Spoilers: PS to OotP
AN: I apologize for the lateness (only a couple days, so it's not too bad, right?) I tried my best to do justice to the relationship and to Draco & Hermione, tried to show how the books support fanfic explorations of a relationship between these two. I hope I succeeded. :D
“Twitchy little ferret, aren’t you, Malfoy?”
If I had to pick one line from the five books published so far in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series to summarize the Draco-Hermione relationship, it would be that gem from Goblet of Fire. Draco’s just overheard Ron ask Hermione about her date to the Yule Ball and butts into their conversation, expressing shock that someone asked Hermione, the long-molared Mudblood according to him, to the ball. Both Ron and Harry whip around ready to defend Hermione, but she doesn’t wait for their defense. Nor does she need it. Looking past Malfoy, she waves and calls out to Professor Moody, the new fourth year DADA instructor who humiliated Malfoy earlier in the year by transfiguring him into a ferret and bouncing him up and down the Great Hall before the entire school. Upon hearing Moody’s name, Malfoy grows pale and jerks around looking for him, only to find him at the opposite end of the Great Hall still seated at the professors’ table, eating his dinner and apparently oblivious to Hermione, Draco, and their entire exchange. Hermione finishes Draco off then with the twitchy little ferret remark before walking away, laughing all the while with Harry and Ron.
With a wave of her hand and a few choice words, Hermione’s dealt with Draco Malfoy more effectively than either Harry or Ron in all of their more numerous and volatile encounters. She accomplishes this because, unlike Harry or Ron, she better controls her anger at Draco, enabling her to use her understanding of him and of what affects him against him. Hermione uses this understanding time and time again throughout the books, going toe-to-toe with Malfoy and his verbal jabs, provoking him, challenging him, surprising him, and always, in the end, causing him to respond differently to her than to anyone else. And he, in turn, provides a few puzzles of his own worth solving for Hermione, the consummate logician. The Draco-Hermione relationship is one of keen observation and cutting remarks, of continual surprises and ambiguous motivations, of passion, pride, and prejudice, all wrapped up in a bit of sly, snarky innuendo.
Twitchy little ferret, indeed.
Bossy. Diligent. Logical. Emotional. All of these characteristics describe Hermione Granger, considered by many to be the cleverest witch of her age. The only child of two Muggle dentists, Hermione first came to Hogwarts having learned all of her assigned textbooks by heart, as well as having read any other book about the magical world she could get her hands on. Hermione’s tendency to over-prepare, to go above and beyond the call of research duty to learn everything she possibly can about a given subject extends out from class assignments and exams to include her own personal crusades, favors for friends, and general knowledge about the magical world not learned in class. Good or average is not good enough for Hermione; she wants to be the best she can possibly be and will put forth the necessary effort to accomplish this goal, even if it means working herself to exhaustion by spending all of her free time in the library or by using a Time Turner to take twice as many classes as everyone else.
To Hermione, books contain everything worth knowing; more intuitive or speculative subjects like Divination hold no appeal for her. From her first encounter with Professor Trelawney’s Divination class in Prisoner of Azkaban, Hermione scoffs both the subject and Trelawney herself, declaring Trelawney to be a “fraud” and the discipline to be nothing more than a lot of “wooly… guesswork.” As evidenced by her solution of Snape’s logic problem in Philosopher’s Stone, Hermione relies upon logic and rationality to work her way through life’s problems great or small. Every effect has a cause, every cause a rational explanation, which can always be found somewhere in a book. Accordingly, in times of crisis, or in times of O.W.L. exams, the more books and the more research Hermione can pore through and study the better.
Hermione’s desire to succeed, coupled with her habit of repeatedly demonstrating her knowledge to others, earns her a know-it-all reputation among her classmates. Many also consider her to be quite bossy since she does not shy away from stating her opinion, regardless of whether people agree with her or even want to hear her opinion at all. This combined reputation of being a bossy know-it-all, as well as her disapproval for rule-breaking, inhibits Hermione’s already rather limited ability to make friends, and it’s not until a third of the way through her first year that she makes her first friends, quite possibly her first friends ever, in Ron and Harry, and this only occurs after a life-and-death fight against a Mountain Troll. But as Harry and Ron realized after that Mountain Troll fight, despite being an overbearing know-it-all who doesn’t care much for what other people think of her, Hermione cares very deeply for her friends and their opinion of her. Her estrangement from Harry and Ron in PoA causes her great emotional distress, so much so that Hagrid intervenes and speaks to Harry and Ron on her behalf. And, in GoF, Hermione bursts into tears when Ron and Harry finally reconcile after the first task. Hermione values her friends and friendships and will do everything in her power to help and protect them, even if it’s at the expense of those same friendships. If the occasion calls for it, Hermione will also make and follow through with morally ambiguous decisions to protect her friends and their causes, suggesting that the ends may be more important to her than the means (see Hermione’s blackmail of Rita Skeeter, the secret jinxing of the DA contract, and manipulating Umbridge to lure her to the Forbidden Forest in Order of the Phoenix.)
