"Stop it, Blaise! I mean it, I'm going to hex you if you don't leave that poor cat alone," Hermione cried without looking up from her Defense Against the Dark Arts essay. She was attempting to study in her bedroom with Blaise Zabini, who was doing everything he could to avoid his own homework. Crookshanks was becoming increasingly irritated as Blaise kept transfiguring bits of parchment into miniature mice of different colors only to transform them back to paper before the cat could pounce on them.

"Lighten up, Granger. It's Friday night. Remind me again why we are studying on a Friday night?" he said lazily from her bed where he was sprawled gracefully. He liked being around Hermione. She was much more down to earth than the Slytherin girls, and it was a refreshing change to be with someone so genuine. She was also one of the only girls in Hogwarts who didn't fawn all over him, but rather appreciated his personality.

"Because if we study tonight, we can do whatever we want tomorrow," she murmered, scribbling on her parchment. Blaise smiled at her from across the room, sitting at her desk, furiously writing her essay, her hair up in a messy ponytail, chewing on her bottom lip. She had no idea how cute she was. This concerned him, and thus he felt fiercely protective of her. He hated Weasley for breaking up with her and making her cry. He had tried to tell her how stupid the bastard was for not knowing what he had, but the subject was now off limits between them.

He and Hermione had become fast friends after the summer field trip for their Muggles studies class when they had discovered their common interest. Blaise was fascinated with anything Muggle, and as Hermione was Muggle-born, he had begged her to tell him of her experiences, the music she listened to, to show him pictures of her family and friends from home. He was obsessed with her portable dvd player and Muggle movies, especially comedies. Blaise had even come over her house during summer vacation to have dinner with her parents and stay in their guest room.

Hermione loved Blaise in so many ways. He was devastatingly handsome, and their friendship was a constant source of jealousy among her classmates. His dark good looks were admired by most girls to say the least. But there was no romantic interest between the two: they were more like siblings. He knew her better than anyone, including Harry and Ron, who she didn't see much of these days. Ron for obvious reasons: he had broken up with her shortly after he realized that their relationship wasn't going to progress to sex, and Hermione still felt cold every time they were in a 20 foot radius of each other. Harry of course was traveling abroad with The Order, researching dark magic.

So for the first time, Hermione was able to branch out, to be an individual, not a side-kick, the third wheel of The Golden Trio. Blaise listened to her, seemed to care what she thought. They laughed a lot. And now that she was Head Girl, she had plenty of private space in which to study, to hang out with Blaise or Ginny or Luna without interruption. It was relaxing. The Head dormitory was glorious, a huge comfortable common room, and her bedroom was as big as half of the entire girls dormitory in Gryffindor tower. The fact that Draco Malfoy had been appointed Head Boy and shared her amazing dormitory was the only thing she could see that was causing her any type of anxiety this year.

As her thoughts turned to Draco, she mentally drifted away from her Dark Arts essay, her quill now limp in her hand, a vacant expression on her face. Draco. He was now Draco in her thoughts, although she still couldn't bring herself to call him anything other than Malfoy when she spoke of him, which was seldom. She tried to avoid him whenever possible, which was hard considering they lived and carried out their Head duties in such close proximity. Furthermore, he happened to be Blaise's best mate.

Hermione had told nobody, not even Blaise, especially not Blaise, that Malfoy had begun to star in her fantasies, in her dreams. How delighted she was that they were no longer enemies. How her heart stopped when he smiled at her, when he walked through the door. That she sometimes stood in the bathroom after he had taken a shower, her eyes closed, just inhaling the scent of his aftershave. It was horrible, unthinkable, but she had become fascinated with him. All it took was for her to briefly look in his grey eyes, to be sitting within a few feet of him, for her insides to turn to mush and her face to heat up. If she could just touch his soft blond hair one time, just once…Of course she would rather have died than admit this to anyone.

"Who are you thinking about, Granger? What's his name?" Blaise said, smirking. Hermione appeared not to have heard him, as she stared into space. "Granger," he said a bit more sharply, and she jumped, turning around and glaring at him.

"What?" she snapped at him. He grinned at her.

"I said, what's his name. The bloke you are fantasizing about." She blushed and picked up her quill again, looking back at her parchment.

"I don't know what you're talking about. I'm not thinking about anyone," she said quickly.

"Whatever you say, Granger. Where's Malfoy tonight?" he added, his eyes twinkling.

"And how would I know, Zabini? I'm not his mother," she said, her voice cracking nervously. She cleared her throat as she blushed an even deeper shade of pink.

"You're sure not. Good thing, since it's obvious you want to snog him senseless," he said. Hermione froze, then turned around slowly to look at him in horror. He grinned at her. "What's the matter, Granger. Did I hit a nerve?" She stared at him.

"That's….that's not true," she whispered, her face growing pale. "I don't…you're wrong." She looked sick suddenly. Blaise sighed, instantly sorry for the teasing. He got up from the bed and walked over to her. He pulled her up from her chair and put his arms around her. He could see her trembling, and he knew then that his suspicions were right all along. She was in love with Malfoy.

