It was nine o'clock on Friday night, the night before the ball, and Hermione found herself waiting outside of the prefects office for her partner so as to commence their patrol. The old castle's walls were bitterly cold that night, the wind ghostly whispering through all of its cracks.
Hermione huddled herself within the warmth of her cloak, attempting to stay warm though somewhat failing.
"You know they have spells for that? And last I checked you were considered the smartest witch of our age, so use your wand, Granger," drawled a familiar voice form behind her. Hermione clenched her eyes shut tight for a few seconds, praying that it was just the wind playing tricks on her tired brain.
She really did not feel like dealing with Malfoy tonight.
Sadly, as she turned around, reopening her eyes, there stood Malfoy in all of his blond, aristocratic glory. She half expected for his cloak to start billowing around his body just so as to fully establish the desired effect, but alas, no such humour seemed to exist in the universe at that moment.
"Malfoy," she greeted stiffly. "Dare I ask what you are doing here?"
"I'm here to escort you on tonight's patrol, of course," he replied, grinning at her reaction. Hermione took a deep cleansing breath before continuing.
"Is that so?" she asked, arching a thin eyebrow in mock astonishment. "And where, pray tell, is Blaise?"
"On a first name basis, eh? You wound me," he answered, dramatically patting the place just above his heart. He soon dropped all appearances, his face setting into a serious mask, "He's busy, asked me to take his patrol. So can we go or do I have to waste the entire night? It is Friday night, Granger, and as it is, you may have no life but I have places to be, people to do…"
She rolled her eyes in response, turning on her heel and proceeding to walk, expecting him to follow. "How very kind of you, Malfoy," she muttered. "I really must have insulted some minor deity out there and now, this is their revenge."
"Oh quit being dramatic, Granger," he drawled, catching up to her. "You know you love my charming wit and overall presence."
She only grunted in reply.
"It never fails to surprise me how ladylike you can be, Granger," he commented. "Tell me, is it a muggle thing or a spending to much time around Weasley thing?"
"Hmm let me see… It's more of a you always annoy me to bits, causing me to want to recapture that lovely moment we had in in third year type of thing," she answered sweetly.
He grimaced at the memory. "No but really, what the bloody hell's crawled and died up your arse? I certainly hope it wasn't a Weasly, as amusing as that may be," he asked, grinning at his own well placed jibe. His face suddenly contorted in confusion, before an illuminated, self satisfied smirk took shape upon his lips. "Wait I know! You're on the rag, aren't you?"
She did not bother answering, instead hitting him, hard, upside the head. "Ouieee, watch it I'm delicate!" he whined, earning a weathering glare. "So are you?"
"No I most certainly am not on the rag, as you so delicately put it," she hissed. "It's Friday, yeah? Maybe I happened to be tired like the rest of the world. Did you ever stop to take into consideration the fact that patrolling these halls is not exactly my idea of fun?"
He throughout for a second before replying in surprise, "No, actually. I learn something new every day."
She merely sighed in exasperation, choosing not to comment any further. They walked in silence for a while, having already checked about half of the castle. She glanced at her wristwatch , noting that it was already ten o'clock and they had yet to catch anyone roaming the halls, a strange fact for a Friday night.
"Where do you reckon everyone is?" she finally asked, looking at Malfoy. He regarded her silently, curiosity apparent in his silver eyes before finally answering.
"It's Friday night Granger," he said, slowly, almost as if he was talking to a child. "I don't know what you usually do, but the rest of us are generally busy, uh…. relaxing"
"Relaxing?" she repeated, eyeing him doubtfully. "What do you mean?"
"Merlin Granger, what do you think I mean? I mean people are out drinking, partying, getting a nice lay, you name it."
"Oh," she murmured, her cheeks staining bright red. "Yes of course, how silly of me."
"Merlin, what rock have you lived under your entire life?" he questioned rhetorically.
"Well pardon me for preferring other forms of relaxation and entertainment," she replied, angrily. "Just because I enjoy doing more valuable things with my time than getting unreasonably drunk or spreading my legs for every bloke that happens to come around does not mean that there is anything wrong with me."
"I see, well that's quite admirable. Tell me, have you ever gotten drunk?" he questioned, his silvery eyes piercing hers, malicious intent clouding his orbs.
"I uh, well let me think," she stammered, completely forgetting about her previous anger. "There was that time during the Triwizard Tournament when… well no actually. I-I can't say that I have."
"I see," replied Malfoy, thoughtfully. "Well there's your problem right there."
"Yes problem. What have I told you about relaxing and taking a risk here and there?"
