Chapter 16

Hermione arrived back late as promised, and after a quick visit to the bathroom, climbed into bed. Draco hadn't moved an inch since she'd come out of the bathroom, and by how tense his body was, she knew he wasn't asleep.

"Are you awake?" she asked the black room.

There was a silence for about 30 seconds. "Yeah," finally came the short reply.

"Malfoy, I…I want to ask you something," Hermione said hesitantly.

"Fine," he said shortly.

Hermione took a deep breath. "Okay. Is there anything going on-"

"Don't even ask that Granger," Malfoy said, cutting her off.

Hermione swallowed. He didn't want to talk about their confusing relationship…and if she knew one thing about him, it was that he was stubborn. "Okay," she whispered in a defeated manner. "Goodnight then," she added on quietly.

"Granger," he said in an anguished voice. "There can't be anything going on between us, it wouldn't work."

"I know," Hermione sighed. "Besides…I've only known you a week, right?" she tried to say jokingly, but failed miserably.

He flicked his wand and it lit up; she could see every contour on his handsome, serious face. "Maybe Granger," he said, and then a small smile came to his face. "But I've known you much longer." He flicked his wand again and the light went out, not allowing Draco to see Hermione's stunned face.


On Thursday morning Hermione woke up bright and early, almost excited at the prospect of classes, having been without them for almost a week. Checking her timetable (she didn't quite have them memorized yet), she found that she had a morning of Defence Against the Dark Arts, and Transfiguration. She decided to put a little bit of extra effort into her appearance today, and took time with her hair. When she was finished she bounded out of the bathroom with a grin on her face, right into Draco.

He looked very sleepy; like he hadn't quite figured out he was awake yet. His blonde hair was still ruffled, and as he stared down at Hermione with unfocused eyes, she almost laughed.

"Hi Malfoy," Hermione said. "We have classes in about…" she glanced at the clock. "15 minutes."

That took Draco a few seconds to comprehend. When he finally did his eyes widened for a second or too, then died down. He shrugged. "Ah well, we'll just have to be late."

Hermione gave a nervous laugh. "Very funny. Now, shower?" She pushed him into the bathroom and shut the door. "And please, please hurry!" she emphasized, hoping that for once he would listen to her.

He did. About 5 minutes later he came out of the shower completely ready…except for his clothes. Hermione huffed when she saw him in nothing but a towel, yet couldn't keep her eyes off him when he sauntered over to the closet to get his clothes. He grabbed his robes and gave her a smirk when he caught her looking.

"Caught again Granger," he said while Hermione blushed.

"I wasn't doing anything, now please just go and change," Hermione said, not looking at him.

"As you wish, but don't look Granger."

"Wha-" Hermione started, but froze when she heard the ruffling of clothes and the towel drop to the floor behind her. She swallowed, trying to keep her heart steady, and concentrate on staring intently at the wall. "Malfoy, you have some nerve-"

"Granger just give me two seconds, and stay where you are." She heard more ruffling.


"All finished."

Hermione whipped around and found a fully-clothed Malfoy. "Don't you ever do that again!" she said furiously. "Have some decency, and go change in the bathroom!"

He smirked at her beyond-red face, and dried his towel with a quick flick of his wand. "Sure Granger."

Hermione's face got even darker from anger, yet she held it in, practicing self-control. She took several breaths, in and out. "Okay, okay, let's just go to class."

Draco came up to her, putting his hand in the small of her back as to guide her out of the room. Hermione whipped around, angry again.

"Malfoy, what the hell are you doing? Didn't you say last night nothing could happen between us? Why are you doing that?"

He leant in closer to her, his face seemingly innocent. "Do you not want me to Granger?"

"That is beside the point," she said with gritted teeth. "The point is that you cannot do things every single day that contradict what you said the past day! Which is what you've been doing for the last week! You keep messing with me, and then don't even own up to it!"

His face got serious. "I had no idea I affected you so much, Granger. And would you like me to say I'm sorry?"

She could detect the mocking undertone. "No," she hissed. "I'd just like you to stop doing it." She took another deep breath. "Now can we please go to class?"

