Where were they? Hermione wondered as she wandered The Hogwarts Express. It was September 1st and Hermione Granger was headed back to Hogwarts for her second year at the wizarding school. Even though the brilliant witch had been attending the school for a year she still was an outsider at the school and had only two real friends, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. She was friendly with a few of her fellow Gryffindors but that was it. With her lack of friends, and her two real friends nowhere to be found meant that Hermione had no obvious place to sit on the train. She had wandered through the car that many Gryffindors had claimed only to find that most compartments were full, and the ones that weren’t were ones that she was obviously unwelcome.
After she was dismissed from the final compartment, she headed into the next car hoping for some more luck. The compartments in this car were significantly less full, due to this Hermione got presumptuous and hoped to find an empty compartment, after her treatment by her fellow housemates she wanted to be alone for a while with her trusty books. As she made her way to the back of the car looking into different compartments as she went, she discovered one that had only one occupant she knew that she should snag the seat or else be standing the entire seven-hour train ride. The only thing that was making her hesitate was the lone occupant’s distinctive platinum blond hair. She quickly observed her surroundings, there was one more car ahead but it was a car that was exclusively used by upper-year Slytherin students. The upper-year students of Gryffindor barely tolerated her existence and she knew that the upper-year Slytherins were even more volatile towards her then Draco Malfoy had been. She gathered all her Gryffindor bravery and opened the compartment door.
Draco looked up at the opening of the door, only to narrow his eyes when he registered who his intruder was. “What do you want, Granger?” Draco sneered at her.
At least he didn’t call me a Mudblood. “I haven’t been able to find a place to sit, may I sit in here?”
“What happened to Scar-head and the Weasel? They dump you for someone who knows how to manage their hair?” Draco said with a jeer
“Look, Malfoy!” Hermione said finally losing her patience and giving up all pretence of politeness. “You are an arrogant, racist, bigoted jack-ass! I’m pretty sure no one has ever told you that before because everyone bows to your every whim and you’ve been told that you are the greatest gift wizarding kind could have ever gotten but it’s not true. I’m not asking you to touch me, or talk to me or even to share a bench with me, but I am asking if I can sit in here because I’m not welcome anywhere unless I’m with Harry or Ron. I’ve gone through the last two cars and was unable to find anywhere to go, and I know well enough not to go into the last carriage.” Draco had to agree with that last statement, even he wasn’t welcome back there and he was practically Slytherin royalty, Hermione would have been eaten alive if she dared to cross the threshold. “I would prefer not standing or sitting in the hallway for the seven-hour trip so can I sit in here?” Hermione had dropped the anger and just sounded exhausted.
Draco looked at her a moment and quickly nodded, Hermione scrambled inside and sat down before he could change his mind. Hermione pulled out her book and the unlikely travel companions were silent for quite a while before Draco finally voiced a thought that he had since she yelled at him. “Gryffindor closed ranks against one of their own?” Hermione was surprised by the only mild disdain in his voice instead of the right out hatred towards anything that he deemed inferior.
“More people agree with your pure-blood believes then you think,” Hermione said softly.
Draco came up short at her statement almost not believing what he was hearing. Surely that members of Gryffindor, those who most told him of and shut him, would not be against having a muggle-born present. “What?”
“Don’t get me wrong, they don’t think my blood is tainted or that I stole or my magic or any other ridiculous thing I’ve heard. But, they consider me less than for not growing up in the wizarding world and not having fully adjusted to the world of magic and that there are so many things I don’t know about magic and the wizarding world.”
Draco appraised the frizzy-haired witch carefully before slipping back into his default mode. “What, you mean books aren’t cutting it?” He jabbed at her.
“No actually. There’s only so much you can learn from books, at some point, you’ve got to put theory to practice or you never really learn.” She stated hotly. “All of this,” she gestured widely around them. “is new to me. I had to learn what I know completely from books and when I learn something new and tell someone it’s old news to them. A lot of information about the wizarding world is not written in books, it’s assumed that all Hogwarts students would know the information because they would have magical parents.”
“You’re telling me that no one has offered to fill in the blanks for you?” Draco snorted with disbelieve. “Saint Potter seems to be figuring out his way around just fine, why can’t you take whatever pointers you need from his or his source?” Draco said bordering on almost sympathy.
“Harry is much better at improvising then I am.”
“The Weasel couldn’t help you?” Draco practically spat out the reference to Ron, making Hermione roll her eyes.
“Would you stop calling him that! I mean what did he ever do to you that makes you hate him so much?” Hermione said in a voice that sounded strangely like McGonagall lecturing her students for being reckless.
“I’m trying to help Granger, if you don’t stop yelling at me I’ll go back to not speaking to you at all.”
“Fine. I won’t yell.”
“Great, now why won’t Weasley help you?” Draco said drawling out Ron’s last name with exaggerated emphasis.
