5th June 1997
Hermione woke up with a start, flushed and flustered. Her heart beat wildly in her chest and she fought to bring her breathing under control. She looked around to find she was in her bed in her dorm, curtains tightly closed around her four-poster. She closed her eyes again, pressing her hands to her eyes. It was just a dream. A strange one, but a dream nonetheless. She nearly giggled at how ridiculous it all seemed.
An hour later, she sat in her usual spot at the Gryffindor table, chatting with Harry and Ron and drinking coffee. As she shook her head at something Harry was saying, she caught a glimpse of blond hair at the Slytherin table. Draco Malfoy averted his eyes just as she focused on him. Hermione looked down onto her coffee cup and swallowed. It felt like a dejà Vu. Shaking her head to clear the dream that came rushing back, she wondered why it all seemed so surreal.
Hermione sat at the Gryffindor table, cradling a steaming cup of coffee between both her hands. The Hall was full of students although she couldn’t really make out any of their chatter, try as she might. Their bodies lacked colour, looking faded. She glanced down to find her own clothes were colourful as ever.
Curiously, she let her eyes wander around the Gryffindor table, up to the top table where the staff ate their meal. Everyone was faded as if seen through light fog maybe. As her eyes turned to the other tables, she noticed not all students were out of focus. At the Slytherin table, Draco Malfoy sat, his teacup suspended midway between the table and his mouth, his eyes trained on her.
Hermione saw his lips move and felt a jolt go through her stomach when she could clearly make out his words, his eyes boring into hers across the tables.
“You have got to be kidding me.”It should’ve been impossible to hear at this distance, yet it was as clear as if he had been sitting right next to her.
Not sure how to react to that, she opted for glaring at him. “What’s that supposed to mean, Malfoy?” she muttered and was satisfied when she saw him spill a little tea when he clearly heard her low answer. Hermione could feel her pulse in her throat, a blush creeping up to her cheeks when he didn’t break eye contact but regarded her with a frown instead.
She’d woken up at that point, shaken. She resolved to ignore him for the rest of the day and forget the whole thing had happened. Unfortunately, that was an impossibility as his friends made a fuss over him at dinner. Apparently, it was his 17th birthday. Hermione excused herself and left the Hall early.
As the week progressed, Hermione felt like she was stuck in a movie she’d watched with her parents a few years ago. Only, in her case it wasn’t a whole day that stayed on repeat, it was her dream: Five nights in a row, she’d had the same dream of sitting in the Great Hall. Every time, only she and Draco were in full colour, sipping their respective drinks and eyeing each other up.
They didn’t talk much in their dreams, but the few things that were said were the only difference she could make out.
“Granger, stop staring at me.” He sneered.
“Why is this happening, Malfoy?” She answered, not phased on bit by his hostility. For a second, she thought he looked surprised but he masked it so fast she couldn’t be sure.
“I have no idea, Granger.”
That morning, Malfoy ignored Hermione completely, and Hermione wondered if there was something wrong with her head. Maybe the upcoming exams had gotten to her more than she thought.
“You’re back again.” It was an odd thing to say to her, she thought.
“It’s my dream, of course, I’m here.” As soon as the words left her mouth, she regretted them. Malfoy smirked at her, an eyebrow raised.
The morning after that, she caught him looking at her briefly. She wished Harry would shut up about his theories about Malfoy. She wanted to forget about him and concentrate on her school work.
“How predictable.” His drawl suggested pure boredom as he picked up his cup and took a sip of tea.
“Apparently, we both are.” She rolled her eyes and drank her coffee.
She couldn’t help her eyes drifting to Malfoy at the Slytherin table. He was haunting her dreams and now he was roundly ignoring her. Again. She wasn’t sure why it annoyed her.
“This really is like Groundhog Day.” It was the first time she’d initiated conversation if their limited interaction could even be classed as such. Malfoy looked confused.
“What’s Groundhog Day?”
“A movie I watched with my parents a few years ago.”
“Yes, in a cinema. It’s a Muggle thing.”
“Granger, I know what a movie is.” Hermione’s eyebrows shot up in surprise. “I just don’t know Groundhog Day.”
“It’s a movie in which the main character’s day repeats in a time loop. Until he manages to -” Hermione stopped herself and looked down, blushing. No, absolutely not. This was not what was happening.
“Manages to do what, Granger?” She bit her lip and stayed quiet, not looking at him and willing herself to wake up.
She had woken up before the silence had a chance to break her and make her speak again. Speak. She snorted to herself as she lay in her bed. Was that what she was doing in her dreams? Speak with bloody Draco Malfoy? Why was it so civil? Why did it feel so real?
“What are you doing, Granger?” Malfoy looked alarmed, his eyes wide.
“Testing a theory.” Hermione wasn’t sure why she was surprised when she was able to stand up from her seat at the Gryffindor table. She walked around it, and over to his. Close up, she noticed that he was actually very pale with dark circles under his eyes. It just wasn’t as apparent with everyone else around them looking washed out. She regarded him curiously as if he was a puzzle to be solved.
