Since the trip to Hogsmeade was over a week away, and Draco was assigned just as many essays as she was, she decided to hold off on the whole hotel room rumor for awhile.

However, it still frustrated her that she only once saw him spread out at a table to work!

She didn't know how he managed when the grip she had regained on her own concentration started to slip once more. Finding out she was competing with Draco for the internship, having that whole new fiery reason to hate him, gave her the focus she needed. But the fire was dying out. She did not know why and she was starting to panic again. She'd sit down to work and never fail to be reminded of Draco somehow. She was baffled by the magic she was under and how it worked.

But Draco remained unchanged. Every day he showered her with obscene compliments and every night there was an invitation. He made her feel like an addict trying for her life to stay clean.

Never once did she mention his Father, which is probably why he attempted to offer the same courtesy of pretending he didn't see something he clearly did, when she came into the library late one night, obviously about to cry.

"Hey Granger, just wanted to let you know I'm going to go for a little stroll around the lake in case you wanted to-" he stopped at the sight of her. She looked miserable.

"Oh, I'll just-" he stammered, looking for the least awkward exit.

It was Snape's assignment that finally sent her over the edge. And when she went to him with a question about it he treated her as usual.

"He told me he didn't care if I wasn't taking my assignments seriously" she blurted out quickly, as if desperate to say it before she started sobbing, "but that he did care that I was wasting his time and not to bother him anymore."

"What?" Draco gaped, shocked it was even possible for anyone to think Hermione didn't take her assignments seriously, "Why would he say that?"

"I asked him where I could find Abyssinian Shrivelfig this time of year and he just stared at me like I'm an idiot," she sniffled pitifully, rubbing her lips together to keep them from quivering.

"But Abyssinian Shrivelfig is from our Herbology essay question…" Draco said.

"I know!" she cried, "I mean I did know that, I just got them mixed up, I thought I had to brew-"

"Shrinking Solution," he said, understanding her mistake, "No, no that's not until next terms Potion's essay. You need to not read ahead so much, you're overwhelming yourself."

"But I always read ahead," she said, "It's never been a problem before; I just can't keep my head straight anymore…"

"Granger…" Draco started, "I mean, when it comes to Potions, you know I could always hel-"

"Oh what am I doing whining to you about it!" she snapped, "I can't believe I'm practically crying! How much more pathetic can I become?" she groaned and turned away from him toward the entrance to her room, "I need to go do homework," she said dismissively.

Hermione couldn't be sure how much time had passed when the littlest house-elf she had ever seen apparated next to her desk, but it couldn't have been long. Her face was blocked by a large square gift-box adorned with a huge gold bow.

"Miss Granger," she squeaked.

"Oh my goodness," cried Hermione, jumping up out of her chair, "Here, let me help you."

"No!" shrieked the house-elf, shocking Hermione and clutching the box that was way too big for her tightly, "Minney has not had one single tasksince the school year started, please, please, let Minney present the Head Girl with her delivery!"

"O-okay," agreed Hermione, a little alarmed,

"Minney presents the Head Girl, Miss Granger, with a delivery."

"Thank you," she said, taking the surprisingly heavy box. "Minney is it?"

"What has Minney done, Miss Granger, to upset you?" the elf blurted out.

"Excuse me?" Hermione asked.

"Minney was so proud to be chosen as the Elf to personally serve the Head Girl, to aid her in any way, to help her bring greatness to Hogwart's, and then she is told not to serve her, that Miss would be upset with her, that she must not be seen and clean in secret and offer no additional service. Minney has never felt such sorrow!"

"You've been cleaning?" gaped Hermione, too distracted to even notice.

The elf's eyes immediately filled with tears, the corners of her mouth practically reaching the floor.

"Because it looks amazing," she added quickly, stopping the elf. It was true now that she thought about it; her bed was always made and her rubbish bin emptied, she had just been too distracted by her work and Draco to notice.

"Who told you it would upset me to see you?" she asked, wondering how Harry or Ron managed such a feat behind her back, and they must've gotten to her quickly too...

