The pair walked in the direction of a staircase. They didn't have a destination in mind they would just walk around and see where they could go.
Descending the stairs, Draco chuckled to himself.
"What?" Hermione asked.
"It's nothing. I just thought that while it only happens at Hogwarts, it is nice to know that these won't move on us, and we don't have to wait twenty minutes for them to come back again."
She chuckled too "It's true I guess. Those stairs are perhaps my least favorite thing about Hogwarts."
"That's the only thing that you don't like about school? I could name a few things that I don't like more than the stairs moving."
Hermione shrugged being slightly sarcastic "Well I'm not sure you've ever noticed that I quite like school and learning, and I hate being late for classes. I think Snape knew that so he always made the lesson go over by five minutes, in turn by the time I got to my next class I was nearly two minutes late. I was lucky that I never got detention."
Draco looked at her then turned away and began to laugh. She looked at him with a frown "Mind telling me what is so funny."
"Just thinking of Snape. Now that you mention him doing that, I remember back in the sixth year when you would get so antsy repeatedly looking at the clock. I thought that you were going to go somewhere stupid with Potter and Weasely before the next class started, I now realize that you didn't know the shortcuts to avoid those stupid stairs between potions in the dungeon and charms on the fourth floor." Draco smiled smugly to himself; he finally had knowledge of something that Hermione didn't know that didn't involve the dark arts.
"Shortcut! How was it not on the map? Did Harry know about it and not tell me?" She was rambling now "I always couldn't figure out how you got there first when you clearly left after me. That is so unfair" she huffed as they continued down the stairs.
Draco didn't say anything; he just kept the smug smile on his face. Then he registered what she said about a map "What map?"
Hermione bit her lip thinking of something to say, she didn't know if she could tell him about the Mauraders Map, was it her secret to tell?. It wasn't like she had possession of it so even if she did tell him about it, he couldn't use it.
She opted for a simple explanation of what it was rather than who made the map. "Back in our third year Fred and George had given Harry a magical map of Hogwarts. They had been using it to help them with pranks. On the map, you can see where everyone is and what they are doing along with all secret passageways. There are hundreds some leading into Hogsmeade. It just seems surprising to me that the secret passage from potions to charms isn't on the map. Though the creators of the map didn't spend their time near the Slytherin dungeons."
"This map saw everyone? Did you ever see me?" Draco asked. "Seems like an invasion of privacy."
"Yes the map sees everyone, yes we did see you on the map, and it was more to make sure there were no professors around when we were sneaking around. Before you begin to gloat yes I admit it, Harry, Ron and I broke a lot of rules, we were always out passed curfew, but we were doing everything for the greater good."
Hermione wasn't about to tell him that Harry was obsessed with him during their sixth year and watched him on the map regularly.
They walked in silence till they got to f-deck. Draco showed her the Turkish baths that Daniel had taken him earlier along with the squash court. They passed the swimming pool.
"We should come back here tonight and go for a swim" Draco teased wiggling his eyebrows. "Maybe do a little bit of skinny dipping."
Hermione snickered "No thanks. Have you ever even been skinny dipping?"
He looked down ashamed "No, unfortunately. We were, I say we I mean myself and Daphne Greengrass, we were supposed to at her summer house which has this massive pool, but we were caught when her parents came home early from their holiday in Athens to surprise her and her sister Astoria." He smirked at the memory, "I only had on my boxers and her father was chasing me all over the garden yelling at me for trying to 'deflower' his precious daughter. Little did he know she had already been 'deflowered' a year and a half before by Theodore Nott! I can't imagine that you ever been skinny dipping" he said smugly.
Hermione despite herself frowned at the mention of him being almost naked with Daphne. She composed herself quickly, though.
"I have been if you must know" she replied.
"No way! There is no way that you Hermione Granger has ever done something that I haven't!"
"Well I am sorry to burst your bubble of what you think of me, but it's the truth I have been."
