The cool night air had a distinct aroma that a flittering breeze carried along its back. Stale but some how still floral. It traveled from the black lake all the way to the tallest tower on the Hogwarts grounds and through the only open window of the castle. It was much too cool out for a window to be kept open, but Lavender Brown, a tall whinny blonde, insisted she was hot and would not concede to shutting it. Her two room mates were forced to suffer the cold.

Parvati Patil sat across from Lavender, wrapped in her red comforter looking ill at ease but keeping up with the on flowing one-sided conversation with the selfish girl. Hermione Granger had never been one for gossip. She was curled up on her bed with a heavy fleece robe over her white cotton night gown, a pair of Harry's old knobby socks on her feet keeping them warm, reading Consequential Conquests of the 18th Century. She had just checked it out from the library yesterday and only had one chapter left; she wanted to finish it before bed. Lavender's excessive screeching kept interrupting Hermione's concentration, not to mention the ridiculous chill of the bed chamber. Finally, Hermione gave up, she set the book on her night stand and curled up between the warmth of her blankets, still wearing robe and socks.

Lavender watched Hermione out of the corner of her blue eyes. She didn't hate the girl, but Hermione's large brain and important friends where enough for her to grate on Lavender's nerves. It wasn't enough that Lavender was a favorite among the boys, because Hermione was one of the boys. The male population respected Hermione, they treated her like an equal; and while they doted on Lavender, to a point, once they got what they wanted they moved on, to newer ventures. It didn't help that despite Hermione's lack of fashion sense, self grooming and some what snobbish attitude, that she was very pretty. The boys in school gravitated towards Hermione's natural charms, and one day some boy was going to notice, that Hermione Granger was in fact a girl. It would only take one, and that one was sure to be The One. It would be so easy for her, while Lavender was sure she would spend years and years searching for her soul mate only to find he was already married to someone else. Yes, Lavender Brown was sure she was destined for tragedy.

Tonight was just another stop along that journey. Lavender had been secretly dating a boy for the past two weeks. Meeting in random corridors and broom closets was getting weary, not to mention he was starting to seem more and more detached. It had been him who approached her, but after their initial meeting he began to get … tense…Tonight she was going to ensure his affections. It didn't take a lot for her to convince herself that it was to this boy she needed to lose her technical virginity . She couldn't risk him leaving, he was too much of a catch. That was why the window was open. She had invited him to her dorm room, only there was no way for him to get in the girls' dorm rooms through the stairs, so he would be flying in on his Firebolt turbo X.

Lavender stretched her arms over her head, faking a long yawn. It was getting late and he wouldn't dare approach the window with the light on, let alone with Parvati and Hermione still up. They would of course be needing privacy.

"I am so tired, Parvati, are you ready for lights out?" Lavender asked sweetly.

Parvati nodded with a yawning herself. The Indian girl slide off of Lavender's bed and climbed into her own.

"Good night!" Lavender sang out.

Parvati returned the joviality, with enough courtesy while Hermione grunted from her own bed. Lavender just smiled, too happy about tonight's prospects to worry about her room mate's sour moods.

It was precisely one in the morning when Lavender's mystery date flew through the window and landed gracefully on the stone floor. He was dressed in black from head to toe, his tall statue blending seamlessly with the shadows. A hood covered his face and hair; he could have been anyone, but Lavender was not scared. She knew at last he had come, just as he promised. She leapt from her bed and ran to him, throwing her whole person into his arms. The impact of her body against his knocked his hood back, reveling his identify.

Lavender smiled, admiring his aristocratic profile and shinny blond hair, it was almost sliver in the moon light. She thought him beautiful, a sentiment most would not apply to one of the male gender. His arms tightened around her as she stared in to his cobalt eyes, she dreamily leaned in for a kiss. She was so distracted by his very presence she didn't notice him dropping one arm and take his wand from his pocket as he leaned in, his lips stopping a breath from her own. Her heart was pounding in her ears. He whispered the stunning spell sensually, the impact of her choice in trusting this boy hitting her full on just as darkness consumed her consciousness.

