A/N Happy Friday! Remember, this chapter is a bit more lemony than my usual. Thanks again to Light of Evolution to encourage me to go ahead and post this. I did a little updating since you've read it. I don't think I'd ever go back over something without make some little changes. I just have to make myself stop.

Hope you enjoy!

She's awfully fucking pretty in purple, he thinks. Seven years wasted wearing red and gold and who knew how striking she could be. He arrives at the Heads common room just as Blaise is leaving, bizarrely with Luna Lovegood on his arm. She gives him one of her odd, dreamy expressions (slightly dreamier than usual) and Blaise winks as he leads her into the corridor.

Inside, his date has her back to him as she slips into her shoes.

"I hope those are tall enough for you to reach me…" He trails off his little jab at her diminutive frame when she turns and he takes her in fully.

Her curls frame her head like a mane. They aren't the frizzy mass of her youth either. Sleek and shiny but wild and uncontrolled, she looks just mussed enough for his mind to take him to the possibility of "later" and his grin turns feral. The gown she chose is long, flowing out in a wholly appropriate A-line. There is nothing terribly sexual about the overall silhouette. Yet the fitted bodice and completely bare shoulders are downright risqué compared to what he's used to from his life at pureblood functions. In his head he's shouting and fist-pumping and dropping to his knees to thank Salazar for his good fortune.

Of course on the surface he recovers his composure and offers his hand. "Shall we?"

She smiles her natural smile, the kind usually reserved for lions and war heroes, and accepts his hand so he can lead her through the door, steadying her as she steps over the threshold.

Their walk is a quiet one. Draco is not unaware that they receive some predictably odd looks as they make their way to the ball.

"You know we'll be the talk of the castle come morning," she offers casually, having noticed as well.

He looks down at her and finds her looking at him with a raised brow. "Do you mind?"

"I don't particularly care what anyone has to say, no." She hesitates a moment and asks, "do you?"

Draco can't help his answering laugh. "I shudder to think what they all say about me on a daily basis. This can only improve my image."

She frowns and immediately he hears the words echo in his head. "That's not… I mean I hadn't really thought about it until now. That's not why I invited you."

"Hmmm… you know I seem to recall I asked you why you invited me and you never answered. To convince me, why don't you tell me now?"

He studies her profile as they walk and sees the faintest curl to the corner of her lip. Is she… teasing him? This little minx. His own mouth quirks up and he tsks at her, "Granger, Granger… are you digging for compliments?"

She's all wide-eyed innocence when she looks back but there is an unmistakable gleam. "Not at all. And I do believe you're avoiding the question, Malfoy. Not for my social status then, or so you claim… let's see if I can figure it out what you're after as the night progresses."

They arrive at the Hall just as she finishes her statement and Draco suddenly feels a little nervous. He hadn't thought much about the actual event. He has spent the last four months avoiding much of the castle, hiding in the Heads dorm with Blaise, and just overall keeping his head down. Now he's showing up at the largest event the school has seen (if you don't count a bloody war) in 4 years, with one of the most notorious witches of the century on his arm. As a Malfoy, his pride is healing itself, swelling in his chest. Unfortunately, also as a Malfoy, he also feels a sudden need to lash out, go on the offensive, and otherwise muck up the entire evening in the name of self-preservation.

He realizes he stopped, basically blocking the doorway, when he feels the witch on his arm tug him forward into the Hall. "Let's have a drink," she suggests, pulling him to the side of the room.

He runs his free hand through his hair and mutters, "good idea. Think they have Firewhiskey?"

She laughs that beautiful laugh again as she says, "I highly doubt they have sanctioned liquor at a school function. Maybe some punch?"

They do, indeed, find punch and little else available. Draco takes the cup she hands him with thanks and takes a deep drink. He scans the hall which turns out to be a mistake. An uncomfortable number of eyes are settled on them… on him… many with a look of distaste. If Granger notices, she makes no acknowledgement. "Would you like another?"

Draco looks down and realizes he drained the glass in two slugs. He shakes his head at her. "No thank you. I find I'm not thirsty as much as looking for something to occupy my hands."

She smirks back in a way that would make Salazar Slytherin proud. "Was that a pick-up line, Malfoy? I'm already your date."

"I… " He laughs then, catching her meaning and enjoying her banter. "You're a bit saucy for a bookworm."

"I can be," she agrees. "Would you like to dance? You'll have to forgive me and my paltry skill level. I'm sure you're well versed."

"Quite. Think you can follow a waltz? I always assumed you're a bit too bossy to be told what to do," he grins.

Hermione offers a bit of a good-natured huff. "I'm only bossy when someone needs instruction. I think you'll find I follow quite well if my partner knows how to handle the situation."

He takes her hand and leads her to the dance floor, answering back as they walk. "Well that explains it then…"

"Explains what, precisely?"