"Granger, I'm sorry. But you need to come clean. To me, at least. I don't know what you're afraid of. Would you like me to tell him for you? You wouldn't even have to…"

He was suddenly pushed back with such force that he grunted in surprise as he almost lost his balance. Hermione was looking at him, her eyes wild with panic.

"Blaise," she hissed, "If you even think of saying a word to him, I swear I'll kill you. Slowly. Painfully. I swear I will," she finished fiercely, her eyes blazing.

"Hermione," Blaise said, surprised, holding his hands up. "I was only joking. I wouldn't, I swear." Hermione glared at him.

"Oh, yes you would," she said ferociously. "You would and you know it." Blaise grinned sheepishly.

"Oh, alright, I would. But I haven't yet. So relax." Hermione pushed past him and threw herself on the bed, covering her head with a pillow and groaning. Blaise sat down next to her and tried to remove the pillow, but she held onto it tightly.

"Is it that obvious?" he heard her muffled voice say miserably. He rubbed her back gently.

"Honestly, yes, it is. To me, anyway. You've been avoiding him. You turn a lovely shade of pink whenever anyone mentions his name. You go completely non-verbal when he's around. And you gave Pansy Parkinson detention yesterday because you didn't like her attitude, which in my opinion was code for 'you get to shag him and I don't." Blaise said, laughing. She rolled over, throwing the pillow at him, staring at the ceiling in dismay.

"This is horrible. Does he know, then?" she said, her face a mask of shame. Blaise looked at her and smiled.

"Would it be so horrible if he knew?" he asked.

"Of course it would, you prat," she snapped, sulking. "It would be so much more than horrible. He has a girlfriend, what would he want with me?" She looked close to tears. "He'd laugh. That's what he'd do. I couldn't bear the humiliation. I'd rather just…keep it to myself, and…and…enjoy smelling him occasionally." Blaise snorted with laughter. Hermione glared at him, blushing.

. "Oh, that is too funny," he gasped.

"Yes, I'm hilarious, I know," Hermione said dryly.

"Anyway," Blaise said, "I wouldn't exactly call Pansy his girlfriend. She's just a distraction. He's getting bored with her. And I don't know if he knows of your… obsession with his aftershave." Hermione shot him a very dirty look. He smirked at her. "But he did mention that it seems you have been avoiding him lately." Hermione gasped, sitting up and grabbing Blaise's shirt.

"No! He did not say that! Oh, no, oh no…" she whispered, releasing Blaise, who was chuckling with amusement, and collapsing back down onto the bed, wailing, "I'm going to kill myself. I really am."

"Can I have your room if you do? The view is much better from this side of the dorm." Hermione froze, a look of terror on her face as Draco stuck his head in the door, grinning.

"Hey Malfoy, where have you been hiding yourself," Blaise said, smirking at Hermione who had started to blush ferociously, suddenly intent upon biting her fingernail.

Malfoy walked into the room and spread his arms, showing the mud that was covering his Quidditch practice robes. "One guess. Hey, Granger," he said, flopping down on the bed next to them. "So why are you committing suicide this week? Didn't get a perfect score on your last Ancient Runes exam?" he teased, grabbing her hand away from her mouth. "And don't bite your nails. It's very juvenile." Hermione glared at him and he smirked back at her.

"Get off my bed, Malfoy, you're all muddy," she mumbled, kicking at him half-heartedly with her foot.

"Oh, Granger, you did not just kick me," he said, grabbing her leg roughly and yanking her over to him.

"Hey, let me go, you git!" she screamed. Blaise laughed and leaned back on her, pinning her down while Malfoy held her foot prisoner, tickling it. Hermione shrieked, half-laughing, half whimpering.

"Malfoy, stop…please stop," she gasped, trying to push Blaise off of her, who was unfortunately twice her size. Malfoy gripped her foot more firmly and tickled it harder, as she giggled and thrashed under the two boys.

"That's right, Granger, beg me…I like it," Malfoy said playfully, now tickling her side instead of her foot. Blaise was in hysterics, and Hermione was squirming, almost starting to cry.

"Please," she giggled miserably, looking directly into his eyes. "Please stop…". Something in her expression made him stop and smile. He let go of her, holding up his hands in surrender and she scrambled away from them, still gasping for breath, now scowling at them both.

"Well, I guess now we know who's ticklish," Blaise said, grinning.

"I think you're both horrible. I almost peed my pants," she snapped at them, blushing. They both laughed.

"Strangely, that image just turned me on," Blaise said, making Malfoy snort with laughter and Hermione glare at him even harder.

"I want to watch a Muggle movie," Blaise said, yawning. "Hermione, get out your portable dvd player and bring it into Malfoy's room so we can watch in there. I'm bored with your room as we've been studying in here for three hours."

Hermione felt her stomach drop at the thought of being in Malfoy's room watching movies with him, and she carefully avoided looking at his eyes. "You mean I've been studying. You've only been tormenting my poor cat all night."

