fine.” Harry said dipping his finger again and then swiping it over Hermione’s cheek before quickly taking the spatula and moving away from her to get a couple of herbs.

Hermione angrily sighed and used the back of her hand to wipe away the sauce off her face.

“Harry.” Hermione said grabbing a spoon from a corner to continuously stir the bubbling pasta. “Seriously.”

 

She was right.

 

It tasted slightly bland out of it.

“I’m serious.” Harry said turning back to her. “The pasta sauce taste just fine-“

“I meant about the discrimination over us – Muggle-Borns. When is it going to stop?”

 

Harry sighed as he took the spoon from her and started adding a few herbs and spices over the white sauce that was simmering.

 

It took him a while to answer, but he knew that he had to answer.

“Please dice up the fresh fruits for dessert.” Harry said gesturing over the corner of the table where a paper bag of groceries were laid.

Hermione rolled her eyes and turned to the table anyway.

 

“In all honesty-” Harry began as he wiped away sweat off his forehead from the heat of his saucepan with the back of his arm. “-just give it time.”

 

“Give it time?” Hermione asked back as she took out the apples, peaches, some grapes, strawberries and a large tub of yoghurt from the package and began making the fruit cup.

“Yes, time.” Harry patiently repeated to her. “I mean.. I’m not saying your department isn’t doing any work, alright?”

“Go on.” Hermione said as she began to slice the apples in quarters and uneven triangles and squares.

“But if you will see what the other departments are doing – mine for an example – everyone is doing something about something.”

“I know how busy they get.”

“Then be patient.” Harry said finishing up the sauce and grabbing the very large platter of Fettuccine pasta where he was about to pour the sauce.

 

Hermione continued to quietly toss all the fruits altogether and Harry knew that he had to say something in accordance to what she thinks was right or else the night would not end up well.

He knew her too well.

Some things just never change.

 

“Look.” Harry said as he emptied the saucepan of the white cream and poured it all over the platter of pasta. “I’ll talk to Kingsley and check out the department that handles that area to make it all easy for everyone.”

Hermione looked up at him with that dark look he knew too well.

“I’ll do it.” Harry said. “First thing tomorrow. Now come on, let’s have dinner because I’m really hungry.”

“Don’t you have your own kitchen?” Hermione asked sheepishly as she tossed and stirred the fresh fruits with the yoghurt for dessert. “Most importantly, don’t you have your own apartment?”

“I happen to have my own apartment and kitchen.” Harry indignantly said with a smile. “And it happens to be completely empty of food.”

Harry smirked back at her as he moved to the other corner where the small pieces of grilled chicken fillet were.

He took the platter of chicken and pasta to the smaller area that Hermione used as both her dining place and morning coffee-work area.

 

Harry returned to the room to take the utensils just as Hermione finished the bowl of fresh fruits.

“Do you have any complaints?” he asked her as he took the salad bowl from her.

“None.” Hermione said giving him the same smirk. “I’ll make some orange juice.”

“Thanks.” Harry said, kissing her forehead as he held the utensils over his left hand and the bowl at his right hand. “There are four oranges at the third cupboard and the glass pitcher we use is at the top shelf.

 

Hermione gave him a look.

“You-“ Hermione began but Harry already turned away from her. “I told you not to move things-“

“You’re welcome. I cleaned the other day.” Harry called back. “When you were finishing some late-night work.”

Harry turned back to the dining table and happily and neatly set up the table for the two of them.

He took plates and prepared the whole table with a satisfied gleam over his face as Hermione returned to the room with a pitcher of fresh orange juice.

 

“You move things around my apartment.” Hermione pointed out, handing him the pitcher.

“They need moving.” Harry answered her, ushering her to sit down. “I told you, I’ll make a really good house-husband.”

 

He winked at her.

Hermione rolled her eyes.

 

“You know more about my house than I do.” Hermione said, settling herself over a chair. “Why don’t you just move in with what you’re doing?” Hermione sarcastically said as she grabbed his plate and began putting over it.

“When do you want me to?” Harry asked her as he settled a glass for her and poured it with the drink.

 

Hermione gave him another dark look.

“Sit down.” Hermione snapped back at him as she moved his pasta plate toward him and began reaching for the chicken fillet and placing it over his plate as well.

“This tastes really good.” Harry said as he took a spoonful from the dessert bowl.

“Potter! Real meal first, dessert later!” Hermione said shoving his hand away from it just the way Mrs. Weasley did before to all her children.

 

Harry smirked at her and turned to his pasta and chicken.

 

“It does taste good.” Harry proudly said.

“You are going to be a very, very bad influence to your children.” Hermione snottily commented.

“Oh really?” Harry said as he reached over to her plate and placed a few fillets over it.

“Yes.” Hermione said with a raised brow.

“How do you know that?” Harry asked her with a sheepish glare. “You wouldn’t know that. I don’t have a child yet.”

“Then when you have one.” Hermione pointed out giving him a determined glare.

“And then how about we make one after dinner?” Harry asked her with a wide smile. “So the sooner we find out that I am actually going to be a really, really good father-“

“Harry!” Hermione squealed at him, throwing over her napkin across the table towards him.

“What?” he asked taking it away from his face and placing it aside.

“We’re eating. You’re seriously gross.” Hermione said,  looking away from him and blushing furiously.

 

Harry stared at her and a large smile glowed upon his face as he remembered something that would surely shoot her mood.

 

“What?” Hermione asked him staring back at his expression.

“It wasn’t too gross when it was convenient for you when we were making out at the very back of the London Library when we visited back then!” Harry proudly reasoned back at her with a very wide and playful smile over his face.

 

They were both giggling but Hermione looked a bit more embarrassed than he did at their conversation.

 

“Harry-“

“Do you remember? It was I think half past eight in the evening and it was barely with people and you had your leg-“

“Seriously-“

“You know, if you do marry me – I absolutely have loads of stories to tell our children about their mother-“

“You are seriously getting yourself into trouble –“

“I will never-ever run out of bedtime stories.”

“Harry! You are seriously-“

 

 But they both stopped.

They both heard movements in Hermione’s small living room.

The Floo Network.

They stared at one another.

It was already nine in the evening and way past the hours where communication to employees were permitted.

Unless it was imperative or some sort of emergency.

They both stood up from their chairs and quickly went over to the fireplace.

Kingsley Shacklebolt’s head was floating in the green flames.

 

“Everything alright?” Hermione asked him.

His eyes widened and was obviously glad to see Harry in Hermione’s apartment.

“I tried Harry’s apartment first.” the Minister cited. “Thought you’d be here when he didn’t answer.”

“Is there a problem?” Harry asked as they both knelt by the fireplace.

 

His eyes moved from Hermione to Harry as if trying to tell Harry something.

“What is it?” Hermione asked him.

“I thought I might give the two of you a head’s up.” he said. “There will be a general assembly tomorrow for all employees of the Ministry.”

“In regards to what?” Harry asked him.

“The Marriage Law.” Kingsley said and his eyes moved to Hermione.

Harry stared back at her but she didn’t say anything.

They both knew how much she hated and protested against this law.

 

She was quiet as she waited for Kingsley’s full report.

“What about it?” Harry asked.

“The original run of it before it is implemented is atleast a year or two. That’s why the Ministry is still registering everyone at this point.”

“And?”

“The Wizengamot saw it fit and voted that they shorten the time span of it.”

“What?” Hermione angrily asked in shock.

 

Kingsley looked slightly scared at Hermione’s reaction.

Before he could speak, Hermione continued with her banter.

 

“What are they running a mill for making babies?” she spat back at him as if it were all his fault. What’s the hurry?”

“Calm down.” Harry said placing his hand over Hermione’s arm.. “How long?” he asked the minister.

Kingsley shook his head and sighed heavily.

“How long before we get picked and paired with some stranger?” Harry calmly asked

 

Kingsley worriedly looked back at Hermione then back at Harry as if asking him for help incase Hermione forgets that it was just his head floating and she attempts to strangle him through the fire.

“About three to six months.” he honestly answered them.

“Three months?” Hermione asked.

“Six, Hermione.” Harry said trying to be positive. “And after?”

“Within the six months, they will start pairing people off.”

“It’s not enough time.” Harry pointed out. “They can’t just put people in alphabetical order in the-“

“No, Harry.” Kingsley said morosely. “The rules has changed. They thought it would be slightly – disorganized – to do it that way and there may be some loose ends and problems.”

“Disorganized?” Hermione irritably repeated. “And what do these people supposed is an organized way to do it?”

Kingsley now looked completely reluctant to answer her.

 

He stared at Harry and tried to avoid Hermione’s gaze.

 

“Everything has not been finalized yet but they’ve decided that the best way to do this first is to make sure that they first take the heads of the ones who people look up to.”

 

“Who people look up to?” Harry asked slightly confused. “What do you mean? Doesn’t make sense.”

“People in power and positions.” Hermione quickly said her eyes narrowing as thoughts started flowing in her head.

“Ministry officials.” Kingsley said in agreement as he continued further. “All unmarried, divorced, widowed – will be the first ones on the list.”

“Us?” Hermione angrily asked this time. “You mean us?”

“Yes.” Kingsley answered in a professional manner and trying not to show his slight fear upon Hermione’s reactions.

 

She looked angrier by the second.

“The Wizengamot deemed to think that if the government employees does it first – everyone will not think that there are exception to the rule-“

 

“Government employees will get to have their heads sacrificed first?” Hermione said almost at the point of yelling at him. “What gives them – what gives them – this is not fair-“

“We know.” Kingsley said. “We are being bombarded now by the same reaction the moment it reached MaCusa as well and other people of higher order or titles of the society.”

“Higher order?” Harry asked. “Titles of society? You mean not just us?”

“Everyone who has a titles in careers or has a profession or has had a recorded profession will have to succumb into this law?”

“Oh, so you mean professor McGonagall will be forced to marry someone?” Hermione sarcastically said glaring from Harry and back at Kingley.

 

Kingsley and Harry almost laughed at the idea of it but Hermione looked serious and murderous.

 

“No, Hermione.” Kingsley said. “As amusing as that would have been – which I’m sure she’ll murder first before she is forcefully paired with someone - only the employees of the Ministry or has or had a title profession will succumb to the law who are from ages 20 until around 50. For the women, age 20 until childbearing age and for the men, for as long as they can still consummate with the women.”

 

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Hermione said and this time she really looked angry. “What’s this? What do they think – are we some sort of piggery – they’re making a business out of this! Out of us!”

Harry quickly grabbed Hermione away from the fireplace because she looked like she was ready to put her hands in it and strangle Kingsley’s floating head.

 

“We’ll come to the assembly tomorrow.” Harry assured him. “Thank you for this, Minister.”

“I’ll still look up to it and immediately update you for anything important-“

“Oh you better do that-“ Hermione said threateningly. “I’m not going to marry some oaf-“

“There will be categories, Hermione.” Kingsley patiently said. “There will be logical categories on this-“

“Oh, I’m sure everything is being considered logically-“

“These final rules will be released by the Wizengamot and the four heads of the Ministry and myself.” Kingsley explained to her turning to Harry. “Once the final draft is done, I will show it to the both of you before it is released to the public.”

“You better.” Hermione snapped at him. “Or it’s the last law you’ll ever read.”

“I will.” Kingsley said. “I will show them to you first before anyone in the public does so you can.. so you can do some damage control.”

 

“Damage control?” Hermione asked him, confused.

 

He was staring at Harry and Harry was nodding understandably as if they knew something she didn’t.

Ofcourse, it was no secret to Kingsley what Harry was thinking or what Harry always wanted.

 

No, it was actually no secret to the whole Ministry of Magic that Harry had always been after Hermione and they had always been an item.

Hermione stared at them and already knew what they were thinking even without reading her minds.

 

Her hand came out of nowhere and she hit the back of Harry’s head.

“You idiot.” Hermione said hitting Harry at the back again and Kingsley smiled at the other end. “That’s not going to happen-“

“Oh, come on Hermione-“ Harry said rubbing the back of his head and smiling at her. “Don’t feel embarrassed about it. It’s not like Kingsley doesn’t know.”

 

Hermione gave him a look and Kingsley actually laughed at them.

“It’s not like the whole world doesn’t know.” Kingsley laughed at them.

“Not funny.” Hermione muttered gently rubbing the back of Harry’s head she had hit.

“He’s right, you know.” Kingsley said nodding his head. “And it’s not like that whole Wizarding World doesn’t know about the both of you.”

 

“This is not helping.” Hermione seriously said. “Update us for anything important, will you?”

“I will.” Kingsley said. “I will send word as soon as anything new comes up. I’ll see you both tomorrow.”

“Thank you.” Harry said with a smile. “See you tomorrow.”

“Goodnight, Minister.” Hermione kindly said with a smile.

 

The fire slowly died and Kingsley disappeared.

Harry and Hermione stared at one another by the fireplace.

 

Harry was unsure of what to say because she might be in a bad mood after that conversation and at the same time, there were a lot of jokes he wanted to tell her at that very moment.

 

He waited for her to say something.

“It’s really happening, isn’t it?” Hermione slowly asked, straightening up again and helping Harry back to his feet.

“I guess.” Harry quietly said, staring seriously back at her.

Worry passed Hermione’s eyes.

“I know it may sound as a joke to you, but worse comes to worse, you do know that we can always-“

“I know.” Hermione said, taking his head. “I know what you’re willing to do. But I don’t want this Marriage Law to destroy what we have. We’re never going to resort to that.”

“It’s only in paper.” Harry pointed out with a small smile.

But Hermione knew that for him, it wouldn’t be worth just a mere paper.

“For me, yes.” Hermione said. “But for you?”

 

 

 

He stared back at her as he took her hand and slowly led her back to the kitchens.

“It doesn’t really matter.” Harry said. “We’ve been through a lot of things, ‘Mione. We’ll get through this one.”

“I don’t want some paper to ruin us.”

“It won’t.” Harry assured her with a charming smile. “If ever it happens, it’s just paper. Just a document, Hermione. A mere signed paper will never ruin us.”

“Harry.” Hermione said, pressing his hand to hers.

She placed her arms around him and embraced him.

 

Harry was slightly taken aback but he embraced her in the hall all the same to assure her of him.

She slowly let him go and smiled at him.

“Unless of course you want to get married to Severus Snape?” Harry slowly said with a smirk.

 

A smile spread over Hermione’s teary face and she pushed him away from her.

“You’re really an arse sometimes.” Hermione said. “Come on. Dinner’s getting cold.”

 

Harry laughed back at her as she walked away and towards their small dining hall.

Coming, my dearest wife!” Harry said pushing his glasses closer to the bridge of his nose with the tip of his finger as he smiled and walked slowly back after her staring hopelessly in love at the woman he always had and never really had.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draco turned to a corner as he was about to get to the library for something.

 

He just removed a newly installed badge over his uniform and proudly pocketed his Inquisitorial Squad badge when he heard the slight giggle.

 

He looked up and saw Harry bidding Hermione a goodbye with a kiss over the cheek.

 

“I’ll just finish the essay and go sleep early too.” Hermione whispered back at Harry who took her second bag from her.

 

“I’ll be in the Common Room with Ron. I need to list down the stuff we haven’t covered for the DA.”

 

“I’ll help you when I get back.” Hermione said and she nodded at him and went inside the library that was still open at that hour.

 

Draco stared and stayed where he was until they both vanished from sight.

 

He sighed heavily and with a last-minute decision, he went back inside the library.

 

“I forgot something.” he casually told Madam Pince who was at the entryway and was staring suspiciously back at him.

 

She didn’t say anything but only nodded.

 

It wasn’t a secret to her that Draco usually spent his times in the library.

It may be out of anyone else’s knowledge but he did spend his time at the library the moment it opens and the hours before it closes.

 

He didn’t want to be disturbed nor did he want to be branded as some nerd.

But he always had the love for books.

 

He just didn’t want the world knowing it.

 

Draco quietly and casually walked around with his hands inside his pockets and had his eyes working its way around the aisles looking for Hermione.

She usually had a favourite spot in the library – a few tables away from the quiet and corner spot he usually was in.

But her usual spot was occupied by a graduating Hogwarts student who was so immersed in a book on Potions.

 

Probably a failing student by the way he looked at the way he stared and read at a chapter.

 

Draco smirked.

 

He moved around a corner and was slightly surprised to see Hermione sitting at his favourite corner spot.

She had just finished taking all her things out from her bag and was settling down to read a book.

He quietly moved towards her table and corner and had to clear his throat before she realizes his presence.

She looked up, slightly surprised, slightly alarmed by the looks of it.

 

“We just finished a quiz at DADA.” Draco said pulling up a chair and adamantly sitting on it.

He placed his bag over the table and Hermione stared at him as if he had lost his mind.

“Excuse me.” Hermione said closing her book shut and staring back at him. “I believe this is my table.”

Draco stared back at her and around the table.

“I don’t see your name on it.” Draco said with a smile as he reached across the table for the book she was reading but Hermione quickly pulled it away from him.

“Defensive spells?” Draco asked her. “I don’t think we need that.”

“I don’t think I asked for your opinion.” Hermione spat back at him. “What do you want?”

Draco smirked back at her.

 

What did he want?

 

Nothing.

No, he didn’t know.

 

But it was quite amusing to sit there and watch her raw emotions to boil.

A faint glow appeared in his eyes before it completely vanished out of the blue.

 

“I’m about to study.” Draco said as he reached for his bag and began unpacking his belongings.

Hermione gave him a dark look.

“There are about other stables here, Malfoy.” Hermione pointed out with a threatening voice back at him.

Draco looked up at her and ignored her.

“This is a corner spot.” Draco calmly said without looking up at her. “I need a quiet place to study.”

Hermione’s eyebrows raised back at him.

“I’m quite sure.” Hermione said, standing up as she began taking her things with you.

“Where are you going?” Draco quickly asked, staring as she began returning all her things back inside her bag.

“Somewhere else.” Hermione said. “Anywhere else without you around.”

 

Hermione grabbed her last book but Draco took hold of it.

She tugged but he didn’t let go.

She stared back at him as if ready to hex him.

“Let go of it, Malfoy.” Hermione spat at him. “I swear if you don’t-“

“Keep your voice down.” Draco said not letting the book go. “You’re making noises, this is the library.”

“I don’t fucking care!” Hermione hissed louder than she meant.

A couple of people nearest them stared at their direction with a glowering look over their faces.

“I told you.” Draco said not letting her book go and if any, flattening it harder over the table to disable her from tugging it away.

“What the hell do you want?” Hermione asked again her eyes burning in anger. “I need to go. Let go of my book.”

“Why do you study this hard?” Draco asked her. “It’s not like you’re going to fail.”

“Why do you care?” Hermione asked him moving a step forward and placing her other hand over her own book.

 

Draco stared up at her determination.

She tugged harder at the book and he quickly let go making Hermione lose her balance backwards.

But before she could completely fall back, Draco had moved over the table and grabbed her arm to stop her from falling back.

Hermione’s eyes widened at the way he gripped her arm and Draco too looked like he had touched something fiery.

They stared at one another with wide eyes with mouths both slightly open.

Their distance was so close that they could literally feel one another’s heartbeat.

It was a split moment, but at that very second, it felt like something had happened.

 

Their eyes met.

There was a gleam and some kind of connection that lit up from both their gazes.

The moment had passed as quickly as it had come.

Once Draco realized that Hermione was steady back over her feet again, he quickly let her arm go and threw her back as if this time, he had touched something extremely dirty.

Hermione was breathless and stunned and was too shock to say anything.

There was a look of conflict and hatred in Draco’s eyes that she didn’t really understand.

And before she could even recover from it all, Draco had grudgingly grabbed all of his belonging and staggered away from the table and paced as fast as he could away from her.  

 

Chapter Text

 

Chapter Fourteen
Magical Skills 



 




“Just ignore her, just ignore her.” Draco quietly said to himself as the lift ascended to the Ministry of Magic that morning.

He had finished submitting his requirements, however, there were other requirements that he had to submit and had to return the following day.

He had encountered Hermione in a few occasions by now since he arrived back at London and all had been quite unpleasant.

It felt that Hermione’s grudge against him and his family will never ever go away.

He couldn’t blame it upon her.

He deserved it.



He deserved all her hate not just for the years he bullied her, but for what his father had done that resulted to the most tragic event of her life.

He wasn’t completely ignorant of everything and so he wasn’t going to blame her for all the hate.

He only needed to maintain a very good self-control out of the many things she would say to him at the instances they would meet one another for he knew that they would surely see one another one way or another.

 



The elevator doors opened and he couldn’t be glad that the corridor was empty.

He was still slightly limping from the elevator incident they had both endured but at the least he was feeling a lot better now.

Entering and using the lift wasn’t really to his liking. but he was in a hurry to finish his Ministry business for the day and he was going to St. Mungo’s.

Despite that the deal with his father was supposed to be quick, he figured that he couldn’t just dump him back at the manor and not make certain arrangements for his father just because he was out of Azkaban.

He needed something temporary like a job or project to go into while was in town.

Something to occupy his time at the moment.

Or rather some form of excuse to not be bothered by his father once he figures out that he had nothing to do in town anyway.













Draco quietly watched with dark eyes as Harry and Hermione bought sweets from the trolley lady down the end of the Hogwarts express.

Both of them seemed to still be in a good mood despite all that were happening in the Wizarding World.

The Dark Lord has faithfully risen and has showed himself out at the open a few months ago.

And despite it all, he felt like he had been beaten severely.

His father was presently at Azkaban after being taken down at the Ministry of Magic at their failure to accomplish the mission that he was tasked.

He was going to make sure that Harry Potter pays for it this year.

But other than that he was too occupied by a lot of things – by his own mission.

Draco stared down at them as Hermione’s echoing giggle transcended all the way back to his end of the train.





How could they still be this happy?

How could they?

How could she?

And then he realized that Hermione had always been there for Harry Potter no matter what was the event.

She had always been at his side through and through.

How grand it must be for Harry Potter to have such a loyal friend by his side.

Or lover.

Then the comparison of it reminded him of others.

Of his own aunt Bella and the Dark Lord.

It may not have been as close to what he was seeing but it was somewhat close to it.

It was no secret to the Dark Lord’s inner circle how much his aunt Bella always loved the Dark Lord and dedicated her whole life in service of him even before she graduated from Hogwarts.

She was so loyal to the Dark Lord Voldemort

As seemingly as loyal as Hermione was to Harry Potter.





“Draco?”

Draco quickly turned and saw Pansy behind him.

“What are you looking at?” she asked him.

He quickly moved her back and closed the door of the compartment.

“Nothing.” Draco said looking away from her and holding down his left arm.

“Are you alright?” she quietly asked him staring at the gesture.

She didn’t know really, but she knew enough to correctly guess things.

“Why are you here?” Draco asked her with an irate look over his face. “I told you that I want to be alone.”

Pansy stared back at him in utter disbelief.

“I thought I heard Crabbe said that you needed someone to talk to.”

“I don’t need anyone to talk to.” Draco spat at her. “I don’t need anyone at all.”

“Draco-“

“Get your own compartment.” Draco said suddenly grabbing her off her seat.

“You’re hurting me-“ Pansy wailed at him trying to unclench his fingers around her arm.

“Get out. Out!” Draco angrily said painfully holding her and literally throwing her out of the compartment.

Pansy angrily pulled her arm back from him as Draco pushed her out of the compartment.





She fell backwards toward the door across but didn’t say anything.

“I’m here if you need-“

“I said, I don’t fucking need anyone!” Draco angrily yelled at her as he picked up her bag and threw it out towards her.

Pansy caught it and stared back at her with both anger and concern over her eyes.

Her eyes gleamed with tears as they stared at one another.

For so long they have been quite close with one another but Pansy always felt that Draco never loved her.



And Draco always felt that she was never really there for him.

With one last look of contempt, Draco slammed the compartment door shut and Pansy stalked down the train with tears in her eyes.

“Stupid girl.” Draco muttered under his breath as he sank back down over the chair in the compartment that he now had all to himself.

The train moved towards their destination and Draco, in all the years he’s been coming to school, had never felt so alone and so afraid to go back to Hogwarts.










“Are you alright?” Harry asked Hermione as they stalked out of the large hall at the Ministry.

They were both holding out parchment handouts from the general assembly that took about three hours of their morning.

They were introduced and briefed about the new Marriage Law that was to be implemented very soon.

Questions were also offered and raised by about a hundred Ministry officials that were likely to be affected by the new law that was to take place very soon.

Some questions were answered, some questions were given answers that led to even more questions and some just raised a couple of rude words and arguments all over the assembly.

The turn-out of the event was as Kingsley already expected – unlikely and such chaos.

But the Wizengamot has finalized the law and the process of putting it altogether and tying up loose ends were already on the roll.

Things were already taking place even if they didn’t want to.

Harry concerned stared back at Hermione who had been quiet since they left the hall.

At the first hour, she had taken time taking down notes from the announcements, from the handouts that were given in case she had questions and so on and forth.

But on the next hour when things began to heat up in the discussion, Hermione had completely forgotten all her notes and had included herself into the debate on why it shouldn’t be implemented at all or why there should be exception to the rules and most importantly, what are other ways to save the community and population of their kind without having to succumb into the degradation of such a law.





“I’m fine.” Hermione snapped at him without looking back at him as they walked down corridors heading for some late lunch.

“We can go home if you want.” Harry offered her. “Kingsley said there aren’t much to be done today in the offices as it’s the most important-“

“Don’t be ridiculous.” Hermione said. “I have tons of things to do today.”

Harry nodded at her.

They walked down and Harry began to reach forward her and reach for her hand when he saw what seemed like a glimmer of tear at the side of her eyes.

Hermione sighed and shifted her hand away from her reach.





“’Mione-“

“I’m fine.” Hermione said stopping.

Harry looked back at her.

“Head to the café.” Hermione said as she pointed to the ladies’ room. “I’ll follow.”

Harry looked reluctant.

“I can wait.” Harry said. “I’m not that hungry.”

“Go.” Hermione stiffly told him. “I’ll follow. Reserve seats for us.”

“There’s likely to be seats there when we get-“

“I’d like to be alone Harry, even just for five minutes.” Hermione said unable to stop herself for sounding angry.

Harry looked back at her and nodded.

“I’ll save our usual seats.” Harry quietly said and without another word, Harry turned away from her, making Hermione feel very sorry for hurting him again.







 

 

 



“Go, I’ll follow.” Hermione whispered as Harry and Ron happily packed their belongings.

Harry had just won Professor Slughorn’s potion challenged and had won himself a small vial with a potion called Felix Felicis – a liquid luck.

Harry placed all his books inside including his danty copy of Advanced Potion-Making he had since the start of term that has been giving him undeniably good grades at Potions.

He stared back at Hermione who was packing her thing in a very slow manner.

Harry quietly observed her and stared at the direction she was staring.





Her eyes narrowed.

She was staring across the room where Draco had just stood up and had began packing his belongings as if unaware that the class was already over.

“’Mione?” Harry said nudging her around the shoulder and attempting to get her bag from her.

“I’m fine.” Hermione said. “I’ll bring this. I’ll follow. I need to ask Professor Slughorn something.”

“He just left.” Ron said pointing at the door. “Can’t wait to grab himself food I supposed.”

Harry and Hermione looked at one another and Hermione already knew that he saw her staring at Draco.





“Harry-“

“Don’t think I don’t notice.” Harry quietly said as the smile faded from his face and he finished packing his books back.

Hermione didn’t say anything.

“I told you something’s wrong with him. But don’t go finding out for yourself.”

“I’m not.”

“Not what?” Harry asked her. “Who are you lying to, Hermione?”

Hermione bit her lower lip.

“Look, I’ll figure it out. Don’t go doing something or anything stupid.”

“Stupid?” Hermione asked him casting him a cold look. “What’s stupid is that book of yours-“

“Hermione-“ Harry said holding her arm to stop her from saying anything more because there were still other people in the room including Malfoy.





Hermione fell silent.

