Chapter 21:

"You look happy," Leah smiled in greeting for her imprint, as she pushed his tent's flap back to enter the shared magical accommodation.

"Yeah. My closest friend will be in today. With everything's that's been going on, we haven't had a moment to catch up for months now, what with my travelling and his medical internship as I've been told the muggles call it?" Draco creased his eyebrows in question, and only nodded with a self-satisfied smile when Leah showed perfect understanding of the term, letting him know he had his word right.

"Old friend. That sounds nice," Leah nodded again, her feelings of inadequacy beginning their soccer practice in her belly.

"Oh don't worry, you'll love him. We've been friends since the cradle. He is my… Well, you know how Granger is with the two dunderheads?" Unable to help herself, Leah laughed at Draco's words, "Well, he is that to me. Every time I go overboard with something, he is the one reeling me back in. My reality-checker sort of a person…"

"Coming from you, I'm not sure if I should be flattered or flabbergasted to be compared to Miss Granger," said a polished voice with a pronounced upper class accent from the tent's doorway.

"Ted, my man," Draco smiled widely before walking up to him and giving him a hug.

Theodore Nott, heir to Nott fortunes, stood stunned for a second before hugging his best friend back. A few seconds later when they broke off their embrace, Theo looked searchingly into his childhood friend's silver eyes before an unspoken understanding passed between them. We'll talk about this later. To diffuse the tension though, Theo flashed his disarming smile to the blond beside him and winked, "Hanging out with Gryffindors again?"

"One too many," Draco smiled in return.

Leah stood at the side looking on at the pair as they walked towards her from the entrance. There definitely was something magical about the London waters, she was sure. No mere mortal otherwise had rights to be that hot! While no one in her eyes would ever out shine Draco, Leah could at least, in her own mind, accept, that the new wizard definitely was an eye candy – at 5'10'' he stood tall with an impeccable posture, dirty blond hair and the warmest blue eyes she had ever seen. And to top it all up, his mere presence seem to resonate a calm all around. Medical intern, wasn't it? He'd do very well in that field, she could tell.

Just then the pair reached her and the introductions began.

They were chatting, when the tent flap was up again, this time Hermione holding it higher for Edward who entered with an unconscious girl in his arms.

Leah heard the skipped beat of Ted's heart when he looked towards the newcomers but simply attributed it to the leech that had entered just then. But a few minutes later she wasn't so sure of her hypothesis anymore. And the unsettling way in which she saw Jake eyeing the same interaction from his place on the couch where he had been sleeping the night before, between his imprint and the new guy only clinched it in her mind.

Hermione sucked in a hard breath when her eyes fell upon the trio standing in a corner of the tent, talking. "Theo," she whispered softly, almost unconsciously, under her breath.

"Miss Granger," Theo bestowed a beatific smile on her, the single subtle action, further softening his face and somehow making it just that much more handsome.

Hermione shyly returned the greeting with a small smile of her own while pushing some hair behind her ear as she did it, raising Jake's ire and the combined confusion of Leah and Edward, when they all heard the sped-up beating of her heart. On the other hand, all the different facial expressions flitting around the room, made Draco groan internally. Oh the new drama!

"I hope you have been doing well," Theo spoke, giving Hermione a look that felt like all he could see was her.

"Yes," Hermione huskily replied. Then biting her lower lip, she asked, "And you?"

"Better now," his eyes sparkled with a new warmth, making Jake growl at the back of his throat. Quickly glancing at the rather large boy seated sedately, and if he was honest, unnoticed, on the couch, since his arrival Theo furrowed his brows. But turning again to Hermione, with mischief in his words, he said, "I believe you have something for me?"

Hermione hummed her confusion, her eyes too going from the growling Jake to the teasing Theo.

Theo simply pointed at Edward. "My patient, Miss Granger."

"Oh." Obligatorily Hermione turned to look where Theo was pointing. On seeing the unconscious body of her old dormmate, her mind suddenly thawed back to its normal, intelligent self. "Oh yes! I don't know how I could've forgotten about Lavender!"