"B-but that's p-preposterous," she stammered, not able to formulate a proper statement.
"Maybe," he said, mysteriously before falling silent again. They walked in this strange silence for what seemed like hours until finally reaching the top floor. As they rounded a corner, they came face to face with a group of four Ravenclaws, no older than their fifth year. Malfoy smirked wickedly at Hermione before advancing towards the four of them, who were paralyzed in fear and surprise.
"You four, what are you doing out at this hour?" he hissed sternly. "Forty points from Ravenclaw! Now, before I decide to add some nice detentions to that, hand over that lovely bottle your hiding behind your back, blondy and be off to your commons."
"Y-yes, sir" they all replied in unison, scurrying off in fear of unleashing the famous Malfoy temper, but not before listening to his demand.
"Sir?" questioned Hermione in bewilderment.
"What can I say, I invoke respect," he replied cockily, examining the bottle with a trained eye.
"Whatever you say, Malfoy. I suppose we're done here, we just have to drop that off by Dumbledor's office," she said, turning to walk away.
"Nu-uh-uh-uh little, Gryffindor," he chanted in a sing song voice as he followed her."You had a problem, I do believe, and this here," he said twirling the bottle expertly, "is your solution."
"Oh no. No no no no no! I will most certainly do nothing of the like which you are suggesting, especially not with you!" she hissed in outrage, fearing someone might hear her.
"Oh contraire, ma cherie. Think of this as, uh, step three in my little remedy," he began smiling wickedly at her reaction. "i€ know you would certainly prefer doing other, more interesting things with me but there will be time for that later. Now, for the task at hand, and there will most certainly be no arguing or I'll tell the whole school you shagged Weasley."
"I've done no such thing! That's disgusting!" she gasped, shocked at his licentious implication.
"Oh, I know you haven't but the rest of them don't. Nor do I think he'd mind or even dispute such a lovely little rumour. Now let's go introduce you to the finer things in life, shall we?" he grinned. "I assume your chamber is out of the question nor is there any likelihood of you coming anywhere near the Slytherin commons, so I suppose the Room of Requirements will have to do."
"I said no arguing!" he hissed, his eyes turning into dangerous slits of molten silver as he glared at her. He was surprised, though pleasantly so, by her reaction to Weasley. He had always been under the impression that she practically kissed the ground that oaf walked on, but it was not so, apparently.
Certainly made things easier for him.
He grabbed her forearm and firmly pulled her with him into the darkened halls of the ancient school until he reached his desired destination: a bare wall.
Malfoy glanced at her for a few brief seconds, his eyes clouded by mischief but also holding a question. She returned his long gaze, weighing her options though realizing defeat as it stared her in the eyes. She gave a slight nod, causing him to smirk in return before turning his gaze back towards the wall and closing his eyes.
Within a few moments, a door appeared within the previously vacant wall . Malfoy grabbed onto the handle pulling slowly.
"Ladies first," he mumbled, motioning for her to proceed forward. She did so silently, but nearly jumped out of her skin as she felt his palm gliding on her midback gently guiding her inside. She tried not to dwell on the simple gesture as she reasoned it was probably just instinctual, yet her mind would not listen to her. Every nerve within her body reacted at the slight touch and she felt her entire self tense in response.
For his own part, Malfoy felt her slight change in demeanour and smirked knowingly. He had searched for the right moment to touch her, though innocently enough, for he could almost feel her nerves jumping on end. He wondered if this simple gesture would push her over the edge.
She remained silent, surveying the room, which was simple enough.
Simpler than she would have expected him to pick.
Two armchairs and a sofa were lined around a low coffee table that faced a warm welcoming fireplace in whose hearth amber flames could be seen blazing . The room also had a large window facing the darkened Hogwarts grounds and the Black Lake, whose waters looked like pools of ink.
Ironically enough, a tray holding two intricate crystal decanters and a silver bucket of ice was placed in the centre of the coffee table, awaiting them.
Hermione strategically sat on one of the armchairs, avoiding the couch, and sitting in close proximity to him, at all cost. Luckily, the purple armchair was exquisitely plush and comfortable, so she really felt no need to move.
Malfoy took his time, taking long yet slow strides around the sofa before finally sitting down in the right corner, facing her. His gaze sought her own and held it for a few brief seconds while an actual smile seemed to slowly take shape upon his pouty lips, brightening his entire face.
The effect was truly spectacular and unlike anything she had ever seen take form upon his aristocratic features. She had seen anger take life upon his face, as well as seriousness, humour and even mischief. But never has she witnessed something close to, contentment?
