Friday

Little Pictures Have Big Ears

Hermione Granger stepped out of a yellow London taxicab on a warm August day and grinned at her familiar home. She hadn't been back in almost a year; there was her term at Hogwarts, Christmas spent at school, and the first portion of summer with the Weasley's. She did enjoy visiting the burrow, but it was nothing like home.

As the cab pulled away, Hermione decided that she'd had enough reminiscing and picked up her small tote. She walked up to the tall, white, crosshatched wooden gate and fumbled in her purse for the key and frowned at the absence of her little metal wonder. Hermione didn’t want to resort to using her wand in public, but it seemed her only choice.

Before resorting to desperate measures, Hermione attempted to merely turn the handle and was surprised when it spun easily beneath her hand. She smiled in accomplishment, deciding not to dwell on the oddity, and passed quickly through the gate and down the damp path to the front door. It had been raining all day, but she was lucky enough to manage a window of sprinkle with which to return home. With a wide smile, Hermione reached for the doorknob, only to see it turn before she could grasp it. She looked up, startled, to see the tall, blond, and looming figure of Lucius Malfoy.

"Granger," he acknowledged her, and Hermione's breath caught in her throat. She was frozen in surprise for a moment, gaping at the figure before her, but quickly regained herself.

"Uncle Lucius!" she shrieked, dropping her bag on the sidewalk and throwing her arms around him. Lucius laughed warmly, spinning Hermione around before gently placing her back on her feet.

"I am not your damn uncle, child," he said, but a playful smirk lingered on his face.

"Would you rather she call you Aunt Lucy, like her mother?" said another voice and Hermione looked behind her houseguest to a thin blonde woman who held a tight smile on her lips and her hands clasped at her protruding midsection.

"Only for cover and only in letters, Narcissa," he corrected as Hermione squealed and ran to the new arrival, ignoring the eye roll given from Lucius.

"Cissa!" she called, embracing the woman as she had her husband, then backed up, eyes wide. "Look at you," Hermione said in awe, gazed fixed on the new mother's stomach. Narcissa raised an eyebrow, glancing at Lucius.

"You sound surprised," Narcissa said, still smiling, and Hermione looked up.

"Well, of course!" she exclaimed as if it were obvious. Narcissa looked confused.

"Draco didn't tell you?" she asked and Hermione crossed her arms at the thought of the Slytherin.

"No, Draco didn't tell me! Is he here? I'm aiming to give him a good kick in the pants," she mumbled and both adults laughed.

"No; we didn't wake him, and it's only eleven, so I'm betting on at least three more hours before he has enough sense to remember that you're coming home today," said Lucius, stepping up to his wife and placing a hand on her back. She smiled up at him and Hermione sighed.

"He can wait. When are you due, Cissa?" she asked, bending to place her ear against the woman's protuberance.

"About a month," she stated softly, pride showing in her smile.

"Cor... do you know what it is yet?" Hermione asked, looking back up. Narcissa shook her head.

"We didn’t ask, but my money's on a boy," she said and Hermione laughed.

"Wouldn't we all be surprised?"

"As intriguing as this conversation may be, ladies... don't you want to know why we're here, Hermione?" Lucius interrupted and she shrugged a shoulder.

"I figured I'd find out at some point or another," Hermione said passively and he smirked, as if proud of her.

"Your parents decided to stay a few days more on vacation, love. We're your messenger pigeons," Narcissa explained and Hermione smiled.

"You didn't have to come all the way here to tell me that. In fact, you shouldn't be doing much of anything, Cissa."

Lucius pointed to Hermione, but looked at his wife, who rolled her eyes.

"See?" he exclaimed, then turned to the younger girl. "That's exactly what I said; be damned if anyone listen to me." Narcissa sighed.

"You live just down the street, Hermione, not the next town. And stop swearing, Lucius; the baby will hear you." Hermione giggled softly, but Lucius closed his mouth. "That's better."

"Are you going home now? Can I come?" Hermione asked, looking pleadingly at the blond couple before her. Narcissa and her husband shared a look, then Lucius straightened, looking down his pointed nose at her.

"Hermione Granger, I have never and will never allow you to breech the threshold of my doorstep," he said quite coldly and Hermione frowned, looking toward the tile.

