Title: Compromise.
Author: alp crim.

Summary: It wasn't a commitment, but a compromise. As long as they needed one, the other would be there.

Pairing: Blaise/Hermione.
Rating: T.

Genre: Romance.
WARNINGS: Er, for once, none.

Hermione Granger felt a tick erupt over her right eye and ground her teeth, doing her best to resist temptation. It was exceptionally difficult today to keep herself from hexing the infuriating Slytherin before her into the next millennium. He was a schizophrenic. One day, he could be pretending that she didn't exist. The next, he could have her pressed against a wall and be snogging her senseless. It didn't make sense.

"Why can't you just leave me alone?" The question came out as a low, exasperated growl, and Blaise Zabini leaned closer under the guise of not being able to hear.

"What was that, Granger?" She was an adorable little spitfire when she was angry, and he found he rather enjoyed making her flustered. Of course, 'flustered' and 'angry' could have two entirely different meanings.

Her patience had run dry a good two days ago, and she began to holler. "You heard me, you arrogant son of a bitch!" Hermione jammed an accusing finger into his chest, her eyes smouldering as she raised her chin defiantly. "Why can't you just leave me the hell alone?"

"Sharp claws, kitty cat." His lips lifted in a brief smirk that he knew would rile her up. She hated his smirk – maybe almost as much as she hated him.

"Don't call me that," she hissed furiously, her free hand clenching the strap of her book bag in tune to her enmity. He didn't know why he enjoyed antagonizing her so. Perhaps it was because he liked the look of her, incensed and irate, glaring daggers at him as if she wanted nothing more than to stick him through with the blunt end of a spoon.

"I've got to go." She tried to go around him, hoping to hope he would allow it, yet knowing that he wouldn't. "Zabini, I'm serious. Binns is going to have a cow."

They both knew it was a wretched excuse, but he played along anyway. "Then let him," Blaise replied, his fingers clasping her wrist. "You, cleverest witch of our age," he gave her arm a small, pointed tug, "should have figured out by now that Binns doesn't care whether you show or not."

She opened her mouth to protest, but he just pulled her closer. Hermione ignored the feeling of anticipation welling up inside of her, blaming the fire in her blood on the temperature of the hall. It was rather warm.

"Don't touch me." Blaise arched an amused eyebrow, thick and dark against his maple skin. He lowered his face until his nose was level with her ear, and his mouth quirked into a mocking half-smile he knew she couldn't see. "You mean that, do you?"

Hermione strained to control her body, to suppress the sudden shiver that shot down her spine. There was something about him that set her on edge, something that took away her clarity of mind.

"You're distracting," she whispered quietly. It was a mistake to tell him, but she couldn't think straight. He was too close, and she was fighting herself. Oh, how she wanted to reach out.

He was forbidden fruit, exotic and unattainable. They were breaking the rules.

"What am I doing?" His hand was on the small of her back, guiding her forward. She tried so hard to move, to slap him away.

Blaise touched his mouth against the smooth column of her neck, and it was suddenly over. Her resolve broke like a dam, and she clutched at him, her breathing ragged. She hated him for being able to do this to her. No one should have the power to tame her with a simple kiss. It was beyond reason, and she was nauseatingly weak for letting it happen.

"I hate you," she murmured brokenly against the onslaught of his mouth. This was injustice. It was unfair. "You can't do this."

Blaise just caught her lips and kissed her soundly, his hand at the nape of her neck. They had done the same thing many times before, and her reaction had always been the same.



But he knew. Under all that knowledge, all the cleverness and haughtiness, she needed him. Hermione Granger didn't want him – far from it.

But she needed him to be there, and he needed her just as much. It was an unspoken agreement among them to never mention it. He had a reputation to uphold as a member of Salazar Slytherin's House and Malfoy's confidant. She had two best mates who would never be able to accept her strange relationship with that tall, quiet Italian, no matter how hard they would try and smile and pretend everything was alright.

She filled his void when no one else was around, and he helped her forget the stress and tension of her assignments and her duties as Head Girl. It wasn't a commitment, but a compromise.

As long as they needed one, the other would be there.

They spoke through notes slipped into the others' pockets and met in secret places. Or, they used to.

She had terminated their unwritten contract a week prior to this, and he found he was unable to forget her and move on.

He needed her still, and by the look on her candid face, she needed him too.

"Stay with me."

While we still have time.

In three days, they would graduate. She would go her own path, and he would become one of the many cloaked figures amongst Voldemort's dark flanks, standing silently beside the still forms of Draco Malfoy and Theodore Nott.

He would see her again, under different circumstances. They would be standing on a battlefield ridden with the dead, friends and enemies, their allegiances tied to opposing sides.

"Just for now."

While we still can.

"Okay, Zabini." Her grip on him tightened, and she understood. "Okay."