Hermione Granger rushed into the Ministry of Magic, her unfastened cloak flying wildly behind her. It was the former Gryffindor's first day as Assistant Director of the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures and she found herself running late, having inadvertently slept in. She eyed the magical lift ahead and hastened forward, paying no mind to the various witches and wizards milling around the Ministry foyer. In fact, her distraction caused Hermione to bump into a member of the Wizengammot. Turning to excuse herself, she lost her footing and toppled against an elderly wizard hefting a mountain of files. The folders spilled all over the floor and Hermione gasped aloud, sputtering apologies as she sunk to her knees to help the man retrieve his documents. After several minutes—and a number of additional regrets—the white-haired wizard bent his head in approval.

"Thank you, miss. It was very kind of you to help me," he beamed, "especially since you're obviously in a hurry! Best be on your way."

The wizard's eyes held a familiar sparkle and Hermione knitted her brows together in contemplation. How do I know him? He seems so familiar!

Glancing down at her watch, she cursed under her breath. Hermione didn't have time to determine how she knew the wizard—she had to get up to her department! Turning tail, she fled in the direction of the lift and managed to slip inside just as the doors began to close. She wormed her way to the back and leaned against the wall, pulling a deep breath as a few additional passengers snuck in behind her. The lift grew hot from the collective body heat and Hermione removed her scarf, slinging it over one arm as the elevator surged upwards. It made frequent stops that were accompanied by a sleek, female voice announcing each respective floor. A few passengers departed at every interval and eventually Hermione stood with only two others as she rode towards her destination. Raking a hand through her hair, she smoothed her tangled curls before pulling a copy of the Daily Prophet from her tote bag. She lifted the paper and quickly became engrossed in an article penned by former schoolmate, Parvati Patil.

The lift clambered to a stop and the doors slid open. "Sixth Floor, Department of Magical Law Enforcement," the musical voice declared.

The other passengers departed and a tall wizard with white-blonde hair and powerful eyes strode into the lift. Draco Malfoy appraised his new companion in curiosity, unable to see her face as she was absorbed in the morning paper, but he was certainly gratified that she had left her cloak undone so he could get a glimpse of what lay beneath. The witch was fit, with long limbs and a lean torso. She donned a sleek skirt set that emphasized the curve of her hips and bust. In truth, she was dressed quite demurely, but Draco had a certain fetish for modest clothing. He liked to pretend a temptress lurked underneath all that reserve. He figured it was something akin to a Muggle librarian—bibliosoph by day, buxom seductress by night.

Hermione was unaware of her nemesis' presence as she was too taken with Parvati's article. The preoccupied Gryffindor lifted the paper to read a footnote at the bottom and Draco took it as a cue to continue his perusal, examining every square inch of the little witch. Dark curls, an olive complexion, small hands, delicate feet…she reminded him of someone, though he couldn't put a finger on who it was. As the lift came to a stop, the witch lowered the Prophet and Draco's riddle was solved.

Merlin's Balls! Granger… His eyes widened and he blinked in confusion. It had been several weeks since he'd last seen her and the sudden interface projected Draco into the familiar whirl of emotion he felt whenever she came around.

Granger looked up and met his gaze head on, her dark eyes flashing in recognition. Draco first noticed the unusual color of her eyes in third year. Before then, he thought them a muddled brown—nothing especially noteworthy—but when she turned on him in anger, he noticed the deep emerald ring around her pupil and the warm amber color of her iris. Of course, then she slapped him silly and wounded his notorious pride. It led to years of bemused preoccupation with the feisty witch, something he never admitted to himself, let alone anyone else. Deep down Draco thought Hermione Granger a brilliant spitfire with an intelligence that matched his own. She did not fail to dazzle him physically either—she had certainly matured into a lovely young woman.

