Completed: 1/10/04 8:56 PM

Posted: 1/18/04 11:17 PM

Disclaimer: Usual.

Dedication: This was Supriya's birthday gift! Everybody wave.


It was far past curfew, and the twinkling star lights through the high-paned window, in their astral frame of the silver moon, attested to the late hour in which Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, in some remote, unplottable corner of Scotland, now dwelled. But the stars brought very little light to the far corners of the school library where there were naught much more than shadows and musty tomes, who's consistent disuse had found them banished to the far stacks where they were all but abandoned.

And so, in lieu of the faint outside light, a small lantern, glowing valiantly despite its size, had taken center stage, levitating, above the small one-person table wedged snuggly into the aforementioned corner. The warm yellow light illuminated the carefully stacked half-circle of books, and, just behind it, the bushy, brown-haired Head Girl of Hogwarts.

Tongue jutting out of the corner of her mouth, Hermione didn't dare breathe as she finished the final tower. Propped in front of her was the forgotten Potions book and spilled around her elbow were a few of the candy squares from the ripped open bag of starbursts just beyond that.

She fished in the pile for another yellow-wrapped confection and added it to the tip top of "Hufflepuff Tower". She surveyed the starburst model of Hogwarts with pride and popped one of the spare candies in her mouth to eat, tipping her chair back onto two legs.

The reason for the "castle's" creation was a rather long and equally boring story.

Though overjoyed at being instated as Head Girl for her last year at the school she loved, the position itself required a lot of time. When meal times became no longer enough time to complete all the advance work in her dozen or so classes, she had to resort to her privileges as Head to visit the library after-hours. As it was, she tended to get a tad absorbed in her work, to the point where nothing, short of a Death Eater attack, could drag her away. Consequently, her attendance for meals was dismal at best.

But if one couldn't count on their family, who could one count on? After wheedling her study habits out of her this past holiday break, Hermione's parents had begun owling snacks every week. When there wasn't a chance to make the necessary kitchen raid, she always had the plastic baggies of fruit and sugarless muffins to rely on. Luckily, for her sweet tooth, her uncle was not a dentist, and, upon hearing her plight, found no problem at all in mailing great bags of candies and chocolates to her without her parentals' knowledge.

This week it was starbursts.

Sucking on a pink one, Hermione made a small sound of hungry pleasure. She'd missed dinner that evening, and sometimes wizarding candy just couldn't compare.

But back to the starburst edifice. To every trait there had to be a negative consequence – hers was that, every time she worked with complete concentration and devotion for a long houred stretch of time, she burned out. Her attention span would shrink to that of a third-year on their first Hogsmeade trip and her thoughts became as mixed and disorganized as a failed shrinking potion. It was embarrassing, really, and hardly a desirable characteristic for someone in such an influential position as that of Head Girl, at least in her opinion.

But despite how unbecoming she believed it to be, Hermione had no choice but to accept it; and so, here she was, near a quarter 'til two, potions extra credit long abandoned in favor of turning her dinner replacement into a color-coded miniature of the school. If her distraction ran on any longer she might as well pack up and go to bed rather than eye the "Ravenclaw Tower" with annoyance; as, without blue candies, she'd had to make due with purple. Sub-standard really.

She pulled the wrapper of her third candy out of her mouth, where she'd unwrapped it in a fit of sheer boredom, and knocked a particularly fat curl out of her eyes to bend the damp wax square into an origami frog. So intent was she on perfectly creasing each fold that she didn't register her visitor until it was too late.

They slammed their bag down on the table, jarring the book circle askew and toppling the "Hufflepuff Tower" along with half of "Gryffindor". With a dismayed cry, bordering on embarrassing outrage, Hermione abandoned the half-folded orange frog and jumped to her feet.

Draco Malfoy, platinum blonde hair nearly phosphorescent in the darkened library, left his obviously heavy satchel where it was and threw himself, in what he must have thought was a debonair fashion, upon a chair he'd drawn up beside her own. She scowled at him and, leaning precariously over mini-Hogwarts and the books, gave a good shove to his bag and sent it crashing to the floor.

"You'll tip the table doing that, you ponce," she huffed, dropping back into her seat. "You do realize that this is a single person table, don't you? There's hardly enough room for my own things..."

"Stop grousing, Granger," he drawled, kicking his heels up onto the small round table and folding his arms behind his head. "Slytherin Tower" was effectively demolished. "It's getting late and you're not even working anymore."

