Disclaimer: Woe is me, for I own Harry Potter not!
Summary: In the third an final part of the series, Hermione and Draco land themselves into a situation involving the Dark Lake. They need to work together to get out of trouble, but is that all that there is between them? Romance, tension and accusations abound!
A/N: I apologise profusely for the long wait between Part 2 and Part 3, but school has just begun and work is hectic. Year 3 is a huge leap from Year 2. I went on a school-organised Outward Bound Course and kayaked for 9 hours straight (after which I got the flu). This is also the third draft of the story, because I was never satisfied. :) On another note, Malfoy4ever has been translating the first two parts of the series into French, for which I am extremely flattered. Go read them if you understand French (which, sadly, I do not).
In the way of new stories, I'm working on a one-shot called Childish Fits. It's a DMHG, as usual, in which Hermione decides to attempt to dispel her know-it-all image by refusing to answer questions in class and ignoring Harry and Ron's pleas for homework help. As always, look to my profile for more details.
Now, on with the story! Do please drop a review!
Squelchy Mud and Beating Hearts
Hermione glared at Draco in irritation. For the third time in a matter of days, she was stuck with him in a less than desirable situation. And this time, it was entirely his fault. Well, perhaps she had a part to play in the whole affair as well, but Hermione stubbornly refused to admit that. For despite them having shared two kisses – both of which Hermione wished had never happened – they were still sworn enemies.
"I must say, Granger," drawled Draco, who was struggling to keep his cool despite the situation, "that this is more your fault than it is mine." He was standing waist deep in the lake, up to his knees in a slushy, squelchy mud. As was Hermione, for that matter.
Scoffing, Hermione replied, "It most certainly is not. The only reason why we're stuck in this marsh is because you had it in mind to try and hex me when I wasn't looking."
Draco made an injured sound. "I did nothing of the sort!" he said indignantly.
"Then why did you have your wand out?" snapped Hermione, annoyed. She was dirty, mudding and dripping wet – and being less than pristine was one of the things Hermione hated. The other was Draco Malfoy. This situation, for her, was hell personified.
Ignoring her accusation, Draco said, "Well, you were the one who decided to push me into the lake. Can you blame me for pulling you down with me?"
"Yes, I most certainly can," sniffed Hermione, struggling to climb out of the mud but only sinking even deeper. She then struggled to reach her wand, or Draco's, both of which had fallen on the grassy bank of the lake. Out of reach. "Because it is entirely your fault."
From an objective, unbiased point-of-view, what happened exactly was this. Hermione had decided to take a walk by the lake and was staring into the distance when Draco spotted her and tried to sneak up behind her in order to cast a spell that would make her hair turn green for a week. Being her observant self, however, Hermione heard his not-so-stealthy approach and swung round, her wand outstretched.
When this should have surprised Draco enough to make him abandon all plans of sabotaging Hermione's hair, it did much more than that. Hermione ended up whacking Draco across the shoulder, and he dropped his wand to grab onto Hermione as he fell backwards into the lake. Hermione shrieked in shock and dropped her wand as they both fell into the lake.
It was only after that did they realise that they had fallen into a muddy, marshy part of the lake, and were both stuck there until someone came along to rescue them.
The mere thought that they might have to spend the entire weekend there, if no one noticed their absence, sent shivers down Hermione's spine. As for Draco, he was more concerned about how difficult it would be to get the mud out of his designer robes.
"If you hadn't tried to hex me back, we wouldn't be here," Draco complained. He hadn't moved since they had fallen in, because he didn't want to sink deeper into the sludge.
"If you hadn't tried to hex me in the first place, none of this would have happened," retorted Hermione, struggling in vain and sinking even deeper. She attempted the kick the mud that surrounded her feet, but almost fell over, letting out a small sound of surprise and fear as the substance beneath her feet gave way.
Draco noticed this and grabbed her arms before her head could sink underwater, yanking her upwards. "Are you crazy?" he yelled, "Stop moving, unless you want your corpse to be buried in the sludge of the Dark Lake!" Draco propped her upright and let go of her arms. Because of all that activity, they were now even closer than before, and Draco could feel Hermione's warm breath on his cheek.
Turning pink, Hermione averted her gaze. They remained in a wholly uncomfortable silence for what seemed like an eternity, until both of them decided it was high time they began the Blame Game again, and turned back to each other. Unfortunately, because they did this at the exact same moment, their noses bumped.
Inhaling sharply, Hermione tried to shift backwards quickly. However, this was more difficult than it usually was on land, and she felt herself losing her balance. Seeing her stumble backwards, Draco reached out to grab her shoulder and steady her. Because he wasn't so steady himself either, he fell forwards.
Hermione landed on her bum on the mud, the water level reaching up to her chest now, with Draco kneeling before her. Now they both completely dirty, but neither thought to begin accusing each other about whose fault it was. Perhaps it was because Hermione had turned a very pretty shade of pink and was biting her lip in a way Draco found most alluring. Or maybe because Draco himself was blushing, the rosy pink in his cheeks a stark contrast to his pale skin, while his blond hair hung in damp strands before his eyes.
