Disclaimer: I own none of the characters in this story. They all belong to JK Rowling. I merely thank her for writing such a compelling series that it sparks my imagination. No copyright infringement is intended. I make no money from this, I just use it to live out my fantasies.

Draco waited for Hermione to come home so he could tell her about his visit with his parents. He was still in shock over how it had gone. He thought maybe that by leaving his family it had actually been the only way for any of them to ever be honest about their feelings. If he had just stayed and fallen in line like a good boy, his father never would have shown Draco his human side. Nor would he ever have approved of anything Draco had done now. His parents needed to feel his loss or else they'd never wake up and be actual people. They'd always remain caricatures of the consummate pureblood family who did everything properly and never spoke of anything untoward or resembling actual truth. If Draco had never left, they'd never have become close or a real family. They'd always be cardboard cutouts with no real emotions or any sense of consequence for their actions. Draco had obviously been relieved to escape prison along with his family, but in his heart and mind, he felt like they got off too easy. So he made it his own duty to punish himself and them too. But living that way was killing him inside. Holding onto such anger and hate was crippling him at times and he couldn't let go of the past. But maybe now he could start to let go a little and really move forward instead of just standing still. He wasn't sure though, because it was obvious there were a lot of people out there who also believed they'd gotten off too easy. And he didn't really know what he could do about that.

When Hermione arrived, he was pleased to see her.

"Hey there. How was your day?" he asked her.

"It was alright. I'm much more interested in your day. How did it go? Was it awful?" she wondered.

"It was interesting, to say the least. But it was actually okay. My father and I actually spoke to each other like human beings. I didn't even know he was capable of that. But he actually apologized to me. For real. At first he just spouted some lame fake apology with no actual meaning. But then he finally broke down and admitted how wrong he had been. It was the weirdest thing that's ever happened to me. I've never seen my father behave like that. He showed actual love and concern and sorrow for my pain. It almost doesn't even feel real," Draco explained.

"Well that's good though. You made up with him. That must feel like a huge weight lifted from your shoulders. To not have to carry the burden of hate anymore must feel freeing."

"It does. I'm just not sure what to do with it yet. I thought I was done with them forever, and now they wish to be a part of my life again. They say they don't even care about the choices I've made, they just don't want to lose me again. It's like I want to believe that, but part of me feels like it can't be real."

"What did they say about us? Were they horrified?"

"Not really. They both expressed their disappointment that I was not marrying a pureblood girl, but they both claimed to be okay with the idea of us together. My father even wants to meet you."

"Meet me? That sounds daunting. Why does he want to meet me?" she asked.

"Because I told them how much you mean to me. They want to know who you are."

"But they probably won't like me. Your mother was pretty chilly when I met her."

"I know. My parents don't inspire warm fuzzy feelings. I get that. But if you could have heard them talking today, you'd see them differently. I know I did. I admitted to them how low I'd really been when I left. Things I never even told you. And they were so upset that they were a huge reason I felt that way," he explained.

"What haven't you told me?" Hermione asked curiously.

"It's nothing. It's just personal garbage. I can't even believe I told them. But I wanted them to see what life had done to me."

"Personal garbage? You could tell me. Did you do something foolish?"

"No. I just thought about doing something foolish and quite dark. It's embarrassing."

"You know I won't judge you. If you can tell them, you can tell me," she pleaded with him.

Draco sighed. "Alright, so one time after I left home, I got very drunk. And I hated myself for everything. So I got a knife and I wanted to kill myself with it. I sat there forever just trying to get the nerve to make the cuts and I chickened out. In the end, not only could I not kill anyone else, I couldn't even off myself properly."

"Oh Draco…why did you never tell me this?" Hermione asked with extreme concern.

"Because I didn't want anyone to know. I mean, I didn't do anything. I just thought about it. I sat there and thought and thought and in the end, I was too cowardly to do it."

"But that's a good thing! Imagine if you'd actually gone through with that? We never would have met again. We wouldn't have this. I had no idea you felt suicidal at one point."

"It's not a big thing. It passed. Mostly. I mean, I never tried again but I did make sure that I lived my life as destructively as possible. I figured if I couldn't outright do myself in, I might as well kill myself slowly," he told her.

"I hope you don't still feel that way. I know that things have been rough and this latest bout with the newspaper article is not exactly helping, but I hope you're not in that mindset anymore," she said as she put her arm around him and held him close to her.

He shook his head. "No, I'm not of that mind anymore. Not since I found you. You're what I live for. No one else will give me a chance even, but you saw a broken man and you picked him up and patched him back together again. Where as the rest of the world just walked past and did nothing."

She kissed him softly. "I would do it again in a heartbeat. After all, you found a broken woman and you took her into your heart too. I was mean to you and I acted dreadfully and used you for my own comfort. And instead of just letting me continue on that way, you wanted to be my friend. I treated you like a piece of meat, and you wouldn't allow it to continue because you knew it wasn't really who I was."

"I know that when we met again you were hell bent on just being bad. And I was a bad thing you did. But somewhere down the line actual feelings developed. You cared about me and I cared about you. We were both sinking like the Titanic, but instead of letting each other drown you scooted over and let me climb aboard that piece of debris, unlike Rose. You didn't let me sink and I kept you alive. We kept each other alive. I don't know where I'd be without you," he said kissing her again and just holding her tight.

"I never knew that two people who couldn't be more wrong for each other on paper would ever find love the way we did. I just wish other people could understand it," she whispered.

"It doesn't matter if no one else understands it. At least not to me. I know it matters more to you though. I know you're upset over your friends reactions," he told her softly.

"I am upset. But it's really unfair. I don't know whether to be angry or sad. I expected Ron to behave badly, but I thought Harry would come to my side. But he's cordial to me. He says he's fine, but I know him too well. He's not fine. And that upsets me more than anything. Ginny is my friend and I love her, but Harry was my best friend. I never really had girlfriends in school. Ginny and I didn't get that close until after I was dating her brother. So I think I feel the loss of Harry's friendship the most. I know you guys hate each other, but he's really a great guy. Or at least, he used to be. I don't know. He's trying at least."

"I don't hate Harry. Contrary to my actions in the past, I actually respect him quite a lot. I only wish he could see me for who I am now, and not who I used to be. But I don't suspect he's as forgiving as you are. Sometimes saying you're sorry isn't good enough to right the wrongs you did against someone. I could say I was a foolish boy and it'd be the truth, but I was really mean to him. To all of you. The only person I don't feel bad about hurting is Ron. And I'm sorry, because I know you care for him, but in my mind he's a total fuckhead. And I won't be apologizing to him any time soon. Especially not when I think he's the one who talked to the press and put us on the front page."

"I don't blame you. Honestly, this side of Ron is something I've never been able to stomach. He's mean sometimes. He hurt my feelings more times than I can count, but for some reason I still loved him. But after awhile, it got tiresome. We were just all wrong for each other. And right now, I don't forgive him either. I'm angry at him. And I don't care if his feelings are hurt because I met you. Me and him were already over. I didn't cheat on him. So he needs to get over himself," Hermione said with anger in her voice.