"Head Boy Mister Malfoy," she said bitterly, "He stopped me from the welcoming tradition before you even arrived."

Hermione's mouth dropped.

"But Minney has forgiven him of this atrocity now that he has trusted Minney with the delivery of his gift."

Hermione had to sit back down. Draco? Draco knew she'd feel awful about having her very own house-elf…

"Minney will leave Miss Granger to her studies now and wishes her a good night." And then the elf was gone.

Hermione stared at the box. Better just to face it head on. She ripped it open with a bit too much excitement, gifts from Malfoy should not excite her, so she slowed down to lift off the lid.

At first, when she saw it filled to the brim with gold and red tinsel she wanted to smack it across the room and into the wall.

"Hilarious," she thought sarcastically.

But then, through gritted teeth, she remembered it was heavy and dug into it.

She pulled out a marble bowl, ancient and beautiful. A Pensieve. There was a folded note in it.

"I'm the only thing that can get you all hot and bothered, got it? -Draco"

Hermione separated all her thoughts and assignments with the Pensieve, and finished all her essays that night.

… … …

"What?!" barked Pansy.

"That's so unfair!" added Blaise.

Hermione was trying so hard not to smile. It was satisfying enough to be the one to discover them and turn them in, but she had no idea she would be allowed to survey the very informal disciplinary hearing.

"That's enough from you," answered Flitwick, "Someone could've been killed."

"But no one was. Snape will never allow such an unbalanced punishment," insisted Pansy snobbishly.

Flitwick cast her a severe look, "Professor Snape is the one who suggested it," he seethed, waving a folded letter in her face and her expression rotted. Hermione was certain she expected Draco to have intervened before it even got to Snape.

"And now if you'd ever like to earn backyour Hogsmeade privileges," the little Charms teacher pressed on, "I suggest you show your teachers proper respect. Not to mention your fellow classmates. Honestly, encouraging first years to touch the trunk of the Whopping Willow…" he trailed off muttering in disgust.

"Galloping Goblins I had forgotten how freezing it is down here," he remarked. He was quite an odd person to see down in the dungeons, so out of his element, "Oh good, here comes Head Boy."

"He's fine," Draco told Flitwick, "No breaks, just bruises. Madam Pomfrey sent him back to his house."

"What fortunate news," Flitwick said with relief, "You two should be grateful! I expect your letters of apology by tomorrow evening," he turned to address Draco specifically, "Mr. Malfoy please see to collecting them. I hope this is the last of events such as these. Thank you again for your keen eye Ms. Granger, and all your help. Good night to you all," he huffed, wrapping himself in his cloak and hurrying away.

Pansy smiled smugly at Draco with assurance and then muttered confidently to Blaise, "At least we don't have to do the stupid letter."

Hermione was surprised at the instant urge of "Oh YES you do" that she wanted to slam in her face. She wasn't usually such a spiteful person. She knew her pleasure from the situation only came from her deep dislike and jealousy of Pansy and the spoiling of her plans she had been telling everyone in school about. But shouldn't her banishment from Hogsmeade trips be enough? Of course Draco would let them blow off the apology letters, that was so predictable it wasn't even worth a reaction…

But to Hermione's utter surprise, Draco was shaking his head, frowning at her, "Do you have any idea how much homework I have?" he thundered, "I don't have time to be running all over the castle, to Snape, to the infirmary, to the Headmaster's, to here! All because of your daft little shenanigans? You're going to write the letter, and you can apologize for wasting my time while you're at it! -and Hermione's!"

Something flared inside of Hermione. He just considered her. Not only considered her, but included her in a sentence that spoke of her as equal. In front of Slytherins. By her first name. Did he realize all of the mistakes he'd just made?

It didn't appear so. He turned around in a huff and was stalking away.

"But Hogsmeade?" Pansy cried out desperately.

"Get bloody over it," he yelled over his shoulder, "I've known for days I can't go to Hogsmeade, too much work to do! But do you see me crying about it?!"

