Title: I Hate You
Author: Winter Ashby (rosweldrmr)
Disclaimer: Harry Potter © J.K. Rowling
Draco and Hermione find themselves trapped together deep under the castle. But will they stop bickering long enough to survive Giant Killer Bats, and bottomless pits? Read to find out. (Hermione & Draco)
Timeline: Post 'The Half-Blood Prince'
Authors Notes: Um... I started writing this in the middle of Book 2, so I hope there aren't too many discrepancies. I tried to go back after I finished HBP and fix some of the stuff. But for safety sake, we'll say that it's partially MU (MY Universe - muhahahaha). Anyway, I totally guessed Draco would be a prefect, how smart am I? And also, I profusely apologize for the giant bat. You'll see when you get there. It was just something that I stuck it. It sounded completely plausible at the time. I mean, trolls, unicorns, there are like a gazillion magical animals, why not some giant bats? That's all I have to say about that. And... Draco's NOT EVIL. I repeat... Draco's not evil. He's misguided. So, you know, just go along with it, okay?

"I hate you."

Draco's distinct, deep voice broke the silence in the dank, cold room, if it could indeed be called a room. It was more of a cave, nestled deep in the underbelly of Hogwarts. It was a cavern, now abandoned that at some point held a rail car that would whip through the chilled passages in the damp earth as they whizzed you from one end of the school grounds to another.

Hermione's eyes shimmered with the iridescent stalactites and the tiny bits of sulfur that caught the mineral rich air and shone through the dark. Her long, wavy brown hair fell across her shoulders in lou of her black robe that was at this very moment cascading down through the swallowing depths of the grotto, into the darkness beyond the edge of the cliff.

Blood dripped from her arm, and her breathing was thick and heavy.

"Trust me, the feeling's mutual."

She seethed past the pain in her arm and imagined what it would be like to sink her nails deep into his skin. She wished him pain, and she was in no mood to cater to his rich-boy handicaps.

"So, what now?"

He spoke quietly, hushed as if his voice could break the fragile truce they'd managed to forge. He stood with his back to the endless fissure, looking much braver that he had a right to, considering Hermione had just scarified her cloak, along with the ability to use her right hand to save him from plummeting down the rocky cliff.

He leaned his forehead against the dirt face behind them, his body still weighing her down. It was only a few moments earlier they'd found themselves at the receiving end of a very large, and very angry bat bearing down on them.

Draco ran first, leaving Hermione in his dust as he fled for safer, more stable ground. Through the darkness, he could just make out the silhouette of an abandoned railcar. And the hope of escape welled in his chest and pushed him forward, even as the narrow path dropped off into endless night to his right.

But he was stopped in his tracks at the shrill, blood curdling scream that echoed from the darkness behind him. It was Hermione; there was no doubt in his mind. And even as his heart pumped and his brain urged him to make a run for it, and use her as a distraction, he couldn't. His feet stayed rooted to the dirt, and his nerves twitched to do something.

His hands felt empty without a wand, and his eyes burned with repressed rage that leaked from his lips as he let loose a feral howl and lunged into the black from which he'd just escaped. Later, he would blame Snape for being too soft with him, and his father for not warning him of the bewitching curse women can cast with just the swish of their eyelashes and the swell of their hips.

He really did hate her. Truly, with every fiber of his being, he hated her. She was a mudblood, a disgrace to the entire magic community. She was a disgrace to him. If he let her die, if he just walked away and let her be dragged into the abyss he would also be letting her steal his dignity and pride. After all, one bat should be no problem for someone as powerful as he. His arrogance provided a mask that covered the fragmented humanity that threatened to spill from his thin lips.

He spun, and determined to uphold the expectations of the Malfoy surname as one of the oldest, and most respected pureblood families left in the wizarding world, he lunged back into the dark. He fell back to a familiar and warming sensation that burnt in his gut as his proud feet carried him back into foolhardy herodom.

