All's Fair [PG-13] for irisri
Title: All's Fair
Author/Artist: Marmalade Fever
Disclaimer: The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling in no way belongs to me. No profit is being made from this work of fanfiction. I also do not claim the song "Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis.
Warnings: Some violence and pinch-hitteredness. Oh, and blood!
Summary: Blood warms the heart in love and runs freely in war, and all is fair either way.
Notes: I was asked for angst with some fluff to make it angstier. Interesting combo, if I do say so myself. The deal breaker was Ron/Hermione, past or present. I ended up incorporating only specific lines of the song, and hopefully that's okay with irisri. Also, special thanks to my betas and the good people at hp_britglish, without whom, this story might have contained a peanut butter and jelly sandwich!
Blood seeped down her back and into the carpet. It had been white. Moments ago, it—the carpet—had been white. But moments ago, she hadn't been lying prostrate on the floor with a wound between her shoulder blades, watching the world blink black and fuzzy in and out of her vision.
They'd arrived quickly, and the pops had been her only warning.
Not fair. Her wards had not been up today because she'd been expecting guests. Different guests. Not fair.
Through the cloud of black splotches in her vision, she'd seen a tuft of blond hair, a face shrinking in and out of focus, bent over her. Two fingers... four? Eight?
"I didn't mean it. This wasn't—I didn't mean it." The figure was blabbering, and she wondered if there were black splotches in her ears as well, the way his words were disjointed.
There was a faint hum and a glow, and the bleeding stopped, and something wet and sickly was poured down her throat, and she turned, almost retching—and fainted.
Hermione woke in a strange room, laying in a strange bed, wearing a strange set of pajamas, a not-so-strange face staring down at her. "I'm sorry," he garbled.
"You're—" She cut herself off, trying to sit up and all the blood rushing to her head at once. The black splotches returned, but they dissipated into nothing after a moment. She caught her breath. "Where am I?"
"My flat," he responded.
"Your flat. Of course." She made a face, her hand reaching over her shoulder to run too-short fingers over her back, finding a large bandage spello-taped to her. The movement was painful, and she fell down into the bed, wincing.
"You're not quite healed yet." Malfoy stood over her, an expressionless expression on his face, as if he weren't sure what to feel.
Hermione sucked a breath in through her teeth, squeezing her eyelids closed. "What happened?" He didn't answer at first, and she opened one eye to look at him. "The war's over. What the hell happened?"
He shifted, one foot to the other, and looked around him. The room was bare with the exception of the bed, and he hesitated before conjuring a chair to sit in. If this were his flat, then why wasn't there any furniture? And why did he seem so out of sorts? And why was she here? He shifted—not his feet this time, but his eyes—to her toes. "We," he stopped to wet his tongue, "they thought that maybe...."
"Maybe what? You and your little playmates thought you'd come bully me for old-time's sake?"
He shook his head at first, hesitated, and nodded. "It wasn't supposed to be this way. I didn't—you weren't supposed to be fatally wounded—I mean...."
She blinked at him. "Why?"
He was startled. "Why? Because killing's a bit—"
"No, I mean, why'd you heal me? Bring me back here?"
He wet his tongue again, and as he did so, she found herself eying his moustache. When had he grown a moustache? It wasn't a very big one, just a narrow line between his lip and his nose, and it reminded her of Rhett Butler, only blonder and without the gap down the center. "I wasn't going to let you die. I'm not a killer, Granger—even he said so, and...."
"You mean Dumbledore?" she asked. "Wait, you hit me?"
"I told you—"
"You didn't mean to. I heard you." She scowled. "Why am I here?"
Obviously she was delusional. "What?"
"I'm going to get something to drink. You want something?" Maybe he'd gone delusional. She was thirsty, though. The acrid taste of the potion he'd poured down her throat was still coating her tongue like a layer of mold, and so she nodded, and he disappeared out the door.