"That he does. I really wanna pummel him or hex the shit out of him. But I'm a good little boy and won't stoop to such a level. But just so you know, I could take him. I could completely fuck his shit up if I wanted to. But I know you still care what happens to that tosser, so I won't do it. Plus, I don't need it splashed on the front page of the paper that I attacked one of the Ministry's precious Aurors. They'd lock me up in Azkaban so fast, my head would spin," Draco informed her.

"I know you could take him. I mean, he's a good wizard, but he also lacks focus. But I appreciate you not going after him because it won't solve anything. And you're right if you attacked an Auror, you'd be sent to prison. And I don't fancy that happening to you," she said seriously.

"Don't worry, I can control my semi-murderous urges. I just wish the fucking prat would apologize for hurting you. I don't care about me, but he hurt you. And that's not acceptable. He claims to still love you, but he doesn't show it very well."

"Ron is just a bit immature. He likes to think he's not, but he is. He gets mad too easily and holds grudges forever. Where as I feel like maybe given enough time Harry might actually like you. It's possible," she said hopefully.

Draco laughed slightly. "Love, that's probably not gonna happen. But you can think it if you want."

"But he's much more able to forgive people. He has a huge heart. When I first met him he was nice to me right off the bat. No one else would even speak to me. Even Ron told Harry I was annoying and I didn't understand that no one liked me. But Harry didn't say a word. It's hard to explain because I know you don't feel like a woman and a man can be just friends, but Harry was like my brother that I never had. I love him. But it's not the kind of love that's threatening to you, I promise it."

"I know. I'm aware of your feelings for him. I know it's friendship. I have no experience of which to speak of loving someone in friendship, but I get how you feel. You care what he thinks. And I hate that I'm the reason there's a rift. I don't know how to fix it though without letting you go, and I'm not willing to do that."

"No, no way. That's not even an option. Harry will just have to come around. I hope. But if I live the rest of my life with no one else in it but you, it's still a happy life for me. Please know that. I've made my choice. And you're it. That won't ever change," she promised him.

He pulled her to him and kissed her greedily. "You have no idea what that means to me to hear you say that," he whispered to her. "I want to be enough for you. I want to be everything for you. And I don't want to lose you."

"You won't lose me. I've had a lot of losses in my life these last few years, so I'm not willing to suffer another. Not if I can prevent it. If it's just you and me against the world, then so be it. At least we have each other."

"Yeah, we do. I love you. It's so weird saying that because I'm not used to feeling it, but I love you so much. I'd be lost without you."

"Me too. I feel the same. I love you. And maybe I'm crazy, but if I am, then I don't care."

"We can both be crazy," he told her as he pulled her in for another kiss.

They got lost in each other, as they so often did. Neither one of them wanted to let go of the other. They were all they really had to cling to in this life. Except Draco knew now he had his family too. But he still didn't trust how much they'd accept Hermione in his life. He didn't want to get his hopes up, even though they promised they only wanted his happiness. He was still gun shy. And who could really blame him? His entire life was based on the notion that Malfoy's didn't interact with anyone who wasn't a pureblood and here he was bringing a Mugglborn witch into their fold. He knew his parents were cringing inside, despite their affirmations of approval. He wasn't stupid. But also, if he could change his opinion, then maybe they could too? Perhaps he wasn't being fair to be so skeptical? He didn't know. But if it was only Hermione in his life forever, then he was okay with that. They'd make their own family someday. And perhaps even make new friends who didn't care about the things other people cared of? They had their whole lives ahead of them, and for once to Draco, the future didn't seem as scary as it once did. Maybe he wasn't a lost cause? Maybe he had a real future after all?

A few days went by and Hermione was immune to the gossip at work by now. She didn't care. It wasn't going to change her feelings. But then she ran into Ron on her way to lunch. She tried to ignore him as she usually did, but he stepped in front of her and stopped her from walking.

"We need to talk," he told her seriously.

Hermione sighed loudly. "No, we don't. Now get out of my way."

"Listen, I know you think it was my doing you ending up in the paper, but that's not true," he told her.

"Well then who else talked to the press? No one else even spoke to us that night except you and Harry, and it wasn't Harry."

"Look, all I did was answer some questions. I didn't know it was for a bloody article. Or that they'd put your picture in the paper. Some woman came up to me and asked me how I felt about my ex being with Malfoy and I told the truth. That's it. I didn't do anything wrong."

"Well you started a shit storm. So I hope you're happy. Now everyone looks at me like I've gone mad. And I did not jilt you for Draco! We were already broken up."

"I know. I never said you jilted me. That was made up. They twisted my words! I feel stupid about it because I didn't know she was a bloody reporter. And now Harry tells me you're super pissed off at me. But I swear, it wasn't my fault!" Ron pleaded with her.

"You should have just kept your big mouth shut. If you didn't know she was a reporter, what on earth possessed you to tell a total stranger your feelings about me and Draco? Why would you do that?" she demanded.

"I was drunk, okay? I had a little bit too much and suddenly some woman is asking me questions. I just fucking told her the truth. And just so you know, Sarah dumped me over this. She thinks I still want you."

"Really? How stupid of her, considering you yourself told me that you still wanted me. Where does that silly girl get her ideas from?" Hermione said sarcastically.

"I told you, I was drunk. I don't want you back. I'm over it."

"Really? Well good, you should be."

"Okay, so that's sort of a lie. I mean, if you wanted me back I wouldn't say no. But I understand your feelings," he explained.

"You do? So you understand that I love someone else and you're okay with that?"

"How am I supposed to be okay with that when it's bleeding Malfoy you're with? But I accept it. I didn't try to mess things up for you. I may be an idiot sometimes, but I wasn't trying to embarrass you."

"Fine. You were drunk and talked to the wrong person. I get it. But it doesn't change anything. I'm still angry with you. Not just for the bloody article, but how you marched into my flat and tried to punch Draco. That was appalling. You call him a jerk off, but you're the one hurling punches and talking to reporters," she said heatedly.

"God, I said I was sorry! I know you're done with me and I accept that. But I don't want you to hate me. I'm just a bit of a fucked up mess right now. I mean, you dump me and then you hook up with my worst enemy. And then Sarah fucking dumps me because she thinks I'm hung up on you. Everyone is mad at me! Even Harry!"

"Well forgive me for not feeling sorry for you. You caused this mess. I didn't. But I don't know why Harry is mad at you."

"Because. He thinks I talked to the reporter on purpose. He thinks I was trying to hurt you. But I wasn't. Everything is so screwed up. I just wanted you to like me again. I don't want to be enemies."

"I'm not your enemy. And neither is Draco! He stopped being your enemy a long time ago. So I suggest you wake up and realize that before you have no friends left. You're acting like a git."

"Right, I'm the git. I was just stupid, that's all. I really thought you'd come around again and we'd get back together. But now I see that was wrong of me," he admitted.

"Yes, it was wrong. Honestly, you can be the most amazing person I've known, but you can also be the biggest prat in the world. I don't get you and I never will. That's why it's over between us. And that's why we'll never be together again. You had a sweet girl in Sarah and you blew it," Hermione informed him.

"I blew it? You think I don't know she came on to Draco and suggested if he was done with you that he come give her a go? She fucking told me she said that. It's like I can't win. Draco is a love god and I'm chopped liver. In fact, I think chopped liver gets a better rap than I do and everyone hates that shit except for cats who will eat garbage."

