Hermione tore through the castle like a mad woman. The only sound accompanying her the loud slap of her boots on stone. She didn't care if she got caught, she didn't care if anyone saw her. She slid to a stop at an intersection and glanced to the left before deciding to keep going forward. She wasn't about to show up in her dorm looking this rattled. She made it to the prefects bathroom without incident and slammed the door behind her bracing her back against it and breathing far too heavily to be justified by her short sprint.
She was way out of her depth here and more confused then she had ever been in her life. This was not good. She wasn't being rational.
That was the heart of the issue wasn't it. Malfoy spun her on her axis, made her thoughts seem scattered. When she was with him she wasn't herself. Rationality went the way of her common sense and she just wanted to kiss him.
She wasn't supposed to want to kiss him.
She made her way to the bathtub, rather shakily and began to turn on taps. His scent was clogging up her nostrils and she needed to wash the clinging memory of it down the drain.
She didn't understand what happened.
When faced with a problem the Hermione plan of action was to break it into chunks and go through the parts systematically. Just because this was an emotional problem didn't make it any different than arithmancy.
She had gone to the greenhouse to break off this farce of a relationship. Had even told him that they were done. But then he did what Ron should have done and went after her. How many screaming matches had she had with Ron? Never had he grabbed her and kissed her and then said what she wanted to hear. So what the hell? No doubt Malfoy knew girls better than Ron did but she wasn't supposed to be that type of girl.
She wasn't supposed to be the type of girl that let boys kiss them and forgot everything they were mad about. She was made of sterner stuff wasn't she? She had been so angry. Irrationally angry if she was honest with herself. Malfoy had only behaved exactly as she expected him to. She had worked herself into a froth in order to get up the gumption to tell him to go to hell. Did that mean that she really didn't want to tell him to leave her alone? Is that why it had been so easy for him to dart through her defenses and make her change her mind? Had she changed her mind? How much of her irritation and anger was just window dressing?
So how did she really feel?
Flattered. Nervous. Anxious. Aroused.
That should not be how she was feeling. This was a business arrangement. She shouldn't be feeling any guilty pleasure. She certainly shouldn't be making him give her breathy promises between kisses. She stripped in six efficient motions and climbed into the tub sinking into the hot frothy water with a sigh.
Which led to the other major chunk of her problem. Just what the holy hell was Malfoy playing at?
She sunk in the water, soaking her hair, enjoying the heavy weight of it. So she was definitely confused and reacting weirdly. She had no handle on the emotions she shouldn't even be having. She could and would have to accept that. What she couldn't accept was why Malfoy was behaving the way he was. Kissing her like that. Making promises. Holding her hand and being tender with her. He was acting like this was real. Like it was genuine. Was he such a good liar that he couldn't help but play his part?
Or was he feeling it too?
She scrubbed her hair and rinsed, conditioned and rinsed, shaved and dried and perfumed herself. All the while running every moment they had spent together through her mind, dissecting and analyzing every touch and word. He hadn't been professional and distant the way she expected from the beginning. She was no expert on human mating rituals and emotion but there was no doubt, the kisses in the greenhouse. That gentle caress of lips in front of the castle. They were different for him. She wasn't imagining it.
Hermione was a creature who liked to know. Well, she was pretty sure she knew that she had been kissed for real by Draco Malfoy. What she didn't know was what the hell she planned to do about it. She left the bathroom visibly calmer than when she had entered. No one would know by her serene expression and measured steps that the storm had just moved inside.
Draco lay moodily in his bed, catching and releasing a snitch passively. He hadn't bothered to remove his robes and they were bunched uncomfortably under the small of his back. He also hadn't bothered to kick off his shoes and he could care less about the mud on his comforter. Catch and Release. Catch and Release.
Had she rejected him?
He wasn't entirely sure what he wanted from her. But it hadn't been hasty retreat. He shouldn't feel rejected. He had told her that he was just using her and that he wanted her to use him back. Clean, no emotional messiness. Just a business deal. He couldn't be dejected because she had ran away from kisses that were neither businesslike nor emotionally distant.
She would be snugly back in Gryffindor Tower by now. Where he couldn't get to her. With her friends. And her Ex.
He had never really entertained the thought that she would take Weasley back. Surely she had too much class to allow him back into her life after the crass way he treated her. Even now, he really didn't think that she was actively thinking about getting back together with Ron. But he had told her that she could. That she could have him or dismiss him. The word in the halls was that Ron was desperate to fix his blunder with Granger and was going to break it off with that willowy twin he'd been seen with.
She might just do it, to escape him.
He was very surprised by how much that thought bothered him. He didn't want that freckled idiot touching her. He didn't want anyone to touch her. Anyone except him. So why? Why did he feel jealous and thwarted? He wasn't supposed to. The feeling was new. Maybe because he had never been rejected before.
Not that she had rejected him.
Because she didn't know that he had been really kissing her.
Because he hadn't told her.
It was just that he was competitive. He didn't want to lose, certainly not to a Weasley. He couldn't have her love that wretched excuse for a boy and shun him in the process. He couldn't have her leave him and go to Weasley. Or anyone else. He would decide when it was over. He would decide when he was ready to let her go.
He wasn't ready to let her go.
If he was honest with himself he knew he wanted her to want him.
Want him like he wanted her.
He wanted her to want him long after they had parted ways. He wanted her to remember him every time anyone kissed her. He wanted her to remember and want him and find anyone else lacking. He shouldn't want these things, but he did.
He needed a new plan.