Written for: QLFC – Round 3

- Base Prompt: Team pride, your team name is your prompt. Use the bolded word in your name as your prompt: Appleby Arrow(s).

- Word Count Restriction: 2,251 – 2,500 (story word count: 2,351 according to Microsoft Word).

- Additional Prompts: N/A

This wasn't the way it was meant to go, not at all. The tiny man watched the large human-creatures move around him oblivious to his despair. He fiddled with a violet arrow as he focused on two humans, two humans who were never meant to be paired together.

All thanks to a misdirected arrow.

Cupid looked at the woman with bushy hair, buck teeth, and a wealth of knowledge hidden behind her eyes. She was the one he had marked and hit correctly, and she was staring at her mistakenly chosen partner with the typical, love-sick daze.

Her partner, Cupid thought miserably, was the mistake. He was not the perfect match for the brilliant girl in front of him. In fact, he was almost the complete opposite.

Cupid glanced back down at the arrow he was fiddling with. Why did he intrude? Cupid thought. Why did he have to interfere? Cupid glared at the red-haired boy, blaming him for stepping out of the way of his intended arrow, resulting in the blond being marked.

What am I going to do now?

Hermione's eyes glazed over when she felt a pinch in the small of her back. Unfamiliar and unwelcome feelings coursed through her as she stared at the man in front of her. He's attractive, she thought traitorously. She found herself unable to look away from his blond locks, his full lips, and grey eyes. She couldn't pull her eyes away, and that scared her.

"What do you want, Malfoy?"

Hermione recognised anger present in Ron's voice. Hermione knew that if she looked, Ron's fists would be clenched, his face would be red, and his body tense for a fight. Hermione knew all this, yet she was unable to look or to check, because there was something dark and enticing in Draco's eyes. Something that pulled her body forward, wanting more.

A hand clenched around hers. Ron, she thought. Abruptly, the spell, or whatever it was, broke and Hermione blinked away her daze and looked down quickly, worried she would fall under the spell again if she didn't. She viciously suppressed the blush that threatened to appear and tried to clear her mind of the strange emotions still coursing through her.

"Well?" Ron said when Draco remained strangely silent.

Hermione risked a glance at the blond and saw an odd expression on his face. He was looking right at her.

"Nothing," Draco snapped, dragging his eyes away. The bite that was usually present in his voice was barely there, and Hermione couldn't help but wonder why.

Ron also seemed to notice this and frowned. "What's wrong with you?" he asked, stepping slightly in front of Hermione.

Hermione frowned, not liking the actions of her friend, but she didn't say anything, instead tugging on his arm. "Let's just go," she said when he didn't move.

Her voice seemed to startle Draco, because he abruptly spun around and stalked onto the train. Hermione watched him go.

What just happened?

Hermione paced her empty dorm room, her hand tapping her lips. The others were still in the common room, but Hermione couldn't pull her thoughts away from the encounter at the train station. She hadn't seen Draco again; he didn't even visit their compartment as per tradition. It was strange, and Hermione found her thoughts turning down a dark and strange road.

She wanted to see him, wanted to examine him up close. She wanted to share a breath, lock eyes. She wanted to lean in close, press her lips up against his soft–

Stop, she scolded herself. This was Draco Malfoy, the bastard that bullied her and her friends. This was the boy that called her a Mudblood more than once. You cannot be crushing on him.

Yet, here she was, doing just that.

The corridors were full of students racing to different areas of the school: first years scurrying to charms, second years rushing to transfigurations. The few students that noticed the fifth years pitied them. No one wanted potions this early in the morning.

Hermione pushed through the students in the corridors. She was running behind schedule, having forgotten her books in the dorm, but she would still be on time for class, just.

She raced around the final corner, spotting Ron and Harry talking together just as another student knocked into her. Hermione was sent falling to the ground, landing hard on her side.

"Hey, watch it," a familiar voice growled.