"I understand, sir," she said sadly, staring at her shoes. Lucius simply gazed calmly at her and Narcissa shook her head, hand running over the swell at her middle. It wasn't ten seconds before Hermione started to giggle. A smirk appeared on Lucius’ face as she looked up.

"Sometimes I think your mother exaggerates your intellect, Hermione. Of course you can come, but I'm afraid I have a few errands to run for your parents, so it'll just be you girls," reminded Lucius, making Narcissa frown.

"I think I'll stay with you, Lucius. Hermione; you know the way by now, I'm sure," she stated and Hermione grinned.

"Of course," she said and pecked them each on the cheek before heading for the door. She was out only a moment before she reentered, dropping her bag on the floor and coming back to Narcissa, placing a gentle kiss on her swelling for the baby. She waved before skipping over the threshold once again.

----

Hermione, upon reaching the grand doors of Malfoy Manor, slowly opened them and stepped inside. She started toward the staircase, but another blond stopped her.

"Hermione?" he called, and she quickly spun.

"Hello Lucifer," Hermione replied, grinning at the man almost five years older than she. He stepped forward and gave her a hug.

"How's my little sis?" Lucifer teased and Hermione laughed as she kissed his cheek.

"Not quite yet, Lucy. Where's Draco? I need to speak with him about something..."

Lucifer smirked that hereditary Malfoy smirk and Hermione silently found herself hoping it made it into the next generation.

"I'll give you one guess..." he whispered into her ear and she giggled, spinning around and bolting toward the stairs. "And don't call me Lucy!" Lucifer added playfully. Hermione ran up the staircase, then turned right, left, and right again until she came to a very familiar black door with a gold 'D' pressed into the wood. She paused briefly to catch her breath, then quietly pushed the slab open, sneaking inside.

Hermione stood by the entrance, smirking as she found what she was looking for. On a silent count of three, she ran to the king size four-poster and leaped onto it, scaring the life out of its occupant.

"Wakey, wakey, Drakey," she called out as she bounced, and Draco Malfoy bolted upright, head finally permeating the covers. Once sure he was awake, Hermione plopped down, bouncing one last time before the mattress settled beneath her. She contented herself with watching a shirtless and messy haired Draco blink his eyes into focus. When he saw her, he pulled the covers back over his head.

"Gah, Hermione! You can't just barge in on a person like that! What if I'm not descent?” he questioned, but Hermione laughed.

"I can do whatever the hell I want to you, my dear, and if you slept naked for seven years in Slytherin, I fear for you."

Again, Draco folded the covers down.

"Good point," he granted and Hermione gave a nod. "But I'm still wearing less than I'd like you to see." She laughed.

"Oh, please, Draco. I have seen you in trunks before, haven't I? And I'll be seeing a bit more than your fish belly in a few months."

Ignoring her crude remark, Draco lifted the sheets and looked to his stomach.

"I do not have a fish belly... summer's barely started," he pouted, and Hermione laughed, pulling the covers all the way off and exposing his scantily clad and cotton white body. She smirked at his slight, almost invisible blush. She knew it was there. She'd known him long enough to know that.

"Don't lie to me Draco. How long have we known each other? Seventeen years? You are one large and permanent fish belly," she argued, scrunching her nose as if she found him cute. He sighed, pushing himself onto his elbows.

"I bet you are too," he said a bit bitterly, and Hermione smirked, climbing onto her knees and lifting her thin black t-shirt to just below her breasts, displaying a perfect tan from the top of her ribs to the hem of her low cut jean cut-offs. Draco swallowed slightly. "Or not." Hermione rolled her eyes and dropped her shirt back down, pushing his shoulder.

"What is it with you?"

Draco shook his head, sitting up and sliding back against the headboard.

"What are you doing here, anyway, Hermione? I thought you weren't supposed to come back for a few more days," Draco said, raising an eyebrow, but Hermione narrowed her eyes slightly at him.

"Don't change the subject, Draco. You knew perfectly well when I was coming back. I sent you three letters," she said.

"I didn't get them," he insisted and Hermione perked an eyebrow.

"Oh really?" she asked, keeping her eyes on his face.