“Not here.” Harry whispered to her. “I’m sorry. Come on, let’s go back to the Common Room and talk-“

“I’m going to follow.” Hermione said eyeing Draco still as he zipped his bag and left. “Just trust me on this one.”

Before Harry could even say anything else, Hermione hurriedly slung her bag around her shoulders and grabbed something from the table that Draco had just left.

Breathless and slightly disheveled, Hermione followed Draco all the way down two corridors that led up to the upper flowers.

Was he not going back to the dungeons or to the Great Hall for the long break period?

Didn’t he have a long period on that day as she remembers?





“Malfoy!” Hermione called out, breathing heavily as she tried to still her heartbeat. “Malfoy!”

Draco stopped on his adagio like steps and slowly turned to her.

It took him a moment to realize who it was.

His eyes narrowed upon seeing her.

“What do you want?” he asked her.

But Hermione sensed that something was wrong, something was different.

He didn’t look like he wanted to murder or hurt her.

He didn’t even look like he had any energy at all.

His eyes were so sunken deep, his pale face and his body thinner than she could tell.



Was he ill?

“You left your notebook.” Hermione said handing his belonging that he left.

Draco’s eyes narrowed and then he saw that she was holding the notebook from which he had been writing on his plans for his mission.

“How dare you touch it.” Draco angrily said grabbing it aggressively from her. “Did you read it? Did you open it?”

His voice was threatening and he now looked ready to murder her.

“No.” Hermione quickly said somewhat realizing how deep in trouble she was if he does something.

They were near the fifth floor and the corridors were all dark and empty.

He could hex her and leave her out and nobody would even know he attacked her if he Obliviates her after.

“I was just-“

“Don’t ever – EVER – touch anything that is mine ever again!” Draco angrily said staring at her with pure hatred.

“I found it and I thought maybe it’s important to you!” Hermione angrily spat back at him.

But Draco didn’t look like he had any time in the world to even argue with her.


“You can rejoice all you want but I swear to you that your days would soon be very over – especially you filthy Mudblood!”

But before Hermione could even react, Draco had turned away from her.

But it wasn’t that encounter nor his words that bothered her as she walked slightly terrified and shaking back to the Gryffindor Common Room.

It was the look of what looked like unreasonable doubt and deep fear in Draco’s eyes as he moved away from her with an evident gleam of tears shimmering at the sides of his brilliant eyes.














What are you doing here?” Hermione asked as she stalked her way down the corridor.

Few minutes later, she was heading back down to the elevators to meet Harry at the café when she passed by a corridor where Draco was standing and had just finished talking to someone.


“Granger?”

He turned to see her, at utmost look over his face spread upon seeing her.

“Why are you looking at me like that?” Hermione asked him.

‘Because I’m keeping my life in order and to myself and you go barging at me looking for a fight..’, Draco quietly thought to himself.  

“Looking like what?” he asked instead. “I just finished a requirement for the Marriage Law.”

“I thought you’ve finished it the other day?” Hermione asked him folding her arms and staring at him as if he’s done all that was wrong in the world again.

“The documents?” Draco asked her. “Yes, I’ve submitted and my documents need some follow up requirements and all. I’m talking about the Magical Skill Test they have for the law.”

“A Magical Skill Test?” Hermione repeated eyes widening at hearing another reason to hate the law even more.

“Yes.” Draco said staring back at her with a questioning glare on why she wasn’t aware of the law’s requirements if she was working at the Ministry in the first place.

“Magical Skill Test?” Hermione repeated disgustingly. “For what? Why was that not briefed out at the assembly – what did you do at it?”

“We did magic.” Draco flatly stated. “They asked me about spells I’m quite good at and the spells I wasn’t familiar with – and they had tested me with obstacles from which I should know which spells to perfectly defend myself and some other routines that required me to-“

“Who tested you?” Hermione asked him.

“Ministry officials.” Draco replied. “And I supposed some Aurors.”

Hermione looked back at him with a big concern over her face.



Why would they want to test them each by magic?



Skill test?

Not that she’s worried.

She could easily review and ace it and it wasn’t like she actually needed to review anyway.


“Don’t worry about it.” Draco said seeing the look over her face as if reading her thought. “They’re only testing the wizards, not the witches.”

“What?” Hermione said looking up at him. “What do you mean?”

“It’s a requirement from the wizard who had signed up already for the Marriage Law.” Draco explained to her taking his small bag from the chair outside the office they were standing by.

“We don’t do it?” Hermione asked him with curiosity in her head.

“No.” Draco answered her giving a very small nod and smile at her. “They only want to test the male species I supposed if we had anything to off the would-be brides.”

“Such an unfair way to do this.” Hermione quietly commented thinking about it.

“But you would have a different test.” Draco said. “I asked them what witches are supposed to do.”

Hermione’s eyes lit up at his direction.

“A test?” she asked. “For us?”

“Some sort of written and logical test.” Draco explained to her. “They couldn’t disclose it all to me and all that. I casually just asked them-“

“Some sort of logical and reasoning test, huh?” Hermione said with a shake of her head. “Supposed their checking if the female that will reproduce the whole society all over again are right to their heads. But if you asked me, this whole Marriage Law isn’t right to begin with.”

“Nobody in their right minds would succumb to this law.” Draco said with a shake from his head. “If I had a choice, I wouldn’t succumb to it.”

“But you can have a choice, right?” Hermione asked him.



Draco shook his head.

“There are bylaws to be followed, Granger. And besides, I’m sure you’ve known and noticed that my entire bloodline has broken all the laws out there for me to gain a special pass out of this.”

There was silence between them.

Hermione could feel the regret he was having at the moment and the contempt in his voice once more.

“Malfoy..” Hermione slowly began not really knowing why she suddenly wanted to say something comforting.

“I have to go.” Draco said. “It was really quite nice having this conversation with you.”

“This conversation?” Hermione quietly asked him, slightly bewildered.

“Yes.” Draco said. “You and I – talking casually without you yelling at me and attempting to murder me or something.”

Hermione opened her mouth to say something as he walked away from her but no words came out.



“See you around, Granger.” Draco called back to her raising a hand in a backward way to say goodbye.

Hermione watched as he walked away, vanishing as he reached another turn at the end of the corridor.

“See you, Malfoy.” Hermione quietly said, biting her lower lip and grinning to herself without realizing it as she headed back to the corridor to the elevators to meet up with Harry.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Chapter Fifteen
Encounters


 

 



“You’re murdering my side of the burger, ‘Mione.” Harry said staring and moving her legs from him as he reached forward.

They were in Hermione’s living room, both still in their Ministry uniforms and bodies outstretched over her large couch and eating take-out.

They were halfway into sharing a very large burger as Hermione told Harry about her day at the Ministry and the tests that she took.

She got into the part when she was answering some supposedly ‘logical’ questionnaire so the Ministry may get to know her better when Harry noticed her mood changing as she began to unevenly and roughly cut the burger in half.

Hermione gave him the platter with the burger and watched as Harry sliced them and tried to make it look edible still after Hermione’s murder of it as she continued with her rant and banter.

“The questionnaire was as illogical and irrelevant as I thought it would be. I mean, who even made that? Did they even had that questionnaire checked or double checked or spelled-checked or something?”



Harry shook his head in both amusement and agreement to everything that she was saying.

He sat back over the couch and Hermione laid back her legs over his as he handed her part of the burger.

“I mean – seriously. Asking me how much I’ve earned?”

“They’re asking everyone the same things.”

“No, I think they’re asking Muggle-Born a different type of questionnaire. I saw the girl. She was shuffling through her papers – she may have been looking for papers that were filed especially for us.”

Harry watched her munch on the burger all the way talking in a mouthful of how unfair and fowl the whole Marriage Law process was.

“So when are you going to get your skill test done?” Hermione asked him a little while later as she finished half of her part of the burger.

Harry shook his head at her and Hermione stared back at him.

She already knew the answer.

You’ve already taken it, you little chit.” Hermione said playfully kicking him around his rib area.

“Everyone’s going to take it, ‘Mione.” Harry said grabbing the end of her foot and keeping it in place.

Hermione frowned back at him and rolled her eyes.

“Seriously.” Hermione said as she took two more bites while Harry waited for her mood to return into a better light.

“’Mione.”

“Fine.” Hermione said. “What did you do? What was asked? Put it into detail.”

“Malfoy was right.” Harry slowly said. “More like skill tests. On what we know – spells we specialize in, spells we are weak, a couple of questions on how are magic were first brought out or when it started showing signs – basically more on-“

“More on how powerful you are.” Hermione slowly said narrowing her eyes. “And then they’re testing us – the girls rather – on how intellectual we are. That’s fucking brilliant.”

“Wait, what?” Harry asked not catching up as Hermione quickly settled her feet back down on the carpeted floor and stood up.

“I get it now.” Hermione said shaking her head and crossing her arms as she paced the room. “Brilliant, fucking brilliant. Who thought about this?”

“About what?” Harry asked her still completely confused.

“Oh, honestly, Harry.” Hermione impatiently said. “They’re checking the skill-abilities of the men and intellectual capacity of the women.”

Harry still looked slightly lost at her word.

“And that’s going to help reproduce properly how exactly?”

“Dominion.” Hermione quickly supplied him as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. “They’re going to pair one individual to either be advance at magic or with their intellectual capacity.”

“You mean one should be skillful or intelligent and the other not so?”

“Precisely.” Hermione said shaking her head. “So that when they do have to – you know-“

“To have sex, Hermione. You can say it.”



“Whatever. Yes, that.” Hermione said nodding her head. “The other can’t say no simply because the other is so dominating over the other. They can’t pair up two stupid individuals because that’s going to cause them the ‘future child to be’ and will be of no use into the society and then they also can’t pair to brilliant individuals because that’s going to be chaotic when both parties could think for themselves without submission.”

Harry was silent as he tried to figure this out again and again in his head.

It didn’t make sense at first but now that Hermione was talking him into it carefully, it did make sense to him.

“They’ve asked you to return, right?” Harry asked her.

“Yes.” Hermione said. “Taking this through, I supposed what we did earlier was some early assessment on how we do so they can easily put us all into a categorized box and once we’re there-“

“That’s when the second test is going to be.” Harry supplied with a serious look over his face.

“And that’s when they’re going to really categorized us together or rather pair us up.”

“Fucking stupid and brilliant.” Harry said looking up at her and the snotty look over her face.

“I don’t think it’s about dominance though.” Hermione suddenly said. “It may be there.. but it couldn’t be their priority.”

Harry looked back at her.

It was going to be a long and rough night of debating things with her again.

But then again, what and how else did the two of them really spend their time together?

He sighed heavily and took another bite of his burger while he let her sink in his arms, almost tearful.

He hated it.

He hated that she was suffering all her worries when he was there – just right there to make things easier for the both of them and she was denying him because she fears of running their friendship all the while.

















Draco sighed heavily as he reached his apartment.

The day had been quite long and dragging.

He felt that he was mentally exhausted from all the so-called ‘exams’ he had to take in order to be legally done with his requirements for the Marriage Law that were required of each individual who passed the main category of the law.

He had barely lounged himself at the living room area when something in his fireplace moved.

It was slowly turning green.

“Fuck.” Draco muttered to himself closing his eyes in stress knowing that it was none other than his father.

He didn’t want to receive his father or any message from him or anything from him for the matter.

Draco heavily sighed and picked up his wand from the side of the couch where he just laid it out and walked towards the fireplace.

He muttered something and the fire in the hearth turned purple then green then he slowly backed away as his father slowly walked out of the fireplace.

Draco stared back as his father dusted off soot from his elegant robes and was looking impatiently at him.

“I’ve been there for ten minutes.” Lucius said with a glimmer of impatience in his eyes. “Why is your fireplace barred from the manor?”

Draco raised an eyebrow at him and wanted to say, ‘For this precise reason.’ – but he didn’t.

“It’s barred from a lot of connections.” Raco said. “I don’t want to be easily disturbed or intruded to especially such as this hour.”

“It’s only eight, Draco.” Lucius said walking around his apartment. “Even your grandfather doesn’t go to bed that early.”



His eyes roamed the whole loft – taking in every bit of it.

It was only his first time to really look around the apartment.

He has heard of it and had sought out its exact location since Draco didn’t really give him information.

Since he was taken out of Azkaban, Draco practically delivered him straight to the manor and without further ado, left him there and didn’t really inform him of the place he was temporarily staying in while he was at London.

“It’s orderly but small.” Lucius commented his eyes roaming around the minimalistic interior of the whole area.

“I’m not staying for long.” Draco said, folding his arms and staring up at his father with utmost struggle not to say something disrespectful. “And it’s not exactly like I have company here.”

“Do you want one?” Lucius automatically asked him with a smirk over his face.

He knew that comment and look too well – the small words, the way his eyes looked around, the way his body moved and inched around his apartment – he wasn’t happy with the size and lack of luxurious items around the place in order to parade his name.

Lucius turned around and faced him with a heavy sigh as if struggling himself to keep his tongue from commenting anything further.



“Let’s get to the point.” Draco said. “Why are you here?”

Lucius looked back at him with his eyes momentarily widening at his words.

“I wanted to see you.” Lucius said with a narrowed brow. “Am I not allowed to see my own son?”

“See me?” Draco repeated. “You just saw me when I took you out of Azkaban.”

“Exactly.” Lucius said with a cold smile. “You haven’t returned nor visited the manor, Draco.”

“What for?” Draco asked him. “Is there anything wrong at the manor?”

Lucius looked completely insulted but he was a Malfoy and Malfoy Senior at that.



“Anything wrong?” Lucius asked him. “Pray tell Draco, when are you planning to get your dress robes for the event? When are you planning to help me sort out everything that is needed for the party?”

“The party?” Draco asked, folding his arms and looked back at him with an honest lost look over his face. “What party?”

Now Lucius in no doubt looked completely offended.

“The ball – the gala Draco – that welcomes me back into our world.” Lucius coldly described back at him with a certain indignity in his tone.

Whatever Lucius was expecting of Draco, he didn’t react that way.

Draco completely coughed out into a restrained laughter.

“What is funny?” Lucius asked him pursing his lips and walking forward Draco.

It was at this time in their old conversations that Lucius would certainly intimidate and scare Draco off.



But not this time, not anymore.

Draco stood his ground, unflinching and staring straight back at his father with all the seriousness he could try to muster at that very moment.

“Gala?” Draco slowly repeated. “Gala? Party? A sort of ball? Something like that? For what, exactly?”

“For what?” Lucius incredulously repeated. “Draco – I just got out of goddamn Azkaban and you’re asking me what the gathering is for?”

He was slightly red in the face, voice restrained to keep himself from yelling at his son who seemed unaware of what he was trying to say.

“What do I have to do with it?” Draco casually asked him. “Are you asking me to have the party planned and prepared for you?”

Whether Draco meant that to be serious or sarcastic, it certainly angered Lucius even more.

“Plan it? Prepare it? You’re my son – you’re supposed to be the first one excited and up to do this, Draco!” Lucius flared back at him.

Draco stared back, calm as fuck.

They only stared at one another and Draco could swear that Lucius was losing it.

“I can’t.” Draco simply answered him. “I’m quite busy. I can’t handle that. I’ll have my assistant help you out if you need anything.”

“I don’t need anything Draco!” Lucius angrily said. “Draco – I need – it’s –“

But he couldn’t bring himself to say it.





No, not yet.

Lucius Malfoy was Malfoy senior and there was no way in hell that he was going to admit that he needed anyone – least of all, that he was in desperate need of his son.

“What?” Draco asked him. “What do you need exactly?”

He stared back at him.

Eyes very cold, physique stiff and controlled.

“Fine.” Lucius finally said. “I’ll fucking deal with it. How about tomorrow morning?”

“What about tomorrow morning?”

“Breakfast.”

“I can’t.” Draco said moving towards the fireplace to show him that he was no longer welcome there, but most welcome to leave.

“You can’t?” Lucius asked him without moving from where he stood.

“I can’t.” Draco dismissively said. “I have to go to therapy.”

He gestured at the small bandage around his leg and arm that Lucius had missed earlier.

“What the fuck happened to you?”

“Nothing that concerns you, I believe.” Draco said. “Look, I’m really tired. We can talk some other time. Do you need help with getting back?”

Lucius stared.

Draco was really showing him without qualms that he wasn’t welcome and he wanted to get rid of him.

Not even an offer of a drink or chair was given to him.

He stared back at the fireplace and knew he needed Draco’s help.

Since getting out of Azkaban, he was still not allowed to use a wand and that it was still being debated if he was going to be given one.

He could only do basic magic and apparently traveling back and forth from farther distances would need some help from time to time.

With Draco’s fireplace barring the manor’s he would need magic to get back.

“Yes.” Lucius replied through gritted teeth as he walked towards the fireplace.

Draco nodded.



He moved his wand around and pointed at the hearth where it turned green again.

They stared at one another – too much were being spoken by their gazes but no words were coming out of their mouth.

Lucius nodded and without another word from Draco, he stepped into the green flames and vanished on sight.





The weekend had come and Hermione found herself stuck with paperwork she has missed at the office due to her therapy sessions and the day she had been occupied to follow the requirements with the Marriage Law.

She had entered the café that Saturday afternoon only to find it very full except for one spot by the corner where the wizard was cleaning it off from a previous customer.

“Thanks.” Hermione breathlessly said as she quickly and literally dived towards the table and laid out her pile and pile of parchments of Ministry paperwork.

The wizard gladly smiled at her and let her settle in the spot.



She was supposed to spend the day with Harry at Diagon Alley to buy a couple of new clothes and things for work when he was called early that morning in regards to some Auror Department meeting that was in relation to a couple of unsolved cases a few years back.

Harry didn’t want to go, but Hermione had nagged him to attend since she had things to do herself and that they had the Sunday together to do it anyway.

She always reminded him that their work should be their topmost priority above anything else.

Harry, not wanting to disappoint or argue further, made them coffee that morning after his sleepover and quickly headed to the Ministry of Magic with an unwilling heart.

Hermione lined up for her usual coffee for the few hours she was going to go through her work at the café.

In truth, she wanted to stay in at home and sleep the day off.

For some reason, she felt mentally and emotionally tired lately but like she’s told Harry she had priorities and responsibilities.

Hermione was looking through the glass with the pastries display when the girl behind the bar called for her that she lacked a few Knuts for her drink.

“Oh, sorry.” Hermione said, quickly fidgeting through her small bag for her purse.

The witch stared back patiently at her recognizing her and knowing she was a regular customer there.

Hermione fidgeted through but without any lack.

She didn’t turn around but she could hear the line piling behind her and some old wizard made a snide comment about her ordering for something she couldn’t afford.

She was to turn to lash back at the wizard when someone behind her gently brushed her elbows.

“I got this.” said the gentle voice and the sound of Knuts rolling over the counter.

Hermione looked up and saw Draco standing behind her.



He was looking up at the menu over the board and was pulling out galleons for his own order.

“I’d like to have that Dark Coffee with-“

“What are you doing?” Hermione asked as she was ushered forward the line to wait for her drink.

The witch received Draco’s payment for Hermione’s drink and handed him the small parchment receipt for it.

“I’m ordering coffee.” Draco simply said. “I haven’t had breakfast yet. Do you want anything to eat to go with you drink?”

He looked back at her with a gentle smile over his marred face.

Hermione wasn’t sure if she wanted to get angry or just to walk out.

“I could fend for myself, Malfoy.” Hermione said, folding her arms and blocking him from moving forward the counter after he gestured his order to the witch and paid for it.

“I know you could.” Draco said putting back his change inside his pocket. “I didn’t say you couldn’t.”  

“You didn’t have to do that.” Hermione coldly said. “You didn’t have to pay for it.”

Draco looked up at her, confused with her cold attitude.

“It’s nothing. It’s just a few Knuts-“

“Exactly.” Hermione said pointing her hand out over the counter. “What do you think? I can’t pay for it?”

Her voice slightly raised and she still didn’t move over her spot so Draco couldn’t as well and they started blocking the line from moving.

“I didn’t say that.” Draco said lowering his voice to not gain attention. “I was just trying-“

“Trying to what?” Hermione angrily said now without consideration over her tone. “Trying to parade the Malfoy pride all over the world?”

Draco stared at her, obviously that sort of comment still hits him hard.



“I’m not trying to do that.” Draco said in a low tone as he straightened his suit and took his receipt from the counter.

He moved stay away from her but Hermione pushed him back in place.

His eyes slightly widened and he stared back at her with surprise.

“Granger-“

“Don’t Granger me!” Hermione said moving her hand away from him. “And don’t touch me!”

People were now staring and they were openly complaining on Hermione and Draco blocking the line.

“SOME OF US WOULD LIKE TO ORDER OUR COFFEE AS WELL!” someone had yelled form the back of the line.

“Yeah! Well get in line!” Hermione suddenly called out behind the line and was about to raise her hand up in the air if Draco wasn’t able to grab it back down last minute.

“Sorry.” Draco called back out, without thinking or hesitation, he didn’t let Hermione’s arm go and he gently pulled her to the side with him. “Can you not make a scene?”

“I’m not making a scene!” Hermione said pushing his hands away from her. “You are making a scene!”

“Excuse me?” Draco asked her back. “I was trying to be nice-“

“Really?” Hermione sarcastically said. “Oh, please. Don’t you think it’s too late for that right now, Malfoy?”

Draco looked back at her, the hurt was growing in his eyes.

Hermione felt that she had crossed the line.


She bit her lip and looked away from him, arms folded and fuming in anger.

“I was just trying to be nice.” Draco said with certain restraint in his tone. “I was trying to do something so that you don’t take too much time from all the people at the back of the line. I’m not trying to parade my name all over the place.”

Hermione stared at him, unable to think of anything to lash back at him.

Draco waited but she didn’t say anything.

“It’s just Knuts.” Draco said. “It’s not a big deal and for the record, I didn’t clearly see that it was you in front of me.”

He turned to leave her to get his coffee but Hermione called him back.

“Where are you going?” Hermione asked him.

“I’m going to stay away from you so that you have a peaceful day.”  Draco casually answered her. “Why?”

“Well, because – because well – “ Hermione began to search for words. “Because I need to pay that.”

“Well, your purse is lost in the first place, yes?” he asked her back with a knowing look over his face that irritated Hermione even more.

“Fine.” Hermione said rolling her eyes. “I’ll send you the money then.”

“Granger, it’s just Kn-“

“Which hotel are you staying in?” Hermione asked folding her arms at him whilst looking and sounding bossy.

“What-“

“I will pay you there.” Hermione said. “I mean, I will send my payment there.”



Draco stared at her in disbelief.

“I’m not staying in a hotel.” Draco clarified to her.

“Fine.” Hermione said again. “I’ll send it over your manor then.”

“Neither am I staying at the manor.”

Hermione opened her mouth to stay something when she realized what he said.



A very brief concern passed in her eyes.

“Where are you staying then?” Hermione asked him.

“I have a loft a few blocks from here.” Draco said. “Staying in at a hotel isn’t something I could get my privacy from. And I think it’s obvious why I don’t want to stay at the manor.”

But it wasn’t obvious for Hermione.

But before she could ask further, the wizard with a tray neared them with their drinks.

He gestured over Hermione’s table near them and slowly settled their drinks altogether.

“Oh, we’re not-“ Hermione began as the waited settled their orders and bowed at them and left.

The moment that the waiter had left, Draco moved forward the table and grabbed his coffee from the table.

“Malfoy-“

“It was nice bumping into you, Granger.” Draco said and without another word, he turned away from her, leaving her completely confused at what had just transpired.















“This seeing with Malfoy is beginning to be consistent, don’t you think?” Harry asked as he entered the kitchen.

He washed his hands over the sink and placed an apron on.

Harry was sleeping over at her  place for the night because he needed to research something with her help.

He stared at her as she minced the vegetables over the table for their soup for dinner.

“Tell me about it.” Hermione said rolling her eyes as she continued to dice up the vegetables.

“And this whole murdering our meals is also beginning to be consistent.” Harry said, pointing up at the ground beef across the table.

“That’s for the soup.” Hermione said. “You can start steaming that.”

Hermione looked completely annoyed.

She had come home and told him about the latest encounter with Malfoy.

“Do you think he’s stalking you?” Harry wondered. “I mean, you know..”

“No.” Hermione said with completely in denial in her tone. “I don’t think so. Why would he do that?”

“Yeah, why would he do that?” asked back as he prepared to finish other things over the kitchen for their dinner.



Hermione was silent.

She had been thinking of their encounters.

They were no longer funny to be honest but if she was going to be truthful as well, she was bloody curious about his actions.

“Let’s not talk about him.” Hermione said. “I don’t want to talk about Malfoy.”

“Okay. Sorry.” Harry said. “Anyway, about the memo at the office, did you get it?”

“Which?” Hermione asked. “They said us gazillions of memos everyday.”

“The one about your favourite law.” Harry said carefully observing her.



A clatter of the knife.

A loud sigh.

“What now about it?” she asked him folding her arms.

“In a few weeks’ time they’re going to announce a couple of rules and perhaps the first set of pairings.”

“First set of pairings?” Hermione incredulously pairing. “What’s this? Lottery or raffle?”

“Hermione.” Harry said putting down whatever it was he was holding and going to him. “You know this would come to it.”

“You should have done something about it and I’m serious.” Hermione said with a frown.



She folded her arms and looked away from him.

“’Mione.” Harry whispered, taking hold of her gently and embracing her from the back.

She didn’t stop him, if any, she looked sad and hopeless.

“I know you guys are trying to rebuild this world – we all are – but is this really the solution?”

“The population has gone down considerably bad and you know the effects of the potion that had been distributed has been-“

“What did Professor Snape say about it?” she asked him. “Is it completely hopeless?”

“He said that he’d rather kill himself than marry someone he doesn’t love.”

“Not like he can get away with it.”

“He’s brilliant. He can fake his death.”

Hermione looked up at him.

“Let’s fake our death then?” she suggested sheepishly.

Harry pinched her around the ribs.



“Nope. Never gonna happen. Sorry.” Harry said kissing her forehead. “Why do you evade our solution?”

“What solution?”

“Oh come on.”

Hermione’s eyes narrowed.

“Oh, come on too, Harry.” Hermione said removing Harry’s arms around her waist.

There was nothing laschivous about it but she totally didn’t feel comfortable with it if they were talking about that particular subject.

“Sorry, sorry.” Harry quickly said holding her tighter. “Sorry, won’t say anything about it. Stay still.”

Hermione sighed heavily and remained where she was then.

“I would marry you if it’s not going to ruin anything between us.”

“It’s not going to.”

“You know how.. how things..”



“How broken you are?” Harry asked her seriously. “You weren’t the only one broken by this war, Hermione.”

He slowly let her go and made her face him.

There was sadness, hurt and shame all over her face.

He stared down at her.

She didn’t move.

He slowly moved away from her with hurt in his eyes.

“Look, I’m sorry.” Hermione said. “You know I’ve been trying to fix my life for the past weeks and months.. and years.. and..It’s not easy.”

“Nobody said it was easy.” Harry said and there was that hint of seriousness in his voice that made her fear that she did really hurt him this time.

“Harry-“

“That’s your problem. You think everyone is going to hurt you or you’re going to hurt everyone-“

“Harry, I Obliviated my parents!” Hermione suddenly said. “I Oblivated them and then I lost them in the process of getting them back! Do you know do you-“

“I grew up as an orphan. My mum died for me. I haven’t forgotten.” Harry said, giving her an angry and hurt look.

“Harry-“



“I’m not hungry.” Harry said and he angrily removed his apron around his body and threw it over the counter.

“I’m sorry. Harry-“

“I remember I need to finish something at home. I’m not sleeping over.”

And with that, he left the kitchen with everything else there, Hermione feeling even more broken and went off with his very heavy heart.


Chapter Text

Chapter Sixteen
Beginnings



 

 



“What’s wrong, Draco?” Pansy asked as she walked into the Slytherin Common Room.

Draco was alone by the fireplace and was tossing a coin in his hand.

He looked like he was in deep thought when Pansy entered the room.

“Nothing.” Draco said quickly taking the coin out of sight. “Where have you been?”