Aside from her studies and her friends, Hermione’s primary concern is S.P.E.W., the Society for the Promotion of Elfish Welfare. Horrified to learn that Hogwarts runs as smoothly as it does because of unpaid House Elf labor, Hermione embarks on a crusade her fourth year to liberate the Elves and ensure them fair wages, days off, and all the other rights awarded witches and wizards by the Ministry of Magic. Neither the lack of enthusiasm over S.P.E.W. from her fellow classmates nor the arguments from Ron, Sirius, Fred, and George that the Elves like what they’re doing deter Hermione. Not even the declarations from the Hogwarts Elves themselves that they enjoy working for free stops Hermione’s pursuit for equal rights and equal treatment for Elves everywhere. One could assume that Hermione’s unwavering determination in securing House Elf equality originates from the prejudice she’s experienced due to her Muggle heritage, and that she pursues equality for all magical creatures, including herself, and not simply House Elves in her S.P.E.W. activities. Whatever the reason though, the idea of equality is an important one to Hermione, so important that she undertakes a massive campaign for empowerment and liberation single-handedly.
Spoiled. Ambitious. Braggart. Exhibitionist. The only child of two Pureblood wizards, Draco Malfoy first came to Hogwarts with two clear goals in mind: to be sorted into Slytherin house like the rest of his family and to befriend Harry Potter, boy hero of the wizarding world. The success of the first goal and the utter failure of the second come to define Draco for the next five years; he becomes the representative of all things Slytherin for Harry as well as his chief antagonist at school. During their stay at Hogwarts, Draco does anything he can to up-stage, humiliate, and aggravate Harry, trying at times to accomplish all three as well as getting Harry and his friends into trouble with the professors. Draco concocts and executes plans of varying complexity to accomplish these goals, plans ranging from setting Harry up for a fake duel to arranging two end-of-term ambushes on Harry and his friends. Despite all of his planning, however, Draco’s schemes usually fail, and in the notable successful exceptions, as in OotP when Draco provokes Harry into a fight, leading to Harry’s removal from the Gryffindor Quidditch team, the success is due more to Harry’s failure to control his own anger than any brilliant scheming done by Draco himself.
What Draco’s repeated attacks on Harry reveal, besides an obsessive fixation on Harry, is that he’s not afraid of confrontation. He has no qualms about taking on the famed Boy Who Lived, the one who escaped Voldemort’s clutches five different times, the boy who not only has Dumbledore as an ally but a vast majority of the Hogwarts staff, too. In fact, Draco relishes in provoking Harry and his friends and does it as often as he can. The Potter Stinks badges, the Weasley Is Our King song, flaunting Rita Skeeter’s defamatory articles in the Gryffindors’ faces, all designed to get a rise out of Harry. This is not to say that Draco is a paragon of bravery and courage, ready to take on anyone anywhere no matter what the odds. Far from it. Draco exhibits more than one moment of fear and cowardice in the books. These fears, however, aren’t groundless; they usually stem from exposure to the unknown, like the PS unicorn killer or an invisible Harry in PoA, or from previous adverse experiences such as being turned into a rat by Moody. Yet when he wants to, Draco will stand up to those more powerful than him and he will do it alone (see his defiance directed at Moody immediately post-ferret bouncing.)
When confrontations do occur, no matter what the size, Draco always tries to shift the balance of power in his direction. And the mean Draco uses most often to accomplish this power shifting is invoking the Malfoy name. Throughout the books, Draco boasts about his family’s connections and influence and brags about the supposed strength of his own influence within his family to intimidate people and to reinforce his own position within the Hogwarts social hierarchy. Draco values family, status, and power above everything else, and in his experience, these three entities are often one and the same. The status of the Malfoy family allows Draco to possess the power that he has. But, as Lucius regularly points out to him, the power that Draco does have isn’t enough. It’s not enough to beat Harry to the Golden Snitch; it’s not enough to beat Hermione in their classes; and it’s not enough to beat Ron to the position as Harry Potter’s best friend. So Draco craves more and more power and will align himself with those he believes possess it, like Dolores Umbridge in OotP, especially if these alliances reinforce his oppositional stance to Harry Potter. Once attained, Draco abuses his power to further weaken his opponents and to increase his own level of control, as he did with his bullying and random deduction of house points as a Prefect and as a member of Umbridge’s Inquisitorial Squad in OotP.
