Emotions run high

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8.45pm came round and Hermione, now ready, head off to the Gryffindor perfect common room. When she arrived, she said the password and pushed the door open to find Draco had not arrived yet. The room was like a smaller version of the Gryffindor common room; it was a small, cosy room with a large roaring fire in one corner with 2 sofas and 3 armchairs placed around the fire. Along the back wall was a row of desks, so the prefects had a quiet space to get on with their school work. Hermione made herself comfortable on one of the sofas, waiting for Draco.

Not long after, Draco tapped on the door and Hermione got up to let him in.

'Hello,' he said, as a smile crept across his face at the sight of her, 'it's nice in here, very cosy. You look beautiful.' Hermione blushed, a smile appearing on her face too. She led him over to the sofa where she had been sat, and they both sat down.

'How are you? Have you had a nice day?' Asked Hermione.

'In all honesty, no. I've spent most of the day alone until now, and it's given me too much time to think about how much things have changed. Christmas at home was always such a big celebration, and this year my parents didn't even want me to come back.'

'Everything's changed, you're not alone. Everyone has been affected by what happened, I have too.'

'Yeah I've been meaning to ask, how come you stayed at Hogwarts instead of going home this Christmas?' Draco asked.

'Um... well my parents wanted to go on holiday over Christmas and I didn't really feel up to it. And besides, I find it so hard to be around my parents without the guilt eating me up.' She told him.

'What do you mean? Why do you feel guilty?'

'Oh I forget you wouldn't know. Before the war started, in the summer after our 6th year, I obliviated my parents out of fear that something would happen to them. I couldn't bare the thought of them being tortured or killed so I thought it was the only option. It was the most difficult thing I had to do, but I knew they needed protecting.' She explained, 'but as soon as the war was over I got their memories restored, but they've never quite been back to normal. It's hard to be at home knowing how much I hurt them in trying to save them.'

'Oh Hermione that's awful, I had no idea. Hearing things like that it makes me feel sick that I was on Voldemort's side of the war. I wish I could go back and change the way I acted, but my father forced me to do everything I did; we were acting out of fear. My father is a coward and I feel like I am too.' Replied Draco. 'I was so scared the whole way through, and fear makes you do awful things. I regret so much and I'm truly sorry for any hurt I caused you and your friends.'

Listening to what Draco was saying brought back so many horrible memories from during the war that tormented Hermione's thoughts; that night at the Malfoy manor, the room of requirement, when they briefly thought Harry was dead and so much more hurt that she had felt. She suddenly found her eyes filled with tears, and she broke down, nestling her head on Draco's shoulder. He put his arm around her and pulled her in close, tears starting to well up in his eyes as he saw how upset Hermione was, and as he thought about how terrible some of the things he had done were. They were both as broken as each other, and they found comfort in the fact that they both understood each other's pain.

Time went by and they sat in silence for a while, each thinking deeply about everything they had been through and each feeling comforted by the others company.

'I forgive you' said Hermione, finally. 'Fear changes you, it makes you do things you would never dream of. But I know what you're like deep down Draco, I know you're a good person and your heart is in the right place. I've known you for long enough to know that behind that tough exterior is a gentle and kind boy, who's just trying his hardest to make his father proud. But you don't have to pretend in front of me anymore; I want to know the real Draco, the soft Draco, not the tough guy. And I know that once everyone else sees that side of you too, they will accept you and we can all move on with our lives and forget our past. Nobody is perfect.'

'Thank you Hermione, you honestly don't know how much it means to me to know that you forgive everything I've done. I was awful to you all through school, and I can't do anything to change that but I can be a better person in the future, and I want to! I've liked you for so long, and that's why I was so mean to you because I knew I could never have you and it angered me. But now I just want to be the best person I can to impress you, now I know I have a chance. But I don't think the rest of the school will ever accept me again.'

'You don't know that. You just need to show them that you're not the person they think you are, they'll come round in the end I promise you. Anyway that's enough of this talk, can we chat about something a little more lighthearted? What did you think of Pansy's interruption at dinner today?!'

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