Title: When Love Goes Wrong

Author: Shinsei Kokoro

Chapter 4: Another Dream

There was undoubtedly this strange feeling in his stomach. It was uneasy, fluttery and cold. And he was unable to do anything about it. Pressing his quill against his parchment, Draco continued to scribble down notes from Snape's blackboard.

…one vial of breazel saliva, one crushed dragon horn. After stirring the cauldron at a steady pace ten times anti-clockwise…

Yes…it was true. And very unfortunate indeed.

However, it was the 8th that day, and he only had three more days remaining. Draco hadn't been able to concentrate on one little thing ever since what happened two nights ago with Hermione Granger. It had been absolutely ridiculous because he couldn't even near her with her stupid friends around her.

He obviously hadn't gotten any closer to make her his ball date yet, and nor had he even said a word to her ever since dropping her to the Gryffindor common room that night. All he knew was that, it was getting tedious. Like some sort of an obsession…and Malfoy's never got obsessed over girls…much less over a Mudblood.

But that was all there was to it. Because in every corner of his mind was Hermione Granger. If he wasn't watching her through the corner of his eyes, he would be wondering what the Golden Trio would sometimes be suddenly growling about. Well actually, the heated talking between them had in fact started yesterday during Transfiguration.

For the first time in his life, he had watched Ron Weasley perform a spell correctly before anyone else. It was a pathetic spell, which Draco hadn't even taken the heart in attempting. Obviously, the first thing the Weasel King did was crow haughtily in front of the Mudblood, appearing greatly pleased that he had outsmarted her. She looked merely surprised, but continued to write in her parchment.

Draco could never realize what really unnerved him about it. Maybe it was because for the first time the school's bookworm wasn't at all upbeat about performing a spell two seconds after being taught about it. Or maybe it was that irking feeling he got remembering how small she had looked when she had accepted his handkerchief.

"Very entertaining Weasley." Draco sneered when Professor McGonagall had gone to deal with Longbottom and the green scales he had managed to grow on himself, "Maybe now you can provide your family with something other that rags and hand me downs." It felt almost nice to let that out. It had been a while since he had insulted someone.

"Shut up Malfoy." Scar-head as usual was the first to burst. But Draco decided the Weasel King hadn't yet turned into a ripe tomato.

"But then again, I don't think even magic can clothe the number of rats your mother has borne."

Draco had yet to decide which of the two would pounce on him first. Except no sooner had Ron whipped his wand out with the face of a sizzling fire engine, Hermione had grabbed his arm back.

"Ron, no! Don't do it." she hissed under her breath, but the red head struggled against her. Then she grabbed Harry's robes before the boy could fly off the handle, "Harry, ignore him. It's not worth it."

"Never!" Ron growled. The strain could be seen on Hermione's face the moment he drew his arm back forcefully. "Ignoring him is the last—,"

"Weasley!" Professor McGonagall's shrill voice broke apart the tenseness that had been raging, "What on Merlin are you pointing your wand at Malfoy for!"

Draco waited for the Golden Trio to burst into complaints, but Hermione was the first one to cry out, "Just a little misunderstanding Professor."

Necks were nearly twisted as three faces snapped in her direction.

"Mis-mis—," Ron was unable to get the words out of his dropped jaw.

"What?" Harry slapped his desk incredulously.

"Miss Granger, I think this is definitely something that is not a misunderstanding." McGonagall growled as tightly as her bun. "You are seventh years! Three of you prefects even! You have NEWTs coming up in less than three months, and if this is the way you will learn in my class, I'm afraid there won't anyone who'll be willing to give you jobs!"

"Professor—," Hermione interrupted meekly. And it seemed to have been a great mistake.

"And you Miss Granger. There is a reason you're a Head Girl. Your job is also to stop these nonsense quarrels!" McGonagall had gone a pink shade by now, but she seemed unstoppable, "I can't believe I've waste my time yelling at young adults like you four. It's unbelievable. Now, Miss Granger, please accompany Mr Longbottom to the hospital wing before he sprouts another wing."