So what happens when you cross a bossy know-it-all with a power-hungry drama queen? Not quite what you’d expect, even from their first significant interaction in Chamber of Secrets. Harry and the rest of the Gryffindor Quidditch team learn early in CoS that Draco’s the new Slytherin Seeker and that his father bought the entire team new Nimbus 2001 brooms. Smug in the opulence of the new brooms, and in the Gryffindors’ awestruck reactions to them, Draco insults the Gryffindors' older models, particularly Fred and George’s old Cleansweep Fives. Hermione snaps back, telling Draco that none of the Gryffindors had to buy their way onto the team, insinuating that he himself had, and that they relied instead on their “pure talent.” Thrown momentarily, Draco retaliates by calling Hermione the “most insulting thing he could think of,” a “filthy little Mudblood.”
Right from the start, Hermione ignores Draco’s boasting, and his shiny new toys which have so captivated the others, and analyzes the situation to find the truth behind his big words. And she exposes it once she finds it, knowing it will cut short the Slytherins’ laughter and hit Draco where it hurts the most: his pride. Draco loses face before his peers and, to add insult to injury, loses it to an outsider, a “field invader” according to Flint, someone only remotely associated with Quidditch. Pride wounded in his moment of triumph, Draco lashes out, trying to regain the advantage given to him by the new brooms. He could’ve ridiculed Hermione’s own lack of flying skills or made fun of her appearance as he had in the past. But he doesn’t do either, instead calling her the worst name he possibly could, a name he had to have known would cause all the Gryffindors to reach for their wands in retaliation. Tempting their tempers in such a way by using the ugliest word possible reeks of desperation on Draco’s part; he obviously didn’t expect someone to see past his boasting, and he hates it when Hermione does so and wrests control of the confrontation out of his hands. So he calls her a ‘Mudblood’ to hurt her and to get the controlling power back. And it works. Somewhat. The ‘Mudblood’ mention fails to ruffle Hermione’s feathers, and the advantage only returns to Draco and the Slytherins after Ron’s retaliatory curse backfires, after which Hermione completely ignores Draco to focus on Ron and his slug problem. So right from the beginning, Hermione’s cool logic successfully faces off against Draco’s snide remarks and smug attitude, surprising him, unsettling him, and stripping him of his power and control. But as we learn in PoA, it’s not only Hermione’s cool logic that can catch Draco off his guard. An explosive temper and a wicked slap accomplish the same thing, too.
Hermione’s stress level rises steadily throughout her third year at Hogwarts. By the time she, Ron, and Harry come across Draco, Crabbe, and Goyle making fun of a grieving Hagrid, she’s worked herself to the point of exhaustion in an attempt to juggle all of her classes and their respective course loads with her Time Turner as well as from using any available free time she has to help Hagrid build a case for Buckbeak’s appeal. She’s fought steadily with Ron about Scabbers and Crookshanks since the preceding summer, and both Harry and Ron ostracize her and treat her nastily for a portion of the year due to the Firebolt fiasco. Immediately prior to encountering Draco, she learned all of her hard work was for naught as Buckbeak lost his appeal and was to be executed, and she had finally, tentatively, reconciled with Harry and Ron. Emotions running high, Hermione snaps when she hears Draco call Hagrid pathetic, and she slaps him with “all the strength she could muster.” She goes to smack him again, shrugging off Ron’s attempted restraint, but pulls her wand on him instead. Crabbe, Goyle, and Harry stand too shocked to move as Draco and Hermione face off, and after a tense moment of silence, Draco leaves with nothing more than a “C’mon” for Crabbe and Goyle.
While not the cause of her stress, Draco serves, however inadvertently on his part, as the catalyst to Hermione’s emotional release, setting off a chain of events in which she acts decidedly un-Hermione like. The confrontation between Hermione and Draco thus seems to concern Draco very little. Hermione’s actions toward him are passionate ones through which she expresses all of the pain, frustration, and anger she’s kept bottled inside since the beginning of the school year, not vicious ones designed to punish him for his rude remarks. Hermione uses Draco as the means to express all of the emotions she’s refrained from unleashing on their true targets: herself, Ron, Harry, Lucius Malfoy, and the Ministry’s Magical Creatures Committee. The fact that Draco’s remarks about Hagrid precipitate the confrontation is incidental in itself; he could have made fun of something completely unrelated to Hermione and her stress load and the end result would have been the same. Draco serves as an acceptable target for her stress, someone she would have little remorse for unleashing all her anger on, remorse she would feel if Harry or Ron had been the target of her emotional outburst instead. This is not to say that Hermione completely ignores Draco or his statements about Hagrid during the confrontation. On the contrary, she misses her Charms class afterwards because she was so caught up in thinking about him. Thus, while Hermione and her actions cause Draco to act differently than usual, Draco, in turn, also affects Hermione, to the point where she who uses a magical Time Turner to take twice the requisite number of classes misses an entire class because of Draco and doesn’t even notice it until Ron points it out to her.