But looking at her now…words failed him. The woman was luminescent. A fire burned inside her like some sort of bloody beacon, continually drawing him closer. Granger wasn't beautiful because she was particularly pretty—she still had a wild head of hair that seemed to maintain its own life force and a prudish air that shut down any man looking for action within a five mile radius—no, her beauty came from within. She was so completely confident in what she believed and it put all of her so-called flaws to shame. Her tough exterior, unyielding compassion, and blatant non-conformity when it came to fashion were actually appealing. It made Draco want to pull his hair out. He was positive the witch had no idea the effect she had on him. Granger would probably hex his balls off if she ever got wind of what he was thinking.

"Malfoy?" she asked in a hesitant voice.

"Quite astute Granger…I see you're putting that head of yours to good use," he replied crisply.

Rolling her eyes, she took a step forward and waited for the lift doors to slide open. Her detachment irritated Draco more than he cared to admit. Not that this was anything new. Granger had always annoyed the shit out of him and he realized that, of all the women in his life, The Great Gryffindork was the only one who caused an actual physical response. Not sexual—though, if he were completely honest with himself, Draco would own up to the fact that he had to shut down around Granger more often than naught. His vexation seemed to fuel a deep-seeded passion and he feared he might pounce if he allowed his feelings to flow freely in her presence. In retrospect, he recognized Granger had too much control and Draco reviled the thought. If there was one thing he would never surrender, it was his infamous dominance. Besides, there was also their not-so-perfect past. Granger had been top banana back at Hogwarts, saved the Wizarding World from annihilation (which he and his parents were partly responsible for), and she was still gifted with the uncanny ability to rule at everything she set her mind to. Not to mention her willingness to shower affection on a pair of brainless nitwits (who were, technically, now his friends) as opposed to someone who could stimulate her intellect.

Draco smirked inwardly. That's not all I could stimulate…

Hermione tapped her foot in aggravation, willing the doors to open so she could escape from the one man who always made her feel off-kilter. Listening for the melodic voice that would announce their arrival at the Seventh Floor, she wrinkled her nose in confusion.

"What the hell is going on here?" she muttered sourly before glancing up at the dial that hung over the double doors. The lever was stuck between the sixth and seventh floors. Oh no…no, no, no, no, no! She stamped her foot on the tiled floor. Seventh Floor—Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures…come on, say it!

Malfoy cleared his throat and she shot him a withering look. "It seems the lift is out of order." She did not miss the amusement in his voice. "Looks like we'll be spending some quality time together, Granger."

She pulled a face in response. "Merlin's Arse, I cannot be stuck in a lift all day with the likes of you!" she cried. Glancing around, Hermione attempted to find something – anything – that would pry open the doors. Why didn't the Ministry install a bloody hatch in case of emergencies? Defeated, Hermione slumped against the wall and let out a frustrated sigh.

"Aw, it's not so bad," Malfoy drawled, his face splitting into a devilish smile. "I promise to be a good boy until we get out of here."

She narrowed her eyes in suspicion. "Why wouldn't you be, Malfoy?" she retorted, a little unnerved by the coy expression on his face.

Draco opened his mouth to reply but Granger cut him off. "Don't answer that…" she clipped, "I don't want to know what goes on in that overblown head of yours." Drawing her wand, she pointed it at the lift doors and mumbled an incantation.

Put off by her subtle insult, Draco lifted a brow in contention. "Is your brain damaged due to our dire circumstances, Granger," he snapped dryly, "or did a certain, insufferable know-it-all forget that the ministry lifts and floos are protected by wards?"

Whipping around, Granger snarled at him. "There is nothing wrong with my brain, thank you very much!" she averred. "And I am aware of the protective charms but it certainly doesn't hurt to try!"

"Ah, so wasting time and energy attempting to open a protected lift is a good idea?"

"Shut up Malfoy!"

"Ooh, good retort! I see your clever quips have improved greatly since our time at Hogwarts," he supplied with a lazy smile.

"And I see you haven't changed one bit! Still the pompous, insolent git intent on making my life miserable," she muttered lowly.

"Granger, Granger, Granger," he mocked. "We see each other rather frequently, what with my being friends with Potty and the Weasel-"

"DON'T call them that!" she growled.