They settle into a standard hold and he begins the first step slowly, gauging her self-proclaimed ability to follow. "Explains why you were so bossy all these years. Hanging about with Potter and his weasel, I suppose you had to be in charge quite a lot."

She considers him a moment, studying him closely nearly to the point of discomfort. "Do you mind, Malfoy?"

"Do I mind what?"

Her grin would give a wolf pause. "Being told what to do."

"Are you flirting with me, Miss Granger?"

"Just enjoying the dance, Mister Malfoy."

Their conversation is a little broken from there, intermittent amongst their dance steps and Draco is enjoying the feel of her skin beneath his hands. They dance song after song, never stopping.

When he surprises her into a dip on the third song, she clings to his biceps and laughs at the thrill of it. When he spins her, in the middle of the fifth, the silk of her skirt fluttering around her legs, she crashes back to him out of the spin. Her hand lands over his heart and her body flush against him. They don't part after that, dancing suddenly very close, completely ignoring the proper steps and just swaying together with the melody of each song, talking softly and forgetting the room around them.

On the tenth song, Draco notices Weasley across the Hall and is quite aware that Hermione notices as well. "You alright?"

"Hmm? Oh, yes, of course. Why wouldn't I be?"

He shrugs and pulls her infinitesimally closer. "I just noticed he had the nerve to show up."

"Who?" She looks honestly confused, a little crinkle between her eyes.

"Weasley," he manages without using one of his more cruel versions of the name.

The crinkle deepens. "Why wouldn't he show up?"

"Yes, why indeed. I'm sure he's perfectly content with himself. He never did have much sense."

"Draco…" She's still talking he's pretty sure, but he's too focused on the sound of his given name passing her lips to notice. He closes his eyes a moment and savors it, hearing it echo, letting the hand on her back creep up under her curls to brush the skin of her neck…

"I'm sorry, what?" Draco realizes she's stopped talking and basically stopped moving.

"I said, I would prefer you not be cruel to my friends."

"I can't believe he's still your friend. After everything and now showing up here with Bones."

"They're dating. Why in the world wouldn't he bring her?"

He eyes her and notices they're standing completely still now. With a soft nudge, he has them moving again. An entire song passes, she relaxing back into his hold. He hears her sigh softly and it sounds like contentment.

"You forgive too easily," he finally says.

He looks down to find her gazing back at him with a soft smile. "I suppose I do, now. That didn't used to be the case but I find the world a much more enjoyable place if I have confidence in the good of it."

"Even when you're wronged?"

"What good does it do me to dwell on the past? What does it do for any of us? I've learned a lot in the last few years about accepting my life for what it is."

He looks at her horrified. "You think you just have to… accept it? I never pegged you for a doormat, Granger."

She frowns and pulls away from him a little. Not completely breaking from his hold but the intimacy is diminished and he finds he's not terribly fond of that.

"Do you want me to hold a grudge? Would that make you feel better somehow?"

"Well…yes. It would at least feel like there was some justice in the world."

Now she does break their hold and steps further away. "Alright then. You're right. I haven't even received as much as an apology."

He nods in solidarity. Damn right she needs an apology. It's only after a stand-off that becomes uncomfortable, Draco shifting first his weight and then his eyes, he realizes they might be having a miscommunication.

"I'm waiting."

"I… do you want me to go fetch him for you?"

The puzzled expression is back on her face. "Fetch who for me?"

"Weasley."

"What the… why would I want you to get Weas- Ron?"

"Merlin, witch… to apologize. Do you need me to get him over here? Because I will, quite happily, if that would help. I know it can be intimidating when you have history-"

"Intimidating? Ron?" She scoffs at the idea of that. "Alright stop…" She makes a slicing motion with her hands and takes a deep breath. "Let's just back up a tick. Now why do I need Ron to be part of this conversation exactly?"

"So he can apologize to you!" Draco is beyond frustrated now. He's just trying to help her stand up for herself. Why is that so complicated?

"Why do I need him to apologize? I thought you were going to apologize."

"Me? What the fuck…for what?"

At her raised brow and a tap of her foot, Draco has a bit of an "ah hah" moment. He's been quite content living in the "now" this year, trying desperately to forget everything else, it hadn't occurred to him to make amends for his past.

"Oh… right. I… I am sorry, Granger. I thought maybe you knew that, but I'm man enough to say it to your face." He steps forward and brushes his knuckles down her cheek, watching the fire of indignation cool in her eyes. "I thought it went without saying how much I regret it… all of it."

"Well I… I mean it does. Go without saying… I already forgave you, or I wouldn't be here on your arm."

He's a little confused and asks, "Then why did you make me apologize?"

"Well you sort of goaded me in to it," she says with a little grin and a dash of mirth.