"Burst your bubble?" Draco frowned.
Hermione rolled her eyes, she had done it again "that's another muggle idiom, means to shatter someone's illusions."
Draco nodded in understanding, but he was stunned. He would have bet his entire vault at Gringotts that she had never done anything like that.
"Besides you already knew I broke a lot of rules. Why is this such a shock?" she asked breaking his thoughts.
"Simple really, you are a Gryffindor, fighting for right, and just things so having you sneak out after curfew to save the world not shocking. You, Hermione Granger doing anything sexual is out of character. It's just not something I thought you'd ever do."
Hermione stopped walking "You don't see me as a sexual being?"
"That's not what I said" Draco defended.
"Yes, it is. You said that having me do something sexual was so out of character. That I Hermione Granger could never do anything like that. I might as well be a nun 'get thee to a nunnery.'" Hermione quoted Shakespeare.
Her face red she had never been so offended. She didn't care that people thought her a know-it-all, even being a muggle born, that is who she is. She knew she wasn't the girliest girl in the world, she didn't care about fashion or makeup. But to have someone tell her that she wasn't viewed as even a woman with desire just this smart shell of a person was the most hurtful thing.
"Look, Hermione, I'm sorry. You know me I speak before my brain tells me to shut up. I didn't mean to say that you aren't a sexual being, of course, you are I just have never seen this side of you. So it is a shock to me to see you as someone who has those sort of feelings for someone else.
Hermione only shrugged, still too mad to actually talk to him. Though Draco correctly took it as accepting his apology.
"Let's play a game," Draco said after five minutes of silence.
"Seriously? Why can't we just hold a regular conversation?" Hermione wasn't one to play games; there was usually always more important or better things to be doing, like catching up on your studies. Further, whenever she had played games with Ron or Harry, they always teamed up with her, so it wasn't very enjoyable.
He huffed and rolled his eyes "Couple reasons first we have been walking in silence for five minutes, so we're not even having a conversation. Second because games are fun and can lead to 'normal' conversations. Come on."
"What game are you thinking?"
He smirked "truth or dare."
She groaned and rolled her eyes "So juvenile."
"Well excuse me for still being a juvenile. I just figured it would be a good way to get to know each other even better than we already do." He argued back.
She glared at him finally caving "Fine! But no dares, we don't know what is behind certain doors, and the customs here are very different than in our present."
"Alright then, we'll call the game truth or truth. We each get to ask the other a truth question, and we have to answer honestly. We can ask sub-questions off of the replies that are giving" Draco came up with the rules.
Hermione agreed but made sure to add an amendment "Sounds fair, but my amendment to those rules would be that we can't laugh at the other person's answers."
"Whatever ok. Are you ready to play?" Draco asked impatiently.
"As ready as I'll ever be" she replied.
"Great I'll ask first" he smirked down at her. She had a sneaky suspicion that she was going to regret playing this game.
"First question… when did you go skinny dipping?" Draco was curious and also hoped that by him showing interest, Hermione would really forgive him for the whole not 'doing anything sexual' comment.
Hermione closed her eyes and shook her head. She sighed and began to tell the story that she had never told anyone before, not even her best friend, Ginny.
"It was during the summer holiday after our fifth year. My parents and I were on holiday in Sardinia for two weeks during the month of July. I usually stayed with my family in July and then I would go to the Weasleys during the month of August, and we would all go back to school together" she unnecessarily explained. Hermione continued "While there we had met this local family who had invited us to their house for a party.
"At the party, I met this handsome older boy; he was twenty or twenty-one while I was almost seventeen. We were talking and drinking wine the whole night. It was nice; I was my own person. No one knew me as Harry Potters best friend, the brightest witch of our age, a muggle-born, or as a member of Dumbledore's Army fighting for her life in the wizard world. I was just Hermione, talking to a cute boy on holiday with her family.
