Warnings: Characters can be OOC, Major Canon Divergence, A/U, violence, sexual scenes

Rating: M for sexual scenes, adult themes, occasional profanity

Disclaimer: I own nothing HP recognizable, just the plot!

A/N: Written for dhrfavorites January 2016 prompt exchange. Prompt suggested by Riddlesgurlforever: During Sixth Year, Draco and Hermione tentatively develop a relationship and their feelings are so strong for each other, Draco gets an idea he is far too dangerous to be in Hermione's life and Obliviates their relationship from her memory. But when Draco turns up two years later wanting to join the Order, how will he stop their love from rekindling, now that they are older and hardened from the war?

Suggested song to listen to during this fic: National Anthem by Lana Del Rey (especially the ending)

This is a two-part story with part two coming soon. Art for this fic can be found on Tumblr, Facebook, and my photobucket account, all of which are listed on my profile. Additionally, the lovely Freya Ishtar helped me with the cover art for this story!

TY to Lorelai Love Spencer-Meraz for the incredible BETA! This story is much improved thanks to your edit C:

Please review and let me know what you think. Thanks and happy reading!

-8/11/16 Edit-
So this was originally written for a prompt exchange as listed above. That being said, I sort of flew through Fourth to Sixth Year in this 13K chapter. I was trying to get Part 1 done in time for the prompt exchange. Part 2 has longer POV's. I apologize for the rushed beginning, but I've actually grown quite fond of it and will not be expanding. C:


Fourth Year, December

The first time Hermione noticed Malfoy's lingering stares was at the Yule Ball.

She was wearing her new rose-colored gown, hair successfully tamed for the time being in a half-up, half-down style, renegade curls falling gracefully to her shoulders—not the bushy locks her classmates were used to seeing. Having fussed with the cosmetics she had purchased from Madam Primpernelle's Beautifying Potions, Hermione was happy she'd opted for Muggle makeup instead, deciding on a simple lip, light blush, and just a touch of mascara.

She was looking forward to her date with Viktor. The wizard was interesting and so very different from the boys she knew. He had asked her to the ball absent of the awkwardness that seemed to plague her friends. He was collected and even chivalrous, treating her with a degree of respect she seldom received from anyone else. It was quite intriguing to run into a wizard who knew what he wanted. As she made her way to the Great Hall that evening she did so carefree and light-hearted.

Descending the stairs of the now enchanted ballroom, Hermione caught her breath as she surveyed the transformed Great Hall. As her eyes wandered, she caught sight of a silvery gaze, his gaze, and she was trapped for a moment, captivated by Malfoy's stare. His trademark sneer was missing and she was unable to detect his usual mockery. Instead she saw something else; perhaps akin to wonder, but that didn't seem right. Oh lovely, what—do I have mascara smudged on my face or something, she wondered, I do not know why those molten silver eyes are looking this way, gods but he's handsome—what? Where did that come from?

Hermione could not understand why all the sudden she would come to that conclusion, sure his eyes were entrancing, she could see how some might find his aristocratic features becoming, and he cut a fine figure in his dress robes but she didn't know how any of that concerned her. Snapping to the realization she had been staring for far longer than was appropriate—as he was even still despite the way Pansy Parkinson's fingers were digging into his arm—Hermione shook herself out of her stupor and set off to find Viktor.

The rest of the night went by in a whirlwind of excitement. Truly, she had the night of her life until Ron had stepped in intent on ruining it. After they had exchanged words, she fled back towards Gryffindor Tower, tears stinging her eyes as she only vaguely noticed where she was going. Tripping on a step she missed, Hermione felt a strong arm come out and steady her.

Looking up to see who had saved her from tripping, she found herself entangled once more in the silvery eyes of Malfoy. "Easy, Granger," he said softly. He didn't call her Mudblood, only Granger. He looked like he wanted to say more but he just stared, holding on to her securely.

He had yet to remove his arm from her person and Hermione made to wrench her wrist from his grasp. "Let go of me, Malfoy," she said cuttingly, her voice taking on a husky tone from the tears welling up in her throat. She did not wish to show weakness in front of the enemy.

Malfoy let her go immediately and Hermione redoubled her efforts to flee the confines of the castle, heading for the highest tower where she could throw herself outdoors into the cold night. Hopefully the freezing cold would numb her tumultuous feelings.

Hermione had thought Malfoy would use her momentary display of weakness against her and expected him to do so day after day, but he never did.

Fifth Year, September

The next time she noticed it was during Fifth Year. Harry, Ron, and her were exiting the train when Malfoy came striding by, flanked by Crabbe and Goyle.

"I'm surprised the Ministry's still letting you walk around free, Potter," Malfoy said viciously. "You better enjoy it while you can. I expect there's a cell in Azkaban with your name on it."

Ron and Hermione both had to work to restrain Harry who was unusually tense and susceptible to Malfoy's mocking. Malfoy did not expect such a response and eyed Harry calculatingly.

"What'd I tell you," Malfoy called over his shoulder to Crabbe and Goyle. "Complete nutter." Malfoy eyed the trio carefully before making to leave but before he left, Hermione noticed the way his eyes had landed on her as if he was giving her a quick appraisal. The two hadn't seen each other all summer and Hermione suddenly felt awkward under his attention. It was over as quick as it started and she had to wonder if it was not merely all in her head.

"Relax, Harry," Hermione said soothingly while trying to recover herself. "It's only Malfoy."

Fifth Year, February

In a rare fit of happiness, Hermione bounded down the stairs on her way from a DA meeting. They had taken to walking alone to and from the Room of Requirement thanks to Umbridge's edict about assembling in groups. Hermione lived for Harry's lessons and felt she was learning much from her best friend despite having the most incompetent Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher since Lockhart. She was on an academic high at being able to cast her first full body Patronus.

Caught up in her silent musings as she headed to Potions, Hermione halted in her tracks when she came across a certain group of Slytherins.

"Well look who it is," said Blaise Zabini blocking her way. "The Muddy-Gryffindor-Princess." Hermione balked, gripping her wand once she noticed Nott and Malfoy standing next to Zabini.

"Get out of my way," Hermione said, clenching her fists by her sides.

"It's your Fifth Year, Granger," Nott observed. "Surely a know-it-all like you would possess the brains not to come to the dungeons alone?" She noticed Malfoy tense beside Nott.

"Perhaps she needs a reminder," Zabini said brandishing his wand, essentially marking his territory.

"Leave her be," Malfoy called calmly. "It's time to get to Charms anyway. Snape will have our heads once Granger goes tattling."

Hermione had to swallow her surprise as Malfoy made to steer his friends away from her. He did not even dignify her with a glance as he left.

"You're no fun anymore," she heard Nott gripe as the Slytherins headed in the opposite direction.

Fifth Year, April

As Malfoy had made prefect that year, he took his job seriously and Ron and Harry knew he was trying to track down their secret meeting place.

"Another one of Umbridge's lap-dogs," Ron was saying.

Harry agreed, "He's dying to be the one to turn us in."

Yet, when Hermione saw him standing watch as she was sneaking to the Room of Requirement, she only sensed a strange longing rolling off him. He exchanged an intense look with her before storming away. Hermione felt a pang of guilt, as if they were leaving Malfoy out of something that maybe given a chance, he would have elected to choose for himself. Hermione shook the absurd thought off as quickly as it had come, what was wrong with her? She and Malfoy had been enemies since First Year and she could not begin to fathom where these silly thoughts were coming from.

Sixth Year, Beginning of September

Hermione had been thinking about him over the holiday. She found herself absently wondering how he was getting along what with his father being locked away in Azkaban. She felt a stab of pity towards him and grew anxious every time she thought of seeing him. She was restless for the school year to start and excited when the day finally came.

Malfoy had changed over the summer. His chiseled features had become more angular if not slightly gaunt. His shoulders had broadened and the figure he cut when he wasn't wearing his school robes was anything but that of a boy. What was more; he did not possess the carefree, jaunty step boys his age usually did. Instead, his moves were more calculated and...dangerous.

