Author's Note 1: All right, sorry about the wait (whole 8 days). Took me a while to write as real life caught up, and betas seem to have been busy too. I was stretched to the limits of my own patience, so no need for anyone to start poking me :-P Anyhoo, sick of going over it. Commas are for wusses anyway.

Author's Note 2: You get something for your wait. This chapter is just shy of 10,000 words. This means it's about the same length as Master. In other words: 2½ times as long as the shortest chapter and almost 1½ times as long as the longest chapter so far.

Thanks toMissNibbles, for demanding that I say "I worked on this chapter long and hard, as Malfoy's penis will be…" (she's nuts but she refused to allow me not to say it), and to Maz, for having all the right reactions at the right times. I hope you feel better soon, kazfeist.


Draco looked longingly after the brunette. He knew it was better that she was angry than hurting, but she was so damn sexy when her passions were rising.

He sighed and looked at the piece of parchment labeled "Group 4: Hate Potion. An exercise in timing and teamwork." – Now, wasn't that ironic? He slowly and carefully read the instructions that Hermione had so violently thrust upon him. Then he read them again.

It really could be worse.

But this was bad enough.

He really didn't want to be out alone with her at night. She had looked so adorable, all mussed and with dirt on her face, that he had hardly been able to keep his distance in the daylight – and that wasbefore her outburst. He knew he was hopelessly warped to be turned on by her anger, but there wasn't much he could do about it. The thought of what would happen to his resolve when they were alone under a full moon, however, was frightening.

He hadn't put them both through this much just to give up now; he had to find a way around this.

She didn't hate him the way she should. She had even tried to make up for Scarface's attempt at killing him, instead of being sorry that the attempt had failed. Some days Draco was almost sorry himself that he hadn't just died, why couldn't she be?

She's too bloody noble.

He was worried about her safety, but even if he hadn't been… Even if he had wanted to see the look of disgust and loathing in Hermione's eyes, when she found out who he really was… He couldn't risk his family, just because he had fallen in love with some girl. People fell in and out of love all the time. He just had to wait it out, was all. She would get over it, soon enough, and move on. Hopefully, so would he.

He just had to keep a distance between them until that happened.

He walked back to the classroom, where Hermione was attacking a root with a vengeance. Draco winced a little. If she wasn't careful, she'd let most of it go to waste, and they'd have to go out for more. She looked positively gorgeous when she was angry, though…

He definitely had to drop that line of thinking.

"What do you say, we divide some of these tasks?" he asked hopefully.

"Well, thatwas the general plan," she said, not looking up from her mauling. Draco itched to take the knife away from her, but he was well aware where it might end up, then. She might not hate him, but she did have a temper.

"You might want to let up on that," he suggested, earning a scathing look from her. Her cheeks were red, her eyes were blazing, and she still had a streak of dirt on her forehead. He looked away, before his attraction showed. "Fine, have it your way," he said on an exaggerated sigh, "but I'm not going back out for more, when you can't use what you've got."

That worked to some extent, she started cutting more carefully.

"What I meant before was," he continued, "we don't both need to be going out for things, at the same time. Why don't I prepare everything else, and, then, you can go get the bearsfoot—"

Hermione threw down her knife and effectively cut him off. What now? He eyed her warily.

"So you're suggesting," she hissed menacingly, placing her hands on the table. "That I go out alone in the middle of the night, in thesetimes, because you're too missish to do a task with me that will take less than an hour in total?"

No, actually, he had tried offering her the easiest task, so she would accept, and he wouldn't have to spend any more time near her than he had to.

He raised an eyebrow. "Did you just use the word mi—"

"Don't push me!"

He sighed again, looking away, as his heart was pounding. For fuck's sake, when would he get past this? "Fine, we'll switch. You slice and dice; I go out."

She resumed her butchering of the ingredients. "As much as I'd love not having to lay my eyes on you again," he was not bothered by this statement, not at all. "I already asked about getting permits to go out, and we're only allowed out that late in pairs – and before you ask – yes, these pairs. So, you go ahead and do all the other work alone, if you want, but you're coming out to harvest with me Thursday!"

"Fine," he said again. "But please start paying attention to your chopping; I'd like to pass this class." He then took out his own knife and smugly did a much better job of it. She might be smarter than him, but she allowed emotions to interfere with her results.

He didn't.


Draco was in a foul mood, when class was finally over, and Hermione had let him go, at last. She could be a right shrew when it came to schoolwork, and he hadn't been able to just blow her off with Slughorn keeping an eye on him. How was he supposed to keep this up? He wasn't very good at this whole 'self-sacrifice' thing. He would much rather leave that stuff to Saint Potter.

He entered the common room, and Zabini began laughing. Draco didn't quite get it, but he was certain it had something to do with having to team up with Hermione. He glowered at him. The bugger needed a good thrashing.

"I didn't know just how fond you were of mud," Zabini sniggered, gesturing at Draco's boots.

Draco frowned and looked down. Indeed, his footwear had cakes of dirt on it. Disgusted, he took out his wand and scourgified them, before plopping down in a chair across from Zabini. Pansy was there, actually sitting next to Zabini. There was still a good foot between them, but it was a step up for those two, he supposed. He didn't understand them; nothing was standing in their way.

That was another thing. While Draco had been in the hospital wing, Shaw had finally managed to dump Zabini. She wasn't over it, but as far as Draco could tell, she was rapidly making her way through the male population of the school to make up for it. He really had to admire Shaw's ability to keep her affairs quiet. He supposed that most boys agreed to keep it quiet, in the hope that they'd get another taste. After all, she wasn't bad at it, at all. She just wasn't…

Hermione.

Draco's mood got even worse.

"I don't get the problem," Pansy said, frowning at Draco. "You already let her tutor you for most of the year. Why is it suddenly a big deal?"

So Zabini had been filling her in, and obviously enjoying it, too!