Hermione quickly looked at Draco debating how much to tell him, eventually deciding to tell him the abbreviated version of events, she started before she could change her mind. “I asked him to help me one day, I told him that I needed help figuring out some things about the wizarding world and he laughed, saying that he couldn’t believe that a swot like me was asking for his help. He kept going, asking how it felt to not know something that the rest of the wizard population does, I told him to forget it and stormed off and I haven’t asked him since.”
Draco looked at Hermione, digesting what she had told him. He started to wonder exactly what it was like for her and for other muggle-borns to attend Hogwarts and be in the Wizarding World at first. She had been dropped in a world that she had no prior knowledge or understanding of, the most basic things that he had grown up around and understood how they worked and their uses since he was a young child, she was only being exposed to now. As Draco thought about he really was quite impressed with the witch that sat across from him. She did not know of the wizarding world until last year and she was thriving in it. She was clearly powerful and brilliant with a wand, enough so that no one would question her status as a witch. He briefly thought that if his mother randomly ran across Hermione and saw her skills without knowing her blood status, she probably would have arranged his marriage to her already. That thought made him shudder.
He thought about it for a minute and he finally made a decision that would end up changing his life. “Look, Granger, we still have a few hours in this train ride. As long as this doesn’t go past this room I can try to answer some of your questions if you want.”
Hermione’s face lit up at the potential for new information and having many of her questions answered. “Really? That would be amazing!”
The two talked for the rest of the train ride, discussing the intricacies of wizarding life and culture, answering many of Hermione’s questions, but drifting off-topic and started talking, debating and arguing as friends would.
Hours had passed and the two were happily chatting away when they realized that the train was slowing for its approach into the Hogsmeade station. Hermione went to gather her things when it suddenly occurred to her that this was not like her interactions with Ron and Harry on the train, she wasn’t going to walk with Draco Malfoy out onto the platform or talk with him when they ride up to the castle on the carriage ride up to the castle, as she would have if it, in fact, were Ron or Harry next to her. She looked at Draco and bit her lip and started to fidget nervously as she thought about what to say to him.
“Look, Granger.” Draco stumbled out with more of a mask in place then he had the entire time he had been talking with Hermione. “There is a secret room on the seventh floor in the left corridor, it only ever appears when someone is in great need of it. If you pace back and forth in front of the tapestry of Barnabas the Barmy dancing with trolls three times thinking of a place where you can secretly meet me a room will appear that will serve that purpose. Do it Thursday after dinner.” It sounded more of a demand than a request but Hermione decided to agree, none the less.
“Alright. I’ll leave first then you can wait and come out later.” Hermione said with a soft but sad smile on her face. Draco nodded lightly then nodded towards the door indicating that she should leave. Hermione left thinking that this would lead to an interesting friendship.
One Year Later
“Why am I taking Divination again?” Hermione griped as she flopped back into the couch she was sitting on. “There are so many other classes I’d rather be taking, or I’d have more time for research or reading or anything else, what possessed me to take Divination?”
“You’re Hogwarts’ resident know-it-all, and you can’t be that if you don’t actually know it all,” Draco said smirking at her dramatics.
The two students had formed a tentative friendship after the train ride at the beginning of their second year. Hermione had met Draco in the Room of Requirement that first week and they had continued to meet and became quite good friends though their friendship had to remain a secret.
“There is absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to have as much information as possible.” Hermione quipped back. “But even the textbook is ridiculous.”
“Oh my Merlin,” Draco exclaimed in mock horror. “Is THE Hermione Granger insulting a book.”
“Oh, shut it. But it’s absolutely ridiculous.”
“Well, if you must insist on taking a class that YOU are dreading, blame the Weasel. He wanted an easy elective.” Draco rolled his eyes at the mention of Ron, and for once Hermione had to actually agree with Draco’s irritation at Ron, though she had tried to get him to relent in his mocking of Ron she let this one go.
“I know, I can’t believe that he chose Divination over the much more fascinating Ancient Runes,” Hermione said as she packed up her things. “At least, I didn’t have to choose and was allowed to take both.”
“Yeah, about that, how’d you do that? Because I know for a fact that Ancient Runes is at the same time as Muggle Studies.”
“How do you know that?” Hermione asked eyes wide with concern.
“My father’s on the board.” Draco shrugged. “So how are you doing it?” He pressed.
Hermione got a slight smirk on her face and went “Magic.” With a wave of her hands and a laugh before heading to the door. “Bye! I’ll see you later.” She called out as the door swung shut behind her.
Draco stared after in confusion before heading to his first class of the day.
Hermione was sitting in Divination thinking that Professor Trelawney was completely insane and that this subject was completely useless and had no business being taught to students who could learn something much more useful and logical. She decided that she didn’t care what Ron said she was dropping this class the minute she could speak to Professor McGonagall.