He didn't come back for ten minutes, and when he returned, he held two plastic bottles. "Vending machine thing was out of order... had to render the glass permeable." He passed her one of the bottles, and she stared a moment at the label. It was Muggle. Of course, that was obvious from the sheer fact that he'd gotten it from a vending machine... but still.
They drank in silence for a moment. "Well?" she asked.
He sat his bottle on the floor, avoiding her eyes. "You're here," he said slowly, "because I thought you needed more care."
"Then why didn't you take me to Mungo's?" she asked, equally slowly.
"Because you would have told them I had attacked you." He took a swig, and he swished it around his mouth for a prolonged amount of time.
She raised an eyebrow. "So... you brought me here to heal me and convince me not to send you to Azkaban for hitting me with some curse that could very well have drained the blood from my body?"
"Granger, I've kidnapped you."
He brought her a microwavable dinner, which he'd burnt. He'd never used a microwave before and had, as far as she could discern, set it for fifty minutes instead of five. It was a curry, a section of sweetcorn that had run over into the next section: something that could have at one time been either a chocolate pudding, a slice of chocolate cake, or a chocolate brownie—or perhaps it wasn't chocolate at all—and a piece of garlic bread that hurt her gums when she bit into it. He stirred his idly, poked at it with his fork, and sat it down on the floor with an upturn of his nose.
"Why?" she asked. "Didn't it occur to you that it might be easier to, say, alter my memory?"
"And leave you bleeding on your carpet?"
"No," she ground out. "You could have healed me first, then altered my memory."
Malfoy bent over and picked the mystery chocolate out of his tray. It was black on top, and he spent a moment breaking the charred bits away from the uncharred bits. "You have no idea what spell I hit you with, do you?" he asked, settling on gnawing away the good half of his confection.
"Something bad," she remarked. "It should have healed by now."
"It hit your heart." His sweet broke in half due to instability.
She blinked at him. "It hit my heart? As in—"
"As in it punctured your heart. The preliminary spell damage relief patched up the hole, but there's still some residual damage. It'll take at least five months to heal."
"Five months?" she bellowed. "Malfoy, you aren't holding me captive for five months! I have a life. Just send me to Mungo's, and I won't tell them who attacked me."
He shook his head. "Won't work. They'd know it was me."
"Know it was you? How?" she spat.
"The spell was invented by my grandfather. It's only ever been used by family members—secret recipe, if you will. Father's gone, so that leaves me. They'd know."
She glared at him, swirling her curry around her fork with vehemence. "So, what? You're going to hold me captive and play nurse for five months, then alter my memory and send me on my merry way?"
"Sounds about right," he responded, crunching the remainder of his pudding into his curry.
Hermione made a very tantrum-like sound, banging her fists against the bed.
It was a Muggle flat. He'd bought it while she'd been passed out on her white carpet. She missed her carpet. It was soft and comfortable, and up until now, it had never gotten one stain on it—not that it would have mattered. There were simple cleaning spells for that, but Hermione prided herself in her success. Crookshanks had passed away a year before she had purchased her flat, and so she didn't even have to worry about cat hair.
She loved cats, of course, but shedding did get to be a problem after awhile. Also, Crookshanks had occasionally enjoyed marking his territory. Her carpet wouldn't have stood a chance.
He had brought her here because he figured it would be easier to hide her in the Muggle world than in the wizarding. If anyone did suspect he had been involved in her disappearance, who would ever suspect he'd bring her here? Not Harry or Ron, that was certain.
Hermione took to wearing her pajama top backwards. The first time Malfoy had announced his intent to change her bandages, Hermione had sat with her mouth gaping as he silently—and with eyes severely averted—requested she take her top off. Instead she pulled her arms in from her sleeves, shimmied the buttons to the back, drew her arms back through the sleeves, and then allowed him to undo half the buttons to change her bandage.
She refused to think about how she had come to be wearing the pajamas in the first place.
