AUTHOR'S NOTE: Happy (late) birthday Steph! :3
The rest of you have my friend Steph to thank for this fic as she asked me to write the original one-shot that turned into this! I hope you all enjoy it!
Thank you to SereniteRose, Neakco, daswhoiam, Nyx and two guest reviewers for reviewing the last chapter.
This chapter is dedicated to bigred20, sheboom, The17o, Dusks Angel, Bronowyn, hungergameshgfan, Kitsune Jack, Stavroula G, vdaniels20, mariannagkolfou, anti anti and PrettyPrincess1616.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Harry Potter. Duh.
Chapter 9 – Yellow Rose
Hermione started nervously thumbing through the book on her lap, exchanging worried glances with Ron as the two of them sat down in the train carriage next to Harry. It had been a tense few days, with Harry only just finding out about the Order of the Phoenix and then his trial. Both she and Ron were really worried about their best friend, and it didn't help that he didn't even acknowledge when they sat next to him; he just continued to stare out of the window as stiff as a board.
At first Ron and Hermione tried to just chat like normal, about their families, what they'd done over the summer, who could possibly be teaching Defence Against the Dark Arts this year, and at first they did try to include Harry in the conversation, but when it became abundantly clear that he wasn't going to be saying a word it eventually became awkward and they both fell into uncomfortable silence.
After a while Ron excused himself, having to go and find Ginny to ask her if their mum had packed his Gryffindor scarf along with hers as he couldn't find it, so Hermione opened up her book to pass the time with reading. Unexpectedly, the pages fluttered open on a dried and pressed flower she'd hidden between the pages. She tried her best, and failed completely, to hide a smile at the sight of it. It was a white periwinkle that she'd picked from the garden of the cottage Draco had taken her to during the summer.
Although she had exchanged stories of what she'd been up to during the summer with Ron, she had very deliberately left out the time she spent with Draco. She cared deeply for both Ron and Harry, and she knew they cared about her, but she also knew they wouldn't understand her feelings for Draco. They both clearly saw him as an enemy, and after what Harry had told them both about how Draco's father had been with the Dark Lord on the night Cedric Digory was killed, that would now be even more prevalent.
Hermione trusted Draco completely, and while some may think that made her rather foolish, she was confident that if he himself was connected to anything to do with Voldemort, he would tell her. And she also knew that just because his father may be a Death Eater, that did not in any way mean Draco was too. The worst part of this all for Hermione was that she now had to keep her relationship with Draco a secret from her best friends for even longer. After such a wonderful summer, she had hoped that maybe she could be honest with them, but now she knew that may not be the case for a very long time.
Sighing heavily, she witfully ran her fingers along the petals of the small white flower. She saw Harry's eyes dart over at her, the first real movement he'd made since she and Ron had entered the carriage, but she didn't panic and shut the book over. It was just a flower after all; Harry would have no idea where it came from. As such she just looked up at him and smiled softly. He held her gaze for a moment before looking back out of the window, resting his forehead against the window. Hermione sighed again, this time for a totally different reason, before closing her book over as Ron slid the door back open.
"Did Ginny have it?" Hermione asked as Ron shut the door behind him.
"She thinks so," he replied. "It'll be in her trunk though so she'll have to wait until she unpacks."
He sat down next to her and looked purposefully over at Harry before looking back at Hermione. She just shrugged and shook her head, causing Ron to sigh with worry.
He wasn't alone; Hermione was worried too.
Just as they stepped off the train, Hermione's eye widened.
"You two go ahead, I've left my book!" she called to Ron and Harry before darting back onto the train.
Quickly running down the train she soon reached where she had been sitting with Harry and Ron, and her face broke into a smile when she realised somebody else was there.
"What're you doing here?" she whispered, slipping into the carriage and closing the door behind her.
Draco grinned as he closed her book over, standing up as the door shut. "Why are you whispering? There's nobody else here."
"You can never really tell that with people at this school," Hermione reasoned, but speaking normally now.
"True," Draco replied, passing her book back to her before wrapping his arms around her waist. "I missed you," he murmured softly.
Hermione looped her arms around his neck, making sure she wasn't accidently hitting him with the book. "I missed you too," she smiled before stretching up to kiss him.
It was a short but soft kiss, and as they broke apart they rested their foreheads together.
"We should go," Draco said quietly. "They'll be sweeping the train soon to make sure nobody's still here. Plus Crabbe and Goyle are waiting for me."
"Mmm," Hermione agreed with a nod, looking down slightly and feeling her heart sinking with the knowledge that this could potentially be their last intimate moment until the Christmas holidays.