Hermione decided that since she was going to drop the class she might as well tune out the professor and quiz herself on some ancient runes information.
As she was doing this Trelawney was making the rounds through the students when she suddenly stopped next to Hermione and strange look crossed her face. She suddenly stopped speaking about Divination and her voice got a strange haunted feeling behind it as she started speaking again. “The brightest witch of this age shall in her fifteenth year prick herself with a spindle, and fall down into a deep sleep of a hundred years.”
The class was stunned into silence as Hermione gapped at the Professor who seemed to almost be awakening from a sudden nap. “I’m sorry dear, but why are you staring at me like that?” Trelawney said in a sweet voice then the entire class erupted in chatter over the supposed prophesy that was just spoken by their eccentric professor.
“Holy hippogriff Hermione.” Lavender Brown yelped from her spot beside Hermione. “I can’t believe that you of all people were lucky enough to have a prophesy told for you by a Seer. Everyone who has a prophecy about them because instantly famous! People are going to be falling all over, you’re so lucky.” Lavender said in an excited tone making Hermione shoot her a glare.
“Seriously?” Hermione said incredulously, she couldn’t believe what she was hearing from Lavender or Professor Trelawney. “It was just predicted that I’m going to fall into a coma next year and you’re JEALOUS because my popularity MIGHT go up. Anyway, these types of predictions are notoriously unstable an inaccurate.” Hermione suddenly realized that she had just insulted a professor in their presence and whipped around to face Trelawney and began apologizing. “Oh professor, I am so incredibly sorry. I did not mean to insult your discipline. I- errrgh.” Hermione trailed off suddenly aware that everyone was staring at her and she honestly had no idea how to handle the situation she found herself in.
“Oh, that’s quite alright dear. I have heard much worse from students then that I have inaccurate predictions. Though I must warn you, despite your opinion, my more harrowing prophesies are the ones that tend to be the most accurate.” With that statement, the class erupted into another round of murmurs and when Trelawney tried to bring the classroom back on topic everyone kept discussing the prophecy and the girl staring in it.
Hermione’s day had come to relieving end. She had spent most of her day discussing the ridiculous prophesy and when it wasn’t that people kept talking about her notoriety and that she was more famous than Harry himself.
Hermione flew into the Room of Requirement and sagged against the door as she closed it behind her.
“Rough day?” Draco teased from the couch.
“Don’t you start too. I’ve already had a hell of a day I do not need to deal with your special brand of annoying right now.” Hermione snapped as she made her way over to the couch.
“Oh, the Golden Girl of Gryffindor can swear, who knew,” Draco smirked as a soft smile made its way across Hermione’s face.
“Oh shut up.” Hermione flopped down next to Draco and curled her feet under her as she started to pick at the loose strands on her sleeves. “I take it you heard?”
“About how Trelawney has gone completely mental and spewed nonsense that starred you. Yep, I heard.”
“So you agree that it’s complete nonsense.”
“It’s completely ridiculous. Trelawney is just a crazy old bad who has maybe made one accurate prediction ever. You know, my father-” his voice got that especially snooty quality that it does when he mentions Lucius, making Hermione laugh. “What’s so funny?”
“I always think it’s funny when you pull out your entitled trust fund baby voice.” Draco just narrowed his eyes at her which made Hermione laugh harder
She managed to pull herself together and once she did she asked Draco, “So what were you going to say about your father?”
“Oh, so you aren’t going to mention my entitled trust fund baby voice? Whatever that means.”
“It’s a muggle thing.” Hermione dismissed it or else they’d never get back to the original conversation. “What did your father say?” She asked not convinced she wanted to hear this or not.
“My father always said that Dumbledore was getting loopy in his old age and that hiring Trelawney just proves his point, Dumbledore is losing it and isn’t fit to run a school.”
“Dumbledore is brilliant, but I must agree that hiring Trelawney was not one of his brighter moves.”
“You know he thought about cancelling Divination altogether but changed his mind and hired Trelawney.”
“What was slipped in his pumpkin juice for him to think that was a good idea?” Draco just shrugged unsurely. “Maybe Snape slipped something in there?” Hermione said with a grin making Draco laugh.
“What exactly would he concoct that would make Dumbledore think Divination was a good idea?”
“Maybe he screwed up?” Hermione said unconvincingly
“Severus Snape does not screw up potions, you can take that straight to Gringotts.” Hermione chuckled at the tone of Draco’s voice before changing the subject.
“Ok, I can’t take one more second of talking about this idiotic moment. I wanted to pick your brain about something I found in the restricted section today.”
“Seriously, you need a better nickname now that I know you do a lot of rule-breaking in your spare time.” Hermione simply glared at him before pulling out a massive and ancient-looking tome and started flipping through it.