"Ron, stop. It's not my fault your girlfriend was a skanky ho. You obviously didn't make her feel special enough when you were coming on to me at the very same dance! What did you expect?" Hermione asked him.

"I was drunk!"

"So? You think that makes it all okay?"

"It should. I mean, I didn't know what I was doing. And now I'm fucking dateless and desperate again. Fuck my life," Ron complained unhappily.

"I'm sorry you got dumped, but that's not my fault. And the part of me that still cares for you feels badly. I really do. But you made this bed and now you have to lie in it. You hurt Sarah, you hurt me, and now you have to live with it. And if you don't mind, I want to eat my sodding lunch now, so I'm leaving," she told him as she pushed past him and walked towards the cafeteria.

"Bloody women. Why do I even try? They all suck. The whole lot of them. I should just fucking give up," Ron muttered as he walked away and hung his head down in shame. He knew he fucked up big time but no one cared to hear his apologies. He just wanted to crawl into a cave and stay there. It would be safer than letting him out in public where his foot lived inside his mouth and fucked everything up for him. He wanted to be mad at someone else, but he knew that everything was his own fault. And that was a hard pill to swallow.

Harry ran into Hermione in the lunch room and he could tell by her face that she was extremely brassed off. He was concerned and he decided to go up to her.

"Are you okay?" he asked cautiously.

"What? Yeah, I'm fine. I just had words with Ron. Sometimes I just want to throttle him," she told him with fierceness in her eyes.

"Yikes, is this about the stupid article?"

"Mostly. I don't know. He claims he had no idea he was talking to a reporter. I don't know if I believe him."

"I don't know either. I mean, don't get me wrong, he's my best mate. But that was low even for him. He had to know the trouble it would cause you," Harry admitted.

"He says he was drunk and not thinking. I don't know. I do believe he was drunk, but that doesn't make it okay to spread my love life on the pages of a newspaper. I thought he had more sense than that."

"I know," Harry sighed. "I've already had words with him myself. And he can't blame Rita Skeeter pretending to be a beetle overhearing stuff, because he actually spoke to someone. I just think he's in a bad state. I'm trying to cut him some slack," Harry told her.

"I've cut him enough slack. People are looking at me funny now and I hear the gossip. And it's idiotic because no one even knows Draco or what he did or didn't do. Just because he has a Dark Mark doesn't make him irredeemable!"

"I know. I realize I've not been ultra supportive, but I've heard the talk. It's ludicrous and unfair. And I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. You had nothing to do with it. I just wish people were more open minded. Including you. I wish you'd stop walking on eggshells around me and just talk to me like I'm your best friend and not just some acquaintance you barely know," she said sourly.

"Hermione, don't be like that. I'm trying my best. It's just weird! You have to admit it's weird."

"What's so weird about it? He's a man and I'm a woman, and things happen. He's clearly changed and you can't deny that. If you'd only give him a chance, you'd see," she said insistently.

"I know. I'm not giving him a fair shake. But I'm trying to. I just can't help but feel like this is a big joke he's orchestrated to inflict pain on all of us. You especially," he told her.

"Do you think I'm that daft? That I can't tell if I'm being tricked? I'm not a fool. Draco and I have shared some incredibly important moments together. He's open and honest with me. He's not faking it just for a joke."

"What if he hurts you? Then what? I don't know how to believe he won't hurt you. That's my only concern."

"You have to trust me. Even if you don't trust him, trust me. I know what I'm doing."

"Alright. I trust you. I believe you when you say he's changed. But is he really sorry for all the things he did before? All the name calling and getting us in trouble? Does he even feel bad about that?" Harry wondered.

"Of course he does. You have no idea how low he was before I came along. He'd hate me for telling you, but it was really bad. Like he hated himself severely. He didn't even want to go on living. That's how badly he felt for everything he did. And you, yourself, saw him at some of his lowest moments back in school. You saw his struggle up close. You knew he wasn't dealing okay or on board with the things he had to do. I expected you to be more forgiving," Hermione told him.

"Look, I know he wasn't evil. Much as I thought he was, he wasn't. But he was still a complete asshole for most of our school lives. It's hard for me to see him as a friend."

"But he wishes you would. Maybe not a friend, but not an enemy at least. For my sake, I wish you could."

"I'm trying. Hermione, I've done my best to be nice to him. I really have. And I know you love him, so there must be a good reason for that. I trust you above just about anyone, so I don't think you're crazy. I'm just a little unnerved by it all. I don't want anyone getting burned. The last time I felt bad for Malfoy and wanted to help him, he tried to crucio me in a bathroom. So forgive me if I have trust issues with him," Harry explained.

"But he'd never do that now. And as I recall you completely destroyed him in that bathroom with that stupid spell of yours. He could have died."

"I know. I felt like shit. I didn't mean to hurt him that way. I was horrified at myself. I was a moron for doing spells I didn't know what they were. You know I felt bad about that."

"I know. But you still did it. So it was a major fuck up for you as a boy. Draco fucked up too. But that's the past. Now is the future."

"You're right. Listen, Ginny has been bugging me to have you to dinner. It seems she's taken a strange liking to Draco, which I can't explain, except she feels sorry for him. And she wants us to make nice. So what do you say? You want to come over for dinner? Or we could go out? Ginny would probably like that better so she doesn't have to cook anything. It'll just be us. The four of us. Let me see Draco in a normal setting and see how it goes. I don't want to lose your friendship or cock things up like Ron has," he said sincerely.

"You mean that? You really want to have dinner with me and Draco?"

"Yes. And I promise to be nice. And it won't be fake nice. It'll be real. I'll give him a chance for you. But if he says or does anything, I won't be responsible for the outcome."

"He's not going to do or say anything wrong. He wants you to like him," she admitted.

"Well then this is his chance. Tomorrow night?"

"Okay. Just get back to me with details. I'll let Draco know."

"Good. It's gonna be great. I promise. I'll be on my best behavior."

Hermione hoped he was telling the truth. She had to take him on simple faith. She'd already written Ron off and she'd like not to have to write off Harry too. For so many years, they were her lifeline. But times had changed. She could make a go without them. But if Harry was willing to actually try, she'd be grateful for it. She just hoped Draco was up for a night on the town with Harry and Ginny. It could be the most awkward double date in history. Or it could be the start of something new and wonderful. She had no idea what to expect. She just crossed her fingers and hoped for the best.

Draco had agreed to the dinner, but he was a bit reluctant as they were getting ready to meet Harry and Ginny.

"Are you sure Potter wanted to have dinner with me? He actually understood I'd be in attendance, right?" Draco asked curiously.

"Of course he knows that, silly. It was his idea. He's trying really hard. I know this might be disastrous, but maybe it won't be?"

"Yeah, maybe. Are we supposed to dress up or what?"

"No, we're going to a casual place. Burgers and chips and the like. And also beer. You like that don't you?"

"Yeah, not as well as whiskey, but I can drink enough of it to numb the awkwardness if I try real hard," he said.

"You don't need to be hammered to be in Harry's company. He promised he'd be nice. And Ginny already likes you, so you have that working for you," she informed him.