"Really. Didn't use the Weasley bird, did you? It's not surprising, then," Draco answered, stubbornly keeping her gaze, but a flicker toward the pillow beside him did not go unnoticed and Hermione waited only a moment before diving. Despite Draco's attempts to stop her, she found the packet of letters, neatly tied with the red ribbon she recognized from her Christmas present to him. "Hey, give me those!" he demanded, holding her to him with one arm as he easily reached the other out and extracted the letter packet from her thin fingers. Hermione smirked, leaning against him slightly, and Draco pulled back, placing the letters under the other pillow, which he was much more able to protect. Hermione frowned a bit and sat up again.

"Come on, Draco, talk to me," she pleaded, moving close, and Draco tensed. She tried to sigh, but it caught in the middle. He'd never been like this before. They'd grown up together; they'd mud wrestled, and camped outside, and learned to fly at the same time. Always together and never apart. She'd give anything to know what was different. "Fine, you don't want me near you, I won't be near you," she said, sounding hurt, and moved to swing her legs over the side of the bed. Draco made quick to catch her arm.

"Don't go off all mad at me," he pleaded and Hermione stopped, but didn't turn back to him. "Look, I just... well..." She slowly turned her head, waiting for a response. "This is getting too real for me." The scowl on Hermione's face dropped and her eyes softened. Draco didn't let go of her arm. "It was easy when we were younger, it was like a game, but, now... I love you, Hermione; you're my best friend, but we're getting married in five months. There's no changing it, it's going to happen. I just don't know if I'm ready." Hermione sighed.

"Well if that's all," she said, bringing her legs back up onto the bed and turning around. Draco looked surprised. "What, you think I haven't been thinking the same thing? But we agreed to this a long time ago"

"Ha," he interrupted with a scowl. "How fair is it to ask two five-year-old best friends if they wanted to get married when they turned eighteen?" Hermione sighed.

"It's rather ingenious if you think about it. They wanted to betroth us, but we were too old, so they asked permission, knowing we'd say yes. Well, I said yes. I doubt you were paying attention," she joked, but the humor was lost on him. Draco frowned, looking down at the thin white sheets and Hermione sighed. "Draco, it's not going to be that much different. We've been practically married our entire lives, with the exception of school. You're like my shadow; the only difference is we'll actually live together, and you won't have to climb the trellis every night just to see me before bed." He smiled, turning to her.

"I guess you're right..."

"Of course I'm right."

"It's just...” he started. “We're not kids anymore; it's going to be harder this way, you can't deny that." Hermione sighed and nodded, but it was only a moment before she snapped her head up, eyes narrowed.

"Speaking of kids..." she said, implying what Draco already knew. His face lost expression. "Why the hell didn't you feel the need to inform me of my future little brother or sister-in-law, hm?" Draco sighed.

"Would you have gone to Ron's if I had?"

"Of course not, I'd have come... straight..." she trailed off and Draco nodded.

"Exactly," he agreed, grinning as if proud of himself. Hermione narrowed her eyes.

"So you did this to get rid of me? Well I love you too, Draco, bloody hell," she said, moving out of his grasp, and Draco smirked.

"Of course not; don't be dense. I did it so you could have a few more worry-free weeks with your friends before they find out about everything," he said and Hermione's scowl subsided.

"Oh..." she said softly, then looked up at him, "Thanks, then..." Draco lifted a gentle finger and lightly brushed her chin.

"You're welcome."

----

Hermione sighed, falling back on the plush carpet of Draco's vast room. He sat only about a meter away, now prim and dressed, minus hair gel, but plus a pair of thin wire-framed glasses. She turned her head to the side, watching silently as he read through 'The Muggle World for the Pureblooded Idiot'.

"Why do you bother to read that trash, Draco?” she asked. “It's totally pointless; I could tell you more about the muggle world and I am a pureblooded idiot." Draco looked up and a smirk crossed his face.

"No you're not, Hermione. You're a mudblooded genius," he said gently, as if it really was a compliment, but Hermione smiled.

"You've been calling me that for so long, it's almost like a term of endearment now," she said and Draco shrugged.

"Who says it isn't?"

"Too bad I'm not one..." she said with a pout, turning back to look at the ceiling and pulling her knees from the floor. Draco smirked.

"Nobody needs to know that."

"Isn't it nice to finally be free of that god forsaken school?" she said quietly, almost to herself, and Draco looked up again, not at all annoyed that she kept interrupting him; he found his book quite boring.