It was to Neville's joy that the attention was back on him, and without another word Hermione nodded before leading the boy out of the room.

McGonagall then seemed to take in a breath and turn her stern face back onto the three boys, "Now…I won't be taking points for this because it's towards the end of the year. But another word from either of you or any wand pointing—," she glanced pointedly at Ron, "—your punishment will be a few good days of detention."

A few years back, Draco decided, he used to cringe at the idea of detention. But today, he only smirked as Professor McGonagall huffed around and went to attend another student with help. The idea of detention was nothing compared to what had just happened.

Granger had actually evaded a fight with him…by going against her two mates. And lying.

Looking hard at his Potions parchment, Draco leaned back in his seat and glanced over his shoulders. He was right. Hermione looked away just as quickly. She didn't have that dreamy look on her face like the other girls did, but she wasn't glaring and burning holes in his head either.

If he didn't know any better, he was almost getting to her. Just another little step…and she would be all his.

That would show Blaise to never mess with a Malfoy.

Something was happening to her. That was definitely the answer to her problems. Maybe she had picked some sort of illness. Maybe someone had put a spell on her. Hermione didn't know what, but she knew it was insane to be thinking so much of a boy she had hated severely for more than six years.

Ever since she had butted in at Transfiguration, Ron hadn't stopped bringing that indifferent look every time she came around.

"I still can't believe you helped Malfoy get out of it yesterday. Just when he could have gotten it from McGonagall."

"Grow up Ronald." Hermione rolled her eyes as she avoided looking up from her Charms homework.

"I don't know what's gotten into you." Ron looked positively miffed, but Harry beside him didn't say a word.

"Nothing's gotten into me." Hermione clenched her jaw and pretended very hard to ignore the blabbering.

"If you can't remember, then let me remind you of an enemy we've had from Day one here. Most importantly, your enemy. A Slytherin." Ron sat back in his chair the moment Hermione looked up, "And then you go and do the most stupidest thing ever. Backing up Malfoy." Scowling deeply, he turned it into a sneer, "One would think you might even fancy him by the—,"

"Shut up!"

One word out of her mouth had not only quietened the entire common room, but papers had fallen over, and Hermione was standing tall over both the boys, fists clenched and her eyes blazing with anger.

"That's—," she spat uncontrollably at Ron, "That's the last of it." She was glaring so hard, that soon her smarting eyes shut tight before opening, making everything blurry, "All…all you can ever do is think about yourself. And that makes you so immature. Both of you!"

She didn't know what made her say that. For one it didn't make sense. Because although there was so much she wanted her two best friends to know, Hermione decided that maybe it was better that they remain distanced…for a while at least. She didn't have the guts. She didn't have the nerve to tell Ron how hurt she felt when he hadn't looked at her even once as a ball date option. Not after all the drama he had pulled at the Yule Ball. She had had so much hope that this time, he would come to his senses, pluck some courage and ask her for something else other than her homework. She didn't have the nerve to tell either him or Harry how isolated she had started to feel these days. While they were both deeply engrossed in their own love lives, they had left her back alone once again like chopped liver.

And above all, she definitely didn't have the nerve to tell them how these days Draco Malfoy had been even more of a better conversationalist that both of them put together. He had actually helped her out that night. Given her his handkerchief and walked her to the Gryffindor common room. If he could change his behaviour pattern towards a girl he had called Mudblood ever since, why couldn't she show him a little gratitude for what he had done for her?

So with lips tightly pursed together, Hermione dragged her things into her book bag before storming out through the portrait hole and letting the tears fall only when she knew no one was in the corridor. She felt horrible. She felt so alone.

And for the first time after so many years, Hermione Granger wished more than anything, that right then she was cuddled up at home with Crookshanks, falling asleep to the light voices of her parents in the living room.