The Slytherin sneered down at the unconscious girl on the floor. He hadn't bothered catching her as she fell. With any luck the impact her head had made against the stone had knocked some good sense into her feather brained head.

The fool.

After a moment of surveying his surroundings, he supposed he couldn't leave her where she fell, roughly he hauled her up into his arms and tossed her on her bed, not bothering to cover up her scantly dressed figure or close the window to block out the night air. He did, however, pull the bed curtains around the frame and whisper a sealing charm; just incase she were to regain consciousness before his task was completed.

He walked the length of the room were Parvati laid sleeping, using the same sealing charm on her bed curtains, then more complex and much darker spells on the door and to silence the room. Every possibility had to be weighted and dealt with before he began the ritual, - his whole future depended on such perfection.

Once more he turned to look around the room, his eyes avoiding the one place he knew he would have to approach: her bed.

He concentrated on the rhythm of his heart, on steady breathing, he had to calm down, every action had to be deliberate and controlled. His grandfather had stressed that point. His father had not listened, his father had mucked things up, and as a result, was only granted one heir, and a conscience of guilt for what his mate had to endure carrying even that one child. His mother had almost died because of his father's foolishness.

His eyes darted to the queen bed in the corner with that thought, his tongue darted out wetting his lips. The longer he avoided what was essential, the more of a risk he took.

Now, it had to be now.

He had weighted every option, every consequence, and in the end it boiled down to self- restraint; every day it grew harder and harder to keep his family's secret, to keep from reaching out and publicly claiming her.

That was putting it mildly.

On some subconscious level he understood the choice had been his, he had chosen her. The imprinting took place before maturity, and upon maturity and the veela blood became dominate, possessing him to claim her. Only Hermione Granger was not the kind of girl that could just be 'claimed'.

So he was forced to take more drastic measures. When the marking took place she had to be willing, that was another key in a properly executed ritual, that and waiting for the venom to spread before consummating anything. It was imperative for her body to already be under going the change when the ritual was completed. That was what had gone wrong with his father, he didn't have enough self control to wait for the venom to spread.

He, however, was determined to complete a successful ceremony, no matter, what Hermione, dictated. She, after all, was the one wild card in the whole endeavor. The one thing he had no control over. It was through the cover of night and in the state between dreams and reality that he hoped to catch her, unaware and docile.

Finally he approached her bed, he stood at the foot, his eyes trailing up the burgundy comforter to the pillow. He couldn't see an inch of her, though her form was outlined under the covers. He smiled, because he knew she must be freezing, but then frowned because it only reminded him of the vain blonde on the other side of the chamber. Yes, Lavender Brown's ignorance had been convenient for his own endeavor, but the danger that it put placed Hermione in boiled his blood.

His steps to the head of the bed were measured and soft, he wasn't ready to wake her just yet. His eyes dropped to follow his long pale hand up to the top of the blanket, his fingers curling around the edge, tugging it back to reveal a mound of curly brown hair and a very pretty heart shaped face. He pulled the blanket all the way off her and watched as she curled up into a ball. He pulled his wand out, tapping it gently on her forehead, muttering a warming charm. This night was going to be hard enough on her without the night chill needing to being a concern as well. He shrugged out of his cloak, letting it fall to the floor silently. He pulled his boots off and then his sweater; his jeans, and undershirt he kept on, there would be no reason for him to remove them, not yet, not until the venom had spread.

The mattress dipped as he climbed in next to Hermione.

Merlin, she was a heavy sleeper, luckily for him.

Hands lingered on the side of her cheek as he moved the hair from her face. She was just too beautiful for his peace of mind. He leaned over, his lips brushed against her temple, down her jaw line and to her neck. She smelled so good, and tasted even better, he couldn't get enough of her. He wanted to touch her everywhere, and found the yards of cloths she wore cumbersome. Very slowly he rolled Hermione onto her back. Climbing on top of her , he supported his weight with one arm, using the other to untie and push the robe from her shoulders. His lips once more touching the base of her neck, his free hand pulling at her night gown. His hand trailed down her leg until his fingers balled around the socks she wore, as and he pulled them from her feet. It was then he noticed they were men's socks.