But through the blind rage that overtook him, he could feel the flutter of her robes against the cool, flawless skin of his pointed face. His light hair reflected the dwindling light of the natural minerals, and his cold grey eyes shot open to an alarming amount of light filter in. He looked wild and untamed as he came thrashing through the dark and took hold of her arm.

Hermione had been right behind him, and watched as the coward shrank into the black. She wished she had her wand, or Harry. But she was alone, and not even Draco was there now. He'd left her too, and she just stood there as the leather wings of the giant bat overtook her form. As its long finger-like appendages sunk deep into her arm she cried out and tried not to think too much about how much she didn't want to die alone.

But then, just as she was sure she would sink forever into the dark she saw a shimmer of light reflect off a silver badge. She recognized it immediately. It was a prefect badge, a Slytherin prefect badge to be exact. And it almost twinkled as Draco howled and lunged for her. His hand enclosed around her wrist and pulled, hard.

She could feel the bat being torn away, taking her robe's sleeve and a chunk of skin along with it. But after a moment of immense pain, it was over and she was being dragged along by the hand. She didn't bother to speak, or think. Much less comprehend what had just happened. She just kept her eyes on the ground and ran behind him.

Their feet pounding on the dirt echoed through the cave and she tried desperately to suck in enough air to restart her heart. But there came a rumble just behind her, and she knew – the bat was coming for her again.

Instinctively, she held onto his hand tighter and let her wounded left arm dangle useless at her side as they panted and ran on. Her lungs burned, and her feet felt like she was being stabbed over and over again by a thousand tiny needles. But still, she held fast to him and kept pace.

The whooshing of flapping wings grew louder and closer until she could feel it on the back of her neck. It was right behind her and she squeezed her eyes shut, waiting for the inevitable stabbing that would tear her from Draco's grasp and pull her down into the dark.

"I… I don't want to die alone." She wheezed just as she felt something grab hold of her billowing robes. But to her utter amazement, Draco didn't let go. He turned around, and shot out his other hand and took hold of the collar of her robes. Then they were both being pulled up, and as their feet left the ground, he wrapped his arm firmly around her waist and pulled her quivering form flush against him.

She was almost tempted to pull away. He was so hot. His skin was burning, and his eyes looked as though he was capable of burning though the cold rock beneath them. She could feel them begin to descend, and her heart lurched to her throat.

She could feel the anger begin to bubble under her skin, searing the flesh and making her desperate. Frantically her hear raced and her mind bowed through years and years of studying. She was desperate for anything that would get them out of this.

Then, there was a devilish glint in her eyes and her lips quirked dangerously at the edges.

"What are you so keen about?"

His voice broke through the sound of freezing air that passed through her wild hair and past her straining hears. She smiled this time, bright and so dark that Draco nearly pulled back farther than the six inches that separated them. She looked dangerous.

"Hold onto me, and when it drops us, swing for the cliff face."

"Wha…?" He didn't have enough time to finish is question, because she opened her mouth into a strange, almost 'S' shaped curve and made a sound that started in her throat and grew as it resonated from her vocal chords.

Immediately, he tucked his head in her robes, still clutching her around the waist, desperate to stop the noise. It was terrible, like the squealing of a baby pig and the hiss of a snake all rolled into one.

It wouldn't be until some time after that Draco would come to appreciate the precarious position his face took in her robes. Tucked safely between the swells of her breasts, he felt almost euphoric as the shrill faded into the background and he was instead smothered by the rare scent of a woman. But just then, all he knew was the rise and fall of her chest in the split second just before the bat began to buck and dart through the air.

He almost felt bad for it, knowing what it felt like as it invaded his ears and rattled his brain. And an instant later, they were released, sailing through the cold air, still bound by clumps of fabric caught in clenched fists.

But it was her hand that reached out toward the fast approaching ledge. And he leaned into her in the fall, almost laying vertically on her in midair, trying to pushed them towards the ledge they could only barely make out as being several hundred feet below where they previously were.