Malfoy wasn't at all bad at healing. He had a light touch—a command to his spell casting. He brewed potions in the kitchen and showed her the recipes, so she always knew exactly what he was asking her to swallow.
She lay on her side most of the time. She had never enjoyed sleeping on her back, but the wound prevented her from doing so, even if she wanted to. It was a "Big Yellow Taxi" situation, and she started wanting to lie on her back just because she couldn't. Joni Mitchell would have understood.
Malfoy's fingers were coated in her blood, and he looked as if he were about to faint. She sat up to get a better look, and she felt liquid run down her back, warm at first, then cool. He swore and pushed her back down to dab at her wound with a washcloth. There was a hum and a glow from his wand, and he pressed a new bandage into place, taping it to her.
"What happened?" she asked. She had been there a week, and they had barely spoken during that time.
"Wound reopened," he muttered, Scourgifying his hands, one at a time. He had to hold his wand carefully in order to keep it from getting bloody too. Funny how one couldn't use one's wand on one's wand.
After he had stashed his wand away, always sure to keep it as far from her as possible, she noted, he wiped his clean hands against his pants. "Do you need anything? Help to the loo?"
She scowled at him. She could walk, albeit slowly, but he had been keeping her locked in her room except for the occasional toilet break. "Not right now, o gracious kidnapper. I'm bored, though." She gestured to the small stack of reading material he had provided for her.
"You've finished?" he asked, almost incredulously.
"Of course I've finished. What else is there to do in here besides get bed sores and sleep? Even the view is boring." There was no window in the room, only four walls, blank save the door and a calendar she'd been marking days off of.
"Right. I'll bring you something to keep you occupied." He looked away uncomfortably.
He'd brought her a television. Frankly, she was surprised he knew what that even was, and yet he knew enough to be able to plug it in, though he seemed clueless as far as batteries for the remote were concerned.
It had its own stand, and he wheeled it right up next to her. It was too close for comfortable viewing, but she could at least reach the buttons this way. She told him he had better buy batteries quickly or she might just disassemble the television and create a Muggle weapon to stun him with. He obviously wasn't sure if that were possible or not, and batteries found their way into the remote only an hour later.
She watched quiz shows and found herself ashamed to realize how little she knew about the Muggle world after having put so much energy into learning about the wizarding one. She knew dates, strategies, and casualties of obscure goblin battles, but did she know anything of the Battle of Balaclava other than that it had an interesting name? She at least excelled in the literature categories.
She couldn't force herself to watch for more than three hours a day in total. It made her wonder if she were wasting her life away.
She watched documentaries, news, dramas, and when she was desperate, she watched things that made her feel as if her brain were melting from the sheer stupidity of it all. Did people really watch this? Did they have nothing better to do?
Obviously, she didn't.
By the third week of her incarceration, Hermione felt herself going insane. Malfoy brought her what she deemed as "helpless and desperate bachelor sustenance." He did not know how to cook, and the endless stream of microwavable meals and hamburgers were only occasionally interrupted by take-away of higher caliber. Not once did he so much as bring her a sandwich.
When she asked him to, he bought her a pre-made salad, and she cherished the vegetables as if they were old friends come to visit.
"If you'd let me into the kitchen, I could cook something decent," she told him one Thursday afternoon. The calendar and television at least helped her remember the date.
He frowned at her. "You cook?"
"More than you do, obviously." She returned his frown. He hesitated, seemingly weighing his options. "I promise not to stab you with a paring knife," she added, holding her hands up in mock-innocence.
"Oh, I'll hold you to that," he said. "And you're feeling well enough to move about?"
She bit her lip. "I think so."