They had a new Potion's teacher that year, Professor Slughorn. Hermione was taking N.E.W.T. level Potion's along with several others from Gryffindor in a largely Ravenclaw dominated class. Malfoy was also taking the course.

"Now students," Slughorn was saying. "Who can come and identify this potion?"

Hermione raised her hand quickly and Slughorn motioned her to come up to the cauldron, steam billowing around it in the trademark curls of Amortentia.

"This potion is Amortentia," Hermione said taking a deep breath. "The strongest love potion in the world. It is rumored to smell differently to each person according to what attracts them. For example, I smell freshly mowed grass…new parchment…and cinnamon toothpaste."

At that moment, Malfoy locked eyes with Hermione and she felt her heart rate pick up speed. Feeling ever the coward at being the first to break the stare, Hermione quickly made to shuffle back to her seat.

Sixth Year, October

"Really, Harry," Hermione was lecturing. "I do not know why you haven't turned that book in straight away."

"But I did turn the book back into Slughorn," Harry said mischievously. "You saw me do it."

"That was the new book you got from Flourish and Blotts," Hermione snapped, not one to be misled. "You swapped covers and used a severing and mending charm to turn that one in as the old one."

"Bloody brilliant I'd say," Ron called jovially picking up his butterbeer. At that moment, the trio looked up to see Malfoy gliding confidently towards the table of Slytherins.

"Where do you suppose he came from?" asked Ron. "Odd that he'd have gone off alone."

Hermione swallowed wondering if she should bring up the fact that she spotted him through the window talking to Madam Rosmerta as they'd passed the Three Broomsticks Inn.

"I'm sure he's up to no good as always," Harry muttered darkly.

"Have you noticed Malfoy's been acting a bit off this year?" Hermione questioned. "Ever since we saw him at Borgin and Burkes."

"I'm telling you," Ron said enthusiastically. "They've gone and recruited him. He's a bloody Death Eater now. Merlin knows why they would recruit him but now I'm more sure than ever."

"Glad you've finally come around, but how do we prove it is the question," Harry said wryly. "I tried to spy on him on the way from King's Cross but we all know how that turned out."

The trio fell silent as they pondered the answer. Hermione felt slightly torn, she knew what she saw that day in Knockturn Alley, but she also felt a bit of pity towards her childhood nemesis who most assuredly would be trying to fill the void of his father. She had seen the papers—his family dominated the Daily Prophet columns; the fallen house of Malfoy was a story everyone one in the wizarding world knew about. How Narcissa Malfoy was able to keep the Manor, Hermione was sure she'd never know, but this oddly contented her just the same.

Hermione liked to believe that the Malfoys were not as eager to pledge their alleged allegiance to Voldemort as everyone seemed to think. She knew they were Pureblood elitists to the core, but she liked to think everyone had some redeeming qualities. Still, she could not shake the vision of Draco Malfoy standing next to his stoic mother as the cameras flashed in their faces. How difficult it must have been, to be under such scrutiny. He was just a boy who was forced to become a man far too early.

"Hermione!" Ron called interrupting her silent musings.

"I'm sorry, what was that, Ron?"

"I said would you like to go to Spintwiches with us."

"Ron needs new Quidditch goggles," Harry explained.

"Well," Hermione said placatingly. "If it's all the same to you I'd rather go to Tomes and Scrolls."

"Of course you would," Ron chuckled. "Let's meet at Honeydukes in an hour, then."

"Alright," Hermione conceded quickly making to deposit her galleons and get up from the booth. Exiting the pub, she quickly headed towards the bookshop.

Thirty minutes flew by quickly as Hermione soon found herself surrounded by stacks of tomes.

"Granger," Hermione jumped at the sound of Malfoy's voice. He stood watching her plaintively. Hermione had the urge to reach for her wand concealed within her robes. "You're blocking the Runes section."

"Oh," Hermione felt foolish and quickly made to move out of the way to let him pass, hovering the large books to a nearby table with her wand as she wondered why she felt ever the lumbering fool around the wizard. He made to pass confidently by and Hermione shuddered as she felt the gust of air brought on by his movement. She perched herself on the side of the table reaching for a large scroll as she sneered at Malfoy's backside.

Endeavoring to get back to her reading, Hermione found it difficult to concentrate with Malfoy in her line of vision. She found herself highly curious to see what book it was he was grabbing. Leaning precariously over the edge she dipped her body to catch a glimpse of it, before promptly falling right on her arse.

Malfoy did not even bother looking up. "Clumsy today aren't we, Granger?" he observed then looked up to take her in with a piercing gaze. "Does my presence have some kind of an effect on you?"

Getting up hurriedly and feeling her face flush she snapped angrily back, "I can't imagine what you are implying. I was just curious to see why you'd want to read Ancient Runes Most Dark."

"I am taking N.E.W.T. level Runes if you remember," Malfoy provided helpfully. "We are in the same class after all."

"Yes," Hermione agreed and feeling emboldened made to stand beside him peering at the text. "But I don't recall Professor Bathsheda giving any assignments on dark Runology."

"No," He agreed snapping the book shut and depositing it into his basket to pay for it. "But I do make it a point to acquire all the knowledge I can on a subject."

It sounded good enough, yet Hermione had caught a bit of the text before he closed the large tome. "The Healing Abilities of Ancient Runes?" Hermione inquired repeating the heading she had caught sight of. "Do you mean to repair something, Malfoy?"

Malfoy turned suddenly and Hermione flinched as she felt the crackling of his oppressive magic around her. It felt decidedly dark, and Hermione wondered when Malfoy had become capable of wielding such raw power.

"I suggest, Granger, that you consider leaving this school before the term is up," he said his voice deathly calm and tinged with seriousness. "It's not safe for those with your unfortunate pedigree."

Malfoy was staring at her intensely and in that moment, she wondered wildly if he truly cared. Shaking off the absurd feeling, she gathered her Gryffindor courage and made to quip back, "Do you think I'm daft Malfoy? I'm well aware of the prejudices I have to face due to being Muggle-born. And I'm not oblivious to the war that is brewing."

"Then you should leave," Malfoy said dangerously. "The wizarding world has no place for Mudbloods."

Hermione flinched at his callous words and thought she saw a flash of regret flicker through his eyes before it was replaced with hard determination.

She brushed the thoughts aside, "I don't run from a fight Malfoy; I am no coward like you," she shook her head before continuing. "You know, I honestly thought you'd grown up a bit. It's been a while since you've said that. But I guess some things never change—you'll always be an evil git."

She pushed roughly past him and exited the store, completely forgetting to purchase the books she'd selected. As she fled, she didn't notice Malfoy's penetrating stare on her back.

Sixth year, November

Her nose stuck in a book, Hermione was not looking where she was going so engrossed was she in her reading as she navigated the staircases. All of a sudden, she felt herself stepping into air and screamed as she realized she was walking right off one of the moving stair cases.

A strong arm shot out to grab her with quick seeker reflexes pulling her back to a hard, defined chest. Hermione was shaking as her adrenaline was pumping due to her near fatal fall. She heard her book fluttering through the air and whimpered at the loss of it before turning to face her rescuer she was inadvertently clutching for dear life.

"Draco," she gasped unable to bring herself to relinquish her death grip on the wizard.

Malfoy's eyes widened at Hermione's use of his first name but his face quickly became impassive once more. "There, there Granger," he said his voice velvety. "You're safe."

He was rubbing light circles in the small of her back and Hermione could not help but to lean into his touch as her grip on his arm lessoned. "B-but my book," she mumbled. "I've lost it."

"You are a witch, aren't you?" Hermione was shocked to realize Malfoy was teasing her. "Here, I'll get it for you," Malfoy offered disengaging his arm from Hermione's grasp so he could brandish his wand. "Accio Granger's book."

The lost book flew to Malfoy's outstretched hand and he eyed in disapprovingly. "Healing at Home with Herbs," he read. "Is this what you nearly lost your life for?"

Hermione made to snatch the book from his hand. "Thank you very much," she said stiffly attempting to gather her bearings. "You never know when such knowledge could become useful."

"Imagine, the great and fearless Hermione Granger, the Courageous-Gryffindor-Princess, meeting her fatal end thanks to a bewitched staircase." Malfoy's words were playful, but behind the banter she sensed a thinly-veiled intensity.