Her fingers sunk first, followed closely by the thud of her body on the hard, unforgiving ground. Draco, on the other hand, was swinging over the ridge, still balling his hands in her torn cloak.

Hermione ignored the searing pain in her arm and lifted it above her head and wrapped her fingers around a sharp, firmly inlayed rock. She could feel it cutting into her skin, but still she held firm and began the arduous journey to pull her waist and the dangling man up to the outcrop.

He was nearly close enough to reach the rocks behind her head when he heard the sickeningly distinct sound of stitching giving way. Her robes wouldn't hold out much longer. She pulled harder, nearly popping her shoulder from its socket. While he too, reached and stretched over her lithe body for the relative safety of the rocks.

Just as the fabric in his hand tore and became a useless wad of cotton, he felt her legs wrap around his waist, tightly. And in an action that was both impossible and undoubtedly impressive, she swung him up over the edge and onto the dirt.

They lay like that for a long time. Breathing heavily, trying to get collect what strength they had left. Hermione was in too much pain to pry her fingers from the rock, or unlock her ankles and release him from the desperate prison of her thighs.

Eventually he stilled, and she was appalled to find his face buried in her cleavage and his hands still feverishly holding her around the waist. Her skirt was at her waist and she turned seven shades of red praying that he didn't look down and see her white cotton panties. Slowly, she pulled her legs apart, and on the tiny ledge, began to back away from his grip and the cold, sullen expression that haunted his face in the darkness.

When they'd finally managed to stand, the remains of her coat fluttered through the air and down into the endless chasm. The ledge was no wider that two feet and he struggled to stand with her help. But his arms burned, and he collapsed, helplessly against her.


"I hate you."

"Trust me, the feeling's mutual."

"So, what do we do now?"

Hermione turned her face to glair at him, but immediately regretted the action. He was still propped against her, breathing in her ear. And she turned her face right into his. She could almost taste him on her lips and she left faint, feather soft traces of her lips across his.

She instantly flushed a deep, rich red from the tips of her ears to the souls of her feet.

Draco didn't notice at all. He was still to busy trying to breath. His eyes were closed and his right arm was resting over her shoulders. She waited a moment for her beet red complexion to fade before she dared move again. But a stabbing pain in her shoulder stopped any foolish notion of pulling away from him.

"We need to get out of here."

She finally answered, flustered and frustrated at more than just their predicament.

"No, really?" His sarcastic voice blew over her ear and she tried desperately to keep from shivering. But it was to no avail, she shook against him like a leaf rattling on the wind.

He opened his eyes then, and inspected the inch of space between them before he shut his eyes again and hissed in pain.

"This is all your fault! If you hadn't been trying to trick Harry into dropping down that shaft, none of this would have happened." Her voice bubbled the skin along his neck and shoulder. She tied not to notice.

"Well," he shot her an angry look and glared like he had all the right in to world to, "…if you hadn't been trying to save poor Potter, then you wouldn't have needed to tackle me and send us both careening through the wrong shaft!" He didn't yell, but she could feel the anger burn in his eyes as he kept her transfixed on his pointed features.

"I was only trying to help."

She mumbled under her breathe, which was still too close to him for him to not understand what she had said. He smirked, and she felt a bolt of hot, white odium burst from inside her.

"Oh, and I suppose you think that's funny!" But to her complete and utter shock, he did something she never thought she'd see Draco Malfoy do.

He laughed.

But it wasn't dark and sinister as she had seen him do so many times before. It was light and almost jolly. She never even imagined he was capable of making such a pleasant noise. And despite her anger just a second ago, she was terrified to find that his gentle chuckle was soothing.

She found herself giggling lightly into his chest for no other reason that it seemed somewhat rude not to join him. Even if she was clueless as to what he could possibly find so amusing.

"You know," after a few moments of and his laugh died a little in this throat, he spoke again. "…you're the only one who ever stands up to me."