The unlikely duo spent a few hours on the floor of the Room of Requirement pouring over the books and coming up with different theories surrounding the contents, making their bond that much stronger.
A year had passed since Hermione had been made the star of Trelawney’s prophesy and it had been all but forgotten. The previous year had been even more dangerous and frightening then any other years that Hermione had experienced at Hogwarts. Through a stroke of luck, everyone made it out of the ordeal intact and lived to see what the fourth year at Hogwarts had in store.
The Welcome Feast was about to get underway when Dumbledore got ready to make one final announcement. “This year Hogwarts is hosting the prestige Tri-Wizard Tournament. One chosen champion from three different schools will compete for eternal glory. But be aware, those who compete do so at great personal cost. Now because of the dangers of the tournament, the Ministry has decided that no one under the age of seventeen will enter the tournament.” Chaos erupted throughout the Great Hall as the students got excited about this unexpected change in the school year and the limitations put on the competition. The Weasley twins being the loudest screaming ‘rubbish’ at the top of their lungs.
“QUIET!” The headmaster's voice boomed quickly silencing everyone. “Now, the other two schools will be living and learning at the castle throughout the year and it gives me great pleasure to introduce them to you now.” Hermione noticed that Dumbledore seemed to stare down Harry as if he was anticipating something from him. “First off; the ladies from Beauxbaton Academy.” With a flourish, the doors opened and in pranced a group of beautiful girls that made all the boys, especially Ron, drool. Once the students from Beauxbaton’s had settled in, the headmaster once again got the students attention. “Now I introduce you Dumstrang Academy.” The doors opened with a bang and a group of what Hermione would call, overly threatening Norseman stormed through the hall. Including the infamous quidditch player Victor Krum. His presence created an entirely new spur of comments and activity which again had to be reigned in by Dumbledore. “The champions will be chosen in three weeks time, good luck to all those who enter but be aware, do so at your own peril. Now, let's eat!”
Most in attendance did as Dumbledore bid and dug into the feast before them. Hermione, on the other hand, felt completely unnerved by the whole prospect and just knew that this year was going to be at least as dangerous as previous years. Not only that but this time it’s going to be school and Ministry approved danger.
Now Hermione’s usual course of action would be to go to the library and research all she could about the tournament. But through her friendship with Draco, she has learned that there are many things that wizarding society has kept out of libraries to limit who has access to the information. She just knew that this was going to be one of those times where her precious library would not have the answers she was seeking. Since she was supposed to be meeting with Draco that night, she decided to pose some of her questions to him.
“You cannot be serious!” Hermione yelled at Draco, who remarkably never backed down from an argument with her.
The two had met up in the Room of Requirement after the welcome feast and Hermione wasted no time in asking Draco more questions about the Tri-Wizard Tournament.
“I’m deadly serious,” Draco responded without flinching.
“But that’s barbaric. What type of society would make schoolchildren compete in what is essentially a fight to the death just to prove who is the strongest wizard and societal rank.”
“It used to be whoever won would immediately be the intended of the Minister’s daughter, but we got rid of that thirty years ago or more. Plus, it’s no longer a fight to the death.” Draco’s relaxed demeanour just frustrated Hermione more.
“Just a remarkably dangerous one that could get you killed! The wizarding world is so medieval compared to the rest of the world.”
“I have to agree with you there.” Draco’s agreement made Hermione come up short.
“I’m sorry, what?” Hermione stuttered out, making Draco chuckle.
“I said you’re right. From what you’ve told me of the muggle world and other magical cultures are much more progressive then we are.”
“They really are. For Pete’s sake, Wizarding England still has slaves!”
Draco looked at Hermione completely baffled not knowing what she meant. “Slaves?”
“What slaves?” Draco honestly had no idea what Hermione was talking about.
“The House-elves,” Hermione said plainly as if that explained everything.
“House-elves are not slaves. They are bonded to a family which increases their magic and without that bond, they will die.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Hermione said horrified.
“Um. No, I’m not.” Even though Draco and Hermione had been friends for over two years, Draco still had trouble with some of her outbursts.
“House-elves are treated terribly; they can’t possibly think that living that way is the best thing for them. After everything, I saw at the World Cup makes me think that someone needs to help these poor creatures.”
“I know! I’ll start a foundation championing their freedom.”
“House-elves are a valued part of wizarding society, Hermione. Even Hogwarts has them and do you really think that Hogwarts would keep slaves to wait on their student's whims?” Draco said trying to talk Hermione down and failing.
“About that! With the Tri-Wizard Tournament and the other students staying here did the house-elves get any additional help or compensation for their troubles?”
“Probably not, but Hermione-”
“No one can argue concrete evidence, and if I convince the elves that they are being treated badly and that being freed is the best thing for them.”