"I was talking about Weasley. Though I guess it was fair to draw that conclusion…"

"Why would Ron need to apologize to me?"

Draco searches her face, still stroking her cheek, now with his thumb. "For being unfaithful. For not realizing what he had and throwing it away for that slag in the yellow dress. For being ungrateful enough to give you up."

Her eyes go wide and Draco thinks, this is it. This is the moment.

He imagines leaning in and so he does just that, slowly so she won't even know until his lips meet hers. He anticipates how soft her lips will be. Velvet and warm and wet. His mind is running away with the possibilities; with all the other parts of her that will be equally velvet and warm and so wet and he lets his eyes start to fall closed when she shocks him out of his reverie with a completely obnoxious (yet somehow still charming) laugh.

The laughter continues quite a few moments past charming until Hermione is dabbing at the corner of her eyes to keep the tears from smearing her eyeliner. She doesn't wear make-up often, but she's obviously quite aware of the danger of ruining it.

Draco tilts his body away and crosses his arms over his chest defensively. "Are you quite finished?"

Seeming to notice the disgruntled look on his face, Hermione stifles the last of her chuckles and slips her arms around his neck in their most intimate hold yet. Not even the pretense of dancing remains and she is simply embracing him.

His ire melting away, Draco places his hands at her hips and pulls her a step closer.

"You're very sweet," she tells him. He starts to argue and she stops him with a fingertip on his lips. "Don't worry, I won't tell anyone. It's just between you and me. But I think it's very respectable you were willing to go to battle for my honor. Almost Gryffindor in quality," she winks.

Draco pretends to be offended but holds her flush against him even as he mock scowls. "No reason to be insulting," he snarks in reference to her house. He almost tries for the kiss again before he stops and realizes he's still feeling a little offended on her behalf. "You know I meant what I said, I am sorry for everything... but you should expect that much if not more from him. He was supposed to be your friend."

She waves the thought away with a hand he can't see, behind his neck as it is. "You seem to be under the mistaken impression he connected with Susan before he did. I assure you, there was no unfaithfulness involved."

"Don't be naïve, kitten. Just because you don't know about something doesn't mean it's not happening."

"I promise you, if anyone was unfaithful it was me." At that he gives her a strange look. She quickly amends, "I mean not literally but... I was plotting my departure from the relationship for some time. I sort of set things in motion with Susan so Ron would have someone to fall back on. Honestly I probably owe Susan an apology for using her." She laughs lightly at that and Draco can tell she feels not even a little bad about the whole thing.

"So you... set up your boyfriend with another witch?"

"Not exactly. I just happened to know that Susan was interested and, when I suggested things were not going the way we envisioned with each other, that maybe he should explore other possibilities. I encouraged him to consider a safe bet is all. Made it easier to break away."

"Why you sneaky snake," he says with a slow grin.

She shrugs and agrees, "Maybe the hat mixed up our houses; brave, respectable lion that you are."

That's it. He's been dancing, literally and figuratively, around her all night and he's not letting another moment slip by. Stooping low, tilting his chin, he finds her lips with his, immediately lapping at her seam for entrance. He assumes it's his completely irresistible charm, but she opens to him without pause and sweeps her tongue against his own. Her arms, still draped around his neck, close in like a python and the imagery reminds him yet again his little witch might have been a better snake. Had there been no blood status, no prejudice, no Salazar-rooted distrust of muggleborns, he could have been snogging this little princess years ago. Right now, wrapped up in her warmth and tasting her lips, it seems like one of the great tragedies of his life; to have been denied this.

He barely registers when her fingers creep up his neck but then she is gripping his hair, pulling him further down to her and he groans into her mouth. She's rougher than he imagined; bold. The kiss is evolving from lips to tongue to teeth and then he feels her suck his bottom lip into her mouth, a delicious sting erupting as she does. His hands slide up her back to pull her into him, forcing her up onto the very tips of her toes, nearly lifting her from the ground and deeper into their kiss.

He's not sure how long it goes on. Maybe not as long as he hopes yet maybe longer than he believes, when a throat clearing makes him pull away.

"'Mione? Maybe you want to step off the dance floor to continue?" Draco looks up to find Potter looking at her slightly bemused before wiping the expression clean and starting again with a fake stern countenance. "You know Ron has been watching you half the night, right?"

Hermione looks up a little sheepishly at Harry. "Sorry. I was trying to be discreet. Well... until suddenly we weren't." She looks up at Draco, eyes twinkling and gives him a wink. "I'm getting a little tired of dancing anyway. Maybe let's step out for a bit?"

He exchanges a look with Potter, to what end he's not sure. Is he looking for permission? Draco straightens up. Tarnished though his name might be, he doesn't need permission to take what he wants. He slides his hand into Hermione's and nods to Harry. "I believe that's our cue then. If you'll excuse us, Chosen One."