He said it almost like he was proud of her. She found it annoyingly invigorating. She really couldn't think of anything else to say to that. So she just settled for letting the rare wave of satisfaction sweep through her battered mind.

"Yes… well… someone has to." She finally managed to squeak out.

Then, there was nothing said for a few minutes as they stood at the edge of a rift they couldn't see past and tried to remember where they had been before.

"There was a cart."

Draco finally admitted, quietly and masking the anger he held for himself for not just taking the chance to get out. They were now on a different level of the cliff, on the wrong side of the tear in the earth from the forgotten railcar.

Hermione understood at once that he had meant before… before he had saved her. She didn't bring it up, but sighed heavily and shut her eyes. She felt so tired.

"Oy, hey!" Draco bellowed into her ear. She squinted her eyes, clamping them closed even farther and tried to block him out. "You can't fall asleep now!" She didn't seem to notice.

Somewhere deep insider her, there was a voice screaming at her that he was right. But she was so cold, and tired. She didn't want to wake up for a long time.

He could see her body slump under him and he nearly growled with frustration. "I said, wake up." It only took one look at all the blood that covered her arm, and pooled at their feet to see that she was in a bad way.

He jammed his finger into her open wound and she immediately flung her good arm at him, trying to push him back. But he locked his hands on her waist and held tightly. It seemed to work for a moment, but then she just faded back into a haze.

"Bloody hell; Now's not the time for this!"

But it was no use, she didn't even stir. Pushing his body completely against hers, he had just enough room to shrug out of his cloak and pull it tightly around both of them. But she just snuggled her face into his chest and pulled her good arm up and held his collar.

He looked down at her face, smudged with dirt, blood streaked along her cheeks and her thick, brown hair covered in dirt and in complete disarray. And something stirred in him. He tried to ignore it as he ran his hands up and down her arms to warm her up. He hadn't risked his life against a giant bat, just to watch her die in his arms. It was completely insulting.

He didn't want her to die. This thought, though unbidden, wouldn't dissipate, and he couldn't make his mind stop repeating it in his head over and over as if it was a triumph. He didn't want her to die. So he lifted her, carefully in his arms and managed to wrap her legs around his waist. Instinctively, her arms wrapped around his neck and he was surprised to find she weighed so little. He imagined that with a brain that big, she should have been heavier.

And painfully, he took a step. One step and then another. He began walking teetering on the upward sloping ledge. It was beginning to take them upward, to where they have just been. He just hoped that when they got there, he could find another cart and she would still be alive.

But he knew she shouldn't sleep. He just knew that it was asking for trouble. So he spoke softly in her ear, asking her to stay awake. She stirred sleepily in his arms, and that was enough. He talked the whole way. Each step his feet took, he spoke more. At first it was things about Slytherin, like what their common room looked like and why their colors were green and white. But eventually he ran out of things to say about that. So he told her how he always wanted to be a Quidditch player. He told her about his first broom, his mother had given him.

Then, before he knew it, he was telling her all about his childhood. About how his father would disappear in dark cloaks and come home smelling like blood. He told her how cruel he was when he was young and ordered not to cry. He told her about how lonely it was to grow up in a house full of people who's names you don't know.

He told her about the first time he'd seen her. It was on the platform for the Hogwarts train. They were both eleven, and he couldn't believe she had so much hair. He told her about the time he'd snuck out of the dorms to steal some food from the cafeteria and ended up staining the palms of his hands blue for a week. He laughed lightly, remembering them as fonder times.

And it struck him then, that he thought of those early years with happy memories.

"It's funny; I can't actually remember being happy though." He spoke with seven more years of experience and regret sweeping through his mind. And it was funny, in the most tragic way.

She didn't respond for a while and he feared that she'd drifted off. But then she turned her face from the crook of his neck and strained past the haze of drowsiness to look him in the eye.