"I knew you couldn't –" Hermione began.
"Resist me," completed Draco softly. They both smiled contemplatively at that phrase, which seemed to have become an inside joke of theirs.
Moments passed, until Hermione felt her leg begin to cramp up. "Er, Draco, would you get off me?" Hermione asked, gently trying to push him off her. He didn't move a muscle, however.
"You called me Draco," he said suddenly. And not because of any reason except that it just rolled off her tongue. She was treating him like her two best friends, calling him by his first name. The idea brought a smirk to Draco's lips.
Hermione's eyes widened. "I … I did not!" she turned scarlet and squirmed.
Draco's smirk widened. "You did, Hermione," he replied immediately, only to see a smirk of her own form on Hermione's face.
"Well," she said smugly, "you called me Hermione." Her name sounded especially pretty when he said it, but somehow Hermione thought she preferred it when he used her last name. It made him sound bossy and arrogant – just like the egoistical prat he was.
"I did not!" exclaimed Draco, denying it even though he knew he had, in fact, called Hermione by her first name. He preferred not to, however – regardless of how nice it sounded and felt to call her that – because that was what Harry and Ron addressed her by. "I called you Granger, Granger."
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Then I called you Malfoy, Malfoy," she replied icily, all hostility back in her voice. "Now, will you get off me, Malfoy?" Forgetting completely about the mud they were sitting in and the reason why she hadn't run off a long time ago, Hermione pushed Draco away roughly. That force suddenly threw him against the bank, and Draco was able to scramble out of the marsh with much difficulty.
Soon, Draco was standing on the grassy bank and smirking down at Hermione, who was debating whether to forgo her pride and beg him to help her out or to remain haughty and be stuck in the mud until someone else found her. Finally, she decided to drop subtle hints.
"Are you going to help me out or not?" Hermione snapped.
Laughing, Draco replied, "Let me think … I don't think I'll help you out, actually." He smirked. "Unless … unless you ask me, very nicely."
Hermione grit her teeth. "Please help me out, Malfoy," she said, enunciating carefully so as to ensure that she kept her cool. Under the water, she groped for a stone of some sort to throw at Draco if she dared to leave her there. It wouldn't help her out of the lake, but it would make her feel a lot better. The only problem being that there seemed to be a lack of anything but mud in that part of the lake.
Surprisingly, there was no need for this extreme plan of hers, because Draco stepped closer and held out his hand to her. "All right then, since you asked nicely," he said as Hermione took his hand and he pulled her out of the mud. She stumbled onto the bank, overflowing with relief to feel hard, solid ground under her feet again.
"Thank you, Malfoy," she breathed, reaching for her wand. "I didn't expect you to really help me out. Why the sudden burst of chivalry?"
Draco shrugged, picking his wand up just as Hermione's fingers closed around her own wand.
"Well, I'll just dry my clothes off, then I'll be off," Hermione said matter-of-factly, holding out her wand. She never got to complete the spell, however, because Draco didn't exactly want her to leave yet – though he'd never admit that to anyone but himself. He didn't even admit it to himself, for that matter.
Turning to Hermione quickly, Draco held up his wand. "Expelliarmus," he said quickly, and Hermione's wand flew into his hand.
"Hey!" exclaimed Hermione. "What are you doing?"
Draco's large grey eyes looked uncertain but smug. "Annoying you," he said in a very self-assured voice, "It's one of my favourite past times." Hermione narrowed her eyes and took two large strides to Draco, tilting her chin up so their gazes met. Inches away, Draco felt his breath hitch as Hermione let out a long, slow breath that he could feel on his cheek. Then, in one quick motion, she had grabbed her wand from where it hung loosely, in his fist.
As if waking from a trance, Draco snapped back to reality, raising his wand, just as Hermione did, in anticipation of what he was going to do.
With a bang that was completely unexpected, the spells ricocheted off each other, sending both Draco and Hermione's wands flying into the air. But that wasn't the worst bit. The wands hovered in mid-air for one excruciatingly long second, tumbling down from fifteen feet in the air into the lake. It was all in all a very noisy affair, not because the wands landed with a splash – it was nothing more than an inaudible 'plop' when the wands hit the surface of the water – but because Hermione cried out in anger and launched herself at Draco.
"You … imbecile!" she shrieked. "Look what you've done! We're drenched and our wands are in the Black Lake! What do we do now?" Not saying a word, Draco flopped onto the grass looking very dejected, which only served to make Hermione madder. "Perhaps we should go look for help."
Draco turned his gaze up to her. "Are you mad?" he snapped. "I'm not going anywhere looking as if I did something stupid like falling in the lake."
Rolling her eyes, Hermione took a seat beside him and replied, "You did fall in the lake."
A silence followed, until Draco seemed to be unable to come up with anything witty to say to that, and simply said, "That's not the point." He glanced back to the lake, which was depressingly dark. "How do we get our wands out, now?"
Hermione tilted her head to the side thoughtfully. "I know that that side of the lake" – she pointed to a section nearest to the castle – "isn't covered in mud, because George pushed Ron in once, and nothing happened to him."