Blaise was trying particularly hard to not even have his face seen. Which was quite as well, because Draco couldn't decide if he wanted to either hex him or kill him. Yes, the Zabini family had been friends with the Malfoys for a long time. His father in fact used to call in Mr. Zabini for a fire whiskey sometimes. Blaise had been one of those many cunning Slytherins that Draco had thought had brains. But he couldn't forget it. No matter how many times he tried. Her soft voice and the tug on his sleeves, before a thank you followed. He never thought he'd see a day when a Gryffindor patriot would express gratitude to a Slytherin like him.

But then again, he never thought he would have ever stood up for the bucktooth bookworm either.

Pushing back the hair from his forehead, Draco peered through the thundering rain at the goalposts, where Crabbe and Goyle remained like a couple of oversized sandbags. Sometimes he wished they could show just a bit more zest to what was happening around them. They were probably the worst Beaters Slytherin ever had in quite some years.

But the rest of the team was better. From where he hovered over the top, they looked sluggish right then. Draco realized he might have been pushing them a little too hard into their practices, but there was no way he was going to captain a loosing Slytherin team. He was going to make them win even if they had to practice every evening of the week.

Leaning down his broom, he pulled out a whistle and blew into it. A wave of an arm at him and they scattered.

Draco remained in the air until the last of the two players packed up the balls and could be seen running back into the shelter of the corridors.

Flying down lower until he could feel the rain weighing him down, Draco picked up speed towards the North Tower. The open window there always made it a closer route back to the Slytherin common room. But just as he felt his feet touch the tip of the grass near the courtyard, he saw a sudden moment by the pillars of the front corridor.

Frowning, he flew in a little closer, knowing it would probably be Filch doing his routine by harassing the first years. But there was no one.

It was almost past seven, and the sky outside was darkening. Hermione could see a few brooms in the sky as she took the open corridors. She was aching to get to the library before anybody saw her in this horrible state. Rubbing her face furiously, she thought of the embarrassing situation she had gotten in the moment she had entered the prefect's bathroom with tears on her cheeks. Pansy Parkinson was one of the girls by the sink, brushing her hair consistently. One look at the Slytherin girls and she had barged back out, praying from the bottom of her heart that none of them had seen her crying.

The wind outside stung her legs, and she pulled her robes around tighter. The courtyard looked strangely magical although much of the snow was washed away. The force hitting the cement was immense. How anybody could even think of playing Quidditch in this weather was maddening.

However, just before she could turn the corner of the corridor, a figure closer to the ground caught her eye. His pale hair somewhat molded in with the colour of the sky, and Hermione found it unavoidable to take her eyes off him as his broom sped down to the ground. Alarmed, she ran to the pillars. Her insides relaxed ever so much when he pulled it up in the last second and managed to remain just above the grass.

Draco Malfoy didn't look like he minded too much being drenched. Swallowing, Hermione hurried forward, a sudden energy seeping up her legs, but her attention poking out of the corner of her eyes. She walked where her legs carried her, finding it impossible to take her eyes off him. When he would get a little further, she would rush ahead a little faster.

He looked so agile on his broom. His robes fluttering behind him, and one of his hand insistently coming up to push back his hair. And then suddenly his head turning.

Grabbing the nearest pillar, Hermione threw her back into it. Breathing heavily, she clamped her mouth and willed herself to stop breathing so loudly. It would be a disaster if he saw her. It would be a disaster because Hermione herself didn't know what she was doing hiding behind a pillar right then. But she had to hide and that that's all she knew. She had to hide no matter—

"Hiding from someone?"

Hermione gave a startled yelp before she could help it. Whirling around in spite of herself, she took several steps back watching Draco Malfoy's familiar figure lean against the other side of the pillar. With his broom in his hands, and hair plastered against his head, he didn't look very sour at standing in a downpour.

"W-what?" Hermione stammered uncontrollably, feeling the heat already starting to choke her. Just the sight of him so close was enough to make her stomach have a chase of butterflies.