"Yes, you've made your point," Hermione replied shakily. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm heading to the Great Hall, Malfoy." Turning to go, Hermione was startled when she felt Malfoy pull her back quickly to him, much too close for comfort.

"Malfoy again, is it?" he asked silkily and for one wild moment staring up at his silver orbs Hermione thought he might kiss her. She was overwhelmed by his close proximity and couldn't think clearly. "Just promise me one thing; no more walking and reading at the same time. Obviously that is too difficult a feat for you to accomplish."

"Oh that's rich, Malfoy," Hermione said pulling herself away from his grip as she made for the Great Hall.

She felt the heat of his gaze on her back as she left. What in Godric's name was that about? She wondered. For Merlin's sake, I just let Malfoy touch me. Gods, he touched me and I did the unthinkable—I leaned into his touch instead of ending it as quickly as I could. Hermione bit her lip as guilt flooded her. Well…nearly dying does make a person do odd things, odd and decidedly stupid things, she reasoned as she angrily shoved her troublesome book back in her bag telling herself she was not doing it because Malfoy had prompted her to. What was even more alarming, he'd been playful. Since when did Draco Malfoy do playful? Certainly never with her, it was odd and…irritating. The most disturbing thing about the whole sordid encounter? Hermione had been close enough to smell his toothpaste—cinnamon.

Sixth Year, November

Shacked up in the corner of the library still feeling perturbed at Ron and Lavender's obsessive relationship that seemed to suffocate the common room, Hermione threw herself into her reading attempting to find sufficient material for her two foot long essay on kelpies. She was taken by surprise as she saw Malfoy hurry by and step behind the bookshelf before looking at her and putting a finger to his lips. Hermione could not even voice her indignation at his ridiculous request for her to be quiet before she heard Pansy and Millicent rounding the corner.

"Oh look," Pansy said stopping the imposing figure of Millicent mid conversation. "It's Potter's Mudblood."

"Parkinson, Bulstrode," Hermione greeted not rising to the obvious bait. "What brings you to the library? I don't recall ever seeing you here before."

Millicent took a threatening step forward but Pansy put a hand out to stop her. "Not here, Milly. We haven't the time to soil with the local filth. She'll get what's coming to her later. Come—let's look for Draco; obviously he's not here near this muddy trash."

Hermione was tempted to give Draco's location away but felt oddly loyal to the request he'd made of her and clenched her teeth as she attempted to ignore the atrocious comments. Once they were good and gone, Draco came out from behind the shelf. He straightened his Slytherin tie and made to exit Hermione's quiet corner.

"Thank you," he muttered when he was but a step away.

"Not so fast," she called as she reached for the sleeve of his Oxford and whirled him around to face her. "Explain to me why I covered for you, you owe me that much."

Resigned, Malfoy turned and propped himself elegantly in the chair besides Hermione. They didn't talk for a bit, Malfoy just staring at the hovering book in front of him. Hermione resolved to let him be the first to speak.

"I used to be like them you know," Malfoy began stoically his voice monotone. "Those couples you see snogging in the shadows of the corridors, the players on the Quidditch field…I used to be like that, carefree and oblivious."

"And now?" Hermione probed quietly, not wanting to speak too loudly before Malfoy snapped to who it was he was opening up to and the spell would be broken.

"Pansy, Blaise, even Crabbe and Goyle, I just can't relate to them anymore. They don't understand what it's like."

"Is it because of your father?" Hermione asked. "For what it's worth I'm sorry. Regardless if he deserves to be there or not…I'm sure its hard for you to bear."

Malfoy eyed her calculatingly before speaking again, this time changing the subject. "You don't listen do you? You don't take advice even when it's for your own good." Hermione resisted biting out an angry retort, letting Malfoy get out what he needed to. "You likely won't survive, just because you're too proud to listen."

"I don't take to idle threats Malfoy," Hermione said softly. "I'm ready to stand for my right to be here, my right to exist."

"Of course you will," Malfoy said smirking but there was no mirth in his eyes. "The Courageous-Gryffindor-Princess, Potter would be nothing without you, wouldn't he?"

"Don't tease, Malfoy."

"I'm not teasing," he said shaking his head. "I'm complimenting. But really, you could profit from adapting a bit of Slytherin cunning. Running head first into danger unaware of the consequences is not always the best course of action."

"So you say," Hermione granted. "Only I am perfectly aware of the consequences."

Malfoy chuckled in response but there was no humor in it. He was probably surprised that Hermione was actually hearing him out but then she always did tend to see the good in everyone.

"Malfoy," Hermione started gently placing a hand on his shoulder. "Is there more you are dealing with?" Malfoy didn't respond to her question.

"Malfoy," she tried again not lifting her hand from his shoulder and attempting to ignore the tingling sensation she felt at the contact. "Have you become a Death Eater?"

Malfoy's breath hitched as he stared blankly ahead. He stood abruptly, turning away from her as he adjusted his crisp shirt in silence. He stood stock still for a moment. "Goodbye Granger," he said before departing silently. This time, it was Hermione that watched him leave.

Sixth Year, Late November

Looking over to where Harry and Ron were conversing easily with each other, Hermione did not know why she had kept the information she had on Malfoy to herself. Well, she inwardly reasoned, it's not as if he admitted he is one, did he? He just sort of…went dealthly silent and left the library. Oh who was she kidding? It wasn't an admission, but it was as good one.

Hermione found herself keeping the information to herself even with Harry and Ron constantly throwing theories and suggestions at each other and living in denial about the absurd possibility. She could only bring herself to half-heartedly pay attention, throwing tidbits in here and there just so they did not know her mind had wandered. But really, why burden them? Harry had his own troubles to bear what with his private meetings with Dumbledore and Ron's mind was consumed with thoughts of Quidditch and the ever-present Lavender. Really, it was easy to keep Hermione's private run-ins with Malfoy to herself.

For the hundredth time that day, Hermione fought the urge to look over at the Slytherin table. Finally giving in to the strong compulsion, her eyes sought out Malfoy. He was sitting, not surprisingly, between Nott and Parkinson. Hermione felt a twang of jealousy as she watched the way Parkinson attempted to comfort him. He even seemed to be letting her, allowing Pansy to place his head on her shoulder as she stroked his platinum tresses. Hermione found herself wondering what it would be like to stroke those silky locks; they looked so soft to the touch. Her gaze grew stormy as she could not seem to take her eyes off of Malfoy, wondering why all the sudden it felt so stiflingly hot in the Great Hall.

"'Mione," Harry called. "Have you thought about who you're going to be taking to Slughorn's Christmas party?"

"Oh yes," Hermione called slightly startled. "That is to say, it's a surprise."

The boys looked at each other and Ron shrugged as he began attacking his pudding. Harry's stare lingered however as he smiled supportively at her. Hermione returned the small token of comfort.

Sixth Year, December

Running out of vacant hallways to seek sanctuary in, Hermione found herself going to the first floor girl's lavatory where she was sure nobody would be. She stopped in her tracks though when she heard the sound of crying. Stepping tentatively around the corner, Hermione's breath hitched when she saw Malfoy holding his head as he crouched over the sink, large sobs causing his chest to wrack. She never thought she'd see the day when she, Hermione Granger, would catch the Slytherin Prince crying. What in Merlin's name is Malfoy doing here, she wondered.

Treading carefully, Hermione approached Malfoy who still seemed completely unaware of her presence. Reaching out gently, she placed a hand on his heaving shoulder.

Malfoy whirled around quickly and in no time had his wand pointed at her throat. Hermione saw palpable rage on his face before recognition registered in his reddened eyes.

"Granger?" He asked befuddled before he seemed to recover slightly. "What the bloody hell are you doing here?"

Hermione gulped. When she spoke her voice came out in a croak, "I was looking for somewhere to be alone."

He lowered his wand, "Oh. I suppose this would be a good spot to do that in, only Myrtle usually makes an appearance."

"Yes," she agreed. "I thought she might."

"What do you need to escape from?" he asked probingly.