"Why does Ginny like me anyway? I mean, I pretty much insulted her entire bloodline and hated anything Weasley related. Why is she suddenly on my side of this?"

"I don't know. I think she just wants to give you a chance. She's soft hearted, even if she comes across as being very hard and slightly bossy. She has a soft spot for the underdog. Plus, she likes me and wants someone to be in my corner. Don't question it too much. Just be thankful for it."

"Alright. I think she's just blinded by my amazing good looks," Draco teased her.

"Oh shut up. She is not. Don't think you have the power to turn all women to mush just with a look," she admonished him playfully.

"Well it worked on Weasel's girlfriend. Past tense. She was pretty interested in me and I didn't do anything except dance with her."

"Yeah, and stare at her boobs. Some girls might take that as a sign of interest."

"Please. Just because I looked at her boobs only means my eyes were open. All men like boobs."

"I don't see you staring at mine all the time," she pointed out.

"I look at them. Mostly when they're naked and in my face. But I look."

"I realize I don't have a set that inspires awe like an amazing sunset, but it wouldn't hurt to ogle them now again when they're not dangling in front of your mouth."

Draco laughed. "I'm sorry. I promise I'll stare at your tits more if it makes you happy."

"Men. You all suck. What's so amazing about a boob anyway?" she scoffed.

"They're awesome. What's not amazing about them? But believe me, just because I looked at someone else's doesn't mean I love yours less."

"Whatever. Just don't look at Ginny's boobs tonight and we'll be okay."

"I'm not looking at hers. That's crazy. I'm trying to get Potter to not hate me and the last thing I'm gonna do is high five him and say 'your girlfriend has awesome tits!'. I'm not a fucking moron."

"My God, why are we talking about this? I started this conversation didn't I? What's wrong with me?" she sighed, shaking her head.

"Just relax. I'll be nice and you swear Potter will be nice. It'll work out. I pray, at least. I'm attempting to think positively."

"Are you ready to go?" she wondered.

"Yeah, I just need to get my shoes on."

He finished up and they apparated to the restaurant Harry had chosen. It was a pub like atmosphere and very laid back. Families ate there and so did a lot of couples. It wasn't too noisy or overcrowded, it was just right. It was the perfect place to meet with friends for a nice meal and some drinks. Ginny and Harry were already there when they arrived so they just walked over to their table.

"Hey, you guys made it. Sit down," Ginny said, greeting them warmly.

Hermione and Draco sat down across from them. "Thanks for inviting us to dinner," Hermione smiled at both of them.

"It's not a problem. We've both been looking forward to it, "Harry said in his most polite voice.

"I know I'm not exactly Mr. Popular so I'm surprised you'd even be seen with me in public," Draco told them.

"The people who are upset by that article are just idiots. I'm not afraid to be seen with you. The war is long since over and you were innocent. I think that makes you redeemable," Ginny told him.

"Well thanks. Honestly I expected you to hate me. I was never nice to your family. What gives? I feel like I'm being pranked or something," Draco told Ginny, feeling unsure about her friendliness towards him.

"You were a jerk. I won't pretend you weren't. And my parents really hate your parents. But I'm my own person. And you haven't wronged me yet, so I can forgive past misdeeds. But I wouldn't go crossing me now because I can turn on people quite quickly," Ginny warned him with a smirk.

"I'll be sure to behave then. Something tells me I don't want to be on your bad side."

"Ginny is quite a fierce fighter, so I would heed the warning," Harry told him.

"Message received."

"So what's good to eat here?" Hermione interjected, trying to keep the conversation light.

"Um, everything's good," Harry told her.

"What about drinks? Do they have a full bar or just beer and wine?" Draco wondered.

"No they have a bar," Harry told him.

"Good. I was under the impression I'd have to drink beer and that doesn't quite pack the punch I'm after. What's everyone's poison, huh? The drinks are on me," Draco told everyone, trying to win some points in his favor.

"You don't have to buy us drinks," Harry insisted.

"Well I want to. So everyone order up. I bet I could drink you lot under the table."

"So you need to be hammered to survive an evening with us, I take it?" Harry asked curiously.

"I'm a bit nervous to be honest, yes. I mean, I know we're all trying to make nice here and I'm afraid I'm gonna screw it up if you must know," Draco admitted.

"You won't screw it up," Hermione assured him.

"Yeah, but I might. And I know this dinner means a lot to you."

"I think we can all get along just fine if we try. I'm willing to overlook the past, just like Ginny is. We can start fresh," Harry offered, trying his best.

"Start fresh, eh? Alright."

The mood was awkward and they all felt it, but once the drinks started arriving it got a little better. Harry was just trying to see Draco as Hermione's boyfriend and not the same kid he used to detest. He was trying with all his might to treat him as he would a total stranger that he was just meeting for the first time, with no preconceived notions. But it was difficult to say the least. He couldn't help remembering some of Draco's most heinous misdeeds. Finally Draco spoke up and ended the uncomfortable silence that settled over the table.

"So, how long have you two been going out together?" Draco asked Harry and Ginny.

"Um, a couple of years. We had a little hiatus when I had to leave to hunt down horcruxes, but we didn't actually break up. It was just complicated during that time," Harry explained.

"Yeah? And you waited for him even though you never knew if he'd come back?" he asked Ginny.

"Of course I waited for him. I had faith. I knew he'd come back. I just didn't know if he'd live when he did. But I always thought positively," Ginny told him seriously.

"That must have been rough. You know, I never thanked you Harry. I really ought to have, but my mind was elsewhere," Draco told him with a serious look on his face.

"Thank me for what? Killing Voldemort?"

"Well that too, but I meant the other thing. You saving my ass in the room of requirement. I never understood why you didn't just let me burn. I probably would have if I'd been you."

"Oh that. Well, I wasn't going to let you die. I couldn't. I mean, you didn't start that fire. Plus, you did me a favor by not naming me at your house when we all knew you knew it was me."

"Yeah, I did know it was you. Barely. But obviously it was seeing as how you showed up with Hermione and the Weasel. Who else would you be? But I wasn't gonna give you up."

"Why not?"

"Because, it was wrong. And then you'd be dead and I'd be stuck in that house forever with Voldemort. No thank you. I wanted you to get away."

"Really?"

"I know we hated each other, but you were like my best hope. If not for you, Voldemort would still be here. I wanted you to kick his sorry ass. He was demented. I don't understand why my father pledged allegiance with him. I never would have. Not willingly. All I wanted to do was just live my sodding life. I didn't want to be a part of anything evil or good for that matter. I just wanted to be left alone to live my life," Draco explained.

"Well I'm sorry that the war mucked up your plans for your life. It kind of ruined my plans too. I just wanted a nice quiet life and yet I was hunted down like an animal for years. It was really inconvenient," Harry said somewhat sarcastically.

"Look, I'm not trying to sound like it was an inconvenience. I just meant that I wanted to be a regular kid. I didn't want to be a Death Eater. I wasn't much of a fighter really. The worst fight I ever got myself into before that was when Hermione punched my lights out. And then I just ran away like a girl. I couldn't even fight back. Or rather, I wouldn't. I'd never hit a girl. Even if she hit me first. It's not right," Draco explained.

