A/N: Anyone who has read my more recent stories will know that this is a change from my regular format, since I tend to put author's notes at the end. However, I decided that they should go at the beginning. Because people who don't like to read them won't have to see them after the chapter is over. Not that anyone cares. So anyway…

Brand new story, brand new idea. It is a Hermione/Draco romance, but not in any sense that I've read or written before. WARNING: This fic portrays certain characters as being very, very, very OOC. If you are opposed to OOC fics, DO NOT READ IT. You aren't going to get me to change that, because it is the whole center of the story. Just deal with it.

Disclaimer: I do not own anything that is already property of someone else. That includes the stand-up cardboard Legolas they always have at music stores. The plot and anything you do not recognize are utterly mine.

Having said that, I will now shut up and let you read. Have fun.


The Negative Side


To Be Alone

Hermione awoke with a feeling of utter contentment. For the last three weeks of the summer, she, Ron, Harry, and Ginny were all staying at an inn in London. Ginny had been the one to suggest staying at a Muggle hotel, because she said she could not stand the Leaky Cauldron for three weeks. They still went into Diagon Alley every day, but it was entertaining for Hermione and Harry to watch the other two being amazed at every Muggle thing.

It was the beginning of their second week in London. That day was clear and warm, and she had just come out of a dream that left her with a wonderfully fuzzy feeling in her entire body. She stretched, then mumbled, "Ginny?"

A snore answered her. With a laugh, she threw one of her pillows at her roommate. A groan came from the redhead, and then she sat up, rubbing her eyes. "What is it?"

"A pillow, sleepyhead. Good morning."

"Well it would be if you'd let me sleep till a decent hour. Honestly, Hermione. Ten o'clock?"

"And this is why we sometimes tell everyone that we have seven sons," Hermione said in a very Molly-Weasley-like voice.

Ginny threw Hermione's pillow back at her. "Shut up." She settled back down and pulled the sheet over her. Rolling her eyes, Hermione slid out of bed, then sauntered over to Ginny and pulled off her covers. "Hey! Hermione, I'm trying to sleep here."

"Oh, come on. It wasn't my idea for you to stay up all night last night trying to hear the boys through the door. A shower will wake you right up. Then we can have breakfast and come back before Harry and Ron even wake up."

Ginny's face broke into a mischievous grin. "Good idea. You know, waking up isn't so bad." She charged into the bathroom and stayed there for about half an hour. Hermione knew she was scheming, probably Harry-related, and really did not want to get involved. She found her suitcase, took out some clothes, and dressed for the day.

Eleven found Ginny and Hermione in the hotel café, sipping their morning drinks and eating their morning pastries, talking about school. "Can you believe it's your last year at Hogwarts?" Ginny asked. "That's…wow."

"I know," Hermione responded. She sighed. "I wish I was already old enough for my Apparition license. Harry and Ron have theirs already, but I won't be able to get it until October, and then I'll be in school…"

"Calm down, Hermione. Anyway, you can't tell me you don't know how to Apparate."

"Well, I've read all about the theory, of course. I know how, but I've never done it." Ginny gave her a pointed look. "Really, I swear," Hermione defended herself.

"Okay, I can see you're not going to give me this one."

"You're still trying to figure out what I've done that's illegal. Aside from all the terrible things we do at school, I mean."

"Well, now that you've told me that much, I need to know the rest. I'm just itching for information."

"I'll give you a hint," Hermione relented. She leaned forward. "It's not illegal in the sense that it's actually against the law. Just… something I don't want everyone to know about."

"That's perfect, then! I'm not everyone. I'm just one person. One very small person, actually. I'm more like half a person. Please?"

Hermione shook her head. "Forget it, Ginny. I'm not telling."

"Not telling what?" a very familiar voice asked from behind them.

Hermione turned to face her friends. "I think you really missed the point of what I just said, Ron." He and Harry took the other seats at their table. "If I'm not telling, then I won't say it."

"I know," Ron said, annoyed. "So what's good today?"

"The same thing that was good yesterday, I'd imagine," Harry answered. "I think I'll get some buffet. What do you say, Ron?" The two of them got up again, heading toward the food.

"So what was the point of sitting?" said Ginny quietly.

"They just woke up, Gin. Give them a break."

"Quick, before they come back. Tell me."

"No!"

Ginny had no more time to haggle Hermione for information, because Harry and Ron returned to their table with heaping platefuls of food- at which point, Ginny could not say anything at all. She was too busy pretending to gag.