“No, really, Granger, what are you doing?” He pushed his hand through his hair and tapped his cup with the other hand. When she looked at his fingers he ceased doing it. She wondered why he was nervous.
“I wanted to check if I was stuck to my position or if I could move around.” She shrugged a shoulder. He nodded.
Hermione was late for breakfast that morning, hurrying through the hallways and past the double doors into the Great Hall. She was in such a hurry, she almost collided with students in the doorway.
Just as an excuse built on her tongue, she heard Malfoy’s sneers from right next to her. “Watch it, Granger.” Her eyes snapped up to his. Instead of firing back a biting retort, she all but ran from him and fell into the seat next to Ron.
“Alright, Mione?” he greeted her, taking another large bite of buttered toast. She nodded, mumbling about having overslept and reached for the coffee.
As June went on, Hermione began to think there was dark magic at play. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but it had to be. Maybe someone had slipped her a new Wheezes product when she wasn’t paying attention? She knew she was clutching at straws; nothing Fred and George sold would have such lasting effects, would they?
Or maybe she was taking a repeating dose with her pumpkin juice at dinner? She would have to make sure to watch everyone near her food and drink. It had been nearly a full month of dreams. Each one began the same way, Draco Malfoy sitting at the Slytherin table, she sitting at the Gryffindor table.
Their conversations were always trivial, never personal. Until last night. She had woken up in cold sweat, and for the first time, she had wondered if it wasn’t just her stress that caused these dreams but if they were, in fact, mutual.
“Granger.” Malfoy greeted in a tight voice. For the first time since the dreams began, he moved from his seat and walked over to her.
“Malfoy?” She regarded him openly. He came to a stop and slid onto the bench opposite her. He sat down his tea and watched it ripple as he spoke.
“Does Potter still have the Felix Felicis?” Hermione’s eyes widened.
“I could do with a little luck, Granger.” His eyes lifted to meet hers and she was surprised that this close, she could see a little blue in the grey. She let her eyes roam his face a little longer, taking in his sunken cheeks, protruding cheekbones and his unwashed hair that hung loosely, framing him.
“So you want me to ask Harry for the potion for you?” He nodded, looking down again. “You’re gonna have to give me a reason, Malfoy.”
“I can’t do that.” She thought he sounded resigned and pained.
“Then I can’t help you.” He’d walked away from her in the dream.
When she entered the Great Hall, she didn’t even try to conceal that she was looking for someone; for him . He was nowhere to be seen.
Later that day, she nearly choked on her own spit when Harry insisted she and Ron take some of the Felix Felicis , her dream of the night before flashing in her mind as clearly as it was when she slept. They argued and fought, but she could read the genuine fear Harry had in his eyes and acquiesced in the end. Maybe, she thought, she’d be lucky enough not to dream that night. Or rather, lucky enough to dream of him again. She had questions she needed to ask him.
If he was indeed in her dreams. It hurt her brain to think about it too much. He didn’t act like himself in the dreams. He was… nicer. Less prattish. She screwed up her face behind her hands, convinced she was going mad. Hermione wondered if she should ask Harry for advice on occlumency. After all, that’s how he was supposed to keep Voldemort out of his head, his dreams.
She dismissed that quickly. She’d never be able to tell anyone about these dreams. Teenage fantasies, really. Isn’t that what they were? Weren’t they supposed to be more… romantic? Goodness, fantasies about Malfoy? No, she couldn’t tell anyone. She’d be too embarrassed. Not even Harry.
When Hermione woke the next morning, she was slow to figure out just why she was so groggy - until it all came rushing back to her. The fighting, Dumbledore’s death, Fawkes’ haunting song, the oppressive grief that had overcome Hogwarts. She blinked fresh tears away and showered, feeling like the castle itself was exuding anguish from the stones. Her whole world broke last night.
Dumbledore, the one constant, the one wizard Voldemort feared, was gone. By the time she had made it down to the Great Hall, out of routine, without feeling in any way hungry, she felt drawn to the Slytherin table. Draco Malfoy was noticeably absent. She remembered he’d fled with Snape and Hermione drew perverse pleasure out of refusing to even think of that man as Professor anymore.
As she sat at the Gryffindor table, taking in the muted, uncommonly sedate students at every house table, another thing caught her thoughts: For the first time in nearly a month, Draco Malfoy had been absent from her dreams. Maybe, whatever magic was at play, only worked when they were in the same place.
Two days after she had returned home from Hogwarts, Hermione sat in her childhood room and sighed. With a flick of her wand, she added yet another book to a rapidly growing pile on the floor in front of her wardrobe. She had to remind herself that it was for a cause, to help Harry defeat Voldemort. Still, the guilt weighed heavily on her as she looked over the myriad of books she had ‘borrowed’ from the Hogwarts library.