Prodding his boots with a finger, she gave a biting laugh and set about repairing the causalities to her castle. "Worried about my sleep, Malfoy?"

He snorted, "Hardly." Ignoring her earlier gesture to put down his feet, he scrunched himself down into a more comfortable position and smirked at her turned face. "It'll be Friday tomorrow and that means dawn patrol. There's no way in hell I'm getting up that earlier without having someone else suffer as well."

"Typical, Malfoy," She retorted. "Never happy unless they're bringing someone down with them."

Hooking her ankles around the legs of her chair to make it more comfortable as she leaned forward, she quickly and efficiently began stacking red-wrapped squares on the remainder of "Gryffindor" before starting on "Hufflepuff" with a quick glare to "Ravenclaw", letting the sole undamaged tower know that she was still upset for its components not being the sought after blue.

"Besides," she added in a haughty tone. "I wouldn't dare leave you alone for one minute. Your sort needs to be kept on a tight leash."

"I'm not your dog, Granger," Draco snapped, but he was watching her rebuild. "And I don't want to know what you and the Wonder Twins do in that Gryffindor Tower of yours."

Hermione's cheeks burned, but it was more anger than embarrassment. After occupying so many late nights in the dark library with him, with nothing more to his far off presence than the occasional snarky comment shot back to her, she'd become used to his insults and now, more often then not, they just annoyed rather than embarrassed or offended.

She didn't particularly mind sharing the library after-hours with him because it wasn't as though they had to sit at the same table, or make any sort of contact at all. They could keep to their complete opposite ends in the dark, and even with their separate lanterns lighting their workspace, the shelves between them blocked the candlelight from one another, keeping the illusion of solitude so well that she sometimes forgot he was there until a few choice words were shouted crudely at her, or he purposely stomped loudly nearby to retrieve a needed book.

Gryffindor pride pricking at her, she chose, as per usual during their spats, to once again take the "high road". Turning up her nose, she ignored him as one would a bratty child, and finished her task in returning the starburst castle to rights.

Finding her disregard annoying, Draco dropped his feet off the table, rather roughly, and, consequently, destroyed the orange drawbridge. Hermione's lips twitched and with forced calmness she set down the starburst that had been in her hands, and picked up another. The abandoned square was mangled with an indentation of her thumb pad.

Why she didn't just sweep the whole thing into her bag and head to bed, she didn't know. Well, of course she did know, but allowing herself to admit that in addition to having a rather bipolar attention span, she was a borderline obsessive compulsive was the first step to acknowledging the insanity her friend Ron accredited her with – "completely mental" as he so eloquently put it.

It was all poppycock in her opinion. She was sure building miniature landmarks out of muggle candies was an altogether normal pastime.

Ignoring her library companion was a great deal more difficult, however. While she re-stacked the drawbridge, Draco reached across her arm and snatched one of the lime candies off the top of the "Slytherin Tower" and though she rolled her eyes, she allowed him to take it, digging a replacement out of the now half-empty bag.

It was better to hope for placating him rather than stirring up a meaningless argument. He had been known on frequent occasions to just get up and leave if she provided him with neither entertainment nor an outlet for his dry wit.

This wasn't one of those times.

"Yuck!" Hermione looked in surprise at Draco, who appeared to have just eaten a flobberworm. "That is truly foul."

He knocked her notebook open and desperately ripped out a page upon which he spit out the mangled remains of a starburst...wrapper and all.

"You idiot!" Hermione swore, with a sound of disgust. Forcefully yanking the now ruined third page of her Transfiguration essay out of his hands, she took a scrap of spare parchment and used it to remove the half-chewed lime goop. She did her best to clean her essay, but there was nothing for it – it'd have to be redone. She had half a mind to hex him right then and there.

"I know you're rather poor Granger, but can't you at least get some decent sweets?" Draco wiped his mouth on the back of his sleeve. "If I didn't know better I'd say you were trying to poison me."

She snorted. "If I knew it was as simple as getting you to stuff your face, don't you think I would've tried it ages ago?"

"How unkind," he lamented.

"You're not supposed to eat the wrapper, you know," she muttered, unfolding the wrapper of a pink one to demonstrate. "You don't eat a chocolate frog before taking it out of the box, do you?"