"Remember that time I punched you?" She smiled and he laughed lightly. It seemed so funny, now. But he knew that back then, he'd been furious. It was curious that it would seem so insignificant down here: in the vast expanse of hallowed out space under the school. He wished he hadn't chosen the one day then they weren't allowed to carry their wands as the day he tried to get Harry.

McGonagall had gone on and on about the importance of being able to do without your magic in the Muggle world. She said it was an important exercise in credulity. Or, perhaps he'd remembered the word wrong. Was it credulity or credibility, he couldn't remember anymore. He was tempted to ask Hermione, she would probably know.

But he looked at her tired face and decided she wouldn't really respond coherently anyway.

His legs were beginning to burn, and even though he held his cloak around both of them tightly, he could feel the cool seeping in from the ground. He tucked his hand under her bum and pulled her up, as she had begun to slide down, and instantly regretted it.

Skirts really were pointless inventions, he surmised. Seeing as hers had bunched up at her waist, leavening her backside exposed. And as his hand rested on the warm skin of her butt, he might have turned a slight pinkish colour in the dark.

After a few minutes of debating weather to remove his hand or leave it there because she was obviously cold, he advised himself confidentially that his hand wasn't really doing any harm anyway. So he left it there, to cradle her and keep her warm. It had nothing to do with the growing ache just at the pit of his stomach.

Finally the path widened, and he could see where they'd just been. Across the wide gap, there was a railcar, lying askew along the thin path. But it was on the other side of the endless void and he could see no way across.

So he knelt and dropped the woman in his arms, somewhat harder that was necessary, on the dirt. Her eyes shot open and for one, terrible moment, he was sure she'd cry. But then the quiver in her lip and the glistening in her eyes faded and she was once again groggy and shivering.

"Where are we?"

She asked, rubbing her eyes and looking around.

"Back where we started, except on the other side."

He responded colder than the dank, cave air and stood up to face to chasm of nothing. He was glad to be free of the weight of her body. It wasn't so much because she was heavy, she wasn't. But it was glad to put space between her and him. She looked pale in the darkness, and almost luminescent.

He hated feeling sympathetic towards her. After all, it was her fault they were down here in the first place.

So, he righted his cloak over his shoulders. Then, as if he'd thought it only going to weigh him down, he stuck his noise in the air and tossed it in her direction.

Numb and freezing to the core, Hermione thought it best not to ask questions. She slung the heavy, woolen coat over her shoulders and pulled her sore legs to her chest. She was still tired, so she rested her head on her knees and watched as the world blurred out of existence until the tiny sparkles from the rocks became twinkling stars in the night sky.

She was shaken from her musings by strong hands on her shoulders. She was really beginning to hate him, even if the image of him barreling through the darkness to save her wouldn't leave her mind. He was being annoying.

"Think of something." He demanded, hotly and she narrowed her eyes. She was far too tired, and sore, and cold to think of anything. She had no wand, there was no way across, and as far as she knew there was no spell that could be preformed without a wand and just words to bring the cart to them.

"What do you mean 'think of something?' Why don't you think of something!? You're a prefect too!" She lifted her head and put her hand over the wound on her arm. It was cold now, and beginning to stop flowing. But she could feel the blood loss.

"I'm not the one who's first in the class in everything. Come on Granger; why not use your books when it counts!" He looked down at her through the darkness and she considered slapping him again, just for good measure.

"For your information, I have been trying to think of a way out of this. But you just had to pick the one day we couldn't carry wands, didn't you!?" Hermione teetered slightly as she tried to stand. But she abandoned that idea as the cave began to blur.

"Well…" Draco turned to find her slumped over and nearly panting. Her face was white and her brown eyes looked like saucers. He knelt beside and righted her before he slumped down next to her. His back was pressed against hers, helping to keep her up, and she couldn't argue.

"Why don't you just go on ahead without me? I'm sure everyone's looking for us by now. It won't be long before someone finds me." Her voice was frail and quiet, very unlike her. And Draco found himself not liking her suggestion one bit. He understood what she meant. Harry would find her. Draco was almost inclined to agree and leave her for Potter.

