Draco turned as he heard the lock to Borrow. Read. Return. click just in time so see Hermione waving at the old man. He was surprised how quickly the day had gone, what with reading books, choking on dust, and trying not kiss Hermione being the only things to keep him busy. He took a deep breath, enjoying the feel of the fresh air on his face, and the cleanness of it filling his lungs.
"I worry about him sometimes," Hermione muttered, more to herself than anyone else, but Draco looked down at her anyway.
"Mr Rowland. He's in the shop, all on his own. What if something happens to him?" Draco shrugged slightly, inspecting the cobbled stones beneath his feet.
"I don't know, that man seemed pretty okay with the whole, being on his own. He couldn't get us out of his shop fast enough." Hermione chuckled slightly, nodding a little in agreement. "And besides, if anything does happen to him then…."
"HERMIONE." Draco jumped at the sound of Hermione's name being screeched at them. He turned and saw a girl running towards them.
"Friend of yours?" He asked. Hermione had frozen, her shoulders set, and her face contorted in horror.
"HERMIONE." The girl shouted again.
"Oh geez, hide," Hermione whispered, pulling him around the corner quickly.
"I don't know where you think we are going to hi…" He stopped as Hermione yanked him into a small alley, dragging him into the darkness. "Granger, what the..wow did we take a sharp turn into Knockturn Alley." He muttered glancing around the small space. The alleyway was long, a damp smell lingering in the air.
"Just shhh would you, you'll get us caught," Hermione whispered back.
"And Merlin forbid that should ever happen." Hermione eventually stopped when they reached the end of the alley, her eyes wide as she stared at the entrance.
"I've forgotten what daylight looks like," Draco muttered forlornly.
"Shhhh." Hermione hissed. Draco smirked down at her.
"Wow, the Gryffindor bravery is out in droves today. First, you try and stuff me into a cupboard, and now this." Hermione scowled at him.
"Look will you just…" Hermione sucked in a breath as the girl with red hair, and a floral dress wandered past, looking rather confused. She disappeared from sight and Hermione breathed out, visibly relaxing.
Draco made a move to leave the confined space, but Hermione grabbed his arm, her eyes pleading.
"She might still be out there." Draco pulled his arm from Hermione's grip, trying to ignore how nice it felt, and the tingle of the Sensieve's magic.
"Honestly Granger, I'm pretty sure she's gon…" He choked on his words as the redhead once again walked past, casting glances here and there.
"She never gives up, I'm telling you." Hermione uttered, shaking her head.
"The greatest young witch of our age and she can't even deal with a persistent muggle. Well, that's just disappointing." Draco allowed himself a chuckle but stopped when he noticed that Hermione was staring at him as if he'd confessed his undying love for muggles. "What?" He shifted uncomfortably under her gaze.
"Did you...I swear that you just...just complimented me." Draco paused, going back over what he'd said mentally, horror dawning on him, as he realised that he had in fact paid her a compliment, a huge compliment. He coughed uncomfortably.
"Yeah well, don't..don't get used to it." He absentmindedly unrolled his sleeves, buttoning the cuffs. "What's so atrocious about this girl anyway, apart from her obvious superior intellect." He muttered sarcastically, gesturing toward the floral- dress- wearing-red-head, walking past the entrance to the alleyway yet again, without considering it as a probable hiding place. The Gryffindor sighed heavily, leaning against the wall behind her.
"Olivia and I, we actually used to be friends, really close friends. We went to Primary School together."
"Let me guess, you were homeschooled before Hogwarts?"
"Of course." Hermione rolled her eyes.
"Why am I not surprised."
"Bit off topic, don't you think, Granger." He uttered warningly, leaning against the wall next to Hermione.
"Okay well, it's a school you attend before somewhere like Hogwarts, they teach you the basics, like reading and writing."
"Ah, perhaps that's what Crabbe and Goyle needed," Draco muttered to himself.
"Anyway, we were inseparable. Before Harry and Ron, she was…" Hermione paused, remembering who it was she was talking to.
"She was what?" Draco asked, pushing himself off the wall and turning to look at her.
"Nothing," Hermione muttered, shaking her head.
"Well, you can't do that, Granger. That's hardly fair." Hermione scoffed, folding her arms.