Highly entertained by the witch's unrelenting loyalty, Draco snorted. "Hell Granger, they actually get a kick out of it now! You really need to lighten up."

Granger lifted her chin. "I will do no such thing."

Draco gazed at the woman and shook his head. She was far too uptight. Even Potter had complained about her recently, explaining how her tense demeanor had mired their weekend outing. Draco figured that what Hermione really needed was a good, long roll in the sack.

"Stop ogling me!" she snapped.

Draco's eyebrows shot into his hairline. "Ogling? Moi? No Granger, I was simply noting your matronly choice in attire," he shot back.

Scandalized, she turned her head and smoothed the front of her blouse subconsciously. It was then that Draco realized—she did care about how she looked. Secretly he hoped it was because of him as opposed to some other tosser.

"So, haven't seen you at any of our after work mixers," he declared in a bored voice.

"Miss me, Malfoy?" she asked, a smug smile dancing on her lips.

Draco scoffed. "Oh yes, I've been pining away."

Her face clouded in exasperation. "Listen Malfoy, I'm in no mood to deal with your crap so why don't we just try stay out of each other's hair? Hopefully this thing will open and put us both out of our misery."

"And if it doesn't?" he rejoined with a frown. "I, for one, do not plan to stand in here all day with nothing to do!"

"How is that my problem, Malfoy?" she clipped. "I'm certainly not going to entertain you, if that's what you think!"

Draco took a step forward. "Oh, I'm sure we can find something productiveto do, Hermione," he countered.

Her eyes grew wide and she took a tentative step backwards, looking slightly miffed by the use of her first name. "M-Malfoy…what are you…" she stammered a bit before lifting her newspaper in a defensive posture, "just do us both a favor and forget I'm even here."

The Slytherin deduced that this would not be an easy task. Being trapped in a lift with the one witch you had always carried a torch for—even if you were completely unable to admit it—was not unproblematic. Draco predicted that the longer they were stuck in this lift together, the harder it would be to maintain his resolve. Looking down at his watch, he groaned in frustration. It had only been fifteen minutes since the lift had shut down! This is going to be one long day.

An hour later, Hermione had read the entire Prophet including a ridiculous article by Rita Skeeter, who was now reporting the weather. Her story focused on a floating woman blown up by an underage wizard who caused an eclipse of the sun. Hermione frowned, recalling a similar experience with Harry in third year. Malfoy had been surprisingly quiet throughout their ordeal though she could feel his eyes stray in her direction frequently. Peering over the top of her paper, she saw he had shed his jacket and tie, which were now strewn haphazardly on the floor beside him. The Slytherin was seated with his legs crossed at the ankle and his head leaned back against the wall. His eyes were closed and his silky hair hung away from his face, accentuating the man's angular features. He looked quite at ease, with untucked shirttails and an open placket where his buttons had been unclasped. Hermione shifted unconsciously when she spied the expanse of pale skin peeking out from beneath the parted material. Malfoy had worn a Muggle suit to work today, which fit his lean frame like a glove, and she couldn't deny the effect it had on her. The blasted man was far too attractive for his own good.

She had seen him a couple of times in recent months, but mostly in a social environment. He and Harry buried the hatchet during Auror training and she was invited to join them at the pub, along with Blaise Zabini and Ron. Hermione was surprised at how well she and Blaise got on, though her relationship with Malfoy remained as cold as ever. She could not understand what his problem was. How could he overlook the bad blood between him and Harry but still treat her with disdain? Maybe it was the Muggleborn thing, though she had seen him chatting with Penelope Clearwater on a number of occasions. Despite his contempt for her personally, Hermione had to admit that Draco Malfoy was one gorgeous wizard. Tall and lean, with a well-defined upper torso and strong legs, he was considered one of England's most eligible bachelors.