A knock interrupted her reverie. “Come in.”
It was her mother, smiling fondly at Hermione and the stacks of books around her. Her mother leaned against the door frame, her eyes crinkling in amusement.
“So much magic at your disposal and you’re still stuck in books,” she teased. Hermione’s lips quirked upwards and she shrugged one shoulder.
“It’ll never change,” she said. Her mum nodded.
“Dad and I are heading to bed. It’s late. Try and get some sleep?” Hermione looked away from her mum, reaching out for a random book so she had an excuse not to make eye contact.
“Sure, mum. I’m only sorting a few more, then I’ll go to bed.” When she didn’t get a reply, nor heard her mother move, she added, “Promise,” and glanced up. Her mum’s eyes swept over her and she opened her mouth as if to say something to Hermione but then snapped it shut again.
“Night. Sweet dreams, ‘Mione .” Hermione rolled her eyes as her mum chuckled, knowing full well that she didn’t really like that nickname. Hermione waved at her mum and returned the sentiment. She did feel tired though and noted that it was past midnight. A yawn overtook her as she stood up and stretched. After quickly going to brush her teeth and putting her hair into a plait, she snuggled into her bed, welcoming Crookshank’s comforting weight as he settled on her legs.
The last few nights had been difficult; sleep was fitful since the fight at the Astronomy Tower, Professor Dumbledore’s death and his subsequent funeral. Her dreams left her shaking with scenarios of could’ve been . Hermione closed her eyes and began focusing on her breathing, adding one extra count on each exhale to quieten it and her mind in order to hopefully sleep soundly.
Hermione blinked in the low light coming from a single-flame lamp on the bedside table beside a large four-poster bed with emerald green hangings on its mahogany frame. She took in the unmoving form of Malfoy, his covers pulled up under his arms. His room, she realised. Looking around, she noted posters of a Quidditch team on his wall, a tidy desk and a large bookshelf beside it, filled with Hogwarts textbooks she recognised, and others she didn’t.
Slowly, she moved closer to the bed, wondering if she ought to call his name and announce her presence. It was strange, the thought, how it was so obvious to her that she was dreaming and that she felt no fear being here.
She halted right beside him, noting the selection of potions vials next to the lamp. She picked one up. ‘Dreamless Sleep’. Was that why she hadn’t dreamed of him? Because he had not dreamed? But this meant it was mutual? Why?
A low sound from the bed made her hand fly to her mouth. She carefully replaced the bottle and glanced at Malfoy. He was blinking at her, awake. “Granger.” His voice was raspy. “Not safe here. You have to leave.”
“It’s a dream, Malfoy.” She resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “Why am I here though? Why do I keep dreaming of you?” Hermione figured it couldn’t hurt to ask the dream version of him. After all, who else was going to give her answers? Malfoy looked away from her and clamped his mouth shut. She huffed and looked back at the potions to find there was also a general pain reduction potion.
“What happened to you?” She asked him, her eyes still scanning the other potions: ‘Burning Bitterroot Balm’ to soothe much like Muggles use Valerian Root. Next to that, a ‘Calming Draught’ and - quite in contrast - ‘Invigoration Draught’.
“The Dark Lord.” Hermione’s head spun to him.
“Don’t say his name!” Malfoy winced as he all but shouted the words at her. He struggled to push himself up on his arms.
“A name can’t hurt you, you know. It’s just that - a name.” She did however abide by his wishes. “He tortured you?” Malfoy nodded once.
“It’s too dangerous for you to be here. You have to go.”
“So you’ve said. Malfoy, this is a dream. I still don’t know why I’m plagued by dreams of you. Do you? Are these mutual? Do you dream of me ?” She huffed.
“Do you ever stop talking, Granger? Not even in your dreams, huh?” Malfoy glared at her. “Clearly, it’s your dream. In mine, you’d shut up.” Hermione growled at him.
“Be sure to take your Dreamless Sleep potion, Malfoy. Maybe then you’ll stay out of my subconscious.” She picked up the vial in question and flung it onto his chest, willing herself to wake up.
Hermione didn’t dream of Malfoy again for nearly a month. When she did meet him again in a dream, it was so brief, she thought she might have imagined him standing over her and Ron in Grimmauld Place, where she’d fallen asleep finding solace in holding Ron’s hand. As the morning wore on, and they got to grips with having left the Burrow so hastily the night before, she firmly put his pinched face out of her mind.
Hermione sat curled up in her chair and cried. The blankets Harry had thrown over her smelled of him . She couldn’t even make herself think his name. He left her. Them. He left them. It was the bloody Horcrux’s fault, she knew. If only he’d seen sense. She wiped her tears on her cuffs and sniffed, regretting that immediately when his scent engulfed her even more. She cried until she had no more tears left and fell into an uneasy sleep.
