The Battle at Hogwarts had taken place over a week ago. In the past week Kingsley Schaklebolt had been named Minister of Magic, Aurors had caught Death Eaters all over the country, and many of them awaited their trials in Azkaban. Volunteers daily helped St Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries with the huge amount of patients. The rebuilding of Hogwarts had started and funerals were held for the victims of the war. The Golden Trio had attended several burials already and more were to come the next few weeks.
Hermione Granger was currently at the Burrow eating breakfast with Harry Potter and all of the Weasley's. The past week had been rough, she had made long hours at St Mungo's and came exhausted back. Her nightmares didn't help her lack of sleep and she barely ate. Today, however, she had taken the day off thanks to the constant bickering of her friends Harry and Ron. Even Draco Malfoy had contacted her through their enchanted bracelets and told her to take it easy. He had invited her to his home, and reluctantly she had accepted.
"I'm going shopping today." Ginny announced, "Would you like to join me, Hermione?" The bushy-haired girl looked up from her untouched toast and answered quietly: "Sorry Ginny, I can't. I'm going to see Draco." The cheerful atmosphere abruptly changed. "You're what?" Ron asked angrily. She looked at the boy who was supposed to be her boyfriend. "I am going to see Draco. He invited me for lunch at his manor." This time it was Harry who spoke up. "Are you sure Hermione? The Manor could bring back some bad memories. You have enough nightmares as it is." She sighed as she had had the same concerns too. "I know, but Draco can't leave the premises until his name has been cleared at his trial." Ron scoffed loudly and she glared at him. "He is innocent Ronald. He was just as much a victim of the war as we were." Ron slammed his hand on the table. "Innocent? Hermione, he is a Death Eater, you can't trust him. Why are you defending him?" Hermione angrily glared back. "He was forced to be a Death Eater, Ron. And I trust him, because we have been friends for years."
Silence engulfed the table. Ginny frowned and looked at Harry for answers. Harry in turn merely shrugged and looked disappointed and confused at Hermione. Ron looked close to exploding and all the other Weasley's, save for Fred and George who were grinning wickedly, just waited uncomfortable for the bomb to explode. "ARE YOU INSANE HERMIONE? HE ISN'T YOUR FRIEND, HE'S YOUR ENEMY. HE …" Ron's shouts were cut short when Hermione raised his wand and frightening calm said: "Silencio." She watched the red-head rant on a few moments before he realized he had been silenced. Arthur Weasley groaned when he saw his youngest son point an angry finger to the muggle-born. "Ron, stop pointing and sit down. Hermione dear, I know Ron is overreacting, but you have to realize he is just trying to protect you. Until a week ago, all of us assumed Mr. Malfoy was a supporter of Voldemort. You owe us an explanation dear. Especially Ron and Harry I believe." Hermione's relaxed a little and nodded. "Yes, I guess so." As soon as she lifted the Silencing-charm, Ron tried to talk again, but was easily silenced by a glare from his mother.
"Alright, I guess I should start at the beginning. It started in our second year, just a few days after he called me a Mudblood for the first time. I found him studying late at the library one night. He was having some struggles and I offered my help. With a bit of persuasion he eventually accepted. We studied and talked for a while. We weren't friends back then, we were both really confused to be honest. I thought I would never have a civil conservation with him again, but I did. At the end of the year, he came to me and apologized. He thought it was his fault that I had been petrified, which was rubbish of course. The next few years it continued like this. We would find each other in times of need and would comfort each other. We had agreed to be secret friends, and act as rivals in public. This was mostly for Draco's sake, as he wasn't allowed to hang out with muggle-borns. When Voldemort returned, we both wanted to defeat him. And so we helped as much as we could." She took a deep breath and continued. "I understand it is difficult to believe, but Draco really is a good man. He helped me a lot over the years and his actions at the Battle proves that his loyalty isn't with Voldemort, but with us. With me."
"So you don't care about what he has done? You just forget all the times he tormented us, you ignore the fact that he is a Death Eater. He even planned on killing Dumbledore, he almost killed me." Ron's voice trembled with anger. "Ron," Hermione carefully begun, "he hasn't tormented me since second year. Not really, it was just an act. And I never was pleased that he bullied the two of you, but you weren't exactly kind to him. Besides, a lot of changed since then. A war is more important than some school rivalry. And I told you, he was forced to become a Death Eater. His and his families lives were on the line. And the Dumbledore part, well to be honest, I kind of helped him. No, Harry, let me explain. I helped him rebuilt the Vanishing Cabinet. And he helped me master the Patronus-form you saw last week. He would kill Dumbledore, and I would make sure no other casualties would fall. It worked, you know. I didn't really fight that night, I just protected everyone from the curses."
Hermione looked directly at Bill then. "We didn't know Fenrir Greyback would come. It wasn't even a full moon. I was prepared for Unforgivables and other curses, but the Patronus doesn't protect you from werewolves. I am so sorry." Bill looked taken aback by the apology. "Quite alright, Hermoine. It wasn't your fault." Hermione gave a grateful smile and looked back at Ron. "Sixth year was really stressful for Draco, even with my help it took a long time to repair the Cabinet and his parents were being tortured Ron. He was desperate, so he did something stupid and tried to kill Dumbledore with a necklace and a bottle of wine. I was livid with him, both times, but he was a sixteen year old boy under a lot of pressure. I forgave him." Ron wasn't satisfied with the explanation. "YOU FORGAVE HIM? I COULD'VE BEEN DEAD!" "But you aren't. And it was war Ron, we've all been pushed to our limits." The red-head scoffed again. "I still don't understand why you even helped him, why you became friends. He's just a stupid git." "Because Ron, he helped me as well. He had my back and I had his. That's what friends are for." "You had Harry and me, why would you need him?"
