A/N: Still not JKR. Still mucking about with her least favorite character... Is Draco her least favorite? I mean, she doesn't seem to like him but then again geez... what she put Snape through...

Big thanks to LightofEvolution for my first ever Alpha reading session! I'm not sure what the official job description of that is but I would call it Professional Cheerleader with a welcome dose of "hey you fucked up that line right there". Thanks, LoE! You rock!

This is a 2 part story little piece and will be completed tomorrow.


Draco looks up from his game of Exploding Snap, exchanging a shite eating grin with Blaise before wiping his face clean of expression. He secretly enjoys a riled up Hermione Granger. "Can I help you?"

"What did you do to Ron!? He said you told him "good luck" before the match and were skulking around his locker. He hasn't saved a goal yet!"

Draco rolls his eyes and levels her with a stare. "I didn't do anything to your pet weasel, Granger. Can't a bloke be friendly? House unity and all that?"

She sputters a moment before she lands on, "No, you can't. We, as in civil human beings maybe, but not you."

"That's a low blow. What's the implication? That I'm not civil? Or not a human being."

"You're combative and a ferret so both."

Beside him, Blaise chuckles. When Draco glares at him, he mimes zipping his mouth shut and smirks in silence. Draco stands from the sofa and plants his feet right in front of Hermione. Close enough to intimidate but far enough away she can't accuse him of being threatening. Now, in his eight year and on the other side of a war in which he was the bad guy, he's very careful with the lines he can cross. Threatening a witch with only a Slytherin witness could revoke his parole.

"That wasn't terribly civil of you either, Head Girl. I didn't do anything to your little boyfriend. Why don't you just run along and suck his cock or nurse his wounds or whatever it is he keeps you for." He sneers at her and it feels good for just a moment to be in the position of power. Bullying is an addictive high he was quite used to until the Dark Lord fucked up his life.

And the truth is, he hasn't done anything to Ron Weasley. Just a little competitive posturing. Psychological games to help his house win. Draco can't play for Slytherin this year. He's lucky not to be in Azkaban for that matter… But that doesn't mean he doesn't enjoy digging at the weakest link of the Gryffindor team. The fact that he's Granger's boyfriend is just an added bonus for reasons he doesn't want to admit.

He can't go after Potter. Not after the prat saved his Mother from prosecution. His kindness even resulted in Draco and his father's weakened sentences. Loathe he might be to admit it, he is in Harry's debt. The payment for which has been a nicer Draco. The unintentional side-affect being that he sort of likes the stupid git.

Of course Draco will never admit that to anyone and seems to be trying to balance the natural order by being particularly snide to Weasley.

Then there is this one: Hermione bloody Granger. She's there at every turn patting the red-head's back and kissing his cheek and petting his hand. There with her stupid luxuriously curled hair and filthy delectable mouth and bottomless wretched warm eyes. Everywhere that he runs in to Weasley she's right fucking there too. When did she become so fetching anyway? Draco blames it on loneliness. Slytherin house is a little empty these days. War-neutral Blaise Zabini and half-blood Tracey Davis pretty much fill the roster of 8th years.

He knows he's crossed some invisible line when she is uncharacteristically quiet, staring at him hard and taking a fortifying breath. "Just leave him alone, Malfoy. All of us for that matter. You shouldn't even be here."

It's funny, how many emotions he can feel while keeping a blank face. His guilt and self-loathing are ever present, but he also loves himself enough to be angry that she would dare. Admittedly, had he not lashed out, she wouldn't have felt the need to say exactly what he know to be true. He shouldn't be here. Doesn't deserve to be

Of course that doesn't make him less angry and he's preparing a retort. He's not sure what exactly but it will be a doozy, Ladies and Gentleman, a real fucking zinger… if only Blaise wouldn't interrupt.

"Granger, come on now, don't let him make you say ugly things." Blaise has a way of settling a witch with his charming smile and this one seems no more immune than the rest. "You'll miss the second half of the match, Beautiful. I promise you, he hasn't done anything to the Gryffindors. Just a little mental warfare. I'm sure Weasley'll come 'round."

"I..." She has refocused her gaze on Blaise and then lets her mouth settle into a line. "Alright. I'll take your word for it. But if I find out he steps so much as one pureblooded toe out of line-"

"I will personally hand you the rope with which to hang him, Princess." He keeps grinning as she glares over at Draco.

For his part, he offers her a sneer in return and then retakes his seat next to his friend. He has turned back to their game when he hears the Portrait door to the Heads' dorm slam. "I don't know how you live with that harpy."

"She's much friendlier when you're not around, Drake. Downright lovely I dare say."