A look of amusement passed over his features, but Hermione pushed it aside knowing it was only a trick of her eyes. She would have to provide him with an explanation. She had been caught red-handed and she would soon have to step down on her pride. She would have to—

"I asked," he leaned in through the two pillars, with his arms rested casually, "Are you hiding from someone?" He wasn't sneering. Or scowling. Or spitting. Instead, there was more of a playful smirk on his face, and it made her bare arms underneath her robes swim with goosebumps.

"H-hiding?" Hermione provided him with the most shocked expression she could muster, "Of course not! W-why-why on Earth would I be hiding? I mean, I-I was just going somewhere, a-and—to the library! I was going to the library." It was the truth, and it dawned on her as her book bag weighed down on her left shoulder. This would fool him. Definitely. She always went to the library. Everyone knew that. Because there was no reason she was here. There was no reason to be hiding behind a pole from Malfoy.

Absolutely not.

"Oh yes…" he looked up with his eyes crinkled at the edges, "The library…"

"Yes." Hermione pushed herself to speak louder, suddenly realizing that the rain had slanted to pour into the corridor floor. She quickly moved away as some of it sprayed the side of her face.

"Not finished with homework yet?" Draco asked not moving from his spot.

Hermione shuffled at her feet, "No," she said again, but dared not look away, "Something like that." He sounded suspicious, but she wasn't giving him any reason to be. Why should he be suspicious anyways? The corridors were free for anyone to walk through. It wasn't past curfew yet. And besides! She was a Head Girl. She could walk anywhere as she pleased. In the air. On the soil. And definitely on any floor.

So she had the right to not feel embarrassed right? To not feel so breathless in this awkward situation. To not feel like she had been spying on him. Because never ever would any Hermione Granger ever stalk a Malfoy.

"Enlighten me with something Granger." His voice was so soft she almost didn't hear him over the noise of the rain. Hermione was much too occupied to not look at how his clothes were plastered against his body, nor at how his pale skin glowed. And definitely not at how beads of water from his hair rolled down his face and jaws. No. No. She was not looking at that.

"What?" she choked out.

"The reason to why you've been defending my name since yesterday."

The question seemed so bluntly asked that Hermione felt running away as her insides began to race, "Th-there isn't any reason. I was just avoiding trouble."

Her words made Draco's lips lift up a little, but he only nodded, "Avoiding trouble, okay. But for a Slytherin?" His eyes bored into hers and Hermione found herself unable to move.

"I didn't find you contemplating to help me or not the other night. Being a Gryffindor that is. And also being part of the Golden Trio as you call us. You went against your own rules and friends for me." She wasn't smiling, Draco noticed. Her brows were pulled in together lightly, and she seemed very particular about her choice of words.

"Please. Don't disgust me." Draco paused with an unreadable expression, "They were never my friends." Then something broke the stiffness in his voice, "Besides, I was doing my prefect's duty."

"And so was I." Hermione replied immediately. "By avoiding trouble for all of us."

"You were hardly involved."

"I become involved in whatever my friends get involved in."

"Really?" Draco raised his brows in a scoff.

"Yes." Hermione bit back defiantly. What else was he expecting her to say? That she was taking every opportunity provided to repay her dept? That she hadn't stopped thinking about him even for a second? That she was beginning to enjoy the sight of him?

No. Never. She would never run back on her role as a Gryffindor.

Hermione realized she definitely wasn't thinking straight. She was still mad after her outburst with Ron. And she was still shocked at Malfoy's new change in behavior.

She wasn't possibly—there was no way she could be…no. He might have showed her a little bit of his 'gentleman' side. But this was Malfoy. The Slytherin prince. The guy who had tormented her and called her names for seven years. She couldn't just rub away all that hate and repulsion towards him. It was impossible. But he had helped her. If not by pity, he had still helped her. Handed her his handkerchief when she had broken down in front of him. And that handkerchief was still in her drawer as evidence.

"What are you thinking about?"

His words shook her and brought her mind back to the moment.