Hermione prepared herself for a fight, recognising not only the tone but the person using it. She pushed herself up slightly and ignored the shiver of desire that ran up her spine. "I'll have you know," she said, turning to the man only to see him glaring at another Slytherin student.

The student nodded and scampered off quickly. When Draco turned to her, surprise was written all over her face.

"Are you okay?" Draco asked.

A thrill ran through her, making it difficult for her to answer verbally. She nodded instead, her eyes seeking out his.

"Good," he said softly.

They stayed like that, staring at each other, Hermione still on the ground. Her foot started to cramp and there was a pain in her arm, but she barely noticed. She struggled to think about anything except for that dark, enticing look in Draco's eyes.

A door slammed down the hall. Draco jumped, and Hermione flinched at the loud sound. They both turned towards the sound, realising that the corridor was empty and that they were officially late for class.

Hermione found herself roughly pulled from the ground, a bruising grip around her forearm. She wanted to feel offended at the rough treatment. She wanted to rip her arm away from him, glaring and informing him how much she hated to be man-handled. Yet, she didn't; struggling to breathe let alone speak.

"Be more careful," Draco said gruffly before striding towards the classroom, leaving his hand on her arm a little longer than necessary.

Hermione barely managed to collect her thoughts before he was gone. Hermione slowly followed his steps, her heart racing, and it had nothing to do with the angry professor she was about to confront.

Cupid watched the two mistakenly matched humans interact. He watched as their little arrows faded away while their connection became stronger and stronger.

Cupid found himself surprised and intrigued.

Usually in situations like these (because, unfortunately, this wasn't the first time something like this had happened), the mistakenly matched couple would form a connection and start a relationship. However, the arrow wouldn't fade, even as the couple received the usual feelings of love. The connection would be wrong, and the arrow would stay as rigid and deep as the first day it was shot.

Cupid didn't like to think about what would happen after that.

This couple was unusual, almost like they were meant to be matched, and yet, they were a mistake. Nothing like this ever happened before; they were defying fate.

Hermione browsed the shelves in Tomes and Scrolls, occasionally picking up a book that interested her. After stating her intentions to enter the bookstore, Harry and Ron disappeared, claiming that she would enjoy her time more without them. She didn't argue, knowing they were right.

Running her finger over the spines of the books, reading the titles, she failed to notice the person standing directly in front of her. That is, until she ran directly into said person.

Hermione stumbled, only to be held up by a tight grip on her shoulders.

"I told you to be more careful," the person said.

Hermione lifted her eyes quickly, locking them with Draco's grey ones. Hermione blushed at the pure lust she saw.

"No one can know," he said softly, his voice deep.

Hermione nodded immediately. She didn't want anyone finding out either.

"No strings either," he said, demanding now.

This time, Hermione hesitated. She didn't like the idea of Draco dating anyone else, nor did she like the idea of being nothing but a sex buddy. The hands around her shoulders tightened painfully.

"I won't be falling in love with you," Draco said.

Hermione leaned close, mixing her breath with his. She closed her eyes, pressing even closer until there was barely any air left between them. She felt Draco's body stiffen, his hands tightening again. Hermione smiled, placing her lips up against his ear and observing his ear twitch at the feeling of her breath. "Who says that's what I want," she whispered.

Draco breathed in sharply, and Hermione smiled again, pulling back to look into his eyes again.

"Astronomy tower, after curfew," he said before disappearing in the aisles of books.

Hermione watched him leave, a smirk on her face.

Hermione was pacing the dorm room again.

What are you doing? she thought. Why are you doing this?

It was almost eight, and Hermione couldn't decide, go, or stay. She wanted to go; just thinking about the lust and desire Draco showed her was enough to warm her cheeks and send shivers through her body. On the other hand, this was Draco Malfoy. He was a dark wizard. He thought she was scum. He would one day join Voldemort.

Hermione stared at the door, then checked the time. Screw it, she thought before flying out of the room. She didn't want to be late, after all.

He was smirking at her. She resisted the urge to look up and check, knowing how that would end. She really didn't want to explain her flushed cheeks to her friends again.

