Title: Rumours

Summary: What better tool or mechanism to unite the divided houses into hormone-induced, drama-needy teenagers than the possibility of a relationship between the Head Boy and Head Girl?

Rating: PG-13

Author's Note: This fic was written for the dhr_valentine challenge sponsored by Contra Veritas, and managed by Varada and Smashing Sugar – these two girls deserve every D/Hr plushy for all their hard work. Requirements of the fic Notes will be found at the end in Chapter 3.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.


Chapter 1

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Hidden in the darkness of the night, a figure was at a standstill fifty feet above the ground. The night sky was a pitch black as the clouds blocked his only source of light. It was a windless, lightless, warm night. It seemed as if everything was sucked out of the world – its only occupant a young man riding on a broom.

In the distance, a light shone. It was so miniscule, the distance making it even smaller. Yet in the darkness, its significance was breathtaking. The light grew in intensity, calling him, beckoning him, teasing him, daring him to come close. Hypnotized, he flew to the window like a moth to the flame.

A familiar cat jumped onto the window sill beside the candle, entranced by the dance of the flickering flames. So close it was that it burned nearly burned its whiskers. It backed away, hair raised, teeth bared, its hissing calling the attention of its owner.

He steered his broom to the side so as not to be in plain view of the room's occupant.

One Hermione Granger sat in bed, pillow supporting her back, and knees drawn up to her chest. A book rest on her knees as she looked to her cat upon hearing his dislike. He could have sworn that she looked directly at him. Her eyes, usually full of life; of fire that roared with intensity during debates; that flickered with emotion; that danced with the wind, almost dying, almost losing, but certainly not without a fight – gave up. They were dim and muddy brown, glossy and inattentive to her world. Her normally wild and frizzy hair lay limp and dank, elongating her saddened face. No smile graced her features, no sadness, no fear, and no hope. She looked empty.

She sighed and got off the bed to soothe her angered cat.

Still unnoticed by Hermione, he remained in his position, unable to break his gaze. Staring at Hermione had been like staring at the lit candle. It'd been a week since he'd seen her so unguarded, her emotions so raw. The past week was full of polite professionalism, of efficient conversations between two unknown people - as if they weren't the Head Boy and Head Girl of Hogwarts who called for a tactile truce after uniting their skills of intimidation, no-question authority against a rebellious, no-name prefect who dared to blatantly defy and disrespect them.

She had gone back to the days before they became partners.

The candle's flame blew out and it was dark.

The figure's bravado increased in the darkness, for who could see outside their tainted window in the dark night? Who could see the young man covered in his black cloak on his black broom? Who could see this young man's gloved hand reach for the window, attempting to trace the outlines of her face? A thin glass separated them and there was no light. Who could see?

A patch in the cloud let the moonlight through.

Hermione let out a gasp in fright, unable to make out the dark stranger floating in the air.

'Two options: a Dementor or a Death Eater,' Hermione's mind calculated.

Shortly after she began to reach for her wand, he pulled his hood down and let his hair loose.

At the sight of his white-blond hair, Hermione repeated facts, 'Lucius is dead. No Death Eater is going to kidnap me. Dementors don't have white-blond hair…' she said. Grey eyes bore into her soul and she knew who he was. Habit controlled her body and she automatically unlocked the latch on her window.

She'd forgotten their situation, as it was evident in her facial expression when she let him in. Her eyes lit up once again, a smile about to reach her lips – it'd been a while since he'd come to her like this.

The suppressed look of surprise on his face confused Hermione. After all, this was frequent, constant, and there was no question, except… her mind jumped back to her previous thought, before habit controlled her, "… so that rules out a Kiss."

She immediately stilled as she remembered their situation.

"What do you want, Draco?" she asked.

She remained indoors, feet on solid ground, scared, uncertain and shy of the male outside her window during the odd hours of the night. It certainly delivered pretence and an aura of romance with him outside her window late at night. That was never the case with Draco. 

After his flight, they would reminisce in the day's events and discuss the day's news, or the effects and consequences of the broiling war on the school, and most often than not, they would test each other on the school subjects, for they matched in intellect – his weakness her strengths, and vice versa, as they were both against admitting.

He expertly guided the broom to brush past her as he entered the room. As he did, he whispered in her ears, "To converse with you."

Up until a week ago, their developing relationship caused a ripple effect in the school among its students. Their relationship was something to be talked about; not because he was an heir to both the Malfoy and Black family lines; or that she was the lowly Muggle-born who consistently defied prejudice and dethroned pure-bloods from their comfortable seats.