He nodded. "I wasn't stopping you." Hermione ignored him and kept walking. They got through the first two classes without much interruption. Save one.

"Professor Kane would like me to relay a message to all of you," Professor McGonagall said curtly, and it was obvious she didn't like playing messenger. "He says that tomorrow is your lunch date of the week. It will take place in the same classroom as last time, and the same form of attire is required. However he also wishes me to assure you that no one will be getting sick this time."

There was mutinous muttering going around the class at the mention of the illness. The whole year had been feeling rather rebellious about that, especially the girls. "Like we're going to trust him about that," someone muttered rudely.

"You will have respect for your Professor, Miss Patil," McGonagall snapped. "He is still your Professor, and whatever he says, goes. So do not look for sympathy from me." There was a silence throughout the class, who looked at McGonagall, impressed. Then the moment was over and they all went back to Transfiguration.

During their free period after lunch Hermione tried to convince Draco to finish their Herbology project.

"Malfoy, please, we could finish."

"That's what we have class for, Granger," Draco said, rolling his eyes.

"Yeah, but wouldn't you rather have a free class?" Hermione tempted him.

Draco considered it for a moment, then shook his head. "Nah. I'd rather have a free period."

Hermione huffed. "Fine, I'll work on it by myself." She went to get her books, but stopped when a hand was on her arm. She looked at Malfoy, who was lounging on the bed reading the Lord of the Flies, one hand now extended out. "Problem?"

"Yes actually," he said without looking at her. "Partner project, remember? So just sit, relax, do your Transfiguration homework. We're working on that project together, in Herbology."

"Fine," Hermione muttered. "I'll do my Transfiguration." She got working on that, glancing every once in a while at Draco, who was still reading. "Don't you have work to do?" she finally said, once she was finished Transfiguration. "I'm finished Transfiguration, and there's…" she looked at a clock, "10 minutes left in this free period. When are you going to get yours done?"

He shrugged. "I'll find time. Or I just won't do it."

"But McGonagall always checks," Hermione said, shocked.

"Granger, are you really interested in whether I do my homework or not?" Draco said, exasperated at her persistence.

"Well-" Hermione started, taken aback.

"I just want to finish the book," he said shortly, then immediately went back to the book. Hermione turned around to pack her parchment up, a smile on her face. 10 minutes later they were off to Herbology.

"Hello class," Professor Sprout said, looking around at the class and smiling. "I'm glad to see you are all back in good health. I assume that none of you got any extra work done on the project?"

None of the class put their hand up, except for Hermione. Her hand was quickly yanked down by Draco's, and went unnoticed by the professor.

"What?" she whispered sharply.

"Granger, we want more time. Don't put your hand up."

Hermione listened to him grudgingly and kept her hand down, a scowl on her face.

"So, seeing as none of you did, obviously an extension was given for the project that was supposed to be due today. It is now due Monday, which gives you the weekend. So it is to be done by then, okay?" she said sternly, and the class nodded.

Hermione and Draco were the only two who finished their project that class, to Hermione's relief. "Told you we would get it done Granger," Draco said smugly. "You didn't trust me."

Hermione laughed. "Of course I didn't." She paused. "Do I have a reason to?"

Draco looked at her intensely. At that moment Harry came up to Hermione, a grin on his face. "Hey 'Mione," he said. "Want to come over here for a second?"

Hermione reluctantly left Draco's gaze and followed Harry over to where he was working with Elizabeth. "Yes?" she said, rather impatiently.

"Oh, well we needed your help," Harry said shiftily. "Plus we just gave you an excuse to get rid of Malfoy for a few seconds," he said cheerily.

Hermione scowled, and kept her feelings inside of her. "Fine," she said shortly. She tried not to sound mad. "Sorry, what do you need help with?"

She helped Harry and Elizabeth, and unfortunately (for her), it took the rest of the class. She went with Draco to put her books away, and spent a couple hours doing homework before going down to dinner.

"So, what are you going to wear tomorrow?" Hermione asked Draco after dinner, while they were lounging in their room. "For lunch?"