He hadn't ever planned on going? But what about the hotel room rumor? Hermione watched Pansy turn bright red as Blaise gave her a laughing sneer that all but said she was caught red-handed making it all up.

Hermione didn't even bother to try not to smile.

… … …

"Please stop Ron," Hermione said when Ron looked at his watch for the third time, "You're making me nervous."

"Sorry, I just thought it'd come by now."

"Me too," she agreed reluctantly.

Harry was sitting on the stone wall huffing out clouds of breath and watching them fade, twirling his broom. They had been in the Owlery for over half an hour and the autumn weather was taking its toll.

"Oh let's just go then," she sighed, realizing all her bones were stiff from the cold, "I can get it at breakfast tomorrow."

Ron scoffed, rising to his feet, "You sure? Honestly I'm afraid you'll give yourself a heart attack before then."

"Sod off Ron! Just because you've never worked your arse off for anything important-"

"Hermione, an owl!" Harry spotted, pointing.

"Really?" she squeaked, rushing to the ledge.

Her shoulders dropped to the floor. She could tell, even with it still yards away, it was black.

"That's Draco's Owl," she mumbled.

The owl came fluttering to a halt on the ledge where they all clung. He looked confused when he saw that none of the humans watching him expectantly to arrive were his owner. He gave a curt hoot and a dirty look that only an owl of a Malfoy could and flew away up to the beams with the other owls, irritated.

"The seal! Malfoy's letter had a Ministry seal!" Hermione had noticed excitedly.

"So?" asked Ron, under the impression they were finally going to go inside where it was warm.

"So then Hermione's answer should be coming too," Harry answered for her, wise enough by now to limit the amount they had to say to each other when they were both so obviously in tense moods.

But Hermione's didn't come. Not after five minutes. Not after ten minutes. Not after twenty.

Hermione thought bitterly of how spoiled Draco was, having his own owl, one who could go and collect important letters for him. Meanwhile Hermione had to wait for a Ministry Owl, to whom she would not be a priority.

"Harry…" Hermione asked slowly, realizing how much she adored him, and his normally annoying, but today glorious, habit of bringing his broom with him wherever he went that wasn't class, "Could you help me catch that owl?"

… … …

Separating the owl from the letter was already a crime in itself. But Hermione could not bring herself to open it. She had to find Malfoy. If it said "Congratulations", then she would know she didn't get it. But if it was a rejection… well then the spot could still be hers…

Her hands were shaking by the time she reached the library. Her legs were like lead, cold and tired from the long, long week and nervous. So nervous. She made her way toward the northwest corner and ran right into him as he emerged from an aisle.

"Ouch!" she cried, dropping the letter.

"Granger," Draco reprimanded, rubbing his forehead, "That's not how sex works. When done properly we'd both need to be nak-"'

"Your letter," she blurted, pointing a shaking finger, "From the Ministry."

All humor left his face. He reached down and snatched it up quickly.

There was a slight shake to his hand as well, and Hermione heard him gulp.

He was practically as wrecked about it as she was, she realized.

He began ripping it at the seal right then and there among the shelves of books and Hermione's heart pounded like a hammer. She immediately regretted rushing the letter to Draco. She realized in a frantic panic that she wasn't prepared for whichever status it read.

But it was too late. Draco already had the paper unrolled. He was as blank as she was petrified as his eyes moved from left to right.

Oh God.

How would she feel if he got it?

How would she feel if he didn't…?

The seconds ticked like years, her stomach more hollow with each. She did notwant to know.

But his face finally cracked.

The most joyful, vindicated smile erupted across his mouth and he exhaled a strangling, shuddering breath of elation. He glowed with relief.

In the very next instant his smile vanished and he locked his eyes onto hers, "Hermione, I-" he started consolingly.

But then in a blink he was staggering backwards, his words muffled into ceasing by Hermione's mouth. She had thrown herself onto him, her arms wrapped around his neck like a boa constrictor, eyes closed tight, crushing his lips with hers.