"I, well that is to say I," Hermione cut herself off while she got her bearings. Really, she'd rather not illuminate Malfoy on her reasons for seeking solitude away from the common room and her friends, but how could she hope for him to open up to her if she did not take the leap first? "It's hard to watch somebody you have feelings for being with somebody else."

He looked at her incredulously before laughing heartily. She had the sudden urge to flee the lavatory mortified that she'd opened up to him only to be rejected. Turning to go, she was effectively halted when a strong hand came out to grasp her arm.

Spinning her around to face him, Malfoy captivated her with his piercing gaze, "A man would have to be a fool to cast you aside for someone else."

Hermione stopped breathing entirely as the his words penetrated through her suddenly foggy mind. "Malfoy," she gasped as she slid weakly to the floor, back pressed against the wall. "What are you even playing at?"

He made to sit primly besides her completely ignoring her last question. "You're a good listener, Granger," he started quietly. "Sort of like Myrtle."

"Oh," Hermione said fighting to find the words and resolving to overlook his previous…compliment, at least for now. If he was ignoring it, so would she. "Do you come here often to talk to her?"

He was staring off into space again and Hermione thought maybe he hadn't heard her but then he finally replied simply, "Yes."

She struggled to find the words, how could she get him to talk? "Malfoy, I'd asked you before…what is troubling you?"

Hermione thought perhaps he wouldn't answer her like before but was surprised when he finally spoke. "I've been given a task," he explained voice monotone. "I must execute it; my mother relies on me now."

"Malfoy," she said tentatively. "If someone is forcing you to do something you don't want, you don't have to. You can go to Dumbledore, he would help you."

He turned to look at her with that familiar Malfoy smirk. "How do you know someone is forcing me? Perhaps I was chosen," he drawled. "Always so naive Granger, always looking for the good in others. Well perhaps there isn't any good in me."

Hermione was stricken with a bit of doubt at his crass words but swallowed down her uncertainty. "I don't believe that," she said, shaking her head firmly. "I know there are a lot of expectations on you, but at the same time, you are your own person and you know the difference between right and wrong. Deep down I bet you want to do the right thing. Why else would you be so depressed about it?"

"Perhaps you're right Granger," he granted. "Perhaps not." He fixed her with a menacing look.

"I know I'm right," she said steadfastly leaning in and smiling amicably at him. For some reason, she found herself drawn to him and she could not put her finger on why that was. "Either way, you can talk to me Malfoy, I'll always listen."

"Like friends, then?" Malfoy said playfully but she noted his darkened eyes.

"Yes, like friends," she agreed.

"Secret friends? I wouldn't want to taint your perfect reputation."

"If you'd like," Hermione said. "But I don't care what people think."

"I doubt that very seriously," he scoffed.

"I'm serious!" Hermione swore. "You can even come to Slughorn's Christmas party with me if you like. As friends," she amended. Hermione didn't know what prompted her to make such a rash declaration; she knew it would cause major problems but she found herself hard-pressed to care. He needed a friend right now and Hermione resolved that she could be that for him.

He smiled at her sadly, as if she were but a young child who didn't understand the way of the world. "That would never work, princess, but thanks for the invite just the same."

Hermione felt a bit of relief he didn't accept her invitation but smiled back at him just the same.

"So who was it," he started. "Potter or Weasley?"

"What do you mean?" she asked, genuinely confused.

"You said earlier someone did not reciprocate your feelings, so who was it?"

"Oh," Hermione said flushing and so not wanting to answer him. "You have your secrets and I have mine. But thank you; I forgot all about that since we've been sitting here. In fact, it even seems a bit frivolous."

Malfoy nodded and made to look straight ahead once more. They sat together in comfortable silence before Hermione spoke up once more, "What did you mean earlier? When…when I told you why I was sad."

He met her determined gaze with equal urgency. "I meant just what I said, Granger," he answered huskily. And then he got up to leave. Once more, Hermione found herself tangled up in her chaotic thoughts as she watched him go. It seemed she had been hit with the inexplicable need to save him and she resolved to keep quiet about her and Malfoy's private conversations, even to her best friends.

Sixth Year, Before the Holiday

Peeking out from behind the curtains, Hermione tried to spot Cormac McLaggen slightly dizzy from the Blishen's Firewhisky she'd indulged in. The wizard was handsome to be sure, but he was far too grabby for her liking and as surprising as it was, Hermione was just not into him like that. She had shared some innocent kisses with Viktor, and it was enough to awaken her senses to what was out there. Yet to her shame, it was not the charming Cormac or even her best friend she'd harbored a secret crush on for years that she saw when she closed her eyes. Instead she saw pale hands reach around to grab her and pull her close. Instead of her fantasy fingers running through familiar ginger locks, it was platinum blond tresses she saw. It probably didn't help that Hermione met Malfoy often in the Girl's Lavatory regularly and had developed a friendship—however fragile it was. He still had yet to open up to her further, but they talked about many things. She felt herself growing closer to the misunderstood Slytherin.

The real reason she could not bring herself to enjoy the attention of poor Cormac or anyone else for that matter was because it happened to be the sharp and comely features of Draco Malfoy that came to mind whenever she allowed it to wander. It was forbidden and she could hardly admit it even in the safety of her own head but she recognized it as the truth and unfortunately, nothing compared.

"Blimey 'Mione," Hermione jumped as Harry entered her hiding place. "Dodged your date back here?"

"You caught me Harry," Hermione said trying to smooth out her light pink dress skirts.

"Hermione, you smell like Firewhisky," Harry observed.

"Guilty again," She tittered putting her hands up in surrender. "How else do you expect me to get through the night?"

"'Mione," Harry started awkwardly running his hand through his hair. "I can tell somethings off. Is it…Ron?"

"No, no, I am happy for Ron," she said, realizing that she was speaking the truth. "I admit at first I was a bit put off, but I've gotten over it and only wish him the best," Hermione was rambling. "Can you tell Cormac I've simply fallen ill or something? I'm ready to turn in for the night."

"Sure thing, Hermione, if you really want to leave," Harry added. "Would you like me to walk you back?"

"That's not necessary Harry, you know it's not very far." Feeling relieved, Hermione made to exit stealthily from the room. She ran into the twins but the girls were content to ignore her. Entering the corridor, Hermione broke out into a swift walk, headed for the Gryffindor Tower, when a flash of blond hair caught her attention.

"Malfoy," she said bewildered. "What are you doing loitering around here? You don't want Filch to catch you."

"Granger," he said walking towards her. "Done with the party already?"

"I told you I'd have a boring time if you didn't come," she pointed out striding up to him and giving him a friendly hug.

"You've been drinking," he accused pulling away from her stiffly. "You're not usually this…amorous."

"To my friends I am," Hermione informed him defensively.

"And why aren't you in there with your friends now?"

"I already told you I grew bored."

"At a fancy party dressed like that," he said gesturing to her form and Hermione suddenly felt exposed with her low neckline and bared arms showing. "It must take a lot to excite you."

Hermione was stricken with a feeling that she was heading into dangerous territory, but she dismissed the warning signals feeling all the sudden rather mischievous for the first time that night. "Oh, I am not all that difficult to entertain. I suppose it depends on the company."

"Or maybe you just don't have much experience with exciting company," he bantered playfully steering her towards a alcove in the corridor lest they be discovered by Filch.

"And I suppose you think you fit into that category?" she challenged thankful for the shadows slightly shrouding her face.

"So I've been told," Malfoy responded. Wait, what are we even talking about, she wondered. "I suppose there is only one way to find out."

Hermione blinked up at him absently admiring his highborn features. Her eyes fell on his lips and she found herself somewhat entranced. She bit her bottom lip before looking back at him. His eyes had darkened measurably, silver orbs turned black and sparkling in the shadows. She found herself moving forward an inch at a time bringing her body closer to him. Forbidden, the word shot through her mind like a warning but if it was supposed to deter her, it only drove her forward more, essentially closing the gap between them.

Hermione was the first to press her lips to his; lightly brushing them with her own, until she felt strong arms push her backwards.

"You're playing with fire," Malfoy warned.