He scowled at her condescending tone, and, in retribution stole the pink square right out of her fingers and popped it into his mouth. She watched him for a moment as he chewed into it, her expression blank, before turning back to her castle; ignoring him.

He rolled the candy around in his mouth thoughtfully and found that he was rather fond of the fruity, saccharine taste. He swallowed and reached for another one off the yellow pillar, but Hermione, without looking, slapped his hand away from it and continued packing away her things now that her masterpiece was finished. Deciding to humor her, he reached over her and grabbed a handful of the candies from the bag.

"So what is this thing anyway?" He asked, chomping on another one. "Mmm, cherry."

Hermione bristled. "Hogwarts," she mumbled, turning pink a bit in the cheeks. Wasn't it obvious?

"Oh, I see it now." His tone was indistinguishable. "Damn..."

She looked at him, twirling the wax wrapper in his hand with a smirk, and eyed him suspiciously. "What?" she asked with equal wariness.

"I just ate a piece of Gryffindor Tower."

Hermione chuckled wryly. "Actually, no. You didn't take it off the castle, so it technically wasn't affiliated with my house."

"I ate an innocent bystander, is that what you're saying?" His icy blue eyes flashed at her in the lantern light, and it was then that she realized they were actually having a conversation – no matter how inane and ludicrous said conversation's topic was.

"Most cruelly and horribly," she replied with a solemn nod of her head. "An upstanding Slytherin such as yourself ought to be ashamed."

He laughed and it was a wholly unfamiliar sound without its hurtful overtones, and it was a sound, Hermione was surprised to discover, that wasn't all too unpleasant to hear. Tipping her head to the side, she felt a lop-sided smile tugging at her lips to watch Malfoy laugh freely and flip a starburst into the air.

"Well if I'm to be damned to hell for eating that poor candy, then I might as well give the old devil something worth getting." He unwrapped another candy and popped it into his mouth. "No harm in eating more, is there? The damage's already been done."

She scrunched up her face in disgust as he dropped two more of varying flavors in together and chomped the whole sugary mess into one glob. Laughing at how, well, un-Malfoy-like, for lack of a better term, he looked and even more so how he was acting, Hermione flicked a yellow square off of one of the towers and it skidded across the polished wood table into his small confiscated pile.

"Why don't you just eat a Hufflepuff?" She suggested with a raised brow. "We can chalk it up to inter-house rivalry."

"Bleh!" He made a face. "Eat a Pufflehuffle? You've got to be kidding me," he poked the offending starburst away with Hermione's quill. "It could turn me into a marshmallow...or worse."

"Be nice," she reprimanded, without much force behind the order. She took back the yellow candy and pushed it between her lips to eat. "Lemon's my favorite anyway."

"It would be. You're both sour as all hell," He taunted. Then his face broke out in an outrageous expression that spoke of a sudden revelation. "Hey! You said the wrapping wasn't for eating."

Hermione gave him an odd look, like he'd grown a second head, and pulled the unfolded wrapper slowly out from between her lips. Raising her eyebrows at him, she turned away to drop the slightly damp, wax wrapper on the pile of earlier discarded ones and start chewing through the rubbery lemon candy.

"Well I didn't eat it, now did I?" she pointed out simply.

He gave a humane growl and scowled at her all throughout the unwrapping of another starburst. "How very Slytherin of you, Granger."

"You know," she began decidedly, tossing an orange one in her mouth. "That's exactly what I was going for."

"Hmph. Sarcasm thy name is Granger."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Really? I didn't even know we were related – Mum must've never put Sarcasm on the family tree..."

"Bit of an embarrassment to the family, I'd say," Draco theorized in all seriousness. He twirled his finger above his lips as if curling a moustache about it and nodded emphatically.

"Well, in that case – it seems you've confused our genealogy."

"Hey, now!" He shot in, but he was smirking nonetheless. "A bit below the belt there, bookworm, eh? Let's not bring family into this."

At this comment, Hermione bristled defensively, frowning at him in a most assuredly McGonagall-esque look. "You didn't seem to have a problem with that for the past six years," she reminded him harshly. Their ridiculous conversation didn't seem so lighthearted now.

Folding his arms behind his head, Draco tipped the chair onto its two back legs and looked wistfully out across the stacks like some wanton maiden. "The good old days. Still, I don't fancy losing Head Boy for a few insignificant comments on my part; though, I do so terribly miss our verbal sparrings, don't you?"