“Hermione. Stop!” Draco exclaimed finally bringing her rant to stop. Hermione looked at Draco completely baffled. “That’s just not how it works. Elves like their work and need a bond with a family or a master to survive. They like their work and many, unless outrightly abused, see freedom as a personal insult to their entire existence.”
“You’re just saying that because changing these would disrupt your precious standard of living,” Hermione said, her voice dripping with disdain.
“I am not! You don’t know much about Wizarding society and I’m filling in what your missing.” Draco replied defensively.
“What, so because I’m not a pureblood I don’t understand the finesse of wizarding society?” Hermione said hotly.
“Yes!” Draco shouted. The look of pain that crossed Hermione’s face brought him up short. “Wait, no-“
“Leave it.” She said dismissively. She gathered her things and headed towards the door.
Draco shot up to go after her when she raised her hand to make him stop. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it.” He said lamely.
“You must’ve meant it or you wouldn’t have said it.” Just before she left the Room of Requirement she turned and looked at Draco who was standing in the centre of the room. “I think I need some time to myself for a bit. I’ll see you later Draco.” With that, she left leaving a confused and remarkably upset Draco in her wake.
The next two weeks were agony for Draco and while he was doing his best to hide his distress his friends were quickly catching on to his behaviour. One day while Draco was stumbling his way through a game of chess with Blaise, he was finally called out on it by a friend.
“Ok, that’s it. What is going on with you Draco?” Blaise said, pulling Draco out of his trance.
“What are you talking about?” Draco said defensively.
“Oh, cut the crap. You’ve been moping around here for almost two weeks and we both know it. All I want to know is why. I’ve got my suspicions, but I’d like to hear it from you.”
“You’ve officially lost it Zambini.”
“Screw this,” Blaise muttered under his breath before dragging Draco out of the Slytherin common room and into a broom cupboard down the hall.
“Zambini, you know if you wanted to get into my pants all you had to do was ask.”
“Oh, I have much better options in that department than you. Now, what the hell is going on between you and Granger?”
Draco spluttered a bit as he came to terms with people knowing about his friendship with Hermione. “What? Nothing is going on between me and the mudblood.” Draco said with a waver in his voice.
“You’re a shit liar Malfoy. I know something is going on. Now I’d think that you were in love with her but I don’t have enough evidence to prove that. I do know that something is going on because you stare at her like you’re worried she’s going to disappear.” Blaise grinned as Draco stared dumbly at his friend desperately trying to come up with something to say to him, while Blaise’s grin got bigger.
“A couple of times a week for two years you and Granger disappear.” Draco opened his mouth to argue but was cut off before he could. “The Golden Girl is always missing when you’re off at your ‘study group’. I probably wouldn’t have noticed if it was only a handful of times. But, you know as well as I that Weasel and Potty are never without her, but to see them alone when you disappear, regularly and for years, I knew who you were meeting.” Draco was dumbfounded while another smirk came over Blaise’s face. “I think you’d be good together. She’s probably the only person willing to put you in your place but manage to keep up with your almost freakish mind. Plus, you always come back from those ‘study groups’ happier and calmer than any other point.” Blaise could tell that he was getting to Draco and decided to say one final thing. “Will you two please just kiss and make up already, so you can stop moping around here like you did when your mom confiscated your training broom when you through the quaffle at the manor and broke the window in the parlour.” Blaise left the cupboard before Draco had a chance to speak, hoping that the youngest Malfoy would think about what had just been said.
Draco left the cupboard startled about what Blaise had said to him. He knew that he couldn’t go back to the common room in this state so he decided to head to the Black Lake for a bit.
As he looked over the lake he thought about what Blaise said. I’m not in love with Hermione. We’re reluctant friends at best. Well, we were reluctant friends. She has her redeeming qualities, and just because I’m aware of them does not mean I’m in love with her. She’s brilliant, she’s a hard ass but it always comes from a well-meaning place, she’s passionate and she’s quite beautiful.
It was that last thought that brought Draco up short. Oh shit.
While Draco was having a revelation down by the lake, Hermione was going through the castle to gather proof so the elves would see that freedom was better than being enslaved.
Her first course of action, as always, was to go to the library and see what she could find on elf abuse and see what kind of legal protections were in place for the elves. After gathering what she could she decided to go through the castle to find how the elves were being treated at Hogwarts.
During her ‘investigation’ Hermione stumbled across a room off the kitchens that were a part of the House-elves workspace. When she walked in, she took stalk of the different articles of clothing, material, and magically enhanced sewing machines and other devices. When Hermione registered what she was seeing it occurred to her that the elves must make many of the clothes and textiles that are seen around Hogwarts. This made sense once she thought about it, the uniforms were colour coded by house and students arrived with standard-issue uniforms before being sorted and given ones with their house colours, any regulated article of clothing a student may need (Quidditch jerseys, jackets, scarves or gloves) were provided once they arrived. The school provided things for their beds and any fabric article in the school was made within its walls. Hermione realized that it was the elves that made all of these things and this room must be where they are made.
