The air was cold and a blanket seemed to do little to her shivering body as she sat on the Gryffindor couch, its crimson color matching the rosy tint to her cheeks. Hermione glanced out the window and saw the soft snowflakes kiss the trees and blanket the flowers on the once-green grounds.
She smiled at the picture; she would have loved to draw the scene before her. Unfortunately, her sketchpad was still at her Muggle home – she had forgotten to pack it in her haste to make the train on time. She had owled her parents a letter asking that they please send it to her, and she was currently awaiting its arrival.
Hermione turned away from the outside scenery and looked around her. Harry and Ron were playing a not-so-quiet game of Wizards Chess in the center of the room, screaming at their pieces to move to E-5s and F-7s and whatnot. Hermione would never understand that game. As she saw Harry's knight dissolve into pieces, she knew that she never wanted to learn that game.
Hermione felt a low rumble in her stomach. Touching it softly, she recognized the soft pain as hunger. She walked over to the pair of boys playing chess and threw her hand onto the middle of the board to gain their attention – a tactic that she had learned, in the past, worked quite effectively.
"What?" asked Ron, irritated. "We were in the middle of a game, Hermione!"
"I know that, Ronald," she replied in her know-it-all tone, as though she was talking to a four-year-old. "I'm just letting you know that I'm heading down to the kitchens because I know that the second your game is over, you'll be wondering where I am."
"Okay," Ron muttered carelessly, pricking at her hand to try and remove it from the board. "Can we get back to our game?"
Hermione sighed and caught Harry's eye; he shook his head apologetically but turned his attention away from her the moment another one of his pieces was destroyed.
Hermione rubbed her temples as a shouting match ensued between the two best friends, arguing about whether that move was fair or not.
Hermione left through the portrait hole, despite the Fat Lady's disapproving remarks about the hour and breaking the rules. She strode down the corridors quickly but silently; she was very determined to reach the kitchens before someone could find her and get her in trouble.
She reached the portrait of the cute little pear (she had actually copied this into her sketchbook on a very boring day during fifth year) and smiled as she tickled it, unable to keep a straight face as it giggled. It allowed her entrance and not even three seconds after she entered the threshold, two house elves were at her feet.
"Miss, what can Reena get for you?" asked the house elf on the left.
"Well, Reena, can I just get a Caesar salad and a … hm … hot chocolate?" she asked politely, smiling kindly at the creatures. Reena nodded as the other one said they would prepare it right away.
Hermione sat at a table in the corner, waiting patiently for her meal.
"I much prefer coffee, but that's just me."
Hermione turned around immediately at the sound of another voice; a rather silky, secure voice. She found herself face-to-face with a dark boy who had even darker eyes. He had a sort of sultry look about him. His smirk was the size of Texas, but it was confident all the same. He looked down at her and she felt that she knew who he was, but his name would not come to mind.
"Aw, Granger," he mock-pouted, apparently realizing her dilemma. "You don't remember me? We met through the Slug Club last year." He received a blank look in response, and he sighed dramatically. "Fine, we'll start over." He plopped into the seat next to her, setting his mug of black coffee on the table. "I'm Blaise Zabini. Slytherin."
Hermione nodded. "I remember you now. Obviously, you know me, so I won't bother stating my name." At that moment, Reena returned with her salad and hot chocolate.
"Thank you, Reena," said Hermione, as the elf set it down on her table delicately.
"Reena is happy to serve," said the little creature.
"In that case, could I get another coffee?" Blaise asked the elf carelessly, shoving the mug into her hand. "Thanks."
Hermione looked at Blaise with a cold stare as the elf disappeared. "You could be a little nicer to the elves, you know," she stated. "After everything they've done for our school and probably your pureblooded family, it's the least you could do."
To her annoyance, Blaise laughed. "Oh, yes, I remember."
"Remember what?" she asked edgily.
He looked at her, his midnight eyes gazing into hers rather deeply. "I remember when you created Spew or S-poo or whatever the hell it was. The elves like working, Granger."
Hermione sighed as she threw down her fork in agitation. "I know they do! That's why I quit the organization. And it's S.P.E.W., not Spew!"
Blaise looked indifferent. "Either way, it was pointless."
Hermione bit her tongue to avoid saying some kind of biting remark; instead, they sat in silence as Reena brought his coffee. She ate her salad soundlessly and he drank his black coffee in the same sort of silence. However, she noticed with an annoyingly fluttering heart that he did not take his eyes off of her once.
"Alright, Zabini, please enlighten me. Is there lettuce stuck in my teeth? Do I have a chocolate mustache? What is on my face that you could possibly be staring at?"
Her cheeks were warm with a blush that certainly wasn't there before, and he chuckled at her discomfort. "I was merely noticing how the creases in your forehead become more pronounced when you chew your food, and how your nose wrinkles when you accidentally eat an onion … perhaps next time, you should tell the elves to leave out the onions."
"You sound like an artist," she announced, pointedly ignoring the onion comment. "You seem to pay a lot of attention to the intricate details of a person."
"No, I just appreciate your face. Perhaps I could draw a portrait of you sometime. Perhaps I could do that in, well, this little book."
Hermione looked up when she practically heard the sneer in his voice and gasped when she saw him holding up a sketchbook.
"You have one too?" she asked, before noticing the words 'Hermione J. Granger' inscribed on the back. "WHY DO YOU HAVE MY SKETCHBOOK?" she screamed in a panic. She drew scenery, yes, but she also drew rather graphic elements that would do no good if he saw.
