Christmas eve

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The next morning Hermione made her way down to the great hall entrance to wait for Draco. She arrived at 10:51, leaving plenty of time to allow for any delay; punctual as usual. She waited patiently until 11:00 and then started worrying that Draco would not turn up. 'Surely he wouldn't just stand her up after telling her he liked her?' The rational side of her brain thought. But her anxiety just started to take over, and she found herself getting more and more anxious that he wasn't going to turn up and she'd be left with that horrible embarrassed feeling once more. 11:10 came and she was almost about to turn back to the Gryffindor common room feeling deflated and upset, when she heard him behind her.

'Hello Hermione' he said behind her.

'Draco! I thought you weren't coming' she said. She was shocked but she had an overwhelming sense of happiness that he hadn't stood her up.

'Why would I do that? You know I like you' he replied.

'I know, but I just always seem to think the worst,' said Hermione. 'It's a bad habit of mine.'

They set off out of the castle, headed towards the lake.

'Have you got any plans for tomorrow?' Asked Draco. 'I wondered if you wanted to sit with me for Christmas dinner?'

'It's Christmas tomorrow! I completely forgot!' Hermione exclaimed. 'I'll have to speak to Luna and see if she has anyone to sit with, I don't want her to be alone.'

'Of course,' replied Draco, 'friends come first. But I would happily sit with both of you?'

'Yes that would be nice. Can you believe I almost forgot it was Christmas! I hardly even feel Christmassy this year. After everything that's happened this year it feels so insignificant to be celebrating it.'

They continued chatting as they reached the lake; Draco was intrigued to find out that the muggles spent Christmas in a very similar way to the wizarding world. He had never really learnt anything about muggles, as he had always seen himself as better than them so he never bothered. However, the war had humbled him and he no longer saw himself as above them. He'd done some bad things, and no longer felt he was in a place to judge others.

'Can I ask you something?' Said Draco, 'why do you make time for me, when most of my friends can't even bear the sight of me? Why don't you hate me?'

'We've all done bad things Draco,' replied Hermione, 'and I know none of it came from you. I know you were manipulated and coerced into doing things by Voldemort and your dad. You were born into a family where you were expected to behave that way, and that is no fault of your own; you can't control that. So I don't blame you, because I know deep down you're a good person and if you'd been brought up differently, you wouldn't have done those things.'

'Do you really think so? Its hard being back at school. Nobody will speak to me anymore, some won't even look at me.'

They chatted for a while about many different things. Hermione felt really comfortable confiding in Draco. She felt like she could trust him, and he opened up to her too, which was unusual for Draco.

The next morning was Christmas. When Hermione went down into the common room, she was surprised to find 3 presents addressed to her. The first was from Harry, it was a new set of very expensive looking quills and a book about house elf rights - Hermione was still very keen on supporting the liberation of house elves, and now the war was over she planned to start researching it again. The next was from Molly Weasley, a new jumper of course, this time it was purple. Even after everything that had happened between her and Ron, it touched Hermione that Mrs Weasley still thought of her. The last present was from her parents; a few fiction books, they knew how much she loved reading. The thought of her parents brought a tear to her eye. She could hardly speak to them after she altered their memories, the guilt eating her up every time she saw them. It was one of the reasons she didn't want to spend christmas at home.

Hermione went back up to her dormitory and started reading one of the books from her parents until it was time for Christmas Dinner in the Great Hall.

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