Hermione had gotten through three slices and was now feeling like a gluttonous sinner. She leaned back in her chair and rubbed her stomach. She couldn't remember the last time she had indulged in the fancies of her sweet tooth.
She burped loudly.
"Jeeze, I think that was at least a six on the Richter scale."
She whirled around and blushed when she realised who it was. She turned back to the table and fiddled with the spoon left on the crumb-ridden plate. "What are you doing here?" she asked quietly.
Draco ignored her question and took the seat next to her. "Been binge eating I see." He thought lightening the mood would make a good start and because he felt guilty over the fact that he had made her cry, which was plain to see from the way she was forcefully rubbing her cheeks with the back of her hand.
"Very perceptive of you, Draco."
He smiled. All was not lost if she was still calling him by his first name. He waved over an elf.
"Yes?" It squeaked.
"I'll have whatever she's having."
"And another for Miss?"
"No," Draco cut in before she could speak. "I think she's had enough for today."
"And how would you know?" Hermione said indignantly.
"If that very unladylike sound you made earlier is anything to go by, I think you've had your fill." She blushed. "And I'm looking out for your wellbeing by not letting you turn into a fat cow."
She glared. "I suppose I should thank you then."
He shrugged. "No need. This little piece of charity is for free."
"Charity is free."
"There you go then." He turned back to the elf that was waiting patiently through their exchange. "Well, go on then."
"Yes sir." The elf scuttled off to do its biding.
After a long pause of silence, Hermione had gone back to fiddling with her utensil, and Draco searched wildly for a way of moving the nonexistent conversation in the way he wanted it to go.
"I've been looking for you," he said quietly.
Her hands stopped. "Excuse me?"
Just then, the elf came back with a tray, a slice of cake and a freshly brewed pot of tea with all its essentials.
Draco busied himself with making them both a cup as Hermione watched in fascination as his hands moved deftly to make her tea exactly as she liked. Two sugars and quarter milk. He then made his own, two sugars again and just a dash of milk. He could have made them simultaneously but she guessed he was trying to either, bide his time with answering again, or, avoid the question altogether.
He sighed, pushed her cup towards her and said, a little more loudly, "I've been looking for you."
She took a moment to take his reply in as she blew on her drink to cool it. She looked up at him, then looked back down and frowned. "I don't see why you would want to after I told you to go away."
"Me either," he said cutting his cake with the side of his spoon and scooping it up into his mouth. "You were a bitch."
"Yeah," she said angrily. "Well you were being a bastard."
He turned and smiled at her. "I'm always a bastard."
She shrugged. "True, but what you said about me was uncalled for."
"That's true too." He picked up his tea and took a sip.
"So if you've come here to say sorry and expect me to sweep everything under the rug again, you've got another thing coming."
"If there is one thing you know about me Granger, it's that I never say sorry. You forgive me on your own imitative. Because why would I do that when I never lie?"
She couldn't believe he truly believed what he had said. She flinched internally from another stab in her chest. He really did know how to cut someone deep. But Hermione was a strong young woman and she could cover up her emotions just as good as any Malfoy.
"Then why the hell are you here?" she cried as she stood up.
Okay, not that good.
Draco quickly grabbed her arm and pulled her back down. She twisted out of his grip and got up from her seat again, and started heading for the door.
This was not how he envisioned this to unfold. She always made things so damn hard for everyone around her, especially him. Couldn't she sit down and have a conversation without it going belly up, turning it into a debate, argument or lecture?
He wasn't going to let her go without hearing what he had to say.
He followed her with five long strides, his tea and cake forgotten. Draco made sure he had a good hold on her this time. He gripped her wrist and spun her around. He did it so fast and roughly that she slammed right into his chest.
That was when the elves stood there shocked, too frightened to move as they watched the closely embraced couple, none of them courageous enough to intervene or continue on with their duties.
"Let go of me," she said struggling to be free.
Taking her jaw in to his hand, he forced her to look up at him. "No! I'm not having you go all drama-queen on me Hermione, it doesn't suit you." She glared. "I'm only going to say this once and you're going to listen this time.
"I was provoked into say those things about you. That wanker knew you were there, I just didn't realise until I left. How many times have I told you he had a thing for you? Dozens, and each time you threw my words away. I know what triumph looks like Granger, and Boot had it written all over his face. He thought he had you and he did for a while."
"That still doesn't excuse the fact that you were slagging me off behind my back," she spat.
"Didn't I just tell you I never lie?"
Her face dropped, then scrunched in anger. "You bastard," she said and started to struggle again, flaying her arms trying to slap and push him away.
Draco was having the feeling of déjà vu. This little thing going on between them seemed eerily familiar.
Then out of nowhere, Hermione made an accurate shot with her knee to his groin. With the wind knocked out of him, he had no choice but to let her go, and clutch his wounded crotch as he sank to his knees.
She made a dash for the door.
"Hermione!" she heard through a fit of coughing. She didn't stop though, just kept on running, and finally she was gone with a slam of the door.
The elves started to surround him, unmindful of his pain, as they shook their heads.
"You is a silly boy," one of them said tutting. "Now she won't loves you no more."
Over my dead body.
As soon as she left the kitchens the tears came.
It hurt so much she couldn't breathe. The pressure in her chest was unbelievable and unrelenting, the pressure of it just kept crushing and crushing her lungs and heart until it was unbearable. And the only way of expressing it was through crying and that was achieving anything.
"Hermione. Stop!" his voice came again. She glanced behind her to see him limping after her. She couldn't stand to look at him and continued down the corridor.
