A/N: At the Yule Ball, Hermione, being pissed at Viktor and Ron, has a moment with Draco. This is the morning after.

Inspiration from a manip by mein_drache at livejournal

i302 (dot) photobucket (dot) com/albums/nn93/mein_drache/manipviridianne61 (dot) jpg


"Malfoy, we can't do this."

Hermione stood, hands jammed in her pockets, scarf wrapped around her neck to fight the bitter wind. It was early yet; no birdsong could be heard in the trees yet, and the water was still.

Draco stepped closer to her. "Yes, Granger. We can."

With a furtive glance in all directions, she dropped her voice. "We're too young. If anyone caught us, we'd be expelled. And," she whispered fiercely, "we hate each other!"

Draco took another step. Hermione felt trapped; she looked out over the stone but, in the long, enclosed bridge, she knew there was no escape. She couldn't run from this. And perhaps most troubling was the fact that she didn't want to.

"You and I are more mature than everyone in our year. No one is going to catch us. And I can't speak for you, but I don't hate you."

Whatever Hermione had expected, it wasn't that. The pale hand resting on her arm barely registered with her. "What?"
"Not to say I don't owe you one for that broken nose," he remarked, "but no. I don't hate you."

Hermione gaped, all power of speech gone. "But-- you-- I'm Muggle-born, remember?"

"Yeah. So you are."

"I've been the 'filthy little Mudblood' for years now--"

"I'm not perfect."

A gust of wind carried Draco's scent to her nose, heady and intoxicating, spice and lime and musk. Forgetting herself, she let her eyes drift closed, savoring the aroma; Draco came to her side, and she noticed a hint of bergamot. "Malfoy..."

Carefully, he snaked his arms around her from behind. "Hermione," he said, letting the syllables fall off his tongue in an achingly deliberate whisper. She absorbed the sound, wrapping herself in it so completely that for one brief moment, she couldn't sense the cold.

Draco tilted his head, and she felt his warm breath, a whisper of air against the ice of her cheek. His lips were just as she'd remembered them: soft yet firm, passionate, patient. They met her flushed skin, melting her, drowning her, and she felt the last of her inner shell drift away...

His hands, wandering, reached the clasp of her black slacks.

She drew in a sharp breath. "Draco--"

"Tell me again how we're too young."

A pause. The call of a lark broke the long echo of silence; Hermione gazed out at the horizon, where the sun painted the lake gold. The castle remained quiet.

"Tell me."

When she wouldn't, Draco unfastened the clasp. "You're not ready for everything yet," he whispered. "I understand. But this you need. This we both need."

And he slipped his long fingers inside of her.