“Professor Pink-Fat-Face asked for me.” Pansy said with a smug look over her face. “She wants an update about Potter’s recent activities.”

“What did you tell her?” Draco asked, eyes narrowed.

“Nothing yet.” Pansy replied sitting in front of him. “You told me not to shed anything to anyone else yet about that Ravenclaw chick pouring all secrets out with her friend.”

Draco looked away from her.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “When are you telling Umbridge?”

“Not yet.” Draco said, pocketing the DA’s coin they’ve taken from Cho Chang. “Not now. When the time is right. We need more evidence-“

“More evidence?” Pansy shrewdly asked. “We’ve got their stories and you’ve got that bloody coin-“

“I said, when the time is right.” Draco coldly cut her off.

She looked back at him and kept silent.

“What’s the letter about?” she slowly asked. “It’s from your father, isn’t it?”

“Yes.” Draco replied. “None of your business.”

“I’m only curious.”

“It’s not like your father doesn’t know.” Draco sneered at her.

“My father happens not to know.” Pansy pointed out coldly.

She stood up and stared down at Draco.

“I’m only concerned.”

“You don’t have to.”

He looked away from her, obviously annoyed by her attitude.

In the eyes of the Slytherins and of Hogwarts population, Pansy was some sort of girlfriend for the Malfoy heir.



In truth, she was nothing more than some scum and crony for Draco.

Pansy could be pretty and patient but not at the same time.

As she once mentioned to Draco, she could only take so ( so instead of as)  much and as the years pass by, her tolerance for the boy was thinning.

Her family, despite being mostly Slytherins and were supporters of the Dark Lord and his army, were nevertheless free of Death Eater’s mark and complete and serious association.

She feels completely (insert caught here) off-guard and disgusted every time Draco mentions and thinks that her family is some slave to the Dark Lord and his allies.

“Your father has plans, Draco.” Pansy pointed out even if Draco seemed not to listen to her anymore. “And whether that goes as planned or not, I am here for you.”

Draco didn’t answer.

He remained unmoving, eyes straight at the hearth of the fireplace.

Pansy waited for nothing.



Without another word, she stalked and stomped away from him and ran up the girl’s dormitory with gentle tears at the corner of her eyes.

Unknowing to her and to anyone else, Draco was scared as hell to that plan of the Dark Lord.

He knew of the task his father has to retrieve very soon.

And he was scared that if he fails, things will go down.

The war was taking a serious toll in the Wizarding World and as his mother told him, sooner or later they were going to be basked into that circle of war whether they like it or not.

He knew the dangers of it all even if he has never seen a real war in his life and had never lost anything or anyone before.

But this he knew in himself that forever whatever happens and whatever it takes, he’d do anything to protect his mother – to the fires in hell may his father may go through.
















It was an early morning head start for Draco.

Dressed in a good suit and attire, he made himself look very good that morning.

Other than the burn mark over his face that he had to glimpse over his morning mirror check, everything about him looked handsome.

Draco made it early at St. Mungo’s where he was scheduled for appointment – not for therapy session or anything physically about his health, but for his application.

Seeing that it seems he would have to stay for quite some more time at London due to the needs of his father and the Marriage Law that required him to stay at the country he was citizen of, he knew he had to do something with his time.

Any Healer job would do well for him as he convinced himself early on to accept.

Physically, he was well and better recovered than Hermione since other than the sessions at St. Mungo’s for weeks, he knew how to tend to himself and had some Healers drop by at St Mungo’s for some private and advance therapy sessions that Hermione would certainly not be able to afford herself and would be too questionable if he paid for it.



Academically, his level and grades were beyond the required level as he had learned advance lessons and things outside of London – so he was hoping that the hospital would just overlook his surname and hire him.

This was his second time to be called in for the application and he hoped that this time around, there was an opening for him.

The lift’s doors opened and he was greeted in a familiar floor.

It was at the same floor he had his therapy sessions and it was the same floor where the office of the Healer who would interview him for the job position he was applying for.

“Here goes bloody nothing.” Draco whispered to himself as he nervously exited the lift and straightened p his clothes.



He walked down the quiet corridor, greeting some Healers and Medi-Witches along the way.

He looked back at them with a curt nod.

Some of them recognized him from the therapy department and greeted him back and some gave him a mere glance.

The whole world hasn’t entirely forgotten that name Malfoy and what it meant after all.

He sighed and walked down the corridor of the office he was to meet the Healer.

He tried to brush off all the negativity there could be around him.

He needed this job.



He needed to prove something in his life.

Not more than fifteen minutes, the doors opened and he was called in.

The office was plain grey and white and the old Healer was behind her desk.

She was reading something in her hands – obviously his records.

“Have a seat, Mr. Malfoy.” The Healer said with a gesture over the small couch.

“Thank you.” Draco nervously said sitting down.

The office was clear and simple and he could tell that this Healer was someone a person of good intellect and simplicity.

He watched as he lifted parchment after another, checking his records clearly and obviously had nothing to say with his marks.

“Second in overall grading at Hogwarts?” she asked peering from behind her spectacles as she had a page lifted

“Yes.” Draco replied with a small smile. “I graduated the same year as Miss Granger and I think everyone knows she has good-“

“Ah yes, yes.” the Healer said turning to another page. “Miss Hermione Granger – we’ve sent her a letter before if she would like a year spent to work here at St. Mungo’s.”

“Right, yes.” Draco quietly said waiting patiently as she lifted through more pages.

“Your practices abroad are eventful and dashing in numbers.” she continued with an obvious and genuine show of Draco’s grades impressing her.


“I tried my best to do hard work here and abroad.” Draco quietly said with a hopeful look over his eyes. “I’m very hardworking madam, I can tell you-“

“Yes, I can tell in your records.” she replied. “But you must understand that salaries at hospitals are not as extravagant as earnings in businesses-“

“No, no, I mean – I now that, I quite understand that.” Draco quickly said. “I’m not after – I’m not after the salary-“

“Ofcourse Mr. Malfoy, you really wouldn’t be.” the Healer said slowly closing his files.


Draco bit his lower lip.

He knew that tone too well.

He moved at the edge of his seat.

“Madam, if you would just let me – just maybe for a temporary job – it’s experience that I need-“

“Like I’ve said Mr. Malfoy, hospitals do not pay well – and I’m sure that you could have double or even triple these earnings at any Malfoy businesses that your family must have-“

“No, I mean – the experience here at hospital – I need a bit more of-“

“You look well-rounded and fit for your empire.” the Healer gently said handing back his profile to him and her copy back over her table.


Draco looked slightly disappointed already.

He was going to be sent out any time soon and be told off to just bask on his riches and do well with their business – like the many other applications he has gone through.

“Madam, please.” Draco said sounding slightly desperate now. “It’s really only the experience I need-“

“The hospital in Paris seemed very fond of your work there. Perhaps they can accommodate you-“

“But-“

“I do not wish to be rude, Mr. Malfoy but at the moment there is no job position suitable and at par for your skills and capacity.”



Draco’s mouth run dry.

No job whatsoever?

The hospital was quite big and he has heard that they hire interns from time to time.

He only needed any kind of job – anything at all – to spend his time with and to enhance more of his skills.

Why wouldn’t they give him a chance?

Draco closed his eyes and sighed heavily and for a moment, the Healer looked slightly alarmed at him.

“I’m sorry, but I came here at the impression that even the smallest job or assistance of any sort – may be of some use for me – I’ve read about your advertisement over the paper-“

“That position has been filed in.” the Healer interjected.

She was still smiling but Draco could feel the sense that she was now more than willing to kick him out of her office.

Draco nodded quietly.


“Right.” he took his files from the table nodding to himself. “I understand.”

Of course he had to understand.

It was that again – him and his name and his father’s mistakes once more.

“Paris seems happy with your performance, Mr. Malfoy.” the Healer said walking to the door to open it for him. “I’m quite sure you are a perfect Healer for their hospital-“

“I can’t go back yet to Paris.” Draco dryly replied. “I have business to attend here that’s why I’m looking for a job at London.”

The Healer chuckled and it was an utmost form of insult for him.

But he ignored it.



You don’t need a job, Mr. Malfoy.” the Healer outright told him with a smile as she opened the door for him. “Good gracious boy, you don’t need a job anywhere else in the world.”

Draco looked up at her – that look in her eyes told him that either his mother or father has done something to this bloody woman for her to be this way towards him and now as usual, he was going to suffer the consequence of that.

“Thank you for your time and opportunity.” Draco said offering his hand to the old woman. “I really just wanted to start something new.”

“Start something new?” she asked back.

Draco smiled at her.



“You know.” Draco quietly said walking out of the door. “To try my best to erase everything that my mother and father has done to this world. I’ve been trying so hard – to the past years to enslave myself to people and things, jobs and sorts – to prove I am different-“

“Mr. Malfoy, look-“

“I’ve been trying so hard, aren’t I?” Draco asked her with a dry smile. “But tell me, no matter what I do and how far I go, it’s never going to be enough, isn’t it?”

The Healer was silenced.

Some conscience seemed to passed her gaze as if realizing that Draco was way younger than his father and way more innocent than the monster’s cruelty to the world.

“Mr. Malfoy-“

“I’m sorry I took so much of your time.” Draco said with a smile. “It was a good try. Have a pleasant week, madam.”

And with that, Draco took his belongings with him and slowly walked out of the room with another disappointed and heavy heart.

He quietly closed the door behind him and began walking down the empty hallway.

Draco had been lost in his thoughts and was already planning to get himself back at his loft and sleep the day off when he heard it – the door opened and footsteps and he was being called back.

The old Healer was looking back at him with an uncertain about her face.

“Mr. Malfoy!” she called back at him.



Draco turned, eyes lit up and his mouth half open as he looked back.

The woman sighed and crossed her arms.

“Actually, there is just this one – one position that has been quite open for some time. It’s a sort of Healer and staff position and I’m not quite sure you’d be willing-“

“I’ll take it.” Draco quickly said walking back to her and a smile spreading across his face.

Draco paced back to her with a grateful look over his face.

“I’ll take it.” Draco excitedly said. “You won’t regret it.”

“I sure hope you don’t.” the Healer said looking up and down at him.













“Are you very sure I don’t have to bring you?” Harry asked Hermione.

“Yes.” Hermione replied as he helped her out of the bed.

They had talked and made up the previous night all the same and Hermione ended up sleeping at his place.

Neither of them could resist the temptation of a pair of book fair tickets for Hermione and a nice chocolate pudding for Harry.

The night had been uneventful and Hermione fairly fell asleep in Harry’s arms on the bed while Harry read her his favourite Quidditch book.

He knew that it bores her out and that it would put her to sleep – something she seems to need a lot lately.



However, the morning came and her body was in some sort of state.

She had been having some pains recently but had been ignoring it however, it has come down that she was now in such pain that getting up from the bed was quite difficult.

“I’m supposed to have a therapy in three days but I think I should really go today.” Hermione said as she slowly moved around and about and Harry helped her dress.

He pulled down her blouse and helped her with her skirt.

It was this little most things that Harry and Hermione shared in private that was beautiful in their relationship – nothing awkward but everything was open and normal for the both of them.

Harry respected Hermione more than anything and anyone else that despite his feelings towards her, even if she walks in naked in his bedroom, he wouldn’t bat an eye unless she tells him so.

He has mastered tolerance and restrain in front of her that dressing her up when she was unwell and very sick has become normal to the both of them.

“I can skip work this morning.” Harry offered as he took the hair tie from her and knelt behind her on the bed.

He gathered her long tresses and pulled it into a messy ponytail the way she likes it.

“It’s fine.” Hermione said. “I can walk. It’s my arms that are painful. The Healers said it’s going to be normal and effect of my therapy but it’s just – I don’t know – it’ll be fine. I promise I’ll get back home after. I won’t go to work today.”

“Yes.” Harry said. “You can barely move your arms.”

Harry finished up with her hair and moved over in front of her on the bed and stared up at her.

“I’ll drop you off to the hospital and be off the work?” he asked her.

“Yes.” Hermione said moving to her and gently bumping her forehead over his. “I appreciate this.”

“Yes, I know.”

“Harry.”

“Come on, we need to get you there.” Harry said kissing her forehead and avoiding her touch.



Hermione smiled at him but had not miss the gesture.

He straightened up his clothes and touched his hair to put it into its ‘messy place’.

Hermione giggled.

“You’re already too good-looking, Harry.” Hermione teased smiling as he helped her out of the bed.

“Yes, I know.” Harry smiled back at her. “I am the Chosen One after all.”











Hermione realized that she had been mustering and keeping all the pain inside of her while she was with Harry.

Because the moment she was at the hospital without Harry, the pain in her seemed to increase.

Healers quickly tended to her and had her taken into a private therapy area.

The pain in her muscles were increasing and they said that the possible causes would be her lack of rest right after her previous and first therapy sessions where her body was still in dire need of rest and she went back to work already.

She was quiet as the Healers explained all these to her- of course they were all right.

She went straight back to work when she wasn’t supposed to.

And now, she was going to suffer the consequences of it all.



“We would let you undergo some advance therapy sessions today, Miss Granger. But don’t you worry as all Healers at the hospital are competent enough to help you get through this.”

“Yes, thank you.” Hermione said. “Will Healer Jones be here?”

“Healer Jones will check upon you but this treatment is different so we’ve sought a different Healer for you. Lucky for you, he has done this well and in advance before abroad.”

“Oh, that’s nice.” Hermione reluctantly said but quite happy at the prospect that she would be in good hands.

“He’s newly hired.” the Healer said settling Hermione onto the bed after helping her dress into hospital robes. “Well, Miss Granger… you’ll do fine here and he’s going to tend to you as soon as he finishes up with his assistant rounds. He’ll be here in a few.”

“Thank you.” Hermione said smiling at the Healer. “If Harry Potter arrives can you just-“

“Yes, we’ll inform him as soon as he arrives.” the Healer replied with a smile. “Good day to you, Miss Granger.”

The door had closed and silence enveloped Hermione.



This was something she wanted and hated at the same time.

Silence gave her peace of mind and it also gave her ache at certain spots in her heart.

She could still hear the screamed (screams or screaming would fit better here)  of her past and the nightmares she comes across.

Hermione closed her eyes and tried to block all the unwanted sound that tries to take her in.

It has been a good fifteen minutes and she was already falling into some sort of sleep until she heard the door open again and a male voice came in.



A familiar male voice.

“Hello there uh – goodmorning.” the voice grew slightly louder with the sound of footsteps and shuffling of paper.

Hermione’s brows creased and she tried to open her eyes from her sleepy state.

“I’ve been advised to give you the advance therapy session that which takes for only eight sessions however, I’d like to get a full assessment of you first before we go to it because I don’t like to give you something that you don’t need in the first place.”

Hermione’s eyes shot open.

She knew that voice.

“Right, so first things first, may I get your full name? I’d be tending to you, I’m Healer Mal-”

“Malfoy?!” Hermione’s voice squeaked up turning her head back at him.



Draco nearly dropped the records in his hand that he had been reading.

He had been handed by it and no name was written as she was a walk-in patient for therapy in the emergency department.

“Granger?” Draco asked back with a terrified look over his face. “What are you doing here?”

“What are you doing here?” Hermione asked back trying to get up.

She cried out in pain and Draco’s Healer instincts quickly pushed him forward towards her.

He dropped down the parchments in his hands and quickly tended to Hermione.

“Don’t get up – possible fractures and other muscular-“

“Don’t touch me!” Hermione angrily said, pushing him away.

They looked at one another, both pale and in shock.



Hermione’s pain was growing and her anger towards him was not helping it.

Draco’s Healer instincts was telling him that she needed to be tended to as soon but that his shock of having her as his first private patient was just driving his head down.

What was he going to do?



“Granger, I was-“

“Where’s Healer Jones?” she demanded out of her severe pain.

“She’s not around.” Draco replied. “I don’t know where she is. I’ve only been hired this morning and-“

“Then why the fuck are you the one attending to me?” Hermione asked back. “Shouldn’t there be anyone else – someone more skillful to be here?”

Draco felt insulted for a moment.



Her eyes were staring over his new St. Mungo’s Healer robes for which she has successfully clawed on earlier as she tried to push Malfoy away from her.

He was looking back at her with pure conflict.

“Granger, look-“

“I don’t want you.” Hermione spoke with difficulty through the pain. “Get someone else – anyone else-“

“There’s no one else.” Draco clearly stated out walking nearer the bed again.

She was crouched in pain now, holding her arms out with her legs in an angle as the pain was also slowly creeping to it.

“Granger-“

“I don’t want you Malfoy-“

“I need to tend to you. I think this increase in pain is going to get worse if you don’t let me-“

“I won’t ever let you touch any part of me-“

“Hermione, please be reasonable-“

But Hermione had suddenly screamed in pain.

Something in her body was really growing very painful by the moment.

Draco’s eyes narrowed.

He had read through her file and the symptoms she was showing at the moment only meant one thing.

She had undergone a deep and severe pain from their accident and had not recovered completely.

And now that she was over fatigue from work, her muscles and body tissues were collapsing thoroughly.



Her body was adamantly giving away.  



“Hermione, please.” Draco’s voice was desperate. “Just let me tend to you now and then I promise I’d find someone else to tend to you-“

“It hurts-“ Hermione croaked out as she lounged her arms forward, seeking for anything to claw her pain out. “It hurts a lot, Draco-“

“I know, I know.” Draco said moving towards the bed and carefully pulling his wand out from his pocket. “I need to put you for a moment to sleep, is that alright?”

“Anything to stop the pain-“ Hermione cried at him clawing her fingers along his arms. “Make it stop- make it stop-“

“I will, I will.” Draco quickly said pulling his wand out. "Hold on there, Hermione. I've got you."



With a careful touch of the tip of it, Draco muttered something and slowly moved it up and down her arms and then up towards her temple.

The pain slowly but surely decreased and in a moment, Hermione had fallen into a sleep blank of all feelings – physical and emotional.

Chapter Text



Chapter Seventeen

Contracts


 

“How long does she have to stay here?” Harry asked.

“About two or three more days.” Draco replied checking a chart in his hand. “I need to run a few more tests for her.”

Harry was silent.

They were outside Hermione’s private room now where she had been transferred. Draco had to put her to sleep in order for her to be released from the pain she had been enduring. He immediately called in the emergency team to bring her to a private room where he could tend and focus more on her needs.

 It turns out that her system was indeed collapsing due to over fatigue. She should not have been back to work after the elevator incident.

Despite that he was the one who had endured more from the accident, he was able to rest and being a Healer himself, he was able to specifically know how to tend to his physical body’s needs. Hermione, on the other hand, had neglected what her body had been begging prior to the accident – which was rest.

 

“How long had she been working nonstop?” Draco had to ask Harry as he led him to his newly established clinic in the hospital.

“For as long as I can remember.” Harry replied as they reached the door of his office.

Draco looked up at him with question in his eyes.

 “Sorry.” Harry quickly said. “I meant.. Well, Hermione had been rolling on with her work the moment she graduated from Hogwarts.”

“You mean after her graduation, she took the job she was offered by the Ministry two weeks before graduation?” “How did you know about that?” Harry asked, puzzled. “Everyone knows everything at Hogwarts.” Draco said unlocking his door and ushering him to follow him. “Besides, it’s not like it’s a secret that everyone wants to hire her after school. You must have seen her grades yourself.”

“I heard you came in second.” Harry commented, unable to stop himself.

Draco looked back at him before letting him inside.

“What?” Harry asked. “Everybody knows everything at Hogwarts.”

Draco shook his head and Harry could swear that he had smirked.

 He let Harry inside the room.

“Only second, Potter.” Draco said. “First will always be first. Big gap of difference.”

It was just two floors up from where Hermione’s suite was located. Harry watched as he unlocked it with wards and entered. His mind was still with Hermione as they entered the room.

 It was a nice clinic and not something too extravagant as he had expected. The walls were in a relaxing shade of grey and white, bookshelves were paneled in a corner, a table by the window was placed, two chairs before the table for the patients, a room for a long couch near the bookshelves and a table corner for tea or coffee.

 

 A door at the corner suggested that it was the washroom. “You don’t have an assistant?” was the first question Harry had after his eyes roamed the room.

Draco looked up at him with a slight surprise on his face.

“Not really necessary.” Draco said. “I’m under probation here for a few months so until then, I’m not considered a permanent resident doctor.” Harry nodded as he offered to seat over one of the chair.

Harry picked the long couch and waited for Draco to finish his reading He couldn’t believe it. They were in one room and not trying to kill one another and was actually talking about Hermione’s well-being.

“So Hermione..” Harry slowly began. “She has to stay here?”

 “Yes.” Draco answered. “She’s allowed visitors and company. You can stay in.” Draco was already quick into knowing what Harry was really trying to ask.

 It’s not that he wasn’t aware of their on-goings or whatever wasn’t.

“And you’re going to be her attending Healer?” he asked, unable to stop himself.

Draco stopped reading. He knew that Harry was going to ask that. He closed the chart and walked towards Harry and sat over the chair near the couch.

“Yes.” Draco truthfully answered. “But you may request someone else if you have the feel that you need to.”

 Harry was silent.

He wasn’t sure what to say on that.

Draco seemed good at his job with what he’s heard of his records at Paris. He did study abroad so if anyone had any advance knowledge on mostly anything about all these, he could possibly be the best answer.

But he was Draco Malfoy – and Hermione was the one on the line.

Was he worth trusting even just for once? After all, Snape did deserve a chance. Why not Draco?

He helped him in the war. His mother lied to the Dark Lord about his life and he threw him back his wand at the last moments of the battle that ultimately led to the demise of the Dark Lord.

 What was to lose if he trusts him now?

Hermione.

Hermione was to be lost if Draco suddenly decides to be his old self. But there was no point to that. Was there?

“No.” Harry quickly replied giving a very short and quick smile. “I’m alright with you tending to Hermione.” Draco stared at him with utmost question in his eyes.

“Are you sure?” Draco asked him.

“Yeah. I guess.” Harry said with obvious reluctance.

“Actually Potter, I am asking you because if I will be attending her until the end of her therapy sessions and the post-therapy checkups, you would need to sign something.”

“Sign something?” Harry asked, slightly bewildered.

 “Yes.” Draco said as he slowly stood up and walked to his table. “Like some waiver.”

He moved some files and opened his drawer and took out three pieces of parchment. They were the same parchments – one was for the patient or guarding to sign, one for himself and one copy for the hospital.

It was a contract of agreement that Draco would be attending to the patient until she was fully recovered. He handed the copies to Harry.

 “This is new hospital policy. I wasn’t also aware at the beginning but they’ve began this a year or two ago.” Harry kept on reading the conditions of the contract. “They’ve implemented it for the sake that should something happen to the patient, they know which Healer to check on. Security and health purposes that are actually for the patient.”

“So if she dies, we all know that it’s you?” Harry asked with glint in his eyes.

“Yes.” Draco replied without blinking. “If she dies, it’s my name, my license, my career – practically my head - on the line.”

Harry wasn’t sure if that was comfort to his ears or if it was like betting with a devil.

“What protection does it give you?” Harry asked. “I mean, contracts work two ways.”

 “It assures I have a job.” Draco simply replied. “It assures I have constant and consistent patient and therefore, money won’t lack for the Healers.”

 “That’s it?” Harry asked.

 “That’s it.” Draco nodded. If he was going to read it, Harry knew that they were on the winning side. “So if I want to change the Healer now, we should do it now? And not later?” “Yes.” Draco replied. “She’s been assigned me. I can’t say no to her. The only reason she won’t be my patient is if you would prefer and request for another one asap.”

 “Is she in a condition that she needs an immediate attending Healer?” Harry asked him.

A hint of doubt passed Draco’s eyes.

Harry folded his arms.

“Seriously, Malfoy.” Harry said. “You need to tell me. Let’s disregard every other aspect of this circumstance except for Hermione’s well-being-“

 “I don’t want to boast. But I’m the one fit to check on her. I’ve handled post-accident-trauma-fatigue in Prague in my two months of seminar and trial residency there. I can handle her.”

 “You can handle her?”

“I’m fit for the job.” Draco said. “If I was to be honest with you, I’m the only one who has experienced in the advance therapy that will be done to her.” Harry fell silent. That doesn’t really give him any choice now, right? “So you’re our only choice?”

Harry slowly asked.

“You can get another Healer, Potter. But they will still come to me for consultation and more or less, you’d still see me through her therapy sessions as I would be guiding the chosen Healer and Medi-Witches. I’m not forcing you to take me. But I’m saying you would be saving enough time and money.”

 “We don’t have a problem with money.” Harry suddenly lash at him unable to stop himself.

Draco stared back but he forced himself not to say anything.

 His comment didn’t really come out right.

Ofcourse Harry alone has money – his Gringotts inheritance from his parents that never seem to run out, his earnings from the Ministry of Magic and what all other heroes of the war has received other than their Order of Merlin.

Of course he has money.

Draco moved to his table in order to avoid further conflict on the subject.

“If you will read through the contract, if the patient feels that within the three months or half of the time of whatever treatment is to be given to him or her isn’t working, he or she can easily request to be transferred to another Healer. Some tests would be ran by the hospital and if proven true, he or she will be given another Healer. But I won’t have the same rights. I’m going to have to try and heal whoever is given to me as patient. I can’t say no to whoever is assigned to me.”

 Harry was silent as he continued reading.

The conditions of the contract were quite good for his and Hermione’s sake.

 “So if in three months she isn’t better, we can replace you?”

 “Tests would be run to prove your statement first.” Draco said. “But yes, you can replace me if in three months Hermione feels like she isn’t getting any better but worse.” Harry nodded at him as he contemplated the decision to be made.

 “You’ll have your time to think about all these.” Draco said standing up. “Once Hermione is awake you can talk to her about it. You have a week to decide but at the time that the week will proceed, I’d be the attending Healer for her.”

 “Yes, alright. I’ll talk to her through it.” Harry said with a short smile too as he stood up. He handed over the contract but Draco shook his head. “Keep your copy. So you can decide better and she can read it herself.” Draco said taking only the two other copies.

 “Yes, okay.”

“When she is ready to sign, just let me know.” Draco said. “Because I need to sign it up to the heads of the hospital and all. You’ve got a week anyway-“

“I think she needs a permanent Healer as soon so I’ll talk to her once she wakes up.” “Alright.” Draco said walking to open the door for him. “I’ll have my rounds for the day and a couple of meetings and seminar I have to tend to. I’ll have to come back to her tonight for my night rounds.”

 “Right, okay.” Harry said taking the contract with him and walking out of the door. “I’ll see you tonight then er Healer Mal-“

 “Malfoy is alright, Potter.” Draco said with a short smile. “No need to fret with titles.” “Yeah. Okay.” Harry said nodding at him.

 “Thanks. I’ll see you tonight then.” Draco nodded and watched as Harry turned away from his clinic and closed the door behind him. He sighed heavily as sank behind the door.

“That went well.” Draco said, feeling relieved.

 

He had been thinking that it was going to be one of those difficult talks again especially when he found out that he had to tend to Hermione. Well, Potter doesn’t seem to have a problem with him nor of his existence at London or anywhere else in the world – at the moment.

 It was Hermione who seemed determined to knock him out. But he couldn’t think of it that way as of now or as long as she was his patient. He walked back to his table and read back through Hermione’s health records that he’s managed to gain and gathered. He had been reading it and was curious with the facts that he has read about her and her health. He wanted to tend to her and tend well to her.

 But he could only do that if she permits him. And that is quite a task harder than anything he has yet to face in his career path.

 

 

 

 “Your father should hear about this.” Pansy said as he helped Draco tend to the large, red, painful and fresh punch mark that Hermione had just given him. “Forget it.” Draco spat, grabbing the compress from Pansy’s hands and shoving her hand away from him.

Hermione had just punched him straight over the face earlier in their class.

The last thing he could remember were the blurry vision of her physique in her pink hoodie and next thing he knew, her fist had collided right over his face. He couldn’t do anything.