He shrugged. "Same thing as last time…tux I guess."

Hermione tutted. "Can't you be more imaginative?"

He looked amused. "If you have any suggestions Granger, please, say them."

Hermione thought for a moment. "How about…" she thought again. "Actually, I have no idea," she admitted.

Draco grinned, having won their argument. "Definitely less choice in guys clothes."

Hermione smiled back, against her will. "I agree."

"Now, let's pick out your outfit," Draco said, slightly suggestively.

Hermione rolled her eyes. "You did last time; I think it's my turn now."

He sighed. "Fine. But I get to veto anything I don't like."

"No deal," Hermione replied. "But you can give input, and I'll consider."

Draco grinned. "Good enough."

They bantered the rest of the night, and when Hermione went asleep, she felt very serene… like she was actually content with the way things were. Friday and the weekend also passed quickly; time was speeding up when Hermione least wanted it to. She knew that once this project was over, things would not be the same between her and Draco.

The lunch had been fun. The theme of the classroom this time was a 1950's diner, and once Hermione and Draco had walked in they'd both stopped still, Draco in his tuxedo and Hermione in her simple black dress.

"We're not dressed right," Hermione hissed out of the corners of her mouth, watching the couples in Grease-style clothes. Several were on the dance floor doing twirls and dips, somehow in tune with the dance moves of the 50's. Ron was being particularly exuberant and Hermione turned away to avoid laughing at him; after all, she didn't want to be mean. She saw Liz dancing with a Slytherin and looked around for Harry – she spotted him quickly sitting at a table, chatting with Ginny. She was waitressing again and talking animatedly with Harry, a flush on her cheeks. Once again she was drawn to Harry's clothes which she was almost certain he didn't arrive in; a pair of ripped jeans with a white v-neck shirt and a leather jacket. His hair was combed back with grease, yet there were several strands sticking up in odd directions. "How did they get clothes like that anyways?"

At that moment Professor Kane came up to them, smiling broadly. "Ah, Mr and Mrs Malfoy!"

Hermione forced a smile. "You didn't tell us to dress like this."

Kane's smile grew. "Yes. Well, if you two will come over to the juke box, you'll find a slight surprise."

"What's a jukebox?" Draco muttered to Hermione as they walked away from Kane. Hermione just smiled in return.

They went over to the jukebox, where they found Luna, standing with her eyes closed and swaying to the music. Hermione tapped her on the shoulder. "Luna?"

Luna opened her eyes, saw who it was, and a peaceful smile spread across her face. "Hello Hermione, Draco," she said, nodding to Malfoy, who looked surprised at the use of his first name. She looked them up and down, and giggled. "Wow, a bit overdressed, aren't you?"

Hermione was slightly annoyed, but kept calm. "Kane told us to see you…"

"Oh yes!" Luna exclaimed. "Sorry, I forgot for a moment." To Hermione's astonishment she opened the jukebox, revealing it to be a sort of hollow box. "Just step inside," she smiled.

"Both of us?" Hermione said cautiously, and Luna nodded. Hermione and Draco stepped inside the jukebox, and Luna shut the door. Instantly it was filled with pink smoke, and Grease's 'You're The One That I Want' began to play. Hermione, who was familiar with the movie, began to laugh.

"What? What song is that?" came Draco's voice from her right. She could tell he was a little nervous at not knowing what was going on. However before she could explain, the door opened again, and Luna's smiling face was looking in at them.

"Wow, your costumes are great!" she said happily, and Hermione and Draco stepped out of the jukebox to examine their clothes. Hermione was wearing a pink poodle skirt, with a nice cashmere sweater. Her hair was done up in a French twist, and somehow, she'd gotten amounts of heavy blush and sparkly eye shadow applied. She looked round at Draco, who was in jeans, with a varsity jacket.

Hermione started to laugh again. "Look at your outfit, compared to mine!" she exclaimed, then exhaled, becoming sober again. "Wow."