"I think I really like him," she heard Lavender say from further down the Gryffindor table.

Hermione rolled her eyes. Lavender had been talking about some boy she was apparently dating. Hermione couldn't remember a name.

"That's good," Parvati said blandly, obviously not paying attention to her friend.

"He's just . . ." she continued, "he's a breath of fresh air. I can't wait to spend Valentine's Day with him tomorrow."

Hermione drowned out the conversation with her thoughts. She wasn't at all interested in her roommate's love life, not when she had her own. Looking up, she managed to catch Draco's eye. He tilted his head towards the Great Hall doors. She nodded slightly, excitement pooling in her stomach.

"I'm going to head to the library," Hermione said, interrupting Ron.

"Why? You're always there," Ron said.

Hermione winced inwardly; she was using that excuse a lot. Harry frowned at her reaction and stood up, stepping close to her.

"Are you okay?" he asked, placing a hand over her forehead.

Hermione backed away, for some reason not feeling comfortable with her friend so close and touching her, however innocently. "I'm fine. I'll see you two later." Hermione turned quickly, walking to the abandoned classroom she and Draco claimed as their own. She entered through the door and had barely shut it before it was being thrown open again and she was shoved up against the wall.

"What was that?" Draco growled out.

Hermione, wide-eyed, didn't say anything. That only seemed to anger him more.

"What the hell was that?" he said again, pulling her away from the wall only to slam her back against it.

"What?" she asked desperately.

"Why did Potter have his hands on you?"

Hermione frowned at Draco before a sly smirk slid onto her face. "Why? You said no strings attached, right?"

Draco's face darkened drastically, and he pressed his body against hers. "You are mine." His voice was soft, deadly.

Hermione leaned her mouth to his ear, reminiscent of that first bookstore discussion. "Why, Draco," she purred, "are you falling in love?"

Draco's eyes widened before they narrowed again on her. "Never," he said before claiming her lips.

Hermione let the disappointment go and melted, enjoying every second.

Hermione stood staring at the horizon. She was still recovering from the ministry adventure, but the hospital wing was starting to suffocate her. Hermione ignored the grief threatening to consume her, ignored the pain from her injuries. She focused on the view instead. She noticed neither the door opening behind her, nor the footsteps approaching.

"Should you be out here?"

Hermione jumped, emitting a groan when her injuries made themselves known.

"Are you okay?"

Hermione smiled at Draco, though the smile looked more like a grimace. "I'm fine," she said though they both knew she was lying. "What are you doing up here?" she asked in an attempt to distract him.

"I wanted to yell at you," he said.

Hermione raised an eyebrow, walking towards him. "Why's that?"

"You almost died."

Hermione was surprised to hear his voice crack slightly. "I didn't," she said softly, not sure how to respond.

"But you almost did!" he yelled, clenching his fists.

Hermione continued to walk forward, wrapping her hands around his fists when she was close enough. "But I didn't," she said again. "Why are you so worked up?"

Draco ripped his hands out from hers and started to pace. "I don't know."

Hermione stared at him, sensing a lie. "Yes, you do."

Draco continued to pace for a moment, staying silent as Hermione watched on. Back, forth, back, forth.

"You can't die," Draco said finally, stopping his pacing and turning to face her.

"Why?" Hermione asked, though she was certain she knew the answer.

"Because I've fallen in love with you," Draco practically shouted, striding forward and cupping her face in a possessive grip. "I can't lose you," he said, softly this time.

Hermione smiled and pressed her lips against his. "You won't," she whispered, pulling back only enough to rest her forehead on his. "I promise."

Cupid stood in the light of the sunset and watched the couple comfort each other. He watched as they kissed and talked. He watched as they finally admitted their feelings, sealing their bond.

He watched until each arrow flickered before fading completely, leaving barely a mark to show their existence, and then left, glad his mistake didn't ruin any lives. In fact, he thought, I may have just improved them.

(w.c 2,351)

WolfWinks –xx-