He could hear Potter and Weasley trying to hold off their laughs as he staggered over the grounds and screamed back at them that his father would hear about it. In all honesty, his father would and should NEVER hear about it. It was one of those things that he’d be scolded for.

 Not that he was punched by a female classmate but by a Mudblood let alone. He was never going to hear the end of it.

“Nobody writes to father about this.” Draco spat at them staring at his cronies and at Pansy with a stern look.

 “But Draco-“

 “Don’t but Draco me you stupid girl!” Draco angrily said staring at her in a threatening way. “I said, my father will NOT hear about this!”

“Alright, he won’t.” Pansy said, throwing the other compress over his bed.

“Will you not have dinner?” asked Crabbe concernedly.

 “No.” Draco said tending to the pain over his nose that he felt Hermione had broken into two. “I’ll skip it. Don’t want anyone seeing me like this, eh?”

“You can tell Snape.” “I don’t need Snape to know everything.”

“He’s your godfather.” “I said, I don’t need Snape to know everything.”

He stared up at his so-called friends.

 

Everyone always knew back at home what he was doing – there was no privacy to it. And as his father had always reminded him, once the Dark Lord has risen, there will be absolutely no privacy to his followers so he better get used to the idea of it.

But it wasn’t in that case.

At first he liked it – being given all the attention – but lately, he seemed to begin to want to keep things to himself.

If he tells a Slytherin friend, they would tell their mothers or fathers and would certainly reach his own parents the following day.

But he was growing up.

He was no longer the little boy that he used to be.

He wanted to be his own man – he wanted to make his father proud and him finding out about today’s incident that began because of some large, bloody bird would certainly not win his father out.

 

“We’ll have dinner.” Pansy said. “I’ll bring you something to eat.”

 “Yeah. Sure. Whatever.” Draco said turning away from them.

He listened as their footsteps faded and the door of his dormitory closing.

 He waited until their footsteps and voices no longer echoed. And then he sighed heavily and laid back down on his bed in peace.

The dormitory was empty except for him and his thoughts.

 And just like that, as he tended to Hermione’s mark from her attack, he was smiling.

 

He wasn’t sure why and wasn’t even aware he was doing it. But he was smiling at the thought of her angered facial expression and her feisty action to just recklessly punch him because he had angered her and had reached her limit.

He couldn’t help but smirk.

“Bloody hell, Granger.” He should be angry, but for some reason he couldn’t be fully angry about it.

Hermione Granger – smart, primp and proper and everything else that was nice – just punched him straight up over the face for some bloody bird. He could only smile.

 

 

 

 

 “You should eat.” Harry pointed out as he nodded towards the dinner tray at her bedside table.

“I’m not hungry.” Hermione said, turning to the other side of the bed to face the window that was covered anyway.

The room by now was filled with flowers, balloons and sorts of gifts from the Weasley family, from friends and co-workers at the Ministry of Magic. Harry’s absence from work only proved true about the rumours that she was at the hospital.

Harry of course had to take the same three days leave from work from Kingsley who immediately allowed him knowing it was because of Hermione. “Hermione, you can’t have some hunger strike against me.”

“Oh, try me.” Harry’s eyes narrowed.

 He could do well into being very patient with her but lately, she was beginning to be very unreasonable especially if it comes into terms with Malfoy. When she woke up, she told him about what has happened and Harry had to tell her what Draco had said during the time she was asleep.

 He showed her the contract from which they haven’t signed yet. If Hermione refuses to sign it, as the said guardian he could sign it.

He was very tempted to sign it already to ensure her health safety. But of course, he still wanted Hermione’s consent.

“It’s only a few months of therapy.”

“Find another Healer.”

“I’ve already talked to the Head Healer and to others and their best suggestion is Draco. He was also the first to tend to you so..”

“So technically, he should be my permanent attending Healer?” she asked sitting up on the bed. Harry quickly put down the tray of food he was holding and went to her.

 “Relax.” Harry said calming her back down over her bed “I get your point. I’ll ask again.”

 “If you say that Malfoy is assigned to me because he has no choice, make them make a choice then.” Hermione was too spiteful at times that Harry was no longer sure if she was still being reasonable.

He understands that she was still angered by what has happened to her parents but he had seen Draco suffer all its consequences

. And if he’d be honest with himself, the sins of the father shouldn’t be the sins of the son. And if he had to pay for anything that he has done in the past, he already paid dearly and more of it.

“I’ll try to work something on it, but I’m not making any promises.” Harry said and Hermione could tell the seriousness in his tone this time. Still, she didn’t say anything.

She remained listening but unmoving from her position on the bed. “Hermione.”

“I’m tired, I want to sleep.”

 “I get you.” Harry said sighing heavily. “I get you, ‘Mione. But you’ve got to move on.” Hermione still didn’t say anything.

 It was frustrating Harry. He knew it wasn’t going to be easy and there were things and wounds from the war that will never really heal those who had been affected dearly by it. But the Weasleys survived their losses. His friends had survived what became of their other friends and family and loved ones. He had survived what he had endured.

Everyone was slowly starting a new life and had claimed the life brought forward after the second war.

Everyone else had moved on with the life from the war – slowly, surely – but had moved on. Even Snape had moved on. And that fact alone was saying something. Why couldn’t she move on?

“Hermione.”

 “I said, I’m tired.” Hermione said.

“I want to be left alone. You can go home tonight.” Harry stared at her, mouth half open and halfway insulted. Hasn’t he done enough for her? Could he never be enough for her?

“Suit yourself.” Harry said taking his bag from the couch of the room.”I’d be at the café doing some work. Have me buzzed downstairs if you need anything.” No reply.

“Hermione, you’ve got to move on.” Harry said as he walked to the door. “I know this isn’t easy.. I know it’s hard. I know what it feels like to lose.. to lose your parents.. but we’ve already survived the war – everyone else is starting a new life – you’ve got to come back to reality. You’ve got to move on.”

 

 Still no answer.

 

And with that, Harry turned to the door and left her alone to her thoughts. The moment the door closed shut, Hermione sighed heavily and hot-white tears that she had been controlling for the past hours had gone streaming nonstop from her eyes.





Chapter Text

 

Chapter Eighteen

How To Deal

 

 

Draco’s first round visit to Hermione proved to be way harder than any exam he has taken in his career.

Not only was she difficult to handle, she was also not very cooperative when he went to her private ward to examine her and schedule her sessions.

 

It was eight in the morning and Hermione has just been served with her breakfast tray and was nearly done with it when he knocked upon her door.

Harry had just left to report at the Auror’s Department and return after lunch for Hermione’s first scheduled therapy with Draco.

 

Of course, Hermione was more than uncooperative with Draco despite that he was just doing his best in his job.

 

Draco entered the room trying to look serious and trying to keep his eyes on her chart in his hand to avoid any sort of unnecessary eye-contact that may eventually lead to unwanted conversation.

 

“Miss Granger?” he acknowledged as he entered and walked nearer her bed.

“Obviously.”

 

He heard the clank of her spoon back over the tray.

He flipped through the pages of her chart pretending to be looking for something when Hermione spoke.

 

“How long is this going to take?” she asked.

There was obvious impatience in her tone.

“Uh-“ Draco began not really knowing what to say. “I’m just looking-“

“Don’t you have standard questions to ask your patients or something?” she asked.

 

Draco’s eyes passed her as he was reminded of the know-it-all attitude he always believed her to be.

“Actually there are certain questions.” Draco said closing the chart. “But your case is different so there is a different set of questions for you.”

“I’m sure.” Hermione muttered under her breath.

 

Draco wasn’t sure if he was feeling humiliated or annoyed or simply both.

“So.. Miss Granger..How are you feeling this morning?”

 

Draco wanted to bit his lip back but Hermione looked up at him as if confused and annoyed herself.

 

“This is the different set and standard-“

“Please answer my question, Miss Granger.” Draco said but not unkindly.

 

Hermione’s eyebrows quirked up.

“Fine.” Hermione shortly answered her.

“Right. Any different feelings this morning when you woke up?”

“None.”

Draco began scrawling and checking over a checklist in the parchment in his hand.

“Anything different or improved in your feeling since you’ve been taken here?”

“None.”

“Do you feel certain pains in your body?”

No.”

“Is there anything you feel that is not of the usual in your system?”

“No.”

Hermione was growing impatient as her tone suggested and Draco was also growing irritated with the answers he was getting.

 

Usually, it helped the Healers more if the patient would be a little more specific and descriptive of the answers they were giving and not simple one note answer.

 

“Are you taking any other medication at the moment?”

“No.” Hermione answer crossing her arms over her chest. “Isn’t that indicated in my chart?”

“No.” Draco answered coldly.

 

He closed his eyes and quietly cursed to himself.

He was trying so hard to be very patient and professional to her but she was just really trying his patience.

 

“I’m sorry Miss Granger, that’s not indicated in here.” Draco said as he scribbled something over the chart. “But now it is noted.”

 

Hermione only rolled her eyes.

 

“Other than this recent accident you’ve had, have you ever been injured severely?”

“I think you know the answer to that, Malfoy.”

“Please answer the question, Miss Granger.” Draco said without looking up from the chart.

 

But this time, he was no longer reading.

He didn’t want to ask that as it proved to lead to unwanted conversations.

“Have you ever-“

“I was a survivor of the Second War.” Hermione stated matter-of-factly. “I’ve concurred injuries from it – a broken ankle, certain spell effects, a gash at the side of my ribcage and-“

 

Hermione stopped.

He looked up at her as she unconsciously moved her right arm to her left forearm.

Draco already knew what the last injury was.

 

“Right.” Draco quickly said. “Next question is have you been fully tended to these injuries?”

“Sorry, what?” Hermione said obviously lagging from the previous question.

 

She let her arm go and tried to recall what he had said.

“Have you been well-tended to with-“

“I was completely recovered from all the injuries.” Hermione said nodding incoherently.

 

Except for the scar that was written by Bellatrix.

She didn’t need to say it for Draco to know about it.

He was there and he has heard about it.

Draco scribbled a few more things over the chart and tried to focus himself.

 

This was far more difficult than he had utterly imagined.

He closed the chart.

 

“I would need to do a couple of examinations, Miss Granger.”

“Yeah. Okay.” Hermione said, nodding at him.

 

Nobody moved.

They stared at one another.

Draco was obviously waiting for something from her and Hermione was the same.

 

“Uh – you – you would need to turn around.” Draco said ushering to her back.

“Oh.” Hermione said, realizing what he had to do. “Right.”

 

It was the most awkward feeling they’ve had experienced between one another.

Hermione had to move around the bed with Draco’s guidance and she had to move around and about to his will.

 

The first process was for Draco to check if she had any injury at the back where it was most crucial to take a look at.

 

“I would need to-“

“Do what you have to do.” Hermione said in a determined voice, closing her eyes and knowing they both have no choice anyway.

 

She heard him sigh heavily as she moved her back closer to him so he could examine it.

Once her back was turned to him, Draco could barely move.

She was seated at the edge of the bed with her back turned to him – inches from him.

 

“Right, I’ll just need to check some things. Just take deep breaths at every three.”

Hermione nodded.

Draco reluctantly, but slowly placed his left hand over her left shoulder while he gently pulled her closer and placed his right hand over certain areas of her back.

 

At every count of three, Hermione breathed deeply and he felt around in circles and in patterns the muscles over her back and listened carefully and intently if there was a shift of pattern in her breathing.

As far, her rib cage and organs within the area of his reach were completely normal.

Her damage then could possibly be around the waist down.

They were both silent as he continued and finished in his first set of examination.

The next set proved to be slightly more difficult and awkward for the both of them.

 

“I need to what?” Hermione repeated despite that she’s heard clearly.

He was asking her to lie over her stomach so that he could freely seek injuries at her back from waist down.

“You need to lie down on your stomach because I need to check for back and waist injuries.”

 

Draco said the whole sentence in such a hurry that she barely understood what he really had to say.

Hermione’s eyes widened slightly and she looked like she was not at all willing to do it.

“It’s a.. standard protocol in the examination that-“

“I know, I know.” Hermione coldly said. “Well I’d need some help.”

She indicated that she could move around as much due to the wires that were over her arm.

“Right. Sorry.” Draco said.

 

He quickly put the chart down and went back to her and helped her up.

He held her by the arm from which it was so obvious that they were both avoiding to touch one another – which was proven very difficult by what they had to do – and had her seat at the end of the bed.

 

Once seated at the edge again, he slowly helped her lay on the position and placed a comfortable pillow around her head and told her to lay down with her face facing her left side so she could clearly answer his questions.

“Comfortable?” he asked making sure the pillow was in place.

“No.” Hermione honestly answered.

 

The position was comfortable.

But laying on her stomach with Draco Malfoy mulling over her wasn’t very comfortable at all.

If only she had her wand with her at that very moment but it was surrendered at the lobby and was with Harry.

 

“This won’t take long.” Draco said obviously thinking that she was physically uncomfortable. “I need you to stretch your leg out for a bit.”

“There.” Hermione said slightly moving it – her movement was so small it made no difference.

“You need to move it some more.” Draco said, slightly sweating for unknown reasons.

“I’ve already-“

“We can both get this over with, Miss Granger.” Draco said a little stern than he intended to.

 

Hermione said something gruffly but then she angrily widened her legs apart.

That’s too much.” Draco said suddenly pulling her legs slightly back together.

 

Hermione groaned at the way he handled her, but he didn’t say anything and neither did she.

“I would have to-“

“Just do what you have to do, Malfoy.” Hermione angrily said this time, closing her eyes and staring at the other way to avoid seeing him.

Draco paused and pursed his lips at the difficulty of the task at hand.

Or how difficult it was because he was processing it with her.

“Right. Okay.” Draco said, closing his eyes and muttering something.

“What’s that?”

“Nothing.” Draco quickly said. “So I need you to breath all the same at every-

“-three. I know.” Hermione said sighing heavily.

“Yes. Three. On three.” Draco said and he started to do the same thing earlier over her back.

 

Instead that this time, he’s doing it from the hind muscles of her legs at first and then up the side of her thighs over her hospital robes and then at the sides of her waist.

If truth be told, he wasn’t doing it right.

He was barely touching her and he was just hoping for some sort of grave injury that was too obvious over her skin that he could come across.

He was required to touch her a little bit more and to press a bit more over her skin but he couldn’t bring himself to do it.

It wasn’t that he didn’t want to as a professional, it’s just that it felt so stressful to touch her in this disposition.

 

“Is there anything you’ve found?” Hermione impatiently asked.

“Sorry, what?” Draco asked halfway to her midriff.

“I said, is there anything you’ve found?”

“Some muscles are swollen.” Draco said which wasn’t exactly what could be the possible problem. “And you’ve overworked yourself physically so the healing process from the elevator accident is going-“

“So how long do I have to stay here?”

“I can’t answer that now.” Draco said, wishing she’d stop talking and asking so he could concentrate fully.

“Isn’t that job for you to know?”

“I can’t tell yet. There are examination you haven’t taken-“

“Well, aren’t you just doing that about now-“

“I am doing only the first phase, Miss Granger. Now, please keep still I’m trying to find something.”

 

 

Hermione looked up at him as if she wanted to hit him now.

He had pressed somewhere below her ribcage area behind her back and then he pressed it again.

Hermione groaned painfully and looked back at him as if wanting to ask why he is paining her purposely.

 

“Does it hurt here?” Draco said already knowing the answer.

“What do you think-“

“Miss Granger-“

“Yes, it fucking hurts there, Malfoy.” Hermione angrily spat at him.

Draco felt the area and then pressed on a bit more and a bit lower and more.

“Right.” Draco said completely pulling her dress gown fully back down and moving at the end of the bed.

 

Hermione didn’t move and was feeling if he was going to do anything else.

“We’re done.” Draco said. “I would have a Medi-Witch bring you a compress for which you need to undergo every four hours. And then I’d come back-“

“What did you find?” Hermione asked him painfully moving back into place.

“Oh, sorry.” Draco said putting the chart back down again and helping her back to lay down in the normal position.

 

“What did you find?” Hermione asked again.

“I’m suspecting some injured muscle and an inside fracture – nothing that therapy couldn’t fix. But the compress first would help to ease the muscle so we can go straight and fix your fracture-“

“Double injury?”

“Slight bone fracture and overly stressed muscular – “

“Speak in English.” Hermione coldly demanded, eyeing him angrily.

Draco stared at her and sighed heavily.

“Your fall broke a bit of your bone, injuring you, but not permanently. I can’t heal it straight up because your muscles are swollen which have been caused by the same accident – however, they are not healing properly and have been damaged even more because of overuse. You’re overworked, over fatigued.”

Hermione didn’t say anything.

There were a lot of truth in those words.

She had been warned time and again about being overworked and now her fatigue is taking its toll on her and making her pay.

“So what’s the medication needed to completely recover?”

“I’m not yet –“

“You don’t know?” Hermione asked him with a raised brow. “You don’t-“

“Bed rest, Granger.” Draco impatiently answered her then.

He grabbed the chart from the end of the bed and took his quill from the bed as well.

 

He began packing up.

 

“That’s it?” she asked. “Are we done?”

“Yes.” Draco said not meeting her gaze. “I’m going to have a Medi-Witch bring you a compress and a list of foods and the amount of intake.”

“Food?” Hermione repeated. “What does-“

“Nutrients and food inside your body strengthens your stamina. You will need it for the therapy sessions. The further you eat unhealthy things, the worse you are getting and the slower your body gains back the strength it needs. I’m going to take a bit you’ve been taking take-outs for weeks and months.”

 

Hermione didn’t meet his eyes.

 

Harry cooked mostly but most of the time, they get takeouts because she wanted quick meals so she could resume her work.

“Well I barely have time.” Hermione said looking away from him. “Ministry work is quite difficult and-“

“I’ll make sure that this would be noted and that you’d have a proper diet that you can easily and thoroughly follow.”

“That’s not part of your job.” Hermione pointed out and looking back at him with a stricken expression.

She already felt violated by Draco having to touch parts of her body but for him to have to meddle over the food she takes it just felt too much at the moment.

“I’m your attending Healer, Miss Granger.” Draco slowly and patiently explained to her. “Unfortunately, it is also part of my job.”

“Fine. Whatever.” Hermione said rolling her eyes back at him and making sure that Harry notes this one down and still bring her the food she’d prefer to eat.

 

Draco noted a couple of things again.

It was annoying Hermione for some reason.

“Is there anything else?” she asked him.

“Are you in a hurry?” Draco asked back.

It was so obvious that he was holding back and that he was trying to practice patience.

“I’d like to rest, thanks.” Hermione said, moving herself back to position over the bed with difficulty as she moved his arm away to stop him from helping her out.

“Don’t worry. You’ll get a lot of that.” Draco said nodding at her. “You’re under completely orders of bed rest for three more days.”

“Three days?” Hermione asked back. “Three days? You want me to get fired?”

“There is something we call as ‘sick leave’ at the office, Miss Granger.” Draco pointed out as he took his notes away..

Hermione watched in silence as Draco packed the rest of his things and was obviously in no mood to argue any further with her.

“Miss Granger, I need your schedule of availability for your therapy.” Draco said opening a small planner from the inside of his hospital uniform.

“I don’t know.” Hermione said. “It’s very busy at the Ministry-“

“This is imperative and this is required, Miss Granger. I need a schedule for your availability.”

 

“I go to work five or six days a week. Depending on the needed work I need to finish. I have errands on weekends mostly if there are no extra meetings.”

“We’ll have to make a way out of your daily schedule, Miss Granger.”

“I work a nine hours a day type of work and depending if I have overtime-“

“You will make time for this, Miss Granger.” Draco said noting something again. “Perhaps the after work time-“

“I usually get home and then finish a couple more of-“

“Miss Granger, you have to make time-“

“Well I don’t have time!” Hermione angrily spat at him.

“Well, you’re going to have to make time for this, Miss Granger!”

Hermione looked up at him.

Draco’s eyes were wide.

He didn’t really mean to lose his patience.

He had almost yelled completely at a patient.

He heavily breathed looking away from her.

“Look, this is also very difficult for me.” Draco said. “I’m only doing my job and giving you what I think is best-“

“Giving me what you think is best?” Hermione asked incredulously. “Who do you think you are?”

“I’m your resident Healer, Miss Granger.” Draco pointed out with a raised brow.

 

Hermione blinked.

She could not remember being this annoyed in a very long time.

“Well, given you can’t give me your free schedule, I’m going to assume you’re willing to adjust to the availability of the therapy sessions of the hospital.”

Hermione didn’t say anything.

She looked away from him and was looking like she was ready to throw a tantrum at Draco.

“Right. So that’s all about it for this morning.” Draco said closing his planner and taking everything that was his from the bed. “I’ll see you back later at your first therapy session, Miss Granger.”

Hermione was silent.

She moved herself over the bed and faced the other direction, quiet and only listening to the sound of Draco leaving the room.

 

She was so angry about the whole situation that she barely noticed Draco conjure up a blue rose from his wand and added it altogether to the bunch of roses, flowers and gifts at a corner table of Hermione’s well-wishers from friends and work.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Draco sat at the very end of the classroom.

It was his first day in class abroad where he was to take and finish schooling and academics as a Healer.

Draco was quiet and nervous.

He didn’t know much yet about Paris.

He had only settled in for a week and now on his second week, classes were to begin.

The first class of the day was actually languages where most foreign students take a French class altogether in order to cope with the rest of the classes.

As of the moment, there were two Australians at the other end of the room who quickly found company with one another, another woman looked like Asian and who was talking to two other American women.

So far, he was the only English lad in class.

It was fine with him, if he was the only one who was of English-decent that would have been nice and brilliant.

He wasn’t at school to make friends anyway – he was there to study and to become the Healer he always wanted to be.

The past months had been quite a struggle for some time as he had been adjusting emotionally and physically with all the changes.

He had finished Hogwarts – thankfully, unscathed – but he had endured all the possible bullying he could verbally hear from the other students.

Surprisingly, only Potter and his friends seemed not to take on the same ride as the rest of the school.

It was already bad enough that his other had passed, his father jailed in Azkaban and his face magically burned forever by a curse.

Living the new life wasn’t very easy but he endured it knowing he deserved each and every bit of punishment he had endured there.

 

He was mostly verbally bullied by snide comments by non-Slytherins and in the Slytherin House, he was bullied all the same for being ‘the traitor’ of their lot and how much of a coward his father was and how her mother had no loyalty in her.

Every bit of fiber in his body had endured all of it but he kept his head down and kept himself with his studies.

He came third from Hermione and a Ravenclaw student in the graduating class.

He wasn’t such a sass about it but he had accepted the good grades and points given to him.

 

There was no point in doing anything that would tarnish whatever little was left of him.

He tended to himself and his needs from his seventh-year – he had all the money that he would need therefore, he could definitely live up independently.

He accustomed himself to not want anyone else or need anyone else – something that was much more of struggle at the beginning than he thought of as he was raised to be dependent of servants and of his parents.

With them gone and his hunger to prove himself that he could actually live independently as contrary to whispers and beliefs of what he could and couldn’t do.

Other students then filed into the classroom and there was a small group of English lads and two girls.

 

They were all laughing and seemingly under some post-joke situation when they began searching the room for a chair to sit in.

They looked around and about until they saw the spot at the corner where Draco was alone and the seats next to him in the row were all empty.

They quickly walked over the spot and Draco looked up from his doodling at the time.

His eyes slightly widened upon seeing other English students.

He quickly gave them a smile and nodded to the seats next to them.

They were all settling in on already when one of the lads stared and did a double take back on Draco.

“What’s wrong?” Draco heard one of the girls asked the boy.

“He looks familiar.” the lad said. “But I’m not sure. Supposedly that boy is handsome, right?”

Draco sank lower back over his chair and tried to avoid their gazes that he knew were trying to penetrate him.

They knew him of course.

But thankfully to the burn mark over his face, they’d barely recognize him.

And getting into this school, he wanted things to be lowkey.

He didn’t want anyone recognizing him and digging into his past and how much of a traitor he and his family had been in the Wizarding Community.

Draco could just feel and hear the distaste from their whispers.

He immediately knew already that he wasn’t going to make any good friends in this semester and maybe for the rest of his semesters into becoming a Healer.

They started to slightly drag their chairs a few feet father from him creating a most obvious distance in the rows.

 

 

Draco sighed heavily and turned back to the book he had been reading.

No matter where he went, he was going to endure discrimination.

But he tried to remain focused and tried to tell himself over and over again – that it all wouldn’t matter.

That he was there to become a good Healer – that it had always been his dream and he wasn’t going to let snide marks get in the way of his dreams.

He was free now – from his family’s attached strings, forcing him to be what he didn’t want to be.

He was a free man now.

He was free of responsibilities of his family and he should enjoy and revel on the feeling of that.

He had his fate in his hands and he should focus only on the things that matter and at the moment, it was to ensure that he remains focused to become the Healer he wanted to be no matter how long or hard it takes him.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Nineteen

The Invitation

 

 

Come in.” Draco answered without looking up from the parchments he had been scribbling on.

 

He had been spending the rest of his after-lunch time in his small office writing reports about his present patients.

His afternoon had been free of patients and other duties and he was thankful that the first availability of the room for Hermione’s therapy session was nine the following morning.

He had all the time for himself and to catch up to his own piling up paperwork.

 

The door gently opened and in came a middle-aged woman who brings in and out packages and letters for Healers at the hospital.

She entered and moved to his and handed over a small package by his table.

Draco only nodded and thanked her and she left without a word and only a very small smile.

Draco could only guess that she knew him from the war of course.

He finished writing two more paragraphs before looking up at the package that the woman had left.

 

It was in emerald and black lining.

He could already guess what it was.

 

Sighing heavily, Draco pulled the ribbon apart and was showcased was a nice silver ring in shape of a serpent with an emerald stone over it and the emblem of his family crest was over the small black box.

 

A larger scale envelope was next to it – his father’s invitation for the Masquerade Ball he was really trying to push through as his welcome home party.

 

Draco sighed and rolled his eyes wondering where in the depths of hell his father could have gotten such gallant finance support to fund and suffice for the party he tried so hard to stop from happening.

 

 

 

“I also got one.” Harry said to Bill over the cafeteria in the Ministry of Magic.

He waved a large envelope in front of him that Bill quickly recognize.

 

Apparently, Lucius Malfoy was holding a special Masquerade Ball in his manor and every head employee of the Ministry of Magic is invited to his grand event.

Harry being Head Auror was invited and expected to come and Bill who was presently one of the heads in the department that cared for magical creatures were also invited to the event.

 

Lucius Malfoy obviously wanted an all-out celebration where all the heads of each government branch would be present in recognition of his ‘back to society’ stage of his life.

 

“Are you going?” Bill asked through a mouthful of vegetables and potato salad.

“Are we supposed to go?” Harry asked him being invited in such an occasion for the first time. “Are we required to go?”

“I supposed not.” Bill said. “But I’ll ask Fleur because if this  place will be filled with those rich people – I may find a person or two who might be interested in funding out department. Caring for magical creatures isn’t that easy and the money in the bag isn’t always full so-“

“Hermione will murder me if I go to this thing.” Harry said. “She clearly despises everything that is about the Malfoys.”

“She still hasn’t forgiven them?” he asked Harry. “I mean I know it’s not easy but..”

“She hasn’t.” Harry simply said. “And I don’t think she ever will.”

 

Silence passed them.

 

They knew of Hermione’s long history of hatred for the Malfoys especially for Lucius Malfoy who had been the sole reason for her parents’ deaths at the time of the war.

 

She would never-ever forgive them Harry was very sure of that fact.

They continued on their meals with Harry still thinking if he should be going to the ball that was going to be held at the Malfoy Manor.

Ofcourse Hermione would never want to attend that – what with the horror and memories the manor has given them.

Dobby was only the tip of the iceberg on that memory for him.

 

But what of what Bellatrix Lestrange did to Hermione?

 

No, not in a million years will Hermione step back on that place ever again.

 

 

 

“Oh great, you’re finally here. I’m so hungry.” Hermione greeted from her bed the moment Harry arrived at the hospital.