"Not you." She blurted the first thing from her mouth. Registering what she had just said into her mind, her eyes widened, "I mean n-nothing." Hermione stuttered helplessly, and watched the smile on his face widen. "Nothing at all. Definitely nothing."

He was enjoying this. And she knew it. He was enjoying making her flush. Making her uncomfortable. And it angered her to no end.

"Although I find you very annoying Granger." Draco said slowly with a straight face, which turned cocky as he heaved himself up on the ledge, "I take immense pleasure in knowing I'm all you think about."

"Oh shut up." Hermione snapped with a scowl as her face burnt with embarrassment. "If your head gets any bigger, it might just fall off your neck," Hitching the strap of her book bag higher on her shoulder, she glared at the boy leaning ever so casually across the pillar. "Besides, I think we've chatted for way too long anyway. So goodnight." She drew the words out with a red face, before beginning to march down the corridor with resounding stomps.

"Going to the library?" Hermione heard his voice trailing after her.

She barked at him without turning around, "Yes! Have you got a problem with that?" she asked savagely.

"Not particularly." His voice sent her mind blank again, "But you might like to know that you're going in the opposite direction."

Draco smirked at her retreating form. Her shoulders had stiffened and she didn't say a word. As she passed by him, he caught a look at her tightened jaw and flushed face. But she never said a word.

"See you at nine Granger." He said nonchalantly, and he could make out the slight pause she made, "I'd suggest you keep your wand out."

Still she never said a word, and continued walking, pretending she hadn't heard.

Draco rolled his eyes before turning his attention to the pitter-patter of the rain. He smirked steadfastly as he picked up his broom and hopped into the corridor.

Tonight…he would ask her out. And by tomorrow morning, the entire school would know how resisting Draco Malfoy was just next to impossible, even for the girl who hated him the most.

Hermione couldn't concentrate. Dipping her quill into ink, she paused it over her parchment for the umpteenth time. Yes. Now this was crossing the border. She was going clinically insane, and she might just about need a brain transplant…or better yet…

Hermione glanced at her wand sitting by a pile of library books. How accurate would she be if she tried to Obliviate herself?

"Stupid," she growled at herself, then glared back at her parchment, "Stupid. Stupid."

What was wrong with her?

Yes, she was embarrassed beyond her blood pressure point. Yes. She felt like hiding underneath a rock and never showing her face again. And yes, it felt like her heart couldn't race any faster.

Every miniscule thought in her head connected to the Slytherin. Every time she looked up, she expected to see a blonde head standing in front of her desk, with hands in his pockets and doing that weird thing with his mouth…smirking and sneering at the same time.

'Ugh!' Hermione tossed her quill away. She was going mad! Absolutely bonkers! She was loosing her head and that definitely did not set well with her. Hermione Granger was supposed to be smart, collected and intellectual. Not a raving lunatic!

Why? Why on earth was she thinking about him so much? Why couldn't she forget the sight of him dripping wet and smelling like the rain? Or when he had bent down to hand her his white handkerchief with that unguarded and remorse expression?

A chill went up her back, and she stood up abruptly, pushing her chair back violently.

It was five past nine and she could stall it no longer.

Packing her things into her book bag, Hermione continued her stomping towards the Gryffindor common room, ignoring the frown Madam Pince sent her way. Upon entering through the portrait, she didn't dare to even glance at the two boys playing Wizard's Chess by the fire. Dumping her book bag on her bed and turning her back on Parvati's and Lavender's furrowed brows, Hermione only brought out her wand after she stepped back out of the portrait.

'There's no reason you should be worried,' Hermione reasoned with herself, then glared grimly as she started on her familiar route. She would just have to avoid Malfoy at any cost while patrolling tonight.

Draco was getting rather frustrated. It was twenty past nine, and although he had spotted a snogging couple and a whiny junior, the Head Girl hadn't been spotted as of yet. He had spent a better half of the last two hours coming up with the perfect way to ask the Mudblood out, and as he patrolled the same corridor twice, he growled under his breath.