The wound didn't bother her very much, but then again, she didn't move around very much either. The wrong twist of the wrong tendon, and it might reopen. It was her heart that bothered her. Once in awhile, not often, but once in awhile, a flash of pain would shoot through her veins and into her heart, and it felt like a wrought iron hand squeezing the muscle in its grip. The last time it had happened, she had screamed so loudly Malfoy had rushed into her room with shaving cream smeared across half his face. The look on his face had almost been enough to make her forget the pain. He looked pained. His wand had shot forward, just over her heart, and he'd closed his eyes in a desperate concentration. Red magic had pumped itself through his wand and into her chest, and the pain had ebbed away to be replaced by a euphoric emotion that swirled through her whole being in a warm and fuzzy manner.
He'd backed away, catching his breath, and he'd collapsed on his chair, staying perfectly still for the next twenty minutes before he'd finally staggered out of the room.
"I suppose, maybe, if I supervise you," he said, and she sighed in relief. "Make me a list of ingredients, will you? I'll get them for you."
The next day at five o'clock, Malfoy offered her an arm, leading her to the rest of the flat she had never seen before except for brief glimpses from the hallway. The kitchen was small: a countertop, a refrigerator, an oven and range, and a microwave that hung below a line of cupboards. A miniscule table with two chairs took up the rest of the kitchen half of the room, and at the other end was a lonely sofa in shades of gray. Nothing in the flat looked as if it should be owned by a Malfoy, but she figured that this was a temporary home at best. She was convinced that the only reason he was here as often as he was had to do with making sure she didn't suddenly die on him.
The raw hamburger was already sitting unwrapped in a bowl, waiting for her. She chopped onion, pressed garlic, dashed in Worcestershire, cracked an egg, and scooped up a handful of oatmeal. She pressed and kneaded the meat and rolled it into six balls, placed those in a glass baking dish, and then they waited the allotted cooking time while she prepared mashed potatoes and a salad. When the timer rang, she poured on golden mushroom soup, and the meatballs returned to the oven for five more minutes. And then they ate.
He had never had meatballs before, and he appeared pleasantly surprised. They ate ravenously, and Hermione had never been so happy to sit at a table with both a knife and a fork at her disposal. She was careful leaning back in her chair, her wound poorly situated for such things, and she raised sleepy eyes as Malfoy took her empty plate away, Scourgifying the dishes and putting them back where they belonged.
She was even more surprised when he placed a small bowl of chocolate ice cream before her, and they ate silently, Hermione severely tempted to lick her bowl.
"We should do that again tomorrow night," he said, leaning back in his chair with a contented smile. He had a dab of chocolate on his moustache, and Hermione made a wiping motion over her lip. Rather than using a napkin, he licked it off, and Hermione watched in amusement.
"Tomorrow we'll have leftovers," she pointed out.
"That's true," he acknowledged. "How's your back?"
She shrugged, very lightly. "It feels fine to me."
He nodded. "Good."
Things began appearing around the flat. Small things. Thoughtful things. She was allowed to roam everywhere except for his bedroom. He had cast several spells to ensure she didn't leave. The front door was barred to her and so was the one window over the sofa. The view didn't afford her much. All she saw was the wall of the building next door and occasionally a pigeon.
There were new toiletries for her to use. She found a stack of comfortable clothing on her bedroom floor. There was a vase on the kitchen table with a single sunflower in it.
What surprised her most was the Rubik's cube left on top of her pile of books.
She spent a good four hours just turning and sliding the different panels this way and that. She took a fifteen minute break to watch a news report, and then she had the Rubik's cube solved in another three minutes. She'd been going about it all wrong, and she smiled at the fact that she had solved it.
She took to fixing dinner every night and sending Malfoy food shopping every other day.
"Why did you come to my flat in the first place exactly?" she asked one night as they sipped their tea and ate butter biscuits from a tin he'd brought home.
Home. What a funny word to call this place.
He shifted in his chair, his demeanor shifting in tandem. "Like I said, we… they…."
"Just tell me the truth, will you, Malfoy?" she said, finding her pleasant mood evaporating.
He hung his head, staring down at the dregs in his tea cup. "I don't want to name names."
"Why? You plan to Obliviate me when this is over anyway."