But her back felt so cold against his. So he sighed, like it was some great burden and shifted so that he could pull her between his legs. Her back was pressed against his chest and he dipped his hands into the pocket of his coat that she now wore.

"Didn't you hear me… I said just go."

"I heard you, Granger. What makes you think I'm going to just let you sit here to be rescued and claim all the points 'for sheer dumb luck'" He mimicked McGonagall and Hermione couldn't help but laugh.

She didn't believe him, not for one minute. But that didn't stop her from snuggling closer to him. He was warm and his arms seemed so strong when they were wrapped around her tiny frame. She shivered, and he drew her closer so that his chin was resting on her shoulder. She shivered again, but this time it had nothing to do with the cold.

Draco smiled and breathed her in. He was only a little disappointed to find that she smelled like blood. Mudblood. The word echoed through his head. How many times had he called her that, and said she should be killed? He didn't even know the answer to that. But everything was different now.

Now that Dumbledore was gone. And he was the most infamous boy at Hogwarts. Snape had been cleared once Dumbledore revealed that he was an anamigus. A phoenix was a very helpful animal to change into. But it was still too dangerous for him to come back to Hogwarts, so he'd gone underground to fight against Voldemort. And still, people remembered what he'd almost done.

"Draco, are you alright?" Hermione asked, over her shoulder. She could feel the change in his demeanor, since he was so close to her. And she remembered what his life had turned into. His father was in jail, his family had been disgraced. His mother fled and left him to Snape, who now had returned to Hogwarts. But he wasn't the same boy he had been before.

He was still full of jibes, and insults. He and Harry still hated each other. But he didn't seem to have that evil streak he used to. It was most likely just to keep face than anything sinister now. He was getting good grades, and staying out of trouble… for the most part. But Hermione remembered what Harry told her about Draco in the bathroom. She wondered if he still had scars.

"Just peachy, you?" He didn't mean to sound as harsh as he did. But she had a way for getting to him more than he liked. It was like she was inside him, and knew what he was thinking. He didn't like that idea one bit. Then he thought of Voldemort and shivered.

"Yeah, peachy." This time, it was Hermione who wrapped her hands around his legs and pulled them closer. Draco ground his teeth together, and wished that she would let go of his thighs. She was too close, and soft, and warm. And that tingling that started in his gut was beginning to work its way down.

He'd only ever gotten this close with Pansy Parkinson the previous year, and that didn't end well. He recalled the look in her eyes as he laid over her. She seemed scared of him. Like he was doing something terribly wrong.

"What's wrong?" Draco's husky voice penetrated the relative quiet of his empty room. Her skin rubbed against his and he smiled wickedly.

"You said Hermione's name." She turned her head to the side and let a tear drip away.

That was the last time he'd tried to get close to anyone. It wasn't like him to mix reality with the fantasies he'd been having since he was fourteen. But feeling Pansy under him, whispering his name just like he imagines the girl in her arms right now would do, was too much.

Pansy never talked about it. And his one sexual escapade was forgotten as the year progressed and he fell farther and farther into despair. The day Harry confronted him in the bathroom and slashed open his face and chest, part of him almost wished he would die. Everything would have been easier that way.

"Draco…" She said his name and turned her face so that she was only inches from his. He closed his eyes and pretended that it was all just a dream, and he would wake soon. Free from her and the way she said his name.

But he opened his eyes and she was still just as close, still looking at him strangely. "What is it now, Granger?" He spoke low and let his chest rumble her back and gently vibrate their bodies together.

"Are you sure you haven't got your wand?"


"I said, are you cold?" Hermione's face blushed a slight pink and she could only imagine what he thought he'd heard. He looked distant, and distracted. Hermione wondered what he was thinking about. But it didn't really matter anyway. They had to get out. But with Hermione injured and Draco exhausted, she didn't see any way out of the situation.

"No. I'm fine." Draco said, distractedly and turned his face towards the catechism in front of them.