"Indeed it is. No more Snape... no more... Neville Longbottom... no curfew, no shared dorms, no 'no magic over the summer' rule..." he paused a moment, then set his book down, folded his glasses on top, and crawled over to her. Hermione closed her eyes, smiling. "But you know what the best part is?"

"Hm?" she asked, turning her face slightly, and Draco grinned, leaning down to whisper in her ear.

"No more hiding," he said, then pulled back up, and Hermione opened her eyes, smiling at him.

"If you think about it, it was pointless that we ever did in the first place," she stated openly, making Draco frown.

"It was to protect you from Voldemort, Hermione, you know that," he reminded her and she nodded.

"Yes... but I don't see how being friends with Harry is any safer than being friends with you."

"I'll admit you didn't choose the best acquaintances,” he said, sighing. “But you were just his friend. If the Dark Lord found out that I was betrothed to the first female Boyce in Merlin knows how many generations, he'd have you an inch from death before you could say Quidditch. Your family is by far the most powerful light side asset we've got; a Malfoy and a Boyce would be like... Hitler and Princess Diana." Hermione lightly punched him, mouth open wide.

"How dare you compare yourself and your family to that of Adolf Hitler, Draco?" she asked in mild outrage and he smirked.

"It's that damn book; it's got me feeling evil."

"I told you not to read it," she reminded and Draco laughed softly, then paused a moment, studying her. Hermione smiled warmly at him, a confused twinkle in her eye. She had just opened her mouth to ask what was wrong when she was silenced by two things she hadn't felt on hers since that day eleven years ago in Draco's tree house. They had just watched 'Love Story' with Narcissa and Hermione's mother, Madeline Boyce...

"H'mione?" asked a nervous, seven year old Draco Malfoy as he set up an army of plastic soldiers (the magic kind, with wands which shot sparks). A brown haired girl with her hair in tiny braids and pulled back into a plaitl, looked up from her book with a grin.

"What?"

"Are you going to fall asleep forever, like the girl in that movie?" he asked in a desperately quiet voice and Hermione looked surprised. She marked her book and set it beside her on the tightly nailed wooden floor of the quaint little clubhouse designed just for them. Crossing her legs and sitting at attention, Hermione pressed a hand to her stomach.

"I don't know..."

This had evidently not been the answer Draco was looking for, as he immediately left his troops to occupy the side of his friend, as if afraid she might die at any minute. Hermione looked up at him as he moved to sit beside her.

"How do I tell?" she asked in a slight panic and Draco, wanting to be the man -her shoulder to cry on- sat up straight and puffed out his chest as he made his statement.

"If you were, you would feel sleepy. Do you feel sleepy?" he asked calmly and she turned her head back down, thinking hard.

"No... no, I don't think so," she said and paused a moment before shifting to stand up. As she did, Hermione gasped, placing her hands near the small of her back.

"What?" Draco asked frantically, scrambling to stand beside her.

"Draco... my bum's asleep," she said, sounding fairly scared, and his eyes widened.

"That's a sure sign," Draco told her, nodding assuredly. Hermione placed her hands quickly over her mouth, stifling her shriek.

"What do we do?" she asked and, again, Draco tried to be proud and manly.

"Well... Mum read me this story once; there was this girl who slept for a hundred years and the only way she could wake up, was if her one true love kissed her."

Hermione sighed and stamped her foot.

"Well where am I going to find one of those?"

Draco was silent for a moment.

"Daddy says you're my one true love; maybe I'm yours too," he suggested and Hermione nodded.

"That makes sense... aw, but I don't wanna have ta wait a hundred years! That's a really long time, even for a witch..." she said, pouting, and Draco came once again to her rescue.

"Well, it took the prince guy that long to find her; maybe, since I'm already here, if I kiss you now, you won't even have to go to sleep... all the way," he suggested, and Hermione bit her lip. "Come on, H'mione; I don't want you to have ta sleep forever. That would be really boring. It's worth a shot."