"And in that line of reasoning, why do you want to know? You won't remember any of this in a few months." He rested his hands over the rim of his cup, resting his chin on top.
"Humor me." She crossed her arms over her chest.
He sighed. "You came up in a conversation we were having. One of them happened to complain about your blood status, another about your bossiness, another about your perfect marks in school, and round and round until a night of drunken carousing turned into a night of Hermione Granger bashing. Before I knew it, we had made a vow to attack you. Needless to say, it got out of hand." He flushed, whether from the warmth of the tea or embarrassment.
She nodded, something in her stomach feeling ill that she could be so disliked. "And when you got there? What happened?"
"I don't know how much you remember… you got several good curses out, and the others left fairly quickly. I panicked and hit you with the first spell I could think of." His voice grew softer. "And then you were lying there on your back, bleeding and looking up at me like some hurt rabbit."
The look in his eyes sent a chill up her spine.
They played Scrabble. He had picked it up while buying bratwurst and sauerkraut—not at the same store, obviously. They got into a snit over whether or not wizarding words were acceptable, seeing how words like "Apparate" would not be in any Scrabble dictionary available.
Malfoy surprised her by finishing only two points behind her. He seemed genuinely enamored by the game, wanting to play a second and then a third time in a row, until Hermione had to beg to go to bed.
He took a look at her wound for her and said it was healing very well. The skin was not "as gross and oozing as it had been" and "it was starting to scab up nicely."
She woke in the middle of the night, clutching her heart, and she only had to call out once before he dashed into her room, wand at the ready.
The same euphoria washed through her as he eased the pain. It was a strange feeling. She compared it to going from heartache to love in the beat of a cursed heart, and when she asked him what the spell did, all of the blood raced to his face, he mumbled something unintelligible, and he left her room in a hurry.
And so the first two and a half months went by.
"How have you been explaining your absence from the Wizarding world? Or have you not been?"
"I do buy potions ingredients, you know," he quipped, moving his pawn two spaces forward. "I told my mates I was on holiday."
"Fair enough," she responded, fingering the black bishop's pointy hat. "But what I don't get is all of the Muggle things in here. Television… food… books."
He looked up at her and smirked beguilingly. "I tend to think I fit in better if I carry around normal shopping bags like a normal person. A normal Muggle person, I mean. Your move."
She let go of the bishop and slid her knight into place. "Check."
Malfoy countered her move. "Check."
They worked themselves into a stalemate.
The television was moved from her bedroom and into the living room—living area, rather—in front of the couch. Fully leaning back was still a little uncomfortable for her, so she ended up turned awkwardly as they sat together.
The glass of wine from dinner had left them both sleepy, and they slumped into one another as they watched a comedy. Hermione's head somehow found its heavy way onto his shoulder, and after a moment, she registered the fact that he was lightly running his fingers through her hair, petting her like a cat.
It was comfortable, perhaps too comfortable, but she was far too relaxed to object.
It was when his lips brushed the crown of her head that alarm bells went off inside her head. She sat up quickly, and she apparently bumped her head up against his chin, and he sat rubbing at it for a moment. Neither of them spoke.
The next time her heart clenched, Malfoy came running into her room with his pajama top unbuttoned. She averted her eyes and bit her lip as he trained his wand at her heart. Curiosity got the better of her, and she vaguely rolled her eyes up from his belly button and to his sternum, and then she was stuck staring into his eyes.
His gray eyes had the most peculiar look in them as the red passed into her heart and the euphoria commenced, and it was as if his heart were being broken.
He collapsed into his chair when it was all over, and she couldn't unglue her eyes from his face. She was beginning to develop a theory about the nature of the spell.
"Stupid 11-B," he grumbled, throwing his gloves and scarf on the kitchen table.
"11-B?" she asked, tilting her head to the side as she stirred the sauce on the stovetop.