Harry rolls his eyes as they pass. "Be careful with him, Hermione." Draco looks back affronted at the implication he might hurt her. He steels himself for the protective brotherly friend speech, until he sees Potter give him an honest-to-Merlin wink. "I think he's more delicate than he lets on."

Draco offers up a two-fingered salute in response and then lets a laughing Hermione pull him from the Hall. In the corridor, she tucks herself into his side, completely of her own volition. He, of course, doesn't protest and pulls her closer as they walk.

"Blaise was still dancing," she mentions casually. Draco has been leading her toward the grounds, imagining a moonlit stroll to set the mood for his romantic purposes.

He hums in reply, inviting her to continue.

"Luna loves to dance. She told me once. If she enjoys it half as much as she loves hunting imaginary creatures, they'll be at it for hours."

Draco wonders if she's hinting. Did he take her cue to literally? "Do you want to go back?" He asks politely. "Dance a few more songs?"

"Not particularly..." She seems to be hedging and he looks down, hunting her face for clues. "I'm just saying that Blaise... with whom I share a dorm... is going to be dancing. With Luna. For quite some time."

A pause and then one last, "Which means he is not, in said dorm."

Oh.

"Oh! Right then. Did you want to get some air... in said dorm?"

Hermione grins and spins him on the spot to make their way the other direction. "I knew you'd catch on."

He's swaggering a bit now, pompous and proud. He told Blaise she'd be eating out of his hand. Not only is he taking her to a private room, but she propositioned him. Merlin, he must be smooth...

She mutters a password that sounds like, "cockblock."

He snickers, "What was that again?"

The door swings open and Hermione steps over the threshold, dragging him inside. "It's like our tie on the door," she says but Draco is no less confused. "Sorry... muggle reference... Basically if we use that password, the door won't open with our standard word. When Blaise comes back he'll know my room is off limits as I am... entertaining."

She steps out of her shoes and sets him neatly beside the now closed door. "Not that it would matter. I have a feeling he will be quite occupied tonight. Luna has very few reservations or social conventions."

With that, she is making her way to her bedroom, reaching behind her back and fumbling with the zipper of her dress. Draco is staring, eyes glazed and wide. "Are you coming?" She asks.

"I..."

Hermione giggles at his lack of response. "I left that one wide open for a double entendre. Where's that Malfoy wit?"

Draco slides his shoes off, kicking them into a little pile next to hers, knocking one of hers over in the process, and nearly runs toward her room, giddy as he is. She's making this so easy!

"So you think I'm witty do you?"

Once he's inside, she shuts the door behind him and leans back against it. "Of course I do. You think I only like you for your looks?"

"Well," he says, pausing to look around her room.

It's very…cheerful… if a bit of a monstrosity. A patchwork quilt covers her bed. Books are virtually falling off the over-packed case that takes up nearly a whole wall. A loud print rug covers most of the floor in swirls of reds, golds, greens, black, and white. He wasn't sure what he expected but this wasn't it. The way she set her shoes so carefully side by side, the way her class notes and quills are always in perfect order… "You're room is an eyesore," he says, unable to help himself.

She laughs again, settling on the bed. "Is that really what you want to focus on?"

"Hmm?.. Oh, uh no." He grins, trying to recover his unflappable charm. "Of course not. I just sort of pegged you for more of a monochromatic, everything-in-its-proper-place type witch."

She shrugs. "I know where everything is."

One last glance and then he's back on his game. "So you wanted to know… what? If I thought you were only in to my looks? I would never accuse a witch of your depth of being that superficial, Granger."

She bites her lip and it makes him twitch in his trousers. That look in her eyes is more than mirth. She's looking at him, head tilted down just so she has to peer through her lashes. "I won't say your appearance isn't a factor. Does that bother you, Draco?"

He takes a breath through his nose, tasting the way his name feels on her lips for only the second time he can remember. "Why would that bother me? I'm fully aware witches can't get enough of this." He gestures down at himself, smirk on his lips.

Granger… Hermione, he thinks to himself… stands once again and makes her way to him. No more than inches away, she turns her back and lifts her curls from her neck. "I thought I'd change," she says softly, "but I was having trouble with the zip."

Draco swallows and moves to lower the zipper on the back of her gown. He can't believe… is it really this easy? Merlin, he knew he had good moves but…

Wait, it shouldn't be this easy.

"Are you… are you sure?" He asks cautiously, hands stalling with her back only exposed a few inches lower.

She looks back at him over her shoulder. "Not having second thoughts are you?"

"I… no. Just… surprised." He hesitates even more. "This isn't… like revenge on Weasley or something is it?"

Now she turns back and the fire reignites in her eyes. There's the Granger he's used to. "And why would you think that? I've already explained I have no reason to seek revenge on Ronald. Are you trying to bow out? Or are you intimated by a woman who knows what she wants?"