He was Draco Malfoy.

She was Hermione Granger.

Strip them of their titles and change their names, they would still be two people born to lead, who demanded as much respect as they gave, who were looked upon, adored by and vied to be.

It was this popularity that aroused unity in the students. What better tool or mechanism to unite the divided houses into hormone-induced, drama-needy teenagers than the possibility of a relationship between the two?

The Hufflepuffs saw it first. Initially, it was considered to be a wildly romantic a fairy-tale of sorts, until two of their own saw playful banter hidden beneath their usual cutting exchanges.  From then on, the Hufflepuffs wondered when something dramatic, romantic, or tragic would occur.

Ravenclaw soon followed and debated the pros and cons of such a match. They theorized, hypothesized, and made charts and diagrams of the probability. They were the logic to the 'puffelian dreams and wishes.

The Gryffindors and Slytherins scoffed and snorted at the prospect, still stuck behind House rivalry. Those that did slightly accept speculated hidden plots and schemes designed to take the other down like spies infiltrating organizations through a person.

The Hufflepuffs were indeed right in their observation. Beneath the growing respect they held for each other, beneath their growing trust, beneath the physical appreciation, something sparked.

He kissed her at the ignition.

She kissed him back as it flared.

They separated when the oxygen burned.

And she walked away.

"Talk away," Hermione proclaimed, "and please, make yourself comfortable in my room," she added sarcastically.

The man had the audacity to enter her room as if nothing happened. He placed his broom in the same corner he always did, and sat on the chair beside her bed as he always did. She frustratingly wondered if she was the only one aware of what happened last week.

Last week, the close proximity of his body allowed her to feel the throbbing pulse of his heart. His unique scent overwhelmed her and she was drawn into the eyes that stared into hers with lust and desire. The only sound heard was the exhalation of mingling breaths. 

She fought against rationale and abandoned inhibitions. Desire took control of her actions and she gave into him. 

His delicious lips parted from hers and she wanted nothing to do but revel in his arms.

An intake of fresh air and her brain began to function. She froze in his arms and realized that nothing – absolutely nothing – could, would, or should ever happen between them.

Her priorities were laid out, simple and clear: top the record for most N.E.W.Ts., win the war, and most importantly, survive the war.

Only then could she afford to give into her selfish desires.

So she walked away from him.

Away from something that she was certain would have been one of, if not, the best thing to happen to her.  She could have given them the chance to bloom, to grow, to develop, to immerse herself into something unknown that was both terrifying and magnificent at the same time, but she chose not to.

Crookshanks, beloved cat that he was, was a traitor, an evil traitor who preferred his attention than hers. She needed him more, his contented purrs and relaxing presence, especially with Draco in the room.

"And pray tell, dear partner of mine, what is it you wish to talk about?" she asked, walking over to her bed.

She simply had no time for this. Every minute and every second was accounted and scheduled for. Sitting on the edge of her bed, she was at a loss for what to say.

"How's the weather outside?" she asked idly. 

"It's lovely, would you care to take a midnight flight?" he answered playfully, very aware of her fear of flying.

She opted not to bother answering the question. If he wanted to play, then she would play. A fake smile plastered on her lips and she sweetly asked, "The rumours running the mill?"

His eyes glinted in the dark and Hermione wondered if the moonlight found another patch in the clouds.

"Rumour has it that I stole your virginity," he answered, a mischievous smirk dancing on his lips.

Hermione was briefly reminded of old times when they would throw insults at each other, often derived from the thoughts of the student body. The ones from their Houses provided the most entertainment.

"Just like your failed attempt at serenading me outside my window?"

"Or that you needed money to fund your tuition."

The tension lessened and she relaxed in his presence. She melded present with the past and she thought she could tease him with anything. She expected him to return her remark with more haughtiness than she threw at him.

"And that I broke your heart when I rejected you. Oh wait…"

She was wrong.

"Nobody rejects me, Granger, in fact, I was so amazing that you didn't know how to control your prissy self."

Her eyes narrowed, claws extending, waiting to strike.

"Very certain, are you, Malfoy?"

He paused momentarily, she presumed, to collect his thoughts. She watched as his hands stroked the thick fur of her cat. They sat silently for a few minutes, staring transfixed at Crookshanks who purred loudly in satisfaction.   

"Have you heard the professors whispering, Granger?" he broke the silence in a low voice.