He didn't like that idea, - the idea of Hermione wearing another man's socks.

He tossed the socks to the floor, as he pulled her into his arms. This time his mouth touched against her perfect lips. Hers parted, a small moan escaping her lips. Her arms came up around his neck, pulling him closer. He knew she was not yet completely awake, with her eyes were still closed, her body still relaxed against his own. But he only had minutes, the first part had to be completed before she realized to who she was offering her affections. As his lips again trailed along her jaw, he let his tongue drag just a little as he worked his way to the juncture where neck and shoulder met. He could feel her pulse quicken, she began to stir more and more, wrapping her body around his own. He knew the opportune moment when it came, not hesitating as his lips parted, his perfect white teeth embedding into her flesh.

Hermione screamed, now fully awake, and burning from the inside out. Neither time nor existence registered as she writhed in agony. The fire coursed through her veins, didn't stop, or lessen, instead, it spread, consuming every pore, every nerve. She was in her own personal hell and all she wanted was for it to end. Something soft was forced between her lips, she bit down and the taste of copper and salt filled her mouth. She choked out her scream, opening her mouth once more in attempt to draw air. Then after a string of pitiful nonsense; begging for a release from this purgatory, she gritted her teeth together, determined not to make another sound.

He was not one given to weak emotions such as crying, but tears filled his eyes as his ears were assaulted with her screams. He was forced to watch as she was tortured by his venom, and there was nothing he could do to help, to ease the this inevitable transition she had to make.

His hand touched her brow, her cheek, her hair, the ritual was not yet complete. The wound had been sealed, his own blood mixed with hers when his bleeding lips moved against the wound on her neck, trapping the venom within her veins. It was taking too long. He didn't have an abundance of time. His self control was slipping.

Hermione was now as still as stone, the pain evident in her every feature. He leaned back, watching her face, waiting for the moment of release, the moment he was to consummate his decision to make her his mate. He took his time as he finished undressing her, letting his hand linger as he pulled each article from her body. His own clothes came off much quicker, the building need to lay flesh to flesh, heart to heart, unbearable.

He pulled her back up into his arms, his hand resting on the back of her neck, his eyes searching her face, her jaw had relaxed, the corners of her closed eyes had softened, the wrinkle of her brow no longer evident; the hurt wasn't as bad now.

With his knee he pushed her legs apart, the prospect of being inside a woman had never been as appealing then as it was at this very moment. Knowing that it was Hermione he would be laying with made the whole situation that more meaningful. This was the moment that he had fantasized about since he was thirteen, the fact that she was suffering it didn't lessen the significance.

This was the one and only time she would have to endure the fire. Although it was almost intolerable for him to know the extend she suffered, if the ritual was were not completed, it would all be for naught.

He had taken his time with her. He had to stay in control, he didn't want to hurt her any more, not when there was no need to. He controlled his breathing, his mind, keeping the animal urge at bay. He would be careful with her if it killed him, he thought as he slowly swirled his cock in her folds before pushing forward in one forceful thrust.

He hadn't been ready for the she gave when he entered her. Having felt her virginity tear, and hearing the moan of pure pleasure escape the back of her throat was enough of a contradiction that he wasn't sure how to proceed. He laid very still, trying to comprehend what had just happened, when she arched up against him, and her eyes fluttered open.

Lust filled those golden brown eyes to the brim and he felt himself fall, ready to drown with her in this stolen moment. He could feel her passion in every inch of his body, he suddenly felt renewed, reborn. Fingers griped flesh, tongues locked, then traced skin and before any reasonable thought could sink into either of their heads, they found heaven in each other's arms.

She succumbed to sleep moments after she found bliss. He cleaned her up using his wand and a scourgify, then he dressed her back in her cotton night gown and robe; the socks he disposed of with a quick evanesco then conjured up a very famine silk pair in as replacement. He pulled out a small ring, inlaid with opals and diamonds, from his pocket, placing it on the third finger of her left hand, before removing the spells from the room and leaving the way he came.

Today would be difficult but he knew it would be easier than ones already past. The ring would make sure of that.