Chapter 36

"Ok…let's test this…something you normally would lie about…" Harry seemed to think about it. He suddenly looked up. "In sixth year, what did I catch you doing in Moaning Myrtles bathroom?"

"Catch doing? Not sure I wanna hear this…" Hermione muttered. Harry couldn't help but snort at her comment.

Draco looked like he might have found it amusing if he wasn't so pissed at being forced to tell the truth. "I was crying." He hissed in between his teeth as he tried hard to keep his mouth shut. He turned to Hermione, and couldn't help but feel the corners of his mouth turn up. "You have a dirty mind, don't you?"

"Well, the question was phrased a little…damn it, your rubbing off on me again." She frowned. "You were crying?'

Draco ground his teeth. "Yes. Please don't ask me anything in the form of a question."

"Sorry. I'll shut up now."

Harry nodded. "Ok, now that we know it's working…" he pulled over a small chair and sat in front of Draco. "…Why did you save Hermione's life at the mansion?"

Draco's lips twitched. "Which time? I saved her from the cold because I didn't want to just let someone die when I could help it. I saved her from the sticky trap because she was helpless and I felt the need to protect her. I saved her from my aunt, despite the possible danger to myself, because I was falling for her. I liked her, and I wanted her."

Harry's eyebrows drew together. "Why did you run to Hermione after the final battle?"

Draco looked away and tried not to say what he had no choice but to say. "I…was afraid. I ran to her…so she could save me...hide me…" He took a deep breath. "But, if I was going to jail anyways, I wanted to at least see her again…" He looked down at his knees. His voice just kept coming, no matter how he tried to stop it. "I wanted to touch her again…to kiss her…to tell her I was sorry…"

Harry was silent for a moment. "So, at the cabin and the mansion…why did Hermione fall for you? Did you lie at all?"

Draco rolled his eyes at the ceiling and threw a furious look at Harry. He should have realized what the answer would entail. And Draco couldn't stop it. "We talked a lot, and I made her laugh. I was her second kiss, ever." He smiled a bit at that. "We had some sort of chemistry from the beginning. My opinion is that she was attracted to me at first because she shouldn't be…"

"Ridiculous…" Hermione said under her breath, not inclined to agree…at least not out loud.

"…I was also…" ugh. He so didn't want to say this to Potter. And he could be pretty sure Potter didn't want to hear it. Hmm. Maybe that made it not so bad; to see Potter squirm. "It was her first time making love. And it was very, very good, I think." He grinned.

Harry blushed and rubbed his forehead with a hand, looking away. If he had to tell the truth, at the very least he could say it in a way that bothered Harry.

"Yep. If her screaming was any indication…"

"Ok, enough!" Harry said.

"Oh? But I'm just going through all the things that happened there that might have led to her falling for me. She said before she couldn't have sex with someone she didn't love…"

"I just wanted to know that you didn't lie to her! Geez!"

Draco frowned, thinking. "Since I can't lie now, you should believe me when I say that I can't remember ever telling Hermione a lie…I wouldn't answer some of her questions here and there, if that counts…I wouldn't tell her the price of the wine we drank, or the reason I was stationed there…"

"Fine. Nevermind." Harry stared at the carpet, still rubbing his forehead. He looked up. "What are the reason's that you're here, now, with Hermione?"

"Harry, that's enough. You know he hasn't lied to me about anything…" Hermione started, her face red from the last line of questioning.

But Draco started talking unwillingly. "I'm here..." He gritted his teeth. "…because she is my only hope. She is the only one who can save my life, and the only person left who truly cares for me at all…" He stared fixedly at some point on the wall. "She's always caring and would help anyone in need despite the dangers to herself…really brave, and my complete opposite. I admire her. I could never be like her. I'm with her because she will save me, and because I love everything about her, even the qualities I don't…can't… understand." He glared at Harry. "Yes, maybe it's using her to expect her help. But I would give up her help if I thought it would hurt her. And I do love her."

Draco took a deep breath. "Can we please stop the questions now? What more do you want?"

Harry said in a small voice, "Just one more question, I promise." He looked up and met Draco's eyes. "If you could go back now, would you have switched sides?"

"Yes. No. I…I would never have joined the death eaters, if that had been an option. But I wouldn't have risked my life fighting for either side, if I could help it…" He groaned, spitting out the last, "I'm not brave. Like I said. I wanted glory at first, but when I saw what that cost I just wanted safety."

"What did it cost?"

"Harry! Enough!"

Draco glared. His eyes looked wet as he continued, "I was forced to torture people. Cruciatus curse. Ollivander, for one. People died in front of me. Innocent people. People were sent to Azkaban; had their wands snapped. It cost people their lives….and it cost some people their souls…" His eyes looked haunted; sad and dark.

Harry nodded. He pulled a small antidote bottle from his pocket and handed it to Draco.

Hermione stood up and slapped Harry's shoulder. Hard. Really hard, actually.

"Ah!" Harry cried, grabbing his shoulder. "Damn, Hermione!" he rubbed it, and under his breath muttered, "That'll be leaving a bruise…"

"Good! Are you satisfied?" Hermione asked, puffing up.

Harry hung his head. "Yes."

"And are you going to feel bad for a long while about how you treated him…and me?"

"Yes."

Hermione deflated. "Good…" She turned to Draco. He had drunk the antidote and was sitting motionless with his eyes closed.

She sat next to him and hugged him. "Are you ok?" She whispered in his ear. He silently nodded.

"Sorry…" Harry said. "I just had to know for sure. But since he was telling the truth all along, I guess that doesn't excuse the Veratiserum. So I'm sorry. I'm sorry I made things so hard on you, Hermione." He stared at Draco. "Is he going to be ok?"

Draco looked to be a strange shade of green and was breathing hard.

Hermione remembered a potions class a while ago. "Oh! Side effects of the antidote; he can't talk for awhile, and he'll feel nauseous…" She glared up at Harry.

He sighed. "Look, I'll get Malfoy out of trouble, ok? I'll do whatever I can for him at his trial…and I said I was sorry, ok?" He looked down at Draco. "Though I still don't like you; you even know that you're a coward. And you did run to Hermione expecting her to help you. But I guess that's just your nature. If you're not lying to her…if you're not going to hurt her, then I'm sorry for putting you through all this."

Draco didn't say a word. He just doubled over and held his arms over his stomach. Hermione rubbed his back, looking worried.

"Geez. He looks like Ron when he spit up snails."

Hermione nodded. "He should be ok, though. He needs to rest." She looked up at Harry. "Which requires you getting out of here."

Harry nodded. "Ok. I'll be there, though. On the 16th. Day after tomorrow…er, today, I guess. Wow. It is late."

Hermione stood up and hugged her friend. "I know you've just been acting like a stupid jerk because you care about me. Thank you. Idiot."

Harry laughed. "Yeah…I'm sorry…I shouldn't have been butting into your personal life…even if it involved the person I dislike most. I just didn't want you to get hurt…"

She nodded into his chest. She felt like crying. "Please…I know you and Draco will never get along, but can you both stop being so hostile around me? For my sake?"

Harry nodded.

"And…could you talk to Ron? I think he really hates me."

"Don't you remember what he said before? After we "rescued" you from that cabin? He said he could never hate you. Don't worry- I'll remind him."

Hermione stepped back, wiping at her eyes. "Thank you."

Harry nodded, waved, and disapperated.