Perhaps on another night, his words would have scared her away, but this night Hermione threw caution to the wind. "I don't care," she said belligerently. "I want to."

Apparently that was all the consent he needed as he bent down to kiss her softly, his lips gentle in their discovery of her own. Relaxing in his gentle kiss, she pressed her lips more firmly against his, kissing him back insistently. When she slid her hands up his chest to rest on his shoulders, she found herself being pressed backwards against the stone wall as his arms slid around her person to pull her firmly in his embrace. She made a sound of approval at this new contact and felt their kiss deepen and she returned them with abandon. Never had she been kissed so thoroughly before, her experience with Viktor being clumsy and not so graceful.

Gasping at the intensity of it and the delightful feel of Malfoy's hands running up and down her arms, sides, then hips, he took that moment to sweep his tongue into her mouth. She opened for him eagerly startled by the sensations of this new position. Twining her tongue with his, she could not deny the cinnamon she tasted mixed with something fundamentally him. Hermione explored his mouth greedily her hand coming up to cup his face while her other hand wrapped around his neck, effectively pulling him closer. Her heart rate quickened as she clung to him, not letting either of them break the kiss for much needed air. Finally Malfoy pulled away from her mouth firmly to Hermione's disapproval.

"Fuck, Granger," he said huskily. "I never knew you'd be this responsive."

Hermione didn't want to talk, she wanted to continue their kissing and made to pull him down to her once more but his head dipped lower this time nuzzling her neck. She whimpered when she felt him nipping and licking the sensitive tendons on her neck and she found her hand traveling to that hair she had fantasized about, twining easily in the silky locks. Malfoy growled in approval and Hermione felt a hardness brush against her abdomen. Heat plummeted straight to her core as she realized what their kissing had caused, what she had caused.

Too gone to heed the signs of danger, Hermione moved instinctively against Malfoy relishing in the pleasurable friction their bodies created. His hands were wandering delightfully up and down her curves and she found herself wishing they would travel to her heaving chest. Her breasts were practically aching to be touched and she thrust them upwards in the hopes that he would heed her silent wishes. He groaned and she discovered a primitive possessiveness surface in her at being able to bring him to such a state. She did not wish for anyone else to have the ability to do this with Malfoy ever again.

He pulled her in for a searing kiss once more, lifting her slightly against the wall and Hermione found her hips moving automatically against his, seeking a friction she could not even begin to understand. She moaned at a particularly decadent sensation breaking the kiss as she whispered hoarsely in his ear, "More Malfoy, I want more."

He looked near pain as he forcibly lifted her away from himself. "Granger you're a bloody vixen," he declared hotly. "We can't do this here—we are in the corridor for anyone to happen upon. Besides, you probably only want to thanks to the Firewhiskey. Really, you ought to at least drink Odin's Reserve."

"That's not true," she argued rolling her eyes at his comment. "And I only had a few, Malfoy."

"It doesn't matter! You need to go back to the Gryffindor Tower, just leave," he hissed, taking a few steps away from her.

Hermione felt a flicker of hurt pass through her but quickly pushed the feeling aside, sure that Malfoy had wanted this just as much as her. "I'll go where I want to thank you ever so much," Hermione said in irritation, upset at being interrupted when she was only just beginning.

"Don't make me Imperio you to go," Malfoy threatened. "Because I will do it; I know how."

Hermione only chuckled at this and he looked at her dubiously at her complete disregard of his warnings.

"You have no regard for your own safety, do you, Granger? Go to the bloody Tower and we'll talk later."

"Fine, but do we still have to be secret friends?" She stepped away, finally taking him seriously. "I think we should be more than friends."

"You're a Gryffindor and I'm a Slytherin," he said snidely. "You won't feel the same way tomorrow, I wager."

Hermione ignored his pessimistic remarks and sudden distance, unable to get enough of him since allowing herself to give in to her desires, "Be my secret boyfriend," she whispered quickly, before her courage could desert her.

A muscle twitched by Malfoy's eye as he pulled back to see the truth in her eyes. "Don't be a fool, Granger," he muttered darkly before turning to leave.

Sixth Year, January

Mortified at the way she had behaved the night of Slughorn's party, Hermione avoided Malfoy in the few days before the holiday break looking forward to her family's trip to Australia.

Initially upon seeing him outside Slughorn's office, she had felt a thrill along with worry Filch might be lingering nearby. She quickly forgot about her fears however, once they started talking. She was sure beneath the playful banter, he had been flirting with her, so really it was not her that made the first move…or at least that's what she told herself. She had kissed him first, there was no denying that, but how could she not have with the way he was looking at her? Not only that, but coupled with their nightly secret conversations and watching him longingly from afar when Pansy did not let him out of her sight provoked her into action.

'More Malfoy, I want more…' For Merlin's sake had she really uttered those words? He must think she was some kind of slag. Hermione wanted to kick herself.

'Be my secret boyfriend…' She wondered why she would actually voice something so utterly idiotic; no wonder she whispered the words. Why don't you go tell him you're deepest darkest secrets while you're at it, Hermione chided herself ruefully, oh that's right—you already did!

The worse thing about this horrible mess was Hermione could not blame it on the Firewhisky. The feelings she felt, the things she said, they were all real. Her head was a chaotic mess and she realized that subconsciously, perhaps she had tried to shelter the truth from her conscious mind in order to protect herself. Maybe the few drinks she had did prompt her to act, but she had been living in denial the past few weeks—perhaps even longer. Somewhere along the line, she had developed feelings for Malfoy and she could no longer deny this simple truth. And he rejected you, she thought sullenly. What was it he said? Oh yes 'don't be a fool Granger.'

Leave it to her to find herself in these situations. Of course it had to have been a potential Death Eater that got her blood pumping because that wasn't complicated—not at all! Yet somehow, it had become her mission to help Malfoy—regardless of how unwilling he was to receive. If he really did not reciprocate her feelings, she could hardly blame herself for developing them could she? He was charismatic…electric…magnetic, how could one not be drawn to him?

He kissed you back, a voice in her head—the voice that was always optimistically hopeful, pointed out. He had been an active participator; it even seemed a difficult task for him to pull away. Hermione was not daft, she knew how quickly men could succumb to lust, hadn't she heard enough stories from Ginny, and before that from Lavender when they'd talked regularly? Malfoy had been a willing participant. Truthfully, Hermione did not know how far she would have taken things had Malfoy not stopped it. Perhaps he stopped it because he did not wish to soil himself with a Muggleborn, her snide pessimistic side suggested. Maybe that was the case, but she could not shake the memory of the heated looks they had exchanged, for some time even, from her memory.

It was possible that Malfoy didn't have feelings for her now but that didn't mean he couldn't develop them later, Hermione need only be patient. Until then, the important thing was to remain a friend to him. She could suppress her own feelings for now if it was merely a friend he required. Then, if she noticed any slip-ups on his part that suggested he wanted to be more than friends, she would simply make him admit it. There is no use for them both to be miserable in their mutual attractions; they weren't Romeo and Juliet for Merlin's-sake!

Feeling much better having come to terms with her troubling thoughts, even if it had taken the whole holiday and her parents had looked at her oddly when it seemed their daughter was elsewhere, Hermione felt loads better about returning to school.

Catching sight of Malfoy many times; on the train, in the Great Hall, in class, Hermione was exasperated when she was unsuccessful to get him or even herself, absent a group of people. In the end, it was at the Black Lake that Hermione finally found the Slytherin alone, already a week into the term.

"Malfoy," she greeted propping herself beside him. "How was your holiday?"

"Granger," he sighed. "What are you doing here?"

She tried not to bristle at his rudeness. "I just came to sketch some Black Lake fungi for my Herbology essay," she said defensively.

"You do realize that there is a ton of shore to sit on," he pointed out still not deigning to look at her. "You don't need to come here by me."

She swallowed, she had already been rejected—who cares if her pride took a hit? At least there was nothing else to lose, but a whole lot to gain. Taking a deep breath, she started again. "But Malfoy, I like sitting by you," she smirked jovially. "And if I didn't know any better I'd think you were trying to get rid of me."

