How Do I Hate You? Let me count the ways...

It was your average, ordinary Saturday at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. At least that's what Hermione Granger thought. She had woken at the usual time (6:00 ) and had eaten breakfast in the Great Hall with Harry and Ron as she always did. The ceiling had reflected a rather sunny day and most people had been in their cheerful moods, except, of course, for the Slytherins who were forever scowling at everyone. She had gone to the Library for a few hours to do some homework and a bit of light reading. She had ended up wandering around outside for a while and met the boys again for a light lunch before deciding to explore the castle. See? Your average, ordinary day right? Wrong. So completely and utterly wrong. This day was different from the rest. This day would change Hermione forever. Little did she know.

Hermione was just turning a corner of the rather deserted corridor that she had been wandering when an overly familiar drawl offended her ears. She grimaced slightly as she turned in the direction that she had heard Malfoy's voice. "Well, well, well... Granger. Getting in some exercise, mudblood?" He asked casually as he leaned against the cool, smooth stone wall behind him.

Hermione sighed loudly. "Oh!" she growled slightly in her frustration. "Go to the devil, Malfoy!" she exclaimed, throwing her hands up in the air.

"Now, now, Granger. That's no way to speak to a fellow student. Let alone the Head Boy." he corrected with an air of arrogance that nearly choked her.

"Malfoy, I'll speak any damn way I please and as to the Head Boy comment. I still haven't a clue as to who would ever be stupid enough or blind enough to give such an honored title to an arrogant prat such as yourself. Now if you'll excuse me..." she made to move past him only to have her way blocked. She cursed herself for forgetting his Seeker reflexes. She considered him a moment. He was a good foot taller than her meager 5'2" so there was no way she could get around him. There was always intimidation, but Malfoy was not easily intimidated. She reasoned that she would simply have to threaten him and pray that it would work. "Move out of my way, Malfoy or I swear to Merlin I'll hex your pathetic arse to hell and back." Malfoy merely smirked and clucked his tongue at her in much the same way a disapproving parent would. "Now, Granger, why so rude? I'm merely trying to have a civil conversation and you have the nerve to go and be rude. How can you hate me so?" He sneered as he spoke and something in Hermione snapped. Something vital to her humanity simply popped at that self-righteous sneer that graced his face and she could no longer hold it in. That was when Hermione Granger did something stupid. Something very, very stupid, that had she been in her right state of mind she would never have done, but as I have explained she wasn't quite in her right state of mind any longer.

Hermione sneered and it surprisingly surpassed even the malice in Malfoy's. She poked her finger into his chest as hard as she could. "How do I hate you?" she hissed menacingly as Malfoy's eyes widened. "How do I hate you?" she asked her voice becoming shrill. "Let me count the ways." she growled low. And that was how it began. Those fatal words began what would change Hermione Jane Granger's life.

She advanced on Malfoy and he slowly backed away at the rather terrifying look in her eyes. " I hate the way you act. You think that you're so much better than everyone and everything when really you're just an immature, spoiled, selfish, little prat. I hate the way your eyes project that you have no soul whatsoever. I hate the way you slick your hair back. I hate the sneer that you get and the 'infamous Malfoy smirk'. That smirk gets on every one's bloody nerves. When you smirk I just want to slap you as hard as I can, simply to see if that will remove it. I hate the fact that you call me mudblood at every chance, never caring what it means. Never caring what it does to me. I hate the self-righteous look you get sometimes when people dote on you. I hate how you can never take anything seriously. I hate the haughtiness that seems to follow you everywhere you go. I hate how your arrogance clogs the air and makes it hard for anyone to breathe. I hate the smell of your cologne and how, every time I smell it it drives me crazy. I hate the fact that you can never seem to smile or laugh in pleasure, it always has to be caused by something cruel or hurtful. I hate how your father is your out for everything and how he will always be there to take care of you ensuring that you will never, ever become a man in any sense. I hate how you have to have your two lackeys with you at all times. I hate how Pansy hangs on you every second of every day. I hate the fact that you try to get in the knickers of every girl in Hogwarts. I hate how cruel you can be without even caring. I hate the fact that you're in Slytherin. I hate the fact that you're a pureblood and think that it makes you above anyone who isn't. I hate how you jeer at my friends and me without noticing the damage you do. I hate that you make me want to hurt you. I hate how you manage to ruin my day with a single look or comment and how you seem so hell-bent on doing so no matter what. I hate the foul, loathsome things that you say and do to me. I hate how you act towards the younger years simply because you can! I hate that you are so intelligent. I hate that you have to be so damned evil. I hate the fact that I actually think that your handsome and then you do or say something to makes me hate you twice as much as before and hate myself for being a fool. I hate the fact that I've liked you for so long when Ron deserves me, not you. I hate the fact that I can't get you out of my mind. I hate that I can't make myself like Ron the way I should because of it. I hate the fact that you can't even try to resemble a decent human being. I hate that you make me hate you. I hate that you love to hurt me. I hate the fact that you are going to be a Death Eater because I don't want you to be. I hate the fact that sometimes I think I see something in you that isn't there. I hate the fact that I refuse to give up hope that it really is there. I hate the fact that I refuse to give up on you. I hate everything about you and... yet... " Hermione lost her momentum and seemed to whisper the last part to herself. "I don't hate you at all because I can't make myself hate you."

Draco Malfoy stood, rooted to the spot, staring at the girl before him. His vision cleared for the first time in his life and he realized just how beautiful she really was. Her hair was no longer bushy and seemed to have a life of it's own. Her eyes were a bright gold that seemed to offer the world to anyone who dared look directly into them. Her face was flushed with anger and resentment and seemed so lovely. Even as he saw the unshed tears in her eyes he couldn't stop thinking of her beauty. She just had an aura about her that radiated everything pure. For the first time in his life someone had said such horrid things to him with no regard to his feelings or what he would do. For the first time in his life he had been hurt by words and also for the first time he felt something other than hate. Hermione Granger had just admitted to not actually hating him. She had just admitted to not being able to stop thinking of him and he felt more happiness than he had ever felt. Without thinking he was suddenly moving forward, and before either of them knew what was happening his mouth was on hers and he was plundering her. He was telling her everything that she ever needed to know with his lips. He was showing her his soul, and she was amazed to find that not only did he have one, but that it was beautiful.

Hermione's senses were filled with the boy holding her in his arms. He was so warm and soft where she had expected cold and hard. His lips were silky and tasted like heaven when she had expected hell. His body took her into it and for the first time in her life she felt truly safe. It wasn't magic. She didn't see fireworks going off but her heart seemed to jump almost clean out of her chest before settling into a low and steady rhythm that perfectly matched his. It was slow and sweet and couldn't have been more perfect. Everything else just melted away as his lips captured her lips and he captured her heart. The moment seemed to hang by a single thread forever. Even after the kiss was broken they just stared into each other, afraid to speak lest it shattered the one perfect moment in either of their lives. Suddenly the edge of Malfoy's mouth lifted into a pure and lovely smile that made her catch her breath. He was smiling at her and there wasn't a trace of malice or hate. His eyes were alight and they seemed to go on forever. Then the moment was gone. "Mudblood." he smirked at her. "Ferret." she replied with a sneer. They parted ways, both knowing that what happened in that deserted corridor would be forever branded into their minds and hearts. Hermione knew now that every time she heard the word mudblood her heart would race and she would smile and Malfoy had a new appreciation for the word ferret. Though neither would ever admit to it they had found love that day and they would never forget it.

The End!