He was carrying a small box of workload that he planned to do overnight at the hospital.

One look at him told Hermione he didn’t have any of the food she had asked him to bring and expected him to buy for her.

“Where’s my pie?” Hermione asked him. “Where’s my dinner?” she asked demandingly.

 

Harry entered the room and settled his things over the couch for the guest in the private ward and turned to Hermione.

He had a package of food in his hand but that quickly told Hermione that it wasn’t what she was expecting.

 

“Well, I was sort of given orders that you were in a sort of diet and that-“

“Where’s my food?” she demanded clearly.

 

Harry looked slightly scared and disappointed at the same time.

He had been given a notification that Hermione was to undergo a special food diet to enable her to gain strength and stamina for her to be able to cope better for the therapies she was to undergo.

“I sort of received a note in regards-“

“That stupid, idiot – Malfoy put you up into this, didn’t he?” Hermione asked with a sharp gaze.

 

Harry didn’t say anything.

He heavily sighed and walked over to her bed.

“Your diet is actually healthy, Hermione. And Malfoy said-“

“Malfoy said what?” Hermione demanded of him. “Is this how it’s going to be, Harry? You’ll let Malfoy tell you around?”

“Malfoy’s not telling me around!” Harry rounded up on her.

 

He didn’t mean it.

But Hermione already looked slightly hurt and he too was surprised at his own outburst.

 

In truth?

 

He was tired from work today and had been tired these past few days tending to her needs and whims included but he never said anything about these things because he always promised to take good care of her and he wasn’t going to let her go just because she was being stubborn.

But lately, it all feels too much for him.

 

“Harry-“

“Look, ‘Mione.” Harry said walking to her bed and staring closely at her. “Listen to me. You’ve got to hear me out. You’re going to be alright but in order for you to get out of this hospital in a faster pace, you’ve got to listen to what Malfoy tells you. He’s not telling you around nor is he doing the same thing to me – he’s doing his job, Hermione – he’s a Healer. And based on what I see, he’s bloody good at his job.”

 

Hermione was silenced.

 

She remained staring at Harry with a blank gleam in her eyes.

And that’s what always scared him.

She always had that look over her face – after the war, after her losses – that look in her facial features, in her eyes – that scared him.

Because in the long years they’ve known one another whenever she wore that look over her face, there was something she wasn’t telling him – there was something she was thinking that he would never know about.

 

“Hermione-“

“I’m not hungry.” Hermione quietly said withdrawing from him as he had expected. “I want to sleep early. Use the small lights if you’re going to work the night away.”

 

And with that, she sank back into the bed and covered herself under the sheets.

Harry stood there, unmoving and almost desperate to remove the sheets over her.

 

He knew that she didn’t it the whole day and only the tray of pudding had been touched from her hospital food over the corner.

She had been hungry and had been obviously waiting for him to buy her something decent to eat.

But he couldn’t just always give in to her whims – not when it was no longer healthy for her.

 

 

No, even if she gets mad at him he was going to do what was right because as far as he could tell, he had let her be in these long years to go and stay in the dark and mourn for the losses she and the rest of them weren’t going to gain back no matter how much tears they would shed.

 

 

 

 

“Aren’t you the Malfoy heir?” asked a voice.

Draco turned up from the tray of food he had been consuming for late lunch.

 

It was two hours after the usual lunch break but he had decided to eat at later time in order to avoid the crowd at the school cafeteria and have enough time to study.

 

He no longer had classes for the whole day and so a little lunch break would do him well and he could spend the rest of the hours at the library.

There were two dark haired boys staring down at him at the cafeteria table.

 

“I’m Draco Malfoy, yes.” Draco quietly answered trying his best to keep a straight face and at the same time not sounding to be arrogant.

He didn’t want a fight.

He wanted a peaceful life at the academia.

 

“So, aiming to be a Healer, huh?” they asked staring and pointing down at the ID tag he had over his white uniform.

“Yes.” Draco quietly answered again. “Looks that way.”

“Why do you have to study Malfoy?” one of the boys asked as they both settled in front of him.

 

Draco didn’t answer.

He knew that tone and he knew where this was going.

 

“We asked you.” the other boy had said nudging his tray of food.

Still, Draco didn’t answer.

 

“Arrogant little daddy’s boy.” mocked the other boy. “What do you think? Being here in another country will evade you from paying off what you and your family owes the Wizarding World?”

 

Draco stared up at them.

They were the two boys he had bested earlier at the subject-debate in the classroom.

 

He had won over the grading points and had let the two boys gain nothing.

They obviously wanted some sort of pay-back from him.

He didn’t know them personally but by the way they were acting, it wasn’t only grading points he owed them.

 

“Look.” Draco began. “Whatever it is-“

One of the boys pulled his tray aside and scattered every bit of food all over the table.

There were only very few people at the cafeteria but had ignored what was going on.

They were now standing over the table and was staring at Draco with their wands out.

Draco remained unmoving and not wanting to meet their eyes again.

 

“You can’t just leave the past like that, Draco Malfoy.” said the boy twitching his wand near Draco’s face to threaten him. “Do you know how many lives your family has destroyed?”

“I can’t put back what has been done.” Draco quietly answered them with a look of determination over his face.

 

Under the table, his fists were clenched together as he tried to restrain himself from pulling his wand out.

 

“Nice burn over your face. At least some of your features let you be reminded that the world turns around and it’s not always that the Malfoys are on top.”

 

One of them swirled the one around and he pointed it over Draco’s bag.

The zipper gave away and all of Draco’s books and parchments fell over the floor where the bits and remains of his scattered food also lay.

Draco sighed heavily but he still didn’t move from his place.

He didn’t want to do anything that will put attention to him that will put his academic life into smithereens – it was the only thing he had at the moment.

 

“Mind your place and boundaries, Malfoy.”

The two boys laughed out loud at the sight before them and started to leave.

They were a few tables away from them when one of them turned around and about and called Draco out.

“In case you’re wondering, Malfoy – your father trampled all over my grandfather’s business until he died out of ill-feelings for a business he had spent his entire fortune and life with from which your father just took without the slightest bit of remorse for an old man.”

 

And with that, they left Draco alone to his messy table and clouded thoughts.

 

 

The following morning, Hermione found herself in a wheelchair being wheeled down by Harry towards the therapy ward.

She was to have her first main sessions that morning and with Draco nevertheless.

She and Harry had not spoken as much since the previous night’s argument where Harry had spent the rest of the night down the cafeteria that was open for 24 hours and had worked there and left Hermione alone in the room.

 

“Are you going to the Ministry today?” Hermione asked him as they went down two more corridors.

“Yes.” Harry simply answered her. “After your therapy, Kingsley expects me to report today at the office. Fleur and Bill noted that they’ll be visiting and accompanying you after lunch.”

 

Hermione only nodded and didn’t say anything.

She knew that Harry was still feeling bad about her and was still against her little vendetta against Draco Malfoy.

They finally reached the double doors that lead to the therapy ward.

 

“Harry-“

“Malfoy said that the therapy session will take about two or three hours, depending on your stamina and the way that your body will respond to it.”

Hermione watched him settle the chair around and was still obviously avoiding her gaze.

 

“Harry-“

“After your therapy, a Medi-Witch will pick you up and bring you back to your room but if Fleur and Bill are already here by that hour, they’re going to take you from this ward. I’ve already left them instructions-“

“Harry, talk to me.” Hermione pleaded gently grasping his hand.

 

Harry stopped moving and stared down at her.

Their eyes finally meet.

He was so filled with emotions that she knew were for her.

 

“Harry.”

“Hermione, I’m only trying to make life better for you.” Harry quietly said. “And there are things you wouldn’t like about it but it’s only for your best.”

“I know.” Hermione said looking away from him. “You just.. I just need time.”

“I’m giving it to you.” Harry quietly said. “But you’ve also got to give chances to the people and circumstances around you.”

“You’re not asking me to give Malfoy a chance, are you?” she asked him with a raised brow.

“No.” Harry said gently putting her arm down away from him and turning to the door. “I’m asking you to behave yourself as a person because he’s your Healer and there’s nothing we can both do about it.”

 

Hermione bit her lower lip and drew her hand back as Harry pushed the double doors and gently pushed her chair inside.

It was a large therapy room unlike the one she had been in before.

There were a few bars and other exercise equipment in the room and a couple of cabinets that she supposed were lockers for the patients.

 

“Potter. Granger.”

Hermione looked up at Draco who greeted them with a small smile.

She looked away from him, obviously still very much displeased about the whole situation.

 

“Bill and Fleur might wait for her outside after her therapy.” Harry said wheeling the chair properly with Draco’s help.

 

“Yes, sure.” Draco replied gladly. “They can surely wait outside. I don’t think we’ll take long at her first day. I still need to watch her stamina and stabilize a routine that will be apt to what her body could do and will respond into.”

Harry nodded as Draco helped him out and moved the chair towards one of the bar grills from which Hermione would later start her exercise on.

If Harry would take a closer observation through all of it, Draco was being the professional he expected him to be.

 

He already knew that his job wasn’t easy and working with Hermione was another different and difficult matter at hand and the way he was handling things, Harry was surprised at himself that he actually was glad that Draco was the one handling her.

Despite Hermione’s disinterest with Draco and his records as Healer, Harry had heard a great deal of him and his abilities and how good he was at what he was doing at his chosen profession.

 

“I’ll see you later, ‘Mione.” Harry quietly said, holding her hand and kissing her over the head as he always does.

Hermione only nodded and listened as Harry left them both alone in the room.

She looked up and Draco was writing over his chart again.

“We’ll do a few stretches first.” Draco said as he turned back to her and pointed over the elevated bed in the middle of the room.

He moved behind her and slowly wheeled the chair towards it and patted over the matted bed.

 

“You settle over here and then we’ll start out with the stretches.”

“You expect me to climb that?” Hermione asked with a raised brow.

“No.” Draco said rolling up his sleeves and lowering himself to the level of the wheelchair. “I expect you to hold onto me because I’m going to carry you to get you up there.”

“I’d rather climb, thanks.” Hermione haughtily said ignoring his arms that were already outstretched and waiting for her to hitched on.

 

“You’re wasting time.” Draco said nodding towards his outstretched arms again. “It’s not even going to take a minute, Hermione.”

“Oh, Hermione now, isn’t it?” Hermione asked him with an obvious lash at the end of her tongue.

 

Draco heavily sighed and shook his head.

 

“Miss Granger.” Draco slowly emphasize with all the patience he could possibly try to stretch out. “I need to carry you over to the bed. Climbing will take so much time. Please allow me to assist you by carrying you.”

Hermione stared back at him with pure hatred.

She crossed her arms and looked away from him.

 

“I’m either climbing or we don’t do this at all.” Hermione snapped at him.

Draco stared at her for a moment and Hermione gave him a challenging glared.

He looked like he had been restraining himself since day one but Hermione was just really being very difficult and trying his patience to its edge.

 

“You know what..” Draco said as he straightened his sleeves and rolled them up. “Potter told me that I can do whatever it takes to help you out and get you back on your feet.”

 

“I’m sure he did.” Hermione said shaking her head and mimicking Harry’s facial expression.

“Yes, he did. So I’m quite sure he wouldn’t mind at all if I do this.”

“Do what?”

 

And Hermione soon found out.

She yelped, unable to stop herself and grasped Draco painfully over the arms in her fear of falling.

 

Draco had suddenly edged towards her and without warning, had scooped her in one strong go in his arms and took her out from the chair and settled her over the bed all the while that she was yelling at him.

 

It took him less than a few seconds to do it and the hatred and fear over Hermione’s face was just priceless.

Hermione was angrily lashing at him with curses and words as he moved to set the chair away and aside from the bed.

 

His back was turned to her so Hermione had a hard time seeing that Draco was struggling not to laugh out loud with what he had just done.

 

“You are absolutely not allowed to do that again!” Hermione angrily said, almost yelling at him.

She was fuming in so much anger that she was already red in the face.

Draco on the other hand, was as calm as fuck.

 

It angered her even more.

“Are you listening to me?” Hermione said as she watched him settle in a couple of compress and mats at the end of the large bed. “Are you listening to me, Malfoy?!”

“I can hear you alright, Miss Granger.” Draco quietly replied without looking up at him and rolling his sleeves back down.

 

He was trained to do this.

He had been trained to control patients who were either violent or physically challenging and at the moment, Hermione was both.

 

He continued to ignore her and he knew that it was angering her even more.

But what could he do?

 

Their fights would never end if he paid her back with the same unnecessary attention she had been giving him since day one.

 

He turned back to her and asked her to settle back over the bed and just to stretch her arms and legs into one direction.

Hermione was still angry, but she followed all the same.

 

“I need you to lift yourself a little.” Draco said as he grabbed a small slightly flattened pillow that she had to lay her backside on.

 

Hermione stared up at him before stretching herself out with his guidance and she tried to carry her weight up with Draco’s help.

He didn’t say anything nor was there any expression over his face but Hermione felt very conscious when his hands had passed her backside as he settled the pillow right there to elevate her hips area.

Draco managed the small task and helped her stretched her arms and legs down again.

“We’ll start with your arms first.”

“Incase you haven’t noticed Malfoy, my arms don’t have any problems.”

“By beginning with your arms, you’ll have a sense of rhythm of the movements we would be doing. It would set the temperature over your body and guide your whole system into the breathing pattern.” Draco said as if he didn’t hear her comment.

 

Hermione eyed him but followed all the same.

He moved to the other end of the bed at the right side area and helped her to stretch her arms.

He moved and stretched them out in certain and slow angles while counting and asking her to breathe in and out while counting as well.

 

He did the same with her other hand and she slowly and wordlessly follow.

He could hear her breathing patterns change at certain movements giving him the diagnosis that there were certain in-depth pain in the muscles around her arms from which she ignored or rather didn’t notice at all.

 

“How are you feeling?” Draco slowly asked as he moved to the other side again.

Hermione was breathing heavily and was slightly sweating.

“Oh, I’m feeling just fantastic-“

“Please answer as necessary, Miss Granger.” Draco quietly said as he read through the chart, wrote something and stared back at her.

“I could hardly breathe when we were doing some of the third stretches.” Hermione said, staring back up at him. “But other than that, there wasn’t much pain at all and I could breathe normally.”

“There were some hidden fractures over here.” Draco said, pointing the end of her quill along the side of her arms.

“What do we do with it?” Hermione asked him.

“Compress and we continue with your therapy. It would be better in no time. Do you think you’re ready to try out with your legs?” he asked her.

“Give me a moment.” Hermione breathlessly answered.

“Alright. I’ll get you a glass of water.” Draco said before Hermione could protest he already moved and walked to the next room.

 

She watched him disappear from view and breathed out her exhaustion.

He had been right to start the exercises with her arms because the stretches were already too exhausting and painful for her to endure.

She wouldn’t admit it to his face, but she was now slightly impressed by his knowledge over what he was doing.

He seemed to know his job and his patients very well.

 

Finance and education didn’t seem wasted over the Malfoy heir after all.

And his hands – they guided and handled her with such gentleness that she didn’t really expect from him.

He held her in such a way like he knew where exactly it pained her and where to properly handle each and every inch of her.

 

“Stop it, Hermione.” Hermione muttered to herself, shaking her head and realizing the thoughts she was being led to.

“You alright?” Draco’s voice suddenly came.

 

He was back and he held a glass of water for her.

She only stared back at him hoping that he wasn’t good at reading minds.

“I wouldn’t poison you.” Draco said offering the glass again.

“I didn’t say you would.” Hermione said grabbing the ice-cold water with her eyes gleaming at him. “And neither did I say that you could.”

 

Draco watched as she went and drained the glass in one go.

Draco looked away as he realized that his eyes passed her lips, her jawline and the lump in her throat that moved and pulsed as she drank and swallowed the water.

 

“Thanks.” Hermione said stretching her hand out and handing him back the empty glass.

“Right.” Draco said taking it from her and settling it aside.

He walked back to her and stared down over her legs under her hospital dress robes.

“So.. Right..” Draco said shaking his previous thoughts away again.

Hermione seemed to be too conscious herself to notice the change in his tone and the way he stared down at her.

 

“Let’s begin with your left leg?” he asked.

“How about on my right since you’re already on my right side?” Hermione sarcastically said.

“Right. Right first. Right.” Draco said, heavily breathing and moving to the lower end of the large bed.

 

He guided her gently to move closer to the edge of the bed and asked her to move her right leg part from the other.

“I’m going to have to guide you from here and you’re going to have to attempt moving it this way.” Draco said as he gently pointed over the side of her thigh and to her lower limb area.

 

Hermione didn’t look comfortable at the idea of it but she nodded all the same.

“Just breath in and this time around, you’d have to count until five. We’ll stretch it out and then bend gently and back a few more times. If the pain is too much let me know, alright?”

“Yeah.” Hermione said unable to breath intensely as she felt Draco’s fingers slowly ran and settle beneath her thigh and his other hand running gently to her lower limb.

 

She knew that this was physically needed to be done through her therapy but for some reason, she couldn’t exhaust her thoughts away and she hated herself for it.

 

She bit her lower lip to keep herself from making unwanted or unnecessary sounds at that very moment when his hands were just beneath her right leg and were unconsciously making tingling sensation all through her body.

 

“Are you alright?” Draco asked her seeing the concern over her face and the way her brows furrowed as if she was concentrating very hard on something.

“I’m fine.” Hermione answered steadily, looking away from him.

“Is it painful?”

“No.”

“Is there an uncomfortable sensation in the muscular area?”

“No.”

“Are you sure-“

“Yes, I’m fine. Let’s do this.” Hermione said unable to stop herself from feeling completely irritated at his questions.

 

The whole situation was uncomfortable enough without him having to keep on asking questions after another that was making her feel even more anxious and uncomfortable  about it all.

 

Although at this rate, whatever Hermione was feeling was nothing compared to what Draco was feeling himself.

His fingers and whole arm were already sweating beneath his hospital uniform and his forehead was filled with beads of sweat.

 

He was nowhere comfortable into doing this whole part in the therapy.

He had to handle her gently and yet in a firm way to ensure that her muscles were doing what they were supposed to be doing and he himself should stay and remain focused onto whatever her body was doing and if it was synchronized and coordinated to their counts and to her breathing.

 

The task was nowhere near easy itself and the pressure of their whole situation wasn’t helping at all.

 

Draco took time to stretch either of her legs and repeated the whole process a few more times with different cycle in breathing patterns and stretches.

once he’d finished, Hermione was already too physically exhausted and was in slight pain to even notice how sweaty Draco had already been.

 

“Breath in and out. I’ll get you some water.” Draco said as he let her whole body go and quickly turned away from her.

Hermione nodded and felt the pain around her legs and hip area where the damage had been done worse of all.

 

It took a while for Draco to return with her refilled glass of water.

This time around, Hermione took it without a word nor any hesitation and drained the ice-cold water he handed her out of her thirst and exhaustion.

 

“You alright?” he asked her seeing the redness around her cheeks.

“I’m okay.” Hermione truthfully answered. “But that was draining.”

“You’ll get used to it.” Draco said with a small smile. “We took more than an hour. You’ll last longer next time.”

“Yeah. I think I’ll need a lot of sleep when I get back into my room.”

“I’ll have a warm compress prepared for you back in your ward before you go to sleep. I’ll also have some chamomile tea brought in for you so you can sleep well.”

 

Hermione nodded at his instructions and watched as he intently scribbled back over her chart, eyes moving left and right as he wrote away.

She looked at him and the way he handled the whole situation.

 

Looking back and thinking, he might have been just as uncomfortable as she was but he was just doing his job.

He was just doing his job – that was what Harry had been reminding her from the beginning.

She shook her head and bit her lower lip.

She obviously owed Harry a large sort of apology.

How childish and idiotic she must have been over the past few days.

“Ready?” Draco’s voice interrupted her thoughts again.

He had wheeled the chair back next to the bed again and was smiling at her in a sort of way.

She nodded wordlessly at him.

 

He moved to the bed and was sort of ready to help her climb down when Hermione had automatically flung her arms around his neck.

He stopped for a moment but not before Hermione could notice the hesitation.

Without second thought, Draco let Hermione place her arms around his neck and as gentle as he could, carried her off the bed and brought her back down onto her wheelchair.

 

Hermione laid herself back onto the soft feel of her comfortable chair and sighed heavily as she looked forward into going back into her room and sleeping the rest of the morning after that tiring therapy session.

 

Draco wordlessly took his chart and placed it over the small pocket at the back of her chair and gently wheeled her around and out of the therapy room.

As they went off their way back towards Hermione’s room they both didn’t notice something – the time it took for them to reach Hermione’s private ward had been the quiet and peaceful time they had shared together without having to lash at one another or say something unkind or rude towards the other.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter Twenty Stirrings   
 


“Alright there, Healer Malfoy?”

Draco looked up from the records he had been reading.

It was his old temporary assistant.

She was by the doorway with her bag with her and some parchments at home.

“I’m well, thank you.” Draco said, lowering the parchments he was reading to greet the woman.

She smiled at him and pointed over the old clock by the wall of his small office.

It read half past nine.

“Last call patients are only until eight.” she said with a small smile. “Will you be making late rounds?”

“No, I’m just finishing some reading. I’ll also head home in a while. You go ahead of me. I know your family is waiting for you.”

The old woman smiled at him.

“No family waiting?” she asked.

Draco looked up at her with a funny expression over his face.

Either she wasn’t up to date with news these days or she was making something funny out of it.

No family waiting?



He thought about his father at the Malfoy Manor – probably having some whiskey by his large fireplace at his office at that very moment as he would likely do so.
 


“None.” Draco replied with a small smile. “No family waiting.”

The woman nodded quietly at him and slowly, she handed a small jar of cookies over Draco’s table.

“I’ve been baking lately. An excess jar from today’s orders. Hope you like it, Healer Malfoy.”

“Thank you.” Draco said grabbing the small jar from the edge of his table. “Goodnight Dorota.”

“Goodnight, Mr. Malfoy.” Dorota replied with another smile and she walked out of the room carrying her things with her and two more excess jar of cookies in her large handbag.

Draco smiled and stared over the cookie jar over his table.



Never in his whole life was he ever given such a gift out of kindness and tonight for the first time in so many a years, he thought about cheating himself out of the very strict diet he had disciplined and implemented over himself in order to return a kind favor from a woman he has never really known and met personally before.











The line was taking too long.

He only had half an hour of break to eat and he was losing time because of the long line at the café that he has been waiting to move for the past fifteen minutes.

He missed breakfast for the quiz he had to study for and two projects he finished late together with the rest of the workload he had to do from the previous night.

After what felt like an eternity, the line at the café finally moved and he was able to get his turn.

He had ordered a meal for himself that would last him for the rest of the afternoon until he gets to his small dormitory and get himself a decent meal if he still had enough time and energy to grab something.

His order was halfway being prepared and his bill was being counted by the registry.

“Fuck.” Draco muttered to himself as he lowered his bag onto the floor to look for a few more loose changes in his pockets.

There were none.

“Fuck. This isn’t going to last.” Draco whispered to himself as he counted the money in his small wallet.

He had miscalculated his allotted allowance for himself for the week and the excess things he had to buy for his project a few days ago had caused him the miscalculations he has done.

It’s not that he was absolutely poor but it was just that he had everything calculated and specified in accordance to his monetary needs for the rest of his academic life.

He had a tumultuous amount of money from his Malfoy bank account of course but he had sworn never to use that.

Never.

And he wasn’t going to break that promise today just because he was a few bills short and that his stomach was already grumbling.

“Sir?” a voice called up at him.

He looked up at the counter and saw the brunette waiting for him to pay for what he ordered.

“I’m sorry.” Draco said shaking his head and lowering his face as he bent down to grab his bag from the floor. “I’m not getting my order anymore – I – I have some sort of emergency.”

And without another word, Draco hurried out of the line from the caféteria and quickly stalked away from the lunch place and left as fast as his two long legs could take him with his dignity left and an empty stomach.










It was already nearly two in the morning and Hermione was still tossing and turning herself over the hospital bed.

She looked up biting her lower lip in hopes that Harry was still asleep.

He was completely passed out over the visitor’s couch with parchments all over him and a mug of hot chocolate lay forgotten at the small table by the couch.

He had been bringing his workload at the hospital so he could spend time with Hermione and tend to whatever it was she may need at the hospital.

Of course she didn’t want the idea of it but Harry insisted and she was as good as bedridden these days, she couldn’t do anything about it.

She appreciates it of course.

She always appreciated all his efforts even if she barely ever showed it to him and that they always ended up arguing the littlest of things.

Hermione heavily sighed.

Why the hell could she not sleep at all?

She was physically tired form the therapy and she had been given a good amount of tea for the day to push her into a good slumber for the night.

But she had been tossing and turning since nine that evening that Harry had settled her on the bed and had been reading his workload until he fell asleep.

She’s already read a book that Harry had left by her bedside and still, the feeling of sleep hasn’t visited her.

Something was wrong, something was amiss.

Malfoy.

That was what was wrong.

She couldn’t shake the idea off her head.

He had been nice to her.

No, he had been a good attending Healer to her and was taking very good care of her and in all honesty, he was as gentle as possible to their first therapy session.

She had almost imagined that Draco would sort of hurt her in a way and worse, handle her brutally through the therapy.

But everything that he had done was the complete opposite of everything she imagined – or rather she had judged him – to do.

He had ensured that the whole process would be as comfortable and gentle as possible for her.

He also made sure that their physical contact wouldn’t be something she would feel too awkward about.

If she’d be asked, he had been more than professional with the whole process of it and she felt safe and assured that she would indeed be better in no time.

He had been an arse most of their academic life in their youth, but for the day that has been, it felt that she had come face to face with a Draco Malfoy she never knew about.

And as Hermione turned to the other side again she knew that somewhere at the back of her head, something bothering was happening inside of her – at the very thought that Draco Malfoy could really have changed all throughout the years and the most scary part was that she was judging him for something he was no longer.











“What’s going on?” Draco asked as he arrived back at the Malfoy Manor half past midnight.

He was missing his loft more than ever with all that he was seeing at the Malfoy Manor.

A few wizards were at the place and were redecorating the large ballroom of the manor.

The place had not been used for years even if he had made sure that the place was kept clean and in order in all the years that had come to pass.

The Malfoy Manor had remained on where it was and was being kept clean and in order despite the lack of events and household individuals to stay within its premises.

He had taken good care of the manor in lieu of the memory of his mother.

Lucius Malfoy turned from yelling at the two wizards who were moving some tables and decorations around.

“Draco!” he happily greeted him striding forward Draco. “My son! How was your day?” he asked moving forward for a greeting.

Draco slightly jerked and moved away from his reach and was staring around the grand ballroom.

“What’s going on?” he asked him again with slight annoyance in his tone.

“For the dinner party.” Lucius simply replied. “Have you eaten? Shall I have someone prepare a late dinner and-“

“I’ve eaten.” Draco simply answered. “I’m not hungry.”

Lucius nodded quietly at him.

He looked around the grand ballroom with a proud face and obviously excited as ever at the first ever party he would come to put together now that he was out of Azkaban.

Draco’s eyes roamed the room – there were wizards cleaning and moving things about and there were a few additional decorations and furniture in the ballroom he does not remember to belong there.

Lucius had taken some sort of hold on some money.

“Do you like it?” Lucius asked pointing towards what looked like a very expensive looking chandelier that was replacing the old one.

Draco looked up at the grand chandelier.

The one that had been there for years that Narcissa had bought had been taken out and down and was replaced by the one Lucius was proudly showing him.

His head turned back at his father who was staring happily back at him.

“Where did you get the money?” he asked in an accusatory tone and glint in his eyes.

Whatever Lucius was imagining Draco to feel at that moment in regards to his decorating the manor’s ballroom was obviously nothing to how Draco was reacting at that very moment.

The smile slightly faltered from Lucius’ pointed face.

“Draco, it’s the ball we have to-“

“Where did you get the money?” Draco asked, facing him fully and uttering each word loud and clear.