Maybe she was avoiding him? At the fact that he had caught her in the act of stalking?

Draco chuckled to himself lightly. He had never thought the day would come where Hermione Granger would be the girl stalking him. It was amusing in on itself. She had obviously been surprised at being caught red-handed, and there had been no objections from her behalf. But what did that mean?

Draco smirked into the darkness and set off down another corridor. He had no problem with it whatsoever.

Hermione Granger was playing right into his hands.

Till now everything had been perfect. Hermione hadn't caught sight of a single student out of bed. There had been no Slytherins jumping at her from the corner. Nor had she yet bumped into a particular Slytherin prefect she had been escaping.

Pausing behind a winding pillar, she glanced across the courtyard and was relieved to find nothing but darkness. Malfoy would obviously be somewhere on the opposite side of the school. Glancing at her watch, she realized it was quarter past ten already. Surely Malfoy would have gotten bored and left by now, but Hermione had yet to check the North Tower, the other side of school and the Owelry.

Smiling to herself and finally letting go of the breath she never knew she had been holding, Hermione made to cross the snow-covered courtyard. At least the rain had stopped. She smiled at the sky, deciding that she enjoyed a light snowfall much better than a heavy downpour.

To her eyes, Hogwart looked somewhat peculiar at night. Almost eerie, with a few glow worms seen here and there. But it was cool and quiet. And if she strained hard enough she could make out the hooting of rousing owls at the Owelry.

"You're late."

The voice made her jump nearly five feet into the air with a shriek. Then turning around, she glared at the offender who sat sprawled on a nearby bench with a wand behind his ear.

"You! You just took ten years of my life!" Hermione hissed at a Draco Malfoy, who merely rolled his eyes.

"You're a witch. You have a wand. You're not supposed to be the one scared." Draco said with a strange look on his face.

"What are you doing here?" Hermione ignored his sarcasm.

"I'm patrolling."

"You're sitting on a bench. That's not patrolling."

Drawing his brows in, Draco dug his hands into his pockets, "I walked into the middle of a snog, and I caught a first year trying to sneak around with a fifth year Monster book. Who'd you snatch?"

Still glaring at him, Hermione felt her face heat up, "No one as of yet." She muttered in a small voice. Although she was glad that Malfoy hadn't mentioned anything about their previous meeting, she still wanted to be far, very far from him. His presence was like a cold shower, and it was impossible for her to think straight.

"Sit." Draco motioned towards the empty spot next to him with his jaw.

"No thank you." Hermione said, "We're supposed to be patrolling, not having a chat." She was determined to not allow his gaze make her knees rubbery.

"Well, if you've done that side of the school and I've done this side, we're done aren't we? And I think we'd rather have a chat than go back to bed already." Draco didn't look like he had taken any effort saying any of this at all. But Hermione wanted anything but a chat.

Brushing off the falling snow from her sleeve, she took a step back, "There's still the Owelry to go. You can go back if you want, but I want to check it out." Hermione had almost made to turn around, when she heard a crunch in the snow. From the corner of her eyes, she could see Malfoy walking towards her with a grunt.

"And the next thing Hogwarts will have on their hands is some stupid girl buried in the snow." When he walked past and didn't see her following, he turned to glance over his shoulder, "I'd rather not watch the grass grow Granger."

There were several things running around in Hermione's head while she followed a step behind Malfoy in the snow. He'd called her stupid. He'd insinuated her as an accident-prone. And he had called her Granger. Not Mudblood. Not bookworm.

From where she walked, she had a clear view of the back of his blonde head, and snow that covered his shoulders and hair. Against her, he almost gleamed in the snow. He didn't say a work when they reached the stairs, but slowed down so she could reach up first.

There were owls flying in every direction. And if not for the dried droppings and feathers littering the posts, Hermione would have found the view very engaging.

Slowly and very carefully she snuck a glance at Malfoy, and was shaken to find him leaning against the wall to only be staring at her.

