Hermione Granger stalked along the quiet corridors of Hogwarts, eager to get away from Gryffindor Tower. For six years, Gryffindor Tower had been her home in Hogwarts, but these days she was feeling increasingly uncomfortable when she was there. Initially she'd thought that it was because at the start of seventh year she'd been given private dorms away from Gryffindor Tower which she shared with the Head Boy. But now she was realising it was nothing to do with her new status as Head Girl, it was because of her best friend, Ron Weasley.
Hermione and Ron had been friends since first year, and over the years Hermione had developed romantic feelings for her friend. However, Ron had either been oblivious to her feelings or had chosen to ignore them and had instead looked for romance elsewhere. The previous year he'd embarked on a relationship with Lavender Brown, whose interest in him had purely stemmed from the fact he'd become a quidditch player, and it proved to Hermione that Ron would never see her as anything but his friend.
Hermione had worked on accepting that all she and Ron would ever be was friends, when he'd changed everything by declaring his undying love for her a few months previously. Hermione was stunned as the thing she'd desired for so long was put in front of her on a silver platter. After years of being indifferent to her, Ron was suddenly in love with her and Hermione should have been over the moon. The only problem was, Ron had no sooner declared his love when Hermione realised she didn't want it. She hadn't honestly thought she was over him, until he offered himself to her and she realised that it was no longer what she wanted.
Unfortunately, Ron did not take Hermione's rejection very well. He accused her of only wanting him when she couldn't have him, and not really loving him at all. Hermione had told him that maybe if he'd paid her some attention earlier, she might still have wanted him. The end result was a rift developing between the pair of them, and it had been steadily growing all year. Not that it stopped Ron from trying to change her mind about dating him as he seemed convinced that if Hermione gave him a chance everything could get back to normal.
Part of Hermione couldn't help but think that she should give Ron a chance. Maybe he was right, and if she gave their romance a chance they could get back to some semblance of normality and she wouldn't feel as uncomfortable around him. However, the sensible part of her knew that she didn't want to be with Ron, and it was just be unfair to them both to offer him false hope. Not that she could entirely be sure of what had prompted her change of heart as she would have sworn that the previous year she would have jumped at the chance to date Ron.
Still mulling over her tangle private life, Hermione entered the head dorms fully intending to spend the afternoon with her homework. However, when she entered the common room she found the Head Boy, Draco Malfoy, had his own work spread over half of the large desk that she intended to use. Unsure of what to do, since she didn't want to study in the small confines of her room, Hermione stood frowning at the blond Slytherin, wondering why he wasn't down in the dungeons with his friends.
"Glaring at me like that, won't make me go away," Draco remarked with a slight smirk as he raised his head to catch Hermione's eye.
"I wasn't glaring," Hermione objected. "I was merely deciding where I should study."
"What's wrong with here?" Draco asked. "The table is big enough for us both."
"You mean study together?" Hermione asked in shock.
"Afraid I'm going to bite, Granger?" Draco questioned with a teasing grin. "And here was me thinking we were getting along just fine."
"We are," Hermione conceded.
She couldn't deny that living with Draco had been far easier than she'd anticipated. At the beginning of the year she'd been dreading having to share rooms with the Slytherin, but they'd made a truce on their first evening and things had ran smoothly since then. Of course they still bickered, but they no longer insulted each other, and more often than not they found themselves in agreement on how to conduct head duties. They'd even spent a couple of pleasant evenings reading beside the fire.
"So what's the problem?" Draco asked.
"No problem," Hermione replied decisively as she pulled her wand from her pocket and summoned her school bag.
Hermione settled down opposite Draco to begin her own work, but she soon found she couldn't concentrate. Her mind kept replaying her latest altercation with Ron as she wondered if there was any way she could have handled things differently. Had she not let him down gently enough and was he keeping up the animosity as his way of getting back to her, or had she not been clear enough when she told him no and was he genuinely clinging to the hope she would change her mind? Hermione wasn't sure, but she did know that unless she could get Ron to back off completely their friendship was going to end up in tatters.
