In their fifth year, Hermione was leading Dumbledore's Army with Harry and Ron, but she was to take most credit, for she had made it happen. She worked really hard, along with S.P.E.W., never failing in anything, given hope through Dumbledore. Draco Malfoy admired her from afar, amazed at what she could accomplish. Ever since their third year when she had punched him, he had deemed her one step up from Mudblood. He was too nervous and proud to say anything to her, but whenever he did, it was never a compliment. Mad at himself, he made an effort to be nice to day, Hermione was in the hallway, rushing to her next class. Her book bag was packed so tightly with books that it ripped at the seam. Distraught, she started shoving books helter-skelter into her bag. Seeing an opportunity, Draco knelt down to help her. Wordlessly, he finished packing for her. Pleased, he stood up, looking slightly downward at Hermione. Instead o interpreting it as a kind act, she suspected him of using magic to open her bag, and his smile was all for smugness. Glowering, she walked haughtily away from him, leaving Draco very confused.
For the rest of the day, Draco kept trying to find Hermione, wanting to apologize for anything he had done wrong. It felt odd for him to act with such niceness, but he was urged by his mind and common sense, along with his heart, to ask if she was alright. Catching up to Hermione right before dinner, Draco asked what he had done wrong.
"Draco, you opened my bag by magic with the intention to make me late. Not only is it enough to do that, but you had to rub it in my face with helping me." she said, frowning at him with distaste.
"But I didn't!" Draco exclaimed.
"Well then, Crabbe or Goyle do it?"
"No. It simply broke because of the amount of books you're carrying and I was simply trying to help you." Draco said earnestly.
Hermione looked at him strangely, trying to figure him out. After of finding no other motive, Hermione chose to believe him. A strange look came across her face, an attempt at a smile.
"Well, Draco. Thanks." that was all she said before rushing away to find Ron and Harry. Draco stood there for a minute, waiting for the butterflies in his stomach to settle before finding his Slytherin buddies.
The next day, Draco searched for Hermione, trying to figure out when it was best to talk to her. Spotting her bushy brown hair, Draco ate breakfast, ending the same time she did. Hermione left the table alone, which was perfect for Draco. He couldn't imagine how hard of a time Harry or Ron would give him, not including his dad. Timing it perfectly, Draco ended up side by side to her both heading down to Potions together. Hermione kept to herself, and it was Draco who started the conversation.
"hm..." she said absently.
Hermione glanced up, startled by his odd behavior. "For...?"
"Everything. Calling you a..." his voice faded off. He couldn't even bring himself to say mudblood.
"Draco, I don't know what you're playing at, but it's not funny. Please stop."
Draco stopped short as Hermione continued on to the dungeon alone. He frowned as he reflected that maybe it was too late to be nice to her and make her like him. He was also slightly upset she didn't take him serious about apologizing, for he had been too mean to her for her to accept an apology.
In Potions, Draco couldn't concentrate, and kept placing the wrong amounts of ingredients in the cauldron. Snape was always nice to Slytherins, but grew impatient with him, warning if he didn't pay attention, he would be docked down points. Even with a warning, Draco still ignored everything but Hermione, which cost Slytherin 10 points. Ron and Harry were very pleased. Embarrassed, Draco turned his focus to his potion for the rest of the next few weeks, Draco lost a total of 50 points from Slytherin because of his distracted state. His grades were slipping, and he was warned he must do something by Snape, who acted as his guardian.
"Draco. If you continue to fail your classes, I will be forced to have you tutored. If it becomes worse, it will be Granger who helps you." Snape warned. Draco forced a grimace on his face, hiding his true feelings that it wouldn't be the worst thing that could happen.
Draco's grades didn't improve, which forced Snape to pull through his warning, and Draco was set up to meet Hermione on Friday. He was incredibly nervous, and stayed up late every night, planning what to say to her. By Thursday night, Draco was still puzzled and still didn't know what to say. He didn't get any sleep, and even fell asleep during Transfiguration on Friday, losing 20 points from Slytherin. He was still freaked out about his study session. At 7:30, right after dinner, Draco grabbed all his books and entered the library, finding Hermione in a corner. Taking a deep breath, Draco walked over to her.