"How could you possibly eat all that? Even you, Ron."

"Long night," Harry replied, mouth full of food.

Hermione narrowed her eyes. "You two went out after I was asleep again, didn't you." It was hardly a question. The boys exchanged furtive glances. Hermione threw up her hands in exasperation. "You have to stop wandering the streets at night, Harry! All kinds of freaks do the same thing, and Eaters will venture into the Muggle world at night to find wizards in hiding!" Eaters was the now-common term for Voldemort's followers.

"Well, I'm so glad to know you're concerned for me," Ron told her. He then proceeded to stuff his face.

"I'm sorry, Ron, but Harry is in more danger than any of us even in broad daylight. Especially since they've begun to throw the identified Eaters out of the Ministry-"

"Hermione, shhh!" Harry put his finger to his lips to caution her. "You can't talk about these things where anyone can hear, even Muggles! Just because they don't know what we're saying, doesn't mean they can't repeat it to an Eater later on!"

She closed her eyes briefly, inhaling deeply. "You're right. I don't mean to cause anyone to overhear, but the two of you…You just have to start taking this danger more seriously. It is a very serious thing, and if you still refuse to see it, I might have to tell Mr. Weasley, or Moody. Or maybe even Snape."

Three faces turned sharply to her. "You wouldn't," Ron glowered.

"Oh, wouldn't I?" she retorted, leaning toward him confrontationally.

"Will you please settle down?" Ginny requested. "You're drawing attention to us. Now, you guys finish your breakfast so we can go to Diagon Alley, already." Though Ginny was the youngest, when she made such commands, the males of the group tended to follow. For any boy except Ron and Harry, Hermione would credit this reaction to Ginny's looks. In the past year, the redhead had become one of the most beautiful girls she had ever seen. But this was her brother and his best friend. They just never looked at Ginny that way.

"Do you two want me to check over your homework?" Hermione asked.

"Sure," answered Harry, barely lifting his face from the plate. Ron swallowed the food in his mouth.

"Ron?" He didn't answer, but his ears began to grow pink. "You didn't do it, did you?"

"I did it! Just not all of it."

"This is exactly what I was talking about before, Ron. I would be more than happy to help you, but you have to do it. I've already looked over my own homework several times."

"And that's what I was saying. You don't need to recheck your homework, Hermione. You always get it right the first time. All you ever think about is studying." She felt her features shape into an angry look. "I will do it," Ron said, more gently. "I'm not going to do it on your schedule, though."

Hermione rolled her eyes and shook her head. "Well, if you want me to look at it, you'd better have it done soon."

"Maybe I don't," Ron retorted. His voice had a surprising bite to it. Hermione turned her head to face him for a moment, then looked away.

"I think I'm about ready to be going. Anyone else coming? Ginny?" She stood so quickly her chair almost fell over. Ginny followed more slowly, allowing Hermione to keep far ahead of her. Hermione, for her part, walked as fast as she could from the hotel, and started toward Diagon Alley without waiting.

"Hermione! Slow down, please!" Ginny caught up with her about a block from the inn, and took her arm. "I know Ron's a pain in the arse. I mean, he's my brother. But don't you think you're overreacting just a little?"

"No," Hermione said stiffly. "Well, yes. Ron's had it coming, though. He has been as disagreeable as he possibly could since last May. I don't know what's going on with him."

"You don't?" Ginny repeated, sounding surprised.

Hermione glanced at her. "Are you implying that I should?"

Ginny peered ahead of them, concentrating very hard on something far ahead. "Forget it. It's not important. But… is that who I think it is?" She pointed to a spot near the entrance of Diagon Alley where a small crowd was gathered.

Hermione kept her recognition in check when she spotted a familiar head. "I don't see anyone we know," she said with a shrug, marveling at her own lie. Ginny mirrored the gesture, then waved Hermione forward. They quickened their pace to catch the entrance while it was still open.

As always, Diagon Alley was a welcome, warming sight. Magical people of all ages swarmed about the many stores, exiting with items Hermione still found fascinating, even after six years in the magical world.

Hermione searched him out every time they left a store. Numerous times, she caught his eye, and she could swear he winked at her. He was waiting for a chance to approach her, for her to be alone. Well, she could only do so much.

"Hermione, are you still mad?" Ron asked from behind her.