"Did you want to hit me?" Hermione asked curiously.

"No. I didn't. I just wanted to get the fuck away from you," Draco laughed slightly. "You were scary."

"You lived with Voldemort, and you think I'm scary? That's kind of hilarious."

"At least him, I wanted dead. With you, I didn't want that. I'd never of fought you."

"Too scared?"

"No, I liked you too well. Plus like I said, I'd never hurt a girl. Not unless you're talking about my aunt, then I would have hurt her. If I could have. But unfortunately she was so batty that I know she would have killed me in an instant if I even looked at her wrong."

"Yeah, she was batty alright. How come your mum was relatively normal in comparison?" Harry wondered.

"My mum? Because she wasn't in Azkaban for years. That place will really do you in. Besides, my mum wasn't a Death Eater. I told Hermione this. She had no Dark Mark. She was simply loyal to my father."

"Yeah, I actually knew that. It was brought up at the trial. I just wondered how come she wasn't one of Voldemort's cronies like her sister was, that's all."

"Because my mum never cared about that shit. Kind of like me. We just wanted to go about our lives. It was my father who pulled us in unwillingly. If we had a choice, we would never have been party to that," Draco explained.

"Then why didn't you two run?" Ginny wondered curiously.

"Run? Where would we have run to? And you mean just leave my father behind? Are you crazy? We would never have done that. At least my mum never would have. She would rather die herself than leave my father to die alone."

"Your parents actually love one another then? Theirs wasn't just some preordained coupling their families dreamt up?" Ginny asked.

"I never asked them how they met. I don't know. I just know they love each other properly. Who knows if it was arranged or not? Doesn't matter where you start, it matters where you end up. Kind of like me and Hermione," he said smiling over at her.

"Yes, I'd say that's all that really matters. Where you end up," she smiled back.

"Did your parents pick someone for you to marry, Draco?" Ginny asked.

"Me? Not that I'm aware of. I left before they could talk of such things," he told her.

"But he has been in contact with his parents lately. For the first time in years. It actually went very well. They don't even hate him for being with me," Hermione piped up.

"How generous of them not to disown you for dating a mudblood," Harry said somewhat snidely.

"Hey now, I don't use that word anymore. I haven't in years," Draco said defensively.

"But I bet your parents still do. Would they honestly welcome Hermione to your family? I find that hard to believe," Harry told him.

"They gave me their blessing. Who am I to question it too much? Besides, it doesn't matter to me one way or another. I don't need their approval."

"Draco has been on his own for quite some time now. He's not really a slave to his parents wishes like he once was," Hermione defended him.

"But I'd think you'd still like their approval. You seem to still care for them," Harry pointed out.

"Let's just say we had a bit of a family bonding session recently. I do still care for them. But I also made it quite clear to them that I will live my own life without their interference. I'm not daddy's little boy anymore. I've grown up, Potter."

"Yeah, I guess you have. We all have."

"Yeah, and I don't see a reason why we can't all just get along now. Fuck the past. It sucked. At least now there's no one trying to control us or kill us. We're all free to just live and be happy and do whatever the hell we want without fear. Surely I'm not the only one who feels that freedom? You lot were just as affected by Voldemort as I was. More so, since he wasn't actively trying to kill me. He was just trying to make me into a monster like him."

"You could have never been like him. I mean, there was a time I thought you could be and that you were. I thought you were truly evil. But then I realized you weren't. You were a puppet. And in some ways, that's even worse than what I was. I was the sacrificial lamb, yet everyone expected me to be the hero," Harry told him, starting to feel the effects of the drink he'd had. It was making him talk more openly than normal.

"You were a sacrificial lamb, Harry. Dumbledore knew it. Yet you revered that old codger. Now I couldn't kill him, but I still thought he was an asshat. He wasn't as great as you made him out to be," Draco informed him.

"What do you mean by that?"

"I just mean that he knew all along you were to die and he never fucking told you. And then he plotted his own death and left you holding the bag for everything when you had not one clue what the hell you were even looking for. I read the stories. I know how it went down. He gave you a mission but didn't give you any actual help at all. That was fucked up. Voldemort was pure evil but at least when I was given a mission I knew what the hell to do. You were flying blind."

"Dumbledore was a great wizard. It's not his fault he died before telling me more of what I needed to know," Harry said defensively.

"Oh bollocks. I was on that fucking tower that night. I couldn't kill him, but he begged Snape to do it. And as I read, it had all been set forth long ago. It was the plan all along. I wasn't to kill him, Snape was. And it wasn't to protect me like my mum thought, it was because Dumbledore wished to die. And then he didn't even leave you with any instruction. He just gave you lot some useless pieces of shit like a fairytale book and expected that to mean something to you. He didn't care what happened to you, Harry. He just wanted Voldemort dead."

"You don't know anything, Malfoy. You weren't there. I don't even know how you know as much as you do," Harry told him angrily.

"Did you not read the articles after the war? You gave the fucking interviews yourself. You said all this shit publicly. How hard it was, how you had no guidance. I'm not telling you anything you didn't already know."

"Well I still think Dumbledore is amazing. So stuff it. I don't want to hear bad things about him," Harry said taking a gulp of his drink and signaling the waitress for another.

"Don't get your knickers in a twist. I was just being honest. I'm just saying how it looked from where I was sitting," Draco informed him.

"Yeah, well you didn't know him like I did. He may have left me clueless and he may have known I'd have to die, but what use was it to tell me? I had to figure it out on my own. It didn't change anything."

"Suit yourself. Go ahead and name your firstborn after him for all I care. I just don't respect the man, that's all. Asking someone to kill you and take the blame for it so they look like a bad guy is a pretty fucked up thing to do."

"Snape had his reasons for going along with it. He was trying to look loyal to Voldemort. It was all a plan and he did it willingly."

"Yeah, he did. Which was stupid of him, in my opinion. I wouldn't have taken the blame for that shit. Do you know how hated he was for killing precious Dumbledore? Not by the Death Eaters, of course. But the rest of the students. You weren't there, you didn't see it. He was headmaster and almost no one respected him. And he deserved better."

"Where is all this Snape love coming from? Did you have a crush on him?" Harry asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Oh please. Don't be disgusting. You yourself said he was a good man after all was said and done. And I dunno. He was my favorite professor. He always liked me," Draco shrugged.

"Yeah, well he hated me. And even though I know I said he was good, and I meant it, he was still dreadful as a teacher to me. And it was because he hated my father. He was jealous of my father. And he took it out on me."

"Yeah, Hermione mentioned to me Snape was in love with your mum. That's so weird."

"It is a bit creepy. Especially since his dying words were 'you have your mother's eyes'. I didn't know what to think of that at the time. I never even knew they knew each other," Harry admitted.

"Well at least his dying words were kind. He could have just told you to fuck off."

Harry laughed slightly. "Now that I would have expected from him. God he hated me, yet he actually protected me. I still don't get it."

"Some people are too complex to actually understand. Myself being one of them. I know you think you know me and what I'm about, and you dislike me immensely for it. But you really don't know me at all," Draco said gulping down his drink and setting it back on the table.

