Disclaimer: Indubitably, I don't own Harry Potter.


A Ride to Remember

~*~*~

Sitting here on a lump of obdurate rock, under the fulgent pattern of sunlight and a hurting ankle, Hermione felt bone-dry. She didn't want to, but she did curse herself for being stupid today – of all days that she could've possibly been.

Debating a pointless matter about Quidditch with Ron when everything had started fine; a stone choosing to be there when she tried turn around to leave Ron – leaving her ankle sprained in return; challenging Ron to leave her if he dared – which he did, growling out 'My pleasure!' before stalking away and abandoning her agape; and only then – still slumped on the arid ground like a sulking child, that Hermione realized she didn't bring her wand.

Hermione covered her ankle firmly with her palm, pressing her anklebone with a flinch. She had limped her way through the quiet alley for a few minutes before deciding to take a break. If only their bicker hadn't taken place when they were past the crowded street, she would've reached a shop and gotten off this mess with an easy spell from any shopkeeper.

Distractedly Hermione sighed. She should've accepted Harry and Ginny's offer for a double-date. Even if Ron hadn't asked her to date him or the kind, she still should have.

Sighing more distractedly, Hermione swore the day couldn't turn any more gonzo.

"Fucking…shit!"

Frozen on the spot at the somehow-familiar voice, Hermione frowned subconsciously. Biting her lip, anxious, she looked up slowly as the same voice continued on muttering another string of curses under his breath.

Hermione inhaled sharply when her gaze locked with a pair of gray eyes. They looked stormily dangerous, sharp, and, well, moody. Despite she had confronted a troll and Grawp and many more indescribable creatures, staring at a brooding-looking, pompous blond Slytherin who was currently soaking from head to toe for unknown reason, suddenly felt more intimidating.

Hermione swallowed.

"What?" they asked simultaneously. Hermione found her voice come out in this small, high-pitch squeak while Draco's sounded deeply menacing. Hermione felt like swallowing again.

"I'm not the one who's drenched all over." Hermione said, trying to make her voice sound firmer and confident, and possibly at the same time telling him 'I came in peace' – in case he'd pull out his wand.

Unmoving from where he stood, Draco stared at her blankly, his complaining scowl erased. Motionless on the sturdy rock, her palm over her anklebone, Hermione stared back, a tad bit observing.

Draco's fair face was absolutely expressionless and even if he was thinking of some nasty curses he could throw to her, anytime now, the thoughts were certainly well hidden. His blond hair was disheveled, soused like all part of his clothes at the moment; some blond strands were falling across his forehead and his mercury eyes were staring at Hermione through a shock of hanging bang, as if they were scanning her inside and out.

Suddenly Hermione felt… naked.

Then Draco shifted. Hermione pursed her lips warily, capturing his every movement when he started to strut – as if he were a robot, activated from a long static stay – towards her. Except that Hermione knew his walk didn't look stiff, from any angle she inspected. He walked loftily and with the water – however it got there – that still dripping from his attire, the shirt he was wearing unbuttoned at its top, exposing his fair complexion skin – which was really his fine neck – he looked, Hermione felt like spraining her other ankle, sensual. He was sensual.

Draco's lips curved into a smirk and that was how Hermione realized she had been gaping at and recording not only his body with her eyes, but almost tracing his face – starting with his lips, before she found them curling teasingly into a mild, mocking smirk.

"I assure you every thing looks better inside." he said, and Hermione blushed furiously when her eyes, on their own, followed his slender fingers as they moved up; they gave a flirtatious tug at his shirt collar.

"Don't flatter yourself." Hermione retorted, frowning and tearing her gaze away to fake a new-found interest at the side of the rock she was sitting on. She felt her cheeks combusting.

Draco didn't reply. He walked over the remaining few feet between them and, surprising her, crouched in front of her. Uncharacteristically, seemingly unbothered by the germs he had claimed to exist in her muggle blood all these years, filthy, Draco pulled Hermione's sprained foot.

Startled, Hermione almost jumped and pulled away in caution, but sedately Draco firmed his grip around her ankle and pressed her anklebone with his thumb.

"Ow," she muttered, frowning down at him when he looked up with a grin.

"Just like I thought. A sprained ankle." he announced as if it made him sound ridiculously smart.

Hermione rolled her eyes.

"Very good, Mister Malfoy." she encouraged sarcastically.

Draco simply snorted, and before Hermione knew it he had released her right ankle and was squatting on the ground with his back at her.

"Hop on." he gestured.

Staring at his back – his drenched figure – Hermione frowned.

"What?" she mouthed. Hop on? Like, climb on my back. By Malfoy? "No!" Hermione pulled her ankle in reflex. She had an ankle sprained, not part of her brain missing.