Gritting her teeth, Hermione became annoyed when she recognized where her thoughts were headed. Why had she let them stray like this? Whenever she was around Malfoy, she seemed to lose control of her emotions…and her hormones. The man frazzled her to such an extent that she felt exposed and vulnerable in his presence. Malfoy seemed confident and completely unaffected by her, which made it that much harder to maintain composure. Hermione hated being a woman when Draco Malfoy was nearby. He turned her into a puddle of confused thoughts, raging hormones, and wild emotions.

"Enjoying the view, Granger?" The wizard's proud voice spoke up, breaking Hermione from her deliberation.

She glowered at him. "Not particularly."

Draco opened his eyes and leaned forward. "You're not a very good liar, Hermione," he replied, using her first name again to get a rise out of her.

She stiffened and he barked a laugh—the woman was way too easy.

Hermione wanted to kick herself for rising to the bait. Pulling a deep breath, she vowed to remain headstrong. Draco Malfoy is an arrogant bastard who wants nothing more than to prove his superiority…

Squaring her shoulders, she looked him directly in the eye. "And what makes you think I'm lying?" she tendered in a haughty voice.

"Because I know you've been harboring feelings for me ever since our third year at Hogwarts," he announced, relishing the deep color that rushed to her cheeks at his implication. "That slap told me everything I need to know."

Ever the stubborn one, Granger snorted in indignation. "Are you implying that I smacked you because I liked you? You are delusional."

"Direct Hermione, not delusional," he fired back. "There's really no need to deny how you feel."

Clenching her fists, Hermione silently counted to ten before responding to his idiocy. "Keep dreaming, Malfoy," she quipped. He wasn't going to win this one—she'd make damn sure of it. "Besides, you're the one who's been staring at me for the past hour."

Draco sneered at her observation and chastised himself for gaping at the pretty witch. Could he help that they were trapped in a bloody lift and she was the only good thing to look at? What was he supposed to do, stare at the ceiling or at his boring loafers? An odd tension began to build inside of him as he glared at the smug-looking witch. Draco knew the sensation well, as it seemed to surface whenever they got together. Hermione responded in kind, her face flushed but oddly triumphant, and the effect it had on him shot straight to his groin. Swallowing hard, Draco tried to focus on their conversation and not the distracting stir in his nether region. This was exactly what he feared would happen—being around Granger for too long had sent his defenses into overdrive and he was finally approaching the limit.

Pulling his thoughts together, Draco narrowed his eyes. "I assure you, Granger, the only reason I accidentally glanced-"

"Accidentally?" she cut in. "You've been staring at me for the last hour."

"Think you're so hot, eh?" he snapped back in annoyance. "You don't even compare to the girls I go out with."

"You think I want to be compared to some blonde bimbo with a huge rack and no brains?" she spat and got up from her seated position on the floor. Prying at the doors, Granger growled in aggravation.

Draco lifted a brow. Had she been paying attention? The last girl he went out with was Heather Von Schoomchin, a lingerie model from the United States and a dead ringer for said "bimbo".

Climbing to his feet, Draco felt his heart rate pick up. "You sound a little jealous, Granger," he accused in a smooth tone.

"Jealous of a brainless, underwear touting slag? You're insane!" she cried.

Triumph rocked through Draco as she confirmed his suspicions. "Perhaps you're jealous that she was dating me," he said, taking a step closer. He could literally feel the electricity firing between them.

Hermione turned her head, gasping when she saw how close he was standing. "Malfoy, I could care less who you're dating!" she snarled, miffed by his sudden proximity.

"You sure about that?" he hovered closer and her face grew pink.

Hermione tugged at her the collar in apprehension and one of the buttons came undone in the process.

A slow smirk spread across Draco's face. "What's the matter, Granger?" he queried. "Am I getting you hot?"

Outraged, Hermione's mouth fell open and she stumbled away from him. Draco stepped forward once again, unable to rationalize what he was doing. All he knew was that he had finally been put into a position where he and Hermione were alone. No one was around to judge them and he felt reckless. An evil plot began to form in his mind and he gave the lift an appraising scan, prepared to take full advantage of his resources.