"So I've been told. Tell me then, who are you?" Harry wondered feeling slightly drunk.

"Hermione knows me. Right love?" he asked giving her a smile.

She put her hand on his arm. "Yes, I do know him. And he's not a bad person. He's quite good actually. He just never had a chance to be that way before. His whole life he was told to be a certain way and he just fell in line. But he's a grown man now and the only person he answers to is himself."

"You don't know what it was like to grow up in a family that preached hatred. I was a product of my environment," Draco informed Harry.

"Yeah? Do you know how I grew up? I grew up believing I was unloved and unwanted. I didn't even have a proper bedroom to sleep in. I slept under the sodding stairs with spiders and shit. I never once was hugged or told I was loved. I was only beat up and scorned and made to believe I was somehow deranged and horrid. But I turned out okay," Harry explained feeling the sting of bitter memories.

"I thought you were brought up by your aunt? Didn't she love you?"

Harry laughed bitterly. "Oh yeah, she loved me about as much as your aunt Bellatrix loved you. Perhaps a little less, actually. She despised me. And my uncle was worse. And my cousin? Let's just say I knew what it felt like to be someone's punching bag from a very early age. I didn't know a thing about my real parents except to be told they died in a car accident and that's why I had this scar on my head, because I survived it. It wasn't until Hagrid came to fetch me that I learned the truth. And I had to go back to those idiotic Muggles every summer until I was seventeen. You think you felt trapped in your house with Voldemort? I dare you to spend one hour with my aunt and uncle and cousin and not kill every single one of them."

"Shit. I had no idea. I'm sorry, Potter."

"You're sorry? Right. Sure."

"I am! I didn't know how your life was. It's not like you told me," Draco said defensively.

"But as if you care."

"I do care! I mean, sort of. No one should live like that. I would have thought you to be more bitter and angry and less heroic and noble."

"Yeah, well I didn't let them ruin me. Unlike you, who let your parents shape you into something ugly."

"Well forgive me for doing as I was told. If you had a father like mine, do you think you'd openly defy him as a child? I was terrified of the man. You don't go against Lucius Malfoy. Not even if you're his bloody son."

"Boys, no fighting. This is supposed to be a peaceful meal," Ginny interjected.

"We're not fighting, Gin. We're discussing. That's it," Harry told her.

"Let's talk about something else shall we? Like anything else at all," Hermione pleaded with them.

"How about another drink? I like that conversation," Draco said holding up his glass and signaling the waitress.

"We haven't even eaten yet. You'll be hammered soon enough," Hermione told him.

"I don't care."

"Yeah, neither do I," said Harry who held up his own glass for refill.

"So Ginny, we should go shopping someday soon, don't you think?" Hermione asked her, trying to change the subject and make things light again.

"Uh, yeah. We should. Did you see the new issue of Vogue? I realize it's a Muggle rag, but the clothes are to die for. I picked up a copy last time I was in the city," Ginny told her.

"I haven't seen it. It's good though?"

"Oh yeah. There's this whole spread about sexy lingerie. Well, I liked it and Harry couldn't seem to keep his mouth from hanging open when he saw it. I choose to believe he was envisioning me in it and not the model," she said giving Harry a look.

"What? Oh, the lingerie thing. Yeah, I liked it. It was very titillating," Harry said trying to catch up to the conversation.

"I don't know any man who would object to lingerie. Maybe you two should go shopping? Hermione could surprise me," Draco said with a smirk.

"Oh yuck. Please do not infer sexual things while in my presence," Harry complained.

"Why not? You still think Hermione is a virgin?" Draco asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Draco!" Hermione scolded him.

"What? He's acting all weird about it."

"It's just I don't want to think of her dressing in lingerie for you. It's disgusting," Harry explained.

"Disgusting? The thought of me in lingerie is disgusting?" Hermione asked feeling upset.

"What? Huh? I don't know! You're Hermione! Am I supposed to think of you in lingerie?" Harry asked dumbfounded.

"No!" Hermione and Ginny both said in unison.

"Well then what's the problem?"

"It's just, disgusting? You think I'd be disgusting?" Hermione asked him.

"You're twisting my words. My god, why the hell are we talking about this? And where is my sodding drink?" Harry asked, looking around as he wanted the ground to open up and swallow him.

""Okay, so that was a bad subject too," Ginny said shaking her head.

"Let's talk about something neutral like Christmas. It's coming up soon. Aren't we all excited for that?" Hermione asked desperately.

"It's not for awhile actually," Draco informed her.

"So what? What do you want for Christmas, Draco?"

"Um, I don't think I should say that in front of Potter since he's so weird about things. I'm sure you could take a guess," Draco said with a smirk.

She smacked his arm and gave him a glare. "My god, is nothing sacred? Isn't Christmas about Jesus or something?"

"Love, we're witches. We don't celebrate Jesus. We just eat too much and give each other extravagant presents," Draco informed her.

"Well it's still supposed to be special and not a time to ask for sexual favors," Hermione scoffed.

Ginny started laughing and couldn't stop. Harry kept glaring at her but she couldn't help herself. "That's not what Harry thought last year," she told them.

"Ginny! Oh my God. Shut up!" Harry pleaded with her.

"Oh no, this is so wrong. I don't even want to know what Harry got last year," Hermione said holding her head in her hands.

"Speak for yourself, love. I'm curious as hell. What did you do to him? Something kinky?"

"No one is going to talk about this! I forbid it! So everyone shut up!" Harry insisted vehemently.

"Fine. Party pooper. It was a good gift," Ginny shrugged.

"Now is not the time to share things like that with other people," Harry informed her.

"But why not? At least Ron isn't here. He'd freak out. But Draco and Hermione don't care. I'm not their sister."

"But still, it's fucking private. So just stop it."

"Alright. But I was just trying to make the conversation interesting and not depressing," Ginny informed him.

"Well don't. There has to be something else we can talk of."

Everyone sat there quietly and couldn't think of a single thing to say. It seemed that the only things that went through their minds were either inappropriate or depressing. It was a strange dynamic. One they were trying really hard to rectify. Once the food finally came that at least occupied them so it was less stressful.

"This burger is fantastic," Hermione remarked, just to have something to say.

"Yeah, it's really good. But I don't like this weird lettuce they have on it. It's all squishy," Draco said peeling the offending item off his own burger.

"It's butter lettuce. It's fancy," Ginny told him.

"I don't like squishy lettuce. It should be crisp."

"I would think you were used to fancy type foods," Ginny remarked.

"We never ate hamburgers at my house. I don't think my parents have ever even seen a hamburger."

"But they've seen lettuce right?"

"Yes of course, but we always had the crunchy stuff."

"You're a picky eater," Hermione laughed at him.

"No I'm not. I like just about everything. Except pickles. You want this pickle?" he offered it to her off his plate.

She grabbed it and took a big bite. "I love pickles. I could eat a whole jar."

"A whole jar? You're not pregnant are you?" Ginny asked with a sly grin.

"Oh shut up. I'm definitely not pregnant! I just like pickles."

"Thank God you're not pregnant," Harry muttered in between bites of his food.

"Would that be such a horrid thing?" Draco asked him pointedly.

"Yeah. It would be awful."