She jumped slightly, then turned. "Ron, why do you have to Apparate everywhere? It's unnecessary and it's frankly annoying when you sneak up behind me like that."

"Sorry," he said. He scratched the back of his neck. "So, are you?"

Hermione sighed. "No. It's all right, Ron. Er… Where did Ginny go?" Abruptly, she noticed that her former companion was gone.

"Into Fred and George's joke shop, with Harry," answered Ron, moving a hand limply in the direction of the new shop. The 'Grand Opening' sign had been up for two weeks. "Coming?"

"You know what, Ron?" Hermione had just had an idea she considered quite clever. "Why don't you go and join them. You know I don't care so much for that type of thing, since so much of it is forbidden at school. I need to go to Flourish and Blotts to find a couple of books. It may take a while, and I know how you all hate to wait while I look through the whole bookstore."

"Well, yeah." Ron looked at his feet, shifting his weight awkwardly. "I wouldn't mind waiting."

"That's really nice, Ron, but go ahead. You'd be bored."

He smiled at her, making a million confused thoughts jumble for front position at once, and stepped away from her. She started toward the bookshop, scanning the crowd for the hundredth time. She saw him just before she went into the store, and gave him a nearly imperceptible nod. He cut a deliberate but casual path to Flourish and Blotts. She entered, knowing he was following her.

It was the truth that she wanted to visit the bookstore, but she had one and a half more weeks to do so. It was getting harder to think of excuses to go off on her own. "Soon," she murmured to herself, "I'll just stop making them, and go because I can."

Slipping another book off the shelf, she glanced to the right when another customer appeared beside her. "Granger," he said to her, more politely than others might expect.

She glared back at him. "Malfoy," she spat, causing his eyebrow to raise. In her defense, she allowed him to see the threatening smile that twisted her face into an odd expression.

His chest shook for a moment with silent laughter. He pretended to reach for a book directly in front of her and leaned to speak in her ear. "I'll be waiting behind this building for five minutes. Are you buying anything?"

"Maybe," she whispered back. He placed three galleons on the shelf before her. It was enough for two of the most expensive books in the store. Malfoy brushed by her then, his hand lingering on her arm for a split second. A moment later, he was gone.

Hermione closed her eyes briefly, focusing on the sensation of his breath on her neck. When her eyes opened again, she was faced with the three galleons he had left her. She scooped them up, then combed through the store for the one book she had in mind. It was quite expensive in the view of the standard witch, but as long as Malfoy was paying for it, she was happy to spend the money. She heaved it from the bottom shelf into the crook of her arm.

After paying the clerk, Hermione hurried around behind the building, wondering if he would really be there. He was. Leaning against the wall with one leg propped against the brick, his head was tilted upward. When he heard her, he stood up straight, and went right for her.

"Wait," warned Hermione, holding a hand out. He halted, giving her a withering look. A crooked smile crossed her face as she set her new purchase carefully on the ground. She straightened. "All right."

Hermione found herself pressed between the wall and the boy, his arms around her waist holding her close. Her arms went around his neck and shoulders tightly when he kissed her. Their mouths searched each other, exploring every inch of the other. Hermione felt herself give in to the desperation, and the passion.

Abruptly, she pushed him gently away. "How long have we been back here?" she asked.

"Probably twenty minutes," he answered, kissing her again.

"I need to get back. If the others have gone to look for me, they'll be wondering where I am. Sorry, Draco."

Instead of answering, he began to straighten his clothes. "Meet me tomorrow at nine, at the restaurant." The establishment he referred to was a hidden wizard restaurant that was placed directly in the middle of Muggle London. It was the site of many meetings between them. He did not wait for her to acknowledge the request, but bent down to pick up her book, handed it to her, and gestured for her to go before him into the Alley. "After you, milady."

Heaving the sigh that revealed to him her inability to tell whether he was being sarcastic or polite, she left him standing behind the bookstore. She decided that her best choice at that moment would be to check the joke shop for her friends. Sure enough, they were still deeply occupied by the merchandise, and one of the twins was with them.

"Hey, Hermione," Harry called. "George was just showing us some of the new products."

"That's wonderful," Hermione said. "No offense, George. It's just that I've been in here almost every day for a week."

"None taken, don't worry. I know this isn't really your area."

"George!" an identical voice yelled. "One of the Biting Brooms is big-time wonky!"

"I'd better go help Fred," George said, laughing, and he darted a few aisles over.