Draco eyes him and scoffs, "What, do you like her or something?"

Zabini smirks back and leans back in the cozy fireside chair he has claimed as his own. "Why? Jealous?"

He imagines himself sputtering as ineloquently as Granger but is able to reign himself in and deny, "of course not. Just surprised you'd lower yourself like that."

The look on his friend's face sours instantly. "Because of her blood status? Merlin, I thought you might have learned something."

"No- I mean, that's not what I meant. I mean she's just, you know... such a swot and... and haughty and …bossy and... I mean that hair, right? Does she even try to style it? And her perfect regulation skirts and perfectly pressed shirts. You know she doesn't even let the elves do it? She has a fucking iron... a MUGGLE iron. Presses the damn things herself. And she's attached to that fucking Weasley like a growth. What's so impressive about him? He's a bit of a brute really. Terrible keeper. Can't believe she thinks I'M the reason he can't block a shot. He's hopeless but of course it has to be Draco Death Eater Malfoy, doesn't it! Can't be that her little boyfriend isn't as amazing as she seems to think. All starry eyed and hanging off his arm and flipping those curls over her shoulder..."

Draco stops talking as soon as he realizes just how much he's said. He looks back at his friend to find his eyebrows raised. "Yes I can see you find her barely even worth notice."

"Fuck you, Zabini." Blaise sniggers and they continue their game in near silence.

It's only at the end, when Blaise has nearly won the round, that he stops him with a casual aside. "By the way, in case you were curious, Weasley dumped Granger yesterday."

"Why- I mean... why would I be curious?" Draco tries to play off his interest as anything but.

"You know... just if you wondered why she reacted so angrily when you told her to go offer the man fellatio or something. Apparently, according to Tracey because you know I hate to gossip-"

"Yes, I can tell you're super against the idea..."

"-but apparently he was already hooked up with Susan Bones by breakfast. You and I both know you only move that fast when you've already got the witch waiting."

"You think he was messing around on her then?"

Zabini grins, broad and toothy. "I mean, you know... if you were curious."

Draco doesn't immediately respond, lost in thought as to the implications, the effect, this could have o him. The Yule ball, a tradition not honored since Fourth year, is in less than two weeks. Granger won't have an escort now, with Weasley throwing her aside so suddenly. And with so few 8th year students... wouldn't it be a gentleman's duty to make sure she was not without a companion? I mean, she's Head Girl, for Merlin's sake she can't very well go alone. And then who knows what might happen after…

"I think I'll catch the rest of the game."

Zabini gives him a look of exasperation. "We're in the middle of something, you know. You could wait to chase that little lion until after the match."

Draco smirks, straightening his cuffs and running a hand through his hair. He's heard witches like that ruffled, unkept look. "I don't chase, Zabini. I'll have little kitty eating out of my hand."

"Your self-confidence is impressively undeterred, given your history with her. Just because it's over with Weasley, you think she won't have other interest? That McMillian bloke is already giving her some looks that would make even me blush."

"Please. He wouldn't even know where to start. Girl like that, you have to be subtle." He offers a wolfish grin. "Poor thing probably scares easy. You know Weasley likely couldn't seal the deal. Probably why he found a little kitty elsewhere."

"Wait, you're talking about bedding her?"

He shrugs, still inching toward the door. "What else? She needs a proper Wizard to break her in after all."

"Merlin, you're unappealing right now."

He actually laughs at that, pretty heartily, and makes it to the door. "Luckily, I'm not trying to impress you. Wish me luck."

He hears a sincere, "get bent!" as his answer and chuckles down the corridor.

His excitement builds as he makes his way across the castle. If only Zabini knew. Draco has had his eye on her all year. Maybe longer… This is exactly what he has been waiting for. As for his posturing, Blaise is only vaguely aware as to Draco's intimate history with witches. He knows Daphne Greengrass was his first kiss at thirteen, he believes, rightfully, that Pansy got his cherry in Fifth year, he's aware he had a little thing with a girl in France the summer before his sixth, and that's about it. What he doesn't know that is that really is it. Draco has been with 2 girls, once each, and kissed a third.

His reputation precedes him, as a sexy domineering ladykiller, but reputation is all there really is. When does Blaise imagine he fit in all these other romantic liasons? "Oh, hey, Voldy. Let me just scamper up to my room for a quickie before I do your bidding. Maybe I can grab a moment with that muggle woman before you let your snake-soulmonster eat her."

He shudders at the very real possibility he could have had a moment with a muggle before her torture and death. He doesn't like to think too hard on what his father may have witnessed…or participated in.