"Why?"

"I don't want to think of Hermione carrying your spawn. It's disturbing," Harry admitted.

"Spawn?" Hermione and Draco both said in unison.

"You act as if she'd be carrying a demon child. I'm not fucking evil!" Draco informed him heatedly.

"I know. I'm sorry. Poor choice of words. I didn't mean to say spawn, it just slipped out."

"Well control your tongue better, Harry. Besides, I'm glad I'm not pregnant too. I'm totally not ready for that," Hermione informed them all.

"Me neither," said Ginny. "I want enjoy being young awhile longer without any babies around."

"Yeah, we're waiting a few years," Harry told them all.

"Really? I rather thought you wanted kids soon," Hermione said.

"No, we talked about it, but we're both just enjoying life right now. Someday though," Harry told her.

"What about marriage? You two gonna tie the knot?" Draco wondered.

"Yeah, someday. There's no rush," Harry told them.

"We're just playing it cool, but I would like to get married. But Harry is a bit less intrigued with the idea," Ginny sighed.

"It's not that I don't want to, Gin. I do. I just want us to be ready. We're still really young. We've got plenty of time."

"I know. But a girl wouldn't mind having a ring on her finger during that time."

"I personally think you should go for it. Why not? It's not as if being married is much different than living together," Draco said with a shrug.

"Will you two get married? Ginny asked the two of them.

"Us? I don't know," Draco told her.

"Yeah, we haven't really discussed that all that much," Hermione told them.

"I still think your parents will flip their lids if you marry Hermione," Harry informed Draco.

"I don't honestly know what they'd do. They promised me they didn't care, but who knows if they were just placating me so I wouldn't run away?"

"Well it wouldn't matter if they flipped their lids or not anyway. Draco doesn't care what they think," Hermione said assuredly.

"That's right, I don't. We can always just run off and elope. I mean, you don't have any family anymore, and if mine refuses to back us up, we'll just take off and do it anyway."

"Would you really just run off? What about us? Don't we get to be there?" Ginny wondered.

"I don't know. I'm not sure Harry would want to be there," Draco said quietly.

"Of course I would. Don't be stupid. I know I'm not exactly jumping for joy over this union but I'd want to be there," Harry informed him.

"You would?" Hermione asked curiously.

"Yes. You're one of my best friends. I'd have to see you get married. It's in the friend rule book."

"The friend rule book? I don't know of such a thing."

"Well it should exist. I mean, you can't do something that important without me there."

"But you don't even approve of our seeing each other. Why would you want to be at our wedding?"

"Because. I love you. And I'll support your choices. That's what I'm bloody well trying to do tonight. It's difficult! But I'm really trying."

"Well don't hurt yourself over it," Draco piped up.

"Look Draco, you're not who I would choose to date Hermione. You're just not. But I respect her decision. And the truth is, I don't even know you. I mean, I feel like I do, but I don't. She does. So I trust her. You're just bloody hard to get along with. You're annoying," Harry told him making a face.

"I'm annoying? You're fucking annoying as shit. Calling my potential children 'spawn'? Get over yourself. I wouldn't say that shit to you," Draco told him.

"I said I was sorry. I didn't mean it. It's just I thought Ron and Hermione would be end game. I have that stuck in my head. And you? I thought you were gone forever. You just disappeared and I wasn't exactly missing you. And then one day suddenly you're right there in my face with my best friend and I don't know what to do. Or how to handle it. I'm doing my best."

"What is so fucking wrong with me that it's so hard? I'm just a person. I realize we have a sordid history, but come on. It's over. It's the past. Can't you see I'm changed?"

"I do. I see it. Okay? I can tell you're different. And it's unsettling and awkward. I mean, we were never supposed to be friends."

"No? Well someone up there must wish it to be so or else we wouldn't be shoved into each other's lives like this. So just deal with it. Besides, we're talking about crazy things like you not being invited to our wedding, when I've not even asked her and she doesn't even want to meet my parents. It's all a moot point anyway. I doubt we're getting married," Draco said shaking his head.

"You don't think we will?" Hermione asked him curiously.

"I don't know love. You refuse to even meet my parents. And I'm only twenty. I have no idea what the future holds. I don't even know if you're gonna stay with me long enough for me to ask you that question. I worry every day that everyone else's opinions are going to push you away from me. I don't feel safe. I feel worried and scared and nervous. And tonight hasn't gone that well so I'm a big failure at converting Harry into a Draco fan. So what's the point of even talking about this stuff? It's probably never gonna happen," he said feeling upset.

"I didn't know you felt so uncertain about our future. I thought I made it quite clear that I chose you," Hermione told him with tears slightly forming in her eyes.

"You did. But all that can change. Your best friend doesn't like me. And let's face it people, he's never going to. So Harry, you're off the hook. You can stop trying now. You don't have to like me. I get it."

"I never said I wanted to give up on this," Harry responded.

"Spare me okay? You hate me with Hermione. Everyone does. So let's just call it a night," Draco said getting up from the table and disappearing across the room.

"Is he leaving?" Ginny asked.

"I don't know," Hermione said shaking her head.

"I think he went to the loo," Harry said to them.

"Well go after him!" Ginny urged him.

"What? Why? He's right you know. This night is stupid. I can try all I want but we'll never be friends," Harry admitted.

"Just go after him and make this right. Stop being so bull headed. Go!" Ginny said shoving Harry off the stool he sat on.

"Gin, I don't want to go!"

"Go!"

"Fine. But he's just going to be mad at me for following him. If he's taking a piss he doesn't want to talk to me."

"He's not taking a piss, he's upset," Ginny informed him.

"How do you know what he's doing in there? When men run off to a bathroom they're usually taking a piss not crying like a woman."

"Draco has a history of crying in bathrooms," Ginny pointed out.

"Oh God, that was ancient history."

""Harry please just go see if he's okay. For me, alright? I don't know if he ditched me here or not. Please check," Hermione pleaded with him.

"Fine. I'm going. But this is ridiculous. If he's crying in there, I'm walking out. I'm not even trying to comfort him because he might curse me like last time."

"He never cursed you. You cursed him first! So go," Hermione said firmly.

Harry got up and drudged his way towards the loo. He didn't want to be doing this at all but apparently both of the women in his life seemed to feel Draco and he needed to bond over the urinals in a stinky bathroom. But Harry didn't know what to do or say no matter what Draco was doing in there. If he was crying, Harry wasn't going to hug him or anything. And if he was taking a piss, he wasn't holding his dick for him. What did they expect him to do? But he went in there anyway. He opened the door and saw Draco standing by the sink just staring in the mirror blankly. He wasn't crying or doing anything.

"Why are you in here?" he asked Harry, seeing his reflection in the mirror.

"Uh, the girls wanted me to check on you."

"Well I'm fine. So run along."