"Because I can't stand being around her, and I thought I wouldn't have to anymore!" Draco angrily replied. "And why even havehouses, if they're going to insist that we mix with each other? That doesn't make any sense!"

He really wished that his mother would have allowed him to attend Durmstrang. He had it on good authority that they didn't even accepted muggleborn there. Imagine, he could have been far away; he could have never met Dumbledore, Potter or Hermione…

Never have met Hermione. The thought tied his guts in a knot. Never have known her kisses…

No, he had to let this go. If he hadn't met her, then he wouldn't have known what he was missing. If he had gone to Durmstrang, there would probably have been a nice pureblooded girl in his life.

Yes, like Pansy.

No, not every pureblood was like Pansy. He could have met someone better.

Or maybe you would never really have fallen in love. Maybe you would have settled, like you did before.

A life without love? The thought made him sick. He had to believe that there could be someone else for him, if he survived this. The thought, of never experiencing these feelings again, was devastating.

"Draco?" Pansy asked, pulling him from his brooding thoughts. "Aren't you listening?"

No, he really wasn't.


Thursday came much too fast for Draco's peace of mind. Of course, Hermione didn't allow him to prepare everything by himself. The little busybody had to have a hand in everything; she couldn't just trust him to get it right. So, as his way of petty revenge, he refused to do anything before on the day of the full moon, 'since he already would have to look at her Mudblood face all night, anyway'.

He could tell that it annoyed her immensely, seeing as she loved to have everything worked out in advance, but rather than doing the work alone, she eventually agreed. Was she getting tired of doing his work for him, then? It didn't matter. As long as he could get her to stay mad at him, there really was no danger, and he actually got some sort of twisted pleasure out of being around her.

Everything was coming to an end, and soon he would probably never see her again.

"Watch how you're handling that!" she snapped, as they were cutting up various disgusting animal bits on the night in question.

This part of Potions he could really live without.

"Keep your knickers on, Granger," he lazily replied, having deliberately lighted her fuse by feinting with his knife. "I'm not completely inept." He cut up the boomslang skin, feeling glad that at least he wasn't the one squishing leeches. "I don't get why anybody would go through this much trouble just to hate somebody."

That was an outright lie. He understood perfectly why someone might try to reverse their feelings, and he even considered sampling it, if it turned out all right. The look, Hermione shot him, suggested that she didn't need a potion, but he knew better. She didn't hate him, no matter how much she should. Sometimes, he thought she simply lacked the ability.

"I suppose it's like with the love potion, isn't it?" she said, concentrating on her squishing.

"Well, no," he said. "I mean, I understand the love potion."

She looked up at him, startled. "You do?"

"Yes, of course," he said. "It saves you a lot of trouble, getting a girl into bed, doesn't it? And I bet some people even take it themselves, so they won't mind who they're getting laid by so much." It was meant as a veiled and completely untrue hint that he might have done just that, so he added a smirk and raised an eyebrow at her.

She made a disgusted face at him. "I should have known you would be completely unaffected by morals or standards," she growled.

"If you know another use for love potion, then let me hear it," he invited.

She opened her mouth and then closed it again, looking thoughtful. She clearly had never thought about the actual morally superior uses one could have for making someone into an obsessive idiot.

"I've never taken it, so I wouldn't know the benefits," she said, scowling as he grinned. "But I suppose that if someone were as sick as you, they might indeed get a kick out of using it to take advantage of some poor girl, or for sex games…"

"In other words, you would?" he asked.

She shot him a contemptuous look. "However," she said. "I could probably think of some scenarios, where it would be beneficial to have someone think better of you."

"Like, if you want to sleep with them?" he mocked.

"Like, if they wanted to get something done!" she shot back, motioning at his snakeskin, which was still only half-sliced.

"You'd feed me love potion?" he asked incredulously. "I hate to tell you this, Granger, but that would hardly get your homework done."

"Our homework. And why is that, then?" she asked.

"Because, it creates an obsession with the other person, and an inability to see reason to the exclusion of all else."

"Meaning?"

"Meaning, I'd be too busy trying to get into your aforementioned knickers."

Now, if that wasn't adequately describing the way their relationship had worked, he didn't know what was. She glared at him, and he didn't flinch.

"Fine," she finally said. "Then it would just have to be poison."

That absurd statement took him by surprise, and he actually let out a short laugh, before he could stop himself.

Careful, now. You don't want to get too friendly.

He schooled his features and continued his work.

"I don't know why you think you have to do that," Hermione continued. "It just seems so contrived."

"What does?"

She made a vague gesture with her hand. "Your whole mission to demean me. I get it: You don't like being around me, now that you're with Shaw. Let it go already. Big deal, if she feels threatened; nobody told you to tell her. In fact, I was of the impression that nobody could know. But maybe that only counted for my friends?"

Draco stared at her, as she continued with her things. She was looking strangely calm, all signs of her anger gone. Instead she was resigned and being effectiveness incarnate.

She hasn't got a clue.

That's what you wanted.

Yes, but it still bothers me that she'll never know.

There is oneway…

It's too risky.

It's much safer than the current state of affairs.

How can you even think it's safe?

OK, so it comes at a price, but isn't that price much smaller than your family's life? Her life?

She would try to make me turn against Him if I told her what was going on; she wouldn't understand.

She wouldn't try for long…

She would hate me.

Not for long…

We could still never be together.

No. But you might have more to show for it.

What? Her turning me horribly down and rightfully so, after everything I've done to her?

Then you'd know, wouldn't you?

"Malfoy? Why are you staring at me like that?" Hermione demanded.

Draco shook his head. It was all so tempting and confusing. No, he couldn't do it.

"Nothing," he said. "It just really threw me that you would think that insulting you isn't great fun in itself."