As Draco affects Hermione with his behavior in PoA, Hermione once again surprises Draco with her actions. Only this time instead of Draco retaliating, he remains silent and does nothing but leave. Why the inaction? Hermione struck first, literally coming out of nowhere to slap Draco for a remark not even directed at her in its subject matter or in its intended audience. If he fights back, he could claim self-defense. If he refrains, he could get Hermione into serious trouble with the professors for an unprovoked attack on another student. But he does neither and passes up a prime opportunity to get revenge on Hermione and, by proxy Harry, for two years of perceived slights and sins. Why does he pass? One explanation could be embarrassment. Draco was attacked by a girl, by level-headed Hermione Granger, and whining about it to the professors could be seen as a sign of weakness by his fellow Slytherins. But Draco capitalizes on Buckbeak’s attack on him, which Draco himself instigates, and uses it to get the hippogriff ordered for execution and to delay the Gryffindor-Slytherin Quidditch match to more favorable weather conditions. So Draco’s not above using his own injuries, no matter how slight, as a means to his ends. But he doesn’t do so in this instance, and the reason seems to be that he was simply too shocked to act. Draco wants to be in control of situations and uses his knowledge of others and their weaknesses to maintain his control. Hermione, however, defies his expectations time and time again, and he doesn’t know how to deal with that, or with her, at all, leading to desperate maneuvers in CoS or no maneuvers at all in PoA.
Although Draco loathes being unable to predict the behavior of others, he occasionally indulges in a little unpredictable behavior himself, most notably during the chaos following the Quidditch World Cup in GoF. Harry, Ron, and Hermione flee the Weasley’s camp soon after the rioting begins and head for the relative safety of the woods. There they encounter a solitary Draco Malfoy, looking unaffected by all of the chaos. He warns the trio to keep moving, lest the rioting wizards spot Hermione, a Muggle-born witch, and include her with the captured Muggle family floating high above their heads. Draco shares a few taunts with Ron and Harry and gives one final warning to Hermione before she drags Ron and Harry away to look for a missing Fred, George, and Ginny.
Draco purposefully reveals himself to the trio. If he hadn’t spoken after Ron’s fall, they wouldn’t have known he was there at all. And once he has their attention, he warns them to keep moving or risk having Hermione kidnapped, explains to them why they should remain on the move before warning Hermione once again to keep her “big bushy head down.” All this from the boy who’s been their enemy for the past three years, who hates them as much as they hate him, whose own father is one of the masked wizards participating in the riot. So the question remains, why? Why reveal himself? Why warn Hermione to stay hidden? Back in CoS, Draco said he wanted the creature in the Chamber to kill Hermione like it killed the Muggle-born student fifty years ago. Now though he takes the time and effort to warn Hermione away from his father and fellow Death Eaters. This suggests that Draco’s feelings for Hermione changed sometime between CoS and GoF, not necessarily to romantic feelings but to something less than blind hatred. His actions later on in GoF and OotP support the theory of changed feelings, too. Hermione’s transformation for the Yule Ball stuns Draco, like the rest of the ball goers, into silence. On the train ride to Hogwarts in OotP, Draco leaves Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s compartment after Hermione tells him to do so, having ignored Harry and his similar demand a moment earlier to continue their confrontation. Later, during another confrontation with the trio in which Draco gloats about his new power as a member of the Inquisitorial Squad, Draco calls both Harry and Ron derisive names but not Hermione, referring to her only as Granger.
These changes are small but significant nonetheless due to their mere presence. Something, most likely Hermione herself, changed Draco’s initial perception of her, from one in which he throws around the word ‘Mudblood’ to hurt her to one where he nearly forgets she is a Muggle-born witch at all. In GoF and OotP, he directs his most vicious behavior to Ron and Harry, ridiculing them with badges and songs, calling them nasty nicknames, insulting their respective families, and directly threatening to harm them. To Hermione, there’s a warning about her safety, a stunned silence over her appearance, a couple Mudblood references which seem more like afterthoughts than planned insults, and some ridiculing at her appearance (laughing when a stray curse causes her teeth to grow in GoF) and demeanor (making fun of her eagerness to answer questions in class in OotP). Again, this is not to say that Draco suddenly developed a crush on Hermione sometime between CoS and GoF. But what these changes, what the lessening of the vitriol sent her way and the warning her away from his father do allow is the possibility that these sorts of romantic feelings could develop sometime in the future.