" Around 11:30 my parents left to go back to the hotel, they let me stay since I was having fun when one o'clock rolled around he invited me to go back to his parent's villa. It was beyond gorgeous! Had a breathtaking view of the ocean, its pool, I can't even describe how amazing it was. His parents were away visiting family in America, so he was at the party as a sort of ambassador for his family. Again we were at his parent's villa; we were kissing while we were hanging out by the pool.
"I think it was all the wine that I had drunk, but I was the first to take off my clothes and jump in. He quickly followed suit and jumped in after me. But there it is that's my skinny dipping story."
Draco took it all in; his emotions were a mix of amazement, anger, and surprising him, jealousy.
"Are you going to say something?" she inquired, she wondered why he wasn't saying anything. When he did, she wasn't expecting what he said.
"How could your parents allow you to stay with a guy who is so much older than you? You were only seventeen, not even!" Draco was so angry at something that happened nearly two years ago. "I just can't believe you would take off your clothes for a complete stranger, and you wouldn't even get changed in front of me…" he mumbled to himself.
"Merlin, I certainly didn't expect this reaction from you."
"Well… You could've gotten hurt."
"Lighten up it was two years ago!" She didn't notice the sound of concern in his voice.
"Right after I jumped in, the cold water sobered me up. I quickly climbed out of the pool, grabbed a towel off the chair wrapped it around myself and ran until I found an alley to get redressed and make my way back to my family's hotel. I have never seen or heard from Italian guy again."
Draco was still fuming over how careless she had been. He also didn't like the fact that he was jealous of the nameless Italian guy who was able to see her naked.
Hermione shrugged and rolled her eyes "It is my turn to ask you a question."
"Go ahead" Draco welcomed the change of subject.
"Ok let's see…" she ponders for a moment "Who was your strangest crush?"
"Pssh easy, Helena Ravenclaw," Draco said nonchalantly.
Hermione raised an eyebrow "The gray lady? She's a ghost, and she's crazy."
"First of all, you asked for my strangest crush, and liking a ghost qualifies as strange and second she's a babe," Draco said pointedly.
"I guess she is pretty." Hermione thought of the ghost woman with her tiny waist, long legs that go on for miles, and her straight luscious hair. Almost everything that Hermione was not.
Draco looked at her "Are you comparing yourself to a ghost?"
She quickly snapped out of her thoughts "What no!" How could he possibly know what I was thinking? She thought to herself.
"Yes, you were! You're jealous of a ghost" Draco teased, his laughter is not being able to be contained.
"I thought I said we couldn't make fun of each other? Also to be jealous, you have to want what the other has and I most certainly didn't want you or your attention."
Draco smirked "I never said you were jealous of The Gray Lady because I had a crush on her, though now that I say it out loud it's not really a crush since I was never stupid enough to think of her as anything other than a ghost, I just thought that she was beautiful. You are the one who lept to the conclusion that I meant being liked by me.
Hermione felt her cheeks burn but fought through it "Well, you were jealous of an Italian guy who doesn't and never will have anything to do with you!" she threw back at him.
Caught off guard, he knew Hermione was a bit of a spitfire, but he wasn't truly expecting her to point that out.
He glared at her "Well, at least, the person I was jealous of is alive!" He knew the second he said it how lame and how truly revealing it was to his feelings for her it was. He brushed his right hand through his hair and took a deep breath "Let's just go back to the game."
"Agreed," she said. "It's your turn to ask me a question" she gestured towards Draco.
He had to know "Who was your first crush?"
Part of him hoped it might have been him when they first met back when they were eleven before she knew how much of a git he was, though after her last comment on not wanting him to like her Draco knew that it was more likely to have been Saint Potter or the weasel.
Hermione rolled her eyes "Seriously?"
"Yes seriously" he mocked, "Who was it Potter or the Weasel?"
"Don't call Ron the 'Weasel' and it was Ron" she shrugged.