“Granger?” Malfoy stood over her, watching. She blinked her eyes and jumped up, pulling her wand. He didn’t even flinch. “You’re dreaming. What happened to you?” He looked around the tent curiously until his eyes fell on Harry’s form, sleeping in his bunk. Malfoy stared at the other wizard before turning his attention back to her.
“Keep your voice down.” Even knowing she was dreaming, she was afraid to wake Harry. Would he be jostled into her dream, too?
“I told you, you’re dreaming. This is a dream.” Malfoy eyed her closer. “What happened to you, Granger? You look like Hell.” It was so deadpan, she nearly smiled despite it all.
“He left.” There was no need to clarify who he was. Not in her own dreams. “Why are you here?”
“He was never the brightest.” He considered her quietly for a moment and she was sure that what he was doing was judging her failure in keeping her best friend around. “You deserve better,” he surprised her by saying. Hermione’s eyes snapped up to his. “I don’t know where you are and what you’re doing here in a -” he looked up at the canvas. “In a tent, but you deserve better.”
She woke up angry before she could question anything else in her dream. Dreams were overrated anyway, she decided, this time truly getting up from her chair and moving towards the stove to make a hot cup of tea for herself. She wished they still had coffee instead of these poor excuses for tea bags but it would have to do.
Hermione had all but forgotten about Malfoy and his stupid appearances in her dreams when she saw him again. She wished the whole day was a bad dream, but the harsh reality wouldn’t leave. He was all but shoved in her face, his parents eager to hear him confirm her identity. She could barely think over her pulse beating in her ears and fear racing through her veins.
Her fear increased upon being separated from Ron and Harry. Bellatrix screeched at her, Malfoy standing only paces away, looking pale and emotionless. She knew then that her dreams were far away from reality. That it wasn’t mutual, that for some Merlin-forsaken reason, it had all been her. At least she would die understanding that she thought just before another well-placed Crucio hit her.
Hermione came to in a dimly lit room she didn’t recognise. For a second, she thought she had died, relishing the feeling of soft surroundings. However, when she tried to move her head, pain shot through her. She sucked in a breath that hurt her throat and made her cough. It was then that she wished she had died. Fleur appeared in that moment and with her, some potions that brought her body tremors under control and stopped her shaking.
She’d never appreciated the French woman more. Hermione didn’t get much time to relish the much-welcomed comfort and calm of the room she was in. As soon as Fleur had left, Ron was at her side, telling her about Dobby and how Harry had been digging his grave the Muggle way all afternoon.
She didn’t think she had any tears left, but a few fell of their own accord. She was glad when Ron eventually agreed to let her go out to say a final goodbye to the loyal elf who saved them all.
The whole past 24 hours had been physically and emotionally exhausting. Hermione was sure she would fall into oblivion as soon as her head hit the pillow.
“Granger?” She groaned, and not in pain this time. She should’ve accepted the Dreamless Sleep Potion Fleur had offered her. It didn’t escape her that this time it was Malfoy studying potion vials on a bedside table.
“Malfoy, leave me alone. I can’t deal with you tonight. I want to sleep.”
“I will go,” he said, his eyes furtively glancing across her before going back to the potions. “I’m glad you’re okay after--” He trailed off and swallowed, picking up a bottle. “This helps the most. The tremors will stop in a day or two.”
She managed a nod and Malfoy looked like he wanted to say more but then the dream dissolved.
In the days that followed, Hermione had no time to dwell on the latest dream with Malfoy in it. Her subconscious really was doing a number on her and she couldn’t afford distractions. She threw herself into the planning process Harry had started, exhausting herself to fall into a dreamless sleep. It didn’t work, dreams would still come: Only now, the dreams were filled with crazy laughter, pain, torture, and fear. She wished she was dreaming of Malfoy again.
They had done it. Harry had done it. Harry, the beautiful, wonderful, selfless, brave, and loving boy - man, really - had done it. Voldemort was dead. For good, this time. The price was a steep one. Too steep, if you asked her, but even with so many deaths weighing on her, with the knowledge of having lost dear friends in most horrific ways, she felt like she could breathe again. Freely.
As Wizarding Britain was waking up this morning to news of Voldemort’s demise, to realisation that their worst fears could be laid to rest along with the casualties, to dare to hope for a bright future again, Hermione fell into her bed in Gryffindor Dorm, barely able to rid herself of her filthy, torn clothing, before giving in to exhaustion.
Hermione stood in the middle of the Great Hall, the tables not in their usual positions, but pushed against the walls on either side. She turned around herself, noting that she was quite alone. Looking up, she saw the sky streaked in burnt orange and pink colours, the sun slowly creeping over the horizon.
“Granger.” Malfoy’s voice made her swivel around to face him, standing in the entrance just inside the double doors. He looked pale, singed, filthy. Bloodstains still clinging to him, just like she’d seen him in the Great Hall after the battle, huddled close with his parents.