When he thinks on Hermione Granger, he imagines her being one of the few girls with true innocence left. Oh Weasley might have had her, over the months that they dated, but he doubts it was more than a couple of rushed, uncomfortable disasters for her. Not that Draco is full of experience, but he's smart, and he learns quickly… and his mother has an embarrassingly large collection of erotica tucked back in the Malfoy library. Some, he suspects, are even muggle, being quite a bit more tantalizing than the comparatively tame Wizarding standard. His parents always told him muggles were barbaric, uncouth, savages. It follows they would be more untethered in intimate settings.

He can't wait to show Granger what he's learned.

Now, to get the date.

He finds her easily enough, one bushy head of hair in a sea of red scarves, seated next to a blonde wearing a giant fucking lion. He silently thanks Lovegood for making his search easy. He's further blessed with a short wait, Potter finding the snitch in record time before Weasley could completely give away the match.

Stealthily, he follows behind Granger and her friend as they take the field and track down Weasley. He's standing in a cluster of red-clad tossers, Potter amongst them. Draco watches as the object of his secret affection throws her arms around the boy wonder's neck and squeals in congratulations for his snitch catching prowess. She offers a hug to Weasley next, but it seems perfunctory.

If you ask Draco, even that sad little embrace is more than the bastard deserves. Unfaithful git.

He's circling like a vulture, eyeing the group as subtly as he can and trying to go unnoticed. Finally, thankfully, they disband; the boys to the locker room and Lovegood wandering off dreamily toward the Black Lake. This leaves Hermione alone to begin the trudge back to the castle. Without her pride of lions, Draco's bravado soars quite lofty for a belly-dragging snake.

"Hey, Granger."

She looks up and sees him approaching from the direction of the pitch. She looks confused and mildly annoyed, but she is polite enough, "Can I help you, Malfoy."

"So who won the game? Seems I missed the excitement."

She offers a bit of soft laughter. "Harry caught the snitch of course. As I knew he would," she adds haughtily.

"The usual then," he comments, his courage suddenly drying up along with his mouth. She's looking at him a little expectantly but less hostile than that of which he's accustomed. Her curls are windswept, completely out of control. Her cheeks are flushed pink and her lips are red from the elements. She looks vibrant and breathless and Draco just isn't sure what to do with all that.

"Hmm?" It seem she was talking and he completely missed it.

"I asked what you needed. Why did you call to me?"

"Oh. I wanted to ask… you see Blaise told me about Weasley." He sees her stiffen and rushes forward. "I mean, I just was wondering, who will be taking you to the ball?"

Her eyes narrow to slits and she hisses out, "and what is it to you then?"

"I…I thought I might…" He straightens up, closing his eyes for just a moment to pretend he's rehearsing for his governess, or perhaps speaking to Pansy or Daphne. With as much pureblood breeding as he can muster, he asks stiffly, "I thought I might offer to escort you, if you're not otherwise promised."

When he dares a look back at her face, she's blinking at him, eyes wide. "Why?"

The question is so sincere and innocent, he can't help but laugh. Unfortunately, that just results in her stomping away in a snit and he rushes to catch her. He slides a hand onto her arm but she pulls it away quickly.

Draco takes a non-aggressive stance, hands lifted palm up. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I don't mean to laugh."

"Oh, I think that's precisely what you meant. What exactly is the joke here? Just to see if I'd be fool enough to accept?"

Now it's his turn to blink owlish before he shakes off his surprise and denies, "of course not. I'm quite serious. I only laughed you'd have to ask why?"

"You mean to say, you're actually inviting me?"

"Merlin, yes. Wait… do you already have a date?" He realizes she never actually answered.

She's studying his face so he tries his level best to look earnest. "You're actually asking me," she observes, no longer a question. "Well then, no I do not have a date and yes I will accept. Please incorporate a deep purple into your attire if you would like to coordinate with me. My gown is silk Chiffon and the color was listed as eggplant. See you in class."

With that, she spins back toward the castle, hair swinging and slapping her cheeks, and continues at a brisk pace. All Draco can do is stare after her, a silly grin on his face.

They don't speak much in the days to come. Draco is in a mild state of disbelief that she actually agreed to his escort, seeing as how she barely offers him a word or a glance. When he visits Blaise, she's often holed up in her bedroom, not even acknowledging his presence. At meals, she still sits with Potter and Weasley, though she no longer sits sandwiched between them. Now the weasel's little sister is a buffer and the former lovers don't seem to speak to each other as much directly.

In class she is as head-down intense as she's ever been. Though the rest of their class trails her marks by a wide margin, she is tenacious in her efforts, as if mediocrity were nipping at her heels.