Hermione looked at the grinning Head Boy in disgust.

"You were my fondest form of entertainment, dear Granger," he told in a stage- whisper that made it feel as if he'd just divulged some dirty secret.

"I'd be happy to take the insults back if it would get you out of my common room," she replied, closing her long-neglected potion's book and stuffing it into her bag.

"So cold..."

She summoned up her most 'kill-you-where-you-sit' scowl and loosed it on him full force, before turning up her nose at him in a disdainful manner and finishing the packing of her things without interruption.

"Good, you're packed. Now let's go back and sleep so we can wake up together at the god-awful time enforced by your oh-so-lovely Head of House for dawn patrol." All of this was said in one long scathing breath, throughout which Hermione placed the last sheaf of parchments into her knapsack.

She stopped there – one hand twisted in the strap of her satchel – and cringed, where in the darkness of her sweeping bush of curls he could not see her face. Of course, she had been planning on just leaving him behind – having already seen the end of their diminutive conversation – and walking away in a superior fashion. But he just had to open his stupid gob. Now that he thought she was heading to the common room – which she had been about to do, up until now, naturally – she couldn't possible do so. No. She wouldn't allow it.

Hermione's book-laden bag hit the carpeted floor with a whump! Ignoring the surprised jump of Draco's eyebrows, she brushed out her skirt, crossed her legs at the ankle and folded her arms over her chest.

"Actually, I'm not going back. But you're quite welcome to leave; in fact, I insist."

His eyes narrowed at her, and Hermione entertained the notion that he was trying to decide whether or not she was being serious. Pursing her lips, she blatantly stole a starburst off his dwindling pile, and pointedly left it wrapped before putting it in her mouth.

"You know...I could think of a few better uses for that mouth of yours," he said with sharp eyes and a suggestive smirk as she fished another perfectly unfolded wrapper from between pale lips.

"Isn't it a rule that you can't think, much less say, those types of things – that you are, might I add, so fond of saying – to muggleborns?" She retorted hotly, but unwrapped her next candy all the same. "Some bylaw of the pureblood handbook?"

Though she'd been making busy with unwrapping her starburst and putting it in her mouth, as the sugary confection touched her tongue she looked up and caught Malfoy looking at her. Aware of her actions now, down to the infinitesimal level, she slowed down to within the pace of a snail's crawl, afraid of aggravating anymore what she'd done to cause him to stare at her in such a way. Her jaw worked slowly to break down the candy, her fingers curled carefully around the wrapper, and her honey brown eyes, wide with curiosity and alarm, lined up with his.

His dress shirt was as ragged as it usually became after a long night of studying, and Hermione supposed she was the only one – save for maybe the Slytherin tart, Pansy – to ever see him looking so very common, and by default – so completely un-Malfoyish. Ironically enough, a great deal of Draco was un-Malfoyish nowadays and she just hadn't made the connections before.

One sleeve was rolled up farther than the other, which bunched up around his forearm. The tails of his shirt had been pulled from their school-code place, tucked beneath the waistband of his trousers, and the top and bottom buttons had been undone. His collar was bent awkwardly and sticking up against his jaw on one-side; most likely the result of desperately yanking down his tie, the knot of which had been pulled to middle of his sternum.

His hair had lost most of its gel, due to another neurotic habit he'd developed while studying to constantly run his hands through his hair when he was thinking. It was longer than Hermione had realized, and, without its restraining product, the platinum blonde strands fell over his eyes. They weren't long enough to tuck behind his ears, but that didn't stop him from trying and he'd absently rake his bangs back only to have them fall back over his face, much like they were doing now.

It was while she was scrutinizing his face that she noticed the unnerving smirk twist across his lips.

"I'm never one to let talent go to waste; and un-taken-advantage of by myself."

Hermione swallowed her candy. Hard. "Pig."

He was grinning like the cat who'd just gotten the cream. Now, if that cat represented all that was soulless and evil and the cream was a swift drop and a sudden stop, then Hermione was all too happy to let him have it. He was still smirking insanely when he pulled his chair up to the table and set about "redecorating" her castle model.

Feigning disinterest, Hermione examined her nails blithely until Draco leaned back; satisfied with his modifications. Gryffindor tower had been reduced to two measly red squares, and Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw seemed equally lacking. Of course, the three tiers were overshadowed by the disproportionately taller tower of lime squares that represented Slytherin House, now crowned with tiny silver flag that Draco must have transfigured out of some spare wrapper.