"Well, then," suggested Draco, pointing at the lake. "If you wade in, the water should only come up to your shoulders." When Hermione made no visible reply to this, Draco nudged her gently. "Go on, then."
A very irritable Hermione glared at Draco. "Why me? If you go in, it'll probably only come up to your chest." It was her turn to nudge Draco meaningfully. "Go on, then."
Most unexpectedly, Draco got to his feet and began wading into the lake. With a small smile, Hermione watched Draco grope around blindly in search of the wands. His brow was furrowed in concentration as he began the seemingly futile search, his lips twisted into a somewhat lopsided smirk. Hermione found the corners of her lips turning up as her eyes followed the blond-haired Slytherin.
After what seemed like forever, he waved a fist in the air – a fist that was enclosed around two wands. Draco tried to run out of the lake, which was a lot harder that it sounded. He ended waddling strangely against the water resistance, and Hermione couldn't help but giggle at him for looking so adorably comical.
She got to her feet and quickly snatched her wand from his hand. "Thank you again, Malfoy," she said, grinning at him. They were, once again, standing barely inches away from each other, and Draco got the sudden urge to kiss her. He leant in closer first, then hesitated. He had no wish to be hexed into the next century.
Smirking in a disturbingly Slytherin-like manner, Hermione snaked her arms around Draco's neck, using her fingers to feel her way up his chest and shoulders. Draco could feel his heart thumping so quickly he was sure it would leap out of his ribcage as Hermione rubbed her nose with his.
"Well, I'll be going in now, Malfoy," whispered Hermione. She grinned and moved away abruptly, turning towards the castle and taking out her wand to dry her clothes.
Once again, she never got the chance to complete the spell because Draco leapt up and grabbed her by the wrists, pulling them to her sides. Hermione felt a piercing pain as he gripped her wrists tightly, but that seemed utterly unimportant now.
"No one teases me like that, Granger," he said sexily, enunciating each syllable so clearly that Hermione could feel the hairs on the back of her neck stand on end.
"No?" she asked in reply, though her voice seemed so nonexistent that single syllable was barely audible. But because of how close Draco was to her, he heard her reply perfectly well.
With a smirk, Draco whispered back, "No." And he proceeded to kiss her. As their lips touched they seemed to melt into each other – Hermione's knees actually buckled, and she had to clutch onto the front of Draco's robes for support. Their bodies were crushed so close together, burning with passion and lust that had been accumulating from all the tension for the past seven years.
But something caught Hermione's eye – a person hiding behind a wall, peering out at them intently.
Hermione broke away from Draco quickly, and his gaze soon followed hers to the person who was watching. Whoever it was – it seemed like a girl – realised that she had been discovered, and turned to run, but Hermione and Draco had both whipped out their wands.
And not one moment too soon.
The person, being hit with two Impediment Jinxes, not only fell to the ground, but tumbled backwards a few feet. Draco and Hermione hurried up to her, only to find it was none other than Lavender Brown.
Tired of being constantly interrupted by Lavender, Draco made an annoyed sound. "Why is it always you? Are you spying on us or something?"
"How long have you been here? How much did you see?" asked Hermione.
Lavender let out a muffled but high-pitched giggle. "Long enough," she replied evasively, then glanced to Draco and giggled again. "So, it's true then? You're going out? Like, together?"
In the usual circumstances, Draco would have asked, very skeptically, that it was obvious if two people were going out, they would have to be together, but this wasn't a normal circumstance at all, and Draco found himself at a loss for words. He wanted to admit that they were dating – even though they weren't, not exactly – but for fear of upsetting Hermione, he said nothing.
Much to his surprise, Hermione answered quite quickly. "Yeah, I think so," she said matter-of-factly, glancing to Draco as if for confirmation. He blinked twice, then nodded his answer because his voice seemed to have disappeared. His heart was really beating a rapidly increasing tattoo against his ribcage now.
"Is this your secret meeting place?" Lavender asked eagerly, her eyes sparkling. She closely resembled a little child who had first heard of Santa Claus. Before either of them could reply, Lavender clapped her hands excitedly and run off, mumbling something like, "I need to tell Pavarti! Oh, and Ginny! Oh, and … I'll tell everyone I know!"
With the third party out of the picture, Draco regained his voice. "So," he began, turning to Hermione with a smirk on his features. "We're going out now?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "You know I only said that to get Lavender off our backs."
Draco's face fell. "Really?" he asked dejectedly. The sight of him looking so confused sent Hermione into a frenzy as her heart leapt into her throat.
"No, I'm just joking," Hermione said, grinning cheekily, then glancing to the lake. "So, is this our secret meeting place, as Lavender so eloquently puts it?"
A smile that was foreign to Draco but beautiful on him lit up his features. "Well, I think it must be," he replied, pulling Hermione to him in a hug. His arms were wrapped around her small frame as Hermione held onto him tightly, for even though they were covered in squelchy mud, it was a comfort to feel the beating of each other's hearts.
Hope you liked it - it's the final part of the trilogy! Review, please!