"Look, I realize tonight hasn't been the best evening we've ever had. But Hermione really loves you. So don't fuck this up with your insecurities. If she wanted to ditch you, she would have done it already. Do you know how much shit she's had to take at work for that stupid article? She obviously thinks you're worth the heartache and the pain. I don't get it, but it's not my place to get it. Hermione lost everything when she lost her parents and broke up with Ron. She has nothing left. Except you. You're like her entire world. You're all she can see of tomorrow. And if you fucking walk out of this restaurant and leave her, I will fucking kill you. Do you understand me? So what if I'm having a hard time embracing you into my life? Give me a sodding break, Draco. You were a complete fucktard to me my whole life. Hermione might be able to forgive and forget, but something tells me she's swayed by all the apparently hot sex you have, that I don't want to hear about. Orgasms melt women's brains. And since you're not gonna be giving me any of those, it's a bit harder for me to forget. But I'm working on it. Give me time. And do not fucking hurt Hermione. I mean it. Don't you dare walk away from her because you're sad people don't like you. She does, and she's all that matters. So buck it up cowboy and just go back out there and sit at the goddamn table and pretend we're friends. Got it?" Harry said to him very vehemently.

"Jesus fucking hell. What has gotten into you?" Draco asked staring at him oddly.

"I'm just trying to be a good friend. To everyone. That includes you, you assface. I love Hermione a lot and I would do anything to make her happy. Even if it means being friends with you. And don't think I won't get shit for that too, because I will. If people know I'm all supportive and going out to dinner with you, they will talk. And it won't be pleasant for me. But I'm fucking doing it anyway. That's what love is. It's sacrifice. So if you love Hermione, you'll stop acting like a spoiled child running to the loo to sulk and just go back to the table and be a man. She thinks you ditched her here. So go back out there and make it okay again."

"You're really fucking bossy. I thought Hermione was the queen of bossy, but you're worse. Can't a fellow go to the loo without it causing world war three? I was just calming myself down. Okay? All this talk about marriage is fucking terrifying. Do I look like I'm ready to be someone's bloody husband? I can barely take care of myself. And to know that absolutely no one will be happy for us if we should choose to do that, really fucking sucks. You'll hate it, my parents will hate it. The fucking world will gossip about it. How am I supposed to feel talking of such things?"

"We don't have to talk about that. You're the one who brought up marriage."

"Yeah, with you and Ginny. I never fucking said I wanted to get married."

"Are you honestly telling me you aren't gonna marry Hermione someday? Because if you are, just get out now. Because I know her and she sees her fucking future with you. And if you don't deliver that, she'd gonna be wrecked again, just like before. If you're not serious about her, then I want you to just leave and go away and never come back."

"Fuck you, Potter. I'm not leaving and never coming back! And I never said I didn't want to do it. I love her. I'd love nothing more than to have her as my wife. But it's all premature. I'm a sodding mess still. I can't marry anyone. That doesn't mean I don't want to. I want to! I will! Someday, I will. She's my everything. This isn't a fucking game to me. I'm not going to hurt her. If anything, I fear her hurting me. How long until she just gives up on me getting my shit together? Or how long do you think she'll put up with the gossip and the scorn for being with a fucking Death Eater, huh? I'm the one in danger of being destroyed here, not her."

"She's not going to destroy you. She loves you. She wouldn't do that."

"She did it to Ron, didn't she? She said he was supposedly the love of her life and she dumped him like a hot potato and ran off. I hate the bloke, but I feel bad for him too. To have Hermione in your grasp and to have her leave you? It must be devastating. Not even a bleached blonde bimbo with huge tits could numb that pain. But I give him points for trying."

"Alright, so she did break Ron's heart. I'll hand you that. But she was messed up. And they didn't work. I love them both, but they just didn't work. They fought all the time. Even before they got together. You can't compare the two. No two relationships are the same. I think she loves you more than she loved him. It pains me to admit it, but I think she does. So don't blow it. You have the world in your hands, Draco. Don't let it go," Harry said seriously.

"You really think she loves me more than she loved the Weasel?"

"I do. I think you two share something that no one else can touch. Not me, not the public, not your parents. No one. That is unless you just roll over and give up."

"I don't want to give up. I want to be with her. It's just, I'm so fucking screwed up inside. Harry, you have no idea. I don't expect you to care, but it's true. I'm a sodding mess. I'm confused about where I fit in this world. I don't fit anywhere. The good guys don't want me and the bad guys hate my guts. Where do I belong?" Draco asked, starting to get really emotional, much to his dismay.

"You fit with her. Sod everyone else. Even me. Don't listen to me when I say stupid shit. Plus, you've not given many people a chance to get to know you. You fucking dropped off the radar for almost two years. Give people a chance to warm up. It takes time."

"Yeah? All I've got is time I guess."

"Well put it to good use. Stop hiding out in here. It's silly. Just come back to the table."

"Fine. I'm sorry you had to run in here after me. I know you probably didn't want to."

"Eh, it's fine. Just don't make me do it again. Only girls go off to the loo to sulk. Men don't do that," Harry informed him.

"Yeah? Well where else should I sulk? Outside? Maybe that would have been better. I could have had a smoke."

"Just go back to the table. Let's put this past us."

"Alright. I'll go back. But now I feel stupid for running off. I was making a dramatic exit and you ruined it by coming to get me. No one was supposed to do that," Draco said to him.

"Blame the girls. They made me come after you. I didn't want to."

"Thanks for doing it anyway. Your extreme pep talk did wonders for me."

"Really?"

"Sort of. I mean, you showed me how stupid I am. And I don't usually admit that freely."

"Yeah, well, it was stupid to hide in here. What's your fascination with bathroom sulking anyway?"

"I don't have a fascination with bathroom sulking. It's just supposed to be a private place. Not that it ever was. Someone was always bloody interrupting me. If not you, then a sodding ghost girl. There was no privacy at Hogwarts unless you locked yourself in the room of requirement."

"Which you did very often."

"How do you know?"

"Because I was watching you. You disappeared off my map all the time. It took me ages to figure out where you were going to."

"Your map? What map?" Draco asked curiously.

"My Marauder's Map. It showed me everyone in the whole school and where they were and what they were up to. Believe me I saw some questionable things in the hallways late at night. It was entertaining," Harry admitted.

"A Marauder's Map? What the fuck is that?"

"It's something I was given. My dad and his friends made it when they were in school. It's just a thing."

"You still have it?"

"Of course."

"Are you gonna give it to your kids someday?"

"I don't know. Maybe?

"What about your invisibility cloak?"

"I still have that too. I'm saving it."

"Why did you always get the cool shit?" Draco wondered.

"I was the Chosen One. What can I say?"

"Fuck you, Chosen One. Can we go back to the table now?" Draco asked.

"Yes, let's. Please. And by the way, fuck you too for being a prick," Harry told him with a smirk.

"Yeah, yeah. Fuck you's all around. Now that we got that out of our system, maybe we can drink some more?"

"Sounds like a plan to me."

"Let's get out of here," Draco said heading for the door.

Harry followed after him and he sighed to himself. Little by little Draco was endearing himself to him. Not in big ways, but in small human ways. He'd see a little bit more of the real Draco each time he spoke to him and he was starting to understand Hermione's feelings. Not entirely, but the progress was there. If he could forget the past, Draco wasn't half bad. He was just really hard on himself and too self pitying. Harry hoped he'd get over that shit and just walk tall and stop worrying so much. They didn't have to be best friends in order for them to exist together peacefully. Harry was starting to understand that and he hoped Draco was as well.

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