"Biting Brooms," Hermione repeated flatly.

"Yeah. They look like normal brooms, but they bite you if you try to sit on them. Hey Harry, maybe we should get one for Malfoy." Ron and Harry chortled.

Hermione cleared her throat loudly. "Anyone ready for lunch?"
If anyone had asked, Hermione could not have told them much about the origins of her strange relationship with Malfoy. She could not remember exactly why, how, where, or even when it started. It had been sometime in April, she knew, and they had been at Hogsmeade. None of that seemed to matter.

The only thing she was sure of was who. Draco Malfoy, the one person she could have sworn one year earlier that she would never encounter on terms other than enmity. Draco Malfoy, in whose angular face she could see all kinds of beauty, in whose arms she first felt a certain feeling. God, she was in trouble.

"Is Mr. Malfoy here?" she asked the host when she entered the restaurant.

"Yes, miss. Right this way." He led her to a table in the far corner. Malfoy was sitting there already, fiddling with a galleon. Hermione was seated, they ordered their food. Then they were left alone.

"Good day?" Hermione asked, referring to his preoccupation.

"Not especially. I just really like this galleon. It's a special galleon. Much different from all others."

He said barely anything to her during their entire meal. She was used to this kind of behavior from Ron, and some others she knew. But the difference between them and Malfoy was that he always said what was on his mind, as far as she was concerned.

When they had left the restaurant, and were disappearing into a dark alley between two buildings, she brought it up. "Malfoy, why are you not talking?"

He stopped, turning toward her. "Well, if you must know now… I mean, I was going to put this off until the end of the night, but I suppose you won't do anything until I tell you."

"If you mean make out with you, then you're right."

"Okay, you asked for it. This is our last night together. Ever."

Hermione's expression was clearly demanding more detail, because he continued. "I'm going back to the manor tomorrow, and then we'll be in school. It was hard to find time to meet even for the last two months last year. I'm not getting very far with you. It's not like we're progressing, so there's no reason to continue this."

"You are unbelievable," Hermione hissed, not caring whether he was done. "You're ending it- whatever 'it' is- because I won't let you get under my shirt?"

"Or in your pants. Don't forget that."

"Well, guess what, Malfoy. That's just fine. It's not like I was getting much out of this- this joke anyway." She stormed off, feeling like she had at least kept her pride.

"Then why did you do it for so long?" Malfoy called after her, making her stop in her storming for a second. Then, the thunder and lightning started. Before she exploded, Hermione rounded the corner. Even knowing that he was probably watching her, she turned herself in the direction of the hotel and began to run.

Her room was empty, which meant that Ginny and the boys were still out. She wondered where they were, at eleven in the evening, but only briefly. She was too angry to care. She changed into her pajamas, then took out her brush and began to run it through her hair.

In the middle of her third stroke, she turned and hurled the brush at the wall separating her room from Harry and Ron's. She saw something break off when it struck. It was the handle. She looked at the two pieces on the floor as though they were keeping from her the answers to all her questions. Frustrated that they were not forthcoming, she leapt onto her bed and began to punch the pillows with tight fists. She kept it up for a few minutes before she realized she was crying.

She didn't care about him, really. She still hated him, in fact. The entire time they had been involved in that drawn out, sedated tryst, she had hated him. He was an arrogant, prejudiced mule. Considering all this, she had no idea why she was so upset.

"It's because he broke up with me," she said reasonably. "If you can even call it that, when we weren't actually together. As though he wasn't just as eager for it."

Knowing Ginny would be able to tell she had been crying, she headed for the shower. The warm water beating against her skin relaxed her, washing away tears and sweat. It gave her the ability to think again, to decide what to do. She reached down and turned the knobs to adjust the water temperature.

Her breathing deepened as the heat increased. Her skin was scalded pleasantly as she faced the showerhead. She turned, spreading the warmth to her back. Refreshed and calmed, she knew exactly what she could do.

After dressing again, she borrowed Ginny's brush to work the tangles out of her hair. She braided it to keep it from getting knotted up. Then, her mind set on the task she had appointed to herself, she sat down with a quill and a pot of ink and wrote two very important letters, to be delivered in the morning.

She set them aside when she had finished, underneath her homework. Then, without waiting for the others to return, she climbed into bed, nestling down into the pillows. "It's time for a change," she told the empty room ominously before falling asleep.

…TBC…

It would be very, very helpful if some reviews happened. Smile