Hermione, now fascinated by the revelation moved further into the room to hopefully gain some evidence for her House-elf campaign, or at the very least a better understanding of how Hogwarts was really run. She started to inspect the different pieces of equipment that were scattered throughout the room.
A little known fact about Hermione was that she often would fidget with objects when she was thinking or scheming. Which was exactly what she was doing now. She had picked up a spindle that was laying on a table and was spinning it around in her hands as she thought about the best way to use this new information. As she thought harder she spun the spindle faster and held on tighter, until it pricked her finger. Hermione let out a little yelp in pain and she looked down to see blood dripping from her index finger. She started to feel woozy and a moment later the world turned to black as she collapsed on the floor.
Draco was sitting in the Great Hall absentmindedly picking at his food and pretending to be interested in the conversations around him. While all the while he was thinking about Hermione and what Blaise had said about him being in love with her. He was lost in thought when he registered a piece of gossip that Pansy was happily prattling on about with some of the other Slytherin’s.
“Did you hear?” Pansy said in her usual snarky voice, “The stupid Gryffindor mudblood got herself cursed. She’s out cold in the hospital wing.”
“What?!” Draco nearly yelped causing quite a few Slytherin’s to turn their heads and stare at him. Before anyone could say anything, Blaise leaned over and whispered, “You might want to try again but that with a little more subtlety.”
Draco sent Blaise a glare which was met with a Cheshire cat grin. He quickly arranged his face into a mask of indifference and addressed the fascinated Slytherin’s. “What type of dilemma did Gryffindor’s Golden Girl get into that she couldn’t think her way out of?” Draco said with as much calmness as he could muster.
“Well…” Pansy drawled, savouring being the centre of attention with juicy gossip. “Apparently, she was snooping around the elves personal work area, thinking she could find proof that they should be freed, when she stabbed herself with one of those needles that makes yarn-”
“I think you mean a spindle. It twists fibres into yarn.” Draco said automatically.
“Whatever. Anyway, she stabbed herself with a spindle that was cursed against any witch or wizard that dared enter the elves workspace against their permission. Stupid Gryffindor has been laid up in the infirmary for over a day because of her muggleness.” Pansy sad with as much disdain as a made-up word could muster.
“A day!” Draco yelled forgoing subtlety completely.
“Yeah. That’s what I just said. What’s wrong with you Drakey?” Draco ignored Pansy and jumped out of his seat grabbing his things and running out of the Great Hall, foregoing subtlety entirely.
Draco flew up to the infirmary, never thinking about the number of problems he would run into from racing to Hermione’s bedside when she was in trouble.
He slowed to a walk as he neared the infirmary, slowing, even more, when he noticed Ron and Harry near the door. He was debating turning around, but before he could decide Ron spotted him and stormed over.
“What are you doing here ferret?” Ron said voice laced with hatred.
“I heard Gryffindor’s princess was in trouble. I came to see if it was true, Weasel. Since Hermione and I are friends, I was concerned.” If Draco had learned anything in all the years of living with his father and his Death Eater friends, it was how to tell a convincing lie and throw people off the trail of your secrets. And the best way to do that was to keep it as close to the truth as possible.
“FRIENDS?! CONCERNED?! Hermione would never be friends with someone as horrible, bigoted and ferrety as you, Malfoy! She thinks you’re a disgusting prat who should be rotting in Azkaban with his Death Eater father and would never be within 2 meters of you let alone be friends with you.” Ron yelled as his face turned almost as red as his hair. “The only thing you’re concerned with is who you’d bully if Hermione would disappear. She might be a massive swot and she has no idea how to have fun, but she knows when she’s treated badly.”
“Hey-” Draco was going to stand up for Hermione, say that she’s so much more than a bookworm who was more comfortable studying than playing. And who was definitely too nice and a little too insecure to say when she was being mistreated. But before he could say any of that he was cut off by a furious Ron Weasley.
“Go to hell Malfoy!!!” Ron stormed off leaving a fuming Draco and oddly calm Harry in his wake.
“Malfoy,” Harry said hesitantly, not knowing how Draco would respond.
“I don’t want to hear it, Potter,” Draco said dejected and moved over to lean against the wall. Harry followed Draco hesitantly before speaking.
“It’s true, isn’t it. You and Hermione.” Harry said quietly. Draco looked at Harry unsure whether to be defensive or confused. Before he could make a decision Harry spoke up. “Ron may be oblivious but I’m not. I see the way you two have been looking at each other and your little disappearing acts have been noticed.” Draco’s eyes went wide when he realized just how much Harry knew. “I do have one question though.” Draco quickly nodded, willing to answer whatever question Harry had since he seemed to be alright with him and Hermione being friends. “You aren’t leading her on or anything, right?”