"Let's just get this over with." Hermione grumbled as Draco sat beside her. "I don't even know why you need me to help you. You were doing just fine."
"Hm. My grades just kind of dropped." Draco said absently, trying to think of something clever and witty to say.
"I was distracted."
Draco paused for a minute, feeling very caught. Nothing came to him, and he stupidly replied "You."
Hermione gasped at him with a mix of horror and curiosity. Draco grabbed his books, opening the book at a random page. He could feel his pale skin get color as heat creeped his neck and onto his face. Hermione sat for a minute, trying to understand what it all meant. Her feelings of dislike faded a bit, intrigued why Draco Malfoy would like her, for he had never shown any interest, and had always later. Draco heard another small gasp as she thought back to the last few weeks in which Draco had attempted niceness.
"Why me?" Hermione asked after a couple of uncomfortably silent minutes had passed.
Instead of answering, Draco grabbed all his books, rushing out of the library. Sighing in exasperation, Hermione stood up to follow him out into the hallway. Hermione searched for at least half an hour before climbing back to the Gryffindor common room and walking up the steps into her room. Still puzzled, she lay in bed for a couple hours before falling to sleep.
The next day, Draco hid from Hermione, too humiliated to talk. Hermione let him have his distance, and worked harder on her homework than she ever had, trying to concentrate on something other than why Draco liked her. It helped, and for the next two weeks, she studied extremely hard. Harry and Ron ignored it, guessing it was her just wanting good grades. On a Wednesday, Snape sent a letter to Hermione, informing her that Draco's grades were still dropping, and she would have to tutor him again on Friday. Horrified, Hermione requested not doing so, but it was Snape's word against hers. Hermione grudgingly accepted, and grew very worried for Draco heard of his other tutoring session, he grew more restless than before, hardly eating or sleeping until Friday night. Again, he took his books into the library, spotting Hermione's bushy hair hiding behind a book in the very corner where she was almost entirely hidden. Sighing, Draco walked over to her, shaking slightly.
"Draco, why do you like me?" Hermione asked timidly, staring down at her book.
Draco shoved his toe into the library's floor, not talking."You're smart, strong, independent, loyal, and so much more." He said after another uncomfortable silence.
Hermione looked startled at his compliment, but was secretly pleased, and felt herself blush slightly."Um thank you." Hermione replied. Feeling slightly relieved that she didn't think him lying, he sat down beside her."Should we get started?"
"I suppose so. What should we start with?"
For the next hour, Hermione and Draco poured over books of charms, and practiced them. The one they both worked hard on was the Cheering Charm, for that lesson Draco was too busy bullying Hermione, and neither was particularly skilled with it.
"Try it again." Hermione ordered Draco, who wasn't having very good luck with the charm. Once again, he tried, this time it worked. Hermione giggled and beamed at him, congratulating him in a rather loud voice. Smiling, Draco felt immensely cheered up as well, even though he hadn't been on the receiving end of the charm. Pleased, Hermione let Draco leave from tutoring earlier than expected. Draco suspected the Cheering Charm helped effect that decision.
Hermione left down the corridor still very happy, not minding that she was hauling an enormous pile of books by her side. Thinking this was his chance, Draco rushed up beside to help her carry some, although he himself had about the same amount of books that he was lugging.
"Can I help you carry them?" Draco said breathlessly.
"Sure. That would be great."
Both walked in silence... until Hermione stopped in front of the Fat Lady. Turning around, Hermione took all her books back into her arms. Her happiness from the charm had faded, and was replaced by real happiness. A blush crept up her neck as she said a quiet goodnight.
"Hermione. Wait." Draco stammered.
She turned back to face Draco, who had taken a step closer to her. She felt like she couldn't breathe as he drew her close. He used one hand to sweep the hair gently from her face, and used the other to hold her gently around the waist. Smiling at her, he leaned in and kissed her gently on the lips. Both stood there, ignoring the world that went on around them, kissing each other, caught up in the moment. Pulling apart, Draco grinned at Hermione, who sighed with happiness. She laid her head on his chest as he hugged her around the waist, completely thrilled she had forgiven him after all those years.
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