"Our neighbor, 11-B. She keeps flirting with me. It's getting very annoying." He scowled, opening the refrigerator door and removing a Butterbeer, one of the few wizarding items he kept in stock.
Hermione's heart started beating faster for a reason she couldn't identify. "What… what does she look like?"
He shrugged. "Eighteen… nineteen. Blonde hair to here." He gestured to his mid-bicep.
Hermione bent her head over the saucepan, her face growing red and wet from the steam, and the hint of cooked tomatoes wafted into her face. He came up behind her and grabbed the spoon, sampling the sauce, his other hand on her shoulder.
"Not bad. Maybe a pinch more oregano."
She took an unusually large amount of time in front of the mirror, doing her hair. It flopped this way, came undone that way, and she smoothed large globs of leave-in conditioner through it. She ended up with an up-do.
He had not provided her with make-up, and so there was nothing she could do for her face. She didn't especially like wearing make-up anyway. It made her feel like she had something in her eye. But her skin was clear, at least.
She walked past where he sat at the couch, working at the Rubik's cube. From the corner of her eye, she saw him glance up and follow her movements with a glazed expression on his face.
"Is the wound still sore?" he asked, as she lay on her stomach and he changed the bandage.
"Not terribly," she answered. "It could be worse."
"Good." One of his fingers lingered on her healed skin a moment too long.
"I wonder what I should tell my friends once I'm back," she mused.
He didn't answer, and she watched the back of his head curiously. He'd gotten a haircut, and it made him look a touch older. He bent down, pulling the plug from the sink, peering into the disposal. "Something's caught down there," he mumbled. He sounded annoyed.
"Use Accio," she recommended, and he did so, retrieving a bent spoon. "Well," she prodded, "when I get back… my friends?"
He made a show of washing and drying his hands before he turned to face her, leaning back against the counter. "You won't remember anything," he said, his voice a little harsh. "You won't have anything to tell them."
She frowned, purposely poking her lower lip out further than usual. "About that… you're sure you won't just trust me not to send you to Azkaban? I'll give you my word. I'd even make an Unbreakable Vow if I could."
"Pull your lip back in, Granger," he grumbled.
"Why?" she asked, slightly amused and slightly irritated.
"Because it's making me want to do things to you that I shouldn't want to do."
She sucked her lip in with a puff of air, her cheeks turning pink.
Hermione blinked once, blinked again, and scowled. "Parkinson?"
Pansy had her puggish nose curled up even tighter into her face as she looked around their kitchen. "You can't honestly tell me Draco would willingly live in this sty?"
"It isn't dirty," Hermione argued. She'd taken great pride in keeping the flat just as clean as she'd tried to keep her white carpet.
Pansy grimaced, and Hermione took it to mean she didn't agree. "Look, since he's being unreasonable, I thought I'd talk to you. You always were the logical type," she said with a frown.
"You'd be rotten together," she explained. "We told him so, and look what's become of it." She gestured vaguely around the room.
"What are you on about now?" Hermione asked. "And how'd you find this place?"
Pansy sniffed. "I have my ways. And what am I on about? You two. That's what I'm on about."
"But—" Hermione began.
There was a shrill whistle, and Pansy removed a Sneakoscope from her pocket and swore. "He's coming. You've been warned, Granger!" And she Disapparated.
Hermione watched him very carefully.
"Tell me again what happened to convince you all to come attack me," Hermione requested, her voice very small as she sipped her coffee.
Malfoy looked up from his slice of lemon meringue pie. "Why?" he growled.
"Just curious. I mean—wouldn't you want to know what it was about you that led a group of people to want to attack you in your own home?"
"Can't say I would." He stabbed his fork into the meringue a little too menacingly.
"Please?" she asked, and she stuck her lower lip out for good measure.
He set his fork down, and it clattered against his plate. "We were drunk. You came up. Opinions on your goody-two-shoes-ness were bad. The end."
"Just like that?" she asked, feeling meek when he had that particular expression on his face, like he was about to demolish his pie. "Did you say anything about me?"