She rolled her eyes and ignored him for the time being. Draco let out a breath he hadn't known he'd held in. He really needed for tonight to be over.


Getting the herb had not been as bad, as he'd feared. The moon was bright in the sky, flooding them with cold light, removing some of the intimacy of the darkness. Fortunately, she seemed to want it over with, as well. There was only one incident, where his hand accidentally brushed hers. She had looked up at him questioningly, the pale light making her look almost eerie, and he burned to just bend down and kiss her, to make her his again.

Instead, he had jerked his gaze from hers, and had begun walking back. He really hated doing the right thing.

Draco was wishing that he had had the foresight to have many shorter meetings, instead of one long session. Unfortunately, this had been his own doing, so he could hardly complain without rousing her suspicions. It would take well into the night, but they'd essentially be done after that, and, in a way, that was a relief too.

He managed to keep his distance for the next couple of hours. They had been unable to actually start brewing the potion before they had gotten the bearsfoot. Of course, they were alone in the Potions classroom; nobody else was dumb enough to do all the work tonight. He hadn't considered that.

Hermione had pulled her hair back in a ponytail to keep the hair out of her face, but after hours of concentration and scratching her head, wisps of hair had come free and were occasionally getting in her eyes. She seemed unaware of her mussed appearance, but Draco was mesmerized, and his hands itched to smooth the hair back from her face.

He tried to avoid looking at her.

"Oh, no!" she exclaimed.

Draco looked up from staring hard at the potion, having done his best to think about nothing but the assignment.

"What?" he asked. "I'm not doing anything wrong!"

"No," she said, "but we forgot one thing!"

"No, we didn't!" he said, grabbing the instructions from her and frowning as he realized, they had, indeed, managed to miss one item. Unicorn hair, actually. Why the Hell did this potion need Unicorn parts, anyway? It was mostly filled with disgusting or poisonous things.

He scowled at Hermione. "How could you let this happen?"

"Me?" she almost shrieked. "You're in this team too!"

"Yes, but I'm not the nutty know-it-all, am I?" he asked. "What now?"

"There's still time," Hermione said, rushing into the storage.

Draco certainly hoped so; he didn't fancy failing after suffering all day.

"DAMN!"

Uh-oh, Hermione hardly had any outbursts unrelated to him. He looked uneasily at her, as she came back.

"There is none," she said. "It's all gone." She began pulling on her cloak.

"Where are you going?" he asked.

"We are going to wake up Hagrid," she said. "I know he must have some."

"Why would he help us?" Draco asked.

Hermione shot him a contemptuous glance. "He's my friend. He'll help me."

Oh, right. She actually liked the oaf. Draco glanced at the potion that was still simmering.

"If it doesn't burn or get too cold we'll still have time," Hermione said. "Come on!"

Reluctantly, he followed her.


Hermione knocked on the door a little harder this time.

"Give it up, Granger," Draco said. "He's not going to open up. Either he's not home, or he sleeps like the dead."

"But he hasto," Hermione said. "We need that hair!"

Draco shrugged. "Well, we won't get it, will we? I say it's time we just call it a learning experience and give it up."

"Yes, you would think like that, wouldn't you?" Hermione said resentfully. "Forget it. I'm getting it myself." She stomped off towards the Forbidden Forest.

What?

"You can't go in there!" Draco said, bewildered by her resolve.

This was just a stupid Potions project, why was it so important to her? Professor Slughorn would accept that they had exhausted all possibilities. He might berate them for forgetting an ingredient in the first place, but nothing serious would happen. They wouldn't really fail. They had worked together and everything.

She just kept on going.

"Granger?" he asked a bit louder. No response. "Hermione!" he shouted, as she disappeared into the darkness. Nothing.

Shit.

He hurried after her.

"Just how do you plan on getting it?" he asked, when he finally caught up with her. "You going to hunt a Unicorn down and yank a hair from its tail?" He cautiously looked around him. Who knew what things were waiting to eat them? He really should just leave her to it.

Yeah. Right. I could let her walk in here alone.

Maybe he could forcibly haul her back. He glanced at her. No… It looked, as if he tried, he might find himself less of a man. He really was too attached to his man-parts to risk it.

"I heard something about the hair getting caught in bushes and such…" Hermione mumbled, looking around her.

"How far are you going to go in?" Draco asked, flinching at a sudden sound.

"I didn't ask you to come," Hermione drily replied, looking utterly unaffected. Stupid Gryffindors, with their recklessness. Since when did she condone breaking the rules, anyway?

"And how would it look for me, if I left, and you got eaten?"

She sniffed. "I won't get eaten. I never have yet."

"Well, Granger, I hardly think you will live to tell the tale after it doeshappen."

"Wouldn't that suit you just fine?" she asked bitterly.

Draco was getting annoyed. She had no right to think that he wanted her dead. He was here with her, wasn't he? He didn't particularly want to be, but he wasn't turning back. He was aware that the credit he deserved was limited, but couldn't she just give him that much?

"It wouldn't suit me at all!" he growled, before he thought better of it.

She gave him a startled look. "I thought you were all for the 'Mudblood' eradi—"

"First of all," he interrupted, stopping up. "I'm just against Mudbloods mixing with real wizards and witches. I don't mind if they live out their natural life, as long as they do it somewhere else. Second of all, I told you that I wouldn't cheer at your funeral, didn't I?" He began walking again.

She actually stomped her foot at him. "You can't do that! You can't claim there's a line between muggleborn and wizardborn that decides everything. YOU called me a competent witch, are you taking that back now, too?" She glared at him but then made a dismissive hand-gesture. "No, forget that. It doesn't matter if you are, because I am a witch!"

Draco sighed. "You can't be sure that one of your grandparents wasn't a squib, He—Granger." She didn't seem to notice his slip-up but merely glared at him again. "Usually they leave the wizarding world and go to live as muggles. True, you'd only actually be, like, one fourth or one eighth witch, but it would usually be enough to get you the label of half—"

"And what if I said I'm completely sure that my grandparents are muggles?"