"There's the notorious Granger brains coming into play," he said sarcastically. "Now I can see why you got the most O.W.L.'s in our year."

She sighed. "Well my trip was most peaceful," She informed him completely ignoring his foul mood. "We stayed in Sydney for the most part, but for a few days we went down the shore a bit, off the grid—there were hardly any people around. So it was easy to escape in the ocean. I cast a bubble charm and went swimming over the Great Barrier Reef. I kept my wand on me of course, there are Great White's rampant in those parts, but I figure it was nothing a simple severing charm couldn't get me out of."

This time Malfoy did look over at her, disapprovingly at that, "A lot of good that would do you if one of those beasts caught you by surprise. Honestly Granger, I think you get off at putting yourself in dangerous situations. And what of the Ministry's under age magic trigger?"

"Doesn't work outside of Britain," Hermione informed him smugly. "Careful now Malfoy, you're sounding like you actually care."

"Well I don't," he vowed angrily. "That's just it—you think I care but I could give a fuck. I just find it silly that's all."

"Really," Hermione said teasingly. She was a bit excited at Malfoy's passionate words, more convinced now than ever that he cared more than he was admitting. "Because I have a theory."

"Oh yeah?" He said cuttingly voice dripping with venom. "And what might that theory be—dare I ask?"

She scooted closer to him then getting up on her knees, she crawled over so she was facing him. She stopped dead in her tracks when she took in his gaunt features, "Malfoy! What happened to you? You look like you haven't slept in days or eaten very much for that matter."

"Well, we can't all go on warm and cozy trips with our families, now can we?" Malfoy looked peeved. No, she thought, he looks like he's trying to be angry. Comforted by this, she made to put her hands on his knees before climbing up onto his lap. Malfoy looked alarmed more so than enraged before he gripped Hermione's arms strongly making to throw her off of him but she would not budge as she grabbed his shoulders in return and pushed him forcefully down on the soft grass.

"I thought you wanted to hear my theory," she said silkily placing her hands on the ground so she could crouch lower, essentially trapping him. "You see, I had a lot to think about over the holiday and the perfect environment in which to sort out my thoughts—I came to a conclusion."

"Oh," he said through clenched teeth. His chest was heaving up and down and Hermione felt like the tension was so thick in the air she was sure she could cut it with a blade. "And what was that conclusion?"

"I saw the way you reacted when we kissed, Malfoy, it wasn't just me who responded so-you were thoroughly enjoying it yourself—I'd wager to say," Hermione had to swallow before continuing, grasping for her Gryffindor courage. "I think you want me just as much as I want you."

His breath hitched and he looked torn before adopting his typical Malfoy indifference once more and responding cuttingly, "You're wrong, Granger. If you recall, I stopped the sordid affair from continuing."

"Yes and that's another thing," Hermione said thoughtfully. "If you didn't care, what stopped you from taking advantage of my willingness that night and seeing how far you could go? Yet, you stopped—how very gentlemanly of you."

"It wasn't gentlemanly," Malfoy swore. "It was me not wanting to soil myself with a Mudblood." He stared back at her triumphantly—he apparently thought that would be an end to the conversation.

Hermione smirked at this and Malfoy looked truly worried now, he could no longer adapt his trademark sneer. "Calling me a Mudblood doesn't have the same effect as it used to," she informed him helpfully. "You can say I've become rather immune to it. Not to mention you haven't called me that in some time. I can tell it's just a front Draco."

He blinked at the use of his first name. "What's more," Hermione purred, "I could tell you wanted to go further that night—there was incontrovertible proof, if you remember. And a Malfoy always gets what he wants, right? Yet you stopped, why?"

"Granger," and his voice was guttural now as his demeanor completely changed. "Don't push it. For Salazar's-sake just leave it alone. Can't you see I'm only trying to protect you?"

"I can see that you're a glutton for punishment, but that's about it."

"I'm trying not to be selfish, I'm thinking of the long run…" Draco trailed off, unsure.

"So be selfish," Hermione said belligerently. He was being silly; it wasn't wrong to give into your feelings for someone. "Be selfish with me." She smiled inwardly as she saw the fight leave his eyes.

Then she leaned down, dipping her head slowly towards his. She paused when her lips were just barely touching his. They were so close; they were practically breathing the same air. Hermione felt dizzy at their intimate proximity. This surely wasn't what she'd planned, but it just sort of happened. No longer able to resist the magnetic draw she had to him, she dipped her head, kissing him fiercely as she took full possession of his lips. Hermione did not stay in the dominant position for long however, for now that he surrendered, nothing stopped him from flipping her on her back harshly and putting a knee on either side of her legs as he returned her kiss with equal fervor.

Hermione felt light-headed under his attentions and vaguely recalled hearing tales of the infamous Slytherin-Sex-God. She shuddered in anticipation at the recollection, keening when she felt Draco's hands come up to grip her hips before running tantalizing up and down her sides. He began sucking on her lower lip, begging entry and Hermione granted it, opening her mouth willingly in response. Mewling at the feel of his tongue massaging hers, she kissed him in earnest unable to control her wondering hands as they explored Draco's muscular, Quidditch trained chest. He growled in approval and feeling emboldened, she made to slide her hands under his shirt to continue her explorations skin to skin.

When she felt the tell-tell sign of Draco's arousal against her thigh, Hermione hooked her leg around his hip moaning at the new delightful friction she felt, heat plummeting straight to her core. He jerked in surprise and she felt a tremor pass through his body.

"Slow down Granger," Draco rasped. "We have to go slow."

"Why?" Hermione asked incoherently. Later she would wonder why she behaved so wantonly. Yes, she'd shared kisses with Viktor. And she'd seen that kind of passion, but she'd never been a part of something like this before. Yet, Draco had something that seemed to drive her wild with need and in that moment, she realized that he was the one she'd ever had that kind of a connection with. And if she had her way, he'd be the only one. She wondered idly if he felt it too? Despite the challenges stacked against them, she was determined not to let him push her away this time. The thought was too tragic to behold.

He was kissing her neck again, like he had before and Hermione found her hand tenderly stroking his back, encouraging him in his ministrations. He rolled his hips and she arched her chest in response. This time, Draco took the hint bringing his hand up to cup her breast. Hermione whimpered in delight as she felt his skillful fingers twirl her sensitive buds into erect peaks through the material of her shirt and bra. She longed to be absent the restrictions, but even with the barrier the pleasure was undeniable. She felt electrical pulses rippling down her abdomen and found her legs stretching wider to accommodate Draco.

"Fuck, Granger," Draco crooned. "You taste so good…so bloody beautiful writhing underneath me like this."

"Hermione," she breathed. "Call me Hermione, please."

"Hermione," Draco tested, rolling her name over his tongue as if he was tasting it. "Hermione."

"Yes," she called out approvingly as he nipped her neck. "Draco." Hermione wished only to mold her body to his and cried out in despair when she felt Draco remove himself from her.

"Hermione," he said huskily. "I hear people coming."

"No," she lamented angrily.

"We are at the Black Lake," Draco reminded her. "It's not like it's very private."

Trying to regain her wits about her and calm her raging hormones, Hermione slid herself up off her back. "We're by the beech tree though," she pointed out. "It's fairly private."

"True," Draco said getting up and offering her a hand. "But it's not ideal. Come on, we can go around the lake, take a few minutes to get our bearings."

Hermione accepted his hand gratefully as she grabbed her bag and made to follow Draco. When they were a ways away, Hermione spotted a group of Hufflepuffs through the shrubbery.

"We can cut across here," Draco said quietly leading her back to the castle. "We won't be seen."

"Who cares if we're seen," Hermione said contrarily. "Unless you're ashamed of being spotted with me."

"Not at all," Draco replied quickly. "But you must see why we need to keep this…under wraps for now. Do you really think it's wise to have everyone's eyes on us? We need to tread carefully."

"I suppose you're right," Hermione relented somewhat cheered by the fact that Draco wasn't denying her any longer. At least she had a small triumph today. She'd proved that he did care more than he let on, that he desired her just as she desired him. He couldn't possibly try to deny it next time. They walked quietly around the lake before drawing near the castle.