"Fine, she was my only friend." Draco's eyes bugged out of his head, uncertain of what to say. He couldn't imagine anyone not wanting to spend time with the Gryffindor. While she was insufferable, she was also smart and witty, and pretty. Draco mentally groaned, fighting the urge to hex himself. "Anyway," Hermione carried on, incredibly shocked that the Slytherin hadn't said anything, her lack of friends should of, at the very least, earned her a sneer, "She left to attend this 'prestigious' boarding school, and when she came back, she just wasn't the same." Draco nodded, pretending to understand but failing miserably. "She didn't want to know me anymore, said that I wasn't smart enough."
"Oh, well you know that's a huge pile of dragons dung right?" Hermione laughed, looking up at Draco, her eyes slightly glassy.
"Well after that I didn't see her much. Then I got a letter from Hogwarts, and well, now she want's to talk to me. Of course, it's all about mundane crap that I'm not interested in but, I guess I still can't forget that she was mean to me."
"Nor should you. We Malfoy's are strong believers in holding a grudge." Hermione laughed again.
"Are you trying to make me feel better?" Hermione asked, narrowing her eyes in suspicion, trying to suppress her smile.
"Me, a Malfoy, trying to make someone feel better? Don't be ridiculous." Draco smirked. "But more to the point, is it working?"
"A little bit," Hermione answered, turning away. Suddenly her eyes widened in horror, the redheaded girl and several other girls had stopped near the entrance of the alleyway.
"I'm sure I saw her." The redhead said, placing her hands on her hips and glancing around.
"Well, she's gone now." Another stated, her hair long and straight. She wound one strand around her finger absentmindedly.
"She can't have gone far." The redhead said again, leaning against the entrance to the alleyway, sighing heavily.
"You have to question the prestigious muggle education," Draco whispered. Hermione slapped the top of his arm, just as the girls head whipped around, obviously hearing their exchange from the depths of the alleyway. Slowly she turned.
"Oh geez, we need to hide, leave, disapparate, anything." Hermione uttered in panic.
Draco sighed, messing up his hair and grabbed her arm, pulling her towards him. With very little effort he pushed her against the bricks, stepping into her space till his body was flush against hers, arms braced against the wall either side of her head.
"What are you doing?" Hermione spluttered, her face turning red, but her brown eyes glared up at him angrily.
"Put your arms around me, Granger." Hermione tried to recoil, pushing against his chest to get away.
"Are you crazy?" Draco rolled his eyes.
"No, I'm trying to get you out of talking to that muggle, now,' He looked down at her pointedly, " put your arms around me." Slowly, hesitantly she did, and Draco almost shivered, the feeling far too good. The distaste on Hermione's face though, hurt him more than he wanted to admit.
Gritting his teeth, he stepped in as close as he could, the magic of the sensieve heavy in the air, his heart hammering in his chest. He found himself staring at her lips, pressed into a thin line as she stared at him angrily. He gulped, hesitantly, brushing a strand of hair out of her face. Footsteps echoed through the small space as the redhead began walking into the darkness.
"Liv, what are you doing?" One her friends asked, her whiney voice bouncing off the bricks towards them.
"Just shh, I think...I think I heard something."
"Yeah, an axe murderer waiting to kill you." One stated, and the rest of the girls chuckled.
"Shut up you guys. Hermione?" She called uncertainly. Quickly Draco turned, blocking her view of a rather red, rather annoyed Hermione.
"Sorry, this alley is taken." He drawled, smirking at her, and turning back to the Gryffindor.
"Oh." The girl spluttered, stepping back and exiting the alleyway, her steps quick and flustered. Her friends erupted into giggles.
"Oh my god, in the alleyway, as if."
"Was he hot?" Their conversation died away, as the gaggle of girls moved on, Olivia leading the way.
Draco grinned, "Worked like a charm." He stepped back, and Hermione quickly pulled her arms from around him.
'I still don't see why I had to be pushed...never mind." Hermione stuttered, crossing her arms over her chest.
"Well it wouldn't have worked very well if you'd been stood the opposite end of the alleyway to me, would it?" Hermione ignored him, hesitantly making her way to the alleyway entrance. She quickly cast a look both ways and breathed a sigh of relief.
"See, told you, like a charm."
"Hmmm." Hermione pursed her lips, choosing not to say any more about the embarrassing experience.