"I guess we're going to be here for a while." Hermione said and shivered in the cold.

"I guess so." Draco conceded. He was watching the back of her neck, where a few wisps of soft hair were rising from the chills. He sighed, and puts his arms around her, drawing her even closer.


"Just shut up, will you?" He said, exhausted and rested his head on her shoulder. "Don't read too much into this." He spoke quietly as he could feel himself begin to drift off.

"I won't." Hermione responded as the entire cave began to blur as her eyes slipped shut. "Will you still be here when I wake up?" She asked and rubbed her face against his, trying to rouse him.

"Of course I will. Where else would I go?" And with that, they two of them fell asleep deep under Hogwarts, wrapped up together.


"Hermione?" Hermione heard her name coming from somewhere in the distance. It felt like it was flowing against her face like a soft breeze. "Hermione, wake up." And with that, she cracked her eyes open slightly.

She was still in the cave, dark and damp. But there was murmuring of other people, but she couldn't make out any words. "What's going on, Draco? Have we been rescued?"

"You're damn right you've been rescued. Now let go of her, you pratt." She recognized that voice without having to see bright orange hair. It was Ron.

"Why don't you come over here and make me." Draco responded, and Hermione could feel his chest vibrating her back. And suddenly, her eyes were wide open.

Harry, Ron, Hagrid, and McGonagall were all standing in front of them.

"Nice to see you awake, Miss Granger." Professor McGonagall addressed her, and leaned forward to pick her up.

"Ow!" Hermione yelped and pulled away as McGonagall grabbed her injured arm.

"Don't grab her there." Draco said as he wrapped her arm around her. "She's hurt." And then began to move slowly. Together they stood, on shaky feet, but Draco steadied them against the rocky ledge he'd been leaning against all night.

"Oh, um, thank you. Mr. Malfoy." McGonagall looked more than a little confused. "We need to get you both to Madam Pomfrey right away." She looked at them, as if wondering what to do next .

"What happened to your coat, Hermione?" Harry asked.

"A giant bat took it." She looked at Hargrid. "A friend of yours?" She asked, and smiled.

"Er, no. Don't know nothing 'bout no giant bat." But she could tell that he was interested. His tiny eyes lit up in the wand light.

"Here, take mine." Ron said, as he pulled his arms through his and thrust it at her.

"We're fine." Draco said, and wrapped his coat around both of them. Hermione looked over her shoulder at him. His eyes were defiant, and she wondered what made him want to protect her in the first place.

"Well, they'll be plenty of time of discussion later. Right now, we need to get you both out of here." She gestured towards one of the old railcars that they'd seen last night.

Together, Draco and Hermione hobble to the cart and climbed in. McGonagall whispered something under her breath and waved her wand at the cart. And before Harry or Ron could get in, they were being whisked away.

"Hey, that's not fair!" She could hear Ron complaining as they sped off.

In the cart, Draco kept his arms around her, holding her tightly against his chest. "You can let go now." Hermione said as she turned her head in the wind to look at Draco.

He just smiled. "No, I can't." And then he kissed her. It was soft and gentle as the bumped along through the cave. "I don't I'll be letting go of you any time soon, Granger. You're more trouble than your worth."

Hermione smiled, her stomach twittering and her lips wishing he'd kiss her again. "I hate you." And this time, she leaned in and kissed him.

She wasn't sure when it had happened. But somewhere between falling into an endless cavern, getting rescued from giant bats, and falling asleep together, she'd somehow managed to like Draco Malfoy. But for the life of her, she just couldn't think of when it happened. But it didn't really matter anyway. So she closed her eyes, and snuggled into his embrace.

"See what you get when you always poking around in other people's business." Draco whispered into her ear. Hermione didn't even have to open her eyes to know that he was smiling.

"Yeah, you."

I have been working on this for a long time. I'm just glad that I finally got it finished. My first shippy HP fic, yay for me. Don't worry, there are plenty more on the way.