Draco's head turned to look at her. He gave an effective look that made Hermione feel she was acting like a naïve five year old.

"I forgot my wand when I barged out of Madam Puddifoot's, alright? Since you've forgotten your wand too, to my big surprise," he made a face. "I'm not going to be your crutch. Just climb on, or I leave you here." he said.

Hermione knew he knew he could've left her here without explaining all those things.

"I never told you I've forgotten my wand… Why did you barge out of Madam Puddifoot's?" Hermione found her voice asking, curiously.

Draco looked at her disbelievingly.

"You wouldn't have sat there looking like a brooding old hag with bushy-head whose ankle's sprained if you've had your wand." he snarled, apparently having his patient challenged. "About me barging out of anywhere, none of your business."

Hermione pursed her lips thoughtfully. He did look bad-tempered, yet there he was, still waiting for her to climb onto his back. She could simply ask him to leave, and if Ron did leave after being challenged, no doubt would Malfoy, even when being asked to.

Heaving out a sigh, rolling her eyes to heaven for this unexpected knight-in-shining-armor, Hermione leaned forward and tentatively, wrapped her arms around Draco's neck. Maybe she was nervous; her hands snaked around his neck in a perfect angle of strangling him.

"Why don't you cup your palms around it and squeeze?" came Draco's icy suggestion.

Hermione blushed, and considerably loosened her cling.

Trying to relax as Draco pushed himself to stand, Hermione shifted awkwardly on his back. She strongly expected a comment from him, highly likely about how ridiculously heavy she was, but he said nothing.

Piggybacking her, he walked without a word, hence cautiously Hermione demonstrated a real dare – she rested her chin on Draco's right shoulder.

He didn't even flinch.

Exhaling quietly, she remained where she was.

Merlin. This must be a dream. Hermione mulled over.

"How did you get soaked?" she asked after a sigh, deciding they could deal with a simple conversation.

"Blaise Zabini is an idiot." Draco simply informed. "I got him burnt as payback, but still he's an idiot." he repeated with emphasis.

Hermione didn't press, since he sounded so convinced about the statement, and so they blended in silence again – she was, by then rather comfortable on Draco's back and he was doing the walking.

Hermione's clothe moistened by the soaking garment of Draco's shirt, having her body pressed against his back. She could distinctively feel his heat, his cold neck. She was conscious at how her legs had wrapped themselves around his waist and how his hands were pressed around her thighs, holding them steadily in place.

"Astoria Greengrass, that's my future fiancée. I was barging out of my engagement ceremony's discussion."

It was so sudden that it took Hermione almost ten full seconds to realize that it was Draco's voice, probably addressing the lines to her – she was the one who was riding on his back.

Engagement? Hermione's eyes widened.

"You're sixteen." she pointed out in surprise, unconsciously grinding her chin against his shoulder. Draco scoffed and squirmed. Hermione suspected it tickled him. "Did you like your bride-to-be then?" she asked, still leaning her chin on his shoulder; she was extremely curious now – about what she was asking him and if her chin really tickled him.

"No—" Draco's body shook, and to Hermione's amazement – he laughed. "Stop that." he said, trying to sound commanding.

Hermione smiled slightly, amused.

His mood must've been really bad then; barging out of a shop during a serious, two families' discussion and deciding to piggyback the muggleborn he'd been insulting for years. Maybe this was his silent rebel.

"It's of blood, Granger. To keep our bloodline pure." he spoke the word with resent, for the first time to her ear – considering he'd been parading the pride of the pureblood the whole years. "I'm the Malfoys only heir. Who else would have to do it if not me? I shouldn't care if I don't like her. It's all sorted out. Said it's the best for me… Right." he drawled, sarcastically.

Draco rambled on and on then, freely as if they were never enemies and she had never slapped him full-forcedly in their third year, and all the while Hermione kept silent. She wanted to know, wanted to listen, wanted him to keep talking, tell her the sides that he'd kept hidden under his boastful words, hurtful lines. She found herself wanting to reach out to him when his voice dropped with a tinge of hurt at some point, but she kept silent, deciding for now, what he needed was a listener.

Suddenly, when Draco continued on telling her how he had once wished – somehow he had ventured into his childhood events – that Snape was his father instead of Lucius, Hermione found her voice asking,

"Why?"

She was afraid he would realize she was there and stop talking, because she had been quiet all the while.

Draco sighed, and Hermione felt a surge of relief flooding into her when he answered,

"Silly thought. Because he treated me nicer, I suppose." and he shrugged.

They walked in another moment of silence then. Hermione was lost in her own thoughts, repeating the gist of what he had uncharacteristically revealed to her in her mind.