"I would have a hard time believing you, and then I'd question your great-grandparents."

"You just can't deal with the fact that you slept with a Mudblood, can you?" she asked incredulously. "If ever there was one, I am it!"

What was he supposed to respond to that? I'm afraid that you're right, because then everything I have ever believed in will disappear, and I will be left with nothing? No, that wouldn't do. And this conversation was getting too personal.

"Whatever, Granger," he said, faking boredom with the subject. "What about we get this over with?"

She huffed and stomped deeper into the forest. He really wasn't liking this.

"Look, Granger," he said, eyeing the dark nervously. "I'll tell Slughorn that it was my fault that we didn't get it, if you'll just agree to get out of here."

"What's the matter, Malfoy?" she mocked him. "Afraid of the dark?"

"No," he replied. "I'm afraid of what's in the dark!"

She stopped dead in her tracks. He stopped with her and turned to see what had her attention, and saw the positively ugliest thing he had ever laid his eyes on. It was covered in reddish brown hair and had five club-footed legs and a low-slung body. Draco's first thought was that it looked rather silly, but then he noticed the intensity of the way it was staring at Hermione.

It's going to attack her!

Hermione had gone pale and was slowly walking backwards. The beast opened its mouth and showed off rows of needle-sharp teeth, making an awful sound, before crouching as if to jump.

The sensible thing would have been to pull out his wand and hurl a hex at it. Draco didn't think that far. He grabbed Hermione's arm and pushed her behind him. She was too shocked by everything to object.

He went into a staring match with the beast, and then he felt it: The thing that up until now had only given him troubles and grief. The thing that made him more powerful. His eyes darkened, and he smirked, as the beast backed down and lumbered off.

"Is it gone?" Hermione weakly asked behind him. "H-how did you do that?"

"It's more afraid of us than we are of it," he said, unconsciously rubbing his arm. "Luckily for us, it seems to respond to lack of fear."

It wasn't true. He had been afraid. He had actually been more afraid than ever before in his life. He had been afraid that it would attack him, but he'd been terrified that it would attack her, and that he would have to stand there and not be able to do anything about it.

She shook her head. "No, I'm quite sure that was a Quintaped. It eats people. It doesn't care if you're scared or not." She looked thoughtful for a second. "Why did you get between it and me? It could have attacked you instead."

Draco turned to her and grabbed her arms hard. He was angrier at her than he had ever been before.

YOU COULD HAVE BEEN KILLED, he wanted to shout.THIS IS THE STUPIDEST THING YOU HAVE EVER DONE! WHAT DID YOU THINK I WOULD DO? JUST STAND BACK AND LET IT HAPPEN?

"You obviously didn't know how to handle it, did you?" he bit out instead. "And Unicorn hair or no Unicorn hair, we're leavingnow!" He wasn't going to endure more of this. He wasn't going to let her risk their lives for something as stupid as a school assignment.

She only nodded, as he let her go. He turned away from her, and had already begun walking, when she let out a sound of surprise. He looked at her, as she bent and carefully pulled something from the bushes. It was a few silvery, shining strands of hair. The girl certainly had good eyes.

The only thing she could never see was reason.

"Come on, then," he irritably said and walked on.

She hurried to follow.


Draco's nails were digging into his palms, as he watched Hermione carefully stir the potion. He wasn't still angry, even though he did still have the urge to scowl at her and shake her whenever he thought about what could have happened; but, mostly, he really, really wanted to kiss her senseless.

They had hurried back, as to make it in time, and now, her hair was in wild disarray, her face was flushed, and her eyes were gleaming. It reminded him of how she had looked, so many times, beneath him, and he knew that there was no way he could even go near his bed tonight.

He closed his eyes and willed the effect to go away. They would be done very soon; she was finishing their work even now, and he would be able to go. He might not get any rest, but maybe he'd find a little peace.

He opened his eyes again and found himself looking straight into hers. A jolt of awareness went through him, and he was unable to hide his reaction from her in time. Her eyes widened slightly, and then she frowned, watching him. He looked away, well aware that his cheeks had turned pink.

"Are we done here, then?" he asked.

She didn't reply, and eventually he had to look back at her. She was still watching him.

Let it go, he wanted to say, but he was afraid to acknowledge his reaction with words.

"What's going on?" she asked. He opened his mouth to reply, but she interrupted him. "And if you lie to me again, I will personally make sure that you won't sleep with anyone for the next decade without severe pain!"

Now that was a threat to be reckoned with.

"I just want to get out of here," he said. "Is that too much to ask?"

Her lips parted slightly and his eyes immediately flew to them. They were full and pink, and he vividly remembered their softness… Her tongue darted out to wet them, and he almost moaned.

"Stop evading," she slowly said. "I know that look. You want me."

So damn much.

"So?" he hoarsely replied. "It's been a few days…" Weeks.Months.

She tilted her head slightly, looking at him, allowing him a nice view of her lovely neck and the delightful spot that had sent her over the edge more than once.

He really needed to get out of there, but he was standing there, as if rooted, imagining all the things he wanted to do to her, all the things he wanted her to do to him.

He could only deny himself so much, and just looking at her gave him great pleasure. He shouldn't have come here tonight, when he hadn't had release in far too long. His guilt, his heartache, and his worry had put a severe damper on his drive, and he simply hadn't thought that it would make a difference. Now, he knew that it made every difference.

Their little foray into the forest didn't help either. The fear, the adrenaline and the overwhelming urge to protect her was intensifying everything he felt. He wanted to possess her, to make sure she never did anything that foolish again. He wanted to touch her. He wanted so many things.

Fortunately, she couldn't possibly want anything to do with him.