It was then that Hermione noticed his lips, really noticed them, for the first time. He had feminine lips, berry red and pouty. His upper lip met in a perfectly curved cupid's bow, whereas his lower lip was slightly more swollen. The overall product was oh so kissable…
Kissable? Certainly not! Her mind screamed in indignation while her blood was on fire with something completely different.
The battle between rationality versus deep, suppressed passion was currently raging hard within her petite body, having a somewhat dazing effect. Malfoy continued to gaze at her, his features masked in neutrality though he could almost feel the torrent of emotion storming through her body.
And he was certainly pleased.
He grabbed the bottle of firewhisky, examining the label briefly. Certainly not the quality he was used to but it would do for their purpose. And he most certainly did not want to risk running down to his own room to grab something more suitable, for the "spell" she was under would surely be broken, and she'd be gone before he was even back. Thus, he opened the bottle, loaded both glasses with ice, and allowed the amber liquid to cascade over it, melting and mixing.
"Granger," he said conversationally as he handed her a glass. She was immediately snapped out of her reverie and took a sip of the drink before she even stopped to think about her action. The second the substance ran down her throat, however, she began coughing, shooting him a look of what could only be defined as disgust.
"Merlin, this is terrible! What are you trying to do, poison me, Malfoy?" she gasped, finally able to breath. He merely gave her a strange smile and proceeded to take a sip of his own drink, not even flinching.
"Don't worry your bushy little head, Granger. After half a glass you'll dub it sweeter than the ambrosia of the Gods. Now be a good girl and drink up before I get mad," he growled menacingly, for a brief second making her remember who he was.
Now that she thought about it, it was slightly alarming that nobody knew where, and with whom she currently was, except for Blaise perhaps. Even the Marauders Map would not give away her location so if Malfoy ever entertained any sick notions within that blond head of his, he could certainly live them out then and there.
He seemed to sense her drastic change in demeanour and gave her a lazy smirk before taking another sip. "Relax, Granger. I promise I don't bite," he drawled. "Now I think it's about bloody time that you learn to loosen up. I swear you're as tense as a stick, not to mention the one that's lodged up a certain part of your anatomy."
His comment earned him a dirty glare as she attempted to take another sip. It didn't seem as bad the second time round.
"I'm just glad your out of that whole depression episode. Rather unattractive if you ask me," he continued, licking his lips. "Denial, which is the current stage you're in, I can deal with."
"Did I miss the part where I became your charity case, Malfoy? I never took you for much of a weeping heart," she mocked, attempting to change the course of the discussion.
"It would be a bloody waste to allow you to self implode. As I told you before, I'm more observant than you give me credit for," he replied in a perfectly serious tone. "Now drink up! You won't get drunk just by sitting there."
"Hmm if I didn't know your type any better I'd say you were planning to take advantage of me," she laughed lightly, though became slightly uneasy in the assumption.
"My type?" he questioned, his eyes having become glacial while his tone was icy.
"Yes, I mean we all know you wouldn't touch a muggleborn such as myself in a million years," she replied attempting to keep her tone airy.
"Fishing for compliments is ever so common, Granger. I wish you'd learn," he mocked jokingly, though ice still shone through his eyes. "So I'm only ever going to say this once. I don't particularly care about blood, reason being there's as many oafs among purebloods as there is among everyone else, take Weasley for example. So surely we can't be that superior. As for you, well, you're right I could take advantage of this delicious situation, but I won't because when I do have you, and believe me, I will, I want you to be completely coherent, and begging me for it."
His answer caused her heart to beat rather fast. She did not miss his arrogant prediction, as she could not name it otherwise, but chose to deem it as being a simple complication of his attitude.
"I respect your honesty," she finally said, attempting to chose her words wisely though it was becoming slightly more difficult. His eyes were keenly focused on her, like a hawk eyeing its prey, as he poured her a second glass. "You and I, we get along just fine some of the time, when neither one of us is busy keeping up appearances. I think we may even loosely invoke the term friends, but let's leave it as that, shall we. No point in wasting our breaths for the sake of something that would never, in a million years happen."
"Indeed," replied Malfoy, not allowing a glimpse of emotion to mar his features. "A final word to the wise, though. Never say never."
So here's the next Chapter. Thanks to everyone who reviewed, I really appreciate your input and it all around motivates me to update.
In this chapter, I tried to show a different side of the two, which, though amicable, was meant to show that Hermione isn't like head over heels in love just yet. She still finds him annoying but intriguing as well. And her loneliness doesn't help the fact.
Hope you enjoy, and drop me a line when your done!!