"Okay. So there was no one here. It was still a good idea to check." Hermione defended herself with a frown, then turned around to climb back down the stairs.

"What were you doing today? Hiding behind that pillar." His voice was so casual, she almost didn't feel her insides jump.

Hermione turned around slowly. For a few seconds, she watched him to gather the tell-tale signs of a smirk or a sneer or even a smile. But his face was blank. She couldn't tell what he was thinking. She couldn't tell if this was his way of embarrassing her. Because for the past few days, he had been anything but nasty.

"Answer my questions first, and then I'll answer yours."

Draco only shrugged.

But Hermione could feel her insides churning, "Just last week, you sat in the library with me. You followed me when I went to Hagrid's. Didn't curse me for burning your homework saying you forgave me. Then you took me to Madame Pomfrey. And that night, you helped me once again. You—," she looked for a second, "You gave me a hankie for Merlin's sake. Why? Why have you been so…so nice to me?" Hermione believed that was the best way she could have put it. And although she had blurted it all out, Draco Malfoy looked as composed as ever. She was aching to know what made that guy flinch.

She couldn't read anything off his face and it annoyed her. She wanted answers, and she wanted them now.

"Why were you crying today?"

"What?" her reply came out as a snap, but her shock covered up any embarrassment this time.

"Pansy told me. You came to the toilets crying, then ran back out. This happened at about seven. I'm guessing it was just before I met you, because practice finished at about seven."

Clutching her robes to her, Hermione scowled at him, "That's none of your business Malfoy. Besides, I'd prefer if you didn't change the subject."

He watched her closely. Almost like he was memorizing her face. "So you were crying." It was a statement.

"Look, I don't see why it should matter to you if I cry, laugh or go insane. Just answer my questions."

Draco pushed back against the wall to walk closer to her. After a quick scan, she realized he didn't have his wand in his hands, but he advanced onto her slowly and poised. He stopped until Hermione could see how the grey of his eyes contrasted with his pupil. The lanterns on the walls flickered lightly.

"I don't have the answer to your questions," Draco reached his hand up to brush back some snow that hung onto the hair on her shoulders. They felt soft against his cold hand, and for an instant he thought he could get away with twirling a strand of that hair. But Draco thought better by just closing in on her until she had to crane her head to look up at him. Her eyes were wide and she was staring at him in mild astonishment. He hadn't planned this, but by the effect he was having on her, he could tell she would be giving in very soon. Then ever so slightly, he touched her cheek. His jaws clenched when he felt its smooth texture.

Blaise had been right. She was lovely. She was a fiery brat with a know-it-all attitude, but she was lovely.

In that moment, Hermione could feel nothing but her own shudder and the closeness of his body. Warmth drenched her like rain, and a sharp quiver ran down her spine. Feeling her stomach lighten then harden, she fought back the uneasiness with a gulp. He was so close she could smell him through the cold waft. Like musk. Like the pine trees in the forbidden forest and the little white flowers that adorned the forest floor. It was subtle but just enough to make her light-headed. It was intoxicating.

"Why not?" Hermione found herself squeaking. To her surprise, she didn't find it foul that his fingers still lingered on her cheek. She didn't feel like she needed to run or take out her wand and curse him. She found it unable to move because her knees had turned into rubber, and his presence became so overwhelming that she ached to grab his sleeve and stop herself from loosing her footing.

He never answered her questions. Instead, he said, "Come to the ball with me."

To say she wasn't shocked was wrong.

Hermione found herself blinking several times at that stoic face. Her further silence made a small smirk pull at his full lips.

"I'm not asking to get hitched or anything. Just to the ball."

She couldn't believe it. She refused to believe in what he had just asked. She absolutely refused to believe that the Slytherin prince had just asked his most hated enemy after Harry Potter out. To a Hogwarts ball where everyone would be present. To a ball. To a dance where he would have to hold her. To a dance as a date. Draco Malfoy had asked her out. Draco Malfoy.