The smile from Lucius’ face completely faded.

“My money.” Lucius simply told him through gritted teeth as he strode forward him.

“I don’t remember giving you money for this.” Draco said with clear anger in his voice.

It was true.

Lucius Malfoy’s account had been completely on hold and he wasn’t allowed to touch the amount in the bank account for several months until about a year – until he could prove himself that his existence back outside of Azkaban could be trustworthy.

Draco Malfoy – of age and heir to all the Malfoy estates and wealth – was the one who had complete access to all their finances and estates at the moment and no one else.

“I can make my own money.” Lucius simply put out proudly.

Draco’s eyebrows turned.

“I will not ask again.” Draco said and there was an obvious threat in his voice.

He had spent hours working and trying to distract himself from the dread of getting home to the Malfoy Manor and his father’s existence at the place only to find himself right to feel all the dread the whole day.

Lucius heavily sighed and then he walked closer to his son and pulled a parchment from his pocket.

“As I’ve said, I can make my own money.” Lucius said in a firm tone as he handed it over.

Draco stared at it for a moment as if deciding if he was going to waste time to read it.

He sighed heavily and grabbed it and quickly opened it up to read.

It was a receipt from some large jewelry company who had paid a very generous amount of money for what was described as a set of jewelries with rare gems on it.

His eyes narrowed wondering where in the world would he get an item such as that when he had made sure that he had rid the manor of all the possible dark artifacts and items that were never going to be needed in life in general except as excessive possession for display of wealth and power.

“And where did you get this?” he asked folding the receipt back and almost throwing it back to his father.

“From my stash of kept-“

“I have ordered all items of yours to be cleared by the Ministry of Magic – all of those that do not belong to you or had been placed in your possession illegally-“

“This is a personal item of the Malfoys-“

“Do you know I can be called any time soon by the Ministry by this?” Draco irritably said. “I will be questioned how come I have not surrendered this item whence I had declared that I already have surrendered all possible possessions of the Malfoy that had been illegally acquired and –“

“Don’t be such a prat, Draco.” Lucius calmly said. “I wouldn’t do anything to taint your reputation-“

“That’s not the point here.” Draco angrily said now as his voice and anger were being raised to a higher level by the moment. “I’m telling you we would be questioned once word gets out-“

“I have sold the item to an old friend of mine who would ensure that this does not go public.”

“Friend of yours?” Draco mockingly asked him. “Who’s this? One of the women you’ve had in your old list of them?”

Lucius didn’t answer.

He pursed his lips and that was enough to tell Draco that he was actually right.

“This is unbelievable.” Draco had said turning away from him before he could lose his patience.

Lucius watched as his son started walking out of the ballroom.

“What did you want me to do?” Lucius coldly called out after him. “You don’t give me what is mine around here –“

“Don’t tell me what is yours because you know that you’re absolutely not allowed to have anything!” Draco called right back at him without turning around as he made his way to the door.

“You know that I still own everything Draco – you are still not the legitimate owner of all this for as long as I am alive and-“

“You can have it all back and I will absolutely give it all back to you up to the last Knut if you would like to and if the law allows you to-“

“Draco, please-“

“It’s not like I’m fucking starving you here!” Draco angrily yelled as he finally turned back to face his father as he reached the door.

They stared at one another with a cold expression and nothing else but hatred from Draco.

He hated his father beyond he could imagine.

And Lucius stared back at him with a mixture of constrained anger and vexation in his facial features.

“You do not speak to me like-“

“I will speak to you the hell I would like to.” Draco spat at him and before he could even retort at his own son, Draco stormed out of the ballroom banging the large door behind him with all the same constrained anger in his already heavy heart and mind.









He had been carefully watching her from the other side of the aisles of books.

It was nearly midnight and Hermione was still reading through the other table at the other side.

Their first term exams had just finished and he was wondering what could be very interesting or very important for her to study if exams had just finished.

She had been at it for hours and hours.

He knew that after lunch she no longer had any classes on Fridays as all the seventh year students had the same period on that day.



Today, she had taken a quick lunch and right after he had taken gone to the library to take some books.

She had been there already.

He already took a nap, reviewed a couple of things and when he returned before dinner time she was still there on the very table spot earlier.

He had returned the books he borrowed a few days ago and had gone back to the Slytherin Common Room.

He noticed that she had missed dinner as well.

And so right after dinner and just out of curiosity, he went to the library to study and check if she was still there.

And she was.

The library had been filled and emptied for the past hours and yet Hermione Granger was still hunched over several books right out after the exams.

He couldn’t help but think and wonder what it could be that she was studying at that hour or for the past several hours.

Draco had been consumed by his thoughts and wonder that when Hermione had suddenly looked up from her books and had stared straight up at him, it actually took him a moment to realize.

His eyes widened at the realization and Hermione was already staring at her in the same surprised manner.

He quickly looked away and had buried himself in the stacks of books he had taken from the shelves.

He kept his scarred face down over his parchments and was cursing himself quietly and repeatedly telling himself how idiotic and stupid he was.

He counted and waited for several minutes before actually deciding to slowly look up again from behind the books to check if Hermione was still staring suspiciously at his direction.

To his almost delight, Hermione was nowhere to be found.

“Is there anything you need?” a voice came up.



Draco cursed in spite of himself and slowly turned around.

Hermione was standing right behind him with two books clutched over her arm and her sling bag over her other side.

He looked up at her, mouth dry and at loss for words.

“I was just-“

“Are you spying on me?” Hermione asked folding her arms.

He looked up at her and wanted to admit that yes he was sort of spying on her.

“No.” Draco simply answered staring up at her suspicious face. “I was thinking and contemplating and then my eyes wandered at your direction.”

“Wandered at my direction?” Hermione repeated with a raised brow.

“I thought I was alone in the library at this hour.” Draco said as he stood up and began gathering his things.

He didn’t want to be questioned by his actions and he certainly didn’t want to be questioned by her.

“If you would have noticed, the library is open until very late on Fridays, Malfoy. Best time to study.”

“If you would have noticed too, Granger, it’s only this term I’ve come down to be serious with my studies this way.” Draco spat back at her as he was now completely annoyed by the way she spoke to him.

It annoyed him thoroughly.



As the term had begun, he had vowed to focus on his studies and not mind others or anything else that wouldn’t help him achieve his dream of becoming a Healer.

And at that very moment, a few weeks right out of the first term, Hermione was actually the first person to talk to him in this manner or have a conversation of more than ten seconds with him that wasn’t anything about an exam or assignment.

She was also the first person to get on his nerves this early on the term as he had done his best to disassociate himself from people as much as he could since he returned to school.

“I’ve noticed.” Hermione’s voice came about after a while as he was halfway done into gathering his things together.

He stopped midway of reaching for a book he attempted to put back in his bag.

“You what?” he asked turning to her.

“I’ve noticed.” Hermione repeated clearly. “That you’ve been studying a lot.”

“Well what else is there to do?” Draco said quickly diminishing the surprise from his face and voice and resuming to keeping his things away.

“I heard you left the Quidditch team.” Hermione suddenly pointed out as she remembered that the first game was to come in a week.

“Yes, well not all things would be about brawns and balls, right?” he said, but it was as if more to himself than to her.

Hermione’s eyebrows quirked together as she remained standing there before him.

Draco finished with his things only to find her still there and staring back at him.

“Is there anything else you need, Granger?” he asked her as he slung his bag over his shoulder.


It took her a moment to answer him.

She stood there, staring back at him as if contemplating his question and how or what she was going to answer him.

The silence of the library and the thought that they were the only ones left studying late that night felt wrong for Hermione.

An eyebrow was raised and she stood straighter before him.

“Nothing.” Hermione haughtily answered him. “Goodnight, Malfoy.”

And she turned around and about without another word back at him.

Draco stared at her with a slightly confused look at her retreating back.

And before he knew it, he was actually smiling – not smirking – as he quietly left the library after her at the thought that in the longest time since his mother had passed, someone had actually bid him to have a good night.


 

 

Chapter Text

 

Author's Notes:

Hello there!!!

Glad to see everyone. Here's another beta edited chapter.

Last few chaps, about two or three, will be posted and finally a new chapter will be posted up by the coming week.

How was everyone else's valentine's?

Hope all is well at your end.

 

Lots of love

xx

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty One

One Decisions


 

 

 

 


“You didn’t sleep.”

Draco’s eyes narrowed as the words barely made it to his level of comprehension.

“Malfoy?” Hermione’s soft voice called out at him.

Draco blinked and looked up at her from fixing the mats they’ve used from the therapy.

“I’m sorry.” Draco muttered. “What did you ask?”

She looked back at him with concern.

“I said you didn’t sleep.” Hermione repeated. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine.” Draco said as he nodded and slowly straightened himself up from the floor. “I’m good.”

Hermione watched with observant eyes as he picked the mat from the floor and walked to the cabinet where all other mats were kept.

He returned the stuff they’ve used and then went to the circular table and began scrawling over his chart.

Something was amiss.

“Will I be getting out this afternoon?” she called out at him as she straightened her hospital robes over the wheelchair that Draco had carefully returned her to.



“Yes.” Draco muttered. “I will just have things-“ he stopped and he looked up at her.

Hermione stared back at him with question in her eyes again.

“I’m sorry.” Draco said closing his chart and walking to her. “I should bring you back to your room now.”

“I asked if I will be allowed to leave today.”

It took a moment or two for Draco to realize what she was asking and he quickly nodded at her.

“Yes.” Draco said opening his chart again and scrawling something. “Yes. I’ll have that done and documents done by lunchtime so you can leave by 3pm. Should we owl Potter?”

“He’s coming in this morning and will stay till I leave today.” Hermione replied with looking concernedly back at him. “Is everything alright?”

His eyes lit up and he stared back at her.



Did he just hear her ask if he was alright?



“Draco?” her voice called him by the name which already answered the question in his mind.

“I’m fine.” Draco said keeping the chart away again and preparing to wheel her out of the therapy room. “There are just things to be done today and I’m a little out of it. But everything is fine.”

Hermione was silent as he moved and dimmed the lights in the room and moved back to her wheelchair and to return her to her room.

The distance and time that was taking them to return to her room was giving some sort of silence that Hermione felt wasn’t right.

“I’m hungry.” Hermione suddenly said as they reached the last elevator corridor that will lead back to her room.

But Draco didn’t stop wheeling the chair and she knew that he didn’t hear her.

“Draco.” Hermione said and with certain reluctance with her actions, she slowly and gently reached up to his hand that was over the handle of the chair and touched it.



Draco suddenly stopped pushing the chair.

He was so caught off-guard that the sudden halt gave a break to their already slow pace a jerk.

He looked down at her but she was the one who looked concernedly up at him.

“Sorry. You need anything?” he asked her blinking.

She could tell that he didn’t only lack sleep but was also bothered by something.

“I’m hungry.” Hermione repeated looking up at him as she gently withdrew her hand over his. “Do you mind if we drop by the cafeteria?”

Draco stared back at her as if he didn’t understand but he also nodded after a second or two.

“Yes.” Draco answered wheeling the chair at the other direction. “I mean.. Of course. I didn’t think you’d be hungry after that session.”

Hermione nodded at him and sat back over the chair and stared ahead of them as he slowly turned the direction of the wheelchair.


“Do you have another patient after me?” she asked him casually as she kept her eyes to the new direction ahead of them.


“None.” Draco said. “I am supposed to be in a meeting after you but they’ve cancelled it due to some seniors conference.”

“So you have nowhere to go or nothing to do after?” she slowly asked, fishing.

“Nothing.” Draco answered as he wheeled the chair to the corridor as they neared the cafeteria’s double doors. “I might just go home and get some readings done.”

She bit her lip, contemplating.

Draco sounded very tired.



In fact, he looked quite weary to the point that life seems to have given up on him just as he feels so.

He looked and felt different today and Hermione wondered if the release of his father from Azkaban was taking its toll on him.

Hermione could hear the clatter of cutlery and dishes and voices behind the double doors as they neared the area.

And for some reason, she could also hear her thumping heartbeat.

She looked up at him as he stared straight ahead and seemingly out of this world.

She rolled her eyes, her mind berating her own self at the concern in her head.

Harry wasn’t due to arrive for another or two as he had a meeting that morning.

As they reached and neared the double doors, Hermione breathed deeply and exhaled loudly.

Draco’s attention was caught and before they reached the doors, just a few steps from it, Hermione looked up at him.

He slowed the pace of the wheelchair and looked down at her as her brown eyes then reached him.



Their eyes met.



“Maybe…maybe you would like accompany me for brunch or something?” she slowly and reluctantly asked him. “I mean only if… well, if you want to and.. well if you have nothing to do.”

Draco stared down at her as the information slowly sank to his head.

It was like a slow mow kind of thing that was trying to reach his brain cells.

Hermione already felt stupid at the millisecond that was taking Draco to comprehend and answer her.

What decisions has she been making lately?



“Yes.” Draco suddenly said. “Yes. Yes, of course.”

Hermione’s brains then lagged.

She didn’t think he’d say yes.



Actually, she didn’t really think it through.

And before she knew it, Draco was actually smiling and almost looking quite excited at the prospect of it.

And as he resumed into wheeling the chair forward the cafeteria, she could have sworn that their pace had sort of sped up to the point that if they were walking, he’d definitely be jaunting them forward.

















“Malfoy?!” called out a voice. “Are you following me?”

Draco closed his eyes and cursed to himself.

His fists clenched tightly at his sides as he remained still, back turned to her.

“Are you stalking me?” her accusatory voice came and he heard footsteps heading his way.

He wasn’t exactly following her or stalking her or whatever she wanted to call it.

He had been to the public library to check a few books that weren’t available at the Malfoy Manor as they were about Muggles and he happened to see her crossing the street from the same building.

He had finished and was planning to read somewhere in the not-very popular café street at that part of London when he saw her and out of curiosity if it was her, he followed her.

He didn’t think that it was actually her.

He had lost sight of her somewhere in between the small narrow alleyway and the next street and the few shops and then now, she was there right behind her and accusing her of stalking.

“Malfoy.” Hermione’s voice came and she stopped right behind him.

“I’m not following you.” Draco coldly said slowly turning back to her. “I’m not stalking you either.”

Hermione looked up at him as if she had seen a ghost.

Never in her entire life did she ever think of seeing Draco Malfoy at the Muggle streets of London.

She looked like she was torn in between to be angry or be happy to see someone around from school.

The summer had been quite uneventful in a way and yet Harry and Ron decided for her to stay out of the Wizarding World for the first early weeks of the summer until things were slightly sorted out better.



The Dark Lord has just risen from power and she was going to be one of those to be in most danger than the rest.

“Then why are you here?” she demanded folding her arms.

“I already told you why.” Draco coldly replied. “I don’t think we’re banned to be in this side of London.”

She stared back at her in a very sharp way to the point that if she could use a wand at that moment, she would.

Her eyes strayed at his clothes – he blended well.

He was wearing a pair of suit that wasn’t too elegant neither too casual in a way.

He didn’t look like a wizard parading his wealth around like she always imagined and judged him to be.

He looked like a normal teenager like herself who was having a good walk around London on a beautiful weekend morning.

“Have you been to the library?” she asked him suddenly.

Draco stared at her.

“Are you deaf?” she asked folding her arms.

“No.” Draco snapped at her. “Yes, I’ve been there. Obviously.”

“I thought so.” Hermione said. “I did think I saw you.”

Draco raised an eyebrow.

“Were you following me then?” he asked her back.

Hermione looked beyond insulted.

“You wish.” Hermione haughtily said quickly turning away from him.

Draco smirked watching her back and noticing how long and slender her legs had gotten through the years of their growing up.

He blinked and looked away, stirring himself out of it.

He could tease and insult her all he would like to within or outside Hogwarts for all he would like to but it stops and stays there.

It was the only way he could ever talk to her or gain her attention – nothing more nothing less.

Through wits and wills, it can only remain this way.

Because he knew the laws of their social status or rather the standard of their society.

No, not that she wasn’t a Pureblood or as wealthy as he was or will ever be.

No, it wasn’t like that.


For whether he admits it or not, he knew one thing that was for sure – they could truly never be.

It was the mere fact of their sides at the war that was about to commence that makes her truly, out of his league.












Harry walked out of the conference hall bearing with him a memo copy of the day’s meeting.

In a short span of time, the Marriage Law was going to take effect after all standardized tests were finish and the first one to suffer the list were the Muggle-Borns.

The priority of the list were still the Purebloods no matter what was ever stated to be different now in the laws of the world.

No, some things remain dirty and the same.

Purebloods were still at the top of the food chain and they had the largest advantage in this law..

Fuck what change they ever said were now in the world they were living.

Once all names were finalized, they were going to be drawn out publicly in a master list categorized as Pureblood, Half-Bloods and Muggle-Borns.

The way of drawing out and pairing people were yet to be announced but according to the memo in Harry’s list, the first ones to take choices were the ones with certain government or other professional titles – from the top ranks to the least ones.

That would certainly put Hermione on another category at the bottom of the list.

She was a government employee and a Ministry worker – far below the ranks of even Aurors himself.

She was even in a department that was begging for some financial aids and was deemed to close soon if not aided properly.

Harry heavily sighed as he folded the paper and pocketed it as the elevator doors opened.

Hermione had a way out of this but she was not willing to undergo it.

If she would only, he could save her from a lot of trouble and a lot of unwanted disadvantages that were to be thrown all their ways.

The lift moved from floors to floors, letting in and out people with him in the elevator.

His mind raced as the lift moved down towards the ground floor where he first aimed to go to

But after a lot of last minute debate in his head, before Harry knew it, he was cursing himself as he pushed and changed the floor destination he wanted to.

He pressed another button, rolling his eyes and cursing himself.


“Fuck.” Harry muttered straightening his Auror uniform robes. “Fuck, fuck. She’s going to kill me.”

The elevators moved then a few floors up again.

And before he could even think better, think clearly, the double doors of the lift opened and Harry found himself at the floor where the Magical Law Marriage Registry office was to be found.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You won’t be eating?” Harry asked her as they reached her apartment.

He helped her back into the living room and settled her into her large and comfortable sofa.

Her eyes roamed the room and the rest of the house that they had passed.

“Did you clean the apartment?” she asked him despite knowing the answer already.

“Hmmm.” Harry mumbled at a corner as he lit the hearth of the fireplace to warm the room up.

Harry was never a clean freak as she had mostly been in their growing up life but he always knew when to surprise her with his domestic skills.

“Thanks.” Hermione said not really able to say anything else knowing that these were the small and yet unspoken and relevant things they usually exchanged.

“Not a problem.” Harry said with a slight cheer in his voice. “I can cook or I can buy dinner. Come on, it’s your welcome home.”

“I haven’t been away for long.” Hermione pointed out at him and Harry’s facial expression quickly dimmed for a moment. “But if you really insist, I’m good with any comfort food tonight. If you’d come to think about it, I’m actually slightly hungry.”

Lies. All lies.



Draco had fed her more than enough a few hours back at the cafeteria and she was still slightly high in spite of herself.

She didn’t tell him that they a good time at the cafeteria – just talking mostly of his post Hogwarts life – and the crappy food they were being served at the cafeteria.

Harry did see Draco given that he was her attending Healer and he asked him to sign some release documents but other than that, he didn’t know any better and Hermione wasn’t sure at that very moment why she was even keeping that small detail away from Harry.

She knew that Harry wasn’t really the grudging types towards Draco but for some reason, she didn’t feel up to it nor feel good about telling Harry about it.

“You spent time with Malfoy today?” Harry’s voice came into the living room as he grabbed a small old pasta book from a shelf from the other room.

“What?” Hermione asked, her bubble of thoughts quickly looking for a cue to turn direction. “What do you mean?”

“He told me that he spent the morning at therapy with you then something about staying at the cafeteria while you waited for me.”

“He..” Hermione began unsure of what Draco said and what she should say then and most importantly if it was a big deal to Harry. “He was advising me on meals and stuff. Told me I wasn’t eating right so we went to the cafeteria and we enlisted things I could and should eat.”

Harry nodded as he flipped through the pages of the pasta book.

“He just mentioned that the two of you went to the cafeteria. Wasn’t so bad hanging around with Malfoy?”

“That wasn’t hanging out.” Hermione said with quick defense in her tone but she was avoiding his gaze as well despite that he was too occupied on what he was reading.

A look of concern passed Harry’s has however.

He looked strangely up at her as if wanting to say something but he said something else instead.

“You’re okay with him, right?” Harry asked him. “You’re not uncomfortable anymore with him being your Healer?”

Hermione looked up at Harry as he closed the book and stared up at her from the other side of the couch.

Now she understood what he was really getting at.

He was concerned that she felt bad about Draco being the attending Healer and if she was emotionally alright with it.

It wasn’t because he was jealous of Draco being around her.

And truth be told, Draco has been professionally handling her since day one and she was the one who had been diligent into proving that he wasn’t but he was.

“He’s been doing well with his duty as my attending Healer.” Hermione said. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this but he’s a professional and is about his job.”

“Good then.” Harry said with a small smile from his lips. “I’m glad to know that he’s been like that. Anything off-course, you’d tell me right?”

“Ofcourse.” Hermione quickly said. “And it’s not like he can actually try. My legs might not be working at full power right now but I’m not exactly invalid or out of my wit from hexing him and turning him into a ferret again. I’m quite sure he still recalls that very well.”

A chuckle escaped both their lips and Harry finally looked better and relaxed.

“Alright. I’ll make some sundried pasta for us. Yes?” he said closing the book and getting off from the couch. “I’ll make you some tea? Malfoy gave me a list of the things you should eat.”

“Tea sounds perfect while I wait that pasta.” Hermione said with a suppressed smile over her face. “Heard from the Weasleys?”

“They wanted to see you but I told them that you needed rest.” Harry said. “I hope you don’t mind. We can join them for lunch over the weekend.”

“I don’t mind.” Hermione said. “I don’t want to raise panic if Mrs. Weasley sees me over these.”

Hermione smiled and pointed over the bandages around her legs and at the band wrapped at her lower waist to help her move around.

“How long would this be staying on you?” Harry asked as he helped her move a little more into a half-lying down position over the couch.

“I can remove the arm bandage tomorrow.” Hermione said pointing over the small bandage on her left hand. “Draco said that I can remove mostly after a few hours except for the brace around my hips. He told me he had to check that one first before we remove it.”

Something appeared over Harry’s eyes but it quickly vanished.

He didn’t say anything but he caught word of her again calling Malfoy by first name basis.

He was almost so sure now it wasn’t a slip of a tongue and that it was becoming a habit but he didn’t to ask her why she was calling him that.

“You’ll be well in time for the gala then?” he asked her slowly.

For a moment she only stared at him and then she recalled what he must be talking about.

“I almost forgot about that.” Hermione quietly said. “And you’re really going?”

“I won’t go if you don’t want me to.” Harry firmly said. “I wouldn’t do something you don’t think appropriate.”

“But if you don’t go, that won’t show much of a sportsmanship, right?” Hermione asked him. “That’ll be like telling him that he’s on the winning and moving on side.”

There was something more than distaste and bitterness in her tone that Harry knew too well.

“Hermione, there is no more of that winning and losing side.” Harry pointed out. “We’ve won the war over.”

A glint passed Hermione’s eyes but it quickly vanished before Harry could even redeem himself.

She shifted in her position and Harry was sure if she could move and walk out of the room at the moment, she would have done so.

He understood and felt for her but he wasn’t the one to tolerate all her brooding side.

She had got to move on and he was going to guide her all the way if only she’d be willing to.

He had done more than enough watching her brood and lick her wounds all these years having done so a couple of it himself for her but he knew that he couldn’t let it any longer.

Harry paused then and cleared his throat giving her a firm gaze.

“So are we going?” he asked her. “I personally won’t go if you don’t feel like it. But there’s nothing really like a big deal out of it.”

“I didn’t say it was a big deal.” Hermione snapped at him. “I didn’t even say anything at all.”

She didn’t say anything but everything was written in her facial expression.

Harry didn’t say anything.

He stood by the doorway, arms folded and waiting for her to finish her banter at him.

“I wouldn’t go.” Hermione said with finality in her tone. “Go if it will help your department.”

He didn’t say anything.

He knew it would end that way.

It wasn’t a ‘go for it Harry’ it was ‘let me see you go with it Harry’ kind of challenge.

She always made him feel like he had to choose a lot of things against his choice of her and at the end of the day, he’d always end up with the same goddamn choice.

“I’ll make the pasta.” Harry said. “I’ll put extra mozzarella and tomatoes on it as you wish.”

“As I wish?” Hermione said with a chuckle.

Harry nodded at her with a gentle look over his face this time.

He walked back to her and leaned down to kiss her forehead.

“As you wish, ‘Mione.” Harry whispered before moving away and walking out of the living room, leaving Hermione satisfied knowing she’d won the argument over without even trying so hard.

If only she knew what he had done that day.















The Malfoy Manor was fully decorated by the time that Draco returned to it.

In only a couple of hours, the manor was going to be open once more to the public as he would coin and term it out.

The invitations were handed out smoothly and the buffet menu were perfect as it could possibly be.

Seeing all of it unfold before his eyes felt like going back in time when parties, galas and such gatherings were a normal and nothing but a daily event at the Malfoy household.

He walked down the ground floor and servants were moving in and out of the places bringing in other decors and stuff.

His father really had the nerve to spend as much as he could to pay people and things to ensure that the ‘grand celebration’ for his welcome home was going to be the latest talk of the town.

He was dying out of humiliation and there was nothing he could do about it because well, there was nothing to do about it.

It was either he was out there not batting an eye to what his father could possibly do to damage things further or he was within the premises and be able to control whatever damage he may do so.

“Draco!” his father’s voice coined in as he crossed the room and was about to take the grand staircase. “Draco!”

He rolled his eyes and slowly turned to him bearing all work document in his hands and his sweaty and stained Healer robes.

“What?” he asked wheeling around him with an irritated flare around him.

Draco rolled his eyes as his father excited greeted him.

He had a big smile about him and was wearing a nice new set of elegant robes.

The man obviously sold something so expensive that he still managed the luxury of buying himself clothes that he had deprived his father since he was released from Azkaban.

“Do you like it?” Lucius asked him with a smile pointing over himself and slightly turning about to show off the fine material used for it.

Draco would not even want to estimate how many hospital meals that could possibly cost.

“I don’t have time for this.” Draco simply told him. “What do you want?”

“I’ve bought you the set of robes you should wear at the party tonight.” Lucius said. “I’ve asked the servants to bring it into your room. I would like you to try it out and show me so we both know if there should be-“

“You what?” Draco snapped at him. “You went into my room?”

There was such anger in his face and tone that Lucius had been confused for a moment about what they were talking about.

“I just told you I bought you a set of new robes-“

“I heard that.” Draco said. “I asked if you went into my room-“

“I didn’t.” Lucius said. “If you were listening, I asked a servant to-“

“I don’t need new clothes.” Draco said. “I’m not staying long at your little gathering.”

Draco turned from him taking quick steps up the staircase but Lucius called him back.

He looked angry but he was restraining himself.

He had come into terms with himself that he wasn’t going to stop until he is able to please Draco like the old days.

“Please.” Lucius said with a knowing smile over his face. “Draco, I’ve been taken out from Azkaban – isn’t that something to be celebrated-“

“Celebrated?” Draco angrily wheeled back at him this time.

He took several steps back down from the grand steps and stared down at his father with such fury in his eyes.

“You want me to celebrate with the rest of those idiots because you’ve been released from Azkaban?” he repeated each word with emphasis that he wasn’t glad at all about its idea.

Lucius stared back at him with contemplating eyes.

“But my son-“

“Don’t- “ Draco spat at him with his arms shaking at his sides to restrain himself from pointing at his father. “Don’t you dare-“

“Draco, will there never be peace between the two of us?” he suddenly asked him with such gentleness in his tone and eyes.

Draco stared at him, searching and searching for lies he knew were there.

His father wasn’t a sincere person as far as he could tell.