"I know!" she heard Draco say in the background but chose to ignore it, especially after she heard the loud thawk that followed the comment and the wincing that followed the back-handed shove she was sure Theo had administered on Draco. "Wanker!" Draco swore.

"Language!" Hermione, Theo and Leah all bellowed at the same time.

"Right," Draco sneered, still smarting from the previous punch, before making his way towards the kitchen area, rubbing his stomach and mumbling under his breath.

"Do we have a room for her? Where we can lay her down?" Theo asked walking towards the two standing by the tent entrance. Though at Hermione's nod, he changed his direction, both him and what he was pretty sure was a vampire, following her. Things with this lot never leave the crazy station he smiled to himself.

Hermione, the she-werewolf along that ruddy doctor friend of theirs had spelled themselves shut in the room they had entered a few minutes back. And what was worse, somehow the useless leech had been spelled inside with them while Jake was left outside to witness the blossoming romance between Leah and her imprint. Agh! His mind was screaming.

Though every time he gestured to Leah to speak to her imprint about his best friend, she refused and avoided making any eye contact with him for the next few minutes.

"Enough already!" Draco finally lost his cool. All his good mood evaporated when he realized what news he was bearing for his friend. "I am not speaking of my best friend to you and Leah has more sense than to ask me to! Now, don't you have a home to go to?"

"And what, leave Hermione alone here?" It was Jake's turn to fume.

"Alone?" Draco skeptically repeated the word.

Leah was almost considering breaking the fight when Theo, Hermione and Edward stepped back into the receiving room, all three deep in discussion, just as a few magicals stepped in, Seth in tow.

"Good Godric! Now what are you doing here?" Ron roared as soon as his eyes fell on Theo.

"By Salazar, one would think a healer was a necessity with you lot," Theo deadpanned. And for a good measure, waved his wand at Ron and then at Harry, vanishing the dry blood he could see staining their skin. He would have loved to make the salve charm sting, if only to refresh some old memories, but these days he was trying to make nice with the Golden Trio. After all, he was half-way in love with one-third of them. "Feeling better yet? Or would you like a popsicle for all my effort?"

"I'll get that for you," Draco jumped in at the opportunity and flew two lollipops from his room straight into Ron and Harry's waiting mouths.

When the two ended up having their mouths glued shut, Draco simply shrugged his shoulders at Theo's stare. "The Weasley twins were here. I lost a bet. They had a new product to test." He said in lieu of an explanation and for all those present there who knew the twins and the Malfoy heir, it really was. The Weasley twins would go to any length to try their new products and the Malfoy heir would go to most to save his hide.

"Where is the anti-dote, Malfoy?" Hermione threateningly walked towards Draco.

"I don't have it. I swear." Draco raised his arms in surrender. His panicked eyes shuttling between Hermione and Theo, begging for mercy from one and help from the other.

Hermione had just taken another step towards Draco, when Theo's hand shot out and grabbed hers, just above her wrist. "I'm seeing him after a very long time. Just let him go, this once," he pleaded, his blue eyes working their magic on Hermione's senses. "I've worked a few weeks in the Magical Maladies ward and they have a few assigned beds there for jokes gone wrong. I'll work on your friends and try to reverse the effects at the earliest. Just let Dray live through this weekend. Please?"

"Ah, fine," Hermione huffed, her relent angering Ron who gesticulated wildly before loudly stomping his feet all the way back to his bedroom.

Harry on the other hand, walked beside Theo, his green eyes sparking in their anger. Theo simply mumbled a few chosen words with his wand pointed right at Harry's face. Harry flinched before he was pulling the overly sweet candy out of his mouth. After glaring for a few more seconds at Draco, Harry left in search of Ron.

In the midst of it all, none except Jake saw that the new guy hadn't let go of his hold on Hermione's arm.

Glaring with enough heat to scald the stranger's hand that lay on his imprint, Jake never realized when Edward came and sat down beside him.

"Hang in there. It'll all work out," Edward comfortingly offered with a squeeze to Jake's shoulder that made him shudder because of the extreme low temperature of the hand. Grimacing for a new reason, the two nemesis got up from the couch and left the tent.