The walk back was relatively uneventful and predominantly quiet. Hermione cast quick glances at her Slytherin companion, wondering what on earth had gotten into him. Not only was he behaving, but he was actually being considerate, and nice and - dare she even think it - paying her compliments. She'd noticed the slight, subtle changes in him, but being away from Hogwarts seemed to make him a different person altogether.
Then there was the incident in the attic. She'd pondered over whether she'd been imagining things because she'd been certain he'd been about to kiss her. She knew she wasn't in the habit of hallucinating, but given that it was Draco Malfoy she was on about, hallucinating seemed like the only explanation. Added to that was the fact that she wasn't completely and utterly disgusted by the idea, more curious. Hermione shook her head, glancing again at the Slytherin. He seemed unfazed, unfussed, even after the fiasco in the alleyway.
Draco mentally berated himself each step he took. He had promised himself that he would be careful, keep a nice amount of distance, not attempt to kiss her, or hold her, or trap her against an alleyway wall. Of course, he reminded himself, there had been a reason, but he knew it was a pathetic reason. There were a myriad of other things he could have done, one of which being letting the Gryffindor get caught. It would have been the most Slytherin, the most Malfoy thing to do. At the rate he was going through, he could hardly call himself either. He wondered vaguely if he could get out of dinner, feign a family emergency, fake sickness, anything to get away from the bushy haired witch.
He was dragged out of his own world when they stopped at Hermione's front door. Using her key, she quickly stepped over the threshold.
"Hello," Hermione called, taking off her shoes, and throwing them in the cupboard beneath the stairs.
"Ooo hello." Hermione's mom popped her head around the door, smiling brightly at them. "Did you have a good day?"
"Yes, we found...we found lots of useful things," Hermione muttered, looking up at Draco then looking away almost immediately.
"Why don't you go and show him your secret room." Hermione's mom hinted.
"Mom!" Hermione exclaimed, blushing profusely. "There is a reason why it's called secret."
"Oh nonsense, you should show him, I think Draco here will find it quite interesting."
"No, absolutely not," Draco winced at the sound of Hermione's dad's voice filtering in from the front room. "I'll have no bo…" Hermione's mother shut the door, cutting off whatever argument he'd been about to make.
"Off you go," she stated, waving the two youngsters towards the stairs.
Hermione sighed, leading Draco up the stairs towards her room. Draco stared in wonder all around him. He was so used to large stone walls and floors, great chandeliers and moving oil paintings, that the sight of Hermione's rather small and quaint wallpapered home had his mouth dropping open. More pictures line the stairs, and again these didn't move but instead stayed unnervingly frozen. Draco resisted the urge to tap the glass.
Hermione opened the door to her room, and Draco looked around slowly, soaking everything in. It was smaller than he'd expected and quite bare. For some reason, he'd expected the Gryffindors room to match her moods, colourful and a little bit all over the place.
Hermione stood in the middle of her room, shifting from one foot to the other uncomfortably. It was one thing letting a Malfoy into her home, let alone letting a Malfoy into her bedroom. She felt bare and exposed, certain all the kindness the blonde seemed to have shown her, would run out at any minute. With a sigh, she walked over to a large floor to ceiling bookshelf that her father had fitted. She reached down the side and released a hook, pushing it away from the wall and letting it swing on its hinges.
"That is impressive." Draco grinned, as the shelf revealed a small doorway. Hermione smiled slightly stepping into it. Draco hesitated but followed soon after.
The room was small, the walls completely covered in newspaper clippings, various headlines that detailed strange and unexplained instances in the muggle world. Draco smiled as he noticed the presence of magic in each and every one of them.
"Before attending Hogwarts, my dad started collecting these for me." Hermione gestured to the clippings, smiling shyly. "It was a...a connection I suppose." She shrugged, turning away from the Slytherins gaze.
Draco couldn't speak. Guilt burned in the pit of his stomach as he remembered how often he'd told her she didn't belong in the wizarding world. He'd never thought how much that would have affected her, hurt her, especially considering she didn't feel she fit in the muggle world either.
"Granger I.." He stopped as the walls began to change, green pillars replacing the walls of Hermione's bedroom.
"What the...I didn't think this was possible." Hermione said, staring around the room open-mouthed.
The Sensieve rose from out the floor, allowing only a moment for the pair to look at each other before they were pulled into its depths.