“No!” Harry stared at Draco as if he was trying to intimidate him. The odd stare that Draco was getting from Harry made him keep talking. “I’m not leading her on. I care about Hermione, a lot.”
“Ok, I believe you. I know she cares about you too.” Draco scoffed in disbelieve. “It’s true. You know, some of the girls who room with Hermione love to gossip and don’t do it quietly. They said that Hermione was pining for someone, and I’d bet my broom that someone is you.” Draco’s eyes went wide with shock then he glanced towards the door of the infirmary.
“Go, see her. She’d want you there. I’ll make sure no one walks in.”
“Thank you.” The two boys nodded to each other before Draco went left to see Hermione.
When Draco walked into the infirmary he quickly scanned the different beds before his eyes landed on a screened off bed. With the other beds being empty he headed towards the screens assuming the girl he was looking for was behind it. When he moved through the screens he found the cursed Hermione. If he hadn’t known she had been cursed he would think that she was peacefully sleeping.
Draco moved to sit in the chair that was pulled next to Hermione’s bed. Draco looked around and once confirmed he was alone; he grabbed Hermione’s hand and squeezed it. “Oh, Hermione. Who knew that Trelawney could be right about something?” He let out a watery chuckle at how Hermione would have yelled at him and said that it was simply a coincidence and that no matter how many predictions Trelawney made; Divination would always be a waste of time. “Apparently, we haven’t been as secretive as we think. Harry put the pieces together a few minutes ago, he didn’t hit me so I think he’s ok with it. Also, my friend Blaise knows that we’re – um, friends. Weasel is as oblivious as ever. He thought I showed up here because I either- either wanted you dead or I was worried that I wouldn’t have anyone to bully anymore.” Draco squeezed her hand again hoping he’d get a response from her. When he didn’t, he signed in resignation. “I don’t know why your friends with him. From what you’ve told me he’s only friends with you and Harry for either the homework help or fame.” Draco looked at Hermione just wishing that she’d respond. Say that he should be nicer to the youngest Weasley and that he was just looking out for her or that she’d be irritated that Blaise knew about them.
Draco couldn’t help but feel responsible for the situation and vowed to fix it. No matter what. “Oh, Hermione. I’m going to fix this, no matter what I’m going to fix it.” Draco stood from the chair and leaned over and kissed her on the forehead before backing away. “I’ll be back, don’t worry about it. And I’ll wake you up and tell you the rest of the story of what people have to say about us then.”
With that Draco went off to keep the promises he made to her.
The first step on his mission to solve Hermione’s curse was to write a letter to his mother. While his father was a pureblood Death Eater, his mother was not and he figured that she might have some insight to the curse Hermione was suffering from. He opened the letter by explaining his relationship with Hermione (describing her as the brilliant Gryffindor with curls as expansive and wild as her brain and personality) then elaborating on to what had happened and what could be done. Once the letter was sent he decided to take a page out of Hermione’s book and do some research until he got a reply.
Draco was sitting in the Great Hall having breakfast a few days later while reading a book that he had taken from the library on curses when the post arrived. He glanced up and watched for his family owl to appear and sighed in relief when the large bird swooped into the hall. A few moments later the owl dropped next to him, expecting a treat for delivering the letter. Draco snapped up the letter and quickly handed the bird a piece of bacon then began to read.
I was glad that you wrote to me and I do wish that you would write more often. I do enjoy your letters. Your father’s business is progressing as he hoped. Which means that if things keep progressing as planned your fathers’ co-workers will be coming through the Manor. Not much has changed regarding my social life, which is as your father likes it.
Now, onto the contents of your letter. I’m thrilled that you have friends besides your father’s friends’ horrid sons. She sounds wonderful, and since she punched you, I know that she’s the type of strong girl that you need in your life. I would love to meet the girl that has captured your attention.
I must agree with Blaise about your feelings towards Hermione. You’ve fallen in love with her and from what you’ve told me, I think she may feel the same about you.
I felt that type of love once and I certainly hope that you have more luck then I did.
I’m sorry to hear about what happened to Hermione and I hope that the information I have will be of some use to you.
From what I understand was that your father’s boss cursed some objects around Hogwarts and left them for unsuspecting muggle-borns. The spindle was placed specifically for muggle-borns who were worried for the welfare of house-elves and other creatures he deemed unworthy. Originally it was designed to kill the one who was cursed but the elves intervened, while they couldn’t get rid of the spindle or curse all together because of the laws of elf magic (they aren’t allowed to remove any intact objects unless under direct orders) and since very few knew of these cursed objects, an order was never given. Since the elves couldn’t remove the spindle, they altered the curse, so the cursed would fall into a deep sleep instead of dying.