“Malfoy.” She greeted him, glancing down and frowning. She wasn’t in her battle clothes. She was wearing the oversized Quidditch jersey she had borrowed a year ago and never returned.
“Nice top,” he said, his lips curling into a smirk. Hermione felt heat creep into her cheeks. “Weasley’s?”
“Yes. No. It’s not Ron’s. It was Charlie’s,” she stammered, wondering why he seemed so amused by that information.
“Does your Ronald know you’re wearing his big brother’s top?” A raised eyebrow and a teasing voice. Hermione didn’t know how to react. What to answer.
“Why are you here?” she asked instead. Why wasn’t Ron - is what she wanted to know.
“You really don’t know, do you?” Malfoy took a few steps closer, his face pensive.
Hermione bristled at the notion that she didn’t know something. She hated not knowing something. Especially if that meant he was right. She shook her head as she watched him advance on her slowly.
“It’s your dream, Granger. What do you want to happen?” Still, he slowly advanced on her and she stood, unable to make her feet move back. She swallowed. He came to a stop barely a foot away. Her eyes lifted to his and again, she noticed the faint blue in the grey. Somehow, his eyes weren’t cold like they normally were when directed at her, but filled with curiosity.
“I’m glad Potter won, for what it’s worth,” he said. “Glad you’re okay.” His eyes roamed her face and for a second she had the insane notion to hug him. She crossed her arms in front of her to keep her hands to herself.
“Me too,” she managed before her dream dissolved.
For some reason, she’d expected more of these strange dreams, yet none came.
The next three months were a blur. Hermione lost count how many funerals she’d attended, how many hearings and trials she witnessed; how many people thanked her, congratulated her, offered condolences to her, and simply wanted a piece of her - like that abominable Skeeter, who crawled out of the woodwork faster than the printing presses could go.
It was almost a relief for her to be leaving the UK for a couple of weeks in order to travel to Australia and - hopefully, with help from the UK’s foreign ambassador and his sway in the Australian Ministry - reverse the memory charm she had placed upon her parents over a year ago.
She was nervous to meet her parents, nervous to meet the ambassador - though Kingsley had assured her full cooperation from him and the Australian Obliviator Team - not to mention nervous that she would fail in getting them back.
Ron had offered to accompany her but this was something she needed to do herself, without distractions. He’d been more reserved after she told him she’d go alone but she couldn’t let herself dwell on that now. Their friendship had been strange since the battle. Her impulsive act of kissing him had felt so right at the time. In the light of day, however, when grief washed over them afresh, she shied away from any further romantic advances, telling him she needed time.
Hermione was grateful to Ron for agreeing to it without arguing even though she knew he wanted to. She could see it in the way he looked at her every time he saw Harry and Ginny, closer than ever. It wasn’t that Hermione didn’t want a relationship. She did. She was just so confused because while she wished for someone to be with her, the guilt was too much to handle.
She didn’t even understand herself anymore, didn’t understand why she felt guilty, almost as if she was cheating on someone, whenever she tried to let Ron closer physically and emotionally. Hermione hoped her trip to Australia would cure her.
Hermione’s hopes weren’t all answered. Upon returning to London, it became apparent to her that she and Ron would never be a couple. Their friendship suffered a little; she knew she’d hurt him and she was aware that her decision not to be his girlfriend might have contributed to his decision not to return to Hogwarts for his N.E.W.T.s. Not that he was enthusiastic about it before, but he’d mentioned he would - for her. Now, he was going to accept the Ministry’s offer, like Harry, to train as Auror directly.
Her biggest wish, though, to get her parents back, was granted. After three days of meetings with the local Obliviator Team and their Reversal Squad’s department head, she approached Monica and Wendell Wilkins and performed the single most important spell she ever thought she’d use. The reunion was difficult, emotional, and raw but at the end of the second week, she flew back to Heathrow in the firm knowledge that her parents would move back to the UK, and they had forgiven her.
It was with a spring in her step then, that she boarded the Hogwarts Express on September 1st 1998. Her Eighth Year. A year she would share with Ginny and Luna and Padma and Dean and select others who had elected to return, and she would focus on that. Focus on those who were here with her, not those who were missing. She would study hard, get her N.E.W.T.s and do all in her power to continue improving the Wizarding community by finding a voice for those who didn’t have their own.
She was full of enthusiasm, a smile on her face until she opened the compartment door she’d chosen and came face to face with Draco Malfoy.
He was sitting by the window, impeccably dressed, his hair styled perfectly - though not as severe as in the past - and looking right at her. It took several heartbeats for her to realise she’d automatically pulled her wand on him.
Malfoy sat unmoving, merely raising an eyebrow at her. “Granger, put your wand away before you accidentally hurt me.
His voice pulled her back to Earth and she did stow her wand away, but not without retorting, “If I did hurt you, Malfoy, it wouldn’t be an accident.” She turned and went to look for a different compartment to sit in.