The food was enjoyable, though Hermione was slightly cautious about eating it. There were not too many events over the weekend, if you could exclude the Gryffindor boys getting drunk in the Common Room Saturday night, celebrating the fact that the project was half over. Hermione had made the mistake of venting it to Draco after she was in the safety of their room, which of course had results.

"I mean, how immature can they get? Do they not realize that McGonagall could go into the Common Room at any moment, not to mention Prefects, or just a first-year who is a tattle-tale? Can you imagine if the whole of the Seventh Year Gryffindor boys got detentions for weeks? I mean, think of how many points we'd lose?" Hermione took a breath, and then ranted on. "And all for nothing! I mean, at first the project was pretty annoying, but you think they would have gotten used to it! And in comparison, you don't see me whining about my partner! And they're all boys; they got to choose! I didn't, but I've adjusted, which they should do as well! And because I've adjusted to it, I really don't even mind anymore, it's kind of fun, and I've gotten to know you better so I've found out that you're not the stubborn, stupid, prat that I thought you were." She stopped, catching her breath, and Draco took to opportunity to talk.

"Granger, you finished?"

Hermione hesitated, then nodded. "I guess."

"Alright. So, the only thing I really picked up from that was – you're enjoying the project," Draco smirked.

Hermione blushed. "Well, not really, it's that I've adjusted, that's all."

"Yeah, adjusted into liking the project," Draco's smirk got even bigger.

"Okay, I'm pretty sure you like it as well, Malfoy," Hermione said loudly. "And like isn't quite the word…I find the project interesting."

Draco shrugged, trying to keep his face nonchalant. "It has certain benefits."

"Oh, such as?" Hermione asked, feeling daring.

He looked at her intensely, and moved closer. "I think our benefits are the same."

Hermione gave a slightly nervous laugh, and said, "I don't think so."

"Really? So you don't enjoy…" he trailed off, moving even closer, until they were inches away. Hermione's heart was beating so loud, she was surprised he wasn't commenting on it. Her daring nature was quickly vanishing.

"Enjoy what Malfoy?" she said slightly snappishly, her nervousness getting the better of her. He had a blazing look in his eye, and suddenly she knew what was about to happen.

He moved closer and kissed her passionately and suddenly, and Hermione found herself in a world where only she and him existed. Every part of her was screaming for Draco, and as she kissed him back, she wondered how she could have thought so differently of him two weeks ago. They toppled gently onto the bed, and as Hermione's hands were running through Malfoy's hair, his hands were at the base of her shirt, and suddenly began to slide upwards.

In a flash Hermione sat up, knocking Draco away.

"No," she breathed.

"Granger," Draco moaned.

"We should-" Hermione struggled, "-stop before…we-"

Draco smashed his lips against hers, cutting her off again. Hermione continued this time, letting him pin her to the bed gently. She was engrossed in him once more; in his smooth, blonde hair, and the feeling of his body against hers. They stopped about twenty minutes later, and as Hermione saw on the toilet seat in the locked bathroom, trying to calm herself down, she figured out that things were different between her and Draco…and they would never go back to the way they were.

Apart from that, the weekend was quite boring.

That Monday, Hermione woke up, yawned, and turned sideways, not opening her eyes but enjoying the serenity of her situation. Draco's hand was resting on her stomach, like in the first night of the project. Now, it had become a habit. Their extended kiss yesterday had not been repeated that same day, but Draco had acted nicer. She had found him staring at her a few times with an intensity that made her blush, yet he had not mentioned what had happened between them. She was learning to like it. Sighing, she opened her eyes and gazed into his face.

Hermione screamed, and Draco's eyes shot open. "What? What?" he asked urgently, grabbing his wand and shooting out of the bed. He looked at Hermione, who was staring at him in horror. "Granger?" he asked, but Hermione could only gape at him. She lifted a finger and pointed at his face.

Draco ran into the bathroom at top speed, and looked into a mirror. He almost screamed. His face was ugly; there was no other word for it. He was covered in acne, after never having a spot before in his life. His eyes were swollen, as were his cheeks, giving him the appearance of a fat man's head on a skinny man's body. His lips had somehow grown overnight and were thick and full, but that simply made him look like he was making kissy faces 24/7. The biggest shock to him was his hair; it was black. Taking one moment to look at himself fully, he thought something that he had never before in his life; that he was hideous. He stumbled out of the bathroom, and tried to ignore Hermione's disgusted face.