"I was merely lying restlessly on my bed in my dormitory when some big brown owl comes barging into the room with this," he said. "If this was meant for you, I recommend that you tell the sender to buy a new owl."
She glared at his tauntingly handsome face and tried to snatch her sketchbook from his olive hands. "Not so fast, Granger," he said, his tone changing immediately. "You're going to have to, ah, persuade me to give it back." He smiled at her seductively, his dark eyes sparkling mischievously in the moonlight.
"Pervert!" she screeched, jumping out of her seat. She grabbed her half-full mug of hot chocolate and poured it over his head, careful that the scorching liquid avoided her sketchbook. "Is that persuasion enough?" she mocked, hands on her hips.
He let out a yelp of pain as he too jumped out of his chair. He looked menacingly at her before his expression changed and he sneered at her. His eyes traveled the length of her body slowly, pausing momentarily on her womanly aspects, before returning to her own eyes. "'Fraid not, my dear," he said confidently. "See, while that was a nice and dandy way to get your precious little book back, it unfortunately didn't involve you, me, and the scenes that you've drawn."
At first he thought it was a romantic comment, seeing that many of her drawings were of beautiful scenery that she drew on various vacations around the world, and she almost smiled. Almost. Because an instant later, she realized that the majority of her pictures included a man, a woman, and a very compromising position.
She scolded herself for drawing those pictures, but she was always appreciative toward human anatomy and the art it invited. She felt a jolt of something unfamiliar as she watched his smirk widen at her understanding of his rather perverted comment and she smacked him.
"Hey, now, Granger," he reprimanded, not angry in the slightest. "Be careful. It takes time to get one's skin to my level of perfection."
"Merlin, you're exactly like Malfoy," she said quietly. "Only, you've never been a ferret."
He changed the subject, seemingly affronted by her comparison. He stepped toward her, his hands roaming up the side of her body. A finger shot out as he passed the curve of her breasts and she grabbed the offending finger and twisted it until she heard a satisfying snap. He obviously got the message, but that didn't stop his smirk from appearing smugly.
He leaned into her, blocking any form of space between them. His mouth grazed near her ear and the breath that passed onto her flesh was refreshing to her, despite her immense annoyance for the boy – man – before her.
"I thought you wanted your sketchbook back," he whispered, breathing hard on her neck. "You're not being persuasive enough, Granger." Hermione was breathing as hard as he, his words sinking into her heart and dropping to the bottom as she realized what was going to come next. She shook her head lightly, trying to wordlessly protest his seduction. His hand reached up to her face and caressed her skin not lovingly, but teasingly; mockingly.
"I think you know what I want from you," he continued almost silently, his hand moving toward her hair. The touch was gentle, but the intention was disgusting. Hermione involuntarily shivered under the intimate touch that he initiated. "Your pictures ..." His whispers turned into murmurs, his touches into frailties. "… should be of you and me." His face was in the crook of her neck, but the gesture was full of ulterior motives.
Hermione closed her eyes for a moment, basking in the feel of Blaise atop her. She did not like the feeling, but she didn't want it to stop. His warm breath cascaded down her neck into the hem of the neckline of her shirt, relishing her body with its feeling. His hands were fit and cool against her skin.
"Get off of me, Blaise," she said. She stretched her neck away from his grasp and tender fingertips.
He looked down at her, right into her honey eyes and the ghost of a smile on his dark lips turned into a taunting smirk. "You know you want to do it too," he said in what anyone would think was a gentle tone. Hermione knew better.
"Don't presume to tell me what I do or do not want," she said, pushing his body off of hers.
"I know you want your sketchbook, Granger," he said and was flustered and frustrated all over again.
"I know I want to slug you so bad right now," she retorted, reaching out discreetly for her sketchbook but failing to grasp it as he moved it away.
"I think you meant to say 'shag'," he teased.
Hermione's eyes burned in annoyance. "You're infuriating!"
"You're cute when you're flustered, Granger, but unfortunately for you, that cute glare of yours isn't going to get your book for you."
"You want persuasion?" she asked, turning the tables. She pushed him against the wall so suddenly that he was not expecting it.
"I'll give you persuasion," she muttered huskily, ignoring the warning signs in her brain. Her heart screamed at her to do this, yelled for her to succumb to his charming words.
She abruptly moved onto her tiptoes and leaned her face up, so her lips were merely inches away from his. He leaned in to kiss her but she held a finger between their mouths, protesting his lustful actions. "Now, now, Zabini," she mocked. "Play nicely."
She moved one hand to his chiseled chest and the other to take hold of her sketchbook. He wouldn't let go, so she leaned in and met his lips with hers. He moaned at the contact, never really expecting her to actually kiss him. His lips were full and tasted like the hot chocolate she had spilled on him earlier. She smiled into his lips and parted her own. He darted his tongue in, throwing his arms around her gently to pull her closer.
As soon as he let go of her sketchbook, she broke the kiss. He silently begged for more, but she wore a smirk that rivaled his and backed away. She held the book to his face and grinned. "Glad I could persuade you, Zabini. Until next time."
She smiled and turned her back on him, heading out of the kitchens with a lovely smile on her face. As she headed back to Gryffindor tower, she contemplated how satisfying it was to see the look of shock on his face when he realized that she had turned the tables and he was the one who was tricked in the end.