"I wonder—" she finally mouthed, and she couldn't help but grin when Draco squirmed and tried to stifle his laughter as her chin grinded on his shoulder. "—if you'll marry her then, Astoria Greengrass. Without love." she said.

At that, Draco stopped.

Hermione could feel him tensing and she was anxiously worried inside, in case she had accidentally crossed the boundary. Draco fixed his hold around her legs and set her feet on the ground. Hermione supported herself with her un-sprained foot when Draco turned to face her. Hermione opened her mouth for a quick apology, but before any word came out Draco stuck his hand out to her.

There was a shiny, wet, teal-colored ribbon on his pale palm.

Hermione looked at it quizzically, almost scrunching up her face at the absurdness.

"Damnit Granger," Draco breathed impatiently, and he swirled her around.

Hermione stood rooted where she was when she felt Draco's hands pull a bunch of her curly hair, and she blinked stupidly when she realized what he was doing.

In short seconds, her bushy hair was tied well, high above her head, freeing her neck from the sweltering heat and giving her a room to cool.

"Tickled my neck." Draco explained, smirking complacently at his work as he turned Hermione around to face him. So it wasn't her chin, Hermione smirked inwardly. "Pretty." he observed.

Hermione wasn't sure if he was commenting on the ribbon, since he was looking boldly into her eyes. Hermione cleared her throat lightly, trying to keep a flattered smile from showing on her face, in case he'd ruin her pride mercilessly in an instant. This was Draco Malfoy after all.

"About you wondering," he continued quietly. "If I will marry her one day. Without love." he reiterated. Unwillingly Hermione's heart quickened its pace like a racing drumbeat. It could've been a mere second, but it felt absurdly long – she could even imagine there were thunders striking on the darkening sky when their eyes met. Draco looked at her, his expression weary, his gray eyes determined. "Actually, I've my own interest."

He leaned forward, and pressed his lips lightly against hers.

Letting everything loose, soon Hermione's fingers were twirling themselves around Draco's blond strands. Draco cupped the back of her head and, as if he owned her, pulled Hermione by her waist, pressing their body together as if he was trying to snuggle into her warmth, lending her his freezing skin.

The kiss was soft and tender.

"My own interest," he mouthed against her lips.

Hermione opened her eyes and saw his quicksilver eyes staring determinedly at her.

"What about your own interest?" she dared herself interject.

Draco exhaled. Hermione felt his breath; he was breathing into her mouth. Cold.

"We're—"

"Hermione!"

Startled, they froze and in reflex disentangled themselves from one another.

Hermione was beyond disappointed, missing the contact instantaneously.

Her heart thumped in a breakneck speed that she thought it would explode, and frantically she wanted to call out when Draco began to walk away without another word when they saw Harry, Ron and Ginny cast around the alley a few meters ahead, almost reaching the turn where they were formerly standing, so close to each other.

"Wait," Hermione mouthed when Draco stopped at the other turn of the alley, turned to her and raised his hand. "Wait." she insisted, frowning.

Draco smirked bitterly and disappeared as he took the near turn.

"Hermione, I'm sorry." Ron's voice muttered. Somehow he sounded disgruntled and when Hermione turned around, he was frowning dissatisfiedly. "Was that Malfoy?" he demanded, glaring at the turn where Draco had just taken.

"And how is that your business?" Hermione snapped quietly, pulling her wand from Harry's outstretched hand. "How was your first outside-Hogwarts date?" she queried good-naturedly with a smile.

Harry looked at Ginny hesitantly. The redhead girl gave a brief shrug.

"Nice." she told.

Hermione nodded, the smile vanishing from her face as she caught Ron's unsatisfied face.

"Well," she mouthed. "Anyone cares to help?" she asked, ignoring the face.

"Let me," Harry hastily came to aid while Ginny pulled Ron's arm harshly when he began walking towards Hermione.

"What?" he hissed.

Ginny rolled her eyes.

"So did Malfoy do anything weird, Hermione?" she asked casually, as they began to walk; Harry supporting Hermione carefully.

Silently, Hermione pulled the green, silken ribbon that had tied itself so delicately around the tuft of her hair. The curls of her brown strands fell back into place, and she held the ribbon in her hand.

Did he do anything weird?

Hermione contemplated.

They both did.

And somehow, it felt incomplete.

She still wondered if one day he would marry Astoria Greengrass, without love. If she would marry someone at all, with love or not – still wondering.

~*~*~


Author's Note: Yes. My first fanfiction. -cowers- I'd really appreciate it if you'd leave me some feedback. Also, do forgive me if the characters were OOC…

I hope you enjoyed and thank you for reading! :)