Hermione rose to her feet and stared furiously at Ron. "Because Ronald, if I recall correct you didn't always have my back. You and Harry both turned on me in third year because of a rat and a broom. Draco fed me, cheered me up and told me to get some rest, when you were to childish to even speak to me. A year later, you almost ruined my Yull Ball with your jealously, but Draco noticed and he made sure I enjoyed my evening. And when you broke my heart, by kissing Lavender in front of me, he was there. He was always there. Even when you left Harry and me, he did his best to cheer me up and all we had was a bracelet to communicate with."
Harry stood as well and put a hand on Hermione's shoulder. "Hermoine?" he asked tentatively. "I am sorry I wasn't always the friend I was supposed to be, and I am grateful you had Draco in those times. If you trust Draco, then I will trust you. But I don't understand why you didn't tell me? Don't you trust me?" Tears were now falling down her cheeks. "Of course I trust you Harry. It was just never the right time. At first you were too caught up in your stupid rivalry and soon after that the war started. You had a lot on your mind, I didn't want to bother you with my friendship with Draco. I know you always trusted me, but you didn't trust Draco, you were even quiet obsessed with him in our sixth year. And I thought of telling you the past months Harry, but I was afraid. After Ron left, it was just the two of us. You were doubting Dumbledore and I didn't want you to doubt me." Harry stared at her and shook his head. He pulled her in a hug and kissed her check. "I could never doubt you, Hermione. I'm sorry I made you feel that way." She chuckled. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you." They pulled apart and stared happily at each other.
Harry saw Ron's face over Hermione's shoulder and groaned when he was faced with an jealous and angry boy. "Ron, I told you alr…" But Ron didn't listen and stormed off. "Shut it, Harry. I'll just leave so the two of you can goggle at each other again." They saw him walk outside and disapperate. Hermione's smile fell immediately. "He left. He left again." Harry pulled her back in his embrace, while Hermione let her tears fall. "I'm sorry, but what are you talking about? What do you mean Ron left again?" Ginny asked confused. Bill answered for Harry, who was busy shushing Hermione. "A few weeks before Christmas, Ron turned up at our doorstep. Apparently he had a disagreement with Harry and left." Harry pushed Hermione on a seat and he sat down beside her, with his arm around her waist and her head on his shoulder. "He left you alone? But why?" Harry shrugged. "I'm not sure anymore. We had just overheard that you, Neville and Luna had tried to steal the Sword of Gryffindor. We heard you had been punished and sent to the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid. Ron wasn't too happy, when I was relieved by that. He said I didn't care what happened with you or anybody else for that matter. He told me I didn't know what he was going through, because I had no family." Hermione felt Harry tighten his grip on her.
The Weasley's looked shocked by the revelation. "That stupid idiot." George muttered. Hermione chuckled. "Several months later, he came back. Harry had already forgiven him, but it took me some time." "So the two of you were alone in a tent for weeks?" Ginny shyly asked. "Stop thinking right now." Harry told her. "Before you start acting like Ron. I already told him and I thought you would be wise enough to know this. Hermione is my sister. I love her, but I am not in love with her." Ginny blushed. "I know, but a war was going on and you only had each other. Weird things could happen." Hermione sat up and pushed Harry away from her. He understood, and walked around the table to sit beside Ginny. "Nothing happened, Ginny. Harry is right, he's family."
Noises came from the garden and all of them turned to see Ron tossing gnomes over the hedge. "Hermione, do you think Malf- eh Draco would mind if you came early today?" She smiled happily at Harry. "No, I don't think he would mind. I'll go right now." "Good, I would like to have a little chat with your boyfriend." She smirked. "Ooh, the big brother talk." Mrs. Weasley wasn't thrilled about this however. "Hermione, don't you think you should contemplate with Ron first?" "No, Mrs. Weasley, I don't need Ron's permission to visit my friend. Besides Harry is right, I should go. If talk to Ron now, I would only hex him." Fred and George both lit up. "Please stay Hermione." Fred said. "Yes, stay, I would quiet enjoy the show I think." Mrs. Weasley gave her twins a disapproving glare. "Alright, alright. Go then. You will be back at dinner I assume?" Hermione shook her head. "No, I don't think so. Draco can calm me down fairly quick, but I think I will first have to calm him." "So when will you be back?" Hermione shrugged. "Not sure. When I want to come back I guess. I think I will stay at Draco's tonight." Mrs. Weasley now looked appalled. "You will not stay the night, young lady. Ronald and you have a relationship!" Hermione looked furious. "Our relationship will end swiftly, if I can't count on him. Now if you don't mind, I am going to visit and stay the night. After that I think I will go to Grimmauld Place, if that's alright with you Harry?" He nodded and she walked into the fireplace and said: "Malfoy Manor."