"A masterpiece if I do say so myself – and I do."

Hermione folded her arms across the table edge and leaned against them to peer scrutinizingly at the castle. "You made me even smaller than Hufflepuff," she complained.

"Now, Granger!" He looked astonished. "Be nice. It's hardly exemplary for the Head Girl to be discriminating among the houses."

Hermione didn't bother containing her derisive snort. "Says the boy whose own tower looks like it's been hit by an Engorgement Charm."

"Oh, yes," he agreed. "Quite an unfortunate incident at that. But alas, there's nothing to be done."

And here they were again, having another pointless conversation; as if the insults and derogatory comments they'd just exchanged had never happened. Hermione, brow still quirked at his wry humor, muttered a "pity", and took comfort in the fact that she'd only have to deal with Malfoy's rampant mood swings one year longer.

She added a few more cherry starbursts to her tower, at least to the point where it rose above Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff; though, she "didn't dare" build it to an equal or greater height than Slytherin's. That, and she was out of red starbursts. The surprise came when she was doing this; wholly immersed in her work, perfectly lining each square with the one before. A pale hand crossed her vision, and when she'd looked up, a second silvery flag topped the purple tier. She watched it flutter magically in a nonexistent wind, before Draco's eyes on the side of her head sent her scurrying back to her work, cheeks pinkening in embarrassment.

They worked together in relative silence; adding flags, constructing a wrapper moat, and charming glittering windows into the sides of tower candies. They didn't voice the thought that what they were doing was completely ludicrous and a waste of time, because for them it wasn't. They knew it would be destroyed in just a few moments time, when their eyelids would grow too heavy to hold open, and they'd shove everything haphazardly into their bags just to get to the long-awaited bed that much faster. They also knew that, in foresight, they'd both be far better off going to bed as soon as possible in order to get as many precious hours of sleep before the dawn patrol.

But none of that mattered.

The castle, no matter how childish an idea, was a task that neither psyche could leave unfinished, and they would complete it to the best of their abilities; come rain, shine, or apocalypse.

They also didn't mention their obvious anal retentive qualities.

As Hermione worked on the finishing touches to the starburst wrapper chains for the drawbridge, she was acutely aware of Malfoy talking to her as he bent over the folded green wrappers he was attempting to transfigure into a crocodile, as "all proper moats have foul, tempered, excessively large reptiles". She'd suggested they just toss him into the moat, but he hadn't found her amusement so contagious.

"I'm tired, Granger," he said without much thought.

She grunted in reply, and bit her lower lip in concentration as she color-charmed the wrappers the dark gray of old steel.


She rolled her eyes. "Then go. It's not like I asked you to stay."

He snorted, and she knew he was probably leaning over the table as she was, judging by the puff of warm air on her face. "And have you totally misrepresent the school? It'd probably get back some how and be blamed on me."

"You're the one who sat down with me," she mumbled under her breath, following her mocking mimics of his words as he said them.

"I saw that," he hissed, darkly.



"We should go to bed."

"Shut up."

Something was flicked at a rather high velocity into her temple and she looked instinctively down to see a wadded up orange, wax wrapper roll across the table between her spread forearms. Lips pursed, she slowly raised her head up to meet Draco's gaze, making her withering expression all the more poignant.

He ran his tongue between his teeth and lips and lifted a pale eyebrow in challenge. Her chest tightened with a reflexive surge of adrenaline – her primal makeup exciting at the dare. Nevertheless, Hermione ignored her Neanderthalistic urges and merely brushed the ball back roughly in his direction. It bobbled lamely over the edge and fell into his lap. He looked less than impressed.

She'd just turned to grab a starburst for eating, when another wrapper hit her and tangled in her curls. Growling in frustration, she chucked the unopened starburst at the smirking Head Boy and the purple candy hit him squarely in the forehead. Hermione couldn't help herself. She started laughing; mostly because of the confounded expression on his face, but also because of the unarguably "hollow" sound the cube had made upon impact with his skull.

She'd been right – There was nothing up there, but cobwebs and dust and marbles rattling around.

Glaring in automatic defense at her hardly stifled giggling, Draco threw the starburst back at her, but she caught the half-hearted throw easily. The next one; however, whizzing straight at her with rapid succession and painful precision hit her in the cheek. It left a faint pink mark before falling onto the table.