Less than forty minutes after sitting down to study, Hermione had managed to write a couple of paragraphs. With a loud, meaningful sigh, she slammed shut her arithmancy textbook, threw her quill onto the desk and rubbed at her aching head.
"Are you okay Granger?" Draco asked, sounding genuinely concerned.
"Fine," Hermione answered shortly, not even looking up to see if the blond was being genuine or if he was trying to irritate her.
"Okay, but just say if you need help," Draco said. "I can see how you've been struggling with that Arithmancy essay. I finished it last week, so I might be able to help you."
"I do not need your help," Hermione spat, raising her head and glaring at Draco as she let her frustration with Ron seep out and focus on the Slytherin opposite her. "Why would I need your help? I'm the top student in our year, and I regularly outshine you in every subject. If anyone should be helping someone, I should be helping you. So no, I do not need your help."
Draco gazed at Hermione in amazement, but before he could even begin to formulate a response to her baffling outburst, she abruptly jerked to her feet and not bothering to pack her work away, she flounced off up the short staircase that led to the bathroom and bedrooms. Hermione stormed into her bedroom, loudly slamming the door behind her, and flopped on the bed in annoyance. Burying her head in her pillow, Hermione let out a scream of frustration.
Rolling onto her back, Hermione lay staring up at the ceiling as she tried to calm herself. As her anger and annoyance subsided, they were replaced by stirrings of guilt. As her earlier words floated around in her head, Hermione winced at how she'd just spoken to Draco. It was Ron she was mad at, not Draco, and it hadn't been fair to take her frustration out on the blond Slytherin. All he'd done was try and be nice, and Hermione had lashed out at him in a totally unnecessary way.
"You are such a cow," Hermione muttered to herself.
Hermione knew she had to go back and apologise to Draco, but since she'd been so horrible she was in no hurry to go and face her fellow head student. She remained in her room for nearly an hour plucking up the courage to go and apologise. When she did emerge from her bedroom and go back downstairs she found Draco had stopped walking and was lounging in a chair beside the fire, his nose in a book. All his school books were packed away, while hers were still on the table, although Hermione did note that they'd been tidied up.
"Come back for more, Granger?" Draco asked, sliding a bookmark into his book and carefully placing it on the floor beside the chair. "Not that I can think there's much else for you to say. You made yourself very clear. You think you're better than me."
"I think no such thing," Hermione replied quietly.
"Really? You certainly gave that impression not an hour ago," Draco snorted.
"I'm sorry," Hermione offered. "You were being nice and I threw it back in your face."
"It wasn't very pleasant," Draco admitted. "Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to be nice?"
At the last second, Draco's lips curved upwards in a smirk and Hermione could tell he was just teasing her. Despite the fact she still felt awful, and wasn't quite sure he'd accepted her apology, Hermione couldn't help but smile back at the blond Slytherin.
"You're very good at it," she said. "And if I wasn't such a cow, I wouldn't have lashed out at you."
"Why did you?" Draco asked, his curiosity evident. "You don't strike me as the sort of person who's too insecure to accept if they need help."
"I'm not," Hermione replied. "Your offer was lovely, and if you don't mind, I'd like to take you up on it. I have been struggling with the assignment, which is why it's still not finished."
"Just say when and I'm at your service," Draco said gallantly.
"Thank you Malfoy," Hermione returned with a smile. "And I really am sorry."
"I accept your apology," Draco said. "And if you ever fancy telling me what the real problem was, I'm always here to listen. I'm quite a good listener you know, all my friends confide their problems to me."
"But do you help solve them?" Hermione asked.
"I try," Draco answered with a shrug. "So do you want to share the real reason for your flip out?"
"Not yet," Hermione said. "But I appreciate your offer. I still feel bad for how I shouted at you and I feel as if I should make it up to you, so is there anything you want from me?"
"There is one thing," Draco answered with a slow smirk as he rose to his feet.