Hermione, on the other hand, was as confused as ever. She couldn't make sense of her emotions so the only thing she could think was to get away from the looming Slytherin. Turning quickly, she shoved Malfoy hard and he stumbled backwards. She took the opportunity to draw her wand and pointed it at his chest.

Breathing heavy, she shot him an angry look. "What the hell do you think you're doing?" she demanded.

Granger's eyes were swirling with confusion but her wand was steady. Draco grimaced as she poked his chest with the wooden stick, the question in her eyes becoming more severe.

"Why Granger, whatever do you mean?" He feigned innocence and it seemed to infuriate the little witch even more. Draco noted that he was in need of a distraction—something to divert the woman's attention for a split second. Running his hand through his hair, Hermione's gaze followed the gesture and Draco decided to use it to his advantage. Spinning sideways, he grabbed her upper arm and dodged the spell shot out of the end of her wand. It bounced off the opposite wall and Hermione squealed as Draco gripped her other arm. Shoving her backwards, they hit the panel with considerable force and the wand fell on the ground with a woody thump.

Struggling against him, Hermione tried to pull away but he was far too strong. "Let me go Malfoy!" she demanded. "I mean it! Let me go RIGHT NOW!"

Her cries drowned in a high-pitched gasp as Malfoy pressed the full weight of his body against her. She didn't understand what was going on. The sneaky Slytherin had divested her of her wand and now he was holding onto her in such a way that all logic was completely forgone. Hermione tried to ignore the pounding of her heart and that rapid pulls of her breath, but it was a difficult thing to do with Malfoy being so close.

"Pulling your wand on an unarmed man?" he whispered, his hot breath fanning against the side of her neck. "That wasn't very nice, especially for a Golden Gryffindore like you."

She looked away, trying to tune him out, but what he said next set her on edge.

"I find such an act worthy of penance," he growled. "Wouldn't you agree, Hermione?" He lifted her arms over her head and clasped them together with one large hand. "Now let me see…what kind of atonement shall I dole out for the little lioness?"

Hermione simmered in a combination of unwanted lust and anger. "Fuck you, Malfoy," she gritted out.

"Now that is certainly appropriate reparation, love," he breathed.

"That…that's not what I meant," she stammered, refusing to look him in the eye. "Now let me go!"

"I don't think I will," he snapped. "I want you to look at me, Hermione."

Keeping her head turned, she closed her eyes.

"Look at me NOW!" he commanded.

She blew out a sigh and slowly faced him. They locked eyes—hers filled with uncertainty while his held nothing but purpose. Smoothing his hand over her jaw, he gauged her expression.

"Please don't," she whispered.

Hermione had to make him stop. This wasn't right. They were enemies—they had always been enemies. She hated him. This was Malfoy, for Merlin's sake! The boy who had tortured her every day of her life growing up! It didn't matter that he had changed! She despised him!

"Get off of me, Malfoy!" she growled.

The man did not move—he kept his eyes trained on her face as he ran his hand down the side of her body, skimming her right breast and clamping her hip with gentle fingers. Hermione felt the heat pooling in her lower belly and she bit her lip, fighting the sudden temptation to jump the insufferable wizard. Malfoy looked down, his slate-colored eyes darkening with desire as he studied her rigid form. The look on his face was hungry but there was an open vulnerability there as well and Hermione's breath caught in her throat. She had never seen Malfoy lower the mask he always wore- it was startling...but also beautiful. The longing in his eyes, the need in his expression- it conveyed everything he felt but never had the nerve to say. She realized then that Draco Malfoy was just as, if not more guarded as she.

"Draco..." Hermione whispered.

The wizard's head snapped up and a look of victory consumed his face as he slammed his lips against hers. One word was enough to break through the barrier that stood between them and Hermione felt the heat in her belly explode as Draco kissed her with great urgency. The sensation rushed through her like a rocket and her body grew lax from the intensity. She clung to Malfoy, moaning when his tongue surged over her lips and began to explore the crevice of her mouth. Draco's hands raked through her hair, tugging at her curls, and Hermione tore her mouth away from his, sinking her teeth into the flesh of his neck. Malfoy groaned and pulled her hair again, which tilted Hermione's head back and gave the man access to her exposed neck. Running his tongue down the long colum of her throat, he continued his ministrations as he slid down the wall. The two lovers were aware of nothing but the beating of each other's hearts and the rhythmic need they both strived to fill.