He would do anything, say anything and wear any kind of façade that he knew would work towards the person he was manipulating.

And for Draco, gone were the days when that worked on him – when he was and could still be manipulated by his own father.

If he was determined to ignore him, Lucius was also very determined into making sure that he gets Draco back into his hands to control.

But he was no longer the old Draco that he knew.

He was a different boy, a different man

He was no longer his father’s son.

“I’m not going to that damned ball of yours.” Draco said straightening up with finality in his tone. “Don’t drag me into this fallacy of aristocracy you feel you still have because we both know you’ve fallen a very long time ago.”

There was a cold glint that passed Lucius’ eyes as Draco gave him a murderous look before turning away from him and stalking loudly up the marble staircase of the manor.

“Potter and Granger are coming.” Lucius finally said in a loud and clear tone for Draco to hear up ahead the stairs. “They have sent a reply to my assistant this morning.”

Draco halted in his steps but he didn’t turn from his father.

But he knew him too well to understand that this was enough reason not only to catch Draco’s attention back at him but to weave him into following in what he wanted to happen for the ball night.



“You’re making friends with them lately, aren’t you?” Lucius slowly said with silky tone. “I’m quite sure they will be disappointed if they won’t be seeing their attending Healer here. Come now, Draco.. you wouldn’t want them bored out of their wits knowing they’re wasting their time here in the  name of fundraising, yes?”

He could see Draco’s silhouette thinking very hard with his fist shaking at his sides.

“Alright, that’s settled then.” Lucius said in a very obvious victorious voice. “You wouldn’t want to disappoint me, would you? Or per se, disappoint Miss Granger?”

Draco was shaking in anger as he stood unmoving halfway up the stairs.

A slight chuckle from Lucius came, echoing around the hall of the large manor.

“I’m going to stay at the library and wait for you there bearing that nice outfit I bought for you, Draco so we can see if there are last minute arrangements to be made. Some whiskey is also waiting for you at the library, my son.”

Chapter Text

 

Chapter Twenty Two

Old Days

 

 

 

“You won’t be eating?” Harry asked her as they reached her apartment.

He helped her back into the living room and settled her into her large and comfortable sofa.

Her eyes roamed the room and the rest of the house that they had passed.

“Did you clean the apartment?” she asked him despite knowing the answer already.

“Hmmm.” Harry mumbled at a corner as he lit the hearth of the fireplace to warm the room up.

Harry was never a clean freak as she had mostly been in their growing up life but he always knew when to surprise her with his domestic skills.

“Thanks.” Hermione said not really able to say anything else knowing that these were the small and yet unspoken and relevant things they usually exchanged.

“Not a problem.” Harry said with a slight cheer in his voice. “I can cook or I can buy dinner. Come on, it’s your welcome home.”

“I haven’t been away for long.” Hermione pointed out at him and Harry’s facial expression quickly dimmed for a moment. “But if you really insist, I’m good with any comfort food tonight. If you’d come to think about it, I’m actually slightly hungry.”

Lies. All lies.

 

Draco had fed her more than enough a few hours back at the cafeteria and she was still slightly high inspite of herself.

She didn’t tell him that they a good time at the cafeteria – just talking mostly of his post Hogwarts life – and the crappy food they were being served at the cafeteria.

Harry did see Draco given that he was her attending Healer and he asked him to sign some release documents but other than that, he didn’t know any better and Hermione wasn’t sure at that very moment why she was even keeping that small detail away from Harry.

She knew that Harry wasn’t really the grudging types towards Draco but for some reason, she didn’t feel up to it nor feel good about telling Harry about it.

“You spent time with Malfoy today?” Harry’s voice came into the living room as he grabbed a small old pasta book from a shelf from the other room.

“What?” Hermione asked, her bubble of thoughts quickly looking for a cue to turn direction. “What do you mean?”

“He told me that he spent the morning at therapy with you then something about staying at the cafeteria while you waited for me.”

“He..” Hermione began unsure of what Draco said and what she should say then and most importantly if it was a big deal to Harry. “He was advising me on meals and stuff. Told me I wasn’t eating right so we went to the cafeteria and we enlisted things I could and should eat.”

Harry nodded as he flipped through the pages of the pasta book.

“He just mentioned that the two of you went to the cafeteria. Wasn’t so bad hanging around with Malfoy?”

“That wasn’t hanging out.” Hermione said with quick defense in her tone but she was avoiding his gaze as well despite that he was too occupied on what he was reading.

A look of concern passed Harry’s has however.

He looked strangely up at her as if wanting to say something but he said something else instead.

“You’re okay with him, right?” Harry asked him. “You’re not uncomfortable anymore with him being your Healer?”

Hermione looked up at Harry as he closed the book and stared up at her from the other side of the couch.

Now she understood what he was really getting at.

He was concerned that she felt bad about Draco being the attending Healer and if she was emotionally alright with it.

It wasn’t because he was jealous of Draco being around her.

And truth be told, Draco has been professionally handling her since day one and she was the one who had been diligent into proving that he wasn’t but he was.

“He’s been doing well with his duty as my attending Healer.” Hermione said. “I can’t believe I’m going to say this but he’s a professional and is about his job.”

“Good then.” Harry said with a small smile from his lips. “I’m glad to know that he’s been like that. Anything off-course, you’d tell me right?”

“Ofcourse.” Hermione quickly said. “And it’s not like he can actually try. My legs might not be working at full power right now but I’m not exactly invalid or out of my wit from hexing him and turning him into a ferret again. I’m quite sure he still recalls that very well.”

A chuckle escaped both their lips and Harry finally looked better and relaxed.

“Alright. I’ll make some sundried pasta for us. Yes?” he said closing the book and getting off from the couch. “I’ll make you some tea? Malfoy gave me a list of the things you should eat.”

“Tea sounds perfect while I wait that pasta.” Hermione said with a suppressed smile over her face. “Heard from the Weasleys?”

“They wanted to see you but I told them that you needed rest.” Harry said. “I hope you don’t mind. We can join them for lunch over the weekend.”

“I don’t mind.” Hermione said. “I don’t want to raise panic if Mrs. Weasleys sees me over these.”

Hermione smiled and pointed over the bandages around her legs and at the band wrapped at her lower waist to help her move around.

“How long would this be staying on you?” Harry asked as he helped her move a little more into a half-lying down position over the couch.

“I can remove the arm bandage tomorrow.” Hermione said pointing over the small bandage on her left hand. “Draco said that I can remove mostly after a few hours except for the brace around my hips. He told me he had to check that one first before we remove it.”

Something appeared over Harry’s eyes but it quickly vanished.

He didn’t say anything but he caught word of her again calling Malfoy by first name basis.

He was almost so sure now it wasn’t a slip of a tongue and that it was becoming a habit but he didn’t to ask her why she was calling him that.

“You’ll be well in time for the gala then?” he asked her slowly.

For a moment she only stared at him and then she recalled what he must be talking about.

“I almost forgot about that.” Hermione quietly said. “And you’re really going?”

“I won’t go if you don’t want me to.” Harry firmly said. “I wouldn’t do something you don’t think appropriate.”

“But if you don’t go, that won’t show much of a sportsmanship, right?” Hermione asked him. “That’ll be like telling him that he’s on the winning and moving on side.”

There was something more than distaste and bitterness in her tone that Harry knew too well.

“Hermione, there is no more of that winning and losing side.” Harry pointed out. “We’ve won the war over.”

A glint passed Hermione’s eyes but it quickly vanished before Harry could even redeem himself.

She shifted in her position and Harry was sure if she could move and walk out of the room at the moment, she would have done so.

He understood and felt for her but he wasn’t the one to tolerate all her brooding side.

She had got to move on and he was going to guide her all the way if only she’d be willing to.

He had done more than enough watching her brood and lick her wounds all these years having done so a couple of it himself for her but he knew that he couldn’t let it any longer.

Harry paused then and cleared his throat giving her a firm gaze.

“So are we going?” he asked her. “I personally won’t go if you don’t feel like it. But there’s nothing really like a big deal out of it.”

“I didn’t say it was a big deal.” Hermione snapped at him. “I didn’t even say anything at all.”

She didn’t say anything but everything was written in her facial expression.

Harry didn’t say anything.

He stood by the doorway, arms folded and waiting for her to finish her banter at him.

“I wouldn’t go.” Hermione said with finality in her tone. “Go if it will help your department.”

He didn’t say anything.

He knew it would end that way.

It wasn’t a ‘go for it Harry’ it was ‘let me see you go with it Harry’ kind of challenge.

She always made him feel like he had to choose a lot of things against his choice of her and at the end of the day, he’d always end up with the same goddamn choice.

“I’ll make the pasta.” Harry said. “I’ll put extra mozarella and tomatoes on it as you wish.”

“As I wish?” Hermione said with a chuckle.

Harry nodded at her with a gentle look over his face this time.

He walked back to her and leaned down to kiss her forehead.

“As you wish, ‘Mione.” Harry whispered before moving away and walking out of the leaving room leaving Hermione satisfied knowing she’d won the argument over without even trying so hard.

If only she knew what he had done that day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Malfoy Manor was fully decorated by the time that Draco returned to it.

In only a couple of hours, the manor was going to be open once more to the public as he would coin and term it out.

The invitations were handed out smoothly and the buffet menu were perfect as it could possibly be.

Seeing all of it unfold before his eyes felt like going back in time when parties, galas and such gatherings were a normal and nothing but a daily event at the Malfoy household.

He walked down the ground floor and servants were moving in and out of the places bringing in other decors and stuff.

His father really had the nerve to spend as much as he could to pay people and things to ensure that the ‘grand celebration’ for his welcome home was going to be the latest talk of the town.

He was dying out of humiliation and there was nothing he could do about it because well, there was nothing to do about it.

It was either he was out there not batting an eye to what his father could possibly do to damage things further or he was within the premises and be able to control whatever damage he may do so.

“Draco!” his father’s voice coined in as he crossed the room and was about to take the grand staircase. “Draco!”

He rolled his eyes and slowly turned to him bearing all work document in his hands and his sweaty and stained Healer robes.

“What?” he asked wheeling around him with an irritated flare around him.

Draco rolled his eyes as his father excited greeted him.

He had a big smile about him and was wearing a nice new set of elegant robes.

The man obviously sold something so expensive that he still managed the luxury of buying himself clothes that he had deprived his father since he was released from Azkaban.

“Do you like it?” Lucius asked him with a smile pointing over himself and slightly turning about to show off the fine material used for it.

Draco would not even want to estimate how many hospital meals that could possibly cost.

“I don’t have time for this.” Draco simply told him. “What do you want?”

“I’ve bought you the set of robes you should wear at the party tonight.” Lucius said. “I’ve asked the servants to bring it into your room. I would like you to try it out and show me so we both know if there should be-“

“You what?” Draco snapped at him. “You went into my room?”

There was such anger in his face and tone that Lucius had been confused for a moment about what they were talking about.

“I just told you I bought you a set of new robes-“

“I heard that.” Draco said. “I asked if you went into my room-“

“I didn’t.” Lucius said. “If you were listening, I asked a servant to-“

“I don’t need new clothes.” Draco said. “I’m not staying long at your little gathering.”

Draco turned from him taking quick steps up the staircase but Lucius called him back.

He looked angry but he was restraining himself.

He had come into terms with himself that he wasn’t going to stop until he is able to please Draco like the old days.

“Please.” Lucius said with a knowing smile over his face. “Draco, I’ve been taken out from Azkaban – isn’t that something to be celebrated-“

“Celebrated?” Draco angrily wheeled back at him this time.

He took several steps back down from the grand steps and stared down at his father with such fury in his eyes.

“You want me to celebrate with the rest of those idiots because you’ve been released from Azkaban?” he repeated each word with emphasis that he wasn’t glad at all about its idea.

Lucius stared back at him with contemplating eyes.

“But my son-“

“Don’t- “ Draco spat at him with his arms shaking at his sides to restrain himself from pointing at his father. “Don’t you dare-“

“Draco, will there never be peace between the two of us?” he suddenly asked him with such gentleness in his tone and eyes.

Draco stared at him, searching and searching for lies he knew were there.

His father wasn’t a sincere person as far as he could tell.

He would do anything, say anything and wear any kind of façade that he knew would work towards the person he was manipulating.

And for Draco, gone were the days when that worked on him – when he was and could still be manipulated by his own father.

If he was determined to ignore him, Lucius was also very determined into making sure that he gets Draco back into his hands to control.

But he was no longer the old Draco that he knew.

He was a different boy, a different man

He was no longer his father’s son.

“I’m not going to that damned ball of yours.” Draco said straightening up with finality in his tone. “Don’t drag me into this fallacy of aristocracy you feel you still have because we both know you’ve fallen a very long time ago.”

There was a cold glint that passed Lucius’ eyes as Draco gave him a murderous look before turning away from him and stalking loudly up the marble staircase of the manor.

“Potter and Granger are coming.” Lucius finally said in a loud and clear tone for Draco to hear up ahead the stairs. “They have sent a reply to my assistant this morning.”

Draco halted in his steps but he didn’t turn from his father.

But he knew him too well to understand that this was enough reason not only to catch Draco’s attention back at him but to weave him into following in what he wanted to happen for the ball night.

 

“You’re making friends with them lately, aren’t you?” Lucius slowly said with silky tone. “I’m quite sure they will be disappointed if they won’t be seeing their attending Healer here. Come now, Draco.. you wouldn’t want them bored out of their wits knowing they’re wasting their time here in the  name of fund raising, yes?”

He could see Draco’s silhouette thinking very hard with his fist shaking at his sides.

“Alright, that’s settled then.” Lucius said in a very obvious victorious voice. “You wouldn’t want to disappoint me, would you? Or per se, disappoint Miss Granger?”

Draco was shaking in anger as he stood unmoving halfway up the stairs.

A slight chuckle from Lucius came, echoing around the hall of the large manor.

“I’m going to stay at the library and wait for you there bearing that nice outfit I bought for you, Draco so we can see if there are last minute arrangements to be made. Some whiskey is also waiting for you at the library, my son.”

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Chapter Twenty Three

Old TIme's Sake

 

 

“Hermione!” Harry’s loud voice echoed around her apartment as his footsteps rang down the stairs. “Hermione! I just got a note from the Malfoys!”

He hurried down the stairs bearing in his hand what looked like a note addressed to him and Hermione that was sent over a few moments ago.

Since Hermione was taken out of the hospital, he had been staying in her apartment from time to time to assist her despite that she insisted that there was no necessity to do so and that he was only doing it because he wanted to stay in.

Harry declined the idea of it with a smile knowing she was otherwise correct anyway.

“Hermione? ‘Mione did you confirm with them?” he called out again reaching the end of the steps and breathlessly strode towards the living room where he heard a movement. “It says here that they’re thanking us for your confirmation this morning and will meet us tonight at the Malfoy’s ball-“

Harry breathlessly reached the dimly lit living room and she was standing by the small desk with a thickly folded parchment in her hand.

“Hermione?”

“What’s this?” she asked in a monotonous voice.

“What’s what?” Harry asked as he moved from the door staring at her and the paper in her hand.

There was a sound and a large brown brawny owl left their window and he quickly stared back at the parchment in her hand.

There was an obvious seal from the Ministry of Magic and the owl that just flew away was a Ministry of Magic post service.

His eyes narrowed and then widened in shock.

He moved forward her to take the letter in realization but Hermione had backed away and had stopped him by pointing her wand towards him.

“What is this?” she repeated in a louder tone this time with her hand slightly shaking as she held the letter.

“I can explain.” Harry quickly said but couldn’t get any closer to her with the look and wand she was showing him.

“Explain then.” Hermione breathlessly answered him with contempt growing in her face. “Now.”

But by the looks of it, he wasn’t ready to explain to her.

He was nowhere ready to explain to her what she had just read because he wasn’t even expecting in the first place to receive anything.

His mind spun wildly for any kind of excuse, for anything nice and gentle to begin with.

What she was holding in her hands was an official receipt form from the Marriage Registry Department acknowledging his application that would be taken into consideration while they give him a list of requirements to be submitted.

He had placed their names on the registry ofcourse but didn’t expect that if they would send notification, it would be a copy for each of them.

He tried to be calm but the serious and murderous look over her face was growing and scaring the hell out of him.

“You can’t speak?” Hermione asked him breathlessly asked with a mocking smile over her face. “Alright, let me read it for you so that you know what to tell me-“

“’Mione, please-“

“Congratulations! We, at the Ministry of Magic, together with the Twelve Council of Wizengamot, are vastly joyous at this prompt celebration of unity between two individuals of the Wizarding Community. We are more than glad to welcome this choice of event and a momentous celebration to you Mr. Harry James Potter and Ms. Hermione Jean Granger at the announcement to create a legality of union. In lieu of your Marriage Registry, here are the list of things-“

“’Mione let me explain this, please!” Harry said as he forced himself forward her and quickly took the letter from her and held her wrist with the wand.

Despite his careful and gentle arrest of her, Hermione’s weaker body was quickly subdued by Harry.

He took the letter from her and placed it out of her reach and held her wrist with a wand.

“Let go of me.” Hermione heavily breathed as they both crouched over the carpeted floor by the couches. “Let go of me or I swear I’m going to hex your balls off with non-verbal-“

“Just let me explain. Let’s talk calmly-“ Harry gasped as he struggled to keep her hands from reaching him.

“Calmly?!” Hermione incredulously repeated with her eyes wide at him in anger. “You want us to talk calmly on how you registered us for marriage without my knowledge?!”

Harry was halfway flat over the floor as he let Hermione twist him around while her hands relentlessly hit him.

He felt like Hermione was going to break his bones but for as long as he got the letter and have her down, he was fine with however Hermione wanted to attack him.

Harry knew what he did was beyond stupid but he wasn’t exactly regretting it.

The law was going to be implemented the day after Malfoy’s gala and anyone who hasn’t yet officially announced an engagement or has applied for registry at the Ministry of Magic will be caught with the whirlwind of random people to be put together and raffled around for the official pairing picked by the Ministry.

And there was no way in hell that she was going to be raffled around and be won as prize by some men just because the Ministry deem it right to pro-create their dying race.

“I’ve trusted you.” Hermione said and the hint of obvious disappointment was what scarred Harry’s heart. “Harry, we’ve always talked things through. And you couldn’t trust me with this?”

“’Mione, just – I thought maybe we can talk after – it’s not something-”

“We’ve talked about this. And if I needed you to marry me, I’d tell you seeing that you are already more than willing to do that-“

“They’re going to put out the Marriage Law after tonight!“ Harry finally admitted to her and it caused Hermione to stop attacking him.

She blinked.

Her tearful and angered brown eyes slowly reached his emerald ones.

He looked own at her with all desperation and remorse in his eyes.

“Hermione-“

“What did you say?” she asked letting his arms go and backing away. “What did you say?”

Harry moved from the floor and faced her as she sank back against the wall with all little energy she has left.

“The Ministry – “ he gasped as he rested his back against the opposite wall. “- they’ve already decided to implement this law tomorrow. The elders from the Wizengamot thought it was taking too long- they said that they’d implement its ordinance so that the society will quickly follow-“

“But no – there are – there guildelines, there is a timeline-“ her panic-stricken face reasoned with Harry. “There are – there are rules and steps to follow-“

“They are the Wizengamot.” Harry said. “They are the laws, Hermione. I couldn’t do anything. It was only announced at a few members and I’ve only known of it because Kingsley told me – if we weren’t friends he wouldn’t have told me either-“

Hermione’s face turned cross again.

“So you thought that instead of snitching to me the information, you’d take things in your own hands and register us?” Hermione snapped at him.

Harry was still highly alert with the wand in her hand but she looked like she was ready to listen to him.

“It’s only a temporary solution.” Harry offered her as he sat back down on the floor and laid his back against the wall, still breathless from their little wrestling.

“Temporary?” Hermione said. “This is going down on legal matters and papers-“

“Hermione, I can’t let you out there marrying some douche bag-“

“You think nobody likes me?” Hermione asked him. “You think I like no one else?”

Harry opened his mouth but his voice got stuck on his throat.

In the many years they’ve been friends he’s only ever known to see Viktor Krum in their 4th year and have been in exchange of letters for a few years. After the final battle, they were still exchanging letters on rarer occasion now as the man had been engaged months after the Battle of Hogwarts.  

Ron had attempted once or twice but he was such a romantic failure towards Hermione.

If she had been seeing another person, there was definitely no news ever that has reached him and they were too popular to be missed in any form of news.

“You’re seeing someone else?” Harry managed to say loudly out of shock. “And you haven’t told me?”

“What?” Hermione asked back as she was suddenly confused at the turn of conversation.

“You.” Harry said. “You’ve been seeing someone else? And you dare tell me we don’t ever talk about things-“

“I’m not seeing-“

“You’ve just said so-“

“I was trying to explain myself and give you a fact about-“

“So you’re not seeing someone else?” Harry pointed out with a gleam in his eyes. “You’re not-“

“Harry, this isn’t even what I’m trying to say. This is pointless.” Hermione said in such resignation that Harry felt he wanted to continue arguing with her. “You are pointless.”

Harry stared up at her with such defeat that he wasn’t sure how he was going to fix this.

A loud, in rage and arguing Hermione was always better than one that has put down the sword and walks away.

“Hermione.” Harry called out as she stood up from the floor and began walking away from him. “’Mione. Please. We can fix this. I was just trying to protect you.”

“Protect me?” Hermione snapped at him as she straightened her dress down. “What, I fall a few floors at the Ministry and you think I’m some spineless princess in need of saving?”

“That’s not what I was trying to do. You were going to be sent out there – how ridiculous that law is – they’re going to do some hot pot on the individuals of this society just cause they need more population – I couldn’t let you be raffled out there- I was thinking of you-“

“Thinking of me?” Hermione said turning sharply back at him with lace in her tone and eyes. “Are you sure? Not likely thinking of yourself?”

He knew he was wrong but Hermione’s tongue was sharp enough to slice through him.

He knew that this wasn’t something he could easily fix but he had to admit that he neither regretted it.

They stared at one another in silence and Harry knew that he had gone too far today.

“Let me fix this.” Harry offered her as he slowly stood up from the floor and gently walked towards her. “Hermione, I can’t let you out there. I just can’t. “

“So you want me for yourself, is that it?” Hermione lashed at him but tears had begun forming in her eyes. “Your solution into protecting me then is forcing me to marry you?”

“Forcing you?” Harry repeated and this time he had no qualms in showing her that he was as angry at their fight and as hurt as she was. “But don’t you love me?”

The tears finally leaked from Hermione’s eyes and she tried to stop them.

But Harry looked all the same – hurt and obviously disappointed and beyond heartbroken.

She shook her head and quickly wiped them with the back of her hand.

“That’s not even the point.” Hermione weakly whispered. “This isn’t-“

“Then tell me!” Harry reasoned with her moving forward. “Tell me – I don’t – you told me you love me but this – why are you – why can’t you give us a chance?”

But Hermione shook her head and held up her hand to stop him from nearing her.

“All my life I’ve stayed right behind you.” Hermione said in a very defeated and exhausted tone. “I’ve stayed put for you, fought for you and fought right behind you all these years and I don’t regret any moment of it. And I will always still be behind your back without second thoughts, without a question-“

“Then be with me-“

“But you can’t control me!” Hermione cried at him. “You can’t just make me do things just because you think I’ll always be by your side.”

“But ‘Mione-“

“You can’t force me to marry you!” Hermione suddenly yelled at him and Harry’s eyes widened in pain and shock. “I told you I’m not ready – I told you – you know everything, Harry! I’ve trusted you with everything and you just – I told you I couldn’t yet-“

“I’m sorry-“ Harry cried back as he advanced but Hermione backed away again. “Please, I’m sorry – I didn’t mean it that way- Hermione, I love you-“

But she shook her head, evidently hurt and disappointed with his decision as if he had broken a certain promise.

“I love you Harry.” Hermione had said as she walked to the door, retreating with her broken heart. “I will always love you but you have got to respect it when I ask you to leave the very little part of myself that is left of me to me.”

“Hermione-please-“

“This is you not trusting me in the time that I need-“

“’Mione-“

“I’m sorry.” Hermione whispered turning away from him completely. “I can’t deal with you right now.”

And with that, she quickly left the living room and Harry heard her restrained cries as she jogged her way out of her own apartment with nothing but her wand and little dignity she had left of with her. . 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Fuck.” Draco angrily yelled and there was a crashing sound as he threw his glass of whiskey across the room.

He had left home to avoid murdering his own father after he offered him some whiskey after telling him that Harry and Hermione sent an RSVP regarding his invitation for the night’s masquerade ball.

He sprinted then back at his office at St. Mungo’s glad to have no patient or errand any longer, he opened one of his two ‘emergency’ whiskey bottles at the bottom of his desk.

They weren’t really allowed to drink within the hospital premises, let alone he wasn’t a permanent hired Healer but today he had just had enough of his father.

However, it seemed that Lucius had dragged some bad luck at his tail the moment he left Azkaban as bad faith after another kept going after Draco.

He had arrived in his office only to find two notice from the Ministry of Magic.

One was a form of memo or invitation that he has been set to meet alongside other wizards for a sort of meeting in regards to their required application for the Marriage Law where they were amongst the first batch to be paired after the Ministry of Magic draws the first slot of pairing the following day for all Ministry officials and employees.

He would have created a reply of inquiry because it wasn’t set for another week for the first registry and draw of pairing to happen when he noticed the second letter which was with a red ribbon around it giving him a head’s up that it was a more important letter.

Stressed as he already was with all the piling up problems around him, he quickly opened the letter only to find himself in further jeopardy.

Apparently, as the Marriage Law is about to take place, he and his father would be required to submit into it but under special circumstances since there was a seen problem in financial matters.

By law, Lucius Malfoy owns all the wealth of the Malfoys which was amounted to some billions worth of accounts, estates and other businesses and properties. But because he has been sentenced at Azkaban, this right had been frozen in paper.

But then again, since he was pardoned, months to a year was given to him to prove himself a better citizen before he is granted back his rights to his wealth which were all presently under no one else’s right but Draco’s.

And since both of them had to submit into the Marriage Law, the financial matters would also be entangled as a legal issue.

Given Lucius is still the senior Malfoy, he would be given access and rights back to all his wealth should he find a potential bride before Draco gets engaged or is legally found with a pair at the Marriage Law.

But should Draco find a potential bride that he gets engaged before the government pairs him with someone else or if he gets paired with someone else under the law before Lucius finds himself a potential bride for engagement and marriage since he is under the third category of the law – widowed which will take a bit more time to be paired – Draco will find himself the successor of all the wealth until the government deems Lucius worthy back of all that is his.

Fists clenched, Draco crumbled the important notice from the Ministry and threw it back on the floor.

He took the bottle of whiskey and took a heavy swig from it with hot tears forming in his eyes as he grabbed his wand and ready to burn the paper.

He had tried all his life to do what is right, to repent and redeem himself and make sure that his father never taints the life he has tried so hard to build because he promised Narcissa that he would live better, that he would be the better man.

And right now, with Lucius out of Azkaban, everything just seems to fall apart.

How he deeply missed the nights where he was hungry in his small and dimly lit room, exhausted as he is from his triple jobs and studying until the morning light for an exam he needed to pass for a professor who had been bullying him from the first day just because he found out that he was the Malfoy heir.

Draco felt the painful tug in his heart and wanted nothing to do with his father for whatever reason and was ready to vent out his anger into burning the parchment when he heard a scuffle against his door like someone had attempted to knock or scratch over it.

“WHAT?!” Draco angrily yelled pointing his wand at the door to open it without even thinking of what distress lay before his office.

Water eyes met a pair of brown ones.

Both pairs looked scared and shocked at the same time at the scene that lay before them.

Hermione’s eyes was ridden with heavy red as well, hair disarrayed like she had ran all the way there and fear and shock at being caught by the door filled her features.

Draco’s eyes were wide, red from his own tears of anguish, Healer uniform disarranged before his suit that he had loosened up earlier out of anger and frustration, wand angrily pointed with his hand and another holding out a whiskey bottle.