Draco instinctually took the attacking Hermione in his arms despite his surprise. He did not fight her, but stood perfectly still and moldable, his lips slowly but surely responding.

Only after having no choice did she let them break away for a gasp of air.

Finally, forehead pressed firmly to forehead, she uttered a desperate command against his mouth, "Don't speak," then she kissed him ferociously again.

"Please - don't - say - anything," she managed in between each puckering engulfment of his lips.

"I don't want to talk about it," she whispered more in frantic explanation, then took his head in her hands and slid her tongue into his mouth as much as she could, rubbing edaciously.

"Please," she pleaded, her hands gripping his jaw and cheeks, "I can't deal with that right now," and she swept his mouth with her tongue once more, "It's too much," she managed at their next break in connection.

Another long, crushing kiss, then the snapping strain of their release, she begged, "Distract me… please."

Now it was Draco who held her face in his hands, looking her directly in her crazed eyes, "I can do that," he insisted intensely.

"Then do it," she whispered.

His tongue plunged deep in her mouth, and she felt her knees give out. It was no matter because he had her entire body held against him tightly. He pulled her down into the aisle he had previously been trying to exit, crashing both of them into the shelf.

Neither seemed to notice or care, their mouths were hungrily devouring the other's, their hands clawing fistfuls of hair.

Draco miraculously managed to bumper off of the shelf, collide into the other side and, with reluctance, removed one arm from around Hermione to clumsily reach for a thick, black, hardcover book, which he pulled the tip of. He then aimed for another book on the shelf below the first, but when he finally admitted he needed to turn his head to see, unleashing his hold on Hermione's lips for only an intended second, she immediately latched onto his neck instead causing him to stumble more than ever.

He groaned with pleasure, reaching with impatient anger for the third and last book in the secret series, more eager than he had ever been to get to his destination.

The brick wall at the end of the aisle dissolved away to reveal a spiral staircase escalating upwards, exactly like the Headmaster's office, exactly like Hermione's, only this one led to Draco's quarters.

Conjoined and fumbling he led her to the passageway. She had forgotten their chemistry, their perfect flow. As soon as she jumped, he knew to catch her and she wrapped her legs around him. She never dreamed she was capable of such suggestive actions, but in their heat, their magnetism, it felt perfectly natural, impossible not to do.

She felt his lean, hard body between her thighs, the ease in which he carried her to the moving stairs. Hugging her tightly to him, he brazenly grabbed her ass, rousing a wild animal in her. She more ravenously showered his neck with kisses and bites, hearing his hiss, feeling his muscles clench.

There was a moment, a moment where everything froze in time. She realized she had just been tossed onto his high, extravagant four-poster bed, sheeted in fine satin, identical to her room but in rival colors of green and silver and, in result, not nearly as bright even with all the flickering candles. There she was, alone with him in his room. It was then that the seriousness of the situation snatched her attention in a cruel, unrelenting grip.

She knew she was standing with her back at a cliff edge, a three-headed monster in front of her. The torment of the potion, the loss of the internship, and her own self-proclaimed convictions. All these things demanded her attention, they ordered she come forward and endure their wrath.

Draco crawled up around her, slowly pushing her back onto the bed. Then he loomed over her, hesitating.

The three headed-monster roared furiously.

Hermione reached up, cupping the back of his neck in her hand, and pulled him down for a deep, burning kiss.

In her mind she turned in place and swan dived off the cliff, the monster's tyrannical roar fading with every foot per second gravity claimed on her. Goodbye monster, hello free-fall. She literally felt the wind drop in her stomach as Draco enveloped her in his frantic passion. The torturous weight of the past days faded from her body, his touch and kiss were incomprehensibly better than her daydreams and fantasies.

She never fathomed her fingers could move so nimbly and so quickly. In between pulling off each other's jumpers and ripping off ties, they were undoing all their buttons.

She felt no embarrassment when she found herself in her skirt and bra. She was too distracted by Draco's own toplessness and had no control of pushing him over, intent on straddling him, her hands sliding up and down his entire torso, feeling each intricate rip of muscle on his porcelain stomach. She sprinkled his chest with soft kisses. Her movements and urges came so naturally, as if she was guided by some invisible force.