"I wouldn't mind watching a movie," Malfoy said, getting up from the bed. "I'm going to take a shower: I'll meet you in there."

As he strode out of the room, Blaise grinned at Hermione. "Blaise," she whispered fiercely, "How could you? How could you do that? I don't want to be in his room, for goodness sake!"

"You'll thank me later," Blaise said, not bothering to keep his voice down. "Now why not go join the poor bloke in the shower? I'm sure he'd love some company."

"Shhh! He'll hear you! What were you thinking?" she hissed angrily. "Why did you say that about watching a movie? He doesn't want me in his room, Blaise, why??" she gasped, again grabbing him by the collar of his shirt and shaking him. He only grinned at her.

"Relax, Granger. It will be fun. Don't worry. I'll be there to chaperone. For a bit," he added, winking. She flopped back down on the bed, groaning softly.

"I think I'm going to be sick," she said weakly. Blaise stood up and offered her his hand.

"No you're not. Come on, be a brave little Gryffindor. It's only a movie. You don't have to snog him. Tonight." He laughed as he saw her face fall in dismay. "Now come on, grab that dvd player. And pick a good movie, not one of your cheesy chick flicks."

"Oh, you think you're so clever with all your newfound Muggle expressions, but you're really just infuriating," she hissed as she rummaged in her closet. I really am going to kill myself, she thought miserably.


"Granger's asleep," Malfoy said, yawning. The three were all crowded on Malfoy's bed. It was well past midnight, and Hermione, having spent hours that night studying, had passed out before the movie was even half over.

Malfoy reached over to where she was lying next to him and gently tweaked one of her curls. She moaned softly in her sleep and rolled over, facing away from him. Malfoy reached again to touch her hair briefly, smiling. Blaise snickered.

"Please tell me you don't touch my hair like that when I fall asleep in your room," Blaise said, chuckling.

Malfoy grinned at him. "She's cute, isn't she?" he said softly, leaning over her and watching her sleep. "I like the little noises she makes when she's sleeping."

"Yes, it makes one wonder what other kinds of noises she makes when she's…"

"Shut up, Zabini," Malfoy said. "Don't say stuff like that about Granger." Malfoy leaned down and softly kissed her on her head. "She's innocent," he said, pulling one of the blankets up over her. She sighed in her sleep, rolling over and moving closer to him. Blaise thought to himself with amusement how mortified she would be if she knew Malfoy had just kissed her.

Blaise raised an eyebrow, and said smugly, "She's far more interesting on so many levels than that vile Parkinson, isn't she?"

Malfoy smiled, looking down at her. "Yeah, she is," he whispered.

"And what do you think Granger thinks about you?" he asked, smirking.

"What's that supposed to mean, Zabini?" he said, sitting up and stretching.

"I mean," Blaise said, reaching over and yanking the blanket off of Hermione and covering himself with it, "how do you think she feels about you? And for your information, nobody respects her "innocence", as you so poetically put it, more than I." Malfoy stared at him curiously.

"Well," he said thoughtfully, "I know she doesn't hate me anymore: we get along ok. But other than that, I don't really know. I already told you, she seems to avoid me, to be honest. She only hangs out with me when you're here."

"And why, pray tell, do you think that is? Come on, Malfoy, you're Head Boy, surely you can work this puzzle out." Blaise grinned at him wickedly.

"Zabini, what are you grinning about?" Malfoy said, confused. "What do you know?" he added, glancing at Hermione and then back at Blaise expectantly.

"I know nothing," he said, rolling over, and yawning. "Now leave me alone, I'm trying to sleep." Malfoy yanked the blanket off of him.

"Go back to your dorm, Zabini. You're not sleeping here." he said, again covering Hermione with the blanket. As he did, Hermione murmured in her sleep and squirmed, opening her eyes. When she saw Malfoy leaning over her, she jumped and backed away from him with a yelp, making both Draco and Blaise laugh.

"I…uh, well…goodnight," she mumbled, scrambling off of the bed and out the door, looking both embarrassed and disoriented. After the door closed behind her, Malfoy turned and looked at Blaise thoughtfully.

"You don't think…" he said, a look of recognition dawning on him. Blaise slid off the bed, yawning.

"Yes, I try not to think. It's sometimes best not to," he said, grinning. "Goodnight, Malfoy. Sweet dreams," he added with a wink as he let himself out of the room.

Malfoy stretched out on his bed, suddenly more than a little excited. Did Granger have a crush on him? Is that why she refused to look him in the eye for longer than a few seconds? Why she wouldn't hang out with him without Blaise? He smiled when he thought of the panic in her eyes when she woke up and found him looking at her. Granger, do you want me? How sweet, he thought, as a warm feeling pleasantly spread throughout his body.

A/N: yes, it's me again...don't kill me! :) Just wanted to tell you all thanks for reading, and also that this story, Friends and Lovers, is a story I had on another site and deleted (can't say which site) so that I could bring it here and allow Draco and Hermione more breathing room in later chapters if you know what I mean...wink wink...

Cheers! :) I love you all deeply...