"It's worth a shot," she agreed, nodding. Hermione closed her eyes and puckered her lips, waiting for Draco to instigate their first kiss. After a few seconds of waiting and no lip lock, she sighed and opened her eyes. Draco was looking quite terrified. "Oh, come on, Draco! It was your idea in the first place!" He swallowed and she closed her eyes again. "I'm feeling drowsy..." Instantly, Draco connected his lips with hers, in a simple chaste kiss that ended quickly. Hermione grinned. "Thanks, Drakey." Draco made a face.

"Ew... I'm never doing that again. I don't care how much you don't want to take a nap."


Hermione held her breath, applying light pressure to the lips atop hers. She couldn't think of anything except how comfortable it felt. She and Draco had been best friends their entire lives; Hermione had imagined that their first real kiss would occur at their wedding and be extremely awkward, but it was different; it felt right. Draco slowly pulled back, letting a sweet breath onto her moist lips. Hermione was silent for a moment before she opened her eyes. Draco was looking quite nervous and agitated, making unyielding eye contact as he waited for her response. She smirked.

"But Draco... I'm not even sleepy," she said softly and he laughed. "What was that for?" Draco shrugged, his fear subsiding.

"Practice," he stated and leaned down for another round. Hermione, however, turned her head. Draco pulled back again, looking confused.

"That's not fair; you can't just kiss me whenever you feel like it," she said and he cocked an eyebrow.

"I can too; you're my fiancée. I can kiss you if I want to," he stated, lifting his nose in the air.

"Get over yourself," Hermione groaned, laughing. Draco looked down her, but his nose remained high above. "All right, let's make a deal. You don't get to kiss me again until I see you naked," Hermione proclaimed and Draco's face contorted in disgust.

"Why would you want to?"

"I don't, particularly, but I gotta get something out of this, don't I?" she said. "Don't look so cheated; I still get to kiss you. And anyway, we've got other things to practice..." Draco shook his head.

"You sappy women. And for the record, you've never kissed me," he reminded her and Hermione shrugged.

"First time for everything. Now, what about sappy?" she urged, making Draco sigh.

"All right, all right. Hermione Renee Boyce, do you take Draco Demetrius Malfoy as your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, as long as you both shall live?" he recited unenthusiastically, looking very bored with the entire prospect of the situation. Hermione pretended to think for a moment.

"You know, it's a sure sign of insanity to talk in third person," she joked and Draco rolled his eyes.

"Just answer the question H'mione, do you or don't you?"

"Do I have a choice?" she asked playfully, batting her eyelashes, and Draco mocked a glare. "Okay, okay, I do. Do you, Draco Demetrius Malfoy, take me, Hermione Renee Boyce to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, in sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live?"

"I do," Draco said quickly and leaned down to seal the deal, but Hermione stuck to her word and placed a finger between his lips and hers.

"Must you be so urgent, Draco?" she asked playfully. "You've waited eleven years between the first and second kiss, I think you can wait a little longer than eleven seconds between the second and third." Draco sighed and rolled away, lying on his back beside her. Hermione turned to him only after a brief period of silence. "Draco, I need you to promise me something."


"What is it with you and promises all of a sudden?" he asked with a lifted brow and Hermione smiled.

"Please?"

"What, then?"

"After we get married, we'll still be friends, right?" she asked, sounding much younger than her seventeen years. Draco smiled, but shook his head. Hermione frowned deeply; she did not understand. His answer certainly hadn't been what she had expected.

"We'll be friends with benefits," he elaborated, waggling his eyebrows, and Hermione rolled her eyes.

"What's gotten you so sex driven all of a sudden?" she asked, voice tinged with disgust, and Draco shrugged.


"Just the thought that I'm finally going to get to score, and it's going to be with the one person I love more than anything," he said, grinning, and Hermione smiled back.

"So poetic," she complimented and Draco offered her a smug smirk which was answered with a giggle.

----

"Draco, how do you think I'd look with corn-rows?" Hermione asked as she sat cross legged in front of the full-length mirror in their tree house, picking through her hair.

"Beautiful," Draco said absently, now reading a book a little more interesting than his previous.

"What if I dyed it black?"

"Beautiful."

Hermione turned around, suspecting he wasn't paying attention.

"What if I got a tattoo on my forehead? How would I look then?"

"Beautiful."

"And if peeled off all my skin and used it to make an overcoat?"

"Beautiful."

"What if I played paintball in a white string bikini?" she asked, following a disappointed sigh. Draco looked up at this suggestion, raising an eyebrow.