Draco ran his hands up the back of her thighs, grazing over her backside, caressing her back with his fingertips and so very quickly unclasped her bra that she barely registered the item sliding down her arms before Draco was savagely suckling her breasts, relishing them in his palms. She arched her back, encouraging more and more of his titillating attention. Each flick of his tongue was an explosion of sensations all over her body.

The stirring between her legs flooded her body with an urge to wiggle and shiver all over, she was grateful to have his body between her to release the sudden influx of energy, grinding her pelvis into his.

Draco roared his approval, tossing his head back, eyes closed tightly. He was fiddling his feet together, peeling off his shoes; Hermione heard them drop to the floor.

Then he flipped her over onto her back. Ever so quickly the crotch of her panties was whisked aside and a strong, determined finger slid into her.

They both moaned in surprised delight. It was better than the first time he had touched her like this, because she knew what wonderful feelings were in store. There was no shyness about the effect he had on her, she was certain he knew by now that he could snap his fingers and she would be soaking wet, and he already knew how her body would try to grab onto him, not let him leave. He did his amazing beckoning inside her. She felt pulled up toward the ceiling by her navel.

"Mmm yes," she whimpered, "You have no idea how long, how badly, I've wanted you to touch me like this."

Draco was slowly kissing his way down her body, celebrating every step, his hands working independently of his mouth, inching closer together.

"And you have no idea how long I've been dying to taste you," he huffed with triumphant relief, his hot breath tingling on her inner thigh.

Hermione was unprepared for what was coming next. Her knowledge was limited to what happened by the lakeside and she never imagined there was more pleasure to be had. Draco, pushing the hem of her skirt completely out of his way, dived ravenously into her sex.

Her breath was ripped from her lungs as she gasped, then shuddered, marveling at the feel of his hot, frenzied tongue.

It was unknown to her how long she laid there, paralyzed by the feeling of his adoring mouth. Her delicious, most private, flavor made him murmur, his lips vibrating against her. Hermione bucked uncontrollably. Something was building inside her, something wild and uncontrollable. She started breathing heavily, but he cruelly focused the very tip of his tongue onto her most sensitive point, intricately flicking back and forth. She yearned to buck more than ever but he pinned down her hips, increasing the pace, increasing the pressure.

She didn't hear her own scream, she didn't even know what she saw, if she even could see, because a shattering orgasm shot through her entire body. There were no thoughts, no words, no movement, just a prolonged moment of coursing ecstasy.

After her rigid body relaxed, she melted into his luxurious mattress, her delicate organs pulsing spasmodically. She was certain, for a brief second, that she could die, she was that satisfied. It was amazing how quickly her thoughts were able to turn to Draco. He needed to feel this.

He was lying down beside her, surprised when her hand glided to his belt buckle. He inhaled deeply and smiled as Hermione opened his pants and she gripped his swollen member, both remembering how rudely interrupted they had been last time. Well, that annoying Potter certainly couldn't throw water on them now, no one knowing they were alone together in his hidden room.

She squeezed softly, pumping up and down slowly. She was unsure but then encouraged by his shudder and moan of pleasure as he reached over and groped her breasts while she groped him.

"Hermione," he whispered idly, shifting and breathing loudly as she massaged his erection. Hermione marveled at the member with fascination, relearning every detail with her fingertips, causing him to shiver. Every inch of his entire body was beautiful…

As soon as the wicked image of how it would work, how it would feel, him penetrating her with this part of him, the echoes of her daydreams, she yearned for it violently. Her body screamed, despite its so recent gratification, for more, for this part of him.

"Draco," she whispered; something unheard of in her voice.

"What is it?" he asked, desperate to know why she was releasing her hold on him and laying back.

"Make love to me," she whispered.

Draco paused, licking his lips, drinking in the lovely sight of her, leaning back on the frivolous pillows of his bed, almost without clothes entirely, her breasts heaving gently and her eyes sparkling in the candlelight, just like the shining curls sprawled out around her angelic face.