The night before the ball, Draco finds her in the Heads common room engrossed in a book. He clears his throat twice before she glances his way. "Granger." He greets her as calmly as he can but his heart is racing. Tomorrow is their date. An actual honest-to-Merlin date… and he's not sure if they've ever exchanged more than two minutes of conversation with her that didn't turn in to a row.

"Malfoy. Is it that time yet? Come to tell me something?"

"I…" He's a little confused and it probably shows on his face. Most unbecoming of a Malfoy to look like a slack-jawed Weasley… "I only meant to say hello. We do have a date tomorrow after all."

Now she looks confused. "Tomorrow?"

"The Yule ball." He slips back in to his pureblood posturing and offers his most devastating smirk. "Don't tell me you're so enthralled in your book you've forgotten the day."

"I've not but… you actually intended… I mean, surely you don't expect…"

His smirk slips and he starts to get a little concerned. "You agreed," he says and hates how petulant he sounds. Sometimes that spoiled little boy comes out to play in the most inopportune times.

"I did," she nods. "I just didn't think you meant it."

"What the fuck, Granger? Then why the bloody hell did you agree?!"

She stands up, placing the book reverently on the side table. "I thought you were having a laugh and I'm really not good at that kind of thing. So I just thought if I agreed you'd think you had tricked me and leave me alone. My victory would be that I didn't ever believe you."

"That's really fucking convoluted," he bites out. "Are you that distrusting?"

She raises one of her disgustingly perfect eyebrows and agrees, "Without a doubt. Call it a side effect of fighting a war at sixteen but yes, absolutely." She pauses a moment to consider then observes, "I probably have a deal more issues than trust if we're honest but at least that."

"So…" his mind is working through the past two weeks and what this means for his plans when he asks, hoping he doesn't sound too vulnerable, "did you accept another proposal then?"

She shakes her head in the negative and he breathes a little easier. "I thought I'd just go alone, perform my Head duties, and maybe sneak out early."

They stare at each other in a moment that stretches far past comfortable. A million possibilities of what to say fight for the chance to leave his mouth. He wants more than anything to ask if that means she will still go with him. He's planned on it, expected it. He special ordered cufflinks that feature checkerboard faceted amethyst in the deepest shade he could find, all to match her plum colored gown. He spent an entire Hogsmeade weekend browsing trinkets and gifts to bestow upon her before the event, finally landing on an amethyst cocktail ring to coordinate with his links, set rather garishly in Gryffindor gold. The merchant mentioned it was muggle-made by some woman called Tiffany and assured him it was a worthy gift.

He has spent nearly two weeks rehearsing and fretting and building up something in his head. This was supposed to be redemption and temptation and fulfillment and, if he played his debonair cards right, amazing physical gratification.

And now she's standing there, his heart in her hand, threatening to squeeze the hope out of it until there's nothing left.

"What did you find in purple?"

He snaps his eyes back to hers but doesn't quite understand the question. "I'm sorry?"

"To coordinate with me. What did you incorporate into your attire that was purple?"

Is this a test, he wonders. She looks curious and wary, all at once.

"Cufflinks," he answers. "I have amethyst cufflinks."

She grins cautiously. "Only semi-precious? I'm surprised you'd stoop."

His answering smile is slow to come but then it's there and they are genuinely grinning at each other for the first time in their lives. He mock scoffs at her. "Well, someone had to wear purple of all things. Do you know how hard it was to find something on such short notice that would work with my robes? You can't throw eggplant on just anywhere you know."

"So, you really want to do this?"

"Merlin, witch, do you need my signature in blood to assuage your suspicion? Perhaps a Kidney? I mean, I really only need the one…"

She giggles and it sends a thrill through his body. The wariness in her eyes has softened and she tucks a curl shyly behind her ear. "I don't think that will be necessary. Would you like to meet me here or at the Hall?"

"Here, obviously," he drawls. "What sort of gentleman would allow you to arrive unescorted?"

"Here then," she affirms. "I'll be ready at seven. If you'll excuse me…" He watches her pick up her book and start into her bedroom. Draco can't resist another quip.

"Going to get started taming your hair? Do you think there's enough time?"

She pauses and looks mildly affronted, but his honest smile seems to disarm her. He adds, "honestly though, I like it a little wild."

She casually answers, lips curling into a devious smirk of her own, "you know there are more curls than on my head to address. A lady likes to feel polished head…" her eyes drift down her own figure and back up to his gaze, "… to toe."

With a wink she's gone and Draco flops onto the sofa completely out of breath.

A/N Hello again! Part 2 will be up tomorrow!

Fair warning, I wanted to brush up on my adult content so the next chapter is going to earn the 'M'

As absolutely always, I appreciate faves, follows, and reviews!