"No!" He cringes and lays his hands against her cheeks, locking into her gaze. "No. I just don't want you to do anything you'll regret." Merlin, he sounds like such a girl. Regret? This was what he wanted! Why in Salazar's Hairy Ball-sack is he trying to give her an out?

Because you like her, an annoying voice in his head whispers. You want more than just tonight. You want her to be yours.

She smirks now, laying a hand against his and pressing it into her cheek. "That's sweet, Draco, but I promise I won't have any regrets. I've sort of wanted this for quite a while."

"I… you have?" Her other hand reaches up and touches his other, keeping him connected.

"I have," she confirms quietly, tilting her face up to his. Their kiss is delicate this time. Sweet and soft but with this little edge that promises more. She pulls his hands down and guides them to her waist before sliding her arms around his neck.

He pulls back and rests his forehead against hers, stroking his thumbs across her sides. "I can't imagine why," he admits in a rare moment of honesty. "I've been horrible to you for years. Maybe not this year but certainly not worth a second glance."

Hermione licks a line across his bottom lip, speaking against his mouth in nearly a kiss, "I knew you wanted me," she says. "You're a horrible actor for a Slytherin." She kisses him between thoughts, pillowing his lip with hers. "I've seen the way you look at me for a long time."

It's all he can do to pull out of the next kiss to ask, "how long?"

She smiles and he can feel it against his lips. "Fourth year. Maybe even third. I think you might have even liked it when I slapped you."

He chuckles at that. "I was terrified. I don't know if I could think beyond running away."

She laughs a little but quickly cuts it off with a more insistent kiss and then she's tugging him to the bed. "Can you deny the rest," she asks, suddenly quite breathless.

Draco shakes his head and runs his hands up her back, now desperately trying to find that zipper to finish what he started and undress her. "Suddenly you don't seem to worry about my regrets," she laughs, all the while unbuttoning his dress shirt.

"Fuck it. You're a strong witch; I'm sure you'll be fine."

She laughs again but it turns into a groan as his hands follow her zipper and smooth down her lower back, coming to rest on the cheeks of her arse, gripping lightly as his mouth seeks to connect with hers again.

Hermione's hands follows the lines of his shoulder, pushing his shirt away. As they kiss, he feels her shimmy her body and, only after he feels the bare planes of her, warm skin pressed against his, does he realize she had been pushing the dresses to the floor.

Draco is pretty sure there's a bed just right over there… He refuses to open his eyes to check but starts leading her in the direction he thinks they should be going. Unfortunately, his witch breaks away anyway.

"Looking for the bed?" She quips.

He opens his eyes to find her smirking and takes a quick sweep of the room. "Not necessarily. I bet we could have fun with that desk…"

She grins, "Oh we most certainly could, but I thought we'd save that for round two."

He's found the bed now out of the corner of his eye and reclaims her mouth. He enjoys her banter, especially when it has to do with him getting to have her more than once, but just now all he wants is to feel her and taste her and revel in his luck.

Her hands manage to undo his trousers and start to push them down when he tumbles her onto the bed. The more of her he touches, the more he wants. He covets her skin and her moans and so he takes them, hands roaming until he finds the soft weight of her breast, running a thumb over the peak to feel it stiffen and make her hiss. "They're sensitive," he observes, licking at her jaw. "Can I taste them?"

"Yes, please," she manages through a groan as he continues to touch her, exploring her body and sliding down it.

"Fucking beautiful." Both hands cupping her, Draco leans down, extending his tongue to a fine point and tracing a circle around her nipple, taunting her with promise, before taking it into his mouth. He suckles and licks gently as he continues to tease the other peak, making it ready to take its turn. He releases the first, shifting to taste the other, as Hermione begins to writhe beneath him.

Her hands find the waistband of his trousers, still clinging to his hips, and she pushes at them. She's in a terrible angle to actually remove them and he assumes it is more of a hint for him to help her out. Draco obliges and uses one hand to work them down, then the other to finish the job until they are around his ankles and no longer of any consequence. What surprises him more than anything is feeling her hand wrap around his cock. He feels himself throb against her palm as soon as she squeezes lightly. His mouth releases her nipple to concentrate on the feel her around him.

Draco had expected her to be timid, unlearned, but when she starts to pump expertly, dragging her palm over the tip to collect the wetness there then gliding back down, he thinks maybe she's more experienced than he imagined.

He doesn't want to know. He certainly doesn't want to know right now, but he can't help almost as a reflex to hiss out, "fuck, Granger, who taught you how to do that?"

He seeks out her face to find her grinning and biting her lip. "Like it?" What kind of a stupid fucking question is that, he wonders.

"Fuck, yes. Gods, you're fucking perfect… ugh." He loses track of his words when she picks up speed and adds a little pressure.