"Extremely beautiful," he emphasized and Hermione smirked.

"So you were paying attention?" she asked amusedly and he nodded, wearing a smirk to rival her own. "And you think I should go for the skin thing?" Hermione turned back to the mirror and leaned close, examining her skin.

"Most definitely," he agreed, but then seemed to change his mind. "Actually, that's already been done once or twice. I'd vote on something more original... like paintball." Hermione rolled her eyes and spun around, crawling closer and sitting beside him before digging her hand into the bowl of Bertie Bott's which lay on the floor. She took a bite out of one, then made a face and pulled it back out of her mouth, shuddering. Draco smirked. "What was it?"

"I don't know..." Hermione said, holding it toward him pinched between her thumb and forefinger. "Taste it." Without hesitation, Draco opened his mouth, accepting the morsel and chewing thoughtfully. He didn't even cringe.

"Hm... I think it's liver," he decreed and Hermione shook herself again. "I do agree, quite detestable..." He paused a moment. "Look for another one." As Draco began fingering through the bowl, Hermione shook her head and leaned against him slightly. He looked somewhat surprised and stopped his search, lifting his arm over her head and enclosing it around her shoulders. She sighed blissfully.

"Draco, what..." Hermione started, but a digital ring interrupted her. She looked up at him and he lifted an eyebrow, reluctantly letting her go and hurrying toward the phone in the corner.

"First time that's ever happened," he mused to himself and Hermione shook her shoulders.

"I didn't even know you had a phone up here..."

"Hello?" Draco spoke into the receiver, a little surprise showing in his voice.

"Draco? Oh good; Lucifer said you were in the tree-house."

"Dad? What happened?"

Hermione straightened a bit at this question, looking worried.

"Everything's fine, son. I've taken your mother to the blasted muggle hospital; she insists she feels odd and she's done this more times than I have, so I'm taking her word for it," Lucius said, smiling with his voice.

"But she's all right?" Draco asked, holding a finger to Hermione, who looked impatient and alarmed.

"Oh, yes, she's fine..." Lucius assured and his son gave a nod to Hermione, allowing her to sigh in relief.

"Well, where are you? We'll be..." Draco began and his father interrupted.

"No, don't bother, son," he said, "I'll call again if something happens, but for now, don't worry yourself. I just wanted to let you know where we were, in case you came looking. I've got to go now, Draco; I trust you'll be a gentleman and walk Hermione home?" Draco raised an eyebrow, although Lucius could not see.

"How did you know she was here?" he asked and his father laughed heartily.

"As if she'd have gone home already," he jested and Draco smirked, shaking his head.

"Of course I will, sir. Will you be back tonight?" the younger blond asked Lucius sighed.

"Probably not, but I'll call you in the morning. Lucifer's there if you need anything," he reminded in a patronizing manner and Draco rolled his eyes.

"Yes, Father. Goodbye, Father," he stated sharply and Lucius laughed as his son disposed of the receiver. Draco turned to a worried and impatient Hermione. "Mum's in the hospital," he told her, hardly easing her mind. "But she's all right, just for observation, I wager. Father said not to come; wouldn't even tell me which hospital," Draco continued, sitting back down beside her. "Only that it was a muggle one."

"A muggle one?" she asked in surprise and Draco nodded.

"He promised her she could have this baby at one," he explained, "considering both Lucifer and I were born at St. Mungo's." Hermione sighed.

"At least she's all right."

Draco nodded his agreement and smirked as he regained the positioning he'd had before the call. Hermione grinned and snuggled into him.

----

"Draco," Hermione asked softly, her eyes closed as she happily rested her cheek against his chest. He jumped slightly in surprise at her speech. They'd slowly progressed to a reclined position on the floor together; Draco lay on his back with Hermione pressed to his side, arm partially draped over his chest. They'd been silent for well onto an hour, and her voice was unexpected and startling.

"Hm?" he replied when she didn't continue and Hermione shifted, lifting her head discreetly.

"What scares you most about married life?" she asked gently and Draco was a somewhat taken aback. He wasn't expecting that type of question, but something nearer to 'Could you move? My leg's asleep.'

"I... I don't really know," he said and Hermione frowned, keeping her eyes closed.