His eyes widened "Weasley?" I would've guessed Potter."
"No. Well at one point I did like both of them. That was only during the first year. Then second to fifth year, I had a crush on just Ron."
"What happened in the sixth year? Who did you have a crush on then?" he asked.
She briefly had a crush on Malfoy himself; but she wasn't going to tell him that, especially since some of those feelings she thought she had buried a long time ago are beginning to resurface. And for that fact that he had been a bully to her since they met. She just couldn't help but find him attractive back then. She had blamed it on teenage hormones, but after getting to know him without his father's pure-blood ideals bearing down on him, he was quite an enjoyable person to be around. Though Hermione still thought that he was a git occasionally.
Hermione decided that she would tell him about her other crush she had in sixth year "Well what had happened was Ron had begun to date Lavender Brown and instead of feeling jealous and upset I felt" she stopped to think of the right word "I felt relieved I guess. It was so confusing for so long I wanted to be Ron's girlfriend and then when I wasn't the one he picked I was glad. Though we did try very briefly after the war. I wanted to make sure that I wasn't making the wrong decision by not giving him a chance. But we just didn't mesh. We are better off as friends."
Draco repeated, "So who did you like during sixth year?"
Hermione chuckled embarrassed "It's a bit embarrassing, but it was Neville."
Draco tugged her arm and stopped them, his gray eyes meeting her caramel "Longbottom? You had a crush on Neville Longbottom? That buffoon who couldn't remember anything?"
She tugged her arm out of his grasp "Yes, I did. He had come back to school so handsome I just couldn't help it. Neville is an amazing guy; he's sweet, smart in his own way, and he is very brave. However I realized that he is still Neville, and I was still me, so the crush quickly died out. After that I was busy, you know, saving the world I didn't have time for crushes anymore."
Draco only nodded and begun to walk again; Hermione shot him an annoyed glance that went unnoticed by him and sped up to catch up with him.
"It's your turn," he said once she was next to him again. They had begun the climb to D-deck.
Opting for a silly question, she asked "What is the best pickup line that you have ever used?".
Draco slowly turned to her placed his arm next to her blocking her from escape, leaned in close and whispered: "Hi, I'm Draco Malfoy." He stood back up with a smirk, and she shoved him but still had a smile on her face.
"You're so stupid. I asked for your best pick up line, not your lamest" Hermione joked.
"It works every time, though, I'd say that it's the best" Draco smirked.
"What is the naughtiest dream that you've ever had?" Draco asked before they could get sidetracked. He was sure that Hermione wasn't going to tell him this or he guessed that she never had one of those dreams. But after the whole fiasco earlier he didn't want to assume anything.
Since the beginning of the school year, Hermione had started to feel very comfortable around Draco, she had no qualms about telling him about her secrets, which frightened her slightly but on with the game she thought.
"Well, actually it's a recurring dream that I have had since I was 14. You see I am in my old dormitory at Hogwarts, and this faceless guy comes in pulls back the curtains on my bed. I am not scared I am rather intrigued. The faceless guy climbs on my bed and top of me, he rips off my nightgown and begins to kiss me. His lips are very soft and feel nice on my skin, but once he hits at about my collarbone, I wake up."
Draco shifted her dream was slightly a turn on for him; he pulled himself together before speaking "So has anything in it changed at all or is it the same?"
"Well sometimes my nightgown is different, or even my bedspread but overall it is the same. It's mornings after I have that dream I wake up feeling extra frustrated and bitchy if I'm honest" Hermione blushed. She couldn't figure out why she was telling Draco that.
"So you must have that dream all the time then because you are always frustrated, and bitchy" Draco playful jabbed her shoulder.
"Sod off" she shoved back lightly.
"Make me" he provoked, pushing her slightly back. Soon they were in a playful game of shove as they walked and laughed down a corridor.
Hermione leaned up against the wall to catch her breath from laughing. Draco stopped right in front of her, both breathing heavy as they looked at each other.