He stills her hand, quite reluctantly, and shifts to settle more completely above her on the bed. "You can go back to doing that thing with your tongue anytime," she quips, and he realizes he's been ignoring her breasts. Ignoring anything but her warm little hand pumping his cock.

"I can do more things with my tongue," he offers with a smirk of his own. His implication is obvious though, if he's honest, he's not actually done it yet. With his only other two experiences, he had been a little more than a kid, sneaking around and trying to finish fast before they were caught: Pansy in an empty classroom and that little French girl in his hotel suite while his mother was out shopping. He'd not had the luxury to be the lover his reputation insists, but no reason for Granger to know that.

"I'm sure you can," she purrs and, as if waiting for the cue, reaches to push her knickers down her legs.

Draco slides further down and offers assistance in removing the last stitch of clothing, leaving his date in nothing. He's reminded, for some inexplicable reason, that he never gave her his gift.

He reaches into the pocket of his trousers to find the little box, using the opportunity to also kick off the last of his own clothing as it still hangs around his ankles and feet. "I forgot to give you this," he says, showing her the box.

She's breathing heavy, face a little flushed, and she asks incredulously, "and you want to do that now?"

He laughs, and chucks the box on the floor on top of her dress. "It would have looked great with your gown."

She starts to protest, probably thinking, and rightly so, that a gift from the Malfoy heir was likely not something to sneer at, but he silences her with his tongue taking one broad stroke up her slit. They both groan; she at the feel of it and Draco and the arousing taste of her. He may not have a lot of experience but he's a smart man.

Plus, Narcissa's books…

He uses the point of his tongue to tease her channel while his thumb plays rhythmically against her clit. She seems to be enjoying it if her hands in his hair are any indication. He feels her grip the soft strands tight then release and run her fingers across his scalp. She's delicate and rough in equal parts and somehow that makes sense for Hermione Granger.

Then the tugging changes and he looks up to find she is trying to drag him back up her body. She doesn't stop pulling until he is back up to her face and her lips are searching for his. He's simultaneously surprised and aroused that she doesn't seem to mind tasting herself on him. If anything, she seems even more insistent, tongue lapping at his mouth and hands holding him hard against her.

When she does pull back, it's only to breathe against his mouth, "How do you want me?"

His brain isn't quite working right and he doesn't understand the question as anything more than rhetorical platitude. He mumbles, "Fuck, Granger, I want you," and leans back in for another kiss.

She pushes against his chest a little, signally she wasn't done talking, and chuckles. "No, I mean, what position. Because I want you too and I thought I'd give you the option."

"Oh… Uhh…." He hadn't really thought that far ahead. He's aware there are more positions, but he's really only tried the one…

"I'll choose then," she determines and pushes him onto his back. Hermione climbs onto him, straddling him with her legs and Draco can't do much but look at her in abject wonder and place his hands on her knees.

"It seems you're right, I do like to lead."

He grins, remembering the dancing and their banter. "I knew you didn't like to take instruction."

"You hesitated," she says haughtily. "But I know what I want." With that, she grips him, standing his cock upright, and slides down his shaft. Hermione throws her head back and arches, presenting him a view of his witch turned goddess and Draco stops thinking for at least fifteen full seconds.

The heat builds and he has to close his eyes, concentrating on taking it slow, not slamming up into her and ending their fun too soon.

Not a virgin then, he has realized. Not inexperienced.

He's aware he underestimated her; he's just not sure by how much. Draco is lost in the dark behind his eyes, listening to her pant and moan as she uses her pretty legs to bounce on his lap, grinding her hips against him. She is both tight around him but also slick and welcoming. Warm and wet and velvet and everything he'd hoped plus more.

"Look at me," she whispers and his eyes open.

"Watch me," she invites.

Her eyes lock with his and he watches her take her own breasts in her hands, pinching her nipples and running her forefingers over the stiff result. Her mouth drops open, driving herself to a frenzy with her own hands, and they both groan, staring each other down through half-lidded eyes. He encourages her with hushed words of "yes" and "please" and "just like that"

Draco's passive touch to her knees becomes a grip on her thighs then travels to her hips. No longer completely content to let her set the pace, he uses his hold to guide her, helping her as their thrusts quicken. She seems to be struggling to keep her eyes on his, letting them nearly flutter closed as her breath speeds with her hips.

"Don't fucking stop," she says. "Just like that don't stop don't fucking stop…" Her movements are relentless and measured, not hurried and never changing and he knows she's building herself to climax.

He's never had a witch climax before, at least not during. Pansy hadn't seemed concerned about it either way. Young as they were, he doubts she knew to expect it. He certainly hadn't thought of it. The French girl had requested he touch her breasts while she brought herself off after they had finished.