Hermione never believed she'd ever seen Malfoy hopeful over an answer from her. When she found her voice after half a minute of an intense mind freeze, an uncertain look had passed over the boy's face.

"We can't." she blurted, but that might have been the wrong thing to say. Because the second her words came out, his face contorted in this funny way. Hermione realized it might have been the sting of rejection.

"Why?" the hand on her cheek fell, and the Gryffindor felt the fire in her stomach die out. Its like his body had suddenly gone rigid, and the playfulness in his voice had disappeared. He moved a step back.

"Because…" she felt nervousness hitting her. Although there wasn't a reason for her to be nervousness. "Because Richard Crench has already asked me." Her confession was so soft, she almost felt for a second that he hadn't heard her. But he had.

He had, because his eyes narrowed for a moment. His jaws slackened before they tightened. And his pupils dilated every so slightly. "From Hufflepuff?" he sounded like a stone.

"Yes." She murmured. But as she stared at him, she realized she had done something very wrong. His eyes were speaking strange words and she couldn't decipher them. His face was void of any playfulness. He looked like a stone. And it was tearing her up from inside.

Draco nodded slowly, "Okay." He turned back a couple more steps, shuffling his hands into his pockets. Then he turned around, shielding his eyes from being seen, "Good night then."

"Good…" Hermione was lost for words. He never gave her a chance to complete her words. He never gave her a chance to voice out her sudden seconds thoughts. Because before she knew it, he was gone.

She didn't realized it, but she might have stayed rooted onto that same spot for several minutes, replaying the scene over and over in her head. Replaying the emotions running through the eyes of the Slytherin. What was it she had seen in there? Anger? Rejection? Surprise? There was something on his face that had made the cogs of her mind turn back. Was it longing…?

Her insides gave a wrench as she looked up. Without thinking twice, Hermione dashed down the Owlery entrance, running down the slippery stairs sometimes twice in one go. Maybe if she caught up to him. Maybe if she asked him why. Maybe if she asked him to explain. She didn't know what she was going to ask, but she ran. She just had to catch up to him.

But running wasn't enough. By the time Hermione reached the bottom of the stairs, he was out of sight. She ran trudging through the deep snow, but Draco Malfoy was nowhere to be seen. She could see his footprints, but not the Slytherin himself.

He was gone.

Leaving her feeling extremely miserable.

He couldn't understand what he was feeling inside. But it was like a roar. His insides were a havoc. He was mad. Pissed beyond hell. He wanted to find this Richard and curse him until every little piece of him had disappeared the face of this world.

Yes. Draco Malfoy was mad.

And even madder knowing he couldn't do one damn thing about it.

He had lost to a Hufflepuff. Just when he thought he had gotten her, he had come to realize that he never really had her to begin with.

"Damn her!"

Slamming open the Slytherin portrait door, Draco glared at the blazing fire in his empty common room. It had all gone wrong. It had all gone completely wrong!

He had been unable to get Hermione Granger. He had been unable to make her his date. And she…that stupid wretched girl…she had…she had somehow managed to make him fall for her.

Draco Malfoy had fallen utterly in love with that incompetent little girl.

Hermione didn't find it very easy going to bed that night. After she had crept back into her dormitory, she had quietly changed and slipped under her covers, thankful for the heating pans underneath her covers. Then she had begun her tossing and turning. It was impossible to get sleep. It was impossible to forget how his presence had felt.

Draco Malfoy had asked her to the ball. And she had rejected him.

He had touched her cheek. And she had liked it.

He had smiled at her. And she had thought it was the most beautiful thing she had ever seen.


A/N: Okay well, I'm back for the time being. I'm adamant on not abandoning any of my fics as of yet, but lets see. Lol as you guys might have seen, I repeated a scene off the book. Harry had asked out Cho at the owelery too! Lol sorry about that. Anyways, this fic has one more chapter to go before I complete it. Hope you enjoyed it so far. And speaking of the book, I can't wait for the last book to be out. Bye guys!