He said what she had wanted to say but didn't know how to "I feel so comfortable talking to you. It scares me a little bit."
Hermione nodded "I feel the same way. Does this mean that we are actual friends, not just roommates, and quasi-study buddies, but actual friends?"
Her bangs had fallen in her face again, and Draco tucked it behind her ear "Yeah, I guess it does mean that."
They stood there quietly looking into each other's eyes for another moment until Hermione broke the silence and asked "When was your first kiss?"
Draco turned and shook his head as he turned to continue walking. If Hermione wasn't mistaken, he seemed upset that she had broken their little moment.
Draco answered "I was seven, she was nine, my parents we are having their annual summer get together, she and I were in my garden, and we had seen our parents do it, so we didn't think much of it. It lasted a mere three seconds, but anyway I was seven." He was slightly proud of himself.
"That can't count! You didn't know what it was" Hermione disputed.
"It can and it does. I had my first kiss when I was seven but if it will make Your Honor Hermione happy my first kiss that I went out of my way to kiss a girl because I liked them was second-year Hogwarts."
"It does please me; you can't call a kiss at the age of seven your first time to kiss a girl when you don't know what it is."
"Whatever… it counts" Draco whispered but loud enough for Hermione to hear him. "When was your first kiss?"
Hermione shrugged indifferently "I was thirteen, and before you ask it who it was with the answer is Seamus, it was awkward and awful. It was during a game of spin the wand; I wanted so badly to have it land on Ron, but I think Seamus made it fall on him."
"My turn… time to get things a little more interesting," she smirked, "How would you describe your dream girl?"
Draco smirked back at her "Well my dream girl has to be smart! I don't care for it when girls try to dumb themselves down; it's infuriating. She also needs to have a sense of humor. Someone who will be a supportive best friend and someone I can rely on. A woman that I can lock eyes with across the room and we can share the same thought without sharing a word. A woman who has morals cares for other people, and someone you can count on no matter what the circumstance. Since I clearly don't care about others. Someone who doesn't get discouraged during trying times and finds the good in everything. She will be independent and can take care of herself but not be shy about asking for help should she need it."
Hermione listened carefully, and his description was very close to describing her. "Have you ever met a woman like that yet?"
Draco only shrugged "It's my turn, and since you delved deep into my psyche I can only return the favor. What is it that you look for in a man? Like what type of man do you see yourself marrying?" Draco glanced sideways at her; her brows were furrowed together in thought.
"Well… I want to be with a man who is kind, someone who can look past all my insecurities to make me realize how ridiculous they truly are. A man who understands my need to be alone sometimes; but never actually leaving me alone. A man who can make me smile when he walks into the room, despite if I am angry with him. A man who can make me laugh till my sides hurt even if I am the only one who thinks he is funny. I want to be with a man that it will feel like my heart would break in two if we were ever to be separated. I want… love" she wasn't even looking at anything just dreamily gazing as she listed off her dream man.
Draco couldn't believe she had any insecurities about herself still. She had accomplished so much that she had nothing to be insecure about. "What are your insecurities?" he asked softly.
Hermione shrugged "They are silly, but I can't shake the fear of failing. Nor can I ever actually feel comfortable in my skin. After being bullied for most of your life for being ugly, you begin to believe that it is true."
She knew Draco was thinking about himself being a bully to her "And no it didn't start with you and Pansy calling me names about my appearance, it started when I was still in Muggle School. I was always told that I was the ugly duckling, and I just don't believe that I've turned into the beautiful swan."
Draco took her hand "You have nothing to be insecure about. You are the smartest person that I know and are incapable of failing. As for your looks; you have become the beautiful swan."
Hermione was looking at the ground, Draco grabbed her chin so they could look eye to eye.
"Why would Krum ask you to the Yule Ball? Why else would Pansy be so jealous of you if you weren't one of the prettiest witches at Hogwarts? So please believe in yourself because I and plenty of others believe that you are beautiful and wonderful."