He's determined suddenly that he's going to watch Hermione come undone and does his level best to keep his pace consistent. Steady. He lifts his hand carefully, intent on his thrusts, and lays his thumb against her clit. She shudders and hisses her agreement and he feels bold and encouraged. Matching the rhythm she set, he rubs over the spot.

Her breathing is suddenly more labored and she makes a quite appealing little noise with each thrust as he impales her.

Determined though he is, if she keeps up those sounds, this will be over soon, so he tells her so, in not so many words.

"I'm so fucking close…Come for me, Hermione."

And that's all it takes.

She keens and her body shudders, inside and out, her movements suddenly erratic. Draco chases his own end, lifting his hips off her bed and pounding into her from beneath. Feeling her quake around him, it doesn't take long.

After, Hermione now draped on his chest and panting into his neck, he brushes a sweaty lock of hair from her face.

"Can I see it now?"

He has no idea what she means. "Hmmm?" Is his thoughtful reply.

She giggles. "The box. The gift you brought me."

"Right," he remembers. "Sure. Though I'm not terribly sure my legs work to go get it."

Hermione sniggers and reaches across him to the side table, finding her wand. A non-verbal levitation spell has the box in his reach in but a moment.

"Impressive, Miss Granger."

"I'm not top of our class for nothing, Mister Malfoy," she replies back. "Well?"

They both look down and he snorts, "Well, you're holding it. Go ahead."

"It's a gift," she scoffs. "Shouldn't you present it or something?"

"So bossy," he laments, full of affection.

"And here I'd have thought all those years of pureblood upbringing you'd know that presentation is everything."

She's smirking at him and he yanks the box out of her hand with a little smile of his own. "Fine then. Dear Lady," he begins and she giggles, "Please accept this token of my good intentions." He pops open the lid of the little box. He had removed it from its robin's egg blue package, not liking the color. It didn't occur to him the original packaging would have meant anything to his witch.

She gasps once the box is open, then gapes stretching the silence.

"Draco, that's too much."

"Nonsense." He reaches around her back with his other hand and plucks the ring from the box. "Just a trinket I picked up to match your dress."

"Draco," she argues and then emphasizes, "it's from Tiffany," pointing at the word on the inside of the lid.

He has picked up her right hand and tries the ring on her middle finger first. It fits relatively well if a little snug. He tries her ring finger next, wondering if it might fit just a smidge better. He should magically size it to fit the finger of her choosing. "You're familiar with her work then? Is she notable in the muggle world?" He asks casually, unconcerned, watching the glint as he studies it on her finger.

"You don't even know what it is?" she asks incredulous. "You bought a Tiffany ring and had no clue what it is?!" she screeches a little and he thinks it's adorable.

He brings her hand to his lips and kisses her knuckle over the finger now sporting the ring. Looking back at her face, her eyes are wide. "For you, kitten, nothing is too much."

There is a thoughtful pause and then she says dryly, "You realize in the muggle world we're married now?"

He drops her hand and stares back at her. "Wait… what?"

"A Tiffany ring is a sacred object. You've bound yourself to me now. I suppose we should break the news to your family at Christmas."

"My family…" he asks weakly.

"Oh yes. Now that you've placed it on my ring finger, I don't dare take it off. The muggle authorities frown upon that."

"What?!" He pushes himself to sit up against the headboard.

His mother will kill him. Granted it's only a muggle ritual, not magically binding, but what if it carries legal ramifications with the Ministry? His mind is racing… There is so much integration now, so many ways the powers-that-be are trying to meld with their muggle counterparts. Narcissa not having the opportunity to plan the wedding of the century for her only son?! He's already drafting the apology owl in his head when Hermione snorts a laugh at him.

"I don't know why you're so amused. Potter and Weasley will kill you just as fast as my Mother does me. Should we tell the Headmistress? Oh, Merlin, Blaise is going to have quite a laugh at this."

"Draco," she says through the laughter and turns around in his hold, pressing her chest against him. It's almost enough of a distraction to settle the panic running though his veins.

She kisses him, sweetly, and he tries to think… starts to believe… maybe this isn't such a terrible mistake. He's fortunate, really, his family pulled out of any pureblood betrothal talks during the rise of the Dark Lord. He'd probably be married off to a Greengrass by now if it wasn't for the war... so there's at least one good thing that came out of the mess.

Now he has this feisty little lion in his bed. Is this so different than an arrangement by his family? In fact, isn't it better? He chose her at least. He kisses her back and grips her hair in his hand, sliding his tongue against her lips and then inside once she opens to him.

After a moment, he pulls back again and says sincerely, "This is certainly not the worst thing I've done. What more worthy witch could I bind myself to than you? I suppose Christmas morning might be an appropriate time to tell Mother."

He feels her stiffen and looks at her face. "Wait, I thought you figured it out," she says. "I thought that's why you kissed me."