They both looked as scared, angry and stricken as it was.

“I’m sorry.” Hermione’s small voice came as she first came back to her senses after their shock. “I’m sorry – I didn’t – it was a bad timing. I didn’t – “

Draco stared at her retreating form, realizing how scary he looked at that very moment.      

He had but tried to erase to the world especially to Hermione the Death Eater that he had been.

But with a dangerous look in his eyes, whiskey bottle in one hand and wand at another with his sleeves up obviously showing his Dark Mark, he knew that he had just hit bullseye into reminding her every bit of him that he wanted to kill.

“I’m sorry.” Hermione cried and she turned around and began running away from the doorway.

“No-“ Draco said quickly realizing what he must have really looked like to her. “Hermione –“

He quickly threw back the almost empty whiskey bottle and quickly lowered his wand back over his table and crossed the room to Hermione’s retreating back.

He ran to her at breakneck speed, head spinning on why she was there looking so distraught and how he was going to explain himself as well at the scene she had caught him in.

“Hermione!” he desperately called back at her as he ran after her at the empty corridor that was leading to the elevators. “Hermione – I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you – I wasn’t expecting-“

“It’s fine-“ Hermione cried back at him as she waved her hand back without looking. “I’m sorry – another time – I wasn’t – this was a very bad timing – I’m sorry-“

“No, no it isn’t-“ Draco breathlessly said knowing he was obviously lying anyway. “I just – it was – please, you came here for something-“

Hermione’s gasped in tears but she paced faster towards the elevators for as fast as her injured legs could still limp her forward.

“Hermione!” Draco’s out of breath voice called out as he came to reach her as she slowed her pace out of her painful strides. “’Mione – please, you came for me – I am here. I’m going to listen.”

Hermione stopped running as her legs could no longer take a stride.

She felt dizzy from her heightened emotions, all her running and crying and healing injuries but just before she falls flat on her face, Draco’s strong arms had slid out from nowhere and had caught her just right on time for her to fall back instead in his chest.

The both of them were just too emotional and caught in the moment that Hermione had actually pulled her arms from her sides and placed it tightly around Draco’s waist who in return, pulled her warmly and closed and rested his fine jawline over her soft tresses in his attempt to comfort her.

“I’m here, I am here.” Draco found himself whispered as they stood at the empty corridor with his arms wrapped around her and her hands tightly around him as if clinging for dear life.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t- I don’t understand – wasn’t thinking-“ Hermione kept crying into his arms, her wet face buried over his chest damping his clothes.

“Sssh… calm yourself. I’m here. You’re okay, you’re here… no need to be sorry for anything.” Draco calmly whispered over her head. “It’s alright.. nothing to be sorry for.. I’m here, I’m going to listen.. I’m here.”

Draco held her tight with the strong biceps of his left arm and he surprised himself as his other hand gently moved up at the back of her head and began stroking her hair soothingly to calm her.

It took her a moment to calm down and Draco closed his eyes at the sudden familiar feel of her in his arms as in his way of calming her down for whatever reason she had barged into his office, he found himself being calmed down from his wrath for his father by her mere presence and her body warmly wrapped around him.

It took them a moment and it was Hermione again to first to come to their senses.

Draco’s eyes opened when he felt that she suddenly and forcedly pushed him away from her.

“Malfoy!” she cried out as she pulled herself away from his arms completely shocked at their exchange.

Her eyes were wide again, face red in tears and surprise and mouth gaping back at Draco.

“I – you were – I’m sorry-“ Draco quickly apologized not wanting to scare her at the thought that he was physically taking advantage of the situation. “I didn’t mean to-“

“No, it was – that was me – “ Hermione quickly said as she saw the fear forming in his eyes and the pale look he was giving her. “That was – it was – let’s forget about it-“

Of all the things she’s cried to him since her face came back up to his life, there was something in that last phrase that she’s said that made him feel quite bad.

“What?” he asked her unable to stop himself. “What do you-“

“This-“ Hermione said quickly moving her hands between them as she referred to the moment. “I mean – I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to feel so cozy and close-“

There was evident guilt in her face that she tried to hide by wiping all the tears away from her face and lowering her face away from his sight.

Draco felt guilty all the same but he realized that he was still ever affected by her and any action she makes.

Silence took over them that was broken by the sound of the opening elevator a few step from them.

Draco looked up but Hermione seemed disinterested to take it anymore.

A Malfoy could be a gentleman if it calls for it, but he was still a Malfoy and quick as a snake into turning things into their favor as he would hate to admit it.

“Can I offer you something to drink?” he suddenly asked her trying to smile at her face that was slowly clearing from her tears.

“A drink?” she repeated looking up at him and overcoming her shame for being there.

“Not that I can still offer you whiskey-“ Draco had said with a sly smile at her as he scratched his head. “I’ve practically finished the whole thing in one swig-“

“I could tell.” Hermione said with a sly smile of her own. “I don’t drink whiskey.”

Her decline was subtle but Draco could just hint that it wasn’t an end of the conversation as she stood there and nowhere looking ready to leave him.

She was damn blushing and she didn’t know why and she hated herself for it.

“How about coffee?” Draco offered her. “Or tea?”

She looked up at him, watching his eyes carefully for any hint of ill-intention.

She’s read none.

“Or hot chocolate to help you ease the night away in your sleep?” Draco asked her in obvious desperation of asking a bit more of time with her.

“Don’t you have a ball to go to?” Hermione suddenly asked remembering it as she folded her arms in front of her out of habit when she was nervous.

“I thought you’re going to it?” Draco asked her back. “Won’t Potter be waiting for you so you can attend it together?”

Hermione shook her head at him with a serious note over her gaze.

“I’m not feeling up into attending it anymore.” Hermione said. “Won’t you be late?”

Something passed Draco’s eyes but he quickly waved it away as he shook his head.

“Not until four more hours.” Draco said. “I’m not in a hurry. I’m not even looking forward to it.” Draco slowly said and he was suddenly avoiding her gaze. “And to tell you honestly, I’ve attended more than enough of it to last me more than one lifetime.”

Hermione giggled at his phrase and Draco’s eyes widened at the way she laughed.

He suddenly relaxed himself around her and offered his hand to her and this time, his eyes searched hers and their gazes met.

“What say you, Granger?” Draco asked nudging his hand closer for her to take. “Come and have a coffee with me?”

Hermione had lived at London for all her life and had known this boy for as long as she could remember.

But for some reason, the way he asked her tonight, the way his accent left his tongue and lips was intricately and impossibly sexy tonight.

Hermione shook her head to get herself out of the thought and Draco quickly looked upset.

“Does that mean no?” he quickly asked her as worry passed his face.

“No.” Hermione giggled back shaking her head until she realized that Draco was staring back at her in a very confused way.

“No as in no?” he slowly asked her to make sure. “Or no that is a yes?”

“No that is a yes?” she repeated giggling even more as she shook her head.

“Come off it, Granger.” Draco said with a smile of his own. “You know I’m not the brightest wizard of our age.”

“No, I just shook my head-“ she began to explain but seeing that Draco looked farther and farther confused she quickly just nodded her head. “No is a yes. I mean, yes, let’s go grab some coffee or tea or hot chocolate tonight.”

“Really?” he asked and the delight in his face was so genuine he looked like a child whose Christmas present had arrived early.

He quickly cleared his throat and straightened himself up after realizing for a milisecond that he sounded and looked ridiculous.

“Really.” Hermione said. “But you have to go back to your office and get some galleons because as I hate to admit it to you and more to myself, I’ve forgotten my purse at home.”

“Don’t worry about it, Granger.” Draco said and without a shame nor reluctance, he gently took her hand into his to pull her slowly with him back to his office. “I’ve got you.”

Hermione stared at him and at their hands for a moment and then she gently closed her fingers tighter around his with a constrained giggle and smile over her face that she tried so hard to cover up and hide.

And since Draco faced away from her, she couldn’t see the blush consuming Draco’s usual pale face and the smile that he couldn’t stop from spreading over his pointed face that had always worn everything else but a genuine and excited smile.

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Mr. Harry James Potter?” asked the wizard who greeted Harry at the gates of the Malfoy Manor. “And Miss Hermione Jean Granger?”

“Miss Granger isn’t coming.” Harry sorrowfully said as he handed the man their invitation while he checked Harry on the list and crossed Hermione’s name out.

The man stared at him in recognition and gave him a small smile and a tight node.

“This way Mr. Potter.” he pointed his arm right behind him at a carpeted path. “You would be led at the VIP section table. Do enjoy the evening, Mr. Potter.”

Harry nodded nonchalantly as he straightened his suit and followed the path that was being guided by witches clad in cocktail dresses and masks up the carpeted grounds and entrance steps to the Malfoy Manor.

He tried to be as discreet as possible in his arrival but upon arriving at the grounds and gates he was already met by the gaze by a couple of people at the Ministry of Magic, a few from his own department, some Hogwarts governors and ofcourse, Kingsley himself who was talking to a few foreign guests.

Despite their previous conversation about attending the ball, Harry found out that out of her anger for what he has done, she had hastily sent an answer to their invitation that they were going.

Whether it was out of spite for him to force him to go out of manners or to stage her anger at him by defying their previous unspoken agreement by going herself to the ball, Harry was no longer sure.

But he was there tonight determined to wait for her and talk to her if she was ever really arriving tonight and to hell with all the benefits they were supposedly going to get for their own departments.

At that very moment, he wanted nothing more but to get to talk to her and explain things to her in a better light.

He had never disappointed nor betrayed her in any way and the look she had given him earlier only proved that the first cut was the deepest.

Harry sighed as a waiter passed him offering a glass of drink which he declined graciously as his eyes roamed the room as guests after another arrived and walked around the grounds and entrance staircase of the manor that he was climbing himself up. 

And judging by the appearances of guests around and the time ticking with Hermione nowhere to be found, he was almost very sure that this was going to be a very long night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

But not for Draco and Hermione.

The hours seemed to be ticking quite fast for the two of them.

Three hours had already passed since they arrived at the café and if any of them were even planning to attend the ball, they were already two hours late.

The first order had been a cup of tea each that was seconded by hot chocolate next and now they were both downing themselves onto a glass of wine each, a cheese and dark chocolate platter to go with.

Draco had taken her to their usual café with no care in the world that a couple of people had quickly recognized them as they sat comfortably with smile and giggles at their corner spot that was thankfully empty when they arrived.

Their conversation began from Draco’s usual banter about the parties, galas and endless dinners he was made to attend when he was younger just because he was ‘the only Malfoy heir’ and it was his duty as the only son and because this was how his future life was going to be.

“You’d have thought I’d enjoy it.” Draco was saying as he swallowed a large bite of the dark chocolate from the platter before them and picked out the cherries from the cheese for Hermione that he noticed her doing earlier on. “I actually did.. at the first stages of my life.”

“You mean when you were a git.” Hermione said with another fast drawn giggle as she took the small platter of cheese, grapes, chocolate and cherry-free mix from Draco from across the table.

He nodded at her grateful gestured then took a sip from his glass of expensive wine.

“Well, if you’re a kid and you’ve been growing up spoiled, you’d think these were the things that matter – I’d just bask in all the food and visitors and you know how it had gone. Until it all became boring as fuck.”

“Language, Malfoy.” Hermione warned him but she was smiling nevertheless. “Well, when did you notice it all growing boring as fuck?”

He stared at her in slight shock as he barely ever really hear her say such words but he looked happy to see a small devilish side in her usual primp and proper and conservative demeanor.

“Well?” her voice came knocking back in his ears.

“Well what?” he asked taking a cheese and a grape into his mouth.

“When did you notice that you didn’t like going into these parties, these galas and all?”

He looked back at her, halfway into chewing and swallowing what he put in his mouth as he found himself unable to answer her truthfully.

‘When I realized I liked you’ Draco miserably thought to himself. ‘When I fell oddly different around you’

“Hello?!” Hermione’s voice shook him as she snapped her fingers across the table right at his face. “Are you still with me? Are you sure this wine isn’t so strong?”

“Sorry.” Draco muttered snapping himself out of it. “I – I just got tired – I just found myself bored out of my wits.  I couldn’t really remember when- ”

And he hid his expression and woeful and lying eyes by refilling himself with another round of the wine and taking a quick down of it.

Hermione gave him a look but nodded all the same.

“Well, in return, I’d let you know that there was a time as well when I came to realize that I couldn’t save the world all the time.” Hermione had taken a sip from her own glass.

Draco stared at her with a raised brow.

“You?” he asked back as he took another sip and straightened back over his chair. “You realized that you aren’t really holier than thou and couldn’t save every one’s arses around? Are you sure?”

Hermione grabbed a grape from her plate and threw it right at him across the table for which he deflected easily as if he was just deflecting a Bludger’s aim but hundred times smaller.

“I am sure.” Hermione said with a nice and proper smile at him as she also straightened up over her chair as she realized they were both beginning to get too cozy towards one another. “I couldn’t just.. I just couldn’t save everyone if I wanted to.”

“You miss that SPEW of yours?” he asked as a form of joke but something serious was forming in her eyes and he quickly caught it. “No, I’m sorry I didn’t mean to-“

“It’s fine.” Hermione said brushing the thought away as she took a sip again and this time a larger one. “I mean, when things were – after the war there was just so many things to get your head around on and I just come to realize that we couldn’t save everyone and certainly we couldn’t save all the lives left behind from their own emotional turmoil and tragedy, you know?”

Draco stared at her, his heart being consumed in despair of her words as he was obviously one of those victims.

But there was despair in her eyes as well that for which his own heart ached for.

Unconsciously, he moved forward the table and reached for her hand that was laid across it as well while her other hand was occupied with the glass.

“’Mione..” he whispered reaching for it and gently moving the tips of his fingers over hers.

When Hermione didn’t seem to take notice or seem to deny this gesture, he moved his fingers forward and gently closed in his fingers around hers across the table while he watch her eyes slowly turn lonely again.

They had won the war and she was obviously living off a job and a life one could ever ask for.

She, together with Potter and Weasley were hailed as the Golden Trio and savior of their world – they were even awarded and were given enough more than wealth to start their life back and had graduated at Hogwarts without fee and had come into meeting their desired jobs.

But something in her eyes told him that she was unhappy if not discontent of her life.

“’Mione?” he gently whispered as he lightly pressed his fingers around her hand to call her attention. “You can talk to me if there is-“

He called her again by a nickname he knew that only the closest to her uses and yet she didn’t tell him off about it.

He looked back at her with certain concern in his eyes.

“I think you need to go.” Hermione suddenly said and before Draco could stop her, she had withdrawn her hand from his gasp and kept them in place over the table napkin on her lap as she forced a smile at him.

“What did I say?” he asked unable to comprehend her sudden changes in mood. “I didn’t-“

“You have a gala to go to.” Hermione pointed. “A responsibility and priorities, remember?”

Draco stared at her and the look on her face told him that this was where he wanted to stay for the rest of the night to hell whatever his father would say.

After all, the only reason he was going to force and drag himself to that goddamn ball was sitting right in front of him.

“I think I have other priorities now.” Draco said and then he boldly reached out across the table for her hand again but Hermione was quick and she withdrew her other hand from the table.

He looked at her with a slightly surprised and horrified look over his face as if he had done something offensive.

But at that moment, he felt that as much as she might have needed him awhile ago, he now desperately needed her.

“Hermione-“

“Why were you angry earlier?” Hermione suddenly asked him out of curiosity and change of subject. “When I got to your office – I heard you speaking – I thought you were arguing with someone – what was wrong?”

Draco stared back at her and this time, he took his hand back away from the table.

He looked away and his eyes fell over his glass that reflected the marred and burned side of his face.

He looked the other way then and he met her gaze and he knew that he couldn’t lie to her – no, not to her.

She was staring at him, waiting for him to answer and be honest with her.

Draco wasn’t really a telling man when things were personal or serious but there was always something about her and her presence that made him feel better despite that he never understood it or knew why.

“The Ministry sent me some notice today.” Draco heavily began as he moved his hand away from her and back over his glass of wine with his eyes focused upon it as if ashamed to look at her as he answered her. “Regarding the Marriage Law and some financial matters we’d have to deal with that comes along with it.”

Hermione’s eyes furrowed in concern

“Are they holding your account?” Hermione asked him with worry evident over her face. “Are they blackmailing you into holding your account if you don’t submit to the law?”

He looked at her, slightly surprised by the sound of worry in her tone.

“Well, I wish it was just really that.” Draco said as he touched the glass with the tip of his long fingers. “But there are more to it.”

“You can tell me.” Hermione said. “Maybe I can help you think of a way out of it or something.”

He looked at her, seeing her eyes and the way her mind must be stirring right at that very moment for some sort of problem-solving situation she could probably recommend to him.

But as brilliant as her mind had always been, Draco couldn’t help but think that this time, even her brilliance won’t save his life.

Besides, he really didn’t want to involve her any further with the Malfoy or anything to do with them after all that has happened in the war.

“Draco?” her soft and gentle voice called him back out of his thoughts and then he felt her hands around his wrist.

He looked down, the word ‘Mudblood’ still a shining scar over her forearm.

His eyes narrowed and he was suddenly conscious of his left arm that he had suddenly placed his other hand over it as if scared that Hermione would see his Dark Mark.

But she had seen it, had always glimpsed it since they started the sessions and he was sure that she’d seen it today many times over but chose to ignore it.

He moved his eyes away from her own scar and met her gaze that was staring kindly back at him.

He had never felt more conscious and ashamed in her presence.

“Maybe we need to go.” Draco said clearing his throat and gently disentangling their hands from one another. “Potter might be looking for you.”

Hermione stared back at him with slight disappointment this time.

She suddenly felt that Draco wasn’t ready to tell him some things; not that he wasn’t honest but because he just didn’t want to lie to her.

And it was a weird feeling for her – to understand him even without his words telling her.

Since when were they ever this close to understand one another even without words?

She shook the thoughts away from herself.

Ofcourse she would always sense it, she’s a girl and she’s grown up with two boys – she would always know and would always be emphatic towards them.

“Are you sure I can’t help?” she asked for the last time with genuine concern over her face. “Nothing I can do around there?”

Hermione gave him an encouraging smile that nevertheless, relaxed him and made him return the gesture.

“Not unlikely.” Draco answered her with a gentle nod. “Not until you can find me a potential bride to save me out from this dilemma the Ministry of Magic is so insistent to put me into. It’s like you know, I’ve been cursed since my bloody father got out of Azkaban.”

“Your father’s the problem, isn’t it?” she asked him with a cold tone. “He’s always been a problem, right?”

“He’s a bloody menace.” Draco said with hatred in his voice. “Bloody filth. Think he can command anyone his way again just cause he’s out of Azkaban. It’s my mother choice and final act at the battle that caused all these rally.”

Hermione stared at him.

She had never heard him speak of the past and most especially of the Hogwarts Battle that they’ve all come to endure and survive.

She has never heard him speak of his family this way either and she could almost understand the hatred running in his veins as the glimmer in his eyes vanished and was replaced with nothing but hatred and regret.

“You want him back at Azkaban?” she slowly asked him unable to stop herself.

Draco shook his head as he finished his wine in one long and heavy gulp.

“Back there?” he asked wiping his mouth with the napkin from the table. “You’d personally ask me, I’d do anything to leave him there to rot for the rest of his life. He doesn’t deserve the pardon. None of us do.”

A glimmer of triumph and hate passed Hermione’s eyes.

The slightest mention of the man’s name makes her feel not only uncomfortable but murderous at the same time.

It reminded her of what she had to lose in the name of the war that had to be won.

Draco reached for the bottle of wine to refill his and her glass again and was too occupied to see the stark gleam appear in Hermione’s eyes.

Draco had obviously said something that reminded her or angered her for a moment but that he didn’t notice it.

He ushered to refill her glass but Hermione’s hand went back up the table and stopped his wrist.

He looked at her in question.

“Come, let’s finish this. I’ll bring you back at Potter’s so you can rest early. No arguments.” Draco said as he stared back at Hermione who was giving him a different kind of gaze. “Healer’s recommendation.”

But she was only staring back at him and the way she looked, Draco already knew that something was stirring in her brilliant head.

“What?” he asked her. “Don’t give me that look. I’m not Potter nor Weasley. Don’t tangle me up to whatever’s in your head.”

“But what if you do find a potential bride?” Hermione slowly asked him with the slightest hint of a cunning plan in her tone.

“What?” Draco asked her back as he lowered the bottle and her glass over the table. “Do you see this?”

He edged forward the table and turned the burned side of his face towards her.

But Hermione didn’t flinch at the sight of it and if any, it was Draco who felt taken aback by the gesture that was returned.

“Granger-“ Draco hesitantly began without taking his eyes off her determined ones.

“I can see that.” Hermione said with a raised brow. “I’m not blind, Malfoy.”

“How about this?” Draco said laying his left forearm boldly across the table where the Dark Mark was clearly visible.

This time, Hermione seemed to have been reached by her right senses although she kept her stance.

He didn’t want to scare her but she seemed not to understand his own dilemma.

“That, I haven’t forgotten.” Hermione said with a slight notch in her tone as she looked back up at him to meet his eyes once more. “What’s your point?”

“What’s my point?” Draco asked withdrawing his hand back to avoid being seen by other guests in the café. “You’re supposed to be intelligent. Don’t you get my point?”

“A burned mark and a Dark Mark?” Hermione answered him. “What does these got to do with a potential bride?”

“Everything!” Draco said almost impatiently back at her as if he had been clearly insulted by her query. “I’m sorry Granger, you seem to miss the point here. Let me clearly state it out for you – who would ever want to marry someone who has a face and a past both as horrifying and monstrous as mine?”

But she only stared back at her as if she couldn’t still get the whole point of it and Draco felt utterly lost.

He looked at her with his impatience growing but the sight of her calmed him in such ways that he didn’t even understand.

“Hermione..” he managed to breath out as slowly and as calmly as possible. “I think we both have enough to drink and talk about tonight. Why don’t you just let me take you home?”

He offered her hand to her in a kind gesture but Hermione seemed far off, away from him and lost in her thoughts.

Her eyes were kept over the bottle over the table as if it reminded her of something from some other time.

“Hermione?”

“But what if.” Hermione slowly said looking up at him without taking his hand. “What if you do find a potential bride, Draco. Think about it. You won’t let your father touch any of your wealth. You would still have control over all of it.”

He looked back at her, not wanting the idea to creep into his senses and awaken what must remain dormant.

For so long, it was his emotions ruling over his thoughts of revenge that he had tried so hard to tame and keep away and Hermione was just poking it up word per word to awaken.

“That’s not my point.” Draco said burying his face in his hands to drive away his frustration at the subject. “It’s already all messed up as it is. I really don’t want to.. Look.. I don’t think a mistake can be fixed by another one.”

“Marrying someone is a mistake for you?” Hermione genuinely and curiously asked him. “Is this what you think of it?”

“It’s not what I think of it.” Draco clearly answered her reaching for her hand across the table but Hermione sat straighter and moved her hand away from his reach.

He locked gazes with her and he knew a challenge when he sees one.

“Come on.” Draco said more sternly this time. “You’ve had enough for the night. Let’s get you home.”

“No.” Hermione blandly said. “We’re still talking about this.”

“I think we’re done talking about it-“

“Oh, come on Draco.” Hermione said with a coy smile at her face.

“Why are we even talking about it?” Draco said and there was an obvious blush over his cheeks.

Hermione smirked back up at him and he tried to hide away the smile forming in his face.

“Oh, seriously.” Hermione snickered at him. “You’ve never been in love? Never dreamed of a Mrs. Malfoy tangled around your arms?  You? The Malfoy heir?”

He looked at her and she was killing him.

And she knew of it.

“Hermione.. please.” Draco has begged her for the first time and it didn’t go unnoticed. “Let me get you home.”

“You’re good-looking.” Hermione said with a nod as her eyes stirred around him. “No pun-intended on that, alright? And well, you’re not exactly dimwitted – you came third in our year-“

“Second.” Draco feistily corrected her. “I was two points ahead but professor Slughorn didn’t count it out but I was actually two points ahead so in actual count, I came in second to you than that Ravenclaw twat.”

She smiled at him remembering the incident and Draco smiled back at her.

“Fine, I’ll give you that.” Hermione said rolling her eyes and leaning across the table again with her eyes filled with nothing but challenge and the wine they’ve taken. “Good-looking – check. A brilliant mind – check. And so, let’s not forget that billionaire status you have.”

“Have you been stalking my financial reports?” Draco asked her and his smile pointed nothing but flirtatious at that moment.

“No.” Hermione said with another smile. “Everyone knows your billionaire status. Besides, I know things. I read everything.”

“Alright.” Draco boldly said and without a word, he reached for her hand with his and held them close and tight in his. “Read my mind now Granger.”

Hermione was too taken aback by his physical gesture that her slightly drunk state had been shoved back into its rightful place and she looked back at him with an abashed expression over her face.

She tried to withdraw her hands from him but he kept a steady hold of her as he held her gaze, waiting for her answer.

“That’s not what I meant and you know it.” Hermione said and with a quick tug she pulled her hands away from him.

Draco only smiled at her, a smirk that was ever famous from him.

“Come on, Draco.” Hermione said with a little hint of seriousness in her tone. “We both know these attributes would get you any bride you would want. No woman would ever say no into marrying a man like you. Isn’t that right?”

She crossed her arms across her and sat back, giving him a challenging glare.

And Draco knew a challenge when he sees one.

And thought time, if there was one thing that never changed was the idea that he had always been overshadowed by this particular Gryffindor before him and he never liked that.

He leaned forward the table again, matching up the challenge in her gaze.

“Will you say yes then?” he slowly but clearly asked her. “If I ask you, will you marry me then?”

Whatever Hermione had been thinking at that very moment obviously went away.

Her mouth went dry as she opened them up with no words coming up.

Draco gave him a triumphant smile which she only returned with a cold one.

“This is ridiculous.” Hermione suddenly said throwing her hands up in the air and grabbing her purse.

He held her tight and she looked back at him, suddenly feeling strange.

“You won’t say no to me, then?” he asked with a mischievous grin that made Hermione relax a bit.

She shook her head and tried to take her hand back from him.

“Alright. Come on, let’s go.” Hermione smirked back at him.

But he stared back at her, not wanting to let it all just go.

She walked out of her chair with her forced smile as she went out of the table but Draco remained where he was.

He held his hand up and snatched her wrist back and held it firmly as she was about to walk away from the table.

She stood still or rather he kept her still.

Without meeting one another’s gaze, they felt even deeper between one another’s feelings.

Their breathing labored and heart beating fast as they kept their small distance still.

“Oh, come off it.” Draco said as he held her still. “For old time’s sake, Granger – if it calls for it-“

“There’s no old time’s sake between the two of us, Malfoy.” Hermione said as she tugged her wrist but Draco didn’t let go.

“If it calls for it-“

“If - it calls for it.” Hermione cut him short in a clearer, louder and more serious tone that definitely calls his full attention to her.

He looked up at her and he knew right then and there that Hermione was no longer joking around and was taking his word for it.

“If it calls for it?” he asked her wisely and slowly.

“I will consider it.” Hermione boldly replied this time with a raised brow as she tugged him around the wrist. “Now, come on, Malfoy. I need to get home and get myself a nice and decent dress.”

“Decent dress?” he asked with a reluctant smile as he let Hermione drag him out of his chair this time around.

He stopped her before they reached the door and she looked back at him with a smile.

“Hermione?”

“Well, we’re going to a ball, aren’t we?” she asked as her slightly drunk state smiled and twirled around Draco. “And a proper black dress should always be in order for any gathering. Shall we, Mr. Malfoy?” she asked him.

Draco stared at her, mouth half-open in disbelief.

She winked at him and held him tight around the arm.

“Come on, Mr. Malfoy, for we shall go to the ball!”

And with a twirl, a half-glance, a smirk and a smile, Draco let himself be dragged out of the café and before he knew it, Hermione had Disapparated them out and away onto the night.