She took her wand from the table and walked closer to him, probably in order to tell him to forget it, that he'd never have her again. The thought hurt a little, but right now he was too busy enjoying the vision of her to really care.

After all, looking never harmed anyone.

"Why have you been such a jerk, if you want me?" she asked.

His thoughts were slightly muddled. She was close enough that he could catch her scent, the very same scent that had once clung to his pillow every morning after she'd left.

"I don't want you," he lied. "Can't a boy get a little randy without you taking it personal?"

Her gaze travelled downwards and he fought an urge to moan. The way he was reacting, it might as well have been her hands. The thought of her hands on him made him squeeze his eyes shut for a second to regain control. He shifted uncomfortably, but knew it was pointless to try and hide the obvious.

"It doesn't look like a little to me," she observed. "And you forget that I used to sleep with you. You look much as you did while under the sensitivity curse."

He trembled at the memories she called forth. As if he could ever forget that they used to sleep together.

"Is there a point with this, Granger?" he forced out. "Because I've got places to be, people to fuck…"

That made her glare at him.

"You disgust me!" she growled.

He winced slightly. He didn't like making her resent him, but the alternative was too much to contemplate.

There is one way…

She was tapping her chin with her wand, looking at him thoughtfully. He couldn't take his eyes off her. He just needed to look at her for a few more seconds…

"I think you're full of it," she finally said. "And I can prove it."

Oh, Merlin, please don't.

"Not a chance, Granger," he said, willing his feet to move and take him away from there. He had half-turned, when she slid her wand down to her neckline and down her robe, leaving a clean cut in it, as she slowly moved her wand lower.

He couldn't not stop and stare, as her creamy flesh was slowly revealed.

When the cut went beneath her breasts, she pushed the fabric aside, making him clearly see one perfectly rounded breast, cupped in coppery silk. He began salivating at the thought of what he'd like to do with that breast, and he had to swallow hard.

Why did she have to wear that stuff today? Had she thought that something might happen, or was she always wearing sexy underwear now?

Neither thought did much to ease his discomfort.

"Tease…" he whispered.

"Are you ready to be honest yet?" she coolly replied.

Was she really unaffected? The thought fed his frustration. He needed her so bad and suffered so much; the least she could do was need him, too!

He was vaguely aware that he wasn't making any sense.

"Hey," he forced himself to say, cursing this whole situation. "If I had known that you wouldn't care how many other girls I fucked…"

She took a step closer and slapped him so hard that his head whipped to the side, his ears were ringing and his vision swam.

"I care," she said in a shaky voice, looking at him with what seemed to be equal parts hurt, anger and desire.

He lost the battle.

He grabbed her and pulled her close, praying for just a taste before she pushed him away. Just one taste. His lips covered hers, and he didn't care if she questioned the lack of violence in the kiss. He didn't care if she guessed everything. He just wanted one kiss, and then… then he'd do what he had to do.

She softened in his arms and returned the kiss, taking him completely by surprise, her tongue flipping out and teasing the tip of his tongue.

His need reached unknown proportions. He had to have her. If he could have her just one more time…

I love her so much.

"I love you…" he heard himself whisper.

She stiffened and pulled back and the horror of what he'd let slip, struck him.

She wasn't supposed to know!

Guess there's no turning back now…

I don't want to do it.

You have to. For her.

She won't thank me.

It won't matter. You won't be there for her to thank.

"W-what?" she asked.

"Nothing," he said, reaching for her again. She evaded him.

"Did you mean it?" she asked.

You have no idea.

"You can't hold me responsible for what I say when I'm this horny," he hedged.

Maybe I can still get around this.

"Tell me the truth, and I'll sleep with you tonight," she said.

He stared at her. The temptation was overwhelming. More than overwhelming; it was devastating.

"What if the truth is 'no'?" he asked in a hoarse whisper. "Will you still sleep with me, then?"

"Of course," she replied.

This is so unlike her. Why would she trade sex like that?

Do you care as long as you can have her?

Yes… No… I don't know… I just want her.

And once you do what you already know you have to – it won't matter if she knows anymore.

"Well?" she asked, moving her wand, cutting her robes to her navel, revealing so much of her lovely body.

"Yes," he moaned. "Yes, damn it! I do love you."

She stopped and stared at him, her eyes big and shocked.

He glanced at her nervously. Was this a turnoff? Should he have lied? He swallowed again.

"You aren't going to go back on your word, are you?" he asked. "You promised…"

Just let me kiss you again. It will be enough; it will be worth it.

"N-no," she said, visibly shaken. "I just never thought that you'd… Even if you did… I thought that you'd say no."

"It doesn't matter," he said. "It doesn't change anything. It can only be tonight."

"But if you do, then why did you—"

He cut in impatiently. "I don't want to talk about it, OK? It didn't work, did it? I'm still here, wanting you… I fail."

"Do you want to know how I really feel?" she softly asked.

"NO!" his response was quick and forceful and she looked taken aback. "I-I don't want to know, either way. Please don't tell me."

If she didn't love him, it would shatter all of his fantasies for another world, another reality, where they could live happily ever after. If she did love him, it would hurt him too damn much to know what he had to do after tonight. No, he really didn't want to know.

He pulled her close again and recaptured her lips in a heartfelt kiss. There were no more pretenses; she knew he wanted her – that he loved her, even.

"I need you," he whispered against her soft lips. "So much."

She didn't reply, she just tangled her hands in his hair and pulled him closer again, teasing his senses with her scent, and the feel of her body and her lips.

He quickly looked around them. The Potions classroom was hardly the right place to do this. His dormitory was close, but he wasn't sure he could bear being with her there again. The bedroom in the Room of Requirement had been wrecked by his idiotic self, and her room was unavailable…

It seemed that his room was their only option. He just had to bear it.

"Let's go outside," she said, caressing his cheek, having guessed his thoughts. "We have permission and it's nice and balmy, isn't it?"