"I'll tell you mine. Come on, be open," she prodded and Draco sighed.

"I guess... I guess I'm just afraid of it in general," he admitted. "Because I'm the man, a lot falls on my shoulders. It's my job to take care of you, and support you, and make sure everything is always all right and the way it should be. I just don't want to fall short at something that important." Hermione smiled warmly.

"I'm not that feeble, Draco," she told him. "I'll be there to help you, you know." Draco smiled and squeezed her close.

"I know," he said softly and allowed another period of silence before speaking again. "So? What are you most afraid of?"

"Babies," Hermione replied without hesitation and Draco chuckled softly.

"Babies?" he questioned amusedly and Hermione shrugged.

"Well, not babies," she said. "The whole prospect of having one; first you get fat, then there's pain, followed by sleep deprivation, depression, migraines, poverty, and severe paranoia. It just doesn't sound like holiday to me." Draco ran his hand over her shoulder.

"It won't be that bad," he promised and Hermione laughed.

"And exactly how would you know?" she appealed and Draco shrugged, smiling.

"If it was, I doubt Mum would keep shelling them out," he joked and Hermione laughed, hugging him to her. "If it'll make it easier, we could practice," Draco suggested and she lifted her head, raising an eyebrow at him.

"Do elaborate before I fabricate some not-so-pleasant mental images," she requested, her tone serious, and Draco took humor at her expense.

"Well, Mum is going to have a baby," he reminded her. "It's perfect really; we'll baby-sit." Hermione thought about this a moment, then nodded slowly.

"You know, that's a pretty good idea," she agreed, but frowned. "Though there is no way to simulate pregnancy and delivery." Draco shrugged.

"That you'll have to wing," he admitted. "For now we can pretend. As of this moment, you are officially as pregnant as my mother." Hermione looked down.

"I do carry it well, don't I?" she said, smirking, and Draco laughed.

"Indeed you do."

Hermione sighed, resting her head once more and closing her eyes. Again the little tree house was filled with silence. After what could have been hours of lounging and sparse conversation, Draco looked up to the wall-mounted clock. He sighed.

"Hermione?"

"Hm?" she answered drowsily, making her comfort obvious. Draco smiled slightly.

"It's pretty late, you're father'll skin me if we don't get you home soon," he said and Hermione frowned, shaking her head.

"Daddy's not home... they're still on vacation," she reminded him, but didn't farther move or speak. Draco refrained as well for a moment, savoring the last few minutes with her in his arms. It really had been a long time since he had merely existed beside her as time stood still. A summer long ago. Draco only allowed himself a minute or so before he forced her to move.

"Come on, H'mione," he whispered to her and started to shift. Hermione reluctantly sat up and rubbed at her eyes. She turned wearily to Draco and he smiled, getting to his feet and offering his hands. Hermione yawned into her palm, then took them, allowing him to aide her in standing. She smiled for a moment and Draco was preparing to lean in for another kiss, but she sighed and broke away, stretching before moving toward the ladder.

Hermione waited by the door, knowing Draco would wish to descend ahead of her. She smiled to herself as she recalled this; when they were very young, it was a struggle for domination, which then grew into opportunity to 'cop a peek' under her skirt, and now resided at a concern for her safety. Draco did as he always had, starting down the rungs and waiting halfway down for her to start. Once she had safely held footing over the first one or two, he quickly climbed to the ground and waited there for her, gently taking Hermione's hips in his hands as she came close and guiding her in the final steps of her decline.

Hermione smiled as her feet were placed again on the ground and turned around to face him, looking ever so beautiful in the moonlight. Draco placed a hand on the small of her back and started on rote to the street. Hermione deeply inhaled and sighed softly, smiling at him.

"I love the way it smells after the rain," she said, grinning at the damp cement below their feet. Draco nodded.

"I know," he said softly and Hermione crossed her arms, turning to look back up at him and keeping her complacent expression. In a gentlemanly gesture, Draco moved his arm from her back to her shoulders and pulled her close to provide protection from the cold. Hermione complied less than reluctantly, turning her face into his shoulder and walking in silence until they reached her crosshatched front gate. She immediately reached a hand to open it, only to be met with a steadfast knob. Her features contorted in what looked like tired confusion and she looked to Draco for help.