Two hours later, Hermione and Draco lay perfectly still on the lift floor. Hermione was on her side—unable to fathom what she had done—and Draco held her from behind while nibbling on her ear.

What had happened? Why did she give in to him? He had always been the bane of her existence, the thorn in her side…and now, here she was, giving into him. She wondered if this was some kind of bet, a joke that would finally prove his mental prowess. Doubt coursed through her and she could feel her heat begin pound.

"Hermione, stop," Draco said suddenly.

She turned to look at him and blushed. "Stop what?"

"Stop over-thinking! Do you really think that this shouldn't have happened?"

"I-I don't know. I mean, we've always been enemies and-"

"We haven't been enemies for a long time and you of all people should know that. Besides, Potter and I are friends now, there's nothing standing in our way," he pointed out.


"But nothing, it's simple, I want you and you want me."

"You're so sure of that, are you?" she teased.

"Pretty damn sure," he rejoined. "Although I was especially sure after that third org-"

"Draco!" She smacked him on the shoulder before surveying him a moment.

Draco felt like he had been brought before the Wizengammot. Hermione's face was expressionless and he felt a little nervous, awaiting her final verdict.

"Alright, we can see where this goes," she declared, pulling on her skirt.

"Wow, life with a fanatical witch hell bent on changing the lives of house elves!" he ribbed.

"You? What about me? I have to deal with an arrogant prat who thinks he's Merlin's gift to women!" she fired back without a beat.

"I am Merlin's gift to women, you just happen to be the lucky woman I want," he rejoined as he leaned in to kiss her.

Without warning, the lift sprung to life and neither Hermione nor Draco had the chance to remedy their disheveled appearances before it came to a halt and the doors slid open. The pair was met with an audible gasp as Hermione—still clad in bra and skirt—and Draco—in a pair of slacks and nothing else—were revealed to a small crowd of Aurors. Among them were Blaise Zabini and Harry Potter, who looked like they had just seen Fluffy the Three Headed Dog.

Draco stepped in front of the semi-clothed Hermione Granger and flashed the most arrogant smirk Blaise Zabini had ever seen. "Sorry you lot, lift'll be out of order for the next few minutes," he announced. "Need to give the lady a little time to get her clothes on."

Hermione gasped and then swatted the back of his head.

Draco took it in stride. "Thanks gents," he said with a pointed wink. Leaning forward, Draco pushed the button and the lift doors slid shut. The last thing Harry and Blaise saw was the smug look on the Slytherin's pale face.

Blaise smirked at Harry. "What did I tell you?" he said in a knowing voice and extended his hand toward the former Gryffindor. "Now pay up."

Harry's face twisted sourly as he pulled ten galleons from his pocket. "I can't bloody believe it!" he brayed. "They haven't even started working together yet…I mean, it was the first sodding day!"

Blaise chuckled, amused by his friend's bewildered expression. He felt somewhat compelled to admit he had charmed the lift to shut down with his two friends inside of it. Blaise had an accomplice in Magical Transportation who agreed to do him the favor, though it had been more for Draco than the ten galleons in his pocket. He saw the way the so-called "enemies" looked at each other when they thought no one could see and, as a Slytherin, he felt it his duty to get them together. It had been so easy to charm Hermione's alarm clock the night before when he dropped by with beer and a pizza. He knew Draco's meeting was at nine, so he masqueraded as an elderly file clerk and bumped into Hermione on her way in, ensuring that their meeting occurred at just the right time.

Throwing his arm around Harry's shoulders, Blaise cracked a smile. "What can I say, they bring out the beast in each other," he remarked as they began to walk towards the adjacent stairwell. "Now, what say we make a little wager on how long it'll take him to make her Mrs. Malfoy…"