Hermione gaped at him.

Draco smirked at her.

Silence...and then...

The whole table was uprooted. Hogwarts castle met a nasty end as their hands crashed into it, snatching up the hard candies as fast as they could before pelting them at one another. Hermione fell on her butt behind the round table dodging a barrage of Hufflepuff, and hunkered down there, taking cover behind the sturdy wooden desk and chairs.

Draco, finding his opponent to be a far more dangerous match than he'd anticipated, took up his position in the stacks, behind a shelf of herbology guides. Shoving aside the books, he made himself a goodly-sized hole in one of the rows that looked directly out onto Hermione's hiding spot and was wide enough for him to throw through.

"Hogwarts is in ruins..." He called to her, hoping the ruse would make her shift into the lantern's light.

"It's your fault!"

A dark shape came whizzing out of the shadows to the left of where he'd guessed she'd been, and he didn't see it until it was a scarce foot away. In attestation to her quite good aim, the candy hit just to the side of his window and made no sound as it fell onto the carpet. Shooting for where he guessed she'd hidden, he threw one of the muggle candies through the gap. It arced just over the top of the lantern's sphere of light and came down on the other side of the table, followed by a muffled "ouch!". Draco smirked.

Light sparked out of Hermione's hiding place and Draco caught sight of her grinning face in the burst of light before a half dozen candies came hurtling across the table. He jumped out of the way, flattening himself against the bookshelf just to the side of the hole that leaked in the faint light from Hermione's lantern. But when he didn't hear the pattering sound of candies hitting the opposite shelf, he opened one eye and then the other. Suspecting a treachery of some sort, he warily leaned over and peered out the window.

A handful of hard candies nailed him straight in the face. And he cursed at the sudden, if slight, pain. The tricky blighters had been hovering just outside the bookcase waiting for him to make an appearance.

Oh, so it's war, is it?

Pulling his own wand out from where he'd tucked it into the back waistband of his trousers, he levitated a few of his own candies with it and murmured a spell. She must have seen the flash of light, because her voice suddenly spoke up over the darkened silence.

"Now, Malfoy," she said nervously. "It was just a joke..."

Be very afraid...

He sent the starbursts on their way, and waited for the oh-so-satisfying shriek before looking out the peephole with gleeful amusement.

Hermione had broken cover and was flailing about hysterically – and quite humorously, from Draco's perspective – trying to fend off the dozen candies that were flinging themselves at her with suicidal passion and biting vigorously with itty bitty teeth. He actually burst into loud laughter as one got caught in her unmanageable hair and when it wasn't biting her ear, it was attacking the hand that was desperately trying to disentangle it.

Hermione, having a difficult time thinking through her reflexive swell of panic and the annoyingly persistent bites, finally had enough sense to pull out her wand. With an expert swish a flick she had immobilized the starbursts and they hung suspended in mid hair, wrappers half-falling off from their wild flight paths and teeth mid-gnash. Scowling at the air, she flicked the one out of her hair and then proceeded to take the heavy tome that was her History of Magic textbook and have a satisfying swing at the little devils. They were batted back towards Draco's bookshelf where he, still laughing, narrowly managed to dodge away from the few that made it through the gap in the books.

There was sound of movement from Hermione's side and he glanced back out in time to see her sweep the remains of Hogwarts off the skewed table and flick them in his direction with a guard of angrily flapping books. His jaw dropped as the entire flying processing swerved around the shelf and came straight at him. He hit the floor and barely avoided being clipped by a dusty potions encyclopedia.

"Bloody hell, Granger!" He swore in disbelief as the starbursts executed an about-face and came after him again.

"You might want to run, Malfoy." Her suggestion was dripping with such delight it made him want to cringe. "I may have melted the starbursts."

He ducked away again, and knocked a few of the more persistent candies away with a book that seemed to be a catalogue of the hundred thousand or so rocks indigenous to Scotland. The starbursts were – unfortunately for him – looking a bit "drippy".

"I swear – if any of those things so much as touches my hair, I'll have your head!"

Hermione's face popped through the shelves, pushing the small hole he'd made wider with her pale hands. She was having a full-blown, teeth sparkling, cheeks dimpling laugh at his expense. "Run, Malfoy, run..."