He once again turned to start walking, but he didn't let go of her hand.
Hermione was shocked, not expecting any of this to come from her former public enemy number one. In less than a few hours, Draco Malfoy had called her beautiful and wonderful twice. She had butterflies in her stomach, and her cheeks were tinted pink but was so happy to hear the words that she had always wanted to hear, and to her surprise from the person, she always wanted to hear those words from.
She leaned her head to rest on his shoulder as they walked "Thanks."
Draco leaned his head on hers for a moment and squeezed her hand.
Walking back in the direction of the Grand Stair Case they stayed hand in hand until they heard the clock on the stairs begin to chime. The time read five o'clock
"It's time for us to get changed for dinner," Hermione said.
Silently they walked back to their cabin. Once inside Draco and Hermione began to change into their borrowed evening clothes.
"I've meant to ask you, Hermione, do you know what is it like in the present?" Draco asked as he pulled up his dress pants.
Hermione was once again behind a dressing curtain "Well, it is still moving, just really slowly. This is not noticeable to anyone else, so when we return only a few hours will have passed. Despite us having been here for almost two days."
She knew she had to tell him the enviable; he had to know what the possibility of Crockford not sending them back meant.
"This ship is headed to America correct?" his voice echoed.
"So what was your plan if you didn't find Crockford? Were you just going to live your life out in America? Doesn't really seem like something that you would do."
Hermione gulped as she came out from behind the dressing curtain "I have to tell you something."
Draco looked over at her; her ensemble was a tight burgundy lace dress she looked stunning. Her face though was clearly upset. "What's wrong?"
"You know how I keep saying we need to find Crockford before it is too late? Well, we do have a time limit" she began to tell him.
"Do you mean we are going to disappear from existence if we don't go back?" He questioned.
"No, what I mean is that" Hermione takes a gulp and finally tells Draco what is actually going to happen.
"Titanic never makes it to America. Tomorrow night at 11:40 the ship is going to strike an iceberg. By 2:20 it will be at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Crockford dies in the tragedy along with fifteen hundred others. There was a slight possibility that if he didn't send me back that I would have been one of the ones to perish. If that didn't happen, then I would have gone to America and figure out what to do."
"Why didn't you tell me?" Draco growled.
Hermione shrunk into herself whispering "I didn't know how to tell you."
"So you were just not ever going to come back? How do you think I would have felt? Do you think I wouldn't have noticed that you weren't around anymore? AHHH!" he screamed into his hands. He rubbed his hands down his face trying to comprehend what Hermione had just thrust upon him.
Hermione trembled "I'm sorry, I just I don't know…I don't have any excuses to tell you."
Draco went over to where she was standing and took her hands in his pulling her close to him "I don't want your excuses, I want you alive, I want us at Hogwarts finishing our last year, I want to help us get back. I want…"
He leaned into her, she met him halfway, and closing her eyes she felt his soft lips graze her own. She slowly kissed him back. Time stood still; everything just felt it would be all right.
Gently they separated, still touching foreheads
"I would say sorry, but I'm not" he whispered.
"Don't be. I should be the one to apologize I should have told you the truth from the beginning" Hermione began to ramble.
"Yes, you should've," Draco said sternly.
Hermione started to hiccup with tears again.
Draco realized that being harsh with her wasn't going to help. He ran his hand through her hair and down her face hushing her. "We need to find Crockford so you can get your answers and then make him send us back. He will be in the dining hall, so that is where we need to be. Everything is going to work out. If we can survive Voldemort than we can survive this."
Hermione would never have thought in a million years that Draco Malfoy would be the one to calm her down, and then the one to help her in her time of need. She never thought that she would have real feelings for the Slytherin.
Hermione smiled and kissed his cheek "Thanks."
Taking his arm, they headed towards the first class dining room.