Draco knew what she was thinking and kissed her on the forehead. "I know," he whispered, "but it'll be okay."
Hermione nodded again before the two separated. Leaving the carriage they went separate ways, Draco kissing Hermione's hand before they did so, causing her to laugh before she ran back to the door she'd entered in. To her surprise Ron and Harry were still there.
"You didn't need to wait for me," she said, but still happy that they did.
"It wasn't a big deal," Ron smiled, Harry shrugging next to him in indifference.
As the three of them turned to walk towards the carriages to take them up to the school, Hermione heard a familiar voice approaching them from behind, but with a lot more venom in it than she'd been getting used to.
"I'm surprised the Ministry's still letting you walk around free Potter!" Draco called as he appeared next to them with Crabbe and Goyle at his side. "You'd better enjoy it while you can. I expect there's a cell in Azkaban with your name on it."
Harry lunged forwards as if he was going to punch him, but Ron grabbed him and held him back. Draco shot a quick apologetic glance at Hermione before rolling his eyes at Crabbe and Goyle and walking away. "What'd I tell you? Complete nutter."
"Just stay away from me!" Harry shouted after them, the first words he'd said since they'd gotten on the train.
"It's only Malfoy. What'd you expect," Ron said quickly, trying to calm him down as he let go of him.
Hermione stayed quiet as they walked up to the carriages. She hated this, but she knew Draco had to keep up appearances. Plus she knew he really didn't like Harry so he wasn't exactly lying, which did make her uncomfortable but she'd come to accept it. Every time they were able to meet though he always apologised for whatever he'd said, knowing that it upset her too.
Watching a carriage pulling Cho Chang and her friends depart for the castle, Hermione heard another one approaching behind them with only one person on it.
"What it is?" Harry murmured, looking up as if something was in front of the carriage.
"What's what?" Ron asked as he, Hermione and Neville, who'd joined them, turned around.
"That, pulling the carriage," Harry replied.
Hermione frowned in worry. "…Nothing's pulling the carriage Harry," she replied. "It's pulling itself like always."
Harry continued to stare as if something was there as he made his way to the steps of the carriage.
"You're not going mad. I can see them too. You're just as sane as I am."
Hermione's gaze moved to the figure already sitting in the carriage, and she sighed under her breath when she realised who it was.
It wasn't that Hermione disliked Luna Lovegood, she was just…a little odd. She always seemed to be away in a world of her own.
As the four of them climbed up into the carriage it became clear that none of the boys knew who she was, so Hermione decided to introduce her to them.
"Everyone, this is Loony-"
Hermione stopped herself, mortified that she'd used the rather cruel nickname she'd heard others in the Gryffindor common room use to describe Luna.
"…Luna Lovegood," she finished quietly, her face bright red.
Luna didn't seem affected, simply smiling round at the others, but Hermione was incredibly embarrassed. In an attempt to mend the damage she looked back up at Luna and smiled. "What an interesting necklace," she said.
Luna looked down at it. "It's a charm actually," she replied before leaning in as if she was going to tell a big secret. "It keeps away the Nargles." Everyone in the carriage either looked confused or uncomfortable as she continued, "Hungry… I hope there's pudding."
As she went back to reading her newspaper upside-down, Ron whispered to Hermione, "What're Nargles?"
"No idea," she replied quietly.
Luna looked back over at Hermione and smiled again. "You're holding on very tightly to that book," she noticed.
Hermione looked down at the book before looking back up at the Ravenclaw. "Yes, I nearly left it on the train."
"Is it important?" Luna asked.
"The book? Not particularly," Hermione replied honestly.
"Oh, I see. I thought perhaps that boy from Slytherin had given it to you," Luna smiled kindly before looking back at the newspaper.
Hermione's eyes flew open as Harry, Ron and Neville all stared at her.
"…What boy from Slytherin?" Ron asked, frowning.
Hermione opened her mouth but her mind went blank. Before she could actually say anything Luna piped up again. "Draco Malfoy. You know, the boy Hermione likes."
"You must be confused," Ron replied. "Hermione doesn't like Malfoy. None of us like him in the slightest."
"No, I'm not confused," Luna shook her head. "They've been close ever since I came to Hogwarts. I actually thought maybe Hermione was in lo-"
"I'm going to walk!" Hermione cut Luna off before grabbing her bag and jumping out of the carriage. She managed to land on her feet and ran into the trees before the others could follow her.