A particularly nasty book swooped down on his head, giving him a hardy knock between the ears. Cursing, he pushed himself off the floor and sprinted away and back behind another of the stacks. Here, where it was completely dark the only sign of his bewitched attackers was the rustled fluttering of wrappers and pages. Hermione's laughter echoed through the shelves, bounced off the walls, and seemed to fill every shadow around him.

Threading his way through the rows upon rows of bookshelves, he almost lost an eye to a cleverly devised pincer-attack from the warring starbursts. When Hermione called out to him it sounded nearby, which meant he'd executed, albeit in a very debonair and ingenious manner, nothing more than a rudimentary circle through the stacks.

"Are you a wizard or aren't you?"

Not having thought of it sooner was bad enough, but realizing he'd made the same mistake as Granger made it ten times worse; enough so that he cursed – loudly and colorfully.

Hermione's laughter increased tenfold.

Now, being it his turn to play the stalker, he whipped around the last shelf of the row to confront the gooey mass that's sole mission was to drip on him. He was surprised to find himself back into the main aisle, a shocked, laughing Hermione and the messy table to his right. He was brought quickly back to business, however, when the swarm whizzed above him and swooped downwards.

"Finite Incantatum!"

Everything hovered for the briefest moments and then, to Hermione's great amusement, fell straight down. With Seeker honed reflexes, Draco dodged the melted starbursts. But in so doing, he jumped into the path of one of the books and the heavy thing fell onto his shoulder, knocking him off balance. He stumbled back a step and would have easily regained his balance if not for the fact that his one step had landed on one of the liquefied candies.

His feet went right out from under him and he fell back onto the small table, hitting Hermione down with one of his arms in the process. The table broke under his weight, and the lantern shattered as it hit the ground. The small candle sizzled and went out.

The library was in total darkness.

" that you?"

It was the first time she'd used his first name.

A hand patted its way cautiously up his knee, following the question, and he heard the sound of the other as it slithered across the pile of books and found his elbow.

"Her..mione?" the name tasted foreign, but he uttered it because she had done so first.

There was a sharp intake of breath from his right. She shifted and it was punctuated by the tinkling of broken glasses, and the whump! as a book slid off it's mound. The hand on his knee tightened, and he could hear her fingernails scrap against the rough fabric.


"I'm sorry..." It was disconcerting trying to find her face in dark; his eyes taking too long to adjust to the minimal moonlight that made it through both the window and the stacks. "It's just – I don't think you've ever said my name before."

"Ditto," he muttered.

"Say it again," she asked in a breathless whisper. Draco's eyes widened and his voice stopped in his throat.

"E-Excuse me?" Stuttering; minus two points. His confusion mounted as her hand on his elbow awkwardly moved to his shoulder, the darkness making maneuvering difficult.

"Do you always ask this many questions?" Her voice was right beside his ear, and her breath was coming rapidly.

"You're one to talk—"

Hermione didn't know what she was thinking, but she knew what she was about to do as she leaned over his body to kiss him. The first kiss landed across his jaw, having misjudged where his mouth was in the dark, but she compensated for her poor accuracy. She dragged her lips across the line of his jaw and throat quickly, wishing to linger, but fearing her already dwindling courage would disappear entirely before she reached her main prize.

She found his lips and pressed her own flush against them. With shadows giving her nothing to see of his face, she could focus entirely on exactly how he tasted. His lips were cold, but as her tongue slipped between them it found his mouth warm and tasting of sugar and starbursts. Her own lips ached from the bruising pressure she was impressing upon them, but she couldn't get enough of the fruity taste and the tingling iciness of his lips against hers.

Knowing the limits of her Gryffindor bravery wouldn't extend to passing out in Malfoy's lap from oxygen deprivation, she finally pulled away – heaving breaths of starburst scented air and feeling the itch of his bangs across her forehead.

"You taste like Slytherin," he whispered evenly.

Hermione was on her feet before he could blink, and he heard the sounds of books and papers shifting as she dug her bag out of the clutter. No more than half a minute later, her footsteps were echoing rapidly across the carpeted library and out into the hallway.

Draco sat where she'd left him a moment longer before he found his wand by his foot and cast a lumos spell. He unconsciously licked his lips as he scanned the damage the pair had created, still able to taste the lime flavor of the last candy she'd eaten in the back of his throat. He lifted his wand above his head and got to his feet, careful to avoid the broken glass from the lantern. He sighed.

Just great. Hermione Granger had kissed him, and then left him to clean up the mess.