"Figured what out, love?"

He's playing with a curl that has sprung between them, pulling it tight and watching it spring back. Entranced as he is, he misses the softening of her face.

"I was…I was just having a bit of a laugh. We're not bound, Draco."

"W-…We're not?"

Hermione smiles again, open and sweet, her eyes crinkling on the corners. "No, not officially…muggle or otherwise. But you should be careful because I find I'm not entirely inclined to let you go."

"And Tiffany is?..."

She waves her hand flippantly. "A muggle design house. Expensive, mind you. Completely overpriced for a first date. But nothing more than that."

"Minx," he accuses, relief and disappointment warring within. He flips her over on her back, making her shriek in surprise. "You'll have to pay for that one."

She giggles. "Oh, I intend to. Round two on the desk?" She asks with a saucy grin and clings to him when he lifts her from the mattress to take her on a haphazard stack of parchments, quills scattering to the floor.

XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

The ring is ridiculously garish and looks completely inappropriate with her perfectly pressed Gryffindor robes but Hermione doesn't seem to care. It draws a lot of attention and Draco puffs his chest when he hears her explain to the littlest Weasley, "It was a gift. From my boyfriend."

The red-head gasps. "You're seeing someone?"

She nods and indicates where Draco is standing, leaning against the stone wall of the corridor outside the Great Hall. He smirks as Ginny's jaw drops.

"When did this happen? Does Harry know? …Does Ron?"

She shrugs and replies, "Ron knows he was my date for the ball. Harry saw us kissing and seemed unruffled."

"Right but… that's one date. That ring is…"

"Beautiful, isn't it? Well, see you after the hols. Draco's invited me to spend it with him and his Mother at their winter cottage. I think he's quite serious." She glances back to where he is standing and says sincerely, "I certainly am."

Hermione leaves her standing there gaping and approaches Draco. "Hey."

"Hullo, lover. Ready to catch the Express?"

She nods at him, smoothing her skirt, and shows a bit of vulnerability, uncharacteristic to the haughty and bold woman he now knows her to be. "Are you sure this is a good idea? Do you think she'll… accept me?"

Draco pulls his girlfriend in close, kissing her forehead. "She will. She hasn't much choice if she wants to see me. I'm not leaving you here for the holidays when I've just found you."

Smiling up at him, Hermione tips on her toes to kiss him softly. Eyes closed, lips just barely brushing, she asks, "Can we tell her about the Tiffany bonding?"

He barks out a laugh and grips her tighter, swinging his witch in a short arc and making her shriek and giggle. "We're going to have so much fun together," he promises, then asks, "Round seven on the desk?"

She giggles as her feet find the floor but shakes her head in the negative. "No time before we leave. Round seven might require an empty train car, locking spells, and a strong Muffliato."

He gestures down the corridor. "Lead the way, little lion."

"You'll follow my lead will you?"

He grins and slides an arm around her waist. "Anywhere you want me, love."

"So… train compartment?" He nods eagerly.

"Restricted section?"

"Ooh that sounds promising," he agrees.

"Herbology green house?"

Draco considers a moment. "Greenhouse one, three, or five. Nowhere Hagrid keeps his pets."

"Fair." Suddenly she shoves him to the side, into a small, hidden alcove and against a wall. "How about right here?"

"I thought we didn't have time," he counters with a grin but is already opening the top button of her blouse.

"Not time to go back up to my desk. Pay attention, I'm very good with schedules."

"Yes, Miss Granger."

She presses her lips to his briefly then smiles against his mouth. "Thank you for my ring." Her hand has crept down his chest until she has found him pressed tight and hard against his trousers.

"If I give you another will you stay forever?"

She smirks up at him. "I thought I was in charge here," she observes, "and I think I'd quite like to keep you."

"I'm yours," he tells her and he knows it to be true. He thought he was going to catch a kitty but it seems he's offered himself as sacrifice to a lion.

"My mother will like you," he mentions. His mother is a strong woman and she likes that strength mirrored in those with whom she associates.

"And what about you," she asks. "Do you like me?"

She reaches down and has him pulled from his trousers and in to her warm hand before he can answer. His hands in her hair and his knees shaking as she works him over, he manages, "Merlin, witch, I think I love you already."

She smiles at him and he knows it to be true.

A/N Hope you had a good time. Thank you to all of you who faved and followed and reviewed yesterday. Those of you logged in should have received a private Thanks! but also I want to give a shout out to anons who I can't address directly. I would certainly appreciate reviews on this chapter :)

Also, for anon Steph O'Neil - sorry about First They Came... It's actually still a WIP and tends to have gaps in updates. I added a note to the description so readers know it's not finished. Though it at least doesn't leave off at a terrible romantic cliffie :) My other mutli-chapters are safely complete if you will let me redeem myself!