"Lucius must have locked it when they left," she said, sighing, and Draco nodded.

"Do you have a key?" he asked and Hermione shook her head, returning her arms to their previous state.

"Nor a wand; it's inside," she said shamefully and Draco nodded in understanding, then shrugged, removing his arm. Hermione suddenly felt a chill.

"Oh, well... 'night then," he stated simply and turned to retrace his steps to the Manor. Hermione's jaw dropped.

"Draco! You can't just leave me here!" she called after him, but Draco didn't seem to hear or take notice of her calling. "Draco! Please!" Her blond escort refused to turn back and Hermione sighed in frustration, slamming her back into the post aside the entrance. "How can he be so wonderful one minute, and such a bastard the next?" she mumbled quietly to herself and was unexpectedly answered.

"'Tis a gift," said a voice, seconds before the gate opened and a head of fair hair emerged. Hermione felt a wave of relief, but pushed him backward with a scowl.

"That wasn't at all humorous, Draco," she said and he shrugged.

"I can't honestly say that I agree," he teased, but her expression did not change. "Oh, come on, Hermione, do you really think I'd just leave you like that? Honestly..." Hermione spared a moment to contemplate, then sighed and shook her head.

"How did you get in, anyway?" she asked in attempt to change the subject of conversation and take focus from herself. Draco lifted an eyebrow.

"How do I usually get in to see you when the gate's locked?" he asked suggestively and Hermione scoured her brain for an answer to his riddle, then turned her eyes to the heavens.

"Trellis," she said and he nodded.

"Indeed."

Hermione sighed softly and stood straight, starting down the damp path to her home. Draco followed closely, as a gentleman escorting a lady to her door. Luckily, there was a key under the mat, which Hermione knelt and retrieved, immediately fitting it into the lock.

"Hey," Draco said, sounding slightly disappointed, and Hermione turned back to him. "Don't I even get a goodbye?" She let her hands melt from the doorknob, staring in confusion.

"You're not coming in?" she asked and Draco smiled slightly, shaking his head. "Oh, come on, Draco; it wouldn't be our first sleepover." He kept his smile and brought a hand to her chin, brushing it lightly with his fingertips.

"It's not that I wouldn't love to, Hermione, but I want to be there if Father calls with news," he explained, and her eyes widened; she had forgotten of Narcissa.

"Oh, I'm sorry Draco. Of course, I understand; call me too, though, all right?" she beseeched and Draco smiled, nodding.

"Of course." He stood with his hands at his sides, smiling, and obviously waiting for Hermione to make some sort of motion of intent. She paused a moment in hesitation, then stepped forward, placing her hands just above the sides of his belt. Draco's smile faltered; he hadn't expected anything nearing this nature. Hermione seemed fully aware of her actions as she pushed up and connected their lips for a third time. They broke apart slowly and Draco was last to open his eyes.

"Damn..." he whispered, causing Hermione to giggle. She pushed up again, but this time her lips came close to his ear and she pulled his hand to rest upon her stomach.

"Don't swear... the baby will hear you."

-----------------------------------


A/N: I do not own Harry Potter, Love Story or:

Breathe in for luck, breathe in so deep. This air is blessed, you share with me.

This night is wild, so calm and dull. These hearts, they race from self control

Your legs are smooth as they graze mine, we're doing fine-- we're doing nothing at all.

The words are hushed, let's not get busted- just lay entwined here, undiscovered

Safe in here from all the stupid questions, "Hey did you get some?" Man, that is so dumb

Stay quiet, stay near, stay close- they can't hear... so we can get some

My hopes are so high that your kiss might kill me, so wont' you kill me? So I die happy.
My heart is yours to fill or burst, to break or bury

Or wear as jewelry-- whichever you prefer

Hands down this is the best day I can ever remember

Always remember the sound of the stereo, the dim of the soft lights,

The scent of your hair that you twirl in your fingers, and the time on the clock

When we realized it's so late and this walk that we shared together.

The streets were wet and the gate was locked, so I jumped it and I let you in.

And you stood at your door with your hands on my waist

And you kissed me like you meant it, and I knew that you meant it


Hands Down by Dashboard Confessional

1 comment:

If Only... said...

OMG that is pretty sweet. You're a good writer! (If you wrote this)