Now, a little known secret about your father’s boss is that while he could find and use the most horrid and disturbing parts of magic, he was useless at creating his own curses. This means that the curse he used on the spindle was a curse that already existed, and unknown to him likely has a counter curse. I’d like you to confirm the counter curse in the third volume of Curses and Counter Curses: Defense against the Moste Evile. I believe the counter curse for this involves the idea that a pure, true love would force the dark magic out and wake up the cursed.
From the way you talk about your relationship with Hermione, this would work for you. A true loves kiss should wake up the girl you care so much about.
I love you, my dragon. I do hope that I have been of some help.
Draco read and reread his mother’s letter making sure that he understood what was said. Hermione had been cursed by Voldemort of all people and that true loves kiss, a kiss from him, would wake her. He knew that would do anything for Hermione and if all he needed to do to wake her was to kiss her he would happily kiss her for as long as it took.
He quickly ran off to the library to confirm his mothers counter curse. After twenty minutes of racing through the library, he found the book his mother mentioned in the Restricted Section and started flipping through the pages. Sure enough, on page 213, there was a description for a curse designed to suck the life out of any idealistic muggle-born (or send them into an eternal sleep) and, to Draco’s immense relieve, the counter curse was all there, confirming his mother’s speculations. The book did elaborate on the counter curse, explaining that there was a detection charm for true love and that it was best if the charm was used before trying to wake or resurrect the cursed.
Draco dropped the book and sped out of the library towards the infirmary leaving Madame Pince shouting in his wake.
He burst through the doors of the infirmary and raced over to Hermione’s bed. He slowed to a walk so he wouldn’t knock over the screens that still surrounded her bed. He gently moved them aside before walking through the private area towards her bed. He sat down on the bed and gently brushed her cheek with his thumb and smiled slightly as he took in her sleeping face. “Good news, I found a solution to the curse. But before I do that I need to cast a quick charm to make sure the counter curse will work.” Draco grabbed Hermione’s hand, never letting go as he did a quick wand movement while he softly said the incantation “Amantes Verum” a tulip quickly started to take shape in their grasp. Draco had to laugh at the appearance of the lovely flower, he thought that old magic did love its symbolism and the appearance of a tulip, the flower known for its meaning of perfect and pure love when determining true love.
“I guess that means that the counter curse will work.” Draco took a deep breath and briefly thought that here it goes before leaning in and kissing Hermione softly on the lips. The kiss was chaste and simple until Draco realized that Hermione was kissing him back. The kiss quickly became more intense, sending shockwaves through them both, causing Draco to settle almost on top of Hermione with her wrapping her arms around his neck to hold him to her.
Once it became necessary to breathe the two separated and grinned at each other. “You’re awake,” Draco said with a brilliant grin.
“I am, and that was a lovely wake up but,” Hermione quickly glanced around and noted she was and in the Hospital wing “Why am I in the infirmary?”
Draco sighed and looked down unwilling to meet Hermione’s gaze. Hermione sat up, forcing Draco to sit further down the bed, and touched his cheek. The shock of the gentle touch made Draco meet her eyes, a kind but baffled and curious look on her face. “You were cursed. Apparently, a spindle in the elves workshop had been cursed by You-Know-Who to murder well-meaning and unsuspecting muggle-borns. The elves actually altered it so that it would only send the cursed into a long deep sleep.”
“So, how did you wake me up. And how did you know it would work?” Hermione got a wide-eyed and excited look on her face. One that regularly appears when she thinks she’s going to learn new information.
Draco smiled impishly and briefly explained the letter from his mother and the information she provided that led to his saving Hermione.
“That’s not the full story and I want to know how it led to me waking up to you kissing me,” Hermione said sternly.
Draco couldn’t but smile even though he was being reprimanded. Hermione was awake and scolding him, all was right with the world. “I’ll tell you everything, but I have something to ask you first. And I promise to answer all your questions after.”
Hermione crossed her arms in a huff and nodded her agreement. “Would you go with me to the next Hogsmede Weekend?”
“On a date?” Hermione said with a small but genuine smile.
“Yes, a date,” Draco said getting nervous. Hermione noticed his nerves and moved to sit in his lap, making Draco laugh.
“I’d love to go on a date with you.” Draco leaned in a kissed Hermione again. The kiss was deeper and more urgent than the previous. Her probed her lips asking for entrance, she opened her lips allowing his tongue to sweep through her mouth. Hermione suddenly backed away, they both panted trying to regain some composure. “But don’t expect that this means you don’t have to tell me the rest of the information.”
Draco burst out laughing squeezed her tighter. “I’ll tell you everything, promise.”
“Good.” Hermione let out a light laugh that was out of character, making Draco look at her in disbelieve. She kissed him lightly and the two started planning some of their date.
The date went better than either could have hoped and the unlikely couple lived contented for the rest of their days.