That night, the dreams returned. The next day, she made time to visit the library and looked for books on dreams. She researched for two hours before giving up. Maybe she should’ve stuck to Divination, after all, she might know just what all this meant. Hermione resolved to approach Trelawney if she still didn’t find out for herself by the end of the month.
She rolled her eyes. Of course, he would dominate her dream again. Hermione huffed when she realised that even her Dream Self was annoyed by it.
“What do you want this time, Malfoy?” She crossed her arms in front of her, looking up at him. They stood in the Great Hall, again, while translucent students and staff milled about around them. Nobody paid them any attention. She’d noticed this not a week into term that in her dreams, only Malfoy was able to interact with her.
“I annoy you even in dreams it appears.” He shook his head with a smirk, amusement actually reaching his eyes. Hermione swallowed, trying to desperately ignore the little swooping sensation in her stomach at the sight of his crinkling eyes.
“Yes, you do. I don’t understand why I keep dreaming of you.” Her frustration was evident in her voice. She was less guarded in her dreams, too, giving her dream-thoughts free rein.
“You really can’t stand not knowing things.” He sounded even more amused and she balled her hands into fists, as she contemplated to plant her right straight into his eye. Malfoy was standing far too close for comfort anyway. She closed her eyes, willing herself to find answers in her subconscious.
Hermione jerked when she felt her hair move and her eyes flew open to see Malfoy drop his hand after putting an escaped lock behind her ear.
“You’re pretty when you’re frustrated.” Her jaw dropped. Clearly, her dreams were out of control. She laughed a full-on belly laugh.
Hermione woke to Ginny shaking her, groggily asking to share the joke in the morning but for Merlin’s sake to shut up. Moments later, Ginny was back in her own bed while Hermione lay awake, staring at the ceiling and wondering if she ought to visit the hospital wing for some Dreamless Sleep .
Hermione sat in the Great Hall, alone save Draco Malfoy sauntering towards her at the Hufflepuff table. Neutral Ground, she’d called it in a previous dream and he had grinned at that.
She watched him approach and looked at him with a puzzled expression when she noticed he had one hand behind his back. Hermione wasn’t worried though. Not in her dreams after nightly interactions. She knew he wouldn’t, couldn’t, hurt her in here.
He sat down next to her, straddling the bench and still keeping his right hand hidden.
“Hi,” he said simply.
“Hi.” She counted to three. “What are you hiding?” Hermione tried to look around him and he pulled back, grinning.
“Patience, Granger.” She gave him a look and he laughed at her. A real laugh. One she’d never seen on him outside of her dreams. It warmed her and she moved back a little to better drink him in. She swallowed. His eyes followed the movement before coming back to hers. Their gaze held for a long moment until Malfoy looked down, shaking his head and brought his hand around.
“Happy birthday,” he whispered, holding out a single cupcake with a lit blue candle. Hermione looked from his hand up to his face, speechless. She didn’t realise he knew her birthday. Then she reminded herself that it was her dream and of course he would know it in here.
Just as she realised that she was openly staring at him, he whispered, “Make a wish.”
Hermione inhaled sharply, then nodded. What harm could it do? She closed her eyes, wondering what to wish for. Biting her lip, she went through her mind, coming up only with trivial things. But this was her birthday, and her dream, was it not? Nobody would ever know her dreams but her.
Her bottom lip slowly slipped away from her teeth and, keeping her eyes shut, she gently blew out the small flame while wishing that Malfoy was as nice outside of her dreams as he had turned out to be in them.
She opened her eyes, smiling to herself, to find his eyes blazing, the cupcake dropping and his hands reaching for her. She barely had time to take a breath before his mouth was on hers, warm and soft while his hands were tangled in her hair, holding her close.
And it felt right even as he deepened the kiss .
Hermione woke hot and bothered, convinced she could still feel the ghost of his lips on hers.
In the week following her birthday, her dreams developed a new pattern: They would meet, in the Great Hall, they would greet each other, they would talk for a few minutes and then, they would snog. Hermione barely knew what to do during her waking hours.
Malfoy shared most of her classes with her and she felt like she was constantly blushing, unable to look at him, yet still chancing glances when she thought he wasn’t looking. When he’d caught her staring the third time and sent her a grin, she physically turned her back on him as much as possible in Arithmancy class and willed herself to just concentrate on the calculations.
By the second week of October, her dreams were invading her waking hours so much that she decided on drastic measures. With the new nature of her dreams, she’d not gone to Trelawney. So now she and Ginny sat on Ginny’s bed in the dormitory, the curtains closed and privacy spells cast.
The redhead was grinning at Hermione in a way that was almost frightening. She wondered if she’d made the right decision.
“So, what did you want to talk about? It all sounded very clandestine.” Hermione knew she was blushing already. Merlin, this wouldn’t be easy.
“I… Ginny, do you ever-” She broke off, trying to figure out how to best ask without sounding like a complete idiot.