"Granger, at least slow down. It's only fair after what you did to me."
She ignored him.
"For fuck's sake," he muttered under his breath.
He eventually stopped, the pain between his legs getting the better of him, and said the only thing he knew that would get her attention. "I know, okay. I know that you love me!"
Hermione faltered, her running slowing down to a walk, then to a complete stop.
She sighed, hating that she had been trapped. She turned, defeated.
"What difference does it make, Draco?" she said wiping away her tears.
"A whole lot, I would say."
"What's that suppose to mean? That you enjoy seeing me hurt? That my feelings for you make this whole bloody episode that much more worthwhile?"
"I didn't mean it like that."
"Then what was it suppose to mean?" She crossed her arms.
He looked down as he rubbed the back of his neck. "I like you," he said under his breath.
She was confused. "Excuse me?"
Still unable to look her in the eye, he repeated what he said more loudly to his feet. "I like you."
Hermione was floored. Did he just say what she thought he said?
He looked at her then with a glare. "How many time do you want me to say it, Granger?" he said holding out his hands. "I like you okay."
She smiled taking a step towards him. She understood how hard it was for him to say that, admitting to something even a small as saying you like someone. His hand came up to stop her.
"No. You have to hear this. And don't start jumping towards idiotic conclusions, just listen to what I have to say, then you can bitch and moan at me all you want."
"Stop and listen." He took a deep breath, ready for the plunge. "First of all, this is not an apology. Secondly, it's true; I did mean those things I said."
He saw her glare.
"Ah, ah, wait. I'm trying to explain. That prick thought you were perfect, I had to put him straight, and no matter how many times you tell yourself otherwise, you are bossy and anal-retentive just like I'm a self-centred and selfish bastard.
"Thirdly, I said them because; one; I was provoked, two; partly to piss Boot off, and three; because he was trying to take you away from me. Moreover, I admit, because I was jealous, because I like you. I like that you're a bossy know-it-all."
Now that he had said his piece, all he had to do was wait.
The seconds ticked by. Eighteen gut wrenching seconds in which Draco's heart stopped beating, waiting for that tiny little sign that she understood and, fingers crossed, forgiven him.
Finally, after what felt like an eternity, Hermione smiled sadly and crushed him into a hug.
He held on to her tightly, still a little shaky on his legs. Happy he hadn't fucked things up a third time; things seemed a little brighter now that he had gotten all that off his chest. Hermione, on the other hand, felt like a balloon floating in the breeze. All she wanted was this moment to last forever. It was nice being so close to him, the feeling of knowing that he liked her the way she had always wanted him to.
She peered up through her lashes at him. His expression was intense as he brushed a lock of hair from her face and wiped away the tearstains from her cheeks. He leaned forward slowly. A kiss waiting to happen had Hermione silently gasping.
The first touch was light, almost nonexistent, a touch of heaven just waiting to be explored. Nothing had ever felt so special.
His lips moved timidly against hers, their movements enticing her to reciprocate. She did, by opening her mouth and closing them around his top lip as he kissed her full bottom one. Draco's hand slid from her cheek and down the curve of her neck, dragging his middle finger down the back of her ear and along the sensitive patch of skin at the edge of her jaw.
Hermione shivered and bought her hands from around his back, up and over his chest to clasp one hand at the back of his neck, and the other to do what she had always been scared to; glide her fingers through his silken hair.
Now that her mouth was open, Draco had the chance to slip his tongue inside. She gasped as she felt the wet organ touch her own, but undeterred by the surprised, she let him explore her mouth. He mapped the ridges of the roof and the smoothness of her teeth. Not wanting to have to do all the work, he coaxed her to do the same.
Shyly she did and loved the way he moaned and pulled her closer, something that she thought was impossible.
Then the moan didn't quite sound right, more strangled than pleasured. He pulled away from her grimacing. A hand slid downwards and…
"Oh, oh. Oh, I'm so sorry Draco. I didn't really mean to hurt you."
"Yes you did, and for that you owe me," he said smirking through his pain. "I need an icepack and a sit down."
"Oh yes, Come, I'll help you." She took hold of his arm and helped him to the nearest door. She spelled it unlocked and it swung open.
Draco burst out laughing.
Hermione took in the scene before her and finally said aghast, "Lavender Brown, put those away!"
Lavender's top snapped shut and she cut her eyes at the smirking Slytherin. "You said you wouldn't tell," she screamed at him. Unmindful of waiting for a reply, she stormed out the room breaking the new couple apart. As she huffed and puffed her way up the corridor, Draco and Hermione turned to the other occupant.
Theodore Nott was grinning at them both. He made the universal okay sign with both hands and said appraisingly, "Magnificent, Malfoy. Just magnificent!" before he too left.
Hermione stood in the doorway gapping.
Draco looped an arm around her shoulders and encouraged her to enter the room.
"I'll tell all about it after you've repaid me," he said joyously.
All he had to do now was think of an interesting way for Hermione to pay off her debt, and he had many self-beneficial ideas on how she could do that within this very room.
Having people in your debt had never been so good.
That's it babes! All done, not quite dusted as this chapter isn't betaed, but hey, I hit my deadline. I'll come back to this to edit in a couple of weeks.
Thank you everyone for reading my first completed multi-chaptered fic, and leaving me your encouraging comments. You know I couldn't do this without you guys to support me.
So, please post one more lovely review for me to read once I've finished book 7, because I'm signing out now and there won't be any internet for me for a few days.
Goodbye for now readers, I'll see you all after I've crossed over!