And this possibility attracts me to the relationship. What would have to happen for Hermione to fall in love with Draco? Would he have to change? If so, how? If he doesn’t change, how would Hermione deal with her feelings for him? What would it take for Draco to fall in love with Hermione? Would he even allow himself to do so in the first place? What would happen if he did? How would Harry, Ron, Lucius, and the rest of the wizarding world deal with a relationship between these two? The books provide a basis for a relationship between Draco and Hermione. Hermione doesn’t have the same ingrained hatred for Draco that Ron and Harry possess; she dislikes his antagonistic behavior of course, but most of the time she tries her best to ignore him when he’s at his most hostile. And when Draco’s not acting like a prat, Hermione treats him like she would any other student, admitting the validity of his arguments when she agrees with him, realizing he could have been hurt during the Buckbeak and ferret bouncing incidents, etc. On Draco’s part, with all of his Pureblood posturing, one would think that he’d hate Hermione more than he does Harry or Ron for her Muggle heritage, that she would be the target of his most vicious ridiculing, that he would try to maneuver her closer to Lucius and his fellow Death Eaters instead of warning her away. But he doesn’t.
So the books give a basis for a Draco-Hermione relationship, something to build upon in fanfiction, and as we’ve seen in the books, these two characters provide no shortage of conflict to explore, whether from internal conflict stemming from their respective needs for control, their conflicting moral codes, or their similar ambitious natures, or from external conflict from Harry and Ron’s hatred of Draco, his returning hatred of them, or Lucius’ influence on Draco, his Pureblood Muggle-born prejudice, and his Death Eater legacy. The relationship possibilities for Draco and Hermione in fanfiction captivate my imagination time and time again, and I love the fact that Draco and Hermione would be just as home in a witty, sexy romp or a romantic drama about loyalty and love as in an in-depth exploration of power, control, and manipulation or an angst filled tale about morality and redemption. And the fact that all are wrapped up in a bit of sly, snarky innuendo is just the icing on the proverbial cake.
Twitchy little ferrets to the end.
Some website and fanfic resources to explore: This is by no means a comprehensive list of Draco-Hermione websites or, especially, of fanfics. Just a few to get you started if you feel so inclined. :D
ContraVeritas, all things Dramione located here.
Coloured Grey: A Fanfic Archive
Raffy's Smut Vault, a massive list of the best NC-17 Dramione fics out there. **Edit** Link leads to Coloured Grey's Main Page, where there's a link for the Smut Vault right in the middle of the page.
dhr_valentine A valentine fic exhange challenge. Lots of good fics here to read.
dmhg_ficathon Another challenge ficathon. Again, lots of good D/Hr fics located in the memories to read.
dmhgficexchange A community devoted to running various D/Hr fic challenges. The first round centering around Fall just ended.
Fanfics: Many thanks to the lovely folks at dramione for graciously providing me with a list of their fave D/Hr fanfics. :D
- Their Room by aleximoon (PG-13)
- We'll Always Have Paris (R) and Damaged (NC-17) by Melissa D
- Adamo Fidelitas by pixiezombie (NC-17)
- Lights Out by Kphoebe
- God of the Lost by Gravidy (R)
My fic recs: A few D/Hr fics I especially love.
- Draco Malfoy and the Amazing, Bouncing... Rat? by Maya (PG-13) One of the funniest fanfics I've read in any fandom. Lots and lots of snarky goodness here.
- Sags Like a Heavy Load by bk (R) This fic is really more of a general HP one with D/Hr elements in it than a straightforward D/Hr fic, but I listed it anyway because it's one of my favorites. I adore how bk fully realizes and fleshes out not just the Gryffindors but the Slytherins, too. In particular, I'm in love with her Ron, Blasie, and poor crazy Harry and Draco.
- Counting to None by nopejr This fic hits one of my big fanfic kinks: non-linear story structure. Words cannot express how much I love this story.
- Tie Me With Velvet by Ash Jay (PG) Another fic with a non-linear story structure. Ash Jay uses it to explore the progression of a relationship in reverse. This fic is all about the last line and it kills me every time.
- Waiting For Tomorrow by Abby Cadabra This fic meets my second fanfic kink, second person POV. A fic about fate and free will and possibility unrealized.
And because I couldn't resist...
A few of my own D/Hr fics: Fics also available at my website.
- Here's to the Night (R)
- Entropy (PG-13)