He really didn't think Slughorn had this in mind when he signed the permission. That almost made it worth it.

He glanced doubtfully at her. "You'll catch a cold," he said. "It's not thatwarm."

"You'll make sure I won't," she said. "Besides… Wouldn't it be nice, under the full moon… by the lake…"

Hermione under him, bathed in moonlight, moaning his name…

They would need something warmer than their normal cloaks to shield them.

"Let me just get my wintercloak," he said.


They didn't have as much time as Draco would have liked. The sun would rise in only a few hours. Perhaps this wasn't such a good idea, after all.

"What about here?" Hermione softly asked.

The grass in this place was soft and inviting, and some bushes were shielding from the view of anyone from the castle. He looked at her, and saw her slightly shiver, in spite of her wearing her repaired robes and her cloak, as a wind blew in from the lake. It was probably too cold to do this.

"We don't have to do this," he said, wrapping his wintercloak around her. "It's too cold for you." He wasn't bothered by the cold himself; he was used to it. He lived in a bloody dungeon for most of the year – she didn't.

He didn't understand what she was doing here with him. He had to let her know that she didn't have to do this. He had to allow her to rethink her decision. He was almost behaving like an idiot Gryffindor, but, for some reason, this was important to him.

She looked at him defiantly. "Then you'll just have to warm me, won't you?"

Before he could reply, she had pulled his head down and was kissing him deeply, passionately, making him completely forget time and place, the way only she could.

She broke the kiss a few minutes later. "There," she said a little breathlessly. "All warmer."

He couldn't help but smile at her, and her eyes widened slightly, as she stared at him as if mesmerized.

"What?" he asked.

She merely shook her head and kissed him again, gentler this time.

She was pressed against him, and he reveled at the contact, even though there technically were two sets of robes and three cloaks between them.

Too much cloth.

He unclasped his cloak and spread it out on the ground, before gently pushing his other cloak off her shoulders as well. He still wasn't sure that this wouldn't be too cold for her, so he hesitated at her own cloak. She rolled her eyes at him and unclasped it herself.

"I'm not that delicate," she pointed out.

No, he supposed that she wasn't. But that didn't mean that he didn't want to protect her. With his life if he had to.

The thought saddened him. Before he could think too much about it, he pulled her down onto their makeshift bed with him and began undressing her, only leaving her underwear on, for now. He was touching every inch of her skin, taking his time.

Merlin, she's so beautiful. And tonight she's mine.

"You're teasing again, Draco," she moaned, shivering a little from the cold, and pulling at his robes. He hurriedly pulled them off, and covered the two of them with his thick, fur-lined wintercloak.

"I'm not teasing," he mumbled. "I'm savoring."

"Well, stop savoring," she demanded, pushing against him. "I want to feel you!"

He chuckled at her impatience, before kissing the top of her breast, just visible above her bra, and sliding one hand down between her legs. She was so moist for him. She always was. He moved her panties aside and slipped a couple a fingers inside of her, earning him a gasp and a low moan from her.

Moving his fingers, he slowly let his tongue trace her lower lip and then sucked it into his mouth. He could feel she was rapidly losing control. He let go of her lip and thrust his tongue into her mouth, mimicking the motions of his fingers, and she whimpered.

"Please, Draco…" she pleaded, breaking the kiss. "I can't hold back."

"Then don't," he rasped, pushing aside her bra and taking a nipple into his mouth, suckling her, making her move restlessly, wanting more.

"I want you inside of me, when I come," she whispered, caressing his back and grabbing a hold of his shoulders.

He shuddered, fighting back the need. "That will happen," he assured her. "But there's no need to rush, is there? I don't mind if you have more orgasms, in fact… I insist on it…"

He stroked her nub with his thumb and she stiffened, moaning his name. If there was anything sexier than Hermione moaning his name, and begging him for release, he hadn't discovered it yet.

She was intent on resisting, though. He almost smirked. She was fighting a losing battle. He wanted to feel her tighten and convulse again and again…

He slowly moved down her body, kissing, touching and distracting in a way, so that by the time he had reached her belly, she still hadn't caught on to his intentions. The musky smell of her arousal was overwhelming his senses, making him almost lose his mind.

The silly girl never let him do this.

He slowly began removing her panties, kissing her thigh, as he was sliding them off her. She obligingly shifted to help him remove them. Good girl…

He then resumed his earlier ministrations, making her moan and squirm. It wasn't until his lips and tongue followed his hand that she caught on and bucked against him.

"No…" she moaned.

"Yes…" he replied. "You trust me, don't you?"

She looked at him with fevered eyes for what seemed like a long time. Then she nodded.

You really shouldn't. I'm going to hurt you yet. But in this you can trust me.

"Then just lay back and enjoy," he mumbled, his breath teasing her, making her tremble, as she reluctantly did as he asked.

He loved the feel, smell and taste of her. He pressed his fingers deep inside of her, pushing the right spot and applied his tongue. Before many seconds had passed, she tensed, crying out his name, and he felt her muscles contract around his fingers.

It felt amazing when she came. He fought hard not to lose control himself, making a strangled sound, as a feeling of ecstasy swept him.

He could do this to her. He could make her so wild for him that she lost all thought for anything but the blinding pleasure. Even the first time they had been together, she had given herself fully to the sensations.

He didn't attribute this to any great skill of his own. He'd been with other girls and they had required considerably more effort. No, this girl was special in so many ways.

He hated that he had to give her up, but took a small comfort in knowing that the pain of it wouldn't be there for long.

He laid down next to her and pulled his cloak tighter around them, so she wouldn't feel cold, now that her first rush of passion was over.

She snuggled closer to him, and he just held her.

"That was silly of you," she mumbled. "It's really, really late and now I'll just get sleepy." She yawned as if to make her point.