"What the hell happened to me?" he shrieked. "Why do I look like Harry Potter?"

Hermione was still trying to dissect his face. Easily the feature that disgusted her most were the spots on his face. It wasn't that acne bothered her, it was just…he had had the most perfect, smooth face, and now there were bumps and red dots everywhere. And 'everywhere' wasn't even an exaggeration; they were literally a centimetre apart. And his hair, oh God, his hair. It was beyond terrible; black did not clash with Draco Malfoy. Then Hermione heard his earlier comment, and rolled her eyes.

"God Malfoy, you don't look like Harry. He's a million times more handsome than that, trust me."

Draco was still panicking. "Granger, I don't understand. Why do I have pimples everywhere, why is my face fat, and why is my hair black!?" he yelled.

Hermione was at a loss for words. "I don't know," she whispered. Draco took a step towards the bed and Hermione shuffled back.

He stopped, insulted. "Granger, seriously. You're afraid of me because I'm ugly?"

Hermione shook her head. "Malfoy, really…you have no idea."

His face twisted, and suddenly he left the room, slamming the door behind him. Hermione lay back down on the head and hoped to death that this was all a dream…a very bad one. About twenty minutes later Malfoy came back in, and he was fuming.

"Guess what?" he said sarcastically, trying to keep his voice down and anger in check. "I just went into the Common Room…and the boys have been kicked out of their rooms. Take a guess why."

"They're ugly?" she guessed.

"Beyond hideous," he confirmed. "Actually, I'm one of the more handsome out of the bunch. So a few of us went to Kane…and now, we're testing you."

"Me?" Hermione shrieked, her voice flying through a few octaves.

He nodded. "Yeah, you know how when you got sick, Kane said something would happen to us, and the girls would be tested? Well, this is your test." His face got sour. "Yeah, this is us in our 'worse'," he spat, using air quotations. Hermione looked confused, and he explained angrily. "The vows; for better or for worse?" He paused, let out a low whistle, then snapped out, "God, can you believe that man? Making us ugly, to test you!"

Hermione nodded. "It does seem unfair." She was trying not to laugh, and Draco picked up on it.

"I don't see you with pimples and black hair!" Draco snapped. "This turned out way worse for us!"

"So…what do I have to do?" Hermione clarified. "Anything out of the ordinary?"

He looked glum. "Well, you have to deal with this face for a few days," he muttered. "Basically, you're not allowed to comment on my appearance at all, you have to treat me normally. I have no idea how the hell he would know, but if you say anything or treat me differently…we stay like this for longer. It starts at noon."

"How long?" Hermione whispered.

Draco shrugged. "No clue, he said a few days. But he also said that we're not excused from classes, except for this morning, just so we can get 'accustom to our situation'," he sneered, using air quotations again.

"This is a strange test," Hermione mumbled, trying not to look at his face.

Draco sighed. "Granger, it's supposed to test your…" he paused, then said hesitantly, "well, in a real marriage it would be your love for the person. You're supposed to be able to see beyond appearances."

"I do!" Hermione said, slightly stung. "I don't judge people on their personality, but come on Malfoy, it's a big difference! Like-"

"Was that a compliment?" Draco said, smirking in a nice way.

Hermione stuttered. "Well I mean, you weren't ugly before, and now you're…pretty hideous."

"Thanks," he muttered. "Okay, so just try not to look at me, and we have it covered. What do you want to do for the morning?"

"I have to go see Harry and Ron," Hermione said brightly. "I need to see what they look like." Without waiting for an answer she bounded out of the room, and ran into the Common Room. There were two chairs facing the fire, and saw the tops of their heads; one with black and the other with red hair. As she looked further around, she saw that Draco was right; the Common Room was indeed full of the boys.

She went over to them, and stood in front of their chairs quickly, before they could cover their faces. Hermione burst out laughing, and continued for a good few minutes at the expressions on their faces.