"What?" Hermione asked warily. She was thinking something like doing extra patrols to give Draco some extra free time, but it was clear from the devious glint in his grey eyes that he had something else in mind.
Instead of answering, Draco closed the space between them in a couple of strides. Hermione still wasn't sure what Draco was going to ask of her, and she found herself tongue tied by his close proximity. Even though they'd been sharing dorms since the beginning of the year, they'd never been as close and Hermione was very aware of how appealing he was. Not only was he very good looking, but he smelt amazing.
"Draco," Hermione whispered, finally finding her voice.
"Hermione," Draco returned with a slight smile at hearing his first name falling from the Gryffindor witches lips.
"I thought you were going to tell me what you wanted from me," Hermione muttered.
"I'd rather just show you," Draco replied.
Hermione frowned in confusion, but understanding suddenly lit up her eyes when Draco leaned towards her. Even though she'd worked out what he was going to do, it still took her slightly by surprise when his lips landed on hers. Hermione initially froze at the contact, but within a few seconds she'd given herself up to the kiss and wound her arms around Draco's neck. For a couple of minutes the pair remained locked in a steamy embrace, and they only separated when they needed air.
As she gazed up at Draco with lust filled eyes, Hermione gasped slightly as a realisation dawned on her. The reason she didn't want to be with Ron was because someone else had stolen her attentions. She hadn't realised it, but sometime during her time living with Draco she'd fallen for the Slytherin.
"Now that was an apology, Granger," Draco said with a smug smirk. "Feel free to shout at me again if I get a kiss as an apology."
"Why did you want a kiss from me?" Hermione asked in a whisper as she tried to come to terms with the fact she'd developed feelings for the Head Boy.
"Why do you think?" Draco questioned with a laugh. "I wasn't sure I was ever going to get one otherwise. I saw the opportunity, and I couldn't resist."
"But why did you want to kiss me?" Hermione pressed.
"Why else do wizards want to kiss witches?" Draco laughed. "I like you, Granger."
"You like me," Hermione repeated quietly.
"Do you want me to kiss you again to prove it?" Draco asked.
"I wouldn't say no," Hermione returned.
Not one for needing asking twice, Draco pulled Hermione back in his arms and reconnected their lips. Their second kiss was even steamier than the first and Hermione was so lost in Draco's embrace that she whimpered in disappointment when he broke the kiss.
"I could do that all night," Draco confessed in a slightly breathless voice.
"You'd get no complaints from me," Hermione replied with a shy smile.
"Seriously?" Draco checked. "You like me?"
"I would have thought the way I responded to the kiss would have shown that," Hermione chuckled.
"You could just have been blown away by my amazing technique," Draco replied with a cocky grin.
"You're so conceited," Hermione muttered with a roll of her eyes. "I might have to take it back. Maybe I don't like you after all."
"I could always persuade you to like me," Draco suggested, flashing Hermione a wicked grin. "I can be very persuasive."
"I believe you," Hermione replied. "And I don't need to be persuaded to like you, I already like you. I just needed to be kissed to realise it."
"Damn, if I'd known that I would have kissed you months ago," Draco tutted.
"I wish you had," Hermione whispered, thinking about all the hassle it might have saved with Ron. Maybe if she'd been with Draco, Ron wouldn't have declared his love for her and they wouldn't be in the mess they were in now.
"Me too," Draco replied. "But hopefully it's not too late."
"No, it's not too late," Hermione confirmed. "So what do we do now, Malfoy?"
"How about we get to know each other a bit more," Draco suggested as he took hold of Hermione's hand and led her over to the sofa. "Starting with why you kicked off earlier."
With a sigh, Hermione confessed everything that had been happening with Ron. She still wasn't sure how things would progress with Ron, or Draco for that matter, but it felt good to talk to someone about her problems. Maybe with Draco's support she could find a way to deal with Ron and his unwanted attentions. Who knows, maybe if something developed between her and Draco, Ron would finally accept that they were never going to be more than friends. Ron's chance with her had passed, now it was Draco's chance, and Hermione was hoping that he didn't blow it the way her best friend had.