“Have sex?” she guessed. Hermione’s wide eyes flew to Ginny’s laughing ones. “Yes, we do, if you must know.” Ginny paused, her whole expression changing from giddy to surprised to intrigued and back to giddy in a single second. “You!” She pointed at Hermione. “You’re with someone! But how? I never see you go anywhere…” Ginny trailed off, now in thought.
Hermione cleared her throat. Ginny continued before she had a chance to speak. “Who is it?”
“Nobody.” At Ginny’s incredulous look she amended, “Nobody, honestly. It isn’t even sex. I wanted to ask you something else.”
“Oh?” Ginny sounded deflated and pouted, making Hermione chuckle despite herself.
“I… well, it’s dreams. I have these strange, recurring dreams, and… I need help to figure them out.” Ginny nodded and made herself more comfortable on her bed, lying down and making space for Hermione next to her. Hermione found it was much easier to talk that way, while not looking at her friend. She took a deep breath and told Ginny everything. Everything except the identity of the boy in her dreams.
When she was finished, she lay still next to Ginny. She’d closed her eyes during the retelling and was keeping them closed now, holding her breath and waiting for Ginny to answer.
“Is he a good kisser?” Hermione nearly laughed at the notion that that would be the first thing Ginny would ask.
“Yes,” she whispered. “I wouldn’t dream up a bad snog, would I?”
“...no,” Ginny agreed at length. They were quiet for a minute until Ginny whispered into the silence. “Wonder if Malfoy is as good in reality.”
Hermione’s heart stopped and she wished she could take the gasp back that left her quite audibly. Her hands flew to her face, covering herself as Ginny scrambled into a seated position over her, suddenly giddy again.
“Oh Hermione, you’re in so much trouble,” she cooed in a sing-song voice. Hermione groaned as Ginny continued. “Could be worse than having dreams about him. He’s hot.”
Hermione dropped her hands and gaped at Ginny. She simply shrugged. “What? I’ve got eyes. Don’t get me wrong, I love Harry and wouldn’t trade him for the world, and certainly not cheat on him, but I do have eyes and I’m not blind.” She giggled. “It’s a bit like being on a diet, you’re still allowed to look at the menu.” She winked. Hermione shook her head, exasperated and worried.
“How did you guess it’s Draco?” She had turned to her side, a hand supporting her head, facing Ginny and was picking at a piece of lint on the bed linen.
“ Draco , is it now?” Hermione flopped back onto her back and huffed.
“It’s rather difficult in my dreams to call him by his surname after his tongue was in my mouth.” She looked at Ginny and for a moment both were still before erupting into girly giggles. Hermione wondered if this was what she had missed. To be a normal teenager, giggling over boys. “Honestly though, how did you guess him?”
“I’ve seen you look at him. In classes, and at meals.” Ginny caught her eyes. “I also have an idea what your dreams could be about.” She held up a hand to stop Hermione from interrupting. “But, I will need to confirm something first. Give me a few days? I promise you, I will not breathe a word of this to anyone. I’ll just need to get confirmation and for that, I have to owl mum. I won’t give specifics. Do you trust me?”
Hermione turned onto her stomach and mumbled her consent into the pillow.
It took a full week for Ginny to receive a reply from Molly. It felt like a year to Hermione. Her dreams were getting more ridiculous by the night.
Not only had she begun a strange relationship with her dream Malfoy, she began to fantasize about him during classes. Hermione felt completely off balance, remembering the feel of his lips on hers, his hands on her, his voice in her ear as he kissed his way down her throat. She began to wonder what her skin had looked like before the perma-flush.
Hermione knew Ginny had gotten a reply that morning at breakfast, but she had to wait until after classes to get her alone and find the time to get answers. She nearly rolled her eyes when Professor Vector called her back just as she was leaving her last class and asked her to consider tutoring younger students in Arithmancy once a week. She was honoured to be asked and assured her that she would indeed be interested. Professor Vector handed her details to go over and requested she confirm at next class. Hermione nodded and hurried out towards Gryffindor Tower, clutching parchments and books in her arms, too impatient to store them in her bag.
As she rushed around the corner at the end of the corridor, she ran straight into another student, her arms dropping everything she was holding in an effort to keep her balance. She needn’t have worried about falling as she found herself held upright by the other person’s arms.
“Sorry,” she gasped, staring at the parchment on the floor. “I’m so sorry.” She looked up. “Draco!” Hermione’s heart stopped when she realised who she had collided with and then beat erratically as her brain caught up to the fact that she had called him by his first name. She wished the ground would open up and swallow her whole.
His eyes roamed over her face for a moment, before his hands slid down from her shoulders to her elbows and let go. “Don’t mention it, Hermione, ” he murmured, his mouth quirked in a half-smile. Then he drew his wand, flicked it and all her books and parchment landed smoothly back in her arms. She was left standing there, staring after him as he continued on his way.