He shoved any reason, any hesitation aside. He was upon her, kissing her deeply. He helped her slide down her skirt and panties, lifted up his own body on his capable arms, letting her hitch his own trousers and underwear down, shimmying the rest off.

Their naked bodies melted into each other's. Heat, silkiness, tingles exchanging. Every muscle that had ached so long with tense hunger to be near him relaxed with relief when his body weight pressed her down into his bed. She managed to part her knees, opening her thighs to him, her senses overloaded with anticipation.

"This is my first time," she whispered.

Draco smiled what she thought was a knowing smile, but at his words she understood it was in fact shy, "Mine too," he whispered.

Hermione's mouth shaped into a surprised oh…

"Well, with this part," he insisted softly.

A tidal wave of euphoria washed through her. Knowing he was as new and pure as she was, that she wasn't sharing him with anyone, made Hermione all the more certain she never stood a chance in resisting any of this. Hermione gripped his shoulders and he laid down on top of her.

A sharp intake of air was all she was capable of when he entered her. She had no words to describe the rolling, spreading, intense reactions of her body as he glided into her glistening softness, spreading apart barriers as smoothly and sensitively as he could.

He trembled on top of her. A long moan escaped from deep within her and her face was screwed up tight.

"Are you alright?" he whispered into her ear.

"Yes," she insisted intensely. She had been so ready for him, so lubricated, so trusting, her virginity passed away with sweet surrender, the only discomfort was the mandatory physical ripping all young lovers sacrificed, which was immediately compensated for, fleeting and miniscule in comparison to all other wonders of the moment…

"Does it feel good?" she whispered.

"Good?" he repeated incredulously, "Hermione it's…" but he could not think of a word.

"More," Hermione half suggested, half ordered. Her body demanded it.

He shuddered with delight, then began sliding himself out. And then more in. Then more out. Then even further in. Out then in, out then in. Her body responded to his rhythm perfectly. They rode together, writhing and gliding in unison. Hermione only encouraged Draco to delve deeper, in awe at the limits of her own body.

Soon, they could not keep in their sounds of pleasure, their sex was rocking the wood framed bed into the wall, the mattress protesting each thrust, but nothing could distract them. Hermione was torn, was there more pleasure in his manhood as her insides were ignited with pressure and friction? Or in the expression on his face as he stared into her eyes while he did it?

Draco himself seemed torn between taking his time and hurrying before he awoke from a dream. Something about the way he laid on top of her -protectively, defensively- was like a predator feasting on prey, worried a competitor could appear at any moment to try to steal his winnings.

Increasingly, she was ridden harder, clinging to him tightly, her fingernails pressed into his shoulders. Like with his tongue, pressure was building, only this time deeper, more in the very core of her. It mounted like a river crashing into a dam.

She could not bottle her need to cry out before it even happened, the seconds leading up to the actual explosion too intensely pleasurable to be contained, for when the actual orgasm came, she could make no noise, but only an airless silent scream as her body arched and her insides quaked around his presence.

Draco, unable to keep completely hidden his pride and relief that he had made her come, relaxed himself and, in doing so, no longer inhibited his own orgasm.

It was what hurt the most, how deep he plunged into her then. But Hermione was honored to endure it when she saw the expression on his face, felt the shaking of his body, heard the sound of utter satisfaction in his moan and the intimate exchange as he burst inside her.

He fell, all muscles limp with exhaustion. After experiencing that, what else would they ever want to do? His head laid resting on Hermione's softly panting bosom. She stroked his hair, still in her own state of stupor. They could feel the other's breath, sweat, heartbeats. Sleep came so softly and stilly neither seemed to notice.

... ... ...

She slept peacefully for a while. What a blessing it was, having not truly rested since she had returned to school. It wasn't yet day, the room only alit by moonlight. Draco had an arm under her, she was nestled into his side, nosing his neck.

He must have woken when she slipped away and turned her back to him. He sensed her distress.