"They're not blind. Do you think we're the first to face the world as it is right now?" She looked up, realizing that they were not – the issues surrounding their world was eerily similar to Harry's parents during Voldemort's first era of terror. 

"There is one difference, however," he continued, "Never," he emphasized, "have they ever encountered anyone by the likes of us."

There was no question, nor arrogance in his voice. She was unsure if he meant it professionally or romantically, but it didn't matter. He looked directly into her eyes with so much conviction that it sent shivers down her spine.

"And with the Sorting Hat's song for unity…" she left the sentence unfinished. He was right. Never had two students affected the student body so much. Their efforts of breaking down the prejudice would only be in shame if they allowed the strain in their personal relationship to affect their duties as Head Boy and Head Girl. They were supposed to set an example to the students, and that's what she was going to do.

"Point taken. What are you really here for, Draco?"

"This." He stood up from his seat and swiftly came upon her. Once again, Hermione was overwhelmed by his smouldering gaze. She melted into the caress of his soft fingers as his hungry lips aimed to devour her whole.

He leaned forward and she willingly lay back on the bed.

Her thoughts and rationality shot out the window and all that remained were pleasure and the need for it to continue, to never stop, and to never let go.

She could lose herself in this. Lose herself in the feeling of being accepted and treasured by the man she knew would worship her like the newest, fastest, professional Quidditch approved flying broom; who found her intelligence not to be intimidating, but beautiful and who accepted her for who she was.

Her heart fought for dominance and refused to let logic return. Unlike last week's kiss, she allowed a few more minutes under his expertise before gradually returning to the present.

"Draco…" she said, no moaned, his name.

"Yes, Hermione?" he whispered seductively into her ear.

"Draco," she said more sternly, utilizing her strict 'Head Girl' voice. However, the voice that escaped her mouth was deep and throaty, filled with desire.

"Hermione, keep saying my name like that, and you can sign me up for detention with you, anytime."

She giggled. Draco ceased softly blowing in her ear to look at her joyful face. The contented look on his face stopped Hermione in her tracks and she was suddenly reminded of the harsh reality. She allowed herself one last kiss on the lip before talking to him.

"I... uh... that is to say," she mumbled trying to collect her voice and thoughts.

"By Merlin's balls, mark this in your copy of Hogwarts: A History - I've left Hermione Granger speechless. I knew I was highly skilled …" She shut him up with a playful smack on his shoulder.

"If you could kindly remove yourself from my personal space, I would greatly appreciate it." Her voice returned and she would have been thankful if it wasn't for the cold draft that hit her when his warm body returned to the chair.

She had to control her hormones. The chemicals in her body that made her want him closer to her, to be smothered in him, to be devoured by him. They were chemical reactions, perfectly normal and irrelevant to the man who barely attempted to hide his dislike. His lips were pouting in disappointment, red from action, and full as always.

Hermione sighed and looked away from Draco to the still open window.

There was so much she wanted to say. She wanted to tell him everything she felt – how she wished she could stay in his arms and just stay behind closed doors, oblivious to the world around them.  She wanted to debate and discuss books, life, philosophy, religion, finances, and even Quidditch for the days to come. He meant so much to her – his friendship, his respect, his trust, and most of all, his acceptance. He was a beautiful, breathtaking man inside and out. And she would love to fall in love with him.

However, with the world being the way it was, she couldn't risk continuing a relationship. If she had to separate, she would separate now, under her own terms and conditions. She could not and would not succumb to her selfish desires when there were more important things to worry about.

They settled their professional issues and it was time to address the status of their relationship. For the sake of the school, and its students, as well as the Wizarding World, Hermione's decision was made.

"I can't do this," she admitted quietly to herself.

Draco must have heard her murmur something because he asked her to repeat herself.

The moon finally escaped from its cloudy confines and bathed Hogwarts in all its glory. Gathering courage from the moonlight, she said the first thing that came to mind.

"I'm sorry, Draco, but I – we, cannot do this. Not now."

She heard the shuffle of clothing as he fastened on his cloak; the rustle of the broom as he picked it up. And she felt his cold shoulder move past her.

She was about to explain further but he regained his composure and mounted his broom. Without a word he flew out of the window and she knew where he would go.

"Because once I let you in, my heart will be yours," she whispered to no one.

She stole one last look at the man who would steal her heart if she let him. The clouds covered the moon again, and like Draco, it was gone. She closed the window. The traitorous cat returned.

And it was dark again.

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To be continued …