Twenty minutes later, she and Ginny were holed up in the latter’s bed again, Molly’s letter between them. Hermione had read it twice, her stomach in knots. That couldn’t be correct. They had to be wrong. She stared at the one important sentence again. ‘True Soulmates will begin dreaming of each other once both are of age.’
“Soulmates?” she asked, her voice tight. Ginny nodded.
“I remembered a story Aunt Muriel once told me when I was young, about how she’d met her husband, and, well-” she shrugged as if to say it was obvious now.
“But this means it’s mutual, he’s had the same dreams about me?” Hermione’s heart beat so fast, she was sure she was about to have an aneurysm. It hit her then, the small comments he’d made all along. “You really don’t know, do you?” “You still haven’t figured it out?” “You really don’t like not knowing something.”
“He knows,” she croaked. “Ginny, he knows. He’s been teasing me in my dreams about me not knowing. What do I do?” Ginny grinned.
“Continue on. Tell him you figured it out. Date him for real and make pretty babies.” She wiggled her eyebrows suggestively. Hermione groaned.
“No. There has to be a different explanation!” She scurried off the bed and raced to the library, Ginny’s laughter clinging to her ears.
Hermione hurried through the stacks of books, trying to figure out which area she might find a book on soulmates at all. Was there a wizarding mating section? She blushed at the thought. Unwilling to ask the librarian for assistance with this, she drew her wand and mumbled the summoning spell under her breath. After the longest five seconds, a book just to the left of her inched off the shelf and sailed to her outstretched hand: Recognising Your Soulmate.
To her horror, it confirmed Ginny’s theory.
Hermione sat at the Hufflepuff table, staring at the tabletop, her stomach emulating the Battle of Hogwarts. He’d be here soon and she didn’t know what to do. It felt strange to know, to understand that this wasn’t just a silly teenage fantasy, but… but… mutual attraction? Oh, Merlin, how was she going to face him?
She was so lost in thoughts that she hadn’t heard him approach and jumped when his arms came around her from behind and he placed a soft kiss to her temple.
“Hi,” he murmured as he dropped onto the bench next to her. Hermione kept her eyes on the table, not daring to look at him. She swallowed against the lump in her throat, unable to reply. “What happened?” He was concerned now.
“Why are you here?” It came out more forceful than she’d expected herself.
“It’s your dream, you tell me,” he teased. Her face set, she looked up at last and his expression faltered. “I wondered how long it would take you.” She watched him swallow.
“How can you decide when to meet me and I’ve not had a choice? Why are you here?” she whispered.
“Occlumency. I had to stay away. I tried to, at least.”
“What changed your mind?” she had to know.
“Seeing you again, daily. I knew what these dreams meant and I knew you wouldn’t want them if you found out.” He averted his eyes, his face pinched. “I hoped, by the time you would find out, that you’d not look at me with disgust.”
“I’m not disgusted, Draco.” She needed to think. “I need time.” It felt very similar to what she’d told Ron only a few months ago. Draco nodded and left.
Hermione appealed to Pomfrey’s kind heart when she asked for a week’s worth of Dreamless Sleep. She didn’t feel a all brave when she dosed herself every night and wished she could dose herself during the day, too - until Ginny called an intervention at breakfast the day before Halloween.
“Hermione, you are going to get yourself addicted,” she whispered harshly. Hermione’s protest died on her lips when Ginny continued. “I’m not letting this happen. Talk to him. Now. Look, there he is.” Sure enough, he had just arrived in the Great Hall. Hermione blushed when his eyes met hers across the room and held a moment. She swallowed and looked away.
“Ginny took my last potion.”
A nod. “I had a feeling you told her.”
“Without her, I wouldn’t have found out.”
Another nod. “May I sit?”
“I told Blaise.”
“When he stopped laughing, he congratulated me. Called me a lucky bastard.”
She fought a quirk in her lips despite herself.
“Meet me tonight. After the feast. Neutral Ground.”
An exhale of breath she didn’t realise she was holding. “Okay.”
Hermione’s heart pounded as the butterflies in her stomach partied. The feast was over, students were back in their common rooms, and she was approaching the Great Hall in equal measures of excitement and trepidation.
She inched the door open and slipped through to find him already seated at Neutral Ground. For a moment, she considered turning around and leaving but then his eyes were on hers and she felt her feet move towards him.
Hermione stopped next to him, her heart in her throat. “Hi.”
“Can I sit?”
He raised a brow at her, one side of his mouth lifting. “Sure.”
She sat. They stayed silent until she couldn’t bear it any longer and burst out, “Is it true?”
“Is what true?”
“That I can’t find happiness with anyone else now that… that you’re my…”
“Soulmate? Yeah, apparently so.” She nodded.
“I want to be happy, Draco,” she whispered.
“Me too, Hermione.” His fingers gently turned her face to him and he leaned in with a smile. “Me too.”
His lips met hers and her magic sang in her veins.