He reached for her; she felt gentle fingertips stroke her naked back. She pulled sheets nearer to her chin, a lame attempt of modesty.

"Hermione," he whispered, sleep still obvious in his voice and reluctant questioning in his tone.

She didn't answer right away. But though she was silent, she was not upset. She was determined.

It was time to face what was really going on, and she needed Draco to understand, fully, what he had done.

Her thoughts turned end over end in her mind; she was straining for the right words…

She sat up and turned, halfway facing him. He sat up, awake now and ready to respond.

"Here's the thing, Malfoy," she attempted to start, "love potions… they really are a joke. And so stupidly named. The results aren't loving, they're lascivious or conquering. They can make someone lustful or obsessed, sure, mimic infatuation, but it never lasts, because it's not real."

Draco had started to smirk condescendingly at her, but what did she care? Of course he'd tease her till the bitter end, but she would get this out.

"The official school of thought is true emotion cannot be bottled, only imitated," she went on, "But yours…" She sighed, where could she even begin?

"It didn't just make me want you," she finally blurted out, "It is so much more than your sex…"

He looked like he was going to go for a flirty joke, and she was blushing herself, but she needed focus, "Draco, I really, really did not like you," she confessed bluntly.

His raised his eyebrows, feigning to be shocked and offended, but he was clearly amused.

"I hated everything about you," she stressed, hoping he would start to take her seriously, "and I had decided right after meeting you that I always would. You were hopeless. And nothing anyone said or did was going to change that. But now… Now? It's like you turned on a light in my mind. I see you in a completely different way."

Draco's brows lowered, his face softening.

"I see that you really are brilliant, and that you're actually capable of being nice, sweet even. Thoughtful and generous… I mean, a Pensieve? I've always wanted one and then you actually… so considerate… and my house-elf…" she saw herself trailing, "You do pay attention," she asserted, trying to drive back around to her point, "But you're careful who you're kind to," she qualified, "you're too ambitious to risk wasting time on people who won't benefit you. Yes, that may be a fault… but it's so obviously a defense mechanism, and no oneis perfect, and I certainly am the last person who can hold ambition against you, I see this now."

Draco slowly opened his mouth to speak but Hermione silenced him with a finger, needing to lay it all out while she had the nerve, while she had his attention.

"And I see now that I wasn't just jealous of Pansy, I was angry you'd sell yourself so short, hurt by the idea that you would waste your time on someone who didn't like you for the right reasons. And I wanted to hex your Father's face off when I heard the way he speaks to you. The way he tries to control you. And when you got your acceptance letter, I wasn't ready to realize it yet, but… I was so happy for you, so proudof you… I couldn't believe it."

She paused, certain this would be surprising news, and it was to her after all. But having already been interrupted once, Draco gave her an expectant, yet patient, look, inviting her to finish.

"I can't believe how much success I hope you have, how happy I want you to be …" she was shaking her head as she continued, "Draco, I'm in love with you."

She cast her eyes downward, determined not to see his expression. But it was unfair she should have to be scared of how he'd react, it was his fault she felt this way after all! Didn't he comprehend the gravity of what he had created?

"Don't you see?" she emphasized desperately, "You've brewed real love. To make me look passed our history, all your dark flaws and see someone else… I don't know how you did it, but you did," she murmured quietly, an aching in her heart.

She was still refusing to look at him, busying her hands feebly in the ruffles of the sheets when he finally spoke.

"Such sweet words in such a bitter tone," he half asked, half observed.

So he had been listening. That was something. But did he get it?

"I just hope…" her voice wavered. She had to pause. She wasn't going to get emotional.

"Obviously, I'm along for the ride," she restarted, trying to be casual, "I don't mind. How could I?" she half laughed, "I'm bewitched. …and I know I started this whole thing, when I took that insane dare, but I just hope that when you grow tired of this, of me that is, be it by summer holiday, or Christmas, or even Halloween- hell, if you're done with me now that we've… that we've had sex…," discomfort crept back into her voice, "Well I just hope that once you get bored, whenever that may be, that you'd have the decency to give me the antidote. So it won't… because you've made me actually care… I wouldn't be able to… …So that it doesn't hurt," she finally confessed.