"So," Hermione began turning to him shyly before they neared the other students. "We keep it secret?"

"For now," Draco nodded pulling her closer as he splayed his hand around the small of her back. "Until it's safe."

"Until its safe," she agreed finally seeing Draco's reasoning.

"Meet you soon," he said placing a kiss on her forehead. Hermione smiled contented for the moment then turned resolutely away to venture back to the castle alone. She could feel him watching her as she left.

Sixth Year, March

Pacing around an alcove in the Central Tower, Hermione eagerly awaited Draco after Herbology class. Over the past several weeks, Hermione felt like she was living a double life. During the day she would do her classes and course work, she would eat in the Great Hall with the other Gryffindors only missing a few meals in favor of spending time at the "library," but at night and sometimes even in between classes, she was all Draco's. She should probably be ashamed, obviously there were a lot of important things to focus on—Order business, her N.E.W.T.'s but she could not bring herself to care. It was like she had told Draco—be selfish with me. This was the one thing she was doing for herself and she absolutely lived for these moments.

"Looking for me, princess?" She turned to see Draco perched cockily against the stone wall. She ran over quickly to embrace him.

"Don't call me that," Hermione reminded him. "I told you before; it's condescending."

"You mean endearing," he corrected her, easily encompassing her in his arms. Sighing heavily, she knew it was a lost battle with him. "How did your Charms practicum go this morning?" He asked.

"I can't say it was very hard," Hermione admitted. "Guess all that time I've spent away from my studies hasn't been too detrimental to my school work. How was DADA?"

"Snape is having us duel the Hufflepuffs," Draco said rolling his eyes. "Not too bright a choice on his part."

Hermione slapped him playfully in the chest. "I'll have you know some Hufflepuffs are quite adept at dueling, just like some Slytherins aren't," she enlightened him. "Take Diggory for example."

"He was a rare case," Draco argued.

"Who cares about that," Hermione said pulling him close in a needy way. "It's been two days and I miss our us time."

"I can't argue with you there," Draco said lazily and then proceeded to take her mouth in a searing kiss.

Hermione could never get enough of these moments with him—they were the highlight of her day. She only wished these moments lasted longer, and that they would develop into something more—much more, she thought dangerously. As sinfully good as Malfoy tasted, as tantalizing as their kisses were, she was always left yearning.

Today, she had a plan to get her way for once. Neglecting completely to don her jumper under her robes, she wore nothing but her school skirt and Oxford, and under that, her best bra and knickers. Draco Malfoy, always the gentlemen in their interactions, was going to show her how he'd earned the nickname Slytherin-Sex-God if she had anything to say about it.

As the kiss became heated and Draco's hands began roaming to her breasts, Hermione stealthily shrugged out of her robes and proceeded to pop a few buttons of her shirt. When she was confident a glimpse of creamy skin was exposed above her bust, she happily pulled Draco's head down to where his hands were already going. Draco arched an eyebrow at first, but when her black-lacey bra came into view above the loosened shirt, his eyes darkened and he lowered his mouth to her upturned chest. Hermione let out a delightful mewl at the contact and stroked Draco's head encouragingly as he continued. It wasn't long until the feeling of his mouth around a cloth-covered nipple had her worked into a frenzy, if only the bra was off, she thought naughtily. Feeling decidedly wicked; she took the hand caging her to the wall and guided it down to her skirt, not daring to look him in the eye, too excited by how far he was allowing them to go.

"I don't think so Hermione," he said raggedly. "If you want something, you'd better voice the words."

Hermione felt her cheeks flush crimson as she gathered the courage to do as he'd asked. "D-Draco," she started breathily. "Please touch me."


"Down there," Hermione breathed and Draco arched an eyebrow. "On my knickers," she said through clenched teeth. He smiled ruefully back at her as he let his hand glide up her exposed thigh, trailing fire in its wake. She could feel heat began to pool low in her abdomen. When he reached her knickers, Hermione had a moment of panic wondering if she should have pushed this agenda after all. Merlin, she was so inexperienced, but weeks of passionate kissing and being left wanting had caused her to throw caution to the wind. Yet still, what would he find down there? Perhaps she should stop this-

She bit back a moan as she felt him place a finger against her cloth-covered seam. She let her head fall back with a clank as her legs opened wider to allow Draco access.

"Fuck, Hermione," Draco said roughly and Hermione barely registered the control he seemed to be forcing on himself. "How the bloody hell am I supposed to resist this?"

"D-don't," Hermione shuddered as he continued stroking firmly, adapting a rhythm. Oh if only he'd…, but she could not even think the words. Instead she thrust herself against his wonderful hand and hoped he would take the hint.

"Hermione," he warned, voice guttural. "You know what you have to do."

Hermione clenched her fists at her sides, There's no way he could expect me to – OH! The pleasurable sensation that shot through her overcame her rational thoughts.

"Under the knickers," she demanded hotly.

"Good girl," Draco crooned and hastened to comply with her request.

When Hermione felt Draco's fingers reach under the silk and lace of her knickers, her knees nearly buckled at the contact. Her mind grew foggy as his fingers worked to part her folds and she felt something low in her abdomen coiling tightly and tossed her head back and forth as Draco worked her to a frenetic state.

Draco swore, "I want to taste you…I dream about what you'd taste like Hermione."

"Oh gods," she lamented unable to take his seductive words coupled with what he was doing to her. "I can feel it, something…" But she did not know how to voice what was happening and looked imploringly down at him, meeting his gaze now darkened with desire.

Draco nodded in understanding curling his fingers just so. "Come for me," he instructed.

Hermione did just that. This time, she could not keep the sounds at bay as the coil within her snapped and she dissolved into pleasure. All the while Draco worked her expertly while murmuring, "Good girl, so fucking sexy, you taste so good, my Amortentia, so incredible, just like that, love—let it go, let it go for me, just like that, gods your beautiful, princess…my princess." This time Hermione did collapse, unable to support her own weight. Draco was there to catch her, turning her around to hold her against his chest as her body trembled with the aftershocks of her first-ever-orgasm.

"That was…" Hermione trailed off languidly.

"What you've been pushing to happen for weeks," Draco provided.

"Yes," she admitted and then absently she realized the uncomfortable state Draco was in. "Oh let me-,"

"No," Draco halted her. "Don't worry about me, don't ever worry about me."

"But, I insist, I-," she was cut off when a bright blue and silver light came bounding up to them.

Coming back to her senses, Hermione noticed Ron's Jack-Terrier patronus. She exchanged apologetic glances with Draco. Meet us in the Common Room, it said, Harry has news.

"You send messages with Patronuses?" Draco asked incredulous.

"Yes," she nodded numbly. "Impeccable timing isn't it?"

"Impeccable," Draco agreed stiffly.

Sixth Year, May

Tired of broomstick closets, empty corridors, abandoned tower rooms, and various hiding spots throughout the Forbidden Forest, Hermione's patience grew thin. Wasn't it far better to admit their actions and face the repercussions than to live under the restrictions of deceit? It wasn't her style and fed up; she decided to inform Draco of this at once.

It didn't help that Draco seemed more stressed than usual lately. The school year was nearing an end and although she and Draco talked about many things, he was not forthcoming about the task he was given at the beginning of the year. To her shock, Hermione realized she hadn't really been pushing the issue quite as much as she should have been. Sneaking looks at Draco from her spot at the Gryffindor table in the Great Hall, she noticed when he got up carefully, disengaging from his friends and making his way to the exit. Deciding this would be the perfect occasion to corner him, she got up quickly and followed him.

"Hermione," called Harry. "Where are you going? You're just going to leave mid-conversation?"

"Oh," Hermione muttered, embarrassed. She hadn't even realized what they were talking about and the past several months, she had done a piss-poor job keeping up the front that everything was normal. "I just remembered I left my bag in the library. I'm going to go fetch it."

Harry nodded as he looked at her oddly. Hermione felt a bit guilty knowing Harry was going through a lot right now but couldn't bring herself to stop and talk to him about it deciding she did not have the time for this as she rushed to catch up to Draco. She followed him all the way up to the seventh floor and unsure why she did so, she ducked behind a column when he got to the Room of Requirement and peeked around to make sure he was alone. When she heard the entry way open and close, she strode up purposefully towards the room and walked three times in front of it.