"Then sleep," he said, realizing that he didn't mind in the least if she did, in spite of his almost painful erection. Of course he wanted to take her, to come inside of her, but he wanted to just hold her just as badly.

"You promised me you'd take me," she said, glaring at him accusingly.

He took her hand and led it down his body, so she could feel her effect on him. "Any time you're ready, sweetheart. But we have…" He looked at the sky. "At least a couple of hours yet."

"It has to end when the sun rises?" she asked.

"Yes," he said, unable to look at her. "It does…"

Why am I being honest? It's not like I won't have to do itfor sure. It doesn't matter what I say.

"Then I'm not wasting any time sleeping."

He hugged her closer and kissed her cheek. That wasn't enough for her. She kissed him deeply, tasting herself on him. She was pressed against him, her breasts flattening against his chest, and her softness was teasing his erection, making him want to just….

"Stop…" he groaned, fighting for control again. "Please," he held her a little apart from him. "We need to take this more slowly."

"Why?" she asked. "I thought you liked it hard and fast." She nibbled at his neck and everything went black for just a second. She would make him come with her teasing soon, if he didn't stop her.

"I love it any way I can get it, when it's with you," he said, making her blush a little. "But I had hoped to last a little longer than three thrusts…"

She bit her lip, eyeing him as if she was starving, and he was a feast. She did it on purpose, he knew. She loved to make him lose himself in her. There was no greater pleasure for her than when he couldn't hold back. He knew the feeling. Any other time, he might have let her have her way, but it was just too damn important tonight.

"Please let me do this right, Hermione…" he said, gently nibbling at her neck and stroking her arm. "I won't have another chance."

Still with the honesty…

I can't lie to her.

"You'll have as many chances as you want," she breathed, sending a stab of pain through him.

Another reason, why I need to do, what I need to do. She won't turn me away. She'll be better off without me, I know it.

Instead of replying, he kissed her again and caressed her breast, slightly pinching her nipple to make it pucker. Such a lovely, responsive body… He removed her bra, which was still caught under her breasts.

She let her hands slide down to his waistband, but he stopped her.

"Not yet," he whispered.

She shook her head. "You don't get to decide everything, Draco," she said, before pulling down.

He gasped, as he sprang free, and the mere brush of her hand almost made him come. He was much too close. He cursed himself for not having the foresight to ease some of the tension earlier.

But he'd never thought he'd end up here. With her.

"I want you inside of me," she whispered. "Now."

Who was he to argue? She was already halfway beneath him, and he shifted, so he covered her body, and then slowly entered her burning heat. He had to take it slow or he'd burst. She pulled up her knees, making it possible for him to enter to the hilt, and he trembled.

I'm going to come, he thought. Our last time together and I'm going to go off like a virgin.

"I can't hold back anymore," he groaned. "I-I have to come."

"I know," she replied. "I want you to."

He shook his head. "This is not how I—"

She pulled his head down and kissed him. "You're 16, not 110," she whispered. "You'll make it up to me."

He grunted a reply. He would have to. He couldn't stay still anymore and he knew that as soon as he moved, he would go over the edge.

He moved.

"Merlin, I love you!" he exclaimed, just before everything disappeared in a burst of intense pleasure.

If anyone would have told him a year ago that sex could be worth dying for, he would have laughed at them. If they would have told him that love could be worth dying for, he would have laughed even harder. If they would have told him that making love to the girl you love would be the most incredible thing he could ever hope to experience, he would have told them to get lost.

Now, he was fighting to catch his breath after spending himself inside of Hermione, and he knew, that a year ago, he had been an idiot.

Hermione was stroking his hair and his back and smiling lazily at him. Her face flushed, and her eyes gleaming wickedly at him, she looked like a cat, who had just gotten away with eating a whole bowl of cream.

"I don't get why you're so pleased," he mumbled, a little amused, as he was moving his weight from her.

"I can't tell you why," she replied. "Other than I love watching you come."

"Just give me a minute and you'll get an encore."

She raised an eyebrow. "You'll come again in one minute?" she asked. "That would have to be a world record."

He scowled at her without any heat, and she laughed at him.

She seems happy, he thought with some surprise.

"All right, then," he said, after he had gotten his breath back. "Let's see about making it up to you…"

He pulled her atop him, savoring the pressure of her body on his and the amount of skin against skin. He began nibbling at her swollen, tasty, all together kissable, lips. She sighed with contentment and returned his kisses, deliberately squirming against him, getting him hard in no time.

"Look at that," she teased. "And I think we have 15 seconds to spare…"

"Witch," he mumbled, rolling them over, pressing against her, and making her gasp.

"I'm glad you continue to acknowledge that," she said.

How can I not?

Again, he slid his hand down, but she pushed it away, denying him. "Oh, no, you don't!"

"Well, how can I be sure that you're ready for me, then?" he teased.

She placed his hand on her breast instead, effectively distracting him. "Just assume that I am."

He smirked. "I would never presume to make assumptions…"

She pushed him back onto his back and swiftly impaled herself, completely taking him by surprise. His eyes bulged and he moaned at the contact with the searing heat that had made him come so recently. She had never actually taken control like this before, and he found that he rather liked it.

She began moving slowly, experimenting, and his eyes drifted shut. She knew just how to drive him crazy.

"Do you like it?" she asked, ending her question on a moan, as she seemed to rub a particularly pleasant spot.

"Oh, yes," he rasped, opening his eyes to watch her.

She was atop him, the moon bright behind her, flooding them with its light. Her face was flushed, and her eyes were closed as she moved. She seemed completely oblivious to his presence in this moment, and he realized that he didn't mind even if she was simply using him for her pleasure.

Funny, he never figured that he'd take well to being used by anyone for anything – not unless he was using them too. He wasn't using Hermione. The sex was just the only way he knew to get the intimacy with her that he craved.