With all her strength she peeked up at him. He was expressionless, ghostly angelic.

She cast her eyes back to her hands, "Because if these last few days are any indication of how hard it is, if you dump me without undoing your potion, especially now that we've... well I would probably castrate you, muggle style, and feed your balls to Hagrid's dog."

He laughed in surprise and gratefully she felt a little less awkward.

"Well at least you're honest," he said.

"I'm a big believer in honesty," Hermione replied, trying to justify the humiliation she just put herself through.

"Are you?" he asked, "I'm becoming more and more a fan of it myself."

Hermione tried to read him, but came up unsure.

"Maybe you'll answer me this honestly," he tested. Despite all she had just revealed he was calm and relaxed and it surprisingly eased her.

"If I were to have an antidote," he asked, "hypothetically speaking of course, and gave it to you now… would you go back to hating- I mean, "really, really," not liking me?"

Hermione hesitated, "…No," she finally decided.

"Why not? I bewitched you for Merlin's sake."

"I bewitched you first," she defended.

"You're avoiding the question," he insisted.

Hermione sighed, "I don't think I could," she confessed, "Granted, I wouldn't act like such a randy lunatic any longer, and I'd still think you were an egotistical pompous jerk, because you are. But…No, I wouldn't hate you like I used to, not since everything so beautiful and lovely about you has become so illuminated."

Draco had a soft, confident smile. "And, once again, hypothetically, what if there was no antidote and I never "get bored" with you? What then?"

"You mean…" she giggled at the absurdity of her own question before she could even ask it, "If we continued on like this?" she gestured at the both of them, naked and barely covered by bed clothes, "as a couple? You mean with our lives? Our friends?"


"Well I would just have to deal with it." she assessed plainly, "What choice does one have when they are in love? It's kind of like you said, I don't really care about that right now."

There was a long pause. "Do you remember what else I said?"

"You'll have to be more specific Draco," she pressed jokingly, growing more comfortable in the conversation than she ever dreamed possible, "You run your mouth quite a bit."

He sneered characteristically, "About being fond of you?"

"Ah yes, you're 'quite fond of' me, if I remember right."

"That's it," he said, "Well… that's not exactly on par with this whole honesty thing we both like so much."

"No?" she asked.

"No," he said, "It's more like I am in love with you too and couldn't be happier that there is not a single drop of antidote in existence."

Heat spread throughout Hermione's chest, a warm blanketing heat. He reached to pull her into him and she made no fight. She kissed his lips three eager times then nestled her face into his chest while he held her. She never dared imagine it, but now that it had happened, and it had happened so fast, it was exactly the outcome she desperately hoped for, like her life depended on it. Him really wanting her too.

She sighed deeply. Because it was going to be hard, and with an unheard of potion like the one she was under who knew what could happen, but it was nothing the two of them couldn't handle, she was sure. She would worry about that when she needed to. All she wanted to do currently was revel in the euphoric happiness that coursed through her so completely, the tingle of her skin where she touched Draco. She was ready to drift off to sleep again.

"I love you," Draco reiterated softly.

"I love you too," she said back just as soft. And it was so easy to say. And she enjoyed saying it without shame. She could love the horrible bastard all she wanted and not feel wrong about it, it was the magic's fault after all, what could she possibly do about it?

"You're mine now," he observed, wrapping her even tighter in his arms.

"I am," she agreed, snuggling deeper into his chest.

He kissed the top of her head and squeezed her for a long moment before speaking again, "There is one other pesky bit of honesty, love," he whispered, petting her hair.

"Hmmm?" she hummed sleepily, already feeling so safe and content in his embrace that she could drift right off to dreamland…

"It's no big deal really," he said nonchalantly, "Just that there never was any love potion. All I gave you was a shot of whiskey I traded off of some little first year."

... End ...