Leaning against a tree, Hermione held the book even more tightly to her chest, squeezing her eyes shut as a few tears escaped. She couldn't believe that had just happened…
Of course she knew Luna hadn't meant to harm her in any way; she didn't think Luna had a malicious bone in her body. But regardless, her secret was out now. There probably wasn't a believable way to explain away what Luna had said. Harry and Ron, and also Neville, now knew her secret and she was terrified she'd not only lost her two best friends, but also that the rest of the school may now find out.
Hermione's eyes flew open as she realised what that could mean for Draco. She had to warn him, and get to the three boys before they told anyone else.
Knowing there was no way to catch up to the carriage now no matter how fast she ran, she took a few deep breaths and began walking along the pathway at a fairly brisk pace; Professor McGonagall wouldn't accept any excuses for being late to the feast and she didn't need to get detention on top of everything else that had happened tonight.
Hermione had realised that she, the boys and Luna had been in the last carriage so she wasn't expecting to see anybody. So the sight of the small blonde girl sitting next to a tree slightly further along the road than she had jumped out at was a surprise.
"…Luna?" Hermione called out.
Luna looked up and smiled slightly, standing up and brushing some mud from her skirt. "Hello Hermione," she greeted her pleasantly before her face fell slightly. "I wanted to say I was sorry. I didn't realise that you and Draco were keeping a secret, or else I'd never have said anything."
"No, I understand that," Hermione nodded, managing to crack a smile back at the younger girl. "I know you weren't trying to get us in trouble or anything."
Luna tilted her head slightly. "If you don't mind me asking though, why are you hiding it?"
Hermione looked down at her shoes and sighed heavily. "…Draco's family are pure-blood fanatics, especially his father. They'd never accept him being with a Muggle-born. He has to keep up appearances at school too so word doesn't get back to his father, so he has to act like a bully."
"…That's really horrible," Luna said softly, reaching out and gently taking hold of Hermione's hand. "I know this won't be much consolation but I promise I won't tell anyone else. And Harry, Ron and Neville also said they wouldn't tell anyone. I'm sure you can trust them."
Hermione's smile grew slightly at Luna's kind words. "Thank you Luna. And…I'm sorry I called you Loony Lovegood earlier."
Luna just shrugged. "It's okay, almost everyone calls me that."
Hermione shook her head, squeezing Luna's hand. "No, it isn't okay. You're wonderful Luna, and I'm so sorry if I've ever made you upset by not standing up for you when others called you that. I promise I'll never do that again."
Luna's eyes lit up slightly. "So…we're friends?"
Hermione nodded. "Yes, we're friends."
Luna nodded happily, before she held out a small bunch of flowers she'd kept hidden behind her back this whole time. They were yellow roses, smaller than normal ones and without the thorns. "These were to say sorry for telling your secret," Luna explained.
Hermione smiled properly and took the flowers from Luna. "They're beautiful, thank you."
The girls smiled at each other before dropping hands and walking back towards the castle.
"Can I ask you a question?" Hermione said after a few minutes of comfortable silence.
"Of course," Luna replied.
"…How did you find out about Draco and I?" she asked quietly.
Luna smiled softly. "Well, I noticed how you acted around each other. It wasn't very often I saw you together, but after Cedric died last year I saw you two together a few times at a bench in the castle grounds. I thought maybe you were just friends but then at the beginning of the summer I saw you both at Diagon Alley and I realised it was more than that. I know love when I see it; you two remind me of how my parents used to act around each other."
Hermione remembered that Luna's mother had passed away when she was younger. She smiled in sympathy before she stopped walking, realising what Luna had said. What she had nearly said in the carriage before Hermione had ran away.
"Wait…love?" she stammered slightly.
Luna looked back at her. "Well…don't you love Draco?"
Hermione looked back down at the book containing the dried periwinkle. Her heart began to beat faster as the realisation dawned on her, and a smile once again started to grow on her face.
"…Yes, I do," she murmured quietly, knowing that Luna could hear her.
"I told you," Luna smiled. "Are you going to tell him?"
"Maybe not quite yet," Hermione laughed nervously. "I think first I still have to deal with what Harry and Ron are going to say about all of this."
"That seems fair," Luna nodded in agreement before looking back up at the castle. "We should hurry, or there won't be any pudding left."
Hermione laughed again, this time much more relaxed, before nodding in agreement. "Alright, let's go then."
The two girls walked quickly up to the castle to get ready for the feast, Hermione's newly found realisation causing her to continue smiling for the rest of the evening.
But it was hard for her to ignore Ron's eyes staring daggers at her for the entire length of the feast.
AN: Can you tell I adore Luna? :3
Hope you enjoyed this! Please review!