She opened her eyes and smirked at him as she quickened her pace, placing her hands on his chest for support. Since when had she taken to smirking, anyway? His breath was coming faster and shallower, but he let her set the pace and just ran his hands up her thighs to rest at her waist.

Suddenly, she stopped.

He was about to object, when she pushed down a little lower, making him enter her more completely. He sucked in his breath. Merlin, she was so hot and tight. Being inside of her was like nothing else. He lifted his hand to fondle her breast, when she slowly began moving her hips in a circular motion. He saw stars and moaned loudly. He noticed that her smirk had widened.

"Stop teasing, Hermione," he said.

"I'm not teasing; I'm savoring," she quipped.

He raised an eyebrow. Using his own words against him, was she? "Well, stop savoring!"

She slowly moved up, driving him out of his mind, before she stopped, and then quickly impaled herself completely again. She made a sexy little sound, and Draco had had it with the teasing and flipped her over.

"Hey!" she halfheartedly objected, giggling a little, but it turned into a gasp and a moan when he thrust forcefully into her.

"I want to feel you…" he whispered into her ear.

He thrust again, and again, and all playfulness drained from her face, leaving nothing but passion. He loved that look on her. He could feel her tensing, reaching, and knew that she was close. She would come again. He caught her lips and thrust his tongue deeply into her mouth, and then she moaned loudly against him and gripped him tight, lost in her climax.

He was really close, himself, but he held back, continuing to move inside her, prolonging her orgasm.

"I love you," she whispered.

Draco felt the shock of the words to his very core, but he couldn't process them; he just felt his control slip and another taste of ecstasy, as he had to surrender to his own climax.

They had barely gotten their breaths back, before he asked "Did you mean that?"

She was still flushed from their lovemaking, but her cheeks turned a deeper red.

"I thought you didn't want to know."

"That was before you went ahead and said it anyway."

"I-I didn't mean to… You can't hold me responsible for what I say when I'm—"

"Hermione!"

"OK, OK…" She looked away and then sighed and shrugged. "Yes."

He stared at her. He was ecstatic and devastated all at once.

She loves me? Why? What good have I ever done to her?

Hermione squirmed uncomfortably under his gaze. Her cheeks were ablaze, and she didn't seem to be able to look at him. He realized that he wasn't acting very encouraging. But what was there to encourage? She shouldn't fall in love with him.

"I'm sorry," he said, realizing almost immediately that that was the wrong thing to say.

Her eyes filled with tears and she pushed him away.

"I didn't ask for your pity!" she said in a trembling voice.

"No, that's not—I meant, I'm sorry for how things are," he said, trying to explain. "I'm sorry that I'm hurting you. I'm sorry that I'm not a better person to love."

I'm sorry that we can still never be together, and that I have to lie to you and betray you.

"But are you sorry that I love you?" she asked, her voice more steady.

"No…" He pulled her closer. "No," he repeated. "I'm rather happy about that."

He kissed her, and, for a while, nothing else seemed important.


The sun rose much too soon, and they began dressing in silence. Eventually, there was no evidence left of their meeting, other than an imprint on the grass, where their bed had been. Draco was staring at it for a second, unable to allow himself to think too much.

"You know, Draco…" Hermione said, breaking the silence. "It doesn't have to be this way."

I can answer anything to that and it won't matter. I can hurt her or make her happy.

"Everything will be fine," he said, offering a small smile. "Don't worry about it."

His own words stabbed at him and he couldn't look at her; instead he carefully folded his spare cloak.

It had been very selfish and weak of him to even allow this night, but he couldn't feel sorry about it. It had given him something that he would otherwise never have had.

He didn't have to hurt her with words anymore, as long as he convinced her that it was better for her to keep a distance until he was ready to do what he had to do. It was a cruel and heartless betrayal, but one that wouldn't hurt either of them for long.

"What now, then?" she asked, frowning slightly. "We go back to the way things were?"

"Pretty much," he confirmed. "Nobody can know." She looked at him and he added, "Not yet. Soon."

I hate lying to her, but I seem to do little else. I'm sure she doesn't really love me, she just thinks she does. She thinks that I'm a better person. She'll learn, soon enough.

She nodded, and a few minutes later she made her way back alone.

The night was over, and, with the harsh light of day, came the reality crashing back.


Before going back to his dormitory, Draco made a detour to the Potions room to make sure they had everything cleaned up properly – and to break into Slughorn's personal stock. He knew it was there. He had seen it.

It was, of course, a potion much too dangerous to leave lying around for the students to accidentally get their hands on, so it was locked away with the other potions and ingredients deemed unsafe. Draco had watched the fat teacher carelessly charm the cabinet, and he knew how to get past it without triggering any alarms.

A few minutes later, he was holding the vial of the dark golden liquid.

Looking back into the cabinet, he knew it would be too obvious if it was the only thing missing, so he carefully put it aside and then smashed the entire row of containers. This was much better. They would believe it to be nothing but vandalism, and they'd never figure out what he'd taken.

His eyes fell on a vial on another shelf. The antidote. He'd almost forgotten. He reached up and grabbed it, looked at it for a second, and then he smashed that too.

Now everything was set.


Author's Note 3: WARNING: Mushy!Draco … What? Warning too late? Well, warnings spoil:-P He's such a drama queen, anyway.

Author's Note 4: So… What do you think he plans to do? What do you mean that I should know? Isn't it bad enough that I have to get inside a 16 year old boy's drama queen head WHILE I write? (ok, maybe I do know…)

Author's Note 5: Oh, yeah, some sucker nominated me for a WIP Dramione Award on LJ. It's awesome that I can fool you all into thinking that the story is worth reading like that, but I had to let them know that the story will most likely be finished before the voting even starts. I don't know what they plan to do about that, but they'll probably pull it. Pity, because it was really flattering, but the alternative would be to hold out on everybody and that just sucks. :)