He looked alarmed. "No!"
"I said no!" There was a crackle of uncontained magic, and he stormed into his bedroom.
Hermione's heart clenched very slightly, but it wasn't from the spell this time.
She would be fully healed within the week, he'd said. Then they would both go back to their old lives as if nothing had happened, and for her it really would be that way. Like nothing had happened.
She tried to think of ways to convince him not to Obliviate her. As odd as it was, she had had some good memories here. She had read some good books, learned some interesting trivia from watching the television and playing board games.
And there were other good memories that she could not imagine parting with now.
"What does the spell do?" she asked, and she was determined to keep her resolve this time. Her heart had clenched painfully while in the kitchen, and he had rushed to her, one of his arms under her back while the other aimed his wand at her heart. It had been bad enough to reopen her wound, and she could feel the blood dribbling down her spine and onto the floor.
He just looked at her, his frame weak and panting, though he still held her aloft.
"Answer me," she begged.
He shook his head softly. "It transfers love," he murmured.
"Transfers love," she repeated. "How does that work?"
"The spell—the one I hit you with in your flat—part of what it does is drain the victim of… tender feelings, I guess you might say. It's a physical and emotional heartbreak. And I—the counterspell—it…."
"Does it work like a blood transfusion?" she asked, as he seemed to search for a way to explain it. "Only instead of blood… love?" It sounded so cheesy, once she'd said it.
He grimaced. "That's about right."
Draco Malfoy had literally been pouring love into her. She didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the idea.
"This isn't fair."
"What isn't fair?" he asked as they sat on the sofa doing absolutely nothing.
"It isn't fair that you get to remember this and I don't."
"That again?" He looked at her critically. "Life isn't fair, or hasn't anyone ever told you that?"
"I know, but…." She groaned, and she leaned into him, and he seemed to stiffen behind her. "What about the other phrase?"
"What other phrase?" he asked, sounding as stiff as he felt against her side.
"All's fair in love and war."
He didn't say anything, though he did start petting her hair, sweeping it gently to one side.
"If it means so much to you, I guess I could let you keep your memories," he said, and she squealed, wrapping her arms around him in a hug. He grew even stiffer, if possible.
Her wound was healed, and the problem with her heart had gone away completely.
"What will you tell the Boy Wonder and his sidekick, Weasel-boy?" he asked.
It was her turn not to answer. "Pansy came to visit awhile back."
His eyes widened. "What?"
"She said something about convincing you that we wouldn't be good together. Any idea what she might have been referring to?" She watched him, and her fingernails tapped against the tabletop nervously.
He gave her a look. "No…."
"Is that the same no you gave me when I asked you if you'd said anything about me during your night of drunken Granger-bashing?" she asked.
A painful-looking smile that might have been a grimace flashed over his face. "Yes…."
She reached out and grabbed his hand, and he stared down at the joined fingers for a long moment. "Tell me."
"I was drunk. You can't take the words of a drunk man too seriously."
"Let me be the judge of that." She waited, and he eventually spoke.
"I might have said something to the effect of maybe, perhaps complimenting you. Slightly."
"Did you—" the words caught in her throat, "fancy me?"
He shook his head. "No. I can honestly say I didn't. But that didn't stop them from jumping to conclusions, exactly the way you're jumping to conclusions now."
"Oh." This time her lip stuck out without her consent, and she flopped her chin onto her arms.
"Don't do that," he pleaded, and she looked up at him drearily.
"The lip thing." He stood, and he walked the full length around the table, and he pulled her up out of her chair. "Stockholm Syndrome can go both ways you know," he whispered into her ear. And her lower lip was in between his lips in the beat of a cursed heart.
A.N. This was written as a pinch-hit for the Fall 2008 dmhgficexchange, in case you're wondering about the unusual header. Participants were revealed today, so I can share it with you all now. It is a nominee for the mystery category at the Dramione Awards.