"You're-both-" Hermione wheezed, unable to finish her sentence. At this point the two boys were looking highly affronted, and were about to get up and leave, when Hermione made them sit back down, and was able to speak. "Sorry," she said, a big grin still on her face. "But wow, you guys…"

"Yeah, we know Hermione," Harry said. "We're disgusting."

Hermione nodded, then started laughing again. "You've got that right!"

Ron rolled his eyes, one of which was now lazy. His nose had magnified, which gave him the look of being distorted. He too had several new skin problems, however they did not compare to Draco's. He had jet black hair like Malfoy's, which did not suit him at all.

Harry had bright red hair, and large eyes. He seemed to be free of skin problems, yet his face had swelled like Malfoy's, as had his forehead, which made his scar bigger. She thought he actually looked better than Malfoy and Ron, as he just seemed to appear cartoon-like, with his abstract contrasts.

"So, Tessa and Liz kicked you guys out?" The both nodded glumly. "What did they do when they saw you?"

"Screamed," Ron and Harry said identically. "What did you do?" Ron added on, after Hermione scoffed.

She then reddened. "I didn't scream," she lied bold-facedly, yet Harry and Ron caught the lie and smirked to each other. "Okay fine, maybe I did, but you guys should see Draco! He looks way worse than you guys."

"Draco?" Harry asked slowly, and Hermione realized her slip-up.

"Malfoy, I mean Malfoy," she corrected.

Harry and Ron looked at each other in a slightly worried way. "You two are on a first-name basis now?" Ron asked, and Hermione thought she detected a hint of jealousy.

"No!" Hermione exclaimed. "I've never called him that, this was the first time, I promise." Suddenly she added on snarkily, "But would it matter to you Ron? You have Tessa." Hermione sighed, then apologized. "Sorry Ron. I'm still…just never mind. Sorry." She couldn't admit that she was still angry with him about the way he treated her.

Ron's ears slowly went back to normal colour. "Yeah," he muttered. "Anyways, since we have the morning, I think I'm going to go to the Quidditch Pitch and get in some practice." He cocked his head at Harry. "You game?"

Harry jumped up, a grin immediately shown on his ugly face. "Definitely."

They ran off to the Gryffindor Common Room, eager to get out to the Pitch. Hermione returned to her room, slightly down. When she saw Draco she smiled. "You were wrong about Harry and Ron being uglier than you."

"They're not?" Draco said. "Really? I thought they were…"

"Harry wasn't," Hermione said smugly.

"That's just cause he's ugly in the first place, so the difference isn't as drastic," Draco sneered. "And it's also because you're going to be bias to him over me. And bias to him over Ron, seeing as you still have your knickers in a twist over him."

Hermione's face got red. "Shut up Malfoy. All I was stating was the truth; no need for you to get your knickers in a twist over it." He started to reply but she quickly continued, "Anyways it doesn't matter. What are you doing for the rest of the morning?"

"Does it matter?" Draco said rudely. "Are we going to be with each other?"

Hermione was slightly stunned, but got over it quickly. "Why are you being like this?" she asked, mollified. "What happened to yesterday?"

His face got softer. "Granger, that was great, but…it shouldn't've-"

"You know, if you weren't ugly, I wouldn't even let you finish that sentence," Hermione said without thinking. Then she gaped, and went bright red as Malfoy understood. "I-I mean-" she stuttered, unable to finish.

"I have to go," she mumbled, leaving their room quickly. Once she arrived in the Common Room she collapsed into Ron's empty chair, and thought about what had just happened. Why had she just said she'd like to kiss Draco again? What had possessed her to say that? She lowered her head into her hands, and sighed with frustration. What was happening to her? She did want to kiss him again, she knew that…oh, why were her feelings so complicated! She should've just stuck to Ron; that was nice and simple.

With Draco…it was an entirely different matter.

A/N: Thanks to all my reviewers. I hope this chapter was slightly worth the long wait and I apologize for that; I was on holiday for a couple weeks and didn't have access to a computer...hope you enjoyed it!