Perturbed when nothing happened, she wondered what it was Draco was using it for? Obviously it wasn't for a dueling class so Hermione tried again. This time she thought, Draco—I need Draco. The doorway appeared that time and she made her way inside.

She quickly noticed that they were in the Room of Hidden Things and wondered what Draco could possibly have use for in here. Hermione felt a sick feeling settle in her stomach and felt foolish she had donned her best underthings that morning. She had been determined to take things further this time, even if that meant seducing him if she was capable of it—all to admit her feelings face to face, but she got the sense that today would have other things in store for them.

Where is Draco? She thought as she navigated through the stacks of objects, a feeling of dread surfacing. Hermione heard the sound of a blanket billowing to the floor and followed it around the corner. Relief flooded her body as she caught sight of Draco standing before what looked like a large cabinet of sorts.

"Draco," she shouted as she ran to him. His face contorted with a mixture of rage, indecision, and determination. Hermione did not care, she ran all the way up to him before flinging herself in his arms, wrapping her arms and legs tightly around him—she would never let go.

"What are you doing here, Hermione?" He asked angrily but he was already holding her back, tenderly, fiercely, lovingly

"I had to see you," she said breathlessly. "Oh Draco, I had such a bad feeling!"

She looked up to face him, seeking reassurance. You have nothing to fear, he would say, there, there it'll be alright. But the words didn't come.

"Draco?" She said voice pleading.

"You shouldn't have come," he said stiffly. Tears stung her eyes. "In fact, I want you to leave. Just leave, Hermione."

Leave, he wanted her to leave. Hermione couldn't deal, she wouldn't. Maybe it's because, she thought, maybe if he knows she knows…in a fit of madness she grabbed his arm pulling the sleeve of his well-tailored jacket up to his elbow so that the black branding of the dark mark was visible. She gasped and Draco flinched but did not remove Hermione's grip from him. It's there, she thought numbly, it's there and deep down—I already knew it would be.

"There," Draco said cuttingly. "You've seen it, you know the truth. Run back to Potter and get away from the big-bad Death Eater."

"Oh Draco," she cried but it was only sympathy that she let seep through as she embraced him once more. Draco let out a strangled sound as she felt him slump in her arms. "It's alright," she cooed. "It will all be fine; we'll figure this out together. There's nothing we can't do together." Somehow they had slid down to the floor and Hermione resituated herself in his lap not breaking their connection.

"The task," she mumbled. "It's a vanishing cabinet isn't it? And there's one at Borgin and Burkes?"

"Yes," he answered voice muffled in her shoulder. "They form a passage."

"You're going to let other Death Eaters in the school," she realized aloud. "That's the task."

He said nothing letting the words hit home, but Hermione did not shy away as he might have expected her to.

"You can't do it Draco," she said passionately. "You've got to go to Dumbledore; you need to ask for his help. Whatever it is they have over you, Dumbledore can protect you!"

Draco laughed ruefully but there was no humor in it. "I am to kill him," he rasped. "The Dark Lord wants me to kill Dumbledore."

"But that...that's a suicide mission!" she yelled, outraged. "Voldemort is even too fearful to face him, how can he expect you to? It's cowardly."

"I know," he agreed, sneering. "I won't survive it, but didn't you hear what I said, I am to kill Dumbledore! Aren't you going to round up the rest of the Golden Trio, wands blazing? Why are you still here?" He was shoving his hands in his hair and looked beyond exasperated as he grappled with Hermione's questionable decision to stay in his presence.

"Draco, we can figure this out together," she leveled, squeezing his shoulders. "You aren't in this alone. I'm here and I'll always be here. I know you don't want to do this."

"They have my mother, Hermione," he whispered. "She's not a prisoner, per se, but she may as well be. If I fail, she will pay. I can't do that to her. She's already lost so much. I'm all she has now."

"The Order can protect your mother Draco and they would be happy to have you join their ranks," Hermione said valiantly. "Just go to Dumbledore, you do not have to go through with this—they can't make you!"

"There is no other way. The Death Eaters are everywhere; they are going to take over the Ministry soon. There will be nowhere to hide in all of Britain."

"So we leave then," she said with conviction as she came to a decision. "We leave the continent, take your mother somewhere safe; don't Malfoys have holdings in France? There's no reason to stay. As long as we are together I don't care, Draco. Just don't let the Death Eaters in the school. And don't leave me; I'd sooner Avada myself than let you leave me."

Draco met her gaze intensely, seeming surprised when he found the truth in her eyes, slightly fearful at her words. She really meant to run away with him, run away from all of it and she would hurt herself if he left her for her own good—she'd really do it..

"Okay, Hermione," Draco conceded softly a small smile gracing his features. "We will do it your way. We will go into hiding. Then, once my mother is safe, we can seek out the Order and fight this together."

"Yes!" she agreed feeling relief flood her, relief and love. "I love you Draco, I admit it freely—it's so liberating to say the words. As long as we are together there is nothing we can't do. I believe it."

Draco swallowed as she hugged him fiercely, gently rubbing her back with his left hand as his right reached for his wand.

"It'll all be fine Draco," she murmured. "Just, stay with me—I understand you…and I love you."

Draco's hand came up to hold her neck firmly as he kissed her tenderly. "I've always loved you," he admitted against her lips. Then he tilted her head back with a soft tug of her hair and brought his wand to her temple, she did not even notice so caught up was she in his loving gaze. "Obliviate."

"No," Hermione said, alarmed, trying valiantly to break from his grasp. But Draco held firm attempting a complex memory charm, only removing memories of their relationship, nothing else. Secret glances…shared laughs…surreptitious kisses…

"I won't forget you," she said her body slumping in defeat but her eyes still alive with hurt, determination, and fire. "I'll keep you tucked in my heart forever," she vowed groggily already feeling parts of herself being ripped away, important parts—the best parts!

Tears clouded Draco's eyes as he continued the spell watching her beautiful face as she fought to keep hold of her thoughts…beliefs…memories of him.

"It's for the best love, I won't let you be hurt because of me. Don't worry—I'll always look out for you from afar," he whispered thickly. "You deserve better. I'm not a good person." But she was already staring on blankly, the intelligence leaving her pretty face; no conscious thought able to surface under the onslaught her mind was taking.

Draco continued the spell until the girl slumped, limp in his arms and passed out.

Draco's POV

He went to sleep thinking about her.

He woke up with her dominating his dreams.

He woke up with the memory of the smell of his Amortentia—leather Quidditch gloves, jasmine, and apples—the shampoo she used. Intrinsically her.

She loved him, ha! What a twisted bit of irony that was. Hermione, gods but her name was even painful to think, she did not even know the depths to which his love for her reached.

He would do anything for her, anything. Only if it ensured she did not get hurt, and being with him was an absolute death sentence. He'd tried to push her away physically from him, but she was bloody relentless wasn't she?

Ultimately, he had to make it so she did not have the freedom to make the choice and so she would not be heartbroken as he was now. Heartbroken was putting it mildly; he might as well have split his soul and made a bloody horcrux.

Hermione would not have the memories that would haunt him to his final days, ever since she'd punched him in the face during Third Year, seeing her at the Yule Ball and recognizing she was more attractive than all the witches there, even the bloody Veelas. Watching her from afar during Fifth Year. And then finally, Sixth Year where it all went to shit. All his careful aloofness, it crumbled in the face of her sweet, caring, persistence. He didn't stand a chance. Weak was what he was. The only way to make it right again was to take the hurt from her. It would be his pain to bear forever but she could start over fresh—free and lighthearted.

Resolved in his choices, Draco steeled himself for the task ahead of him. The cabinet was mended. The Death Eaters would come. He'd made sure Hermione was safe. It was time to enact his suicide mission. Letting the numbness wash over him, he made his way to the Room of Requirement. Tonight he would face Albus Dumbledore, the greatest wizard who ever lived, and he would die doing so.

Part 2, The Order, Coming Soon…