WC: 1047

Cabin: Evans

Task: Fire pit

Flickering Flames of Friendship

On a rare cloudless night in Scotland, two shadows made their way through the dark under the twinkling stars, albeit one a little more warily than the other. The tight grip on her arm encouraged her to keep moving. Her feet dragged on the ground, pulling up dirt and stones with every step.

"Draco, where are we going?" Hermione's exasperated voice filled the air, calling her boyfriend from his mission.

"We're off on an adventure. It's our last night in Hogwarts before we graduate," he replied, finally slowing down.

"But I don't want to go," Hermione whined. "It's our last night. I wanted to just spend time with you before we get roped into Healer training for you and working with the Ministry for me. Just you and me. A quiet dorm. No friends to bother us." She slipped her arms around Draco's waist, trying to coax him back to the castle and the privacy that their dorms provided.

Draco grasped her hands behind his back and leaned forward, pressing his forehead against hers. "I would love nothing more than to do that." Hermione grinned at him, thinking she'd won. "But I agreed to this first." He pulled her hands from around him and began walking backwards, dragging her with him. Hermione grumbled behind him until the sudden light up-ahead stopped her mutterings.

Through the pitch-black night, a single orange flame flickered up towards the air. As they edged closer, the flame burst into expanding tendrils of fire, illuminating the sky with orange and yellows and reds. The light radiated out amongst the black shadows that huddled around the edges of the crackling wood.

Draco and Hermione reached the hovering crowd and joined the gang. They were a strange mismatched group of people. Neville and Luna were whispering together; the four Slytherins — Blaise, Theo, Daphne and Pansy — laughing loudly at the tales of the wildly gesturing Ron and Harry. The Patil twins were sitting, watching the flickering fire with their knees tucked up under them, conversation occasionally spilling out of their mouths.

Draco tried to sit down quietly, but the blanket rustled as he stepped on it.

"Well, well, well. If it isn't the lovebirds," Blaise said, causing Hermione to blush tomato red. "What took you two so long? Did you find an empty broom cupboard?" He winked.

"Ew, Blaise." Harry shuddered. "She's like my sister. I don't want to be thinking of her like that."

"Too bad. You're going to hear all the dirty details." Blaise leered at the pair.

"No, you're not," Draco replied, sending an unamused glare at Blaise.

"Ugh, you're no fun these days," Blaise grumbled before falling back onto his elbows. Neville's quiet laughter pulled his gaze away.

Hermione shook her head at the antics before settling herself beside Draco. His arm wrapped around her, pulling her into his emanating warmth. She rested her head against his chest, watching the flames dance around each other before they danced across the faces of those around it. Draco pressed a soft kiss against her temple before falling into a conversation with Theo.

Hermione allowed herself to relax to the sound of his dulcet tones. She let the warmth of the flames enrobe her, the murmur of voices wash over her, the weight of exams release and her eyelids droop. Before long, she was softly snoring, surrounded by her friends.

Draco glanced down at the young girl that had slowly gotten heavier over the last few minutes. Her eyelids fluttered in what Draco hoped were pleasant dreams. She had lost so many years in the war that it was time she just let it go.

He adjusted their position, moving so she was tucked between his legs, head resting against his chest, cheek pressed against his warm jumper. He wrapped his arms around her and kept his voice quiet to keep her sleeping as long as possible.

As the night passed, the stars began their descent from the sky, the last few embers flickered before dying out. The close-knit group lay sleeping until the sun started to rise; their bodies lit up by the morning's arrival.

Draco was the first to wake up, his eyes flickering before finally adjusting to the new light. He looked down at the still slumbering girl wrapped around him. With a soft touch, he ran a finger down her cheek, marvelling at the idea of her willingly being in his arms. As his touch moved away, she began to mumble in her sleep, clinging closely to his warmth. She opened her eyes and smiled up at him.

"Do we have to get up?" Hermione whispered.

"We'll miss the train if we don't," Draco said.

"I suppose we'll have to wake that lot, too." Hermione sighed before pulling herself out of Draco's grip.

"Must we? They'd be so happy here for the summer," Draco grumbled.

"Come on." Hermione giggled lightly, pushing up off the ground.

Between the two of them, they roused the rest, some a little more softly than others — Blaise will be carrying the bruise from Draco's kick for weeks — before they packed up the blankets and cushions. The tired but laughing group made their way back to the castle, off to make sure that they packed everything for the trip home.

Just before they reached the large, wooden doors, Draco gripped Hermione's elbow and encouraged her to stop, letting the others go ahead. She turned to face him, her dark brown eyes wide with curiosity. Draco cleared his throat nervously.

"I know it wasn't quite what you expected and it wasn't long before you fell asleep, but how was that? Good enough to send us off?" Draco asked, a little bit of trepidation edging into his voice.

"It feels a little anticlimactic after all the adventure and toil that the previous years brought," Hermione mused.

"Sometimes a little anticlimactic in life is a good thing," Draco reasoned. Hermione looked at him with an eyebrow raised.

"Draco, it's us. I can't expect life to be easy." Hermione deadpanned.

Draco laughed. "Not with who your best friends are."

Her answering shove was all he got